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has been despised for his meanness and his youth, but has proven himself strong and brave. The coming encounter may be fierce and sharp; but be who bravely stands to his colours in the bright morning-time, and “ endures hardness as a good soldier,” will obtain all necessary fitness for the ultimate conflict in which he is to take his part.
When they reached the second river-loop, the second knight that stopped the way to Castle Perilous appeared in sight. But he, too, failed with Gareth, and would have lost his life speedily but for his victor. The youthful zeal and fidelity had prepared Gareth for tbis his further conflict. The battle comes in its proper time, and with its proper force, to the warrior who has tried his arms and his courage from young life. It is well for us to bear the yoke in our youth, to know the meaning and the help of doing our duty when life is in its morning prime. The duties of mid-life come to us with a suitable fitness for our strength, when that strength has been used and tested during our earlier days. The apostolic exbortation and blessing come to us with affectionate earnestness,
because “ we are strong, and the Word of God abideth in us, and we have overcome the wicked one."
There follows the battle with the "Evening Star"—him who, with the hard skin and harder habit of worldly indifference, maintained through life, seeks to quench the glowing ardour of the youthful heart. The enthusiasm of young faith is sorely tried, and hard bested, but comes off once more victorious. The encounter to which he had pledged himself in fealty to the king required such consecrations, and involved such perils and combats. The old knight mocked his youthful ardours, and boasted, not only of being old, but of being “old and hard, with the might and breath of twenty boys."
He has still, seemingly, a harder and a more solemn foe than all to fight_“Night” or “Deatb." For this encounter he made great preparation, and received encouragement and inspiration from both Lynette and Lancelot. The proudest knight of that grand time counselled caution and stratagem-to "fill up the gap where force might fail with skill and fineness:” “wisdom is profitable to direct." Gareth's reply was worthy of his simple faith and brave selfreliance :
“ Here be rules. I know but one
To dash against mine enemy, and to win.” The Knight of Death came on—"high on a night-black horse, in
—“ night-black arms"-pausing, but silent. A maiden swooned, the Lady Lyonors in her castle “wrung her hands and wept, as doom'd to be the Bride of Night and Death "--and even Lancelot turned icy.cold and siood aghast with terror. But when Gareth's brave
stroke split the skull and the helmet, so that there “issued the bright face of a blooming boy," the horror ceased and gladness fell on all around. Death had proved to the true child of faith and love, not a spectre, an ogre, and a ghoul. With brave trust, used to conquests, and inflamed for high endeavours, the last foe can be met, and we shall find that even Death, grim and ghastly as he seems, does but assume his awful aspect, because the children of Time and Sense invest him with such garments. To the brave heart that is loyal to God, that last fve will turn out to be but an Angel of Light waiting to bear us gently to our Father's
These things, and more, we may learn from the re-telling of the story of brave knighthood which comes down to us from the days of old.
AMONG THE RUINS OF BOSTON.
Since Boston was fated to burn, I think any one may blamelessly regret that he was not by to see it, if he had the misfortune to be absent during the red thirty hours of its loss. As a spectacle, it must have been one of the most impressive that human eyes ever beheld, and those who looked upon it are truly to be envied. That steady and resistless destruction of the finest business architecture on the continent, by flames that melted the piles of solid granite like sand, and consumed the prosperity of long years of successful commerce, lacked the dramatic poignancy of most other great conflagrations; comparatively few homes were burned, there was little of the agony of attempts to save things dear by use and association, or of the sacrifice of what nothing could buy again ; but as those millions of money were licked up by the fire and vanished for ever in the crimson glare and dusky fume, all the more potent must have been the lesson of human effort paralysed, and of human industry and achievement absolutely annulled.
In contrast with this, it was but a cold and poor experience to wander among the ruins of the great fire; and yet these, once seen, had a dreary fascination that drew you again and again, and enforced their tragic interest, so that to him who gazed upon the scene, the idle people who seemed to spend their days amidst the ruins, and to look and look, and stand and stand, and apparently suffer no change from hour to hour save as they shifted the weight of the body from one leg to the other, were not at all inexplicable.
I first caught sight of that chaos on the Monday night after the
fire, when Washington Street was still drenched from the engines that screamed and panted from every corner, and launched their streams into the semi-luminous fog-bank beyond, out of which dimly rose a broken wall here and there, with hollow windows and a certain solemn gauntness of outline. The approaches forbidden by many bayonets, the obscurity of the streets still without gasthe shops being ineffectively lit with kerosene and candles-and the recent arrival of twenty-seven cartloads of New York roughs (all happily slain by the police and chemically annibilated during the night), made it undesirable to inspect the ruins then ; but a mild, fair afternoon of an early day following invited whatever Volneys could get a pass from the chief of police to come and meditate
them. A great many Volneys, of both exes and all ages, seemed to have got passes, so that there was nothing more notable amidst the ruin than the number of people who had as little business there as myself. Here and there were occupants of the former buildings, at work in getting out their safes; or--if their places were, as often happened, still masses of red-hot brick-listlessly kicking the rubbish or picking up bits of iron or other fantastically-shaped fragments of the wreck, gazing at them vacantly a moment, and then flinging them away. On one hopeless heap of ruin I saw a young man standing with his wife and looking silently about him ; some one came up and saluted him by name, with a cheery“How's biz ?" “Never better ; tip-top!” he answered in a voice which somehow failed to make one gay. “Let me introduce you to my wife. Thought we'd come down to my store and have a look at the improvements.” The wife gave her hand with but a wan smile.
But most of the people, I say, had nothing to do there but get in the way of the firemen, whose steamers were working at a score of points, and then get out of it as the flying strean of water were shifted from one seething mass to another. They seemed to be nearly all relic-hunters, and they were nearly all happy and anxious in some bit of blackened crockery or warped ironmongery, which they had secured with great trouble, and were afraid would be taken from them at the lines by the police. The most concerned were women who appealed to such blue-coats as they met, to krow if they could keep this or that-women with something remorselessly detective of unfashion and second-rateness in their dress, or in the style of the young men who had brought them down into the burnt district for a holiday. It seemed to be quite a trysting-place, like
“ The hawthorn bush, with seats beneath the shade,
For talking age and whispering lovers made.”
But to turn from these, and take in with one long gaze the ruin around, was an experience never to be matched again. Imagine a space of sixty or seventy acres, strewn in wildest confusion with bricks and mortar, broken columns of iron, and lumps of granite ; a hundred unextinguished fires still blazing brightly above the wreck, or smouldering under sullen volumes of smoke, or shooting up clouds of steam as the engine-jets were turned upon them, and making a tremulous, dim red haze, through which the tall chimney of some vanished manufactory roge monumental, and from point to point loomed the fragments of yet upright wall. These were mostly portions of two sides knit together by a corner; sometimes they were quite broad at the base and narrowed at the top; sometimes a façade rose nearly whole; but in all cases, save along Washington Street, they were brick, and not the granite in which we had so must trust and pride. It was curious, indeed, to see the state to which this faithless stone had been reduced by the fire. It was scales and coarse sand under foot, it impeded the steps in lumpish balls and ovals, it was scattered about in shapeless masses, and it nowhere kept the sharpness or design that the chisel had so laboriously given it; while the poor plebeian and despised brick, which in our vainglory we had hoped to see wholly displaced by it, not only gave the ruin picturesqueness and dignity, but approved its own strength where it lay in red-hot masses above the subterranean fires, still keeping its form. Far up along the cornice of the new Post-office, the granite ornamentation resembles so much sculptor's clay, in which some design had been studied, and then crushed and smeared by a rejecting hand-so soft and fictile has the fire made it seem. Some of the lower columns look as if hewn by an axe, and recalled to my average ignorance the appearance of certain pillars in the Forum at Rome, which I had marvelled to see so hacked and chopped, as I supposed. Indeed, one could not behold the burnt district without being reminded of whatever time-honoured ruins he had looked upon, though, of course, Pompeii was most forcibly suggested, with here and there a touch of Rome; and I trust it was with an excusable vanity, and a due remembrance of the sore adversity which paid for the sensation, that I perceived that Boston ruined as effectively as the famous cities of antiquity. A score of centuries might, but for the steamers and the policemen (the relic-hunters were not at all discordant), have been supposed to have consecrated the scene by their lapse, so solemnly did those broken walls rise against the pale blue evening sky, and let the tenderness of an almost Italian twilight show through their speculationless windows.
This sense of antiquity in the scene removed to a remote period the days when I used, now and then, to give myself the pleasure of
a stroll through Franklin Street down into Winthrop Square, and dwell fondly upon the grandiose beauty of the architecture. It looked so solid and perpetual, so free from all meanness of heste or material, that I fancied it somehow typical of Boston at its best; thoroughly substantial and impressively adapted to its use, and yet
, liking to be handsome and admirable. Those superb seats of commerce were really so many palaces; in Italy they would have been called so; if one had come upon them there, he would have turned curiously to his guide-book for their name and history; and outside of Italy I do not know where else one was to find any single group of edifices more noble in aspect. It was fine, too, that this beauty should be devoted to business, and that the homes of these merchants, however elegant, should not compare in architectural magnificence with the places where they met for traffic. There was something original and authentic in that. But what gave the crowning sense of satisfaction in it was its perfect security. “Ah !" you said to your friend, the stranger whom you led through this part of Boston-slowly that it might grow upon him and crush him in his miserable assumptions on behalf of New York, or Philadelphia, or Chicago, or St. Louis—" there is nothing can touch it, except an earthquake.” You showed him again all that luxury of sculptured granite and slated roof. “Every inch fire-proof, you
The whole city might burn up, and you'd merely suffer with cold down here."
And at present Franklin Street, and Congress Street, and Summer Street, and Winthrop Square have less to show for their former splendour than the Street of Plenty in Pompeii.
Many sites are separable from the others by the lines of broken walls, which lie fallen inwards. Tangled amidst the several heaps are the warped and twisted gas-pipes and other iron-work used in the complicated machinery of a modern house ; and everything else is utterly consumed. As you look upon the scene, the obliteration of the cities of old, far more strongly built than the solidest part of Boston, is comprehensible as it never was before. Leave these ruins to the winters and summers of a hundred years, and nature would hide them go well that the owl and the antiquary would ask no more congenial haunt. A thousand years, and Baalbec or Palmyra would be as a flourishing metropolis to the Burnt District of Boston.
But in the meantime we walk about those streets on which the workmen are clearing a difficult way, and try to fix in mind the details of a picture which not nature, but reviving business, will soon hide from us. They are very meagre, indeed. Here and there is a safe standing open at a corner, and boldly handbilled with “Look at it! one hundred hours in the fire !" and you admire its sound