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garded with astonishment and fear, and was obliged to sit all day, without victuals, in the shade of a tree; and the night threatened to be very uncomfortable, — for the wind rose, and there was great appearance of a heavy rain, — and the wild beasts are so very numerous in the neighborhood, that I should have been under the necessity of climbing up the tree, and resting among the branches. About sunset, however, as I was preparing to pass the night in this manner, and had turned my horse loose, that he might graze at liberty, a woman, returning from the labors of the field, stopped to observe me, and perceiving that I was weary and dejected, inquired into my situation, which I briefly explained to her ; whereupon, with looks of great compassion, she took up my saddle and bridle, and told me to follow her. Having conducted me into her hut, she lighted up a lamp, spread a mat on the floor, and told me I might remain there for the night. Finding that I was very hungry, she said she would procure me something to eat. She accordingly went out, and returned, in a short time, with a very fine fish, which, having caused to be half broiled upon some embers, she gave me for supper. The rites of hospitality being thus performed towards a stranger in distress, my worthy benefactress, pointing to the mat, and telling me I could sleep there without apprehension, called to the female part of her family, who had stood gazing on me all the while, in fixed astonishment, to resume their task of spinning cotton, in which they continued to employ themselves great part of the night. They lightened their labor by songs, one of which was composed extempore, for I was myself the subject of it. It was sung by one of the young women,
the rest joining in a sort of chorus. The air was sweet and plaintive, and the words, literally translated, were these : “The winds roared, and the rains fell. The poor white man, faint and weary, came and sat under our tree. He has no mother to bring him
no wife to grind his corn. Chorus. — Let us pity the white man
no mother has he to bring him milk, no wife to grind his corn." Trifling as this recital may appear to the reader, to a person in my situation, the circumstance was affecting in the highest degree. I was oppressed by such unexpected kindness, and sleep fled from my eyes. In the morning I presented
my compassionate landlady with two of the four brass buttons which remained on my waistcoat — the only recompense I could make her.
SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE. 1772-1834. Coleridge was the son of a clergyman, and the youngest of eleven children. In boyhood he was famous for his great acquirements, and for remarkable powers in conversation. He read extensively, but did not apply himself to systematic study. At one time in his boyhood, he thought of apprenticing himself to a shoemaker. He quitted college abruptly, and enlisted as a soldier, but made a poor dragoon; and his captain, on finding out his talents, discharged him, and sent him to his friends. He married a sister of Southey's wife, officiated a while as a clergym an, and then, through the generosity of friends, went to Germany, where he spent some time in making himself familiar with German literature and science. On his return, he went to live with Southey, and for the last nineteen years of his life he resided with his friend, Mr. Gilman.
His mind had wonderful power, but it lacked system. The unfortunate habit he had of taking opium exerted a very unhappy influence upon him. His remarkable powers of conversation, his musical voice and attractive manner, drew around him great numbers of friends and admirers, eager to catch every word that fell from his lips. Charles Lamb was a schoolfellow of his, and an intimate friend. Washington Allston, when in England, was also in habits of intimacy with him. His poems contain
passages of exquisite beauty, and his prose writings are full of thought, - of noble and philosophical principles.
[From the “ Table Talk.”]
POWER OF CONSCIENCE. A STRANGER came recommended to a merchant's house, at Lubec. He was hospitably received ; but, the house being full, he was lodged at night in an apartment handsomely furnished, but not often used. There was nothing that struck him particularly in the room, when left alone, till he happened to cast his eyes on a picture, which immediately arrested his attention. It was a single head; but there was something so uncommon, so frightful and unearthly, in its expression, though by no means ugly, that he found himself irresistibly attracted to look at it. In fact, he could not tear himself from the fascination of this portrait, till his imagination was filled by it, and his rest broken. He retired to bed, dreamed, and awoke, from time to time, with the head glaring on him.
In the morning, his host saw, by his looks, that he had slept ill, and inquired the cause, which was told. The master of the house was much vexed, and said that the picture ought to have been removed ; that it was an oversight, and that it always was removed, when the chamber was used. The picture, he said, was indeed terrible to every one ; but it was so fine, and had come into the family in so curious a way, that he could not make up his mind to part with it, or destroy it. The story of it was this:-“My father," said he, “was at Hamburg, on business; and whilst dining at a coffee-house, he observed a young man, of a remarkable appearance, enter, seat himself alone in a comer, and commence a solitary meal. His countenance bespoke the extreme of mental distress, and every now and then he would turn his head quickly round, as if he heard something, then shud. der, grow pale, and go on with his meal, after an effort, as before. My father saw this same man, at the same place, for two or three successive days, and at length became so much interested about him that he spoke to him. The address was not repulsed, and the stranger seemed to find some comfort from the tone of sym. pathy and kindness which my father used. He was an Italian, well informed, poor but not destitute, and living economically upon the profits of his art as a painter. Their intimacy increased; and at length the Italian, seeing my father's involuntary emotion at his convulsive turnings and shudderings, which continued as formerly, interrupting their conversation, from time to time, told him his story.
“He was a native of Rome, and had lived in some familiarity with, and been much patronized by, a young nobleman; but, upon some slight occasion, they had fallen out, and his patron, besides using many reproachful expressions, had struck him. The painter brooded over the disgrace of the blow. He could not challenge the nobleman, on account of his rank; he therefore watched for an opportunity, and assassinated him. Of course, he fled from his country, and finally had reached Hamburg. He had not, however, passed many weeks from the night of the murder, before, one day, in the crowded street, he heard his name called by a voice familiar to him; he turned short round, and saw the face of his victim looking at him, with a fixed eye.
From that moment, he had no peace: at all hours, in all places, and amidst all companies, however engaged he might be, he heard the voice, and could never help looking round; and whenever he so looked round, he always encountered the same face, staring close upon him. At last, in a mood of desperation, he had fixed himself face to face, and eye to eye, and deliberately drawn the phantom visage as it glared upon him; and this was the picture so drawn. The Italian said he had struggled long, but life was a burden which he could now no longer bear; and he was resolved, when he had made money enough to return to Rome, to surrender himself to justice, and expiate his crime on the scaffold. He gave the finished picture to my father, in return for the kindness which he had shown him.”
FROST AT MIDNIGHT.
Echo or mirror, seeking of itself,
But oh! how oft, How oft, at school, with most believing mind, Presageful have I gazed upon the bars, To watch that fluttering stranger ! and as oft, With unclosed lids, already had I dreamt Of my sweet birth-place, and the old church-tower, Whose bells, the poor man's only music, rang From morn to evening, all the hot fair day, So sweetly, that they stirred and haunted me With a wild pleasure, falling on mine ear Most like articulate sounds of things to come! So gazed I, till the soothing things I dreamt Lulled me to sleep, and sleep prolonged my dreams! And so I brooded, all the following morn, Awed by the stern preceptor's face, mine eye Fixed with much study on my swimming book; Save if the door half opened, and I snatched A hasty glance, and still my heart leaped up, For still I hoped to see the stranger's face, Townsman, or aunt, or sister more beloved, My playmate, when we both were clothed alike !
Dear Babe, that sleepest cradled by my side,