The Last Man eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 520 pages of information about The Last Man.

  Farewell, sad Isle, farewell, thy fatal glory
  Is summed, cast up, and cancelled in this story.[2]

[1] Elton’s translation of Hesiod. [2] Cleveland’s Poems.

CHAPTER II.

In the autumn of this year 2096, the spirit of emigration crept in among the few survivors, who, congregating from various parts of England, met in London.  This spirit existed as a breath, a wish, a far off thought, until communicated to Adrian, who imbibed it with ardour, and instantly engaged himself in plans for its execution.  The fear of immediate death vanished with the heats of September.  Another winter was before us, and we might elect our mode of passing it to the best advantage.  Perhaps in rational philosophy none could be better chosen than this scheme of migration, which would draw us from the immediate scene of our woe, and, leading us through pleasant and picturesque countries, amuse for a time our despair.  The idea once broached, all were impatient to put it in execution.

We were still at Windsor; our renewed hopes medicined the anguish we had suffered from the late tragedies.  The death of many of our inmates had weaned us from the fond idea, that Windsor Castle was a spot sacred from the plague; but our lease of life was renewed for some months, and even Idris lifted her head, as a lily after a storm, when a last sunbeam tinges its silver cup.  Just at this time Adrian came down to us; his eager looks shewed us that he was full of some scheme.  He hastened to take me aside, and disclosed to me with rapidity his plan of emigration from England.

To leave England for ever! to turn from its polluted fields and groves, and, placing the sea between us, to quit it, as a sailor quits the rock on which he has been wrecked, when the saving ship rides by.  Such was his plan.

To leave the country of our fathers, made holy by their graves!—­We could not feel even as a voluntary exile of old, who might for pleasure or convenience forsake his native soil; though thousands of miles might divide him, England was still a part of him, as he of her.  He heard of the passing events of the day; he knew that, if he returned, and resumed his place in society, the entrance was still open, and it required but the will, to surround himself at once with the associations and habits of boyhood.  Not so with us, the remnant.  We left none to represent us, none to repeople the desart land, and the name of England died, when we left her,

  In vagabond pursuit of dreadful safety.

Yet let us go!  England is in her shroud,—­we may not enchain ourselves to a corpse.  Let us go—­the world is our country now, and we will choose for our residence its most fertile spot.  Shall we, in these desart halls, under this wintry sky, sit with closed eyes and folded hands, expecting death?  Let us rather go out to meet it gallantly:  or perhaps—­for all this pendulous orb,

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The Last Man from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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