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TERRIFIC SCENE AT THE NATURAL BRIDGE.
the secret. He lay down upon the floor for about an hour, and then pursued his journey.
3. On his departure, I presented him with a piece of opium. To him, as an Oriëntalist, I concluded that opium must be familiar; and the expression of his face convinced me that it was. Nevertheless, I was struck with some little consternation when I saw him suddenly raise his hand to his mouth, and (in the school-boy phrase) bolt the whole, divided into three pieces, at one mouthful.
10. The quantity was enough to kill three dragoons and their horses, and I felt some alarm for the poor creature ; but what could be done? I had given him the opium in compassion for his solitary life, on recollecting that, if he had traveled on foot from London, it must be nearly three weeks since he could have exchanged a thought with any human being.
11. I could not think of vīölating the aws of hospitality by having him surged and drenched with an emetic, and thus Irightening him into a notion that we were going to săcrifice him to so him to some English idol. No, there was clearly no help for it: he took his leave, and for some days I felt anxious; but, as I never heard of any Malay being found dead, I became convinced that he was used to opium, and that I must have done him the service I designed, by giving him one night of respite from the pains of wandering.
THOMAS DE QUINCEY.
83. TERRIFIC SCENE AT THE NATURAL BRIDGE.
I looking up with awe to that vast arch’ of unhewn rocks, which the Almighty bridged over those everlasting butments : “when the morning stars sang togěther.” The little piece of sky spanning those measureless piers' is full of stars, although it is mid-day.
"Rěs' pite, a putting off of that Bŭt' ments, masses of rock or which was appointed ; delay ; rest. stone which support the ends of a
Arch, a curve line or part of a bridge. circle ; any work in that form, or * Piērs, columns of rock or stone covered by an arch,
for the support of an arch or bridge
2. It is almost five hundred feet from where they stand, up those perpendicular' bulwarks” of limestone, to the key rock of that vast arch, which appears to them only of the size of a man's hand. The silence of death is rendered more impressive by the little stream that falls from rock to rock down the channel. The sun is darkened, and the boys have unconsciously uncovered their heads, as if standing in the presence-chamber of the Măjesty of the whole earth.
3. At last, this feeling begins to wear away : they begin to look around them : they find that others have been there before them. They see the names of hundreds cut in the limestone butments. A new feeling comes over their young hearts, and their knives are in their hands in an instant. “What man has done, man can do,” is their watchword, while they draw themselves up, and carve their names a foot above those of a hundred full-grown men, who have been there before them.
4. They are all satisfied with this feat of physical exertion, except one, whose example illustrates perfectly the forgotten truth, that there is no royal road to intellectual eminence. This ambitious youth sees a name just above his reach, a name that will be green in the memory of the world, when those of Alexander, Cæsar,' and Bonaparte & shall rot in oblivion. It was the name of Washington. Before he marched with Braddock
Per pen dic' u lar, upright; in- the hands of assassins in the senateclining to neither side.
house, in the fiftieth year of his age. ? Bul' wark, a fortification; any Napoleon Bonaparte, “Emperor means of defense ; protection. of the French," a great warrior and
* Kēy of an arch, is the top stone statesman, was born at Ajaccio, in ngainst which the sides rest.
Corsica, on the 5th of February, 1768, *Unconsciously, (un kởn'shus ly), and died May 5th, 1821. without knowledge; not thinking. "Ob liv i on, forgetfulness; ces
• Phỏs' ic al, natural; bodily. sation of remembrance.
' Alexander the Great, son of 10 George Washington, commandPhilip, king of Macedonia, was born er-in-chief of the army of independ. in the autumn, B. c. 356. He made ence during the American Revolu80 many conquests, that he was tion, first President of the United styled the Conqueror of the world. States, styled the “Father of his He died in May or June, B. c. 323. Country," was born in Westmore
? Caius Julius Cæsar, the dicta- land, in the State of Virginia, on the tor of Rome, a great warrior, states. 22d of February, 1732. He retired man, and man of letters, was born from public life in 1796, and died on on the 12th of July, B. c. 100. On the 14th of December, 1799, leaving the 15th of March he perished by a reputation without a stain.
TERRIFIC SCENE AT THE NATURAL BRIDGE.
to that fatal field, he had been there, and left his name a foot above all his predecessors,
5. It was a glorious thought of the boy, to write his name side by side with that of the great father of his country. He grasps his knife with a firmer hand; and, clinging to a little jutting crag, he cuts a niche into the limestone, about a foot above where he stands ; he then reaches up and cuts another for his hands. 'Tis a dangerous adventure ; but as he puts his feet and hands into those niches, and draws himself up carefully to his full length, he finds himself a foot above every name chronicled’ in that mighty wall.
6. While his companions are regarding him with concern and admiration, he cuts his name in rude capitals, large and deep, into that flinty album.3 His knife is still in his hand, and strength in his sinews, and a new-created aspiration in his heart. Again he cuts another niche, and again he carves his name in larger capitals.
7. This is not enongh. Heedless of the entreaties of his companions, he cuts and climbs again. The gradations of his ascending scale grow wider apart. He measures his length at every gain he cuts. The voice of his friends wax weaker and weaker, till their words are finally lost on his ear.
8. He now, for the first time, casts å look benēath him. Had that glance lasted a moment, that moment would have been his last. He clings with a convulsive shudder to his little niche in the rock.
9. An awful abyss awaits his almost certain fall. He is faint with severe exertion, and trembling from the sudden view of the dreadful destruction to which he is exposed. His knife is worn half-way to the haft. He can hear the voices, but not the words, of his terror-stricken companions below.
10. 'What a moment! What a meager chance to escape de. struction! There is no retracing his steps. It is impossible to
'Pred'e cěs' sor, one who went guished persons, or in which friends before another and held the same insert pieces as memorials for each place, office, or the like; one whom other; a book at public places in another follows or comes after which visitors enter their names.
? Chron' i cled, recorded ; written. “As pirā' tion, a breathing after ;
* Album, a blank book in which an ardent wish. are entered the names of distin. Haft, (håft), handle.
put his hands into the same niche with his feet and retain his slender hold a moment. His companions instantly perceive this new and fearful dilemma, and await his fall with emotions that " freeze their young blood.”
11. He is too high, too faint, to ask for his father and mother, his brothers and sisters, to come and witness or avert' his destruction. But one of his companions anticipates his desire. Swift as the wind, he bounds down the channel, and the situation of the fated boy is told upon his father's hearth-stone.
84. TERRIFIC SCENE AT THE NATURAL BRIDGE.
PART SECOND. M INUTES of almost eternal length roll on, and there are
I hundreds standing in that rocky channel, and hundreds on the bridge above, all holding their breath, and ăwaiting the fearful catastrophe: The poor boy hears the hum of new and numerous voices both above and below. He can just distinguish the tones of his father, who is shouting, with all the energy of despair : “William! William! don't look down! Your mother, and Henry, and Harriet, are all here, praying for you! Keep your eye toward the top!"
2. The boy didn't look down. His eye is fixed like a flint toward heaven, and his young heart on Him who reigns there. He grasps again his knife. He cuts another niche, and another foot is added to the hundreds that remove him from the reach of human help from below.
3. How carefully he uses his wasting blade! How anxiously he selects the softèst places in that vast pier! How he avoids every flinty grain! How he economizes* his physical powers, resting a moment at each gain he cuts! How every motion is watched from below! There stand his father, mother, brother, and sister, on the věry spot where, if he falls, he will not fall alone.
4. The sun is now half-way down the west. The lad has made fifty additional niches in that miglity wall, and now finds TERRIFIC SCENE AT THE NATURAL BRIDGE.
1 Avert, (å vêrt'), prevent.
usually of a disastrous nature; an
“E cón' o miz es, uses savingly.
himself directly under the middle of that vast arch of rocks, earth, and trees. He must cut his way in a new direction, to gět from under this overhanging mountain.
5. The inspiration of hope is dying in his bosom : its vital heat is fed by the increasing shouts of hundreds, perched upon cliffs and trees, and others who stand with ropes in their hands, on the bridge above, or with ladders below. Fifty gains more must be cut before the longest rope can reach him. His wasting blade strikes again into the limestone. The boy is emerging? painfully, foot by foot, from under that lofty arch. Spliced ropes are ready, in the hands of those who are leaning over the outer edge of the bridge.
6. Two minutes more, and all will be over. The blade is worn to the last half inch. The boy's head reels ; his eyes are starting from their sockets. His last hope is dying in his heart; his life must hang upon the next gain he cuts. That niche is his last. At the last faint gash he makes, his knife, his faithful knife, falls from his little nerveless hand, and, ringing along the precipice, falls at his mother's feet.
7. An involuntary groan of despair runs like a death-knell through the channel below, and all is as still as the grave. At the height of nearly three hundred feet, the devoted boy lifts his hopeless heart, and closes his eyes to commend his soul to God. 'Tis but a moment—there! one foot swings off! he is reeling-trembling—toppling-over into eternity!
8. Hark! a shout falls on his ear from above. The man who is lying with half his length over the bridge has caught a glimpse of the boy's head and shoulders. Quick as thought the noosed rope is within reach of the sinking youth. No one breathes.
9. With a faint, convulsive effort, the swooning boy drops his arms into the noose. Darkness comes over him, and with the words, God, and Mother! whispered on his lips, just loud enough to be heard in heaven-the tightening rope lifts him out of this last shallow niche.
10. Not a lip moves while he is dangling over that fearful
In'spi rā' tion, a highly exciting very great elevation of the powers influence supposed to be breathed of the mind or soul. into a person by which he is able to 'Emerging, (e mêrj' ing), coming understand and declare the truth; a out.