« ForrigeFortsett »
the deepest'tranquillity, at midnight a voice was heard
4 youth, spared just long enough to hear the tidings of her
infant‘s death, almost immediately, as if summoned by his spirit, follows him into eternity. “It is a night much to be remembered.” Who foretold this event, who conjectured it, who detected at a distance the faintest presage of its approach, which, when it arrived, mocked the efforts of human skill, as much by their incapacity to prevent, as their inability to foresee it! Unmoved by the tears of conjugal affection, unawed by the presence of grandeur, and the prerogatives of power, inexorable death hastened to execute his stern commission, leaving nothing to royalty itself, but to retire and weep. Who can fail to discern on this awful occasion, the hand of Him who “ bringeth the princes to nothing, who maketh the judges of the earth as vanity;" who says “they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown; yea, their stock shall not take root in the earth;” and he “ shall blow upon them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble. ”
But is it now any subject of regret, think you, to this
_ amiable Princess so suddenly removed, “that her sun
went down while it was yet day,” or that, prematurely snatched from prospects the most brilliant and enchanting, she was compelled to close her eyes so soon on a world, of whose grandeur she formed so conspicuous a part? No! in the full fruition of eternal joys, for which we humbly hope Religion prepared her, she is so far
' from looking back with lingering regret on what she
has quitted, that she is surprised it had the power of affecting her so much;—that she took so deep an interest in the scenes ofthis shadowy state of being, while so near to an “eternal weight of glory;” and, as far as memory may be supposed to contribute to her happiness, by associating the present with the past, it is not the recollection of her illustrious birth, and elevated pros— pects, but that she visited the abodes of the poor, and learned to weep with those that weep; that surrounded with the fascinations of pleasure, she was not inebriated
by its charms; that she resisted the strongest temptations to pride, preserved her ears open to truth, was impatient of the voice of flattery: in a word, that she sought and cherished the inspirations of piety, and walked humbly with her God.
The nation has certainly not been wanting in the proper expression of its poignant regret, at the sudden removal of this most lamented Princess, nor of their sympathy with the royal family, deprived by this visitation of its brightest ornament. Sorrow is painted in every countenance, the pursuits of business and of pleasure have been suspended, and the kingdom is covered with the signals of distress. But what, my friends, (if it were lawful to indulge such a thought,) what would be the funeral obsequies of a lost soul? Where shall we find tears fit to be wept at such'a spectacle, or, could ,we realize the calamity in all its extent, what tokens of commiseration and concern would be deemed equal to the occasion? Would it suffice for the sun to veil his light, and the moon her brightness; to cover the ocean with mourning, and the heavens with sackcloth; or, were the whole fabric of nature to become animated and vocal, would it be possible for her to utter a groan too deep, or a cry too piercing, to express the magnitude and extent of such a catastrophe?
You have often asked me to describe to you on paper an event in my life, which at the distance of thirty years, I cannot look back to without horror. No words can give an adequate image of the miseries I sufi'ered during that fearful night; but I shall try to give you something like a faint shadow of them, that from it your soul may conceive what I must have suffered.
I was, you know, on my voyage back to my native country, after an absence of five years spent in unintermitting toil, in a foreign land, to which I had been driven by a singular fatality. Our voyage had been most cheerful and rosperous, and, on Christmas day, we were within fi y leagues of port. Passengers and crew
were all in the highest spirits, and the ship was alive with mirth and jollity.
About eight o’clock in the evening, I went on deck. The ship was sailing upon a wind, at the rate of seven knots an hour, and there was a wild grandeur in the night. A strong snow-storm blew, but steadily and without danger; and, now and then, when the struggling moonlight overcame the sleety and misty darkness, we saw, for some distance round us, the agitated sea all tumbling with foam. There were no shoals to fear, and the ship kept boldly on her course, close reefed, and mistress of the storm. I leant over'the gunwale, admiring'the water rushing past like a foaming cataract, when, by some unaccountable accident, I lost my balance, and in an instant, fell overboard into the sea.
I remember a convulsive shuddering all over my body, and a hurried leaping of my heart, as I felt myself about to lose hold of the vessel, and, afterwards a sensation of the most icy chilness, from immersion into the waves, but nothing resembling a fall or precipitation. When below the water, I think that a momentary belief rushed across my mind, that the ship had suddenly sunk, and that I was but one of a perishing crew. I imagined that I felt a hand with long fingers clutching at my legs, and made violent efforts to escape, dragging after me, as I thought, the body of some drowning wretch. On risin to the surface, I recollected in a moment what had befallen me, and uttered a cry of horror, which is in my ears to '
this day, and often makes me shudder, as if it were the
mad shriek of another person in extremity of perilous agony. Often have I dreamed over again that dire moment, and the cry I utter in my sleep is said to be something more horrible than a human voice. N o ship was to be seen. She was gone forever. The little happy world to which, a moment before, I had belonged, had swept by, and I felt that God had flung me at once from the heart of joy, delight, and happiness, into the uttermost abyss of mortal misery and despair. Yes! I felt that the Almighty God had done this,-—that there was an act, a fearful act of Providence, and miserable worm that I was, I thought that the act was cruel, and a sort of wild, indefinite, objectless rage and wrath assailed me, and took for awhile the place of that first shrieking ter
ror. I gnashed my teeth, and cursed myselfi—and, with bitter tears and yells, blasphemed the name of God. It is true my friend, that I did so. God forgave that wickedness. The Being, whom I then cursed, was, in his tender mercy, not unmindful of me,—of me, a poor, blind, miserable, mistaken worm. But the waves dash~ ed on me, and struck me on the face, and howled at me; and the winds yelled, and the snow beat like drifting sand into my eyes,—-and the ship, the ship was gone, and there was I left to struggle, and buffet, and gasp, and sink, and erish, alone, unseen, and unpitied by man, and, as I thought too, by the everlasting God. I tried to penetrate the surrounding darkness with my glaring eyes, that felt leaping from their sockets; and saw, as if by miraculous power, to a great distance through the night,-—but no_sh'ip,--nothing but whitecrested waves, and the dismal noise of thunder. I shouted, shrieked, and yelled, that I might be heard by the crew, till my voice was gone,—and that too, when I knew that there were none to hear me. At last I became utterly speechless, and, when I tried to call aloud, there was nothing but a silent gasp and convulsion,— while the waves came upon me like stunning blows, reiterated, and drove me along, like a log of.wood, or a
dead animal. s
All this time I was not conscious of any act of swimming; but I soon found that I had instinctively been exerting all my power and skill, and both were requisite to keep me alive in the tumultuous wake of the ship. Something struck me harder than a wave. What it was I knew not, but I grasped it with a passionate violence, for the hope of salvation came suddenly over me, and with a sudden transition from despair, I felt that I was rescued. I had the same thought as if I had been suddenly heaved on shore by a wave._ The crew had thrown overboard every thing they thought could afford me the slightest chance of escape from death, and a hencoop had drifted towards me. At once all the stories I had ever read of mariners miraculously saved at sea, rushed across my recollection. I had an object to cling to, which I knew would enable me to prolong my existence. I was no longer helpless on the cold weltering world of waters; and, the thought that my friends were thinking of me, and doing all they could for me, Q0 gave to me a wonderful courage. I may yet pass the night in the ship, I thought; and I looked round eagerly to hear the rush of her prow, or to see through the snow-dritt the gleaming of her sails. This was but a momentary gladness. The ship I 25 knew could not be far off, but, for any good she could do me, she might have been in the heart of the Atlantic Ocean. Ere she could have altered her clourse, I must have drifted a long way to lee-ward, and in that dim snowy night how was such a speck to be seen? I 30 saw a flash of lightning, and then, there was thunder. ' It was the ship firing a gun, to let me know, if still alive, that she was somewhere lying to. But gwherefore? I was separated from her by a dire necessity,—by many thousand fierce waves, that would not let my shrieks be 35 heard. Each succeeding gun was heard fainter and fainter, till at last I cursed the sound, that, scarcely heard above the hollow rumbling of the tempestuous sea, told me, that the ship was farther and farther ofi', till she and her heartless crew had left me to my fate. Why did 40 they not send out all their boats to row round and round all the night through, for the sake of one whom they pretended to love so well? I blamed, blessed, and cursed them by fits, till every emotion of my soul was exhausted, and I clung in sullen despair to the wretch45 ed iece of wood, that still kept me from eternity. Every thing was now seen in its absolute, dreadful reality. I was a Castaway—no hope of rescue. It was broad daylight, and the storm had ceased; but clouds lay round the horizon, and no land was to be 50 seen. What dreadful clouds! Some black as pitch, and charged with thunder; others like cliffs of fire; and here and there all streamered over with blood. It was indeed a sullen, wrathful, and despairing sky. The sun itself was a dull brazen orb, cold, dead, and beam55 less. I beheld three ships afar off, but all their heads . were turned away from me. For whole hours they would adhere motionless to the sea, while I drifted away from them; and then a rushing wind would spring up, and carry them, one by one, into the darkness of the f .