Abbildungen der Seite

fathers are an exceeding harmless set of men, and in general very ignorant. Many of them had lived here a long time, and, though bent nearly double, bore witness to the uncommon healthiness of the climate; as their cheeks were florid, and their look cheerful and vigorous. One is surprised to find here a large and elegant church, with a floor of beautiful marble, and a pulpit profusely adorned with gold. This edifice has three lofty aisles. You pass from one into a small apartment, where, beneath a little niche adorned with filigree work of gold, and lighted dimly by three small lamps, is shewn the spot where once stood the burning bush. Pictures of the Virgin and her Son and many saints were placed round the sides of this singular spot. In a recess in another part of the church is the tomb of St. Catherine, the patroness of the monastery; it is of white marble, emits a most agreeable perfume, and is covered with rich silk, and placed beneath a canopy supported by pillars. The monks confessed it was not the real body of St. Catherine that was inclosed in the tomb, but only an image of wax, that was a good resemblance of her. The irreparable loss of the body of that excellent lady was occasioned by the villany of the Catholics, who, burning with envy to see the Greeks in possession of such a treasure, that was sure to work the most astonishing miracles, stole it by night a few days after her death; and having lugged it on their shoulders through the ravines and over the precipices around, had gained the summit of Mount St. Catherine, and were exulting in the idea of its being theirs for ever, when the angels, who beheld all this with infinite interest, descended suddenly and carried the good lady up to Heaven, and left the Catholics filled with rage and mortification. A part of one of the walls of the church consisted of many exquisite and various sorts of marble, sent as a present from St. Sophia at Constantinople. The great altar is very beautiful, being inlaid, as well as the pillars which support it, with pieces of mother-of-pearl and tortoise-shell. The superior is a man of very dignified appearance and polite manners, and seems to know the world well: he was very inquisitive about the affairs of Greece, in which he took a deep interest. After breakfast he invited us to his apartment, where he produced some fruit and a bottle of excellent white wine. He said that in their library, about a century ago, was a curious manuscript that had remained there for ages, till the Grand Signior sent from Constantinople to have it delivered up to him. Mohammed, in his troubles and wanderings, had sometimes found shelter in the convent of Sinai, and out of gratitude had given to the convent an assurance of his and his followers' protection, which being unable to write himself, having dipped his hand in ink he had stamped it with the impression. It is certain the monks of Mount Sinai are regarded with peculiar respect by the Turks; and those of other Greek convents, when travelling in different parts of the East, or in hazardous situations, say they belong to the convent of Sinai. The life led by these recluses is a most dreary and monotonous one; they never dare to venture into the desert for fear of the Arabs, who bear a deadly hatred to them, and would enjoy as much pleasure in putting them out of the world as they would so many wild beasts. About six years ago these fellows climbed up the precipices that overhang the convent, and, firing down, shot two of the fathers who happened to be at the door of their apartments. The


2 F

monks enter their garden only by a subterraneous passage, which is secured at the end by a very strong door. The garden, which is surrounded by a high wall, is a rich and beautiful spot, created entirely by the great industry of these people. You see there the palm, the cypress, and poplar, with a profusion of vegetables, and vines bending with large bunches of grapes, in a more forward state even than they were at Cairo. The cultivating this garden is the only resource and amusement they have. During Bonaparte's residence at Cairo he ordered the convent wall to be built higher, and sent two pieces of cannon for its defence; but these men of peace never use them, although one discharge would send the Arabs over the desert in a moment but these fellows know very well they keep excellent white bread in the convent, and they come and fire their musquets at the walls, with loud threats, till the fathers open the window at the top and throw out a quantity of cakes of bread to the Arabs, who gather them up with avidity, and depart. The convent is supplied with rice and flour by the Greek monastery at Cairo; and the Bedouins allow these supplies to pass safely, knowing it will be the best way to demand their contributions subsequently. Among the few luxuries here, were excellent almonds and dates, and good cheese, which they had improved out of the coarse article used in Egypt.


DARK was the sky, the wind blew wild,
The mother closer clasp'd her child-
She closer clasp'd her child, and drew
Round its frail form her mantle blue :
While, as if conscious of its case,
It smiled into its mother's face,
And shrunk and clung to her embrace.
The air was keen, the night was near,
Where could the lonely pilgrim steer?
Without a home to shield her head,
By her own father banished-
An exile from her parents' door
Behind her closed-the world before-
The cold unfeeling world that spares

Nought to the agony of tears!

Oh she had loved, as woman will,

With all her soul, and she loved still
Even the spoiler, to whose art

Was sacrificed a noble heart

A heart where passion glowed, and truth,
And the confiding trust of youth.

Her love she cherish'd, though betray'd-
Her all of life a shipwreck made,
"Twas the last plank she grasp'd to keep
Her soul from sinking in the deep;
And now it bore her up to go

Seek out the man that caused her woe,
Tell her lorn tale, and crave a shed
To shelter her unfriended head:
She dared not think he would deny
So slight a boon and leave her die.
The moon lay mantled by a cloud,
Like beauty sleeping in its shroud;

Her weariness was great, and soon
The snow-storm darken'd on the moon,
And the white sleet was drifting fast
Before the pitiless northern blast.
She was ill form'd to brave its power,
For such an end, at such an hour-
An hour of wintry rigours full,
Too hard for one so beautiful,
So soft and fragile, to sustain,
Without her load of mental pain:
And she had sunk but for the charm
Of love maternal on her arm-
Her babe, whose safety made her dare
What else her frame might never bear.
Shivering, worn out with weariness,
She reach'd his hall, where her distress
O'ercame her strength-she struck the gate,
And fell to earth inanimate!

The gate unclosed, a figure stood
Holding it wide,—his air was rude,
To chide whoever came so late
Intruding at that lordly gate:

He question'd-all was silent there-
He look'd!

Some that obdurate are

To words of pity, honour, sense,
Pleading with all their influence,
Yield if the scene of misery

Burst sudden on the startled eye—
He look'd-he saw the spoil his own-
Her whom he 'd loved, by him undone;
He heard an infant's little cry,—
"Twas his "I am a murderer, I !"
Whisper'd his heart, and safe within
He bore them from the tempest's din,
And his repentant hand supplied
The succour he had once denied.
The mother struggled long, and lay
Love's victim in a young decay-
A tranquil ruin, in that dress
Of more than human loveliness,
Sometimes put on ere time be past
To shew the loveliest may be last.
She died, and dying she forgave
Him who had led her to the grave,
And even bless'd him as she died-
Her love was her delight, her pride,
Unchanged in contumely and woe,
And in her death she shew'd it so.

Could he his cruelty forgive? Oh no!
Remorse track'd all his future steps below:
The scorpion sting that festers in the heart
With a relentless, an undying smart-
The canker of the soul, that drop by drop
Drains life away until its pulses stop,
Were his, with an existence lengthen'd more
To suffer, loathe himself, condemn, deplore-
The love betray'd exacting vengeance dear,—
Making his hell in earth's bright atmosphere.


"No wonder they were caught by South Sea schemes,

Who ne'er enjoy'd a guinea, but in dreams;

No wonder they their third subscriptions sold,
For millions of imaginary gold ;—

If to instruct them all my reasons fail,
Be they diverted by this moral tale."

Swift's Epistle to Mr. Thomas Snow.

Monday.-Received a visit from Mr. Macnab, the attorney, who paid me nine hundred pounds, being the amount of the legacy left to my wife by Farmer Mumpford, of Ipswich, her late uncle, for which we gave him our joint discharge. Took him into the parlour behind the shop, when Mrs. S. had returned up-stairs, and consulted him as to the employment of this large sum; when he informed me that all the world were making fortunes in South American Securities, and recommended me to try my luck; for which purpose, he offered to introduce me to his particular friend Mr. Manasseh Mordecai, a remarkably prudent young gentleman, who had recently entered the Foreign Stock Exchange, and, as he assured me, was already comfortably tiled in, as the phrase is. Put on my best coat, told Jem to look after the shop, and accompanied Macnab to Mr. Mordecai's counting-house, whose tilbury was at the door, a bright pea-green picked out with red, and brass mouldings, piebald horse, and harness covered with brazen ornaments; a boy-groom in the gig, in a sky-blue livery, with silver shoulder-knots, varnished hat, silver lace, and cockade; altogether the genteelest and smartest equipage I had ever seen. Went up-stairs, and found young gentleman aforesaid damning his clerk's eyes, because he had forgotten to order the turtle soup and pine-apples to be sent to his country-house the day before, when Ben Bubbleton dined with him. Took us into an inner room about six feet square, and upon being informed the nature of our errand, declared with an oath that every man was a cursed ass, if he had a little money in his pocket, not to make his fortune as he had done: that it was plain sailing, a hollow thing, clear as daylight, and sure as a gun; for Ben Bubbleton had called in New Court, and ascertained that Nathan meant to make an immense purchase in Poyais, which he had no doubt would run up ten or twenty per cent. in consequence, and was out-and-out the cheapest thing in the market for a buyer. Desired him accordingly to invest my nine hundred pounds in that stock; when he exclaimed, with a contemptuous look, "Psha! what will you get by that? If it runs up twenty per cent. there is but a paltry hundred and eighty profit. No, if you are a fellow of any spirit and talent, you will lodge this money with me as a security, and let me buy you a lot for the end of the month, before which time I shall probably be able to sell it again with a profit of some thousands." Thought it a pity not to be a fellow of spirit and talent, and consented accordingly to his proposition; when he inquired whether I had any other dibbs, any more blunt, or stumpy, which Macnab explained to mean any more money; and I replied that I had saved nearly six hundred pounds in business, which I kept in Exchequer bills."Exchequer bills!" exclaimed Mr. Mordecai: "what folly! Make up the fifteen hundred pounds, lodge the whole sum with me as a security, since I have not the pleasure of knowing you, though, as the friend of Mr. Macnab, I doubt not you are perfectly respectable, and I will buy

for you fifty thousand Poyais Scrip for the end of the month." Fifty thousand Poyais!! what a magnificent sound! there was no resisting it, so I deposited the fifteen hundred pounds, and received the broker's memorandum, 66 Bought by order and for account of Simon Snooks, Esquire," &c. The first time I had ever been dubbed Esquire, but thought it the least that could be appended to the proprietor of fifty thousand Poyais Scrip.

Returned home, when my wife scolded me for wearing my Sunday coat: told me there was a loaf of sugar to break up for Alderman Dewlap, and handed me my white apron, which I indignantly threw behind the counter, exclaiming "Damn white aprons! I shall never put on another."-Mrs. Snooks insisted; and though I make a point of always being master in my own house, I thought I might as well humour her, since she is a very worthy woman, and hang it before me-but as I was determined to show my independence, I took it off the moment she went up-stairs, and desired Jem to finish breaking the sugar for the Alderman.

Tuesday. Went to Capel Court immediately after breakfast-all in a bustle-Poyais Stock rising every minute, all buyers no sellers; the knowing ones laying bets that it will be up 10 per cent. this week; price already 2 per cent. higher. Two per cent. on my fifty is a thousand pounds profit. Wear an apron indeed! A clever fellow has no occasion for any such appendage. Resolved to take time by the forelock, and make my fortune at once, now that my hand was fairly in. Met my neighbour Mr. Dry, and asked his opinion of South American Securities, when he observed they might be excellent things to purchase, but doubted whether they were so good as the Chinese Turnpike Bonds, which had been lately introduced into the market; and as it was whispered there was shortly to be a general election in China, which by the additional travelling would prodigiously increase the toll-money, he had no doubt prices would rise considerably. He recommended also to my attention the new Patagonian Loan, of which I had heard nothing, informing me that the agent whom they had sent over was nearly nine feet high, that the contract was drawn up on a sheet of foolscap, above two yards square, that the Scrip Receipts were nearly three feet long, and that of course the profits would be proportionably large. Made a Mem. to speak to Mr. Mordecai on the subject. Asked his opinion about the tunnel under the Thames, when he told me he doubted whether the scheme would hold water, and that to wait for your profits till a hole was burrowed under the river, must at all events be a great bore. Said the Thames would serve the contractors right if it gave them a good sousing, adding, that he would do the same if they got under his bed.

Wednesday.-Capel Court again-greater hubbub than ever-the Bears all frightened out of their wits, and the Bulls quite cockahoop. Four per cent. on my fifty is two thousand pounds profit. Recommended by a friend to sell; not such an ass. No doubt they will be up twenty per cent. before the account, and twenty per cent. upon my fifty will be ten thousand pounds. Went upon the Royal Exchange, and saw the great man, said to be worth two millions, higgling with a broker for an eighth per cent. upon a bill of a hundred pounds. Looked up to him with suitable reverence, and thought him quite handsome enough for a great capitalist. Don't see why I should

« ZurückWeiter »