Page images
PDF
EPUB

Then, sudden through the lurid air,.

Thick darkness spread around, Save where the lightning's sulphurous glare

Ran frequent o'er the ground; Yet, still undaunted, on he went, Unalter'd in his fix'd intent,

But now the kind of peril chang’d,

The night was turn'd to day,
And trees and shrubs, in order rang’d,

Appear’d to point the way;
Then, having pass'd the wood's close shade,
He saw Arganta's bow'r display’d.
Of vines and myrtles interlac'd,

The fragrant arbour grew;
While woodbines gay and jess'mines chaste

Alternate met the view.
But see! within on beds of roses,
A brilliant female form reposes.

Idalia's ripen'd charms she wears,

And those her robe conceals,
Each fascinating grace declares,

Surpass what it reveals.
Soft slumber seals her radiant eyes,
And sunk in graceful ease she lies.

Lost with surprise, amaz’d, confus’d,

In wonder stood the knight,
And long had stood, but, as he mus’d,

His quick enquiring sight,
Observ'd upon her forehead grow
Two curling locks, as white as snow.

in

Then, fierce, he drew his polish'd blade,

And at one vengeful stroke,
Cut off the head that sleeping laid,

Which thus the magic broke:
The headless form, in death now shrunk,
Appear'd Arganta's wither'd trunk.

The blooming Elda sudden stood

Close by Sir Albert's side,
Who, wild with rapture, once more view'd

Restor’d, his destin'd bride.
The snake, from penance now releas'd,
A fairy, thus the pair address'd:

“Hail! spotless maiden, well-belov'd

By one of high renown,
You both have by past trials prov'd,

That fortune's darkest frown
The good with firmness will endure,
For virtue's recompence is sure."

THE CELEBRATED LARGE DIAMOND.

“ Glittering, precious stone!

What a great omnipotence hast thou,
When gold and titles buy thee? DRYDEN.

.... During my residence in Astrakhan, I became acquainted with the heirs of the late Grigori Safarov Shafrass, the Armenian, who sold the celebrated large diamond, which is now set in the imperial sceptre of Russia. The history of this diamond, which holds so distinguished a place among those of the first water,

may probably afford entertainment to my readers, as I shall thereby refute many false reports which have been circulated on this subject.

Shah Nadir had in his throne two principal Indian diamonds, one of which was called the Sun of the Sea, and the other the Moon of the Mountain. At the time of his assassination, many precious ornaments belonging to the crown were pillaged, and afterwards secretly disposed of by the soldiers who shared the plunder.

Shafrass, commonly known at Astrakhan by the name of Millionskik, or the Man of Millions, then resided at Bassora, with two of his brothers. One day, a chief of the Auganians applied to him, and secretly proposed to sell, for a very moderate sum, the before-mentioned diamond, which probably was that called the Moon of the Mountain, together with a very large emerald, a ruby of a considerable size, and other precious stones of less value. Shafrass was astonished at the offer, and pretending that he had not a sufficient sum to purchase these jewels, he demanded time to consult with his brothers on the subject. The vender, probably from suspicious motives, did not again make his appearance. · Shafrass, with the approbation of his brothers, immediately went in search of the stranger with the jewels, but he had left Bassora. The Armenian, however, met him accidentally at Bagdad, and concluded the bargain by paying him fifty thousand piastres for all the jewels in his possession. Shafrass and his brothers being conscious that it was necessary to observe the most profound secrecy respecting this purchase,

resolved, on account of their commercial connections, to remain at Bassora.

After a lapse of twelve years, Grigori Shafrass, with the consent of his brothers, set off with the largest of the jewels, which had till then been concealed. He directed his route through Sham and Constantinople, and afterwards by land through Hungary and Silesia to the city of Amsterdam, where he publicly offered his jewels for sale.

The English government is said to have been among the bidders. The court of Russia sent for the large diamond, with a proposal to reimburse all reasonable expences, if the price could not be agreed upon. When the diamond arrived, the Russian minister, Count Panin, made the following offer to Shafrass, whose negociator, Mr. Lasaref, was then jeweller to the court. Besides the patent of hereditary nobility demanded by the vender, he was to receive an annual pension of six thousand rubles during life, and five hundred thousand rubles in cash, one fifth part of which was to be payable on demand, and the remainder in the space of ten years, by regular instalments. The capricious Shafrass likewise claimed the honour of nobility for his brothers, and various other immunities or advantages, and persisted so obstinately in his demands, that the negociation was frustrated, and the diamond returned.

Shafrass was now in great perplexity: he had involved himself in expences, was obliged to pay interest for considerable sums he had borrowed, and there was no prospect of selling the jewel to advantage. His negociators left him in that perplexity, in order to profit by his mismanagement... To elude his creditors, he

was obliged to abscond to Astrakhan. At length, the
negociation with Russia was recommenced by Count
Grigori Grigorievitsh Orlof, who was afterwards created
a peer of the empire, and the diamond was purchased
for four hundred and fifty thousand rubles, ready mo-
ney, together with the grant of Russian nobility. Of
that sum, it is said, one hundred and twenty thousand
rubles fell to the share of the negociators for commis-
sion, interest, and similar expences. Shafrass settled
at Astrakhan, and his riches, which by inheritance de-
volved to his daughters, have, by the extravagance of
his sons-in-law, been in a great measure dissipated.

..

THE SILENT GIRL BECOMES A TALKATIVE WIFE.

“ Silence is the ecstatic bliss

Of souls, that by intelligence converse."

Otway.

....So common is the desire of having a quiet, humble fool for a wife, that a gentleman in this country, (the Highlands of Scotland), a learned doctor of the laws, who had studied more books than the human heart, imagined that he wanted a wife, but then he must have one that would not talk much.

Accordingly he looked out for a stupid and ignorant woman, because he laid it down as an incontrovertible maxim, that a sensible, well-informed woman would necessarily talk him to death. Having examined, for some time, his various female acquaintance, he at length pitched upon the youngest daughter, out of five, of a neighbouring gentleman. This girl was seldoni or ever heard to utter a single syllable, but sat in som

« PreviousContinue »