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and very different object rivetted my eye, and changed my feelings of delight into awe and terror.
Behind the amphitheatre that skirted the bay, arose a lofty mountain, whose dark and barren sides, and the dense column of smoke that rested on its summit, too plainly indicated its volcanic nature. Occasional flashes of fire, and that peculiar rumbling sound which foretells the approaching earthquake, betokened the active state of the mountain, and the probability, if not certainty, of a speedy eruption. I saw at once that such an event must engulph the smiling scene below in irremediable destruction, and looked with anxious eye to see if there were any indication that the busy crowd were aware of the impending danger. The intervening hills hid indeed the mountain from their sight, but surely that fearful sound must sometimes reach their ears, and the smoke and flames that issued from the crater must sometimes be visible !
As I now watched their movements with a serutinizing eye, I could see that the vessels were not all moored and stationary. Some were busily engaged at the piers, receiving or landing merchandize ; some were cruizing about the harbour, with trim sails and gaudy pennons, and appearing to have no motive but the pursuit of pleasure; while the greater part of the boats and smaller vessels were engaged in fishing for the subsistence of their crews, or in attending to the wants of the larger ships. But none seemed in the least aware of the awful ruin that might at any moment overwhelm them.
I now observed what I had not before noticed, that all, from the least to the greatest, carried the same flag, on which “THE WORLD was inscribed in golden letters. In the busy crews of those vessels which lay immediately under my notice, I could also discern a remarkable correspondence of feature. The intuitive perception that accompanies a dream, enabled me to ascertain that in some vessels Slothfulness and Ease were the chief in command ; in others, Ambition, Avarice, Pride; or Luxury; but the promotion of their different interests was in every case intrusted to steersmen so strikingly alike, that I found no difficulty in referring them all to one family, the name of which was Selfishness. And was there no one to warn these heedless creatures of their imminent danger, and to urge them to fly before it was too late? As I groaned forth this wish, with the intensity of feeling which accompanies the sight of danger without the ability of relieving it, a gentle touch on my shoulder made me look round, and I saw that a person of grave and dignified appearance had joined me. “Do you wonder,” said he, in answer to my half-uttered wish, “ that no one is found to lift a warning voice, and point out the means of escape to these infatuated multitudes? They are not left without a warning! Keep your eye upon that light bark, now fast approaching, and
you will see that your suspicions are groundless.” I looked eagerly ;-a swift-sailing cutter was bounding rapidly over the waves, and making her way among the crowded vessels. As she came nearer, I could see that she differed from all the rest, in her whole appearance and crew. The red Cross banner streamed from her mast-head; Faith was her helmsman, and Love her commander. With the eager haste of charity she drew alongside, first of one vessel, then another, neither fearing to disturb the pleasures of the great, nor disdaining to deliver her message to the meanest. I bowed my ear to listen to the message, and found it to be one of warning and of guidance, urging all to fly from the impending danger, and promising a safe conduct to that better country which lay beyond the ocean skirting the horizon.
“ As those who watch for the morning," did I look for the result. But how surprised was I to see the reception it met with! Instead of grateful thanks, and eager haste to avail themselves of the kind offer, scorn and insult, or at best, contempt and disregard seemed to be all the reward received by the disinterested messenger in return for her zeal. And now I perceived that notwithstanding these demonstrations of ingratitude, many similar vessels were employed in like manner among the careless crowds.
• What can be the reason of this ?” I said to my new companion ; "why will they not believe what is so self-evident, and so much for their own advantage?”
“ The warning,” she replied, “is not quite thrown away.Look! that little vessel is pausing on her course, and beginning to attend to the proclamation. Now she has brought up. Listen!” It was so indeed. One of the smaller barks had been arrested by the message ; and I distinctly heard the welcome words, “What must I do to be saved ?" uttered in a tone of anxious enquiry. The voice was heard on board the friendly vessel, and she hastened to take the enquirer under her guidance. Soon I saw the flag of mammon exchanged for the banner of the Cross; and Selfishness, not without many struggles, driven below, and a new pilot, whose heavenward eye shewed that his name was Faith, stationed at the helm.
The change was instantly observed among the neighbouring vessels. Shouts of derision, sneers of affected pity, assailed her on every side. Nevertheless, some, chiefly the smaller boats, seemed attracted by her example, and ranged themselves also under the guidance of the leader, who now, with one more parting expostulation, left the obstinate crews to their fate, and prepared to conduct her little band far from the scene of danger. With firm hand Faith worked the helm, and with a favoring gale, the small but determined company sought the entrance of
Their actual departure seemed to create a great sensation among those who remained behind; more especially as this was not the only company who had obeyed the invitation. Each of the heralds of safety had met with a measure of success, and throughout the whole extent of the bay might be seen vessels, here and there, hoisting the red Cross banner, and resolutely turning their helms toward the ocean. Not a few,. moreover, among the larger ships, joined the despised party, and their defection excited the most bitter animadversions among their equals. Among their inferiors and dependants a contrary effect was, in many instances, produced. I saw several who adopted the new banner, while Selfishness still remained at the helm, though cautiously disguised, and assuming as far as possible the outward garb of Faith. In some vessels, where Fear and Cowardice held stations of authority, these had so wrought upon Selfishness, as to induce him to seek safety in flight, while they still shrank from raising the hated banner; and in others, whose fears were secretly excited, Pride and Self-sufficiency prevented their acceptance of a guide. These resolved to save themselves, and with lingering and irresolute course, prepared to depart. I observed, with some surprise, that they had not the same storm of enmity and ridicule to encounter as the others. On the contrary, they met with general approbation ; and the prevailing sentiment among the busy crowd seemed to be, that they too would follow when they could find time.
By the advice of my companion, I now moved round the projecting corner of the cliff, so as to command a more unobstructed view of the sea. Many dangerous rocks and shoals rendered the exit from the harbour full of peril, and it soon became evident that Selfishness was wholly incompetent to the task of conducting his adherents out of it. Some were drawn in by an eddy, and dashed against the rock of Despair, while others, who had promised fair at the beginning, were soon stranded on the quicksand of Lukewarmness. Many, seeing the lamentable fate of their companions, were induced to listen to Infidelity, who represented to them that the warning they had heard was a mere imposture, designed to lead them into these dangers, and make them the dupes of an interested deceiver. Aided by his persuasions, Selfishness gladly turned the helm, and they hastened back to the treacherous pleasures they had left.
Those who had been influenced by Pride to leave the port, disdaining to return, and yet dreading the untried dangers of the ocean, were easily induced to turn aside to the plesant little harbour of Self-righteousness, situated in an islet of that name, which lay just outside the bay. Here they flattered themselves, they were quite far enough off from the threatened danger, and might safely pursue their wonted employments, equally removed from the open carelessness of the crowd they had left, and from the hasty enthusiasm, as they termed it, of those who had forsaken all to follow an unknown guide.
These, mean time, were pressing onward with sails full spread, and though some advanced slower than the rest, yet all who had taken Faith as their pilot, seemed actuated by one desire and one aim. Not but that the weaker vessels were sometimes in danger as they passed the rock of Despair, and some, even of the larger, not being sufficiently on their guard, were almost caught by the quicksand of Lukewarmness ;—but as soon as they perceived
their danger, they had recourse to Prayer, the inseparable companion of Faith, by whose aid the pilot was soon reassured, and guided them triumphantly past the danger, I did not observe that any were tempted to turn into the harbour of Self-righteousness, whose deceived inmates they seemed to pity, as much as they were themselves despised by them.
But though their course, to an outward observer, appeared thus steady and determined, I could see, by the aid of a telescope given me by my companion, that all did not go on so peaceably within. Selfishness often broke loose from his confinement, and strove to disposess Faith of the helm. Pride, Sloth, Sensuality, and many others like them, caused great disturbances in the vessels, and had it not been for the constant aid of Prayer, Faith would never have been able to stard his ground.
I now saw also, by the aid of my telescope, that a celestial visitant named Grace, was ever hovering over the vessels as they proceeded on their way. By her gentle yet powerful operations I could see their disorderly inmates gradually become quite different beings. Pride was changed into Humility, Sloth into Zeal, Sensuality into Purity, and even Selfishness into Love. How beautiful and wondrous was the change! The very outward appearance of the vessels was quite altered, as they lightly bounded over the waves, now far from all risk of danger.
As I followed their course as far as my eye could reach, I could plainly discover by means of the telescope, a bright line of light, skirting the distant horizon: one by one, the white-sailed barks, now dwindled into specks in the distance, were lost in its brightness, and I saw them no more. As I still gazed on their track, a louder burst of thunder start
Looking back, I saw a tremendous column of fire ascend from the burning mountain;—the lava issued forth in a fiery stream ;—the waves in the crowded harbour rose mountains high, and the convulsive throbs of an earthquake shook the ground beneath
feet! The violence of my agitation, and my anxious efforts to escape, effectually aroused me. I woke;--and behold! it was a dream!
P. C. S.