Page images

his hands out of this disagreeable branph of hi* functions*.

I assured him, that I would much rather beg my daily bread, from door to door, than put one morsel into my mouth, which was earned by any means so infamous and dishonourable; and that if ever I owed my existence to ways so base and unmanly, I should all the rest of my life look upon a scavenger as my superior, inasmuch as, though he meddled every day with dirty work, his filth was of prejudice to no one but himself.

The profession of a bookseller is one which demands the respect and gratitude of society, and, when all is eaid and done, the arguments which my new friend had urged were certainly not without their weight. While scandal and detraction are encouraged by thft world, it is the fault of the world that we have so many libels pouring upon us from all quarters.

He then asked me if I had any objection to translate. I freely replied that I was driven to the necessity of writing for bread, and that I had no inclination to »hun any means of earning my meal by any honest way. He then invited me to dine with him, and I met many men like myself, who had every morning "to provide for the day which was to pass over their heads."

I had a portion of work given me, in which I could

* The editors of this work congratulate themselves in being connected with a respectable bookseller, who is a great enemy to libels, and who thinks with them, that to he useful to the cause of morality, vice should be assaulted without hur. ting personal feelings. If we draw then a faulty character, the leader may rest assured, that it will always be in the spirit of benevolence, and with a love of mankind.

neither evince my fancy nor exert my imagination. The pay I reaped from labours of this mechanical nature was small; nor could I expect it to be greater. I kept life and soul together with difficulty; but as I never violated my private nor my moral character, I. tugged at the oar, and was contented with my lot. I, however, hailed my release from the drudgery of •writing and book-making, as the dawn of returning freedom. A slave of every description is to be pitied, but none more so than the slave to writing for his bread..


"Arc ye not one i are ye not join'd by Hcav'n?
Each interwoven with the other's fate." Rowx.

Elizabeth, countess of Greifenstein, or Grafenstein, says an ancient chronicle, sold all her property and •went to the East, to ransom her husband, who was a prisoner among the Saracens. She arrived at Jerusalem, and thence continued her route, accompanied only by a faithful servant. This woman, young, beautiful, and of a delicate frame, crossed the burning deserts of Syria, and arrived, after a dangerous journey, at a castle on the banks of the Euphrates, where her husband groaned in fetters. The lord of his castle was struck with her beauty, and would have made her his mistress; but, faithful to her husband, she resisted every stduction and every threat.

The barbarian was at length touched by her constancy, and promised her husband liberty on certain condition*. The first task imposed on her, was to procure the deliverance of the Saracen's brother, then a prisoner with a savage people on the other side of the Euphrates. Elizabeth did not hesitate an instant; she passes the river, won by her prayers the hearts of the savages, and led back the tyrant's brother to the castle.

She was then commanded to descend a cataract in m. tlight boat. She enters the boat trembling, thousands' t>f people cover the banks, applauding the courage of this generous woman. The boat, drifting slowly down the river, approaches the precipice, Elizabeth binds her veil over her eyes, places herself on her knees, and thus drifts into the torrent. Beneficent genii bear the boat along; she reaches, unhurt, the banks of the river, and returns to the castle amidst the acclamations of the multitude.

"Go, and free thy husband with thy own hands," said the Saracen, presenting her the keys of the dui*geon. She is led towards a court, surrounded with an iron grating, which inclosed hungry lions. Elizabeth opens the gate without fear; the famished animals rush upon her, but suddenly they stop, creep to her, and lick her feet. Faint with apprehension, she rests her arms on one of the lions, while opening the door of the dungeon; she frees her husband from his chains, and leads him forth between a double row of Saracens, who sing her praises.

She again traverses the same deserts, accompanied by her husband; supports his courage, searches roots for his food, and dips her veil into every welt she finds to procure him water. They at length reach Jerusalem, take shipping, and arrived happily at the count's castle.

What was the recompence of so many sacrifices, of such courage, and such exalted virtues? Ingratitude and infidelity.

Hardships and a burning sun had tarnished the delicate beauties of the countess, anxiety had effaced the roses from her cheeks, and tears had dimmed the fire of her eyes. She was still lovely; but her beauty was no more than the shadow of that which was fled. Her sister, young and beautiful, lived with her. The count every day saw Erdmutha, and a guilty passion was kindled in his heart. In vain did he abhor his treachery, and represent to himself, that to the countess he owed life and liberty: every day his love acquired new force.

When it happened that Elizabeth related what she had suffered among the savages, and the dangers she had encountered to save her husband, his eyes were fixed only on the tears which fell during the tale from Erdmutha, and her beautiful bosom agitated with sighs.

He reproached himself with his injustice to his wife? he even shed tears; but his remorse was transient; had he known himself, he would have fled from the com-r bat, instead of combating his passion. .

Erdmutha observed the melancholy into which the count had fallen, and her heart was moved with compaseion. Perceiving the, efforts he had made with himself to conceal his sorrow from his wife, she conjured him to reveal the cause td her, in the hope of diminishing his anguish. He cast down his eyes and 15

was silent. She took his hand and redoubled her entreaties, but he abruptly fled from her, and shut himself up in his own room.

The kind Erdmutha still did not lose all hope. She made new attempts to learn the secret of his sorrows, and, at length, too fatally succeeded.

"I love you, Erdmutha," he said, with a voice'in •which there was something terrible: "there is no peace for me but in death." He rushed from her presence in a paroxysm of despair, and left Erdmutha overwhelmed with affright; for, in attempting to express her horror of the count's passion, she had, alas! discovered that she partook hia crime—that she loved him.

The castle, once the abode of peace and joy, now became the dreary habitation of perpetual sighs and tears. Nor was it long ere the countess perceived that her husband was the victim of some devouring grief; she blamed her own want of vivacity, and mafle continual efforts to appear more gay; she conjured her sister toaid her, in endeavouring to chase the dejection of the count; and frequently led her husband to the apartment of Erdmutha, where, engaging them in conversation, she would find some pretence to leave them together.

In these trying situations, Erdmutha, however, had sufficient empire over herself to conceal from the count that she returned his love. He ako, after the avowal that her solicitations had torn from him, maintained an inviolate silence: but his passion consumed him; he fell sick, and the countess, transported with grief, supplicated her sister to assist in her cares for bis re

« PreviousContinue »