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The reader will observe that rhetorical notation is but partially applied
in the following Exercises.
IRVING. “A peculiar trait in his rich and varied character, remains to be noticed; that ardent and enthusiastic imagination, which threw a magnificence over his whole
style of thinking. Herrera intimates, that he had a tal5 ent for poetry, and some slight traces of it are on rec
ord, in the book of prophecies, which he presented to the Catholic sovereigns. But his poetical temperament is discernible throughout all his writings, and in all his ac
tions. It spread a golden and glorious world around him, 10 and tinged every thing with its own gorgeous colours.
It betrayed him into visionary speculations, which subjected him to the sneers and cavillings of men of cooler and safer, but more grovelling minds. Such were the
conjectures formed on the coast of Paria, about the form 15 of the earth, and the situation of the terrestrial paradise;
about the mines of Ophir, in Hispaniola, and of the Aurea Chersonesus, in Veragua; and such was the heroic scheme of the crusade, for the recovery of the holy sep
ulchre. It mingled with his religion, and filled his 20 mind with solemn and visionary meditations, on mystic
passages of the scriptures, and the shadowy portents of the prophecies. It exalte
It exalted his office in his eyes, and made him conceive himself an agent sent forth upon a
sublime and awful mission, subject to impulses and su25 pernatural visions from the Deity; such as the voice he
imagined spoke to him in comfort, amidst the troubles
of Hispaniola, and in the silence of the night, on the disastrous coast of Veragua.
“He was decidedly a visionary, but a visionary of an uncommon and successful kind. The manner in which 5 his ardent imagination and mercurial nature were con
trolled by a powerful judgement, and directed by an acute sagacity, is the most extraordinary feature in his character. Thus governed, his imagination, instead of wasting
itself in idle soarings, lent wings to his judgement, and 10 bore it away to conclusions at which common minds could
never have arrived; nay, which they could not perceive when pointed out.
“ To his intellectual vision it was given, to read in the signs of the times, and the reveries of past ages, the 15 indications of an unknown world, as soothsayers were
said to read predictions in the stars, and to foretell events from the visions of the night. "His soul,' observes a Spanish writer, was superior to the age in which he
lived. For him was reserved the great enterprise to 20 plough a sea which had given rise to so many fables, and to decipher the mystery of his time.'
With all the visionary fervor of his imagination, its fondest dreams fell short of the reality. He died in
ignorance of the real grandeur of his discovery. Until 25 his last breath, he entertained the idea, that he had mere
ly opened a new way to the old resorts of opulent commerce, and had discovered some of the wild regions of the east. He supposed Hispaniola to be the ancient
Ophir which had been visited by the ships of Solomon, . 30 and that Cuba and Terra Firma, were but remote parts
of Asia. What visions of glory would have broke upon his mind, could he have known that he had indeed discovered a new continent, equal to the whole of the
old world in magnitude, and separated by two vast oceans 35 from all the earth hitherto known by civilized man; and
how would this magnanimous spirit have been consoled, amidst the chills of age, and cares of penury, the neglect of a fickle public, and the injustice of an ungrateful
king, could he have anticipated the splendid empires 40 which were to spread over the beautiful world he had
discovered, and the nations and tongues and languages which were to fill its lands with his renown, and to revere and bless his name to the latest posterity!
He said—“twill rouse my mirth;”
And dash'd the cup to earth.
He sipp'd the sparkling wave;
Shall dig a murderer's grave!"
And trembled for his life;
w_his children weep,
Their agonies and fears;
To plead with prayers and tears.
Threw o'er his wildered mind,
He was to reason blind.
6 He grasp'd the bowl to seek relief;
No more his conscience said:
His children begged for bread.
He pass'd down life's dark tide;
He curs'd his God—and died!
EXERCISE 35. Conflagration at Rome of an Amphitheatre.-CROLY.
“Rome was an ocean of fame. Height and depth were covered with red surges, that rolled before the blast
like an endless tide.—The billows burst up the sides of the hills, which they turned into instant volcanoes, exploding volumes of smoke and fire; then plunged into
the depths in a hundred glowing cataracts, then climb5 ed and consumed again. The distant sound of the city
in her convulsion went to the soul. The air was filled with the steady roar of the advancing flame, the crash of falling houses, and the hideous outcry of the myriads
flying through the streets, or surrounded and perishing 10 in the conflagration. ******** All was clamor, violent
struggle, and helpless death. Men and women of the highest rank were on foot, trampled by the rabble that had then lost all respect of conditions. One dense mass
of miserable life, irresistible from its weight, crushed 15 by the narrow streets, and scorched by the flames over
their heads, rolled through the gates like an endless stream of black lava.
“The fire had originally broken out upon the Palatine, and hot smokes that wrapped and half blinded us, 20 hung thick as night upon the wrecks of pavilions and
palaces; but the dexterity and knowledge of my inexplicable guide carried us on. It was in vain that I insisted upon knowing the purpose of this terrible traverse.
He pressed his hand on his heart in reassurance of his 25 fidelity, and still spurred on. We now passed under the
shade of an immense range of lofty buildings, whose gloomy and solid strength seemed to bid defiance to chance and time. A sudden yell appalled me. A ring
of fire swept round its summit; burning cordage, sheets 30 of canvass, and a shower of all things combustible, flew
into the air above our heads. An uproar followed, unlike all that I had ever heard, a hideous mixture of howls, shrieks and groans. The flames rolled down the
narrow street before us, and made the passage next to 35 impossible. While we hesitated, a huge fragment of the
building heaved, as if in an earthquake, and fortunately for us fell inwards. The whole scene of terror was then open. The great amphitheatre of Statilius Taurus
had caught fire: the stage, with its inflammable furni40 ture, was intensely blazing below.
The flames were wheeling up, circle above circle, through the seventythousand seats that rose from the ground to the roof. I stood in unspeakable awe and wonder on the side of this
colossal cavern, this mighty temple of the city of fire. At length a descending blast cleared away the smoke that covered the arena.—The cause of those horrid cries
was now visible. The wild beasts kept for the games 45 had broken from their dens.—Maddened by affright
and pain, lions, tigers, panthers, wolves, whole herds of the monsters of India and Africa, were enclosed in an impassible barrier of fire. They bounded, they fought,
they screamed, they tore; they ran howling round and 50 round the circle; they made desperate leaps upwards
through the blaze; they were flung back, and fell only to fasten their fangs in each other, and, with their parching jaws bathed in blood, die raging. I looked anx
iously to see whether any human being was involved 55 in this fearful catastrophe. To my great relief, I could
The keepers and attendants had obviously escaped. As I expressed my gladness, I was startled by a loud cry from my guide, the first sound that I had
heard him utter. He pointed to the opposite side of the 60 amphitheatre. There indeed sat an object of melancho
ly interest; a man who had been either unable to escape, or had determined to die. Escape was now impossible. He sat in desperate calmness on his funeral pile. He
was a gigantic Ethiopian slave, entirely naked. He 65 had chosen his place, as if in mockery, on the imperial
throne; the fire was above him and around him; and under this tremendous canopy he gazed, without the movement of a muscle, on the combat of the wild beasts
below; a solitary sovereign, with the whole tremendous 70 game played for himself, and inaccessible to the power
The African Chief.—BRYANT.
A man of giant frame,
That shrunk to hear his name,
His dark eye on the ground