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LESSON CCXVI.

THE VOYAGE.

BY WASHINGTON IRVING.

1. To an American visiting Europe, the long voyage he has to make is an excellent preparative. The temporary absence of worldly scenes and employments produces a state of mind peculiarly fitted to receive new and vivid impressions. The vast space of waters that separates the hemispheres is like a blank page

in existence. There is no gradual transition by which, as in Europe, the features and population of one country blend almost imperceptibly with those of another. From the moment you lose sight of the land you have left, all is vacancy until you step on the opposite shore, and are launched at once into the bustle and novelties of another world.

2. In traveling by land there is a continuity of scene, and a connected succession of persons and incidents, that carry on the story of life, and lessen the effect of absence and separation. We drag, it is true, "a lengthening chain” at each remove of our pilgrimage; but the chain is-unbroken: we can trace it back link by link; and we feel that the last still grapples us to home But a wide sea-voyage severs us at once. It makes us conscious of being cast loose from the secure anchorage of settled life, and sent adrift upon a doubtful world. It interposes a gulf—not merely imaginary, but real—between us and our homes; a gulf subject to tempest, and fear, and uncertainty, rendering distance palpable, and return precari vus.

3. Such, at least, was the case with myself. As I saw the last blue line of my native land fade away like a cloud in the horizon, it seemed as if I had closed one volume of the world and its concerns, and had time for meditation before I opened another. That land, too, now vanishing from my view, which contained all most dear to me in life,—what vicissitudes might occur in it, what changes might take place in me, before I should visit it again! Who can tell, when he sets forth to wander, whither he may be driven by the uncertain currents of existence, or when he may return, or whether it may ever be his lot to revisit the scenes of his childhood ?

4. I said that at sea all is vacancy; I should correct the expression. To one given to day-dreaming, and fond of losing himself in reveries, a sea-voyage is full of subjects for meditation; but then they are the wonders of the deep and of the air, and

rather tend to abstract the mind from worldly themes. I delighted to loll over the quarter-railing, or climb to the maintop, of a calm day, and muse for hours together on the tranquil bosom of a summer sea; to gaze upon the piles of golden clouds just peering above the horizon, fancy them some fairy realms, and people them with a creation of my own; to watch the gentle undulating billows, rolling their silver volumes as if to die away on those happy shores.

5. There was a delicious sensation of mingled security an awe with which I looked down, from my.giddy hight, on the monsters of the deep at their uncouth gambols. Shoals of porpoises tumbling about the bow of the ship; the grampus slowly heaving his huge form above the surface; or the ravenous shark, darting like a specter through the blue waters. My imagination would conjure up all that I had heard or read of the watery world beneath me; of the finny herds that roam its fathomless valleys; of the shapeless monsters that lurk among the very foundations of the earth; and of those wild phantasms that swell the tales of fishermen and sailors.

6. Sometimes a distant sail, gliding along the edge of the ocean, would be another theme of idle speculation. How interesting this fragment of a world, hastening to rejoin the great mass of existence! What a glorious monument of human invention, which has in a manner triumphed over wind and wave; has brought the ends of the world into communion; has established an interchange of blessings, pouring into the sterile regions of the North all the luxuries of the South; has diffused the light of knowledge and the charities of cultivated life; and has thus bound together those scattered portions of the human race, between which nature seemed to have thrown an insurmountable barrier!

7. We one day descried some shapeless object drifting at a distance. At sea, every thing that breaks the monotony of the surrounding expanse attracts attention. It proved to be the mast of a ship that must have been completely wrecked; for there were the remains of handkerchiefs, by which some of the crew had fastened themselves to this spar to prevent their being washed off by the waves. There was no trace by which the name of the ship could be ascertained.

8. The wreck had evidently drifted about for many months; clusters of shell-fish had fastened about it, and long sea-weeds flaunted at its sides. But where, thought I, is the crew? Their struggle has long been over; they have gone down amidst the roar of the tempest; their bones lie whitening among the caverns of the deep. Silence, oblivion, like the waves, have closed over them, and no one can tell the story of their end.

9. What sighs have been wafted after that ship! what prayers offered up at the deserted fireside of home! How often has the mistress, the wife, the mother, pored over the daily news, to catch some casual intelligence of this rover of the deep! How has expectation darkened into anxiety, anxiety into dread, and dread into despair ! Alas! not one memento may ever return for love to cherish! All that may ever be known is, that she sailed from her port, “and was never heard of more !"

LESSON CCXVII.

AN EVENING REVERIE.
BY WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT.

1. The summer day is closed; the sun is set.

Well have they done their office, those bright hours,
The latest of whose train goes softly out
In the red west. The green blade of the ground
Has risen, and herds have cropp'd it; the young twig
Has spread its plaited tissues to the sun;
Flowers of the garden and the waste have blown
And wither'd; seeds have fallen upon the soil
From bursting cells, and in their graves

await
Their resurrection.
2.

Insects from the pools
Have fill'd the air a while with humming wings,
That now are still forever; painted moths
Have wander'd the blue sky, and died again;
The mother-bird hath broken for her brood
Their prison-shell, or shoved them from the nest,

Plumed for their earliest flight.
3.

In bright alcoves,
In woodland cottages with barky walls,
In noisome cells of the tumultuous town,
Mothers have clasped with joy the new-born babe.
Graves by the lonely forest, by the shore
Of rivers and of ocean, by the ways
Of the throng'd city, have been hollow'd out,
And fill’d, and closed.

This day hath parted friends
That ne'er before were parted; it hath knit

New friendships; it hath seen the maiden plight
Her faith and trust her peace to him who long
Had wooed; and it hath heard, from lips which late
Were eloquent of love, the first harsh word,

That told the wedded one her peace was flown.
5. Farewell to the sweet sunshine! One glad day

Is added now to childhood's merry days,
And one calm day to those of quiet age.
Still the fleet hours run on; and, as I lean,
Amid the thickening darkness, lamps are lit,
By those who watch the dead, and those who twine
Flowers for the bride. The mother from the eyes
Of her sick infant shades the painful light,
And sadly listens to his quick-drawn breath.

LESSON CCXVIII.

PARLIAMENTARY REFORM.

BY LORD BROUGHAM.

1. My lords, I do not disguise the intense solicitude which I feel for the event of this debate, because I know full well that the peace of the country is involved in the issue. I cannot look without dismay at the rejection of the measure. But, grievous as may be the consequences of a temporary defeat, temporary it can only be; for its ultimate, and even speedy success, is certain. Nothing can now stop it. Do not suffer yourselves to be persuaded, that, even if the present ministers were driven from the helm, any one could steer you through the troubles which surround you, without reform.

2. But our successors would take up the task in circumstances far less auspicious. Under them you would be fain to grant a bill compared with which, the one we now proffer you is moderate indeed. Hear the parable of the Sibyl; for it contains a wise and wholesome moral. She now appears at your gate and offers you mildly the volumes—the precious volumes—of wisdom and peace. The price she asks is reasonable,—to restore the franchise; which, without any bargain, you ought voluntarily to give. You refuse her terms—her moderate terms ;-she darkens the porch no longer. But soon, for you cannot do without her wares, you call her back..

3. Again she comes, but with diminished treasures; the leaves of the book are in part torn away by lawless hands, in part defaced with characters of blood. But the prophetic maid has risen in her demands; it is Parliament by the year; it is vote by the ballot; it is suffrage by the million! From this you turn away indignant, and, for the second time, she departs. Beware of her third coming; for the treasure you must have; and what price she may next demand, who shall tell ? It may be the mace which rests on that woolsack.

4. What may follow your course of obstinacy, if persisted in, I cannot take upon me to predict; nor do I wish to conjecture. But this I know full well, that, as sure as man is mortal, and to err is human, justice deferred enhances the price at which you *must purchase safety and peace; nor can you expect to gather in another crop than they did who went before you,

if

you persevere in their utterly abominable husbandry, of sowing injustice and reaping rebellion. But among the awful considerations which now bow down my mind, there is one which stands preeminent above the rest. You are the highest judicature in the realm; you sit here as judges, and decide all causes, civil and criminal, without appeal.

5. It is a judge's first duty never to pronounce sentence, in the most trifling case, without hearing. Will you make this the exception ? Are you really prepared to determine, but not to hear, the mighty cause upon which hang a nation's hopes and fears? You are. Then beware of your decision! Rouse not, I beseech you, a peace-loving but a resolute people; alienate not from your body the affections of a whole empire. As your friend, as the friend of my country, as the faithful servant of my sovereign, I counsel you to assist, with your uttermost efforts in preserving peace, and upholding and perpetuating the Constitution. Therefore, I pray and export you not to reject this measure. By all you hold most dear,—by all the ties that bind every one of us to our common order and our common country, I solemnly adjure you, I warn you,—I implore you,-yea, on my bended knees, I supplicate you,-reject not this bill!

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