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? So long and so busily has time been at work to fill this chosen spot, so repeatedly has Constantinople poured into this ultimate receptacle almost its whole contents', that the capital of the living, spite of its immense population, scarce counts a single breathing inhabitant for every ten silent inmates of this city of the dead. Already do its fields of blooming sepulchres stretch far away on every side, across the brow of the hills and the bend of the valleys; already are the avenues which cross each other at every step in this domain of death so lengthened, that the weary stranger, from whatever point he comes, still finds before him many a dreary mile of road between marshalled tombs and mournful cypresses, ere he reaches his journey's seemingly receding end; and yet, every year does this common pătrimony of all the heirs to decay still exhibit a rapidly increasing size, a fresh and wider line of boundary, and a new belt of young plantations, growing up between new flowerbeds of graves.
As I hurried on through this awful repository, the pale far-stretching monumental ranges rose in sight, and again receded rapidly from my view in such unceasing succession, that at last I fancied some spell possessed my soul, some fascination kept locked my senses; and I therefore still increased my speed, as if only on quitting these melancholy abodes I could hope to shake off my waking delusion. Nor was it until, near the verge of the fune'real forest through which I had been pacing for a full hour, a brighter light again gleamed athwart the ghost-like trees, that I stopped to look round, and to take a more leisurely survey of the ground which I had traversed.
"There," said I to myself, "lie, scarce one foot beneath the surface of a swelling soil, ready to burst at every point with its festering contents', more than half the generations whom death has continued to mow down for near four centuries in the vast capital of Islamism. There lie, side by side, on the same level, in cells the size of their bodies, and only distinguished by a marble turban somewhat longer or deeper,--somewhat rounder or squarer, personages in life far as heaven and earth asunder, in birth, in station, in gifts of nature, and in long-labored acquirements. There lie, sunk alike in their last sleep,-alike food for the worm that lives on death, the conqueror who filled the universe with his name, and the peasant scarce known in his own hamlet; Sultan Mahmoud, and Sultan Mahmoud's perhaps more de* Pron. lê-zhur-ly.
serving horse; elders bending under the weight of years, and infants of a single hour; men with intellects of angels, and men with understandings inferior to those of brutes; the beauty of Georgia, and the black of Sennaar; Visiers, beggars, heroes, and women.
There, perhaps, mingle their insensible dust the corrupt judge and the innocent he condemned, the murdered man and his murderer, the master and his meanest slave. There vile insects consume the hand of the artist, the brain of the philosopher, the eye which sparkled with celestial fire, and the lip from which flowed irresistible eloquence. All the soil pressed by me for the last two hour, was once animated like myself; all the mould which now clings to my feet, once formed limbs and features similar to my own. Like myself, all this black unseemly dust once thought, and willed, and moved!—And I, creature of clay like those here cast around; I, who travel through life as I do on this road, with the remains of past generations strewed along my trembling path; I, whether my journey last a few hours more or less, must still, like those here deposited, shortly rejoin the silent tenants of some cluster of tombs, be stretched out by the side of some already sleeping corpse, and while time continues its course, have all my hopes and fears-all my faculties and prospects-laid at rest on a couch of clammy earth.
Thoughts on Letter-writing.-BLACKWOOD'S ED. MAGAZINE.
EPISTOLARY as well as personal intercourse is, according to the mode in which it is carried on, one of the pleasantest or most irksome things in the world. It is delightful to drop in on a friend without the solemn preludet of invitation and acceptance-to join a social circle, where we may suffer our minds and hearts to relax and expand in the happy consciousness of perfect security from invidious remark and carping criticism; where we may give the reins to the sportiveness of innocent fancy, or the enthusiasm of warm-hearted feeling; where we may talk sense or nonsense, (I pity people who cannot talk nonsense,) without fear of being looked † Pron. prěl'ude.
into icicles by the coldness of unimaginative people—living pieces of clock-work, who dare not themselves utter a word, or lift up a little finger, without first weighing the important point, in the hair balance of propriety and good breeding.
It is equally delightful to let the pen talk freely, and unpremeditatedly, and to one by whom we are sure of being understood; but a formal letter, like a ceremonious morning visit, is tedious alike to the writer and receiver-for the most part spun out with unmeaning phrases, trite observations, complimentary flourishes, and protestations of respect and attachment, so far not deceitful, as they never deceive any body. Oh the misery of having to compose a set, proper, well worded, correctly pointed, polite, elegant epistle one that must have a beginning, a middle, and an end, as methodically arranged and portioned out as the several parts of a sermon under three heads, or the three gradations of shade in a school-girl's first landscape!
For my part, I would rather be set to beat hemp, or weed in a turnip-field, than to write such a letter exactly every month, or every fortnight, at the precise point of time from the date of our correspondent's last letter, that he or she wrote after the reception of ours-as if one's thoughts bubbled up to the well-head, at regular periods, a pint at a time, to be bottled off for immediate use. Thought! what has thought to do in such a correspondence? It murders thought, quenches fancy, wastes time, spoils paper, wears out innocent goose-quills-"I'd rather be a kitten, and cry mew! than one of those same" prosing letter-mongers.
Surely in this age of invention something may be struck out to obviate the necessity (if such necessity exists) of so tasking-degrading the human intellect. Why should not a sort of mute barrel-organ be constructed on the plan of those that play sets of tunes and country dances, to indite a catalogue of polite epistles calculated for all the ceremonious observances of good breeding? Oh the unspeakable relief (could such a machine be invented) of having only to grind an answer to one of one's "dear five hundred friends!"
Or, suppose there were to be an epistolary steam-engine -Ay, that's the thing-Steam does every thing now-a-days. Dear Mr. Brunel, set about it, I beseech you, and achieve the most glorious of your undertakings. The block-machine at Portsmouth would be nothing to it-That spares manual labor-this would relieve mental drudgery, and thousands
yet unborn But hold! I am not so sure that the female sex in general may quite enter into my views of the subject.
Those who pique themselves on the elegant style of their billets, or those fair scribblerinas just emancipated from boarding-school restraints, or the dragonism of their governess, just beginning to taste the refined enjoyments of sentimental, confidential, soul-breathing correspondence with some Angelina, Seraphina, or Laura Matilda; to indite beautiful little notes, with long-tailed letters, upon vellum paper with pink margins sealed with sweet mottoes, and dainty devices, the whole deliciously perfumed with musk and attar of roses-young ladies, who collect "copies of verses," and charades-keep albums-copy patterns-make bread seals-work little dogs upon footstools, and paint flowers without shadow-Oh! no-the epistolary steamengine will never come into vogue with those dear creatures-They must enjoy the "feast of reason, and the flow of soul," and they must write-Ye gods! how they do write!
But for another genus of female scribes-Unhappy innocents! who groan in spirit at the dire necessity of having to hammer out one of those aforesaid terrible epistles-who having in due form dated the gilt-edged sheet that lies outspread before them in appalling whiteness-having also felicitously achieved the graceful exordium, "My dear Mrs. P." or "My dear Lady V." or "My dear any thing else," feel that they are in for it, and must say somethingOh, that something that must come of nothing! those bricks that must be made without straw! those pages that must be filled with words! Yea, with words that must be sewed into sentences! Yea, with sentences that must seem to mean something; the whole to be tacked together, all neatly fitted and dove-tailed, so as to form one smooth, polished surface! What were the labors of Hercules to such a task! The very thought of it puts me into a mental perspiration; and, from my inmost soul, I compassionate the unfortunates now (at this very moment, perhaps,) screwed up perpendicular in the seat of torture, having in the right hand a fresh-nibbed pătent pen, dipped ever and anon into the ink-bottle, as if to hook up ideas, and under the outspread palm of the left hand a fair sheet of best Bath post, (ready to receive thoughts yet unhatched,) on which their eyes are rivetted with a stare of disconsolate perplexity, infinitely touching to a feeling mind.
To such unhappy persons, in whose miseries I deeply sympathize - - - Have I not groaned under similar horrors, from the hour when I was first shut up (under lock and key, I believe,) to indite a dutiful epistle to an honored aunt? I remember, as if it were yesterday, the moment when she who had enjoined the task entered to inspect the performance, which, by her calculation, should have been fully completed-I remember how sheepishly I hung down my head, when she snatched from before me the paper, (on which I had made no further progress than " My dear ant,") angrily exclaiming, "What, child! have you been shut up here three hours to call your aunt a pismire?" From that hour of humiliation I have too often groaned under the endurance of similar penance, and I have learnt from my own sufferings to compassionate those of my dear sisters in affliction. To such unhappy persons, then, I would fain offer a few hints, (the fruit of long experience,) which, if they have not already been suggested by their own observation, may prove serviceable in the hour of emergency.
Let them or suppose I address myself to one particular sufferer-there is something more confidential in that manner of communicating one's ideas-As Moore says, "Heart speaks to heart"--I say, then, take always special care to write by candlelight, for not only is the apparently unimportant operation of snuffing the candle in itself a momentary relief to the depressing consciousness of mental vacuum, but not unfrequently that trifling act, or the brightening flame of the taper, elicits, as it were, from the dull embers of fancy, a sympathetic spark of fortunate conception-When such a one occurs, seize it quickly and dexterously, but, at the same time, with such cautious prudence, as not to huddle up and contract in one short, paltry sentence, that which, if ingeniously handled, may be wire-drawn, so as to undulate gracefully and smoothly over a whole page.
For the more ready practice of this invaluable art of dilating, it will be expedient to stock your memory with a large assortment of those precious words of many syllables, that fill whole lines at once; "incomprehensibly, amazingly, decidedly, solicitously, inconceivably, incontrovertibly." An opportunity of using these, is, to a distressed spinner, as delightful as a copy all m's and n's to a child. "Command you may, your mind from play." They run on with such delicious smoothness!