Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

ing thrown up to an inconceivable height in the atmosphere, they were scattered over the whole island; impregnating the air with noxious vapours, intercepting the genial rays of the sun, and empoisoning whatever could satisfy the hunger or quench the thirst, of man or beast. Even in some of the more distant districts, the quantity of ashes that fell was so great, that they were gathered up by handsful. Upwards of four hundred people were deprived instantly of a home; the fish were driven from the coasts; and the elements seemed to vie with each other, which should commit the greatest depredations: famine and pestilence stalked abroad, and cut down their victims with ruthless cruelty, while death himself was glutted with the prey. In some houses there was scarcely a sound individual left to tend the afflicted, or any who possessed sufficient strength to inter the dead.

"The most miserably emaciated tottering skeletons were seen in every quarter. When the animals that had died of disease and hunger were consumed, the wretched creatures had nothing to eat but raw hides, and old pieces of leather and ropes, which they boiled, and devoured with avidity. The horses eat the flesh off one another; and, for want of other sustenance, had recourse to turf, wood, and even excrementitious substances; while the sheep devoured each other's wool. In a word, the accumulation of miseries originating in the volcanic eruption, was so dreadful, that, in the short space of two years, not fewer than 9336 human beings, 28,000 horses, 11,461 head of cattle, and 190,488 sheep, perished on the island.

"Such is Dr. Henderson's account of this melancholy calamity; a visitation which was awful in its nature, and unparalleled in its horrors."

"What a blessing it is," said Ann, "that we live in England, where no troubles of the kind ever assail us."

"Cherish the feeling of thankfulness, my dear girl," said Mr. Wilmot; "for it is indeed a favoured—a privileged country. And here," said he, turning to a full-length portrait of George the Third, "is the picture of our late venerable monarch; whose benevolent wish, that every child in his dominions might possess a Bible, and be able to read it, deserves to be transmitted from sire to son.

"The ornament of his domestic circle, his gentle and pious daughter, was taken from him; and his reason lasted only to receive her last farewell, and mingle his blessings with her dying accents.

"Let us compare the experience of this Christian king with that of Abdalrahman, one of the greatest monarchy of his line.

"Cordova, the place of his residence, displayed 600 mosques, 900 baths, and 200,000 houses; and the caliph gave laws to eighty cities of the first, and to three hundred of the second and third order: and twelve thousand villages and hamlets decorated the beautiful banks of the Guadalquiver.

"Three miles from Cordova, in honour of his favourite sultana, the third and greatest of the Abdalrahmans constructed the city, palace, and gardens of Jehrar.

"Twenty-five years, and about three millions sterling, were employed by the founder. His liberal taste invited the most skilful sculptors and architects of the age; and the buildings were sustained or adorned by twelve hundred columns of Spanish and African, of Greek and Italian marble.

"The hall of audience was encrusted with gold and pearls; and a great basin in the centree was surrounded with the curious and costly figures of birds and quadrupeds.

"In a lofty pavilion of the gardens, one of those basins and fountains, so delightful in a sultry climate, was replenished, not with water, but with the purest quicksilver.

"The seraglio of Abdalrahman, bis wives, and concubines, and eunuchs, amounted to six thousand three hundred persons; and he was attended to the field by a guard of twelve thousand horse, whose belts and scimeters were studded with gold.

"Our imagination is dazzled by the splendid picture, (says Gibbon,) and whatever may be the cool dictates of reason, there are few among us who would obstinately refuse a trial of the comforts and cares of royalty. It may, therefore, be of some use to borrow the experience of the same Abdalrahman, whose magnificence has, perhaps, excited our admiration and envy, and to transcribe an authentic memorial, which was found in the closet of the deceased caliph.

"'I have now reigned above fifty years, in victory or peace, beloved by my subjects, and dreaded by my enemies, and respected by my allies. Riches and honour, power and pleasure, have waited on my call: nor does any earthly blessing appear to have been wanting to my felicity. In this situation I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot: they amount to fourteen. O man! place not thy confidence in this present world.'

"I will conclude this morning's entertainment with a few fines by the princess Amelia, whom I mentioned to you in my notice of our late excellent monarch.

'Unthinking, idle, wild, and young,
I laugh'd, and talk'd, and danc'd, and sung;
And, proud of health, of freedom vain,
Dreamt not of sickness, care, and pain;
Concluding, in these hours of glee,
That all the world was made for me.

'But when the days of trouble came;
When sickness shook this trembling frame;
When pleasure's gay pursuits were o'er,
And I could dance and sing no more;
It then occurr'd, how sad 'twould would be,
Were this world only made for me.'

« ZurückWeiter »