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Mont Blanc, at length deposited their burthen upon its head in the form of a crown of snow, which an electric flash instantly lighted up with intolerable splendour, while a loud peal of thunder gave notice to all the world that the ceremony of Coronation had been accomplished. Alps and Apennines "rebellow'd to the roar;" every mountain opening its deeptoned throat, and shouting out the joyful intelligence to its neighbour, until, after countless hollow and more hollow reverberations, the sound died away in the distance of immeasurable space.
Nor was the banquet wanting to complete this august festival; for as mine eye roamed over the fertile plains and valleys commanded by the eminence on which I stood, I found that He who owns the cattle on a thousand hills had covered them with corn, and fruits, and wine, and oil, and honey, spreading out a perpetually renewed feast for whole nations, diffusing, at the same time, odours and perfumes on every side, and recreating the ears of the guests with the mingled harmony of piping birds, melodious winds, rustling woods, the gushing of cascades, and the tinkling of innumerable rills. Again I turned my looks towards Mont Blanc, and lo! a huge avalanche, detaching itself from its summit, came thundering down into the valley below, making earth shake with the concussion. "Behold!" I exclaimed, "He who overthroweth the horse and his rider" hath sent his Champion to challenge all the world; and at this moment a smaller portion, which had broken away from the falling mass, came leaping towards me, and shivered itself into a cloud of snow beneath, as if the
tremendous Champion had thrown down his gauntlet at my feet. Overcome with awe and wonder, I shrunk into myself; and as the rocks, and caverns, and mountains round echoed to the roar of the falling avalanche, methought they hailed the Coronation of the monarch, and shouting with a thousand voices, made the whole welkin ring to their acclamations of Mont Blanc Mont Blanc! Mont Blanc !
Since witnessing this most impressive scene, I have read an account of the Coronation of " an islandmonarch throned in the west," with all its circumstantial detail of Dukes, Marquesses, Earls, Viscounts, and Knights in their ermine robes, Kings at Arms, and Heralds in their gewgaw coats, and Bishops in the pomp of pontificals, with the parade of gold spurs, ewers, maces, swords, sceptres, crowns, balls and crosses; but when I compared it with the stupendous exhibition of nature which I had so lately beheld, the whole sunk into insignificance; nor could I suppress a smile of pity as I shared the feeling with which Xerxes contemplated his mighty armament, and reflected that, in a few fleeting years, the whole of all this human pride, with the soldiers and horses that paraded around it, and the multitude that huzzaed without, would be converted into dust; the haughtiest of the nobles lying an outstretched corpse in a dark and silent vault, with nothing of his earthly splendour left but the empty trappings and escutcheons which, in mockery of the lofty titles with which they are inscribed, will hang mouldering upon his coffin. The ceremony will not, however, have been unavailing,
if it shall have awakened reflections of this nature in the minds of those who contributed to it, and have impressed upon their hearts the truth of Shirley's noble lines, in the contention of Ajax and Ulysses:
"The glories of our earthly state
Are shadows, not substantial things;
Death lays his icy hand on kings:
Sceptre and crown
Must tumble down,
And in the dust be equal made
With the poor crooked scythe and spade."
ADDRESS TO THE ORANGE-TREE AT VERSAILLES,
CALLED THE GREAT BOURBON, WHICH IS ABOVE
WHEN France with civil wars was torn,
One Bourbon, in unalter'd plight,
Hath still maintain'd its regal right,
Thou, leafy monarch, thou alone,
And when the great Nassaus were sent
Thou didst uphold and represent
The House of Orange.
To tell what changes thou hast seen,
Might puzzle those who don't conceive
Westminister-Hall,* whose oaken roof,
Existed but in stones and trees
When thou wert waving in the breeze,
Chaucer, so old a bard that time
And from his tomb outworn each rhyme
And Gower, an older poet, whom
The Borough church enshrines, (his tomb,
Lived in thy time-the first perchance
Who shook beneath this very tree
Their reverend beards, with glutton glee,
Was caught and eaten.
Perchance, when Henry gain'd the fight
* Rebuilt in 1399.
There is a tradition (though not authenticated) that Chaucer was fined for beating a friar in Fleet Street.
Laid down his helmet at thy root,
Thou wert of portly size and look,
When first the Turks besieged and took
And eagles in thy boughs might perch,
What numerous namesakes hast thou seen
Louis Quatorze has press'd that ground,
A sample of the old and sound
And when despotic freaks and vices
Thou heard'st the mobs' infuriate shriek,
On guiltless heads the wrath to wreak
Oh! of what follies, vice and crime,
Been made beholder!
What wars, what feuds-the thoughts appal!
Each against each, and all with all,
Till races upon races fall
In earth to moulder.
Whilst thou, serene, unalter'd, calm, (Such are the constant gifts and balm Bestow'd by Nature!)