Letitia E. Landon
MIDNIGHT is a wonderful thing in a vast city--and midnight was upon Vienna. The shops were closed, the windows darkened, and the streets deserted--strange that where so much of life was gathered together there could be such deep repose; yet nothing equals the stillness of a great town at night. Perhaps it is the contrast, afforded by memory that makes this appear yet more profound. In the lone valley, and in the green forest, there is quiet even at noon--quiet, at least, broken by sounds belonging alike to day and night. The singing of the bee and the bird, or the voice of the herdsman carolling some old song of the hills--these may be hushed; but there is still the rustle of the leaves, the wind murmuring in the long grass, and the low perpetual whisper of the pine. But in the town --the brick and mortar have no voices of their own. Nature is silent--her soft, sweet harmonies are hushed in the great human tumult--man, and man only, is heard. Through many hours of the twenty-four, the ocean of existence rolls on with a sound like thunder--a thousand voices speak at once. The wheels pass and re-pass over the stones--music, laughter, anger, the words of courtesy and of business, mingle together --the history of a day is the history of all time. The annals of life but repeat themselves. Vain hopes, vainer fears, feverish pleasure, passionate sorrow, crime, despair, and death-- these make up the eternal records of Time's dark chronicle. But this hurried life has its pauses--once in the twenty-four come a few hours of rest and silence.
Vienna was now still as the grave, whose darkness hung over a few lamps swung dimly to and fro, and a few dark shadows--which the crimes of men make needful. The weary watchers of the night paced with slow and noiseless steps the gloomy streets. God knows that many of those hushed and darkened houses might have many a scene of waking care