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A fifth with guiding hand controlled her course.
Forth had they sped from Gourock's sheltered shore,
To snare with deadly net the unwary trout,
Which at that hour suspect no wily foe.
The fishermen, accustomed to the lake-
The scene to them of oft-recurring toil-
Felt not so much the magic of the hour,
As he, who, seated at the helm, gazed round
In dreamy admiration of the scene.
To him the scene was new, and he had come
With other thought than that of making gain.
A sailor he of gentle birth, whose youth
Upon the untamed billows of the main
Had ripened into manhood bold and free.
O'er the wide world he'd been, where'er there was
The beautiful or grand—and danger that
Must oft be run in perilous emprise.
He learned to love-and in his youth had stood
By Nelson's side when blasting Britain's foes,
And won approval from that hero's lips
For daring deeds that made the bravest quail.
The noble frankness of his heart had won
A gentle maid, who loved him tenderly.
That full-orbed moon on high was but the third
Had smiled upon their union; but the wild
Majestic beauty of the hills—the still,
Clear, calmness of the sea-born lake, had won
Him from her side for one short summer night.
She, though the night was clear, the sea so calm,
Slept not; but at the window-casement looked
Full out upon the sea—watched all alone.
Ere daylight faded from the sky, had she
Sat down to see them starting from the shore,
And with her kerchief white returned the waive
Of his fond arm, that meant to say "Good night !"
The eve had passed into the night, and still
She sat, dividing her sad gaze between
The sea and sky: she feared, though now so calm,
The sky would frown before the boat's return,
And lash the sleeping billows into rage.
Why dost thou fear, fond heart? Is there a sign
Within thine eye-range that unsettles thee?
Not one-a liquid hush is over all;
But lurketh still a boding fear within:
She feels it, yet she cannot reason why.
Ashamed at length of her fond causeless fear,
She quick unrobed, and gliding into bed
Tried hard to drown her fears in careless sleep.
Alas! 'twas vain—the moonlight on the bed
She could not help but gaze at, and still watch.
Sudden the place whereon the moonbeams fell
Grew dark-she started up, as if a form

Unearthly had stalked past her in the night.
She darted to the window, there she saw
A dark cloud shroud the moon, and underneath,
The waves quick fretted by the rising wind.
With sinking heart she saw the clouds increase

With terror heard the rising wind sweep past,
And the hoarse roar along the rocky shore.
She tried to pierce the gathering gloom-perchance
The skilful fishermen foresee the storm,
And home return before the appointed time.
Ah no! her eye-search meets no likely thing
That may take on the form of their light skiff.
The angry waves swell higher--the wild wind
Tears the white foam from off their seething tops,
And drives it fine as snowdrift through the air.
Ah! woe to that devoted bark, if she
Hath not found safety in some neighbouring port !
No strength or skill of man can save her now!
The clouds, winds, waves, rush madly on together,
And here and there a fitful lurid gleam
Of the pale moon breaks out and disappears,
As if it cannot bear to look upon
The fury of the scene, but late so calm.
Sudden she heard quick voices on the road
Beneath the window; bending o'er, she saw
Dark figures moving past with torches lit.
Wrapping a cloak around her trembling form,
She rushed amid the group and found them friends,
The anxious relatives of those at sea.
“Quick-let us hasten to the Lighthouse point,"
Cried one-a veteran, who best could tell
Where they would try to make their landing good.
Scarce had she heard their purpose, when she snatched
A blazing torch, and foremost led the way:
"We may arrive too late to help," she cried,
"Speed, speed your steps, and may God aid us now!"

The fishermen had seen the rising storin-
Were eager hastening to regain their home
Before its rage should burst. Alas! 'twas vain-
The wind and tide were adverse : they were caught
In the mid channel by the first fell blast
That swept the spray in showers into the boat.
Their bark is frail-they may not dare to stem
The mad conflicting fury of the waves,
Shaking their angry manes free of the blast
That clutches them with fierce relentless grip,
As the fell eagle does its struggling prey.
They seize a passing lull to veer her round,
And let her drive before the angry blast.
The same hand holds the helm; with steady skill
Doth make the obedient bark dash off the waves
That threaten to o'erleap her—in their wrath
Tossing their quivering crests up to the sky,
Gnashing away their spite in seething foam.
Swift with the swelling wind the frail bark flies,
The gaping waves relentlessly pursue
Their helpless prey, like hounds full-cry upon
A panting stag that dares not stand at bay.
Right towards the Cloch they bend the boat's swift course;
A rock-bound shore and dargerous, but wind
And wrathful waves cut off all other ports ;
And the light gleaming from the lofty tower

Will lend its ray to point the sheltering cove
Where they may land in safety. Now they spy
The torches blazing on the dark-lined shore,
And know that aid is nigh. Those on the beach
Have in a flash of moonlight seen the boat
Careering swiftly onward to the shore,
And post them here and there along the rocks.
Foremost is she, the gallant helmsman's wife,
Her raised torch defining her frail form,
Stooping to pierce the darkness o'er the waves.
His quick eye soon detects her by the light
Of the bright torch, which also shows beneath
An opening in the rocks. Thither he guides
The bark, and dares to win the port.
She waves the torch in token they are seen,
And spreads its red light o'er the port beneath.
The port is almost gained ! Good Heavens! a wave
Hath dashed them on the rocks! But see! they're borne
On its wild crest right onward to the shore
All-save one—the helmsman;—the swirling wave
Hath hurled him headlong 'gainst the rock's deep base
At his wife's feet. No hand dare save him now!
His wife! she sees him toss his arms to her-
His last farewell! Reason hath Aled her brain !
Wildly she shrieks his name, and frantic leaps,
Still clutching fast the torch, into the flood !
And now they lie beneath the same tomb-stone:
Death did not part whom deathless love made one!

Fear not to die, young heart;
On one so sweetly pure as thou

Can fall no choicer lot.
To go before them that are left to weep,,
To need no tears to mourn their loss and love,

Is rather bliss than not.

Ask them whose hairs are white,
What is their life-time, after all,

From cradle to the tomb?
An hour of strength soon past—a long decay ;
But thou art tender as a folding bud,

Too delicate to bloom.

For thee the world is young,
Its empty smiles and pledges true;

Thinking it cares for thee,
Thou yet shalt linger with unshaken faith,
And shalt not know the hollow heart of man,

When thou hast ceased to be.

Thy form, in gentler sleep
Than ever summoned dreams of Heaven

To guard thy rest at night,
Shall moulder 'neath the daisies; but away
Shall float, with sister saints, thy happy soul

Along the Land of Light.



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No fish, perhaps, has enjoyed so wide a celebrity, and been the subject of so much accumulated fable, as the eel. To account for its origin, more theories have been broached than have been broached to account for the origin of evil; nor, indeed, to this hour has it been satisfactorily determined whether the young of this ubiquitous fish be evolved from an egg, or wriggles into existence a fully-developed grig. Our wonder, therefore, is infinitesimally small to find the earlier Grecian naturalists baffled in devising for their favourite bonne-bouche a satisfactory terrestrial origin, solving the difficulty by giving it a celestial one; nor is our admiration materially heightened at further finding the honours of anguillary paternity conferred upon the mighty Thunderer himself, remembering, as we do, that in those very years, that exalted personage was entertaining at his hospitable board, as representatives of blight and mildew, a god Rubigus and a goddess Rubigo. Quite en règle, too, seems to us the fact that Aristotle should have played the part of devil's advocate at this ichthyological canonisation; although, by the way, we cannot quite forgive him for having (on the principle, we may suppose, of the crafty old eel-sniggler in Alciatus' Emblems, who fouled the stream that he might catch his fish,) attributed to the intra-uterine action of the mud the generatiori of "the solitary race that have neither seed nor offspring.” We are quite prepared, however, to pardon Oppian for enunciating a somewhat similar theory; for, if we may augur from the muddy verses of that grandiloquent worthy, which, even to the initiated, exhale a "most ancient and fish-like odour,” he must have had a most unsavoury love of such lutetian fish as those with which our old Juvenalian acquaintance, Virro, entertained his humble and obsequious guest

“Snake-like eels of that unwholesome breed,
Which fatten where Cloaca's torrents pour;
Or midst the drains that in Suburra tlow,

Swim the foul streams which fill the crypts below."* The next who tried to find a “fig-leaf for his eel,” and failed, was Pliny, who, strange to say, in the hypothesis which he propounded, unwittingly indicated the precise mode of generation which actually takes place in some of the lower animal organisations. His theory was, that the eel, on feeling the approach of senescence, instinctively rubs himself to pieces against the rocks, and that out of the living detritus a new brood issues— just as in our nursery literature, an effete moon is quite satisfactorily disposed of by being cut up into stars. Pliny's hypothesis, however, ingenious as it was, wholly failed to satisfy the dilettanti who could contrive, in accordance with the Virgilian recipe, to people their hives from the carcase of a dead heifer. These conjurors, therefore, speedily discovered that their eel-ponds might be stocked just as easily as their hives, by immersing for a sufficient time in a glutinous lymph, the hairs of a horse's tail. Nor can it be said of this singular metamorphosis,

-"This history Handed from ages down--this nurse's tale,

Which children, open-eye'd and mouth'd, devour;" — that it “lives no longer in the faith of reason.” To say nothing of our own school-boy experiments in the paternal horse-pond, we find it stated upon undoubted authority, that to this day it is a popular superstition in Sicily, that one of the common snakes of the country owes its being to a prolonged maceration of the equine appendage in water, and that many a

* T Algow tov iz zemos --" To hold an cel with a fig-leaf," is a very old Grecian Proverb.

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peasant will engage, “for a consideration," to show the incredulous the process of transformation.

But we are not yet quite done with the vexed question of anguillary generation. Descending to comparatively recent times, we find Van Helmont attributing their birth to some mysterious prolific principle latent in the May dew; Valisnieri seeking for the anguillary foetus in the swimbladder; Lewenhoeck in the urinary bladder, and Rondolet in the intestines of the adult fish; while others have, with equal infelicity, sought to identify with the germinal grig the various parasites which infest the bodies and gills of the carp, the cod, and the salmon.

What, then, are we to make of this perplexing question? Must we, as has been predicted, submit to a mystery unless we adopt a fable? We may repudiate with one voice the untenable notions of equivocal production, spontaneous generation, and the vitalising properties of mud; but our repudiation leaves us exactly where we were. All attempts to prove the eel viviparous have failed. Spallanzani, out of the “many millions” of fish which he examined, could detect neither foetus nor ovaries; and those who profess to have seen the latter, * are so few and so comparatively undistinguished, that no naturalist of note, save Lacepède, has ventured to consider the question as set at rest. Considering the prodigious fecundity of the race, these results are certainly startling.

But before allowing our eel to slip fairly through our fingers, we would fain address a word of warning to the lovers of that truly Apician dainty. Mr Mayhew, in his “London Labour and the London Poor," tells us of individuals who will, for months together, devour from thirty to forty lengths of stewed eel daily, washing them down with six or seven tea-cups' full of the glutinous liquor in which they have been stewed. Have those luxurious Sybarites no fear of bronchial affections before their eyes? Pliny, we all know, loved eels to the full as well as that transcendental Achæan who declared that the fragrant odour exhaled from the fish in cooking was sufficiently appetising to restore the lost sense of smell to a dead man's pose; and yet, does not even Pliny declare that eels “ bee hurtfull to the throat, and make a man to lose his voice?” Many a plump anguilla, doubtless, from the swamps of Commachio, did the good fathers of Salerno in their day devour; yet, is it not written (in spavined enough verse, alas!) in their dietetic code, that

Vocibus anguille pravæ sunt si comedantur

Qui physice non ignorant hoc signiticantur ? One consolation, however, we are enabled, through the kindness of Signor Platina, to offer to our doubtless now disconsolate Epicurean, and that is, that the floating fat and grease, skimmed off the surface of the liquor in which his favourite dainty is being stewed, and smeared upon the head, is sovereign for making the hair grow!

But anguilla est, elabitur-our eel is off, and we must needs now hie us to fresh pastures.

With Pliny as our guide, however, we cannot go far astray; and lo! is not yon a lamprey ? Him you may know at once from his sucker-shaped mouth, within which lies a little nimble, "rasping tongue, stuck all over with points, and always on the wag.” See how he clings to the rock on which he has fastened, and sucks away with a pertinacity that threatens to give the lie to the proverb, and prove the possibility of extracting blood even from a stone! Do you remember how that weasel-like creature obtained his Latin name of remora ? H-m-m— well! Pliny will remind you. “ The current of the sea is great,” saith worthy Master Holland in his

* The most distinguished of those observers were Muller and Mondini.

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