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2. The range of public magazines of wood, cordage, tar, and oil in the valley between the Calian and Palatine hills, had at length been involved in the conflagration. All that we had seen before was darkness to the fierce splendor of this burning. The tempest tore off the roofs, and swept them like floating islands of fire through the sky. The most distant quarters on which they fell were instantly wrapped in flame. One broad mass, whirling from an immense height, broke upon the palace before us.
3. A cry of terror was heard within; the gates were flung open, and a crowd of domestics and persons of both sexes, attired for a banquet, poured out into the streets. The palace was wrapped in flames. My guide then, for the first time, lost his self-possession. He staggered towards me with the appearance of a man who had received a spear-head in his bosom. I caught him before he fell; but his head sunk, his knees bent under him, and his white lips quivered with unintelligible sounds. I could distinguish only the words "gone, gone forever!"
4. The flame had already seized upon the principal floors of the palace; and the volumes of smoke that poured through every window and entrance, rendered the attempt to save those still within, a work of extreme hazard. But ladders were rapidly placed, ropes were flung, and the activity of the attendants and retainers was boldly exerted, till all were presumed to have been saved, and the building was left to burn.
5. My overwhelmed guide was lying on the ground, when a sudden scream was heard, and a figure, in the robes and with the rosy crown of the banquet,—strange contrast to her fearful situation,- was seen flying from window to window in the upper part of the mansion. It was supposed that she had fainted in the first terror, and been forgotten. The height, the fierceness of the flame, which now completely mastered resistance, the volumes of smoke that suffocated every man who approached, made the chance of saving this unfortunate being utterly desperate in the opinion of the multitude.
■ Cœlian hill, (Sele-an ;) one of the seven hills on which Rome was built.
6. My spirits shuddered at the horrors of this desertion. I looked round at my companion; he was kneeling in helpless agony, with his hands lifted up to heaven. Another scream, wilder than ever, pierced my senses. I seized an ax from one of the domestics, caught a ladder from another, and in a paroxysm of hope, fear, and pity, scaled the burning wall. shout from below followed me. I entered at the first window that I could reach. All before me was cloud. I rushed on, struggled, stumbled over furniture and fragments of all kinds, fell, rose again, found myself trampling upon precious things, plate and crystal, and still, ax in hand, forced my way.
7. I at length reached the banqueting-room. The figure had vanished. A strange superstition of childhood, a thought that I might have been lured by some spirit of evil into the place of ruin, suddenly came over me. I stopped to gather my faculties. I leaned against one of the pillars; it was hot; the floor shook and crackled under my tread, the walls heaved, the flame hissed below, and overhead roared the whirlwind, and burst the thunder-peal.
8. My brain was fevered. The immense golden lamps still burning; the long tables disordered, yet glittering with the costly ornaments of patrician luxury; the scattered Tyriana couches; the scarlet canopy that covered the whole range of the tables, and gave the hall the aspect of an imperial pavilion, partially torn down in the confusion of the flight, all assumed to me a horrid and bewildered splendor. The smoke was already rising through the crevices of the floor; the smell of flame was on my robes; a huge volume of yellow vapor slowly wreathed and arched round the chair at the head of the banquet.
9. I could have imagined a fearful lord of the feast under that cloudy veil! Every thing round me was marked with preternatural fear, magnificence and ruin. A low groan broke my reverie. I heard the voice of one in despair. I heard the broken words, "O, bitter fruit of disobedience! O, my mother, shall I never see your face again? For one crime I
a Tyr'i an; relating to Tyre; purple. The Tyrians excelled in dyeing purple.
let mercy, my
crime be washed away;
Eternal let my spirit ascend pure! Farewell mother, sister, father, husband!" With the last word I heard a fall, as if the spirit had left the body.
10. I sprang towards the sound; I met but the solid wall. "Horrible illusion," I cried, "am I mad, or the victim of the powers of darkness?" I tore away the hangings; a door was before me. I burst it through with a blow of the ax, and saw stretched on the floor, and insensible, Salome!" I caught my child in my arms; I bathed her forehead with my tears; I besought her to look up, to give some sign of life, to hear the full forgiveness of my breaking heart. She looked not, answered not, breathed not.
11. To make a last effort for her life, I carried her into the banquet-room. But the fire had forced its way there; the wind, bursting in, had carried the flame through the long galleries; and flashes and spires of lurid light, already darting through the doors, gave fearful evidence that the last stone of the palace must soon go down. I bore my unhappy daughter towards the window; but the height was deadly; no gesture could be seen through the piles of smoke; the help of man was in vain. To my increased misery, the current of air revived Salome at the instant when I hoped that, by insensibility, she would escape the final pang.
12. She breathed, stood, and opening her eyes, fixed on me the vacant stare of one scarcely aroused from sleep. Still clasped in my arms, she gazed again; but my wild face covered with dust, my half-burnt hair, the ax gleaming in my hand, terrified her; she uttered a scream, and darted away from me headlong into the center of the burning. I rushed after her, calling on her name. A column of fire shot up between us; I felt the floor sink; all was then suffocation; 1 struggled and fell.
a Il-lu'sion; deception, fantasy. b Sa-lo'me. ment or feasting.
c Banquet-room; a room for entertain
NIGHT IN EDEN.a
1. T was moonlight in Eden! Such moonlight, I ween,"
2. How bright was the bower where the fair-fingered Eve The blossoming garlands delighted to weave;
While the rose caught its blush from her cheek's living dye
3. There, lulled by the murmurs of musical streams,
4. But other forms gazed on the grandeur of night,
5. There, azure-robed Beauty, with rapture-lit smile,
6. From mountain and forest an organ-like tone;
a The garden of Eden, in which Adam and Eve were placed, is supposed to have been on the river Euphrates, a little north of the Persian gulf. b Ween; think, fancy.
7. With blushes like Eden's own rose in its bloom,
8. Then first on the ears of the angels of light
9. Each form of creation with joy was surveyed,
10. All night, as if stars were deserting their posts,
The heavens were bright with the swift-coming hosts!
11. O Eden, fair Eden! where now is thy bloom?
And where are the pure ones that wept o'er thy doom?
12. But joy for the faith that is strong in its powers,
When Sin shall be vanquished, and Death yield his prey,
13. Then, nobler than Adam, more charming than Eve,
a Cen'ser; a vessel in which incense is burned. b Am-bro'si-al; fragrant. c Gazelle; a small species of antelopo.