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“In every land
The downward slope to death."
Deep in the stillness of a forest glade,
Where murmuring streamlets cooled the sultry air, Where spreading oak trees tempered with their shade
The sun's too fervent glare. Where none might see me, save the frightened deer,
Who shook the rustling bracken as I passed, I wandered from the world's turmoil, that here
I might find rest at last. And as I sauntered down that colonnade
Of huge brown oak-boles, by the mossy rill,
And held me gazing, till
The sky grew black, but I saw not, nor heard
As louder and more weird The wind moaned round me, nor the frighted screams
Of fluttering birds which fled beneath the shade ;
Nor, when heaven's flood-gates opened and in streams
The rain rushed, and the glade Was hid, save when the lightning's frequent glaro
Severed the darkness, did I heed the storm, Till from my flower it dashed those petals rare
And marr'd that lovely form. For shelter from the tempest's rage I crept
Beneath an oak's broad branches, full of thoughts. Which bore me far away, and then I slept.
But still the self-same thoughts Held me, and fairest forms before my eyes
Passed as I dreamt, whose beauty shone more bright Through sorrow's cloud.-When on the mountain lies
The moon's sad silver light, More beautiful the peaks stand out and throw
Their long dim shadows o'er the lake.--So all Beauty seemed fairer through a veil of woe;
And deepest grief would fall, Where happiest smiles but now had wreathed the brow.
Now saw I through the silent darkness come
Rose-misted lit the gloom
Flowing, like morning o'er some Alpine height,
All silent as the night,
Joyously carolled passing down the glade.
And sadly saw her fade,
But ever, as I slept, her beauty shed
Longed, as the swift hours fled,
Ever to follow her.—And now I stood
Within the old walls of an ancient town
And, as I wandered down
Surrounded by a stately cavalcade.
Their presaging !—and made
The eyes of thousands who are peering there.· For she,' one told me, “ Austria's brightest star
Would wed with France's heir; And peace supreme
would rule the world, and war Would have for e'er an end, for she would reign With her great mother's virtues : near and far
The blaze of strife would wane, And on the world would dawn all golden days.'
And, even as he spoke, she passed, but still I saw her, gliding through my fancy's maze
Sweet as a summer rill. And oft I heard her footfall's echo ring
Softly through dim old halls, as midst the glare And splendour of a court she passed life's spring
Blameless, with one to share Her silent gladness. Often too, when eve
Had drawn her cool still veil around the grove,
For purest joys of love.
Of love, and bent it ever to her sway,
Shunning, pursued love's way,
But when grim death's dark wing swept o'er her home,
And left her fatherless to reign a queen,
While murmuring, like the first roar of the foam
O’er surging seas, was seen A discontented people,—then I saw
That fair form sink foreboding on her knee Beside her husband, and in prayer outpour
Her soul to God, that He Would strengthen her weak youth to guide the land.
Alas! she knew not!-But the storm without
Ruthless had blotted out,
And joyous sunshine which had played around
Had faded 'neath the wound Of sorrow from her eyes, which only glanced
With scorn and indignation on her foes, As she to their unholy bar advanced,
And heard,-oh! last of woes !The basest slander cast on her
fame. There lion-like in that unrighteous court She stood at bay,-how changed !-yet still the same,
The same fair queen who wrought The spell of love on every bosom, o'er
Deep woe had sprinkled with her snows the gold Of those rich tresses. Still she seemed to wear,
While the rough clamour rolled Around, a charm of majesty, which made
E'en harshest judges quail before her eye.
And when at length the scene was wrapt in shade,
Once more I could descry Dimly a vast crowd gathering in the square
Of a great city, while around there hung A chilly autumn fog, and here and there
The morning sun had flung
A lonely gleam, which stealing through would play
Upon the roofs. And gloomily there frowned A scaffold in the midst, and one bright ray,
While the bell's hollow sound Fell sullenly upon the raw still air,
Lit with a mocking smile the glittering steel.But see! the victim comes, and meets the stare
Of thousands ;-they can feel No touch of sympathy.—The waggon rolls
Slowly with its sweet burden towards the place Of death. A shuddering pity thrills the souls
many,-many a face Is wet with tears amidst the scowling crowd.
And now she mounts with firm and stately mien The fatal steps, by sorrow still unbowed,
In sorrow still a queen,
In maiden gladness! Queenly *courtesy
White-robed in purity,
Makes one dark mourning band across her hair But see! she kneels-all heedless of the rude
Harsh faces-kneels in prayer. And now while silence, still as summer's breath, Lulls
every murmur, with a last adieu To all her loved ones, for the stroke of death,-
While ever deeper grew
“On reaching the scaffold, she inadvertently trod upon the executioner's foot. This man uttered a cry of pain, “Pardon me” she said to him in a tone of voice as if she had spoken to one of her courtiers.”
“A white handkerchief covered her shoulders, a white cap her hair, a black ribbon which bound this cap around her temples, alone recalled to the world her mourning, to herself her widowhood, and to the people her immolation."
LAMARTINE's History of the Girondists.