Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

misgivings as to his own powers of holding him up, felt a cold, sickly shivering, creep over him, accompanied with a certainty that he was about to faint; the inevitable consequence of which, he had sense enough left to know, would be the certain death of the boy, and, in all probability, of himself, as in the act of fainting it was most likely he would fall forward, and follow the rope and boy down the precipice. In this dilemma, he uttered a loud despairing scream, which was fortunately heard by a woman working in an adjoining field, who, running up, was just in time to catch the rope, as the fainting man fell senseless at her feet.

We shall add two more, equally hazardous, and one fatal. Many bird-catchers go on these expeditions without any companion to hold the rope or assist them. It was on such a solitary excursion, that a man, having fastened his rope to a stake on the top, let himself down far below; and, in his ardour for collecting birds and eggs, followed the course of a ledge, beneath a mass of overhanging rock. Unfortunately, he had omitted to take the usual precaution of tying the rope round his body, but held it carelessly in his hand; when, in a luckless moment, as he was busily engaged in pillaging a nest, it slipped from his grasp, and, after swinging backwards and forwards three or four times, without coming within reach, at last became stationary over the ledge of the projecting rock, leaving the bird-catcher apparently without a chance of escape,--for to ascend the precipice without

[blocks in formation]

a rope was impossible, and none were near to hear his cries, or afford him help. What was to be done ? Death stared him in the face ! After a few minutes' pause, he made up his mind. By a desperate leap he might regain the rope ; but if he failed—and at the distance at which it hung the chances were against him—his fate was certain, amidst the pointed crags ready to receive him, over which the waves were dashing, far, far below. Collecting, therefore, all his strength, with outstretched arms he sprang from the rock, and lived,--for the rope was caught !

The next occurred at St. Kilda ; where, amongst other modes of catching the sea-fowl, that of setting gins or nooses is adopted. They are fixed in various places frequented by the birds. In one of these, set upon a ledge a hundred and twenty feet above the sea, a bird-catcher entangled his foot, and not being at the moment aware of it, was, on moving onwards, tripped up, and precipitated over the rock, where he hung suspended. He, too, as in the preceding case, had no companion; and, to add to his misfortune, darkness was at hand, leaving little prospect of his being discovered before morning. In vain he exerted himself to bend upwards, so as to reach the noose or grapple the rock. After a few fruitless efforts, his strength was exhausted, and in this dreadful situation, expecting, moreover, that the noose might give way every instant, did he pass a long night. At early dawn, his shouts were heard by a neighbour, who rescued him from his perilous suspension.

[blocks in formation]

The last we shall relate, terminated in a more awful manner. A father and two sons were out together, and, having firmly attached their rope at the summit of a precipice, descended on their usual occupation. Having collected as many birds and eggs as they could carry, they were all three ascending by the rope, the eldest of the sons first,--his brother, a fathom or two below him; and the father following last. They had made considerable progress, when the elder son, looking upwards, perceived the strands of the rope grinding against a sharp edge of rock, and gradually giving way. He immediately reported the alarming fact.

“Will it hold together till we can gain the summit?” asked the father.

“It will not hold another minute,” was the reply."

Will it hold one ?” said the father.

“It is as much as it can do," replied the son, “even that is but doubtful."

“There is, then, a chance, at least, of one of us bcing saved; draw your knife, and cut away below!” was the cool and intrepid order of the parent. “Exert yourself,—you may yet escape, and live to comfort your mother!

” There was no time for discussion or further hesitation. The son looked up once more, but the edge of rock was cutting its way, and the rope had nearly scvered. The knife was drawn; the rope was divided; and his father and brother were launched into eternity! - Bishop Stanley's Familiar History of Birds.

н

JAMES MONTGOMERY.

BORN, 1771; DIED, 1854. Principal Works.-Wanderer of Switzerland, Songs of Zion, The

Pelican Island, Lectures on Poetry, Poets' Portfolio.

NIGHT.

NIGHT is the time for rest;
How sweet! when labours close,
To gather round an aching breast
The curtain of repose ;
Stretch the tired limbs and lay the hea:)
Upon our own delightful bed!

Night is the time for dreams;
The gay romance of life,
When truth that is, and truth that seenis,
Blend in fantastic strife;
Ah! visions less beguiling far
Than waking dreams by daylight aro.

Night is the time for toil;
To plough the classic field,
Intent to find the buried spoil
Its wealthy furrows yield;
Till all is ours that sages taught,
That poets sang, or heroes wrought.

JAMES MONTGOMERY.

115

Night is the time to weep,
To wet with unseen tears
Those graves of memory where sleep
The joys of other years ;
Hopes that were angels in their birth,
But perished young, like things of earth.

Night is the time for care;
Brooding on hours misspent,
To see the spectre of despair
Come to our lonely tent;
Like Brutus, 'midst his slumbering lost,
Startled by Cæsar's stalworth ghost.

Night is the time to pray;
Our Saviour oft withdrew
To desert mountains far away;
So will his followers do :
Steal from the throng to haunts untrod,
And hold communion there with God.

Night is the time for death ;
When all around is peace,
Calmly to yield the weary breath,
From sin and suffering cease,
Think of heaven's bliss and give the sign
To parting friends-such death be mine!

« PreviousContinue »