Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 133.djvu/702

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THE "FIND" IN THE LAND OF MIDIAN.

And indeed as he lay and pondered there, the house in which he was at this moment seemed very empty too; and his wife, he felt, was far away from him — separated from him by something more than miles. It was all very well for him to grow proud and reserved when it was suggested to him that Lady Sylvia should help him in his next canvas; it was all very well for him to build up theories to the effect that her pure, noble, sensitive mind were better kept aloof from the vulgar traffic of politics. But even now he began to recall some of the dreams he had dreamed in his bachelor days — in his solitary walks home from the House, in his friendly confidences with his old chum at Exeter, and most of all when he was wandering with Lady Sylvia herself, on those still summer evenings, under the great elms of Willowby Park. He had looked forward to a close and eager companionship, an absolute identity of interests and feelings, a mutual and constant helpgiving which had never been realized. Suddenly he jumped to his feet, and began to walk up and down the room.

He would not give himself up to idle dreams and vain regrets. It was doubtless better as it was. Was he a child, to long for sympathy when something unpleasant had to be gone through? She herself had shown him how her quick, proud spirit had revolted from a proposal that was no uncommon thing in public life; better that she should preserve this purity of conscience than that she should be able to aid him by dabbling in doubtful schemes. The rough work of the world was not for that gentle and beautiful bride of his; but rather the sweet content and quiet of country ways. He began to fret about the engagements of the next few days to which he had pledged himself. He would rather have gone down at once to the Lilacs, to forget the babble and turmoil and vexations of politics in the tender society of that most loving of all friends and companions. However, that was impossible. Instead, he sat down and wrote her an affectionate and merry letter, in which he said not one word of what had happened at Englebury, beyond recording the fact of his having been there. Why should he annoy her by letting her suppose that she had been mixed up in a squabble with such a person as Eugenius Chorley?




From The Spectator.

THE "FIND" IN THE LAND OF MIDIAN.

It is now more than six years, since, writing about an effort then being made to recover a galleon wrecked off the coast of Venezuela, we pointed out the improbability that the discovery of any great buried treasure would ever again reward an adventurer's daring or discernment. The kings of the ancient world never had the treasure with which they are credited, or rather, they never had the masses of metal which would now tempt men into serious expeditions. Their treasure, owing to the limited quantities of gold and silver then in the world, would purchase so much, that it loomed large in the world's eyes, but the hoards of the Lydian king, if rediscovered now, would not greatly attract an English millionaire. Solomon, whose wealth made such a permanent impression on the imaginations of mankind, for a few years was the merchant prince of his epoch, and had the carrying-trade of the East in his hands, but it may be questioned if his treasure in gold would have outweighed a million in sovereigns, though it may have purchased thirty times or fifty times as much. The lost Spanish galleons often contained the equivalent of £2,500,000 — never more, we believe, the Cadiz treasury being timid about storms, buccaneers, and Netherlandish enemies, — but the actual sum recoverable from any one of them would not now exceed £180,000. There is no record anywhere in the world of the existence of a vast deposit of treasure, unless we can trust — which is not impossible — the persistent Peruvian legend of Atahualpa's mountain storehouse of gold, a temple filled with the plunder of a dynasty and the accumulations of generations of digging and smelting, on which he drew to pay his ransom to Pizarro, or unless — which is conceivable, though unlikely — the barbarians missed the secret of the enormous treasure which must once have been collected under the protection of the oracle of Delphi, the banking-house of the East, then the richest section of earth. That would be a "find" indeed, and as we said once before, we should like a good, scientific, persevering dig round Delphi and under the old shrine amazingly, and rather wonder some English Schliemann has never made the attempt. We pointed out at the time, however, that with these two exceptions the only chance for a grand "find" now left is the opening up of some mine known