The Knickerbocker, Vol. 22, No. 2, August 1843 by Various
Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).
Small capital text has been replaced with all capitals.
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VOL. XXII. AUGUST, 1843. No. 2.
GREEK EPITAPHS AND INSCRIPTIONS.
Dignum laude virum Musa vetat mori.--HORACE.
GREECE was the land of poetry. Endowed with a language, of all others adapted to every variation of feeling, from the deepest pathos or boldest heroism, to the lightest mirth, and gifted with the most exquisite sensibility to all the charms of poetry, it is not surprising that her inhabitants carried it to a height beyond any thing that the world has seen, before or since. It was intermingled with their daily life, it formed a portion of their very being, and constituted the chief source of their highest enjoyment. All Athens rushed daily to the theatre, to exult or weep as the genius of the poet directed them; and the people who could fine their greatest tragedian for harrowing their feelings beyond endurance, must have been differently formed from those of the present day. The well-known saying of old Fletcher of Saltoun, is not now true; but we can readily believe it, with such a race, when songs, like the glorious ode of Callistratus,
Εν μυρτω κλαδι το ξιφος φορησω. κ. τ. λ.
were daily sung, while the lyre and myrtle-branch passed from hand to hand.
With the Greeks, poetry seemed to enter into the character of every man. It was cultivated by the annual contests between its highest professors; and the honor which awaited the victor was an inducement to exertion of the noblest kind. It was the surest road to the favor and patronage of the great. Not the cold and chilling assistance which the Medici held out to the genius of their land, and which seemed to calculate the least expense with which the credit of a protector of learning could be bought, but the ready and regal munificence of a man who regards the gifts of genius as the highest with which a mortal can be favored. He who could enchant such a people need take no care for the future. Kings disputed for the honor of his presence, and states were overjoyed to support him. Let not the example of Homer be brought to controvert this. He lived long before poetry thus became the delight of the people; and, after all, to say that he 'begged his bread' is but a bold poetic license. Beside, the eagerness with which the 'Seven Cities' disputed for the Mœonian, show what would have been his fate had he not 'fallen on evil days.' In after ages he was honored, and ranked all but with the gods.
In the same mood, the highest reward, the fullest honor, that could be given to the rescuer of his country was to have his name inserted in the inscription that marked the scene of his victories.[A] In this spirit, no national event took place, no great battle was won, no instance of heroic self-devotion occurred, that the genius of the highest poets was not called upon to commemorate it in some noble or pathetic inscription, which, in after ages, calls forth as much admiration as the deed which originated it. The glorious death of the three-hundred takes place at Thermopylæ; the Athenians propose a contest for the honor of placing an inscription to mark the spot; and crowds are gathered to adjudge the prize; for, in those days, crowds were judges. Among the competitors are Æschylus and Simonides; and, amid the roar of that immense multitude, the victor-palm is awarded to Simonides, for two lines which will live to the end of time:
Ω ξειν' αγγειλον Λακεδαιμονιοις ὁτι τηδε Κειμεθα, τοις κεινων ῥημασι πειθομενοι.
[A] See Plutarch, Vit. Cimon.
Their noble simplicity is almost untranslatable, yet we will attempt it:
Ye who see this! to Lacedemon tell Here, honoring her sacred laws, we fell!
Or, more literally:
Stranger! tell Sparta that one common grave Here holds our dust, who kept the laws she gave!
The few of these majestic inscriptions which yet remain to us, all bear the same imprint of lofty poetic feeling. Expressed with the utmost simplicity, they would seem bald, were it not for the skill of the poet, and the glorious associations that they call up around us.
The subject of Thermopylæ appears to have been a favorite with Simonides. Here is another which breathes the same spirit:
Ει το καλως θνησκειν αρετης μερος εστι μεγιστον, Ἡμιν εκ παντων τουτ' απενειμε Τυχη· Ἑλλαδι γαρ σπευδοντες ελευθεριαν περιθειναι Κειμεθ' αγηραντω χρωμενοι ευλογιη.
We have endeavored to render it into the English as literally as possible:
If to die well be Virtue's highest bliss, To us, o'er all, the Fates have given this, We fell that Greece might liberty obtain, And thus undying glory do we gain!
And yet another, a glorious eulogy:
Των εν Θερμοπυλαις θανοντων. κ. τ. λ.
Oh! sacred be the memory of the brave, Who in Thermopylæ's deep bosom lie, Their country's honor! Let each hero's grave Become an altar for the gods on high. Their fittest praise is their unconquered death! Not even Time's rude hand and wasting breath, From those dear tombs, can snatch one wreath away Which Greece delights o'er heroes still to lay.
And here, again, is another, from the same, beautiful in its simplicity, on the heroes who fell in one of Greece's glorious victories; which one is not known:
Ασβεστον κλεος ὁιδε φιλη περι πατριδι θεντες Κυανεον θανατου αμφεβαλοντο νεφος. Ουδε τεθνασι θανοντες, επει σφ' αρετη καθυπερθεν Κυδαινους' αναγει δωματος εξ Αιδεω.
Undying fame for their loved native land They won, then sank beneath Death's iron hand; But yet, though fallen, they ne'er can die, for lo! Glory recalls them from the shades below.
And, as it was with these monuments of national glory, so was it with the bounties of nature, the lesser tokens of love and affection, and the humble demonstrations of piety. No fountain leaped forth from the way-side to greet and refresh the weary traveller; no lone tomb was raised among its grove of gloomy cypresses, that some Meleager, some Anyte was not at hand to adorn it with a few lines, simple indeed, but beautiful and appropriate, and which still live, long after the names of those who called them forth have been forgotten. Then every rustic image, erected by the peasants in honor of some sylvan deity, was sure to have some little inscription, graceful, and conceived in the happiest mood. Thus, in the Greek Anthology, there are preserved nearly eight hundred epitaphs, most of them touching from their natural and exquisite simplicity. They generally indicate deep and quiet feeling, rarely indulging in the little epigrammatic points that so mar the effect of almost all modern epitaphs. What can be more beautiful than Meleager's Lament over the grave of Heliodora?
Δακρυα σοι και νερθε δια χθονος, Ἡλιοδωρα, Δωρουμαι, στοργας λειψανον εις Αιδαν, Δακρυα δυσδακρυτα· πολυκλαυτω δ' επι τυμβω Σπενδω ναμα ποθων, μναμα φιλοφροσυνας. Οικτρα γαρ, οικτρα φιλαν σε και εν φθιμενοις Μελεαγρος Αιαζω, κενεαν εις Αχεροντα χαριν. Αι, Αι, που το ποθεινον εμοι θαλος; ἁρπασεν Αιδας, Ἁρπασεν· ακμαιον δ' ανθος εφυρε κονις. Αλλα σε γουνουμαι, γα παντροφε, ταν πανοδυρτον Ηρεμα σοις κολποις, ματερ, εναγκαλισαι.
This has little of the charming simplicity which usually marks these beautiful poems, but it is an exquisite and touching lament. We have endeavored to render it into English, although we fear
'That every touch which wooed its stay, Hath brushed a thousand charms away.'
I give, O Heliodora! tears to thee, Ah, bitter tears! the relics of a love Unchanged by Death. And, o'er thy sepulchre, I pour this passionate flood, which shows my love Still unabated. But, 'tis vain! 'tis vain! Since thou, adored one! art among the dead, A boon by them unprized. Ah! lovely flower, Now seized by Death, I view thy silken leaves All trampled in the dust. Ah! then to thee, O friendly Earth! I pray, that to thy bosom Thou should'st receive her with maternal care!
And the following shows the hand of genius, guided by love. The name of its author is unfortunately unknown.
Ουκ εθανες, Πρωτη. κ. τ. λ.
Proté! thou art not dead. Thou hast but gone To dwell in some far happier land than ours: Perchance thou hast the blessed islands won, Where Spring eternal reigns, adorned with flowers. Or, in the Elysian Fields, thy joyous path Is strown with opening blossoms; far above All earthly ills, thou feelest not winter's wrath, Nor summer's heat, nor care, nor hopeless love. In blest tranquillity, thy moments fly, Illumed by beams from Heaven's own cloudless sky.
Both of these are almost perfect, each in its own way. One contemplates the survivor, and paints his grief at the loss of an adored object; the other, in a more resigned mood, observes the felicity which that object should experience in the land of spirits. Both are somewhat wanting in the tender simplicity which is the usual charm and characteristic of the Greek epitaph. But properly speaking, they are not epitaphs; they are addresses to the dead. We will give a few specimens of the inscription over the dead in its true form.
Here is a beautiful one, by Lucian, on a child:
Παιδα με πενταετηρον, ακηδεα θυμον εχοντα, Νηλειης Αιδης ἡρπασε, καλλιμαχον. Αλλα με μη κλαιοις· και γαρ βιοτοιο μετεσχον Παυρον, και παυρων των βιοτοιο κακων.
While yet a tender child, the hand of Death Deprived me, young Callimachus, of breath. Oh! mourn me not! my years were few, and I Saw little of Life's care and misery.
This one, by Erinna the Lesbian, was inscribed on the tomb of a bride who died on the marriage night.
Σταλαι και σειρηνες εμαι. κ. τ. λ.
Ye pillars! satued syrens! and thou urn! Sad relics, that hold these my cold remains, Say to each traveller who may hither turn His footsteps, whether native of these plains, Or stranger, that within this tomb there lie The ashes of a bride; and also say My name was Lyde, of a lineage high, And sad Erinna graved this o'er my clay.
Callimachus, too, has given us a noble one in a single distich:
Τηδε Σαων ὁ Δικωνος Ακανθιος ἱερον ὑπνον Κοιμαται. θνασκειν μη λεγε τους αγαθους.
Here Saon the Acanthian _slumbering_ lies; Oh! say not that a virtuous man e'er _dies_!
And here is an exquisite little one by Tymneus, on an Egyptian who died in Crete:
Μησοι τουτο, Φιλαινι. κ. τ. λ.
Grieve not, dear lost one! that thou find'st a grave In Crete, far from thy native Nile's dark wave. Alas! hell's gloomy portals open wide To all who seek them, upon every side.
This touching one, by Callimachus, is for the cenotaph of a friend who was shipwrecked:
Ωφελε μηδ' εγενοντο. κ. τ. λ.
I would that swift-winged ships had ne'er been made to cleave the billow. O Sopolis! we should not then deplore thy watery pillow: Thou liest 'neath the heaving waves, and of thee naught we claim Save this poor, empty sepulchre, and thy beloved name.
When a man died at sea, and his corpse was not recovered, to receive the usual funeral honors, he was refused admittance into Charon's boat, unless his friends erected a cenotaph and performed the accustomed rites over it. The above appears to have been an inscription designed for such an occasion.
Simonides does not forget his fire in commemorating the exploits of a friend who fell in one of the battles against the Persians:
ON MEGISTIAS, THE SOOTHSAYER.
Μναμα τοδε κλεινοιο. κ. τ. λ.
Within this tomb is famed Megistias laid. He bravely fell beneath the Persian's blade, Where old Sperchius rolls his waters clear. Although his death was known unto the seer, To leave his Spartan chief he would not deign, But, bravely fighting, 'mid the foe was slain.
The Greeks delighted to frame epitaphs for their most distinguished men, especially for their poets. Those in honor of Homer are almost innumerable. Anacreon has more than a dozen, and other favorites in proportion. We will give a specimen of these compositions in the following beautiful lines by Simmias the Theban, on Sophocles:
Ηρεμ' ὑπερ τυμβοιο Σοφοκλεος, ηρεμα, κισσε, Ἑρπυζοις, χλοερους εκπροχεων πλοκαμους, Και πεταλον παντη θαλλοι ῥοδου, ἡ τε φιλορρωξ Αμπελος, ὑγρα περιξ κληματα χευαμενη, Ἑινεκεν ευμαθιης πινυτοφρονος, ἡν ὁ μελιχρος Ησκησεν, Μουσων αμμιγα και Χαριτων.
O verdant ivy! round the honored tomb Of Sophocles, thy branches gently twine; There let the rose expand her vernal bloom Amid the clasping tendrils of the vine; For he, with skill unrivalled, struck the lyre, Amid the Graces, and the Aonian choir.
Not less beautiful were the inscriptions affixed to fountains, rustic statues, baths, and the hundred other little evidences of cultivated taste so frequent in Greece. With such a people, it must have afforded double pleasure to a wearied traveller on approaching a fountain, sparkling in its basin of rocks, to find over it an invitation to repose from some one of the first epigrammatists of antiquity; as, for instance, this one of Anyte:
Ξειν', ὑπο ταν πετραν τετρυμενα γυι' αναπαυσον· Ἁδυ τοι εν χλωροις πνευμα θροει πεταλοις. Πιδακα τ' εκ παγας ψυχρον πιε· δη γαρ ὁδιταις Αμπαυμ' εν θερμω καυματι τουτο φιλον.
Weary stranger, sink to rest, 'Neath this rock's o'erhanging crest. Where the trees their branches fling Breezes soft are whispering. Freely drink these waters cold, Welling from yon fountain old. While the sun thus fiery glows, Travellers here should seek repose.
These compositions being so limited as to their subject, bear of course much similarity to each other. We will, however, give two or three specimens in as different styles as we can select.
Here is one by Leonidas of Tarentum, on a brook, too much frequented by the flocks to be acceptable to the traveller:
Μη συ γ' επ' οιονομοιο περιπλεον ιλυος ὡδε Τουτο χαραδραιης θερμον, ὁδιτα', πιης· Αλλα μολων μαλα τυτθον ὑπερ δαμαληβοτον ακραν, Κεισε γε παρ' κεινα ποιμενια πιτυι, Ἑυρησεις κελαρυζον ευκρηνου δια πετρης Ναμα, Βορειαιης ψυχροτερον νιφαδος.
O, traveller! taste not of this muddy fount, In which the weary flock and herds recline, For farther on, upon yon verdant mount, And 'neath the branches of a lofty pine, From out a rock a sparkling fountain flows With waters colder than the Northern snows.
And, again, here are a few lines, by the fair Anyte, simple indeed, but graceful and pleasing:
Ἱζευ ἁπας ὑπο τασδε δαφνας. κ. τ. λ.
Recline beneath this laurel's verdure sweet, And taste the waters of this crystal spring; Here rest thy limbs, unnerved by summer's heat, Refreshed, the while, by zephyr's whispering.
And yet another, by an author whose name has been forgotten:
Ερχεο και κατ εμαν. κ. τ. λ.
Come, wearied traveller, here recline Beneath this dark o'erarching pine, Whose waving sprays, with sighing sweet, Joy the passing winds to greet.
List to the soft and silvery sound, My falling waters scatter round. Its murmur, low reëchoing, Repose to thee will quickly bring.
The whole has an air of quiet yet musical repose that makes us almost fancy we hear the plashing of the falling waters.
There is also a pretty little inscription, somewhat Anacreontic, by Marianus the Scholiast, on a warm spring.
Ταδ' ὑπο τας ρλατανους. κ. τ. λ.
Once Love within these shades was sleeping, And gave his torch to the Naïads' keeping. 'Aha!' cried they, 'we'll quench its glow Within our fountain's icy flow, And, when its cruel fires cease, The heart of man shall beat in peace.' They plunged it in, but, all untamed, The wondrous torch still brightly flamed, And now these lovely nymphs must pour A heated spring to yonder shore.
And here, in the compass of four lines, has Paul the Silentiary given a better eulogy to his sea-side garden than could be comprehended in a whole volume of modern descriptive poetry. He allows the imagination to wander at will among objects of its own creating, and to depict for itself the scene which he would not describe:
Ενθαδ' εριδμαινουσι, τινος πλεον επλετο χωρος, Νυμφαι, Νηιαδες, Νηρεις, Αδρυαδες· Ταις δε θεμιστευει μεσατη Χαρις, ουδε δικαζειν Οιδεν, επει ξυνιν τερψιν ὁ χωρος εχει.
Here Dryads, Nymphs, and Nereids contend, Which, to this spot, its chief attraction lend; Beauty, in vain, their difference would accord, Each to the scene such equal charms afford.
We will now give an inscription of Theocritus, in dedicating an humble rustic altar to Apollo:
Τα δροσοεντα τα ῥοδα. κ. τ. λ.
This bushy thyme and dewy roses Are sacred to the immortal maids Who dwell where Hippocrene discloses Her fount, 'mid Heliconian shades.
But, Pythian Apollo! thou Hast laurel with its dark green leaves, For Delphi's rock, to grace thy brow, Of it, to thee, a tribute gives.
Then on this altar, will I lay A tender kid, with budding horns, Who crops the lowest waving spray, Which yonder lofty pine adorns.
And here are a few simple and pretty lines, inscribed by Anyte on a statue of Venus by the sea-shore:
Κυπριδος ὁυτος ὁ χωρος. κ. τ. λ.
This spot is Aphrodite's, and around The gentle waves subdue their whitening crests, Approaching it from ocean's farthest bound To give a friendly welcome to the guests Who tempt their bosom: while the neighboring sea Gazes upon that statue reverently.
When the Greeks or Romans laid aside their arms, they would frequently dedicate them to some deity, and suspend them in his temple, with an appropriate inscription. Thus, Horace:
Nunc arma defunctumque bello Barbiton hic paries habebit
Lævum marinæ qui veneris latus Custodit.
And when any offering of this kind was made to one of the innumerable gods of the Greeks, it appears to have been accompanied by a few dedicatory lines. There is, of course, great sameness in such compositions, and, in fact, they generally consist merely of an enumeration of the articles offered, and the name of the devotee, but we will select two or three on different subjects.
Here is one, by Simonides, on a spear dedicated to Jupiter:
Ὁυτω τοι, μελια ταναα, ποτι κιονα μακρον Ἡσω, Πανομφαιω Ζηνι μενους' ἱερα· Ηδη γαρ χαλκος τε γερων, αυτη τε τετρυσαι Πυκνα κραδαινομενα δηιω εν Πολεμω.
This trusty ashen spear we 'll hang above; 'Tis sacred now to Panomphœan Jove. The arm is old which once its terrors tossed, And sent it quivering through the serried host.
The following inscription is said to be by Plato. It was affixed to a mirror which the celebrated Laïs, in her old age, dedicated to Venus:
Ἡ σοβαρον γελασασα. κ. τ. λ.
I, Laïs, who, in Beauty's chain, Held Greece a captive, and for whom So many lovers sighed in vain, Enchanted by my youthful bloom;
Subdued by age, this mirror true, Cythera! thus I give to thee; For what I _am_ I will not view. And what I _was_, I ne'er can be.
When a Grecian maiden arrived at womanhood, it was usual for her to dedicate some toy of her childhood to Venus, in token of her having abandoned her youthful occupations and amusements. Here is an inscription, by Callimachus, designed for an occasion of this kind. It is both graceful and elegant, yet is deficient in the simplicity which is the usual charm of these compositions among the Greeks. It is addressed to Venus Zephyritis:
Κογχος εγω Ζεφυριτι. κ. τ. λ.
O Zephyritis! I am but a shell, First gift of Selenæa unto thee. Her nautilus, who once could sail so well O'er the unquiet bosom of the sea. Then, if 't were ploughed by gentle, favoring gales, On my own ropes I spread my mimic sails, And, if 't were calm, I used my feet as oars And swiftly rowed--from which I bear my name. But I was cast upon the sandy shores Of fair lülis, and from there I came, To be a graceful ornament to thee, Here in thy fane, O fair Arsinoë! Now sad Alcyone will lay no more, Within her ocean-nest her eggs for me, For I am lifeless. Queen of this bright shore Let Clinias's daughter hence receive from thee Thy choicest gifts. She dwells beyond the main Where Smyrna towers o'er th' Æolian plain.
It would scarcely be fair to conclude this little notice of some of the smaller gems of Greek poetry, without glancing at those intended to be satirical or witty. Of these we can find but few remaining, and what are thus preserved cannot induce us to regret much the loss of those which have been destroyed. They do not seem to show a taste as refined and delicate as is exhibited by the other productions of the Grecian muse, and, indeed, are usually very poor. Two or three specimens will suffice.
Doctors and lawyers, as at present, were favorite butts for the shafts of the epigrammatists. The following mock-epitaph is intended as a cut at the former. The author is unknown:
Ουτ' εκλυσεν Φειδων. κ. τ. λ.
'Twas not with drugs that Phidon killed me; He came not even near my side: But, while raging fevers thrilled me, I chanced to _think_ of him--and died!
And here is an epitaph,
'A precious, tender-hearted scroll Of pure Simonides,'
intended, no doubt, for the grave of an enemy:
Πολλα φαγων, και πολλα πιων. κ. τ. λ
Here lies Timocreon, the Rhodian; he Loved slander, drunkenness, and gluttony.
This is certainly pithy.
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Stepmothers, in those days, would seem to have been just as bad as at present, when they have become a very proverb. Here is a kind of epitaph by Callimachus, containing a hit at them which certainly has no very great merit:
Στηλην μητρυιης. κ. τ. λ.
On his step-mother's tomb, this youth piously placed Some flowers, that it might be properly graced. For he thought, as this life had abandoned her view, That her vices, no doubt, had abandoned her too.
But, while he was thus standing close to the tomb, It fell, and it crushed him, Oh! terrible doom! Then youths! let this warning sink deep in your breasts, Shun each step-mother, e'en when in Oreus she rests.
These are ample, as specimens of Grecian wit, which, as here exhibited, is certainly of no very refined or exalted description.
In taking a general and comprehensive glance over Greek Epitaphs and Inscriptions, we see that they are usually characterized by deep feeling, expressed concisely, and with the utmost simplicity. We rarely find any catches, any evident striving after effect, and, in consequence, to an ear not accustomed to them, they may frequently seem meagre, and even bald. But, by studying them, a meaning seems to grow out of the very words; and the more that we examine them, and the oftener that we read them, the more we find them expressive of 'thoughts that lie too deep for words,' thoughts which can be expressed but darkly, and which, concealed in this garb of simplicity, must be passed over by those who are not content to pause and ponder. Whether the pleasure derived from this be worth the labor that must be spent over them, even though it be a labor of love, is a question which each must answer for himself, according to his own tastes. If they lead him to it, he will have discovered an almost inexhaustible source of pure and elevated gratification; if not
----'frustra laborum Ingratum trahit.'
_Philadelphia, June, 1843._ HENRY C. LEA.
LAND of the Pilgrim-Rock! how broad thy streams, Thy hills how peopled with the brave and free! With glorious sights thy fruitful valley teems, And lavish Nature pours her gifts on thee; On every hand the smile of Beauty beams, And rich profusion spreads from lake to sea! Imperial land! from out thy mountain sides Flow the pure streams of ever-living tides!
Fair are thy daughters, as thy skies are fair, Proud are thy sons, as proud thy mountains rise, And as the eagle loves the clear blue air, The soul of Freedom hovers 'neath thy skies! How strong in heart thy patriot-sires were! And, oh, how brave to win war's golden prize! To thee, fair land! our souls in love shall turn, And in our altar-fires thy heroes' deeds shall burn.
Birth-land of Freedom! from thy mountain-height, From thy deep vales and forests fair and wide, Along thy sounding shores where ocean's might Expends itself in tide's returning tide, Rising, sublime, beyond the tempest's flight, The immortal sounds of Liberty abide! And, oh! how far along from shore to shore They meet and mingle with the sea's loud roar!
Oh! there are hearts that turn in pride to thee, Thou glorious land of blossom and of shower! Gathering sweet incense from each blooming tree, And tears of balm and freshness from each flower; And at thy altars gloriously and free The chainless spirit worships, hour by hour! While round thee all our holiest thoughts entwine; The fragrance of the heart, dear land! is thine.
Radiant with rosy light are thy blue skies, Fair Italy! thou land of love and song! And thou, bright Isle of Erin! whence arise The avenging spirits of a nation's wrong, Thou too art fair, and worshipped in the eyes Of men and nations to whom tears belong; But yet, oh! yet we feel, blest land and free, One pulse more strongly beating, still for thee!
Autumn hath crowned thee glorious, radiant clime! Autumn, the holiest season to the heart, Making thy sunsets with all hues sublime, The faultless picture of the Eternal art! To love thee less, New-England! 'twere a crime, More could we not, ourselves of thee a part; Tears are thine offering; prayers unceasing be Poured from the heart Imperial Land! for thee.
_New-York, July 1, 1843_ E. B. G.
'MENS CONSCIA RECTI.'
A CHRONICLE OF IDLEBERG.
NICHOLAS PELT, the worthy pedagogue, whose history was suspended in the July number of his namesake, the 'Old KNICK.,' was not long in establishing for himself a fair fame in all the region round about Idleberg; nor was his attention exclusively devoted to the monotonous duties of his profession. While he taught the young idea 'how to shoot,' a new and absorbing passion had taken deep root in his own heart, and was now flourishing luxuriantly in the genial soil. His fortunes had brought him to Idleberg, and thrown in his path the lovely image of Ellen Van Dyke; and what poor mortal, Yankee though he be, could resist her thousand fascinations? Every day, at home, in the midst of her domestic duties and her ten petticoats, she was beautiful enough, in all conscience; but when on frequent occasions she braided her hair, and pinched her cheeks for a bloom, and clasped around her neck that enchanting dove of jet and gold, poor Nicholas looked and sighed, and sighed and looked, as though his very existence depended on her smile.
Could you have witnessed the eccentric movements of the fair Ellen and the sage Nicholas, you might have guessed the nature of their mutual feelings. How he stood by while she milked, to keep the cow from kicking, and how the cow _did_ kick, notwithstanding; how he led the way to church, and how she followed on behind; such smiling and blushing when they met thrice a day at table; such an agitation of nerves whenever he clasped that small hand in his own, that seemed just made for it; these were enough to show that the schoolmaster's sojourn in the village was fraught with deep interest to at least two persons more than the striplings who were thriving on his instructions. Then when the school would be drawing to a close, and the evening sun was growing drowsy together with master and pupil, you might have seen the sage pedagogue forget his official dignity so far as to smile and nod repeatedly at some object over the way, which was no other than the cobbler's daughter, who always happened just at that time to be taking the air from her little gable-end window, and returned Nicholas's amorous glances with such unequivocal symptoms of delight, as should have made any lover's heart, if not his feet, dance for very joy.
But how fared the suit of Hans Keiser? Where were his organs of sight and hearing while all Idleberg was gossiping about the amours of Nicholas and Ellen? Hans seemed to possess the happy faculty of contemplating, with the utmost indifference, spectacles of youth and beauty, that would have driven many men to acts of desperation; and but for the constant efforts of his father to remind him that Ellen Van Dyke was living in constant expectation of seeing him at her feet, pleading his cause with all the eloquence of a Dutch lover, Hans would have quite forgotten the obligations of his promise to Caleb Van Dyke. Stimulated at length by his father's reiterated appeals and an extra tankard of beer, Hans one evening about sunset suddenly plucked up the requisite courage, and after arraying himself in the most glaring habiliments of his wardrobe, started out on his pilgrimage of love. Never was lover so tricked out with all the fascinations of dress, as was the young Dutchman on that eventful evening. As he surveyed his enormous shoe-buckles, glittering with the lustre of several hours' polish; his numerous suits of breeches; his gaudy waistcoat and the broad-skirted garment which completed his outer man; his imagination was agreeably entertained with visions of bleeding arrows and broken hearts, lighted halls, wedding cake, and honey-moons, all mingled in one wild, brilliant, and enchanting panorama. Nor did this imaginary prospect fade from his mental vision until he reached the scene of action, and contemplated the reality with a fast breath and a palpitating heart. Never was sanguine lover so non-plussed. The first objects he saw at the cobbler's, were the forms of Nicholas and Ellen sitting very close together and whispering in great apparent delight. Cut short on the threshold of his adventure, nipped in the very bud of his affections, Hans stumbled and stammered, and could scarcely gain sufficient composure to bid the company good evening, until he was reassured by Caleb, who, guessing the object of his errand, offered him a stool and bade him be seated.
How many wild, bewildering thoughts scampered through poor Hans's brain, like rats in a garret, while he sat there in silent astonishment, listening to the suppressed whispers of the loving pair! How heartily did he long to be away from such a place; and how often did he think of his favorite idea of going down the river on a flat-boat, or of his dog and gun, or rod and line, and some quiet place in the woods or along the creeks, where woman's image had never intruded to throw him in the shade of even a Yankee schoolmaster! He would rather be a bar-keeper to retail beer by the tankard, or an ostler to be be-Bob'd or be-Bill'd by every traveller, than a lover, sitting up in fine clothes and a straight-jacket, to win the favor of any woman under the sun, the fair Ellen not excepted.
Such a state of things had never entered into Hans's calculations, and he was consequently unprepared for the emergency. Encouraged as he had been to hope that every preliminary arrangement had been made by old Caleb; that at the mere mention of the subject the lovely girl would fly to his embrace; that the wedding would come off the next week, and after that every thing would go on in the same easy, old-fashioned way, as though nothing had happened--Hans found the cold reality inexpressibly chilling, and though neither a poet nor philosopher, began to think of certain objects, such as stars and bubbles, which greater men than he had often tried in vain to grasp. For the first time in all his life Hans was growing sentimental--nay, desperate; and while he was wishing that somebody would call in and knock the Yankee down and then strangle him, the object of his ire arose, and after a graceful bow to Hans, opened a door in the wall, and retired. At this the young Dutchman breathed somewhat more freely, but still as if laboring under great tightness of jacket, when old Caleb addressed him, inquiring what disposition he had made of his voice.
Hans's only reply was a sudden start as if from the sting of an adder, accompanied by a series of awkward gestures, during which his face grew crimson with embarrassment.
'You are not frightened at Mr. Pelt, I hope, Hans?' continued Caleb.
'Yes--no,' said Hans; 'that is--I----'
'For my part,' interposed Ellen, tossing a curl pettishly from her forehead, 'I think Mr. Pelt a very handsome, clever young man, and not an object to frighten boobies;' and with a single bound she stood at the door of her chamber, and disappeared, before Hans or her father could frame a reply.
'Never mind that, my boy,' said Caleb; 'that's the best sign in the world. Cut and come again, Hans!'
'I tell you what, old fellow,' said Hans, rising and opening the street-door; 'you've got this child into a tarnation scrape this time; but if you ever catch me in these diggings again, I'll be darned!'
'Hans! Hans! you are a fool. Good night!' And the amiable youth departed, and in five minutes had doffed his finery, and was fast drowning his sorrows in the flowing bowl.
Scarcely had he gone, leaving Caleb ruminating on a proper scold to be administered to Ellen the next morning, when a step was heard in the school-master's chamber, and that worthy made his appearance before the cobbler, bearing a great board on his shoulder. Caleb stared for some time at the quaint characters inscribed thereon. His eyes had for the first time that evening been opened to the growing intimacy between his daughter and Nicholas; and he was disposed to consider the invention as little else than a 'Yankee notion.'
'And what do you call that?' he asked, gruffly.
'My dear Sir,' said Mr. Pelt, 'this is nothing more than a sign-board. It is something new in town, and I think it will attract attention, and may do you some service.' Then bringing the lamp to bear on the board, he displayed to Caleb various devices, inscribed on its surface, of boots and shoes of all sizes and fashions, the whole illustrated with the words:
+--------------------+ | Caleb Van Dyke. | | | |MENS CONSCIA RECTI. | +--------------------+
'And what is it for?' asked Caleb, trying in vain to interpret the cabalistic words.
'It is intended, Mr. Van Dyke, to surmount your front door, to notify the public that you are a good cobbler and an honest man; that's all.'
'Do you mean to say, Sir, that you expect Caleb Van Dyke, after living fifty years without any such bauble, to stick such a timber as that over his door, to be laughed at for his pains? Why, what would Karl Keiser say?--that old Caleb is turning Yankee in his old age. Why, Sir, the town would burst its sides with laughter, and the boys would throw all kinds of rocks and brickbats at it, and the windows too. No, Sir!'
'Will you _try_ it, my good friend,' said Nicholas, 'if it is but for a single week? And if it does not increase your business, you may set me down for a Yankee tinker, beside expecting me to do all the fighting necessary to sustain the dignity of the establishment.'
And the result was, after a long and animated discussion, that Caleb consented that Nicholas might nail up the board that very night, that the town might be surprised the next morning with the suddenness of the apparition; for such it would be considered, as it was the only specimen of a sign-board in the village, if we except the yellow sky and blue stars of Karl Keiser. Caleb then retired to rest to be visited by curious dreams about sign-boards in general; and Nicholas could scarcely sleep at all, for the busy scenes which he imagined were already advancing in the cobbler's shop, the legitimate result of this invention of his skill.
Early next morning Caleb protruded his uncombed head from the window, and, lo! all Idleberg seemed to be gathered at his door. His first thought was that a mob of his fellow-citizens had assembled there for some nefarious purpose, but he was speedily reässured at seeing Nicholas Pelt standing in the midst of the crowd, and expounding the mysteries of the sign-board to the great delight of his astonished audience. Men, women, and children had gathered there from all parts of the town, with as much intensity of curiosity as if Caleb had caught a live elephant, and was exhibiting it _gratis_. There were men without their hats, and women without their bonnets, and children with little else than bountiful nature had given them. The shop-keeper was there with his yard-stick, and the smith with his sledge-hammer; and the little French tailor was there with his Sacre Dieu's and his red-hot goose, which he flourished to the infinite terror of the by-standers. But the principal figure in this motley group was no less a personage than Jonas Jones, the rival cobbler. Mr. Jones had of late grown too large for his trowsers. His prosperity had been too great for his little soul. He had cut the bench in person, leaving the drudgery of the business to the Company. By the aid of the village tailor he had become quite an exquisite, wore white kid gloves, and occasionally sported a Spanish cigar. There he was promenading before the door, with an ivory-headed cane, and an ogling-glass lifted to his eye; and every few seconds he condescended to inform the crowd that 'he was from Bosting, and the people were a set of demd fules to be making such a racket about a cobbler's sign.'
While curiosity was at the highest pitch, the uproar was increased by the sudden appearance of Hans Keiser, who came swaggering and blustering into the group, elbowing his way along until he reached the vicinity of the school-master. He who had been so diffident in the presence of the gentler sex, was now as bold as any lion need be among men. Smarting with the recollection of his recent discomfiture, he commenced addressing the assembly in a very rude, uncouth style, denouncing the sign as a Yankee contrivance, insinuating that the inventor was no better than he should be, and exhorting the good citizens of Idleberg to tear down the bauble as the only means of securing their lives and property from the occult witchcraft which he professed to believe lay at the bottom of it.
Caleb Van Dyke listened to this harangue with great attention, for it presented the subject in a new light by appealing to his hereditary superstitions; and it is not improbable that he would have suffered Hans to proceed in his meditated outrage, but for the intervention of Nicholas Pelt. Already had the sturdy young Dutchman climbed to the board and made an effort to wrench it away, when he was arrested by the stern voice of Nicholas, commanding him, as he valued his life, to desist.
Hans threw at him a look of defiance, and informed him that if he had the requisite physical strength, he might remove him; otherwise, he should remain where he was until he had torn away the board, or chose to come down of his own free will and accord. This announcement was received by the crowd with loud bravos, which however were immediately silenced when the school-master deliberately approached Hans, and grasping his leg, hurled him to the ground. Amid the flight of women and children and Mr. Jonas Jones, who declared that in consequence of being near-sighted he could see better from a distance, Hans scrambled to his feet, and aimed a blow at Nicholas that might have felled a stouter man, but for the skill with which he parried and returned it with interest. With the generous aid of the by-standers, who were ripe for a frolic, and expressed their anxiety on the subject by cries of 'Bravo!' 'Go it, Red-jacket!' 'Hurrah for Old Nick!' the combatants were on the point of getting into a regular pitched battle, with the usual adornments of bruised eyes and bleeding noses, when Caleb Van Dyke, who had just succeeded in putting on his ten breeches, rushed between them, and commanded them to desist. Another pacificator, whose presence operated equally on both parties, was the fair Ellen, who, having caught a glimpse of the fray from her window, and entertaining an indefinite idea in the general confusion that her father was on the point of being carried away by a press-gang, rushed into the street before completing her toilet, and ran to her father's side in all the beauty of her blooming cheeks and flowing ringlets, to the admiration of the company in general, and particularly of Mr. Jonas Jones, who, perched in safety on a barrel hard by, reviewed the subsiding conflict, lifted his ogling-glass, and beating his breast violently with his right hand in the region of his stomach, exclaimed, 'My heart! my eyes! what a demd foine ge-irl!'
Mean time another conspicuous object hove into sight, in the portly person of Karl Keiser, who came ambling and waddling along, supported by a gigantic hickory stick, to ascertain the occasion of the unusual hubbub before the door of his friend the cobbler. The first reply to his many inquiries revealed to him the active part his son had taken in the fray. 'What, Hans! _my_ Hans!' exclaimed the choleric old Dutchman; 'where is the dirty dog? Let me at him!' And brandishing his club, he made his way through the retreating crowd, when reaching his recreant son, he belabored him lustily over the shoulders, and pointing significantly toward home, bade him be gone. Crouching and howling with pain, the lusty Hans obeyed; and it may be added in parenthesis, that hearing a vague rumor during the day that he was in request by the worshipful corporation of the town, to answer to certain grave charges preferred against him, by authority of the statutes against riots, routs, and unlawful assemblies, he decamped from Idleberg, and ere long was enjoying the long-desired luxury of going down the river on a flat-boat.
The pacific parties had at length triumphed over the belligerent. The fair Ellen, suddenly conscious of her generous and imprudent haste in rushing to her father's side, made a precipitate retreat into the house, not, however, without having first ascertained that Nicholas was unharmed by the fray; and in a few minutes the scene of such recent commotion was nearly deserted, save by an occasional school-boy who glanced at the sign-board, committed to memory the cabalistic words, _Mens conscia recti_, and went on, repeating them at every step. Last of all remained Mr. Jonas Jones, promenading in solitary grandeur before the house; now watching his elegant shadow in the sun, now glancing at the window where Ellen Van Dyke had first appeared to his enraptured vision, now bringing his glass to bear upon the sign, and winding up the dumb show by producing a white cambric handkerchief, somewhat soiled by use, with which he wiped his eyes; and looking upward and apostrophizing a cluster of invisible stars, he placed his hand on his breast, struck his ivory-headed cane to the ground, and walked off with an air that would have made him illustrious even in Broadway, Chestnut, or Tremont.
Never did cobbler set to work with less confidence than did Caleb Van Dyke on that day, and never was cobbler more agreeably disappointed. Scarce half an hour had passed, when customer after customer came flocking in, to purchase a pair of new boots or shoes, distinguished by the original name of men's conscia recti. Never was cobbler so complimented for his work: such capital leather! such elegant stitches! such a capacity for making large feet small, and small feet large! that every man who shod himself anew, declared that Caleb had at length discovered the true philosophy of cobbling. Conscious as Caleb was that the very articles now so highly commended, were manufactured months previous, and had been lying by in want of purchasers, he was forced to attribute this sudden change in his fortunes to the magical effect of the sign-board. That was a proud day for Nicholas Pelt. All this time he had been reviewing from his loop-hole the busy scenes enacting at the cobbler's, and when school was over, he hastened into the street in advance of his eager pupils, and rushed to the cobbler's, where he was met at the door by Caleb in a high glee, jingling the genuine coin in both pockets, and declaring that he had realized more profit during that single day than in the entire month preceding.
This seemed a prosperous tide in Caleb's fortunes. Cheerfulness again lighted up his countenance, and competence and independence seemed the sure and early rewards of his toil. Successful industry never threw a brighter glow around any fire-side than was felt at the humble hearth of the honest cobbler. Caleb was growing so good-humored and facetious, had purchased of late so many dainties from the village store, that the dame and the children were _not_ overwhelmed with astonishment, as they should have been, when one morning at breakfast the old gentleman informed them that he was going to devote that day to shopping, and would take them all with him. Such piles of calicoes, cloths, and muslins, as the busy mercer threw down on the counter with an air that said he didn't mind it--he was quite used to it--he could put them all up again in five minutes; such trinkets, toys, and fineries as were then and there displayed, the little urchins had never dreamed of seeing, much less of wearing. And then the old gentleman bought so much and so fast that the clerk, a youth with a sleek head, and a pen behind each ear and one in his fingers, was kept quite busy noting them down. There was a new bonnet for the dame, and a new dress and a 'pink-red' shawl for Ellen, and a hat for Rip, and a doll for the baby, and trowsers and jackets for a dozen more, and stuff for a bran new suit for Caleb, to be converted into fashionable shapes by that arch knight of the shears, the little French tailor. And then you should have seen them at church the next Sunday; how the dame sported her new bonnet, and how Ellen sported _her_ new shawl, and how Rip kept trying on his new hat right in the face of the minister, and how young old Caleb looked in his new suit; and how the neighbors all stared at them, and Nicholas Pelt chuckled in one corner, and the minister preached to them about vanity, fine clothes, and all that! ah, that was fine, and it all came from that _Mens conscia recti!_ No fear of poverty there; no dowdy hats nor ragged breeches, taxing the needle and the patience of the dame; no thought of casting Ellen into the embraces of such a graceless scamp as Hans Keiser. All these thoughts and a thousand more passed rapidly through the cobbler's mind; and when he remembered the kindness of the school-master, he did not hesitate to forget his old prejudices, so far as to admit that a Yankee might be both a gentleman and a scholar.
While the honest Dutchman was thus inhaling the breezes of good fortune, his rivals, Jonas Jones and Company, were fast sinking into obscurity. The exquisite individual whose name gave title and dignity to the firm, was fairly smitten, as we have seen, with the charms of Ellen Van Dyke. For several weeks he devoted himself to all the external blandishments his fancy could invent to arrest the affections of his rival's daughter. These had failed, and worse still, his customers were dropping off, one by one; his supplies were suffering under a collapse. Mr. Jonas Jones soon grew crest-fallen. His elegant form and fascinating attire ceased to be visible on the public walks, as of yore when fortune smiled. His wit had ceased to sparkle like champagne; his wares no longer dazzled the credulous Idlebergers with their cheapness and durability. Adversity had driven him to the bench, where he sat day after day, waxing his ends, brooding over his reverses; now dreaming of Ellen Van Dyke, and now moralizing on the vanity of earthly things in general. Mr. Jonas Jones was evidently in a decline.
While Mr. Jones was sitting one day in this happy frame of mind, tugging very hard at a most obdurate piece of leather, his reflections were suddenly interspersed with a series of original ideas. Unable to compete with his rival, he would call on him immediately, and offer his services as a copartner in his business and a husband for his daughter. Animated by these conceptions, Mr. Jones leaped from his sitting posture with a degree of activity that astonished the Company, threw aside the cumbersome rigging peculiar to his craft, devoted a few minutes to his toilet, and with hasty strides started out on his errand of love and copartnership. By one of those fantastic freaks which Fancy sometimes plays, his first step on the pavement was arrested by a new thought which flashed through his mind, and suffused his weazen face with smiles; and turning on his heel, he reëntered the shop, and walked deliberately into a private apartment, where he remained for several days on the plea of pressing and important business, secluded from the observation even of the Company. He had procured an immense board, and a great pot of black paint; and that was all they knew.
Sailing under a fair sky, with the wind all astern, and his canvass swelling in the breeze, Caleb Van Dyke was little prepared for the clouds that so soon lowered above his head. Early one morning, when on the point of resuming his daily toil, he glanced carelessly up the street, and beheld a great crowd before the Yankee's door, staring at a gigantic sign-board inscribed in quaint characters:
+---------------------------------+ | Jonas Jones and Company. | | | |MEN'S AND WOMEN'S CONSCIA RECTI. | +---------------------------------+
Adjusting his spectacles to reassure him that he was not dreaming, and muttering something very dreadful to think of, he called the school-master from the breakfast table, and directed his attention to the rival sign-board.
'Well, well,' said Nicholas; 'nobody but a Yankee would ever have thought of that. They are very bright over there; they have translated a Latin inscription into English in a manner truly original. I confess I never thought of _that_ before; we will see, however; we will see.' And Nicholas went off in a brown study to his school-room.
Caleb Van Dyke had good cause that day to know that the population of Idleberg was as vacillating as an aspen-leaf, or any thing else that may be shaken by a breath. Not a single customer called that day, nor the next, nor the next. In addition to the crowds of male customers who thronged Mr. Jones's establishment, he saw numbers of the other sex on a similar errand, who were curious to see that particular fashion of shoe called 'women's conscia recti.' Mean time Nicholas Pelt was very grave, and spent all his leisure time in his chamber; and at the end of a week, during which Caleb's shop had been entirely deserted, Nicholas had the satisfaction of showing to his host a sign-board larger, longer, and more imposing than all the rest, inscribed:
MEN'S, WOMEN'S, AND CHILDREN'S CONSCIA RECTI.
It is needless farther to pursue the ebb and flow of popular favor between the rival cobblers. Suffice it to say that this last device succeeded to the entire satisfaction of _our_ cobbler; and men, women, and children, literally flocked to his shop, until his hands were kept busy night and day, and his pockets overflowed with gold, silver, and bank-notes. Yankee had met Yankee in the conflict of intellect, and fortune had smiled upon the school-master. In a very short time Mr. Jonas Jones and Company pulled up their stakes, moved farther west, and were never heard of afterward.
What now interposed to prevent the union of Nicholas and Ellen? How readily the fond father said: 'Yes, certainly, Mr. Pelt. God bless you! I can never repay your kindness.' How beautifully Ellen blushed at the thought that she was actually going to be married; how the parson tied the knot which no enactment of man should ever sunder; how friends gathered there to congratulate the happy pair, and share the bountiful repast prepared by the dame; how the wit of the bridegroom and the beauty of the bride never shone so brightly as then, and how Rip was put to bed of a surfeit; and how through it all the story of the _Mens conscia recti_ was repeated over and over in tones of merriment, until the cobbler's dwelling rang again; these pictures are all too bright for delineation by our feeble pen.
Departing from the well-beaten paths of many writers of legends and chronicles, who usually drop the curtain at the bridal night, we ask but a moment, gentle reader, to record in outline the incidents which grew out of and succeeded this alliance. These weddings, after all, are actual occurrences, and not dreams of romance. Night _will_ slowly retire; the lamps must necessarily go out, even though filled with the oil of Aladdin's; the liveliest tongues will get tired of talking, and the briskest feet of dancing; and then the quiet honeymoon will succeed, and life with its stern realities will wake the loving pair to the thought of duties and pleasures yet in store, until the fading twilight of existence shall restore the bright ideal of 'Love's young dream.'
Nicholas's first step, then, was to inform Caleb Van Dyke that beside being a school-master, he was also a very respectable cobbler; and Caleb was convinced of this fact, almost against his will, at the sight of a pair of sturdy shoes manufactured by the quondam pedagogue, with a neatness and despatch that truly astonished him. Having arrived at the conclusion that the Idlebergers were disposed to spend their money more freely on their feet than their heads, Nicholas delivered his pedestal and birchen-rods to another adventurer who came along soon after in search of a school, and betook himself to cobbling in all its varieties. The firm of Van Dyke and Pelt thrived beyond precedent, and the old sign-board, after having become so illustrious, was permitted to retire, and its place was soon filled by another, composed and executed by the gifted Yankee, as follows:
'Blow, blow, ye winds and breezes All among the leaves and treeses: Sing, oh sing, ye heavenly muses, While we make both boots and shoeses.'
In the mean time Hans Keiser returned to Idleberg, thoroughly cured of his passion for adventure. His old father, while under the combined effects of those genial stimulants, beer and tobacco, received him with great cordiality. Hans soon became reconciled to the loss of Ellen Van Dyke, having found a congenial spirit in the person of a farmer's buxom daughter, who had been for years selling butter, eggs, and poultry, at the sign of the yellow sky and blue stars, until the young Dutchman was suddenly smitten with her charms; and all parties consenting, they were in due time pronounced man and wife by the very parson who had officiated at the nuptials of Nicholas and Ellen.
Since then Idleberg has emerged from the ashes of its primitive obscurity, and has risen into great consideration at home, if not abroad, for its chaste attractions and its elegant society. The spot of ground once occupied by the hostelry of Karl Keiser, now sustains an imposing mansion-house, distinguished hereabouts as the Indian Queen Hotel. During Caleb Van Dyke's life-time nothing could induce the old gentleman to improve the indifferent dwelling to which a long residence had so much attached him; but Nicholas took the earliest advantage of his decease to remove the old shop, and rear upon its ruins a larger and more elegant building. While the Pelts are enjoying the luxuries of elegant country-seats and well-tilled acres, they cherish a commendable pride in remembering the humble means by which they have arisen to competence. Nicholas and Ellen are now enjoying a green old age, surrounded by their numerous and prosperous posterity; and the old family carriage, as it comes rumbling into town every Sunday, drawn by a pair of sterling gray horses, has painted on the pannel of each door an odd-looking pair of shoes of the last century's fashion, beneath which are inscribed in antique characters, the magical words:
MENS CONSCIA RECTI.
AT the battle of Lake Champlain, a sailor, called Portuguese Joe, performed the gallant exploit of nailing the stripes and stars to the mast, after they had been shot down. He perished in the flames at the late fire in Exchange Place, New-Orleans.
UPON the lake the battle raged, And warmly was each heart engaged, To win their nation's liberty-- To conquer or to die!
The iron hail was flying fast Against the sail, against the mast, And many a warm and gallant frame The prey of death became.
And louder grew the cannon's sound, And faster flew the balls around, And sadly rose above the strife The groans of parting life!
Still the brave tars beheld with pride The stripes and stars exulting ride Where many an eye was fondly cast, Upon the towering mast.
But hark! a shot! 'twas guided well, And suddenly the colors fell! Another--and another--now The flag is lying low!
Upon the deck the stripes and stars Dip in the blood of dying tars; Oh! surely 'tis a glorious stain, The life-blood of the slain!
But who is this who nobly dares Replace those precious stripes and stars? The tattered shrouds his fingers seize!-- 'Tis Joe--the Portuguese!
Into the rigging quick he springs, Close to the splintered mast he clings, And now aloft how eagerly Is gazing every eye!
A long, a loud, a deafening cheer, Bursts from each gallant sailor near, Behold! the flag of liberty Again is waving free!
Three cheers! the flag once more is spread, Joe's shining hat waves o'er his head! And hark! a shout of triumph now! Three cheers from those below!
The fight is o'er--the battle done; 'Twas bravely fought--'twas bravely won; And Joe a glorious part did play, That long-remembered day!
. . . . . . . . . . . .
Long years have passed, and Joe is dead; His ashes to the winds are spread; Long live within our memories Brave Joe--the Portuguese!
_Charleston, June, 1843._
MARY S. B. DANA.
THE POLYGON PAPERS.
AUTHORS are very unequal. The loftiest sometimes sink lower than the mediocre ever do; the passionate are often lifeless; and the deep and original portrayer of character and the heart frequently utters sententious truisms and apophthegmatic nonsense. I have lately been perusing the writings of La Bruyere, and have been forced more than ever to admire his masterly choice of language, his vivid wit, and keen discrimination. Among some very acute and just remarks I observed one so amazingly juiceless, that for a time I thought it must have been hazarded as a kind of tantalizing puzzle--a hollow nut for fools to crack in the hope of finding a kernel. He says, 'As we become more and more attached to those who benefit us, so we conceive a violent hatred for those who have greatly injured us'--that is, 'we love our friends and hate our enemies!!' A truly profound conclusion, and one requiring long experience and deep philosophy to discover! My efforts to detect _some_ brilliant thread in the triteness, and _some_ savor in the jejuneness of the above childish enunciation, gave rise to the following 'scatterings' on aphorisms, etc., and their writers.
Proverbs have been called 'the condensed wisdom of nations.' They may, I think, with more propriety be entitled 'an epitome of the truths and falsehoods contained in the more extended forms of books, and in the practical commentary of life.' Those of them which are true, are like the rules in the practical sciences, which the most ignorant artisan may apply, although he know nothing of the principles on which they are based, or of the process by which they are proved. If all these adages were true, they would prove of infinite advantage in life; since by a slight effort of the memory we might retain rules for our guidance through almost every difficulty of doubt or of temptation. But the misfortune is that here, as elsewhere, the true is mingled with the false, and only excellent sense with an addition of long experience can inform us which are worthy and which unworthy of reception. Now this same good sense and experience would furnish us with the same wisdom by the induction of our own minds, and thereby supersede the necessity of the written or oral maxims of others. Hence it is clear that proverbs are of little practical utility, since the very wisdom they would teach is a prerequisite to an intelligent adoption of their teachings. Their chief value lies in their conveying a great deal of instruction in a portable form, and presenting it very impressively by the energy of some brief and homely illustration.
The frequent use of aphorisms and proverbial phrases has in all ages been regarded as a vulgarism. Many of them are strikingly true and extremely elegant, having emanated from thoughtful and polished minds; yet in their daily use among writers and speakers of all classes, they become soiled and worn, familiar and profane. They acquire the tone of cant, and are resigned to the possession of those who cannot think and speak for themselves. In the fragments of the old Greek comedy and in others of their familiar writers, we find proverbs usually given up to the subordinate characters. Even in Euripides, 'the philosopher of the scenes,' nearly all whose personages harangue in sententious monostichs like disputants in the Academus or declaimers from the Stoa, the proverbial style is mostly left to messengers and attendants, pedagogues and nurses. Among the Romans, Plautus is most profuse in adages, and with him they drop, thick and fast, from the mouths of pimps and parasites, courtesans, and slaves. Horace employs them seldom, save when personating some humble character; and Cicero, even in his 'Familiar Letters,' often prefaces their introduction by an apologetic 'ut aiunt'--'as they say.' Every one, who has read (and who has _not_ read?) the romance of the renowned Cid Hamet Benengeli, remembers the ludicrous distress suffered by the knight of La Mancha in hearing his squire discharge whole broadsides of rustic proverbs at all times and on all subjects. The Italian language overflows with these trite familiarities. The low characters in the early English comedies, and the old English writers in general, abound in these homely texts, which teach the rustic moralist to _live_. If the novelists of this age of gas and steam-boats place in the mouths of their subaltern heroes few of the thread-bare aphorisms so common in the works of Smollet and Fielding, it is because the 'ignobility' of the present day have arrived at great perfection in a peculiar dialect--a compound of buffoonery and sentiment, of poetry and flash. In place of the quaint proverbs and worn allusions, in which their ancestors couched their humble thoughts, they bedizen their every-day attire of flimsy cant and coarse burlesque with borrowed flowers of fancy and the stolen jewelry of wit.
Writers of apophthegms, maxims, laconisms, etc., are more liable to errors than most other authors. Their aim is to be striking rather than consistent; and hence, in their pages you may frequently find sentiments of the most conflicting tendency. They have conceived a truth, and in order to illustrate it more forcibly, they clinch it with a brilliant catch; that is, they sharpen it with a glittering nothing, or point it with a sparkling lie. They fall into the same category with the epigrammatists of the Martial school, who often bore you with a long and irrelevant preface for the purpose of introducing a smart turn at the conclusion. How infinitely inferior, by the way, with all their wit and all their polish, are the sharp conceits and coquettish affectations of Martial and his successors to the severe and noble simplicity of the Greek epigram! An ingenious thought is commonly a false one. Its very ingenuity and uncommonness are _primâ facie_ evidence that it is neither natural nor correct. The apophthegmatist perceives that a particular fact is frequently associated with another fact. He immediately notes it down, and in a shape of antithetic brevity delivers it to others as a universal guide.
Many of these maxims are like those of Rochefoucault, on which Bulwer and some other self-imagined dissectors of the heart appear to have looked with an envious emulation. They are hard, cold, and brilliant--the deductions of a long, active, and passive experience in scenes of courtly treachery and polished heartlessness. They are gems, that have crystallized by an infusion of selfishness in the residuum of exhausted feeling--sparkling stalactites, formed by continual drippings from the cells of an acute and scheming brain upon the bottom of a cavernous and icy heart. If true at all, they are true, thank God, only among the summits of social life, where the scintillations of loveless intellect flash from peak to peak through an atmosphere of frosty splendor. Even if they be better founded and more widely applicable than I believe, their spirit is baleful, their tendency pernicious. They sow in the warm heart of youth the suspicions of the hackneyed worldling, and teach him that to meet and baffle the simulations and dissimulations of his fellows, he must sheathe his innocent spirit in the panoply of craft, subject every movement to the guidance of consummate art, and conceal every generous impulse and each warm emotion beneath the ice of unchanging coldness, or behind the glittering veil of one inscrutable, invincible, and everlasting smile. Asserting the absolute wickedness of all men, and impressing the necessity of a sleepless and universal doubt, they inoculate the tender nurslings of a rising generation with that poisonous wisdom which diffuses a moral death through the pithless trunk and leafless branches of their riper years. When I hear one rehearsing these odious lessons, and affirming that Virtue lives not in the heart of man, I am not so much convinced of her non-existence in the world as I am of her non-residence in the bosom of her slanderer. Whether the upholders of this infamous doctrine find in their own breasts the prototype of the unmitigated moral deformity which they attribute to their race, I shall not attempt to decide. But it is certain that these degraders of humanity are reduced to this dilemma. They either have an internal consciousness of their own utter depravity, which induces them to think all others equally devoid of worth, or from the evidence of history and experience they infer that mankind are entirely abandoned-devils incarnate. If the first be the basis of their belief, they must indeed be wicked--wicked beyond hope, and beyond redemption; for even thieves, cheats, and impostors proceed on the conviction that there is something good, honest, and unsuspecting in the human breast. If they draw the foul tenet and utter the blasphemous libel from testimony and experience, how poorly must they have read the volume of history, how blindly have moved on the theatre of life, not to have seen that humanity is a mixture of good and evil, and that its eventful records are often bright with kindness, and faithfulness, and every virtue, though oftener alas! black with cruelty, and treachery, and crime! Leave, dear youth, leave 'Timon of Athens' and all others, who have outlived, or fooled away their capacities of enjoyment, to gnash their toothless rage at a world they have abused, and, believe me, you may find on the written and unwritten page of human action a thousand deeds of noblest daring and most unswerving love--deeds whose touching moral beauty will thrill through all your frame, causing your eyes to glisten, your flesh to quiver, and your heart to swell.
The aphorisms of Epictetus, Antoninus, Seneca, and others of that class are not, indeed, of the same heartless and freezing character with those of Rochefoucault, and the Chesterfieldian school; yet they are mostly of too Stoical and superhuman a cast to be of much practical benefit to poor human nature. They counsel you, for instance, to bear the gout with patience, by considering that many have had it before you, have it now, and will have it after you; that impatience will not ease your pain; that your were born for suffering and must expect to suffer, and that, at the worst, it cannot last for ever. All mighty, true, and philosophical, no doubt; but the twinged and wincing sufferer cannot extract one grain of comfort from any of these considerations but the last. Sometimes they bid you reflect whether your sorrows are not the consequences of your own crime or folly. The affusion of _this_ 'oil of consolation' is literally the casting of oil upon the fire. It is a sedative for grief resembling a handful of red-pepper thrown into inflamed eyes. It is adding to the agonies of the previous torture the rage of remorse and the bitterness of self-contempt.
These calm and rational exhortations to 'take it coolly,' and 'never to cry for spilled milk,' are all very good till they are needed. They are extremely salutary before the fever kindles or the milk is spilled; but in the presence of pain, or on the advent of disaster, to all but those who are gifted with fortitude by nature, or have been disciplined in the school of affliction, they are about as effectual as whistling in the teeth of a nor'wester. Their utter impotence in the storm of passion reminds me of the directions given by a good New-England deacon to his choleric son. 'Whenever you feel your _dander_ rising,' said he, 'be sure to say the Lord's prayer, my son, or else the alphabet clean through; and long before you git to the eend on't, you'll be as cool as a cucumber, or an iceberg. Promise me faithfully, my son.' 'Yes, daddy, I promise.' Off trudged Jonathan to school, carrying his bread and meat with a small bottle of molasses in his jacket-pocket, and his late firm promise uppermost in his mind. A boy, who bore him an old grudge, met him, and, after calling him the 'young deacon,' and many other scurrilous nicknames, caught him off his guard, and threw him to the ground, tearing his jacket, and breaking his molasses-bottle. Now it _is_ said by censorious Southrons, that a Yankee will take a great many hard names with the patience of a martyr: his spirit is word-proof; but tear his clothes or cheat his belly, and he will fight 'to the knife.' Up jumped Jonathan, his eyes wolfish and his lips white with rage. But 'there was an oath in Heaven,' and he did not forget it. So he proceeded to swallow his alphabetical pills--an antidote to wrath, not mentioned in the 'Regimen Salernitanum,' nor recognized by the British College. 'A, B, C,--you've tored my jacket--D, E, F,--you've spilt my 'lasses--G, H, I, J, K,--you're a 'tarnal rascal--L, M, N, O, P, Q,--I'll larn you better manners, you scamp, you!--R, S, T, U, V,--I'll spile your picter, you old wall-eye!--W, X, Y, Z, _ampersand_--now I'll pound your insides out o' you, you darned nigger!' And with that, Jonathan, whose passion had been mounting alphabetically throughout all his father's prescription of vowels and consonants, caught the young scape-grace, and, throwing him down, was proceeding to work off each of the deacon's twenty-six anti-irascible pills in the shape of a dozen hearty fisticuffs, which might, perhaps, have brought the poor fellow to the omega of his days had not the timely approach of a passenger interrupted the manipulations. So much for rules to control the passions.
The Greek pentameters, containing the 'Admonitions of Theognis the Megarian' form one of the strangest compositions I ever read. They are as complete a medley as any _colluvies_ of vegetables, shells, and bones, swept by the Noachic flood into the hollows of the earth. Here a petrified rose-leaf rests its cheek upon a nettle; here lies the bill of a dove, and here a shark's tooth; here is the grinning chasm of a lion's jaws, and here the skeleton of a loving lamb. A kindly maxim is followed by a cynic snarl, and exhortations to universal affection sleep side by side with counsels to entire distrust in man. They are probably the 'disjecta membra'--a pest on the pedantry of Latin!--the scattered limbs of several moralists, and in their present incoherency, they remind one of that anomalous species of union facetiously styled by grammarians, a '_con_junction _dis_junctive!'
The proverbs of Solomon, apart from their inspiration, are of clearer and more comprehensive wisdom than all the parœmial precepts of the world beside. But among them, as Peter said of the writings of his brother Paul, there are 'some things hard to be understood.' As one instance out of many, I refer to Prov. xxvi. 4, 5. 'Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him;' and again, 'Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit'--directions which it requires the wit of an Œdipus fully to explain, and the wisdom of Solomon himself to act out with appropriate discrimination.
Among all modern books of that cast, I prefer the 'Lacon' of the eccentric Colton. Straggling through the fields of life after the Greek and Roman reapers, he has bound his gleanings into a bundle scarce inferior to their sheaves in beauty and abundance. If hardly equal to some of his Gallic rivals in glitter and acuteness, neither has he dazzled the eyes of Truth with sparkling falsehoods, nor pierced the heart of Virtue with the darts of slander, nor sundered with the sword of sarcasm the fresh-strung nerves of Hope. Expressing thoughts at once noble, original, and true, in words always happy, and in a style at times of almost unrivalled elegance, the teachings of his few brief pages are of more value than all the tawdry sentiment and flimsy ethics scattered through the fifty 'parvum in multo' volumes of the _Last_ of the _Baronets_.
'Dans toutes les conditions,' says La Bruyere, 'le pauvre est bien proche de l'homme de bien, et l'opulent n'estquère éloigné de la friponnerie. Le savoir-faire et l'habilité ne mènent pas jusq 'aux énormes richesses.' How shallow and how false! One can hardly imagine how a man of his wit and sense could have ventured the sweeping declaration, that poverty is a proof of honesty, and wealth of knavery. Every one must see in the world around him that riches fall exclusively neither to the good nor to the bad, but somewhat according to the industry of men, and still more by the caprices of Fortune, or, in better language, by the mysterious dispensations of Heaven. Many of the rich have acquired their wealth by discreet and honest industry, and manage it with a thoughtful and wise benevolence. Many of the poor, on the contrary, are niggards on a contracted scale, and in their avidity for money would engage in any knavery to obtain it. Why have they not become rich? Because they had neither industry, enterprise, nor patience, and many constantly laid out their little gains in extravagant dress, temporary pleasures, and vicious indulgence. If, then, we grant the eager love of money to be a vice, the poor are often chargeable with it to the same extent as the rich, while the sum of their moral excellence being still farther lessened by idleness, impatience, imbecility, and vice, they are left far inferior to the wealthy in the scale of character and value. The truth is, the larger portion of mankind are dishonest, so far as temptation urges, and their courage or their opportunities allow. It is also true that large numbers of the rich have amassed their fortunes by knavery or gross injustice, and that a majority of them have occasionally infringed the rules of rigid honesty. And it is certainly no less true that, in some shape or other, a large plurality of the poor are more or less unjust and knavish in their little dealings with each other. The proportion of truly upright men is doubtless greater among the poor than among the rich, because riches have confessedly a corrupting influence upon the heart. But this corrupting influence of wealth has nothing to do with the mode of its acquisition. The ranks of the rich are constantly recruited from the crowds of the poor, and most of those who are now rolling in wealth were at first but penniless and friendless boys. If, therefore, a majority of the poor be radically and truly honest, so are an almost equal number of the rich, who are taken indiscriminately from among the poor. Furthermore, the position that the opulent have generally gained their money unfairly, clashes with two other very orthodox and ancient proverbs, that 'villany never prospers,' and that 'honesty is the best policy.' I leave those who guide themselves by old saws to reconcile these contradictions, and independently of all proverbs I form my own opinion; which is, that riches and power are distributed among men with little or no respect of merit, and that fraud, however beneficial temporarily and in a coarse, pecuniary view, is ruinous, if we regard the sum total of our existence.
There are many opinions so commonly entertained and so frequently expressed, that although they have not perhaps attained the fixed form of an adage, yet they have the operation, and may be considered in the light, of proverbs. These opinions may be divided into two classes--generalities in general, and generalities in particular. The first arise from men's observing a few instances of a given fact, and erecting these instances into an all-embracing rule. They consist in such unqualified assertions as these--'Americans are money-worshippers: Frenchmen are fops: religionists are hypocrites: doctors are pretenders: lawyers are knaves: politicians are time-servers. These may be termed generalities in general, and they generally amount to falsehoods in particular. Unqualified assertions are usually qualified lies; for every thing in this world is a commixture of good and evil. What is good at one time, is bad at another; or what is good in itself is bad from its circumstances and adjuncts, or bad in comparison with something better. He, therefore, who affirms a tiling to be good or bad absolutely, entirely, and at all times, commonly affirms more than is true, or, in other words, affirms a restricted falsehood.
Generalities in particular are derivative generalities, and the detection of their falsity requires a double analysis. After generalities in general have been established by a course of false reasoning, generalities in particular are inferred by a process of similar sophistry reversed, and an unfair deduction from an unsound predicate derives specific falsehoods from a generical untruth. Like that famous tree of the Indies, whose branches droop downward to the ground, and take root, and rise again, and descend once more, and rise afresh, till the central trunk is guarded by a youthful forest, and clings to its native earth by a thousand vegetable arms; so one of these comprehensive untruths sends forth its ramifications of mistake, which spring upward in a fresh growth of reproductive errors, till they are all fastened to the soil of the social mind by numberless and ineradicable roots, and the parent falsehood stands, surrounded by a giant progeny of lies. Here is the reasoning. Such a class of men are bad in general; _therefore_, this particular individual is worthless. Lawyers are usually dishonest men; _ergo_, this individual lawyer is a knave.' Here is the same beautiful logic reversed. 'I have heard of _some_ cruel slave-holders; _therefore_, every slave-holder is a bloody tyrant. I have seen _some_ haughty and oppressive 'millionaires;' _ergo_, all the opulent are purse-proud and unfeeling aristocrats.' These are the foolish generalities of opinion and assertion, which have caused so many misunderstandings, suspicions, antipathies, and heart-burnings among the classes of society, the sects of religion, and the nations of men. He who should believe in the infallibility, and guide himself by the directions, of accredited opinions, and undisputed proverbs, would often, be wofully puzzled by their divergent counsels and contradictory assertions. They often uphold as unfailing truths things that are true but in a majority or even a measureless minority of instances, and that according to extraneous contingencies.
For example, in speaking of heirs they represent them as universally a race of spendthrifts. Now they may, or may not, be so, according to their peculiar dispositions. Doubtless the acquisition of wealth by inheritance is less calculated to impress its possessor with a prudent estimate of its value than its accumulation by 'eating the bread of carefulness.' Yet thousands of legatees are more miserly than their legators, and thousands more manage their inheritances with discreet liberality.
It is said that intemperance _always_ hardens the heart. Far be it from me to play the sophist in favor of excess, or to deny its natural _tendency_ to blunt the feelings, and brutalize the soul. But, though I know not how it is, I have _seen_ many, who, amid the ruins of their character and the withering of their hopes, seemed only to grow the more tender, generous, and self-sacrificing, and while shrinking from the coldness of their connections and the contempt of the world, overflowed with affection toward all mankind. A few years since I chanced to sit by the death-bed of one, who had drank up a fine estate, and brought down his once full and muscular form to a shrunken, fleshless frame--a very skeleton. That man would, at any time, have periled his life for another; and, when in his cups, would have rushed on inevitable death for the meanest of his kind. And even then, as he lay now writhing in pain, now fainting with feebleness, forgetful of his own sufferings and danger, he followed all my motions with his eyes, constantly beckoned to the servants to attend to my wants, and watched me, stranger as I was, with an anxious tenderness, which almost choked me with tears. Peace be with thee, poor Ned! May the earth rest lighter on thy heart than did the scorn of thy kindred! The adamantine chains of habit bound thee to degradation, and dragged thee to the grave--but a truer and kinder spirit never dwelt within a human breast!
A common maxim is, that 'old maids' are peevish, tea-drinking, scandal-loving bodies. Many old maids are so; for their constant exposure to unfeeling derision renders them the first; sympathy with each other's condition gives them the second habit; and the weakness of human nature prompts them to envy and detract from those whom they deem more fortunate than themselves. But there are many of these slandered sisters who never coveted the double blessedness they are supposed to envy; who are too independent to sigh for gilded compliments and hollow homage; and are quite content to live in isolated virtue, and die in solitary peace. Yes! thousands of these unappropriated 'units' have been mellowed by the touch of Time, till they have become the very models of womanhood; modest and intelligent, just and generous, mild and charitable; aiding by their labors, consoling by their words, enlightening by their wisdom, and instructing by the beautiful teachings of uniform example. Hannah More is at the head of the female world.
It is a frequent remark that the sons of eminent men are rarely eminent. Now eminence is rare in _every_ class of society--for it is a relative term, meaning _uncommon_ excellence, and of course, it cannot be very common. But I think the proportion at least as large among the offspring of the great as among the children of the obscure. If among the former, vice too often consumes the energies of the spirit, and parasites persuade them that greatness is the privilege of their birth, and that Elisha will receive the mantle, although he walk not in the footsteps of Elijah; to the latter 'the ample page of Knowledge' has been sealed by stern necessity, and 'Penury has frozen the genial current of the soul.' Not one in ten thousand among the sons of the humble has ever attained to eminence, and quite as great a percentage is found among the children of the distinguished. The opinion, therefore, is either false, or is a stupid truism amounting to this: 'Few of the multitude distinguish themselves by _uncommon_ merit.'
Another common assertion is, that the sons of very good men are generally more profligate than those of others. This proverb contradicts another adage, that a 'good tree bears good fruit,' and they nullify each other. In truth, however, the latter maxim is true, agreeing with reason, and verified by experience; while the former is absurd in theory, and false in fact. It forgets the grand principle of cause and effect. It were, indeed, a strange and mournful comment on the perverseness of our race, if the pious counsels and pure example of an upright father only served to harden and degrade the child. Strange were it, most strange and sad, did the seeds of a blameless life fail generally of their natural crop, and fructify only in acts of guilt and shame. On this theory, the tender parent, who would take the surest course for securing the integrity and welfare of his offspring, should in his own person display an obscene drama of flagitious action, and, like the lawgivers of Sparta, infuse in others a disgust of vice by a practical exhibition of her foulness. I do not thus believe in the force of contrast, or the power of opposites to beget and produce each other. The ordinary rule of Nature is, 'Like produces like.' The quite common opinion that reverses this rule in reference to the children of pious parents, arose from the observation of some instances of sad degeneracy, and as these were very striking, people forgot the mass of instances on the other side of the question, and generalized a few scattering exceptions into a universal rule.
Once more. Many modern novelists, when they wish to be very novel and acute, exclaim (in some suitable context) 'Misery loves company.' 'Ho! ho! are you there, old Truepenny!' 'Misery loves company.' And, pray, my fine apoththegmatist, are you deep and original in this remark? Is it a profound discovery, or is it a shallow truism? Are you very wise, or quite otherwise? 'Misery loves company.' And doesn't joy love company? Does not anger long to diffuse its fires, confidence to reveal its hopes, and triumph to announce its exultations? Instead of appearing to say something when you were saying nothing, why did you not remark in unpretending prose that we are sociable, sympathy-craving beings, and love company, whether miserable or happy; and that all our passions, save the morose ones, seek for participation? If you wished to go a little father, and assert a truth, which should not be very brilliant, nor entirely unfathomable, you might remark, that if ever our joy or our sorrow fly from crowds, it is only because it is unfitted for their sympathy or too great for their comprehension. When our happiness or grief is so intense that it fills all the heart and engages all the brain, we withdraw ourselves from all communion, and reverize in the selfishness of solitude and silence.
Here endeth the commentary on the Book of Proverbs.
ALONG the rugged path of life, So lonely, wild, and drear; Where nought is heard but toil and strife, And nought but cares appear; And where, for every springing flower, A thousand thorns arise; And joy's uncertain, fleeting hour, Like meteor glows, and dies,
There is a light that brightly shines Mid passion's wildest rage, A charm around the heart that twines, From childhood up to age; That light, that charm, when storms are nigh, Like heaven's own beams appear. The light, it glows from Beauty's eye; The charm is Woman's tear.
The monarch on his lofty throne, The lowly village swain, Alike their magic influence own, And bow beneath their reign. When wavers Hope's unsteady light, And dark is Reason's ray, Oh, then, with radiance pure and bright, They guide our dreary way.
E'en at the last and solemn hour, When shadows dark appal, The spirit owns their mystic power, And lingers at their call. And when above the turf-crowned grave, Its head the willow rears, Brighter and greener does it wave, Bedewed by Woman's tears.
THE QUOD CORRESPONDENCE.
PACING up and down the small room, and muttering to himself in broken sentences, with his brows knit, at one time hugging his arms tight to his breast, at another flinging them over his head, snapping his fingers, or rubbing his hands together, and chuckling to himself, in that low, mocking tone which was peculiar to him, Rust spent the short interval that elapsed between the departure and return of Kornicker.
When he came to the office on that afternoon, and discovered the character of the persons who during his absence had made it their haunt, his first impulse had been to rid himself of them in the most summary manner; nor would he have hesitated to have done so but for the fear that Kornicker might regard such a proceeding as tantamount to taking the same step toward himself, and might break with him immediately, when he could but illy spare him. Determining, however, to reap some advantage from his situation, he set to work during the dinner to effect two objects; the first of which, being to quell the spirits of his clerk, was completely successful; but in the second, which was to discover something against Kornicker by which he might hold not only that gentleman's actions but his conscience in check, and finally break him down, until he became a mere machine, to obey blindly whatever was dictated to him, he failed utterly. Nothing was discovered on which he could hang a menace; no burglary, no swindling, no embezzlement, no fraud; not even a petty contemptible theft; nothing that could subject him to fine or imprisonment, even for a single day; for Kornicker, though a vagabond of the first water, still stood out stoutly for principles; of which he had established a code to suit himself, somewhat peculiar in character, but which carried him along more safely, and with less to answer for, here and hereafter, than many who boast a nicer creed; and to whom God has granted greater gifts and more extended opportunities. Rust had mistaken his man. Kornicker never deserted a friend in trouble; his hand was never tight shut against the solicitations of others, even though that hand might contain but a shilling; and often and often, the whine of a beggar had drawn his last copper from him, when he knew not whither to turn for another. Rust, however, was not daunted; for he believed no man so immaculate but that at some time or other he had brought himself within reach of the iron arm of the law. 'Patience, patience!' thought he; 'time will bring that too, and then he will be mine; all mine!'
His revery, and these thoughts which formed a very essential part of it, were cut short by the arrival of the subject of them, followed by the small boy who had officiated as waiter, bearing a large basket; and who, according to the established usage of all waiters, on entering a room which they intend to quit at any period on the same day, left the door open to facilitate such proceeding.
'Shut the door!' said Rust, sharply.
The boy obeyed the order instantly; and as was intended, the stern, abrupt tone in which it was spoken had a very decided effect upon Kornicker, who slunk into a seat, near the window, and began to look abstractedly at the ceiling.
'It's growing dark,' said Rust, turning to him. 'Will you oblige me by lighting a candle?'
There was a show of civility in the wording of this request; but the tone and manner were as peremptory as in his abrupt order to the boy; and it was obeyed with such nervous alacrity that Kornicker succeeded not only in fulfilling it, but in burning his own finger; whereupon he placed the candle on the mantel-piece, and blew upon the afflicted member with great vociferation.
'Ah!' said Rust, his thin lip curling, 'it's a pity; especially as it's entirely gratuitous. I asked you to light the candle, not your finger.'
Kornicker stopped abruptly, and probably somewhat stimulated by the pain, advanced a step toward him; and looking him steadily in the face, said: 'Thunder! man; let me tell you----'
'Certainly,' interrupted Rust, bowing with his hand on his heart, and his eyes closed, with an expression of profound humility, 'tell me whatever you please; I shall be delighted to obtain information of any kind. Michael Rust is always in search of knowledge, _Pray_ go on with your communication. From its opening I should think that it was on the subject of atmospheric electricity; though perhaps it may treat of burns, or candles, or even of dinner parties for four; or of the various modes of keeping promises; or perhaps you intend to show some new process by which a dinner contract for one may be made to include five. The world's improving; perhaps mathematical calculations are advancing also, and I may be behind the age. But no matter; whatever it is, emanating from such a source as Mr. Kornicker, Mr. Edward Kornicker, it must be valuable. Go on, Edward. My _dear_ Edward; _do_ go on. Bless me! how slow you are!'
Kornicker, completely staggered by the list of topics which Rust enumerated, each of which was foreign to what he had to say, and each of which suggested something disagreeable, stared at him for a moment or two in sore perplexity; and then, instead of continuing his remarks, merely shook his head, muttered something between his teeth about 'a hard horse to ride,' and finding that blowing had not assuaged the pain of his finger, had recourse to the other usual remedy; and putting it in his mouth, sucked it apparently with much satisfaction.
'You do not proceed,' said Rust, after waiting with an air of profound attention; 'I'm sorry, _very_ sorry; for I've no doubt that we've lost much. You shouldn't have been diffident; you had quite a small audience; only two; one of them a boy, and the other an old fool, you know; and we would have made all allowance for youthful embarrassment.'
Kornicker, however, had so completely altered his mind that he made no other response than that of drawing his finger from his mouth, with a sudden noise like the popping of a cork out of a bottle; and holding it to the light, examined it with an air of anxious and sympathizing investigation; as if saying to it, 'Never mind, old finger; don't let his remarks trouble you. _I_'m your friend. I'll stand by you;' which, doubtless, he intended to do, and did. Having concluded his examination, and his mental assurances of devotion to his afflicted member, he took a seat at the window, and looked out in the darkness. Rust in the mean time continued his remarks in the same strain; but as he went on Mr. Kornicker began to show signs of restiveness; shaking his head in a sudden and positive manner, as if giving a sharp negative to some imaginary request; drawing in his breath between his teeth, with a whistling sound, and snuffing with extraordinary frequency and vehemence.
'A pleasant prospect that! The view from the window is very picturesque, particularly by candle-light,' said Rust, whose eye had not been off his clerk for a moment. 'I think it embraces a broken window and an old hat; although you may not be able to see them in this light, as they are at least ten feet off. I hope you enjoy it.'
'Suppose I do?' said Kornicker, turning short round, placing a fist on each knee, and looking up at Rust with an eye brimming with dogged sulkiness; 'and suppose I don't; what then? what concern is that of yours? I came here to do your work; not to give an account of my thoughts or tastes.'
'Right! _very_ right!' replied Rust, who saw that he had pushed matters as far as was prudent; and that any farther direct attempt at annoyance, might result in open rebellion upon the part of his clerk; but at the same time it was no part of his policy to appear to yield to this angry expostulation; so he merely repeated what he had just said: 'Very, _very_ right, Mr. Kornicker; so you _do_ my work, I care not a straw for your thoughts or tastes; and I _have_ work for you, of which I will speak to you presently.'
Turning to the boy, who was removing the things from the table and placing them in a large basket, he asked: 'Were you acquainted with the persons who dined here to-day?'
The boy, who at that moment was invisible with the exception of a rear view of his legs, and of that portion of his body to which they were immediately attached, the rest of his person being busy at the bottom of the basket, in a struggle with the remnants of the roast beef, rose slowly to an upright attitude, and turning round, somewhat red in the face, asked if Rust was speaking to him; and on being answered in the affirmative, and the question being repeated, he nodded, and said: 'He rather thought he ought to be, and shouldn't be surprised to find out that he was, if waitin' on 'em, not once, nor twice, nor three times, nor four times, was one of the avenues to their acquaintance.'
'Then you _do_ know them?' said Rust, to whom this reply was rather enigmatical.
'In course I do; all to pieces!' replied the boy.
This whole sentence, from the look and gesture which accompanied it, Rust took to be a strong affirmative.
'Who are they?'
'Ax _him_;' replied the boy, indicating Kornicker by a nod of his head. 'But don't _you_ know? My eyes! I thought you know'd 'em all. If I didn't I'm bu'st!'
Having given utterance to this elegant expression, he forthwith plunged into the basket, and, with the exception of his aforesaid legs, was seen no more, until Rust told him 'to be quick,' when he again emerged, with a piece of meat in his mouth; and shouldering the basket, staggered out of the room, telling Rust 'that if he didn't shut the door himself this time, he suspected it would be left open; as he had but one pair of hands, and that pair was full.'
While these words were passing between Rust and the boy, Kornicker sat in the window in silence; but ever and anon, turning about and fastening his eye on the feet of his employer, he slowly perused him from his toes to the crown of his head; and then revised him downward to his feet, with an unflinching stare, generally pausing at the eyes, with an expression by no means amiable; and concluding his examination by a shake of the head, accompanied by that same drawing in of the breath already described.
In truth, Kornicker was gradually beginning to entertain the idea of throwing himself bodily upon Rust; of pummelling and mauling him, until he was a jelly; of flinging him promiscuously under the table, to keep company with the blacking-brushes, and a ragged coverlet which lay there, being part of Mr. Kornicker's sleeping establishment; then of rushing into the street, cutting his employer, throwing himself into the arms of his absent friends, and of setting up for himself, from that time forth. As these dim resolutions acquired strength, he began to straighten himself, look Rust full in the face, finger his snuff-box with vast nonchalance, indulge a low whistle, and once or twice he even worked his arms and shoulders backward and forward, as if tugging at an imaginary oar, or as if for the purpose of developing his strength, for some unusual performance.
These and various other indications of a resuscitation of spirits did not escape the quick eye of Rust, who saw that he could venture no farther; and after standing for some time with his arms folded, and his eyes fastened on the floor, he turned to Kornicker and said, in a tone very different from any which he had hitherto assumed:
'I have appeared to you to act strangely to-night, eh?'
'D----d if you hav'n't!' replied that gentleman, laconically.
'I supposed so,' said Rust; 'but I came here harassed, perhaps cornered; as a wild beast would seek his den, for quiet and repose; and to endeavor to extricate myself from troubles which are thick upon me; and I found it the resort of--what?'
He paused and looked at Kornicker, who not knowing exactly under what head to class the individuals who had passed the afternoon there, remained perfectly silent.
'It was not right.' said Rust. 'It was not right; but no matter for that now. I have work on hand which must be attended to at once. Bring your chair to the table.'
Kornicker in compliance with this request, and not a little mollified by Rust's change of manner, dragged his chair to the place designated, swung it to its feet, sat himself down on it, and leaning his elbow on the table and his cheek on his hand, waited for the other to open his communication.
Taking a large pocket-book from his pocket, Rust ran his eye over a number of papers which were folded up in it, and finally selected two, which he placed on the table in front of him.
'There they are, at last. Those are the ones;' said he, pushing them toward Kornicker.
The clerk took them up one after the other, holding an end in each hand, and carefully viewed them from side to side; after which he replaced them on the table, and observed, partly by way of remark and partly in soliloquy: 'Two promissory notes; Enoch Grosket maker; in favor of Ezra Ikes, for fifteen hundred dollars each; due six months ago.'
'And indorsed by Ikes, to Michael Rust;' continued Rust, taking up the phrase where Kornicker had left off. 'Indorsed to Michael Rust; that's me!' said Rust, looking eagerly in his eyes, and pressing his thin finger on his own breast: 'me--me--me!'
'If you tell me that by way of news, you're late in the day, man;' replied the other. 'I know that Michael Rust is you, and that you are Michael Rust; I think I ought to.' And for the first time in the course of that evening, Kornicker closed his eyes, and shook inwardly; thereby indicating that he was enjoying a hearty laugh.
'You will take these notes,' said Rust, without paying any regard either to his merriment or his observation, 'and sue on them at once; arrest Grosket, fling him into prison, and there let him lie and rot, until his stubborn heart be broken; until he crawl to my very feet and lick the dust from them. Ho! ho! would that he were there now, that I might spurn him! If he will not bend, why then,' muttered he, setting his teeth, and his black eye dilating, 'let him _die;_ his blood be upon his own head. The fool! the vain, weak, short-sighted fool! He knew not that I had these in my grasp,' said he, taking up the notes and shaking them as if in menace at the object of his wrath. 'Now let him writhe in his den; and moan, and rave, and blaspheme to the walls that shut him in. There is no escape; no means of borrowing three thousand dollars. No, no; the jail is his home; the felon his room-mate; ho! ho! What a glorious thing law is! Now then, Enoch, _friend_ Enoch! _conscientious_ Enoch! we'll see in whose hand the game lies!'
There is always something in the display of any fierce emotion, no matter how subdued may be the manner or tone it assumes, so it be connected with stern, unflinching purpose, that quells all lighter feelings in others; and there was that in the glowing eye of Rust, and in the convulsive working of his thin features, and in the sharp, hissing tones of his voice, although he spoke scarcely above a whisper, which effectually banished from Kornicker all farther inclination for merriment; but at the same time he felt no great complacency in being in the employ of a man who kept such dark and bitter feelings garnered up in his heart.
'Is it Enoch Grosket, the one who used to be here, you want put in limbo?' inquired he, after looking in the face which bent over his, for nearly a minute; 'why, I thought----'
'_Think_ what you please,' replied Rust, fiercely. 'I explain my motives to none. My instructions to you are simple. Get the money for these notes from Enoch Grosket, down to the last farthing. Listen to no offers of compromise; and whatever law will do toward adding wretchedness to poverty, let him feel!'
Rust spoke sternly and peremptorily, too much so for his own purpose; for he observed that Kornicker eyed him with a look of suspicion, and once or twice shook his head, as if the duty prescribed did not suit his taste. He saw that he must play his cards nicely; and to allay any feeling of compunction which might be gaining ground with Kornicker, he said, as if speaking to himself: 'Much as that man Grosket has wronged me; much as he has threatened me; anxious as he now is to ruin me; I'll deal more fairly with him than he has done with me. I'll be open in all my dealings. I'll not stab in the dark, as he has done. He shall know who his opponent is; and let him cope with him if he can.' 'Mr. Kornicker,' said he, addressing his clerk, as if unconscious that what he had just said had reached that gentleman's ear, 'be strict in conducting that matter with Grosket; but deal fairly with him. Let every proceeding be such as will bear the light; no quirking, nor quibbling; no double-dealing; no, no. Give him law; law, only law; that's all I ask. I'll not let anger sway my actions, whatever effect it may have on my words. Did I not step in between him and starvation? Did I not lift himself and his family from the very dirt; and for five long years did I not furnish the very bread which they ate; and what then? The viper turned upon me and stung me. Notwithstanding all this, Mr. Kornicker, I now ask only justice. Other men might be revengeful, and might long for his very life; but it's not so with me; oh no! no! Michael Rust seeks only justice, only law. Now, Sir, what's the first step you'll take upon those papers?' said he, pointing to the notes; 'how will you arrest him?'
Kornicker threw himself back in his chair, and putting his fingers together at the points, and forming two hollows of his hands, looked at them with an air of profound deliberation, as if selecting one out of several hundred modes of commencing a suit. Having, as he supposed, duly impressed Rust with the importance of the undertaking, he took his snuff-box from his pocket, and having balanced it for some minutes, in great absence of mind, in one hand, while with equal abstraction he held a pinch of snuff between the thumb and forefinger of the other, he replied, 'that he thought, upon the whole, it would be advisable to commence by 'capias;'' after which he snuffed copiously.
'How soon can you begin?' inquired Rust.
'As soon as I can get a writ,' replied Kornicker, dusting the particles of snuff from his prominent feature with the back of his hand. 'A blank costs two cents.'
'Begin at once; to-night;' said Rust, pushing a handful of silver to him. 'Have him in prison before midnight. Spare no expense, but carry out my views.'
'Why, you _are_ quick, upon the trigger,' replied his clerk. 'I can fill up the writ at once; but it's eight o'clock; the clerk's office is shut, and we can't get a seal; so is the sheriff's office, and we can't get a deputy. It won't do. We must wait until to-morrow.'
'Time is gold, now,' muttered Rust, starting up and going to the window, against which he leaned his head, whilst his eyes peered out in the gloom. 'Had I been warned sooner; had that love-sick boy spoken but a few hours earlier, I might have had him in my grasp. While I am here, with my hands tied by the empty forms of courts and legal proceedings, Grosket, who laughs at them all, is at work. Who knows what a single night may bring forth! In a single night, nay, in a single hour, the schemes of a whole life have been overthrown; and with such a man as Grosket to cope with, the danger is doubled. _Would_ that I had him here! with no law to hold up its warning finger at me; with my gripe upon his throat! ho! ho! ho! Good Enoch! my dear, best-beloved Enoch! would that I had you here! So nothing can be done until to-morrow?' said he, abruptly, turning to Kornicker, as he recollected that he was not alone; 'and I must sit here, shackled, until then?'
'As to the shackles,' Mr. Kornicker replied, 'that he knew nothing about them; but as to issuing the writ before morning, it couldn't be done, that was plump!' Saying which, he pushed back the money, and thrusting his hands in his pockets, whistled thoughtfully.
'You'll be here early in the morning?' said Rust.
'I rather think I will,' replied Kornicker, 'unless the house should take fire, in which case I shall withdraw.'
Rust looked at him for an explanation, which Kornicker immediately gave by pointing to the coverlet under the table, and informing him that they were then in his bed-chamber; at the same time volunteering the information that during the day the bed itself was placed in a spare room in the garret, occupied only by a cat and her family; which said cat and family were a source of much annoyance to him, from their being addicted to sleeping on his bed during the whole time that it was not occupied for the same purpose by himself. 'Cats hadn't fleas; there was some comfort in that. If it had been a dog and family, he should have resisted strenuously.'
Rust, at the conclusion of his observations, turning to him, merely said: 'If nothing can be done here, I must be at work where my time will not be lost. I shall expect you to be ready early in the morning. Good night!'
At an early hour on the following day Mr. Kornicker sallied out of his office, and bent his steps toward the City Hall, bearing in his hand a small slip of printed paper, whereby the Sheriff of the City and County of New-York, was commanded by the People of the State of New-York, to take the body of Enoch Grosket, defendant, if he should be found in his bailiwick, and him to safely keep, and to have him before the Judges of the Supreme Court, on a certain day and at a certain place, to answer unto Michael Rust, plaintiff, for the non-performance of certain promises and undertakings, etc., to the damage of the said plaintiff of three thousand dollars. And on the back of the same paper was a small memorandum, containing a hint to the said sheriff to hold the defendant to bail in six thousand dollars.
Thus armed and equipped according to law, Mr. Kornicker presented himself at the sanctum of that officer. It was a small room, with a partition a few feet high thrown across it, to shield the sanctity of the magistrate, and his deputies from contaminating contact with the rabble members of the bar. Behind this partition was a sloping desk, on which lay a number of large ledgers; and looking over one of these, stood a stoutish man, with a round, full face, thin whiskers, and an aquiline nose. He had a gold chain hanging over his vest, and there was not a little pretension in the cut of his garments. As Mr. Kornicker entered, he put his pen in his mouth, paused in his employment, and looked at him over the partition.
'Here's a gentleman whose flint wants fixing,' said Kornicker, handing him the writ. 'I want it done at once. Screw him tight.'
The man nodded; and taking the paper, after glancing at it, turned to a person who sat behind the partition, invisible to Kornicker, and said: 'Mr. Chicken, can't you do this?'
Mr. Chicken rose up; a mild man, six feet high, surmounted by a broad-brimmed hat, from beneath which straggled a few locks of hair, which had once been iron gray, but which were now fast verging toward white. His nose was bulbous, being neither Roman nor pug; his eyes dark, and paternal in their expression; his neck was buried in the folds of a white cravat; and in his hand he carried a cane, probably for the combined purposes of self-aid and self-defence.
Fixing his hat more securely on his head, and placing his cane under his arm, he drew from his pocket a small leathern case, containing his spectacles; and having placed them on his nose, and adjusted and readjusted them several times, he proceeded to peruse the document submitted to his inspection. Having completed this, he gently inquired if Grosket lived a great way off; and being informed that he did not, he said, 'he rather thought he'd like the job.' This conclusion having been happily reached, the man with a Roman nose entered the writ in one of the ledgers which lay in front of him, after which Mr. Chicken placed it in a large pocket, in company with about a dozen documents of the same description, and looking affectionately at his collection, he shook his head with a melancholy smile, and said:
'Folks is beginning to talk of abolishing imprisonment for debt. It's an innovation as will bring no good; and it's the hardest-hearted proceeding agin us deputies as has been done yet. It'll use us all up. Forty year I've been a deputy, and never heerd of the like of it afore; never! never! Arter this, rascals will be gentlemen, and deputies will be beggars! Ah!'
A SAD blow, was this quarrel between her father and Ned Somers, to Kate Rhoneland; for so fierce and bitter was the anger of the old man, whenever he was alluded to, and so opprobrious were the epithets which he showered upon him, that at last his name was never mentioned between them. But had Kate forgotten him? or had she forgotten the day on which he had accidentally met her in the street, and had turned about, and walked at her side; and had, among other things, casually told her that he loved her more than all the world beside? Or had she forgotten how she, in the same casual manner, had uttered a few words in reply; but how, or what they were, she knew not; except that they made his eyes grow bright with smiles, as he whispered in her ear, that she was 'his own dear little Kate, and had made him very happy;' and that they had loitered on, hour after hour, quite forgetting that she had any where to go, or any thing to do, or any thing to speak of, or think of; or that there was any one else in the wide world but themselves? No, no. Kate had forgotten none of these things. A happy day was that! They talked over occurrences which had taken place long before. They explained away trifling difficulties, and misunderstandings, which had been the source of much thought and anxiety to both; and which (although Kate did not confess thus much) had often caused her eyes to fill with tears, when she was alone, and there were none to see her; and which accounted for the bright drops which her father had sometimes discovered on her cheek as she lay asleep, when he came to take a last look at her, at night; and which had caused him to ponder and dream until he forgot them amid his own troubles. Thus was that day spent; a green spot in memory. Through quiet, out-of-the-way streets, they took their way; through quarters which the bustle of the world never reached, and where the rumbling of the city was heard only in the distance, like the hum of a mighty hive; beneath tall trees with their long branches drooping to the earth, as if to protect the soil which made them so great and beautiful as they were; and their deep green leaves, now glittering with sunlight, now dark in shadow, hanging motionless, or quivering on their slender stems, with a scarcely audible sound, as if whispering to each other; and through the thick foliage were glimpses of the blue sky, with here and there a fleecy cloud loitering on its broad bosom, like a sail at sea; while beneath, the earth was checkered with a mosaic of light and shadow. Who can tell the happiness of those young hearts on that day! Who can tell why sky and earth seemed so beautiful; and even the faded old houses about them, pent up in dim streets with great trees nodding over them like dozing sentinels, seemed to wear a gay, glad look?
How much they had to say! And yet when it was said, and they had parted, and Kate was recalling it to mind in her own room, how little there was in it! How familiarly she had leaned on his arm, as if she had known him from childhood! and how fondly he looked down in her face! and how strange it seemed to call him Ned, whom she had never before addressed except as Mr. Somers. Yet, 'Ned' sounded better. Much better than 'Mr. Somers;' and so did 'Kate,' than 'Miss Rhoneland.' Poor little Kate! There was much food for thought in all that had passed that day; much food for happy thought. All that had occurred was dreamed over; and never had time flown by so rapidly. How surprised she had been, on hearing a clock striking the hour, to discover that he and she had been walking together for four long hours, and that Ned, like a downright-vagabond, as he was, and as she told him that he was, had contrived (she of course not being aware of the matter) to get her at the longest possible distance from home; so that, when they returned it took them a good hour to get back; nor did he even then, as she shrewdly suspected, select the most direct course; but as she was not certain on this point, she said nothing about it; but merely told him, 'that she would be careful the next time she trusted herself to his guidance;' which no doubt she was.
Well! the happiest day in our lives must have an end; and that day, which certainly was the happiest one in the life even of Kate, who, up to that time, had had little to make life other than a bright dream, at last came to an end; or at least the time which most contributed to make it all that it was, was past, and Ned Somers was gone, having escorted her to the door and even into the entry, from which, however, he retreated with some precipitancy on discovering that he had inadvertently, for the first time in his life, pressed his lips to hers, and that if he remained there, the same inadvertent offence might be repeated to an indefinite extent; an occurrence which, of course, under present circumstances, could not fail to be in the highest degree lacerating to the feelings of both.
She never spoke to her father about what Ned had said; for Ned had told her that he did not wish to ask her of him until he could look him in the face, and tell him 'that he could support her as she always had been accustomed to be supported; and that it was his daughter, and only his daughter, that he asked.' He told her, too, that that time would come soon, and that they were both young, (for Kate was then barely sixteen,) and Kate had said, 'Oh yes, entirely too young to get married,' although Somers had differed from her on that score; but from that day forth, Ned had constantly been at the house at all hours, until he was regarded as one of themselves, and grew to be almost as great a favorite with the old man as with Kate herself; and both looked hopefully forward to the time when Ned's prospects, which were already brightening fast, should be firmly established, without anticipating obstacles of any kind from Rhoneland.
Things had gone on thus until Michael Rust came; and with him came a change in all else. There was evidently something between him and Rhoneland, hidden from all others, which had a powerful influence upon the latter, who more than once spoke to Kate of the great wealth of their new guest, inculcating upon her respect and deference to him. At other times the old man spoke to her of observing a strict economy; of saving every farthing, to lay it up in case of need, speaking of gold as if it were omnipotent; and seeming to gloat over it with a miser's hunger; yet such had never been his disposition until Michael Rust came. But that was not all; for, although it would almost have broken her heart to see the fine-soul'd old man, which her father always had been, sinking down into a mere machine for hoarding dollars, with no other instinct or aim in life; it was not that, however, which lay heaviest at her heart. From what had dropped from him at intervals, she knew that there was a stronger bond between him and Rust than the mere obsequiousness which avarice pays to wealth. There was the quick, restless motion of the body when Rust's name was mentioned; the watchful, irresolute glance of the eye when he was present; ever ready to detect his slightest movement, like the look of a person ever in fear, and ever on his guard against attack. There was the nervous, anxious desire to propitiate, to anticipate any thing which he might desire; to remove any thing which might give offence; and unaccompanied by any of those tokens of good-will which indicate that these acts spring from the heart and not from the fears; all showing that whatever tie might connect them, it was not that of love on the part of Rhoneland.
At last Rust, who for a long time had troubled himself about none but Rhoneland, seemed to discover that he had a daughter, and that that daughter was exceedingly beautiful, and that the old man doted on her. He also discovered that a certain young man by the name of Edward Somers came to the house frequently; much more frequently than was proper for a young man not connected with the family, and not desirous of being connected with it; and not having any thing in particular to bring him there, as Ned certainly did not say that he had. Having made this discovery, and thinking it desirable to get Somers out of the way, he set to work to attack his character, not openly, but in that most assassin-like of all modes, by throwing out mysterious innuendoes; by occasional whispers in the ear of old Rhoneland, and by repeating rumors which he had heard; but which of course he did not believe, and which he mentioned only that his friend Jacob might know what absurd stories were afloat. They were never repeated, however, in the presence of Kate, but only to the old man when he and Rust were alone; Rhoneland, however, stood out stoutly for his young friend. He said, 'that he had seen much of him, and never any thing amiss; that the reports were lies, for there were great liars in the world, and he did not believe them.' Neither did Rust. 'He was astonished that people would circulate such tales; for from all that he had seen of Ned, he was a fine, frank, open-hearted fellow, although he must confess, that all who seemed so were not so; and that he had not liked Ned at first, for he thought that he had a 'down look,' (which, by the way, was rather remarkable, as Ned always held his head peculiarly erect, as if to look all the world in the face.) Rust, however, kept at work, rasping, and rubbing, and picking away at Ned's character; inventing a thousand things which had never happened, and whispering to the old man, under promises of secresy, remarks which Ned had made of him, which were not very respectful, and which Rust was surprised (considering what a fine fellow Ned was, although others had a different opinion of him) that Ned should make. Whatever may have been the cause of his want of success, it is certain that it was not very great, until the conversation with Harson opened Rhoneland's eyes for the first time to a fact which he had never before suspected; that Ned's visits were paid to his daughter and not to himself; and that his child had given her affections to him. On the back of that came the encounter with Michael Rust, and his insinuations, that Ned was hovering round his daughter with the purpose of dragging her from him, and deserting her when there was no hope left for her but the grave.
No wonder then that when Somers was driven from the house, the old man hugged his daughter in his arms, and wept over her, and kissed her fair forehead, and pressed her face to his bosom, and rested his cheek upon her head, while his whole frame shook with heavy sobs, of mingled joy and indignation; nor that he kept near her the whole of that day, scarcely suffering her to quit his sight, locking the house door and always opening it himself when there was a knock, lest it should be Somers, returning to lure his child from him. Over and over again he begged her not to leave him; conjuring her not to see Somers again, and telling her that Ned was a scoundrel, and that the only mode of saving herself from destruction was by never meeting him again.
And did Kate never see Somers again? But once and only once. She knew that her father wronged him. She knew how long and patiently he had been waiting and working for her. She knew too that Michael Rust had his own designs upon her; for she was not blind, and Michael Rust's admiration was too undisguised, and his speech too devoid of concealment to leave her in doubt. She knew too, although he had studiously concealed it from her, that he was Ned's enemy, and that he wished to rid himself of a rival; and she strongly suspected that he was at the bottom of this whole matter. She knew all this, and she thought, that now that the worst had taken place, that Ned should know it too; for she had hitherto concealed much of it, lest it should lead to difficulties between Somers and her father's guest. But nothing was to be gained by concealment now; and she felt, that to see Somers, to tell him all that she knew, all that she had seen, all that she had heard, and all that she suspected, was but her duty, and that to refrain from doing so would be very, _very_ wrong. If she erred, it was an error which many will forgive.
And under this conviction, she met him again, with her young heart full almost to bursting. She met him to tell him every thing that she knew or suspected of Rust, and his plans with reference to herself, and to caution him against him; to tell him to watch him; but above all, to incur no risk himself; to tell him that he and she must meet no more until he could vindicate his name to her father; to assure him, whatever others might say, or do, or think, that she believed not the slanders circulated against him; to beg him, that whatever others might say of her, or whatever attempts might be made to separate them, or whatever tales might be fabricated to make him doubt her faith and love, to believe them not; to set them down as the base coinage of a baser heart; and to believe that she loved him still; that in her heart of hearts he was still the same to her that he always had been; and that he ever would be, until that heart ceased to beat. She said this, and she said a thousand times more, for she was meeting him with the full resolve to meet him no more; with the full knowledge that their parting must be at all events a long one, perhaps a final one.
They went over the same spots which they had lingered over in happier days; the same out-of-the-way haunts, where there were few to observe them; under the same old trees which stretched out their long branches, now naked and stripped of foliage; along the same bye-streets which they had selected on the day when he first learned that she loved him. They spoke but little; for all that Ned could do was to assert that the tales which had been repeated to her father were false; to wonder who the slanderer was, breathe forth vengeance against him, and to suggest the propriety of belaboring Rust soundly, and running the risk of the flogging falling on the right shoulders. And all that Kate could say in return was to repeat her utter disbelief in every thing that went to show that Ned was not all that she had supposed and wished him to be.
Thus the day lingered on; and the time came for parting. They said but little, for there were no bright prospects to cheer them on: a few words of encouragement faintly spoken, for their hearts whispered that they were vain; a few broken words of hope, uttered in so sad a tone that they seemed a mockery; a stifled 'God bless you, Kate!' as he pressed her to his heart; a 'Good by, Ned,' half sobbed, and they parted, and Kate hurried to her own room; and hiding her face in her hands wept the bitterest tears that she had ever shed in her life. But the agony was over; they had parted; and now she told her father that they had met; and why; and that they were to meet no more until he could vindicate himself. The old man heard her out, contrary to her expectations, without an expression of anger, and merely said, that 'it was very well, as it was; that she did right to see him no more;' and that was all.
WRITTEN ON RECEIVING A ROSE-BUD FROM A LADY.
METHINKS thy gift to wandering bard, Who weaves for thee this careless strain, Will prove an amulet to guard From outward ill and inward pain.
Oh, precious is the bud to me! On thy fair bosom once it lay; For richest pearl in Indian sea, I would not barter it away.
Thy touch hath made it, leaf and stem, A priceless and a hallowed thing, Meet for Titania's diadem, While dancing in the fairy ring.
When faded its voluptuous hue, A _life_ will linger in the flower, That needeth not sustaining dew, Or golden sunshine's nursing power.
By day and in the hush of night, Grief's shadow from my brow to chase, Its leaves will summon back to sight Thy graceful form and classic face.
Thanks for the gift! its leaflet fair Of thy young heart is emblem sweet; Place in this bosom may it share, When lifeless in my winding-sheet!
To the bard's dreamy, gorgeous land In spirit may we often fly, And wander, shadowy hand in hand, Through rose-wreathed halls of fantasy.
What nonsense have I written down? I am not self-possessed to-day; On brow the world hath taught to frown, The light of song should never play.
Can witch Imagination warm A heart whose passion-streams are dry? Mere man of parchment and of form, And slave of wrangling fools, am I.
Should maid, then, blest like thee, require From me the tributary rhyme? The peerless child of laurel'd sire Will share his fame in after time.
Thou needest not the praise of one From whom life's romance is receding, Who haunts a land without a sun. The barren realm of special pleading.
Farewell! I leave thee with regret, To struggle in the war of life; I would not for a world, forget Thy words of----Hush! I have a wife:
And two sweet children, one a boy Who wears the dark hair of his mother, And, full of innocence and joy, A radiant little girl the other.
_New-York, June 25, 1843._
WILLIAM H. C. HOSMER.
CÀ ET LÀ.
BY THE FLANEUR.
HERE A LITTLE AND THERE A LITTLE.
Now Samson went down to Gaza, To buy up his goods for the season: Quoth Madame: 'Don't make a stay, Sir, And come back with some foolish reason.'
OLD AMERICAN BALLAD.
THOU knowest, DIEDRICH, that it has long been settled that Noah landed in America, and that Mount Ararat is in the State of New-York. I am inclined to believe, from this undoubtedly genuine ballad, which I discovered in the lining of an old trunk in the garret of the principal inn at Ramapo, that the Jews resided here at a much later period of their history; but that has nothing to do with us at present. All that I wished to prove by the ballad is, that the great wielder of jaw-bones was hen-pecked. So was Cicero.[B] So was Mr. Liner. Mr. Liner was, beside, pullet-pecked. Miss Catharine pecked him. Not that Miss Catharine was by any means ill-natured; for I have seen her only 'grin a ghastly' when she met a rival belle better dressed; but she made her poor father keep his eyes open night after night, by pinching himself, and by wondering at her astonishing strength of limb, '_effera vis crurum_,' as he delighted to call it. And when the old gentleman would hint to his daughter that he thought it high time to depart, she would meet his suggestion by a decided negative: 'Oh no! not yet, pa!' pronounced with that sweet asperity and bitter mellifluousness of manner, which we often notice in people whose toes have been trodden upon by a distinguished stranger, who apologizes. Metaphysically speaking, her tone was a cross between a smile and a snarl.
[B] 'AN ille mihi liber cui mulier imperat? cui leges imponit, præscribit, jubet,' etc.
In the summer Miss Liner visited at the watering-places--Saratoga, Sharon, Rockaway--and returned fully impressed with the truth of a late traveller's remark: 'The social intercourse of American watering-places may be defined as follows: the gentlemen spit and the ladies spat.' She herself came home with no less than five quarrels on her hands, which she was heroical enough not to regret, when the five foes gave parties and left her out.
The first year or two of this kind of life was very pleasant; but as winter after winter rolled on its balls, and summer after summer found her haunting the same places, and she found herself still remaining Liner, a sigh, soft yet spiteful, escaped from her 'heaving breast.'
(_Nota._--All breasts 'heave' in romances, as if they were Irishmen employed in coal-yards.)
'Why,' whispered she, softly, 'can I not find some one on whom I may lavish the treasures of affection that I have been hoarding for so many years?'
'There,' hissed she, spitefully, 'is that Henrietta Hoogeboom, not half so stylish as I am, and a miserable waltzer, and yet she is engaged!'
One young man, a foreigner from Tobolsk, encouraged by her bravos at his performances, did propose; but was indignantly refused. Old Mrs. Liner, who was a little à la Malaprop, said, crimson with rage, that she 'wouldn't make use of him as a foot-pad.' Had the youth from Tobolsk asked a few years later, he would have been accepted. A man can carry off any single woman, if he only chooses the right time. Drowning men are said to catch at straws. It may be so. We have never witnessed a drown, and cannot say: but spinsters about sinking into the vast profound of old-maidism do catch at straw men. This we can assert.
No good parti offered. Attention too began to be scanty. The world of beaux, empty-stomach'd as empty-hearted, rushed to her balls to enjoy the suppers, and to dance with newer belles. They were smiling but unsatisfactory. Now and then some eager débutant would claim her hand for a waltz, and lead her off in triumph, amid the sneers of the experienced. Pardon us, good friends, if we again recur to the romance, the _analyses_ of which we have been giving you:
'THE ball room was bright and beautiful. Two thousand candles shone in the lofty rooms; two hundred belles flashed as they sidled in the waltz and simpered in the cotillion. The 'middle ages' line the walls; capped, sitting bolt upright, wide awake, smiling, but looking out like highwaymen for rich young men. Tarpenny descends from the dressing-room, and trembles. It is his fourth party. Simple-minded youth! He feels the arduous nature of his undertaking. He gives his hair the last adorning touch, the _coup de grâce_; with hands glued to sides, he enters, fixes his eye upon the hostess, and rushes headlong at her. Politeness urges her to advance to meet him; self-preservation prompts her to avoid. Convulsively forward jerks his hand, eager for a shake; two taper fingers only, cautiously advanced, are feebly placed within his grasp. His friendly force betrays him; he shakes the air; loses his balance; hops upon one foot. While on the hop, his rosy face meets a cognizant female eye. He bows upon one leg, totters still, and half falls against a man of muslin. He jumps away, muttering an indistinct '_Pardon!_' With a hot, painful sensation in the face, he takes refuge behind a door, to emerge again when coolness brings relief, and the nose no longer glistens. He looks about him, and gallantly resolves to dance. Miss Liner meets his inquiring eye. When a little boy he had seen beaux about her. It was years ago. She is a belle. There can be no doubt about it. How lucky that she is not engaged! He sees distinction close at hand, and hurries to the hostess. She presents him. He stammers out the question. Miss Liner grumbles a 'Yes.' He leads her off in triumph. Short-sighted mortal!'
MRS. LINER began to ask, 'Why don't the men come forrard?' and old Liner was heard to mutter: 'Quousque tandem _Caty Liner_ abutêre patientiâ nostrâ?'
Another year, and the last faint _spark_ expired.
'Why is it Mrs. Liner,' quoth the father, as he was tying his night-cap strings, 'that our daughter cannot get a husband? I know very well that Erasmus says, in speaking of women, _Nulla bona, Nullus beau_; but we, thank God! are rich, and I am sure we all have tried hard enough. There was Shuffleshank, for instance. Did not we run after him at balls, plays, concerts, until I got the pleurisy, and you a bilious attack? And Catharine, poor soul! did she not dance after him until she wore herself down to a skeleton? and all for nothing? Something must be done, Mrs. Liner. Gad! I have a plan----' A rattling, reverberating snore completed Mr. Liner's paragraph; and soon the married noses, blended in harsh discord, pealed a lullaby through the bed-curtains. As to Miss Catharine, she looked upon the first part of the proverb, '_L'homme propose_,' as an absurd and cruel fiction, invented by a tantalizing wretch. And when her cousin, Miss Frizzle--who like the Scythian in Elian was all face, and poor and ill-natured to boot--when Frederica Frizzle, whose physiognomical and moral qualifications were forcibly described by one of her friends as
'Nose carnation, Temper darnation!'
when Miss Frizzle, I say, engaged herself to her first offer, a nice musical young man, with the slightest possible moustache, then Catharine waxed gloomy, and her snowy _batiste_ was bedewed with tears. As the poet hath it:
'Through fingers tiny Streamed the briny.'
We have now come to the beginning of our story. Miss Liner sits weeping upon the sofa, regretting Shuffleshank and her first offer from Tobolsk. It remains for us to see what was Mr. Liner's plan.
NO'TH-EAST BY EAST.
THE wind is East, what little there is, No'th-East by East, and the captain lays His ship all lady-like in stays, Stripped as far as it decent is. For three points off her weather-bow The curtain of mist that passed just now Has shut the light out suddenly; The big bright Eye that over the sea Is rolling round unceasingly: A dim white-darkness spreads about, And sun, and moon, and stars are out, Alow and aloft; from Holmes's Hole To a point in the east'ard not yet known; And where the White Bear, shook from the pole By an avalanche, sits perched alone, Or floating down to the southern sea Stalks round in sullen majesty, With a keen eye out for the wrecked that come With the breaking surge to his icy home; All over this waste of sea and land The light is out--as an unseen Hand Had drawn a curtain over at once, To cool it all for the summer months.
The sea rolls lazily, and whist. As the motions of the whirling mist; A pantomime of air and sea, That hath a solemn witchery, Which puzzles the cock, who has the right If any one has, to know day-light; But tired at last, he gives up, dumb With wondering when the morn will come; And after straining his lungs all day, Kicks up a row in his family. The porpoise out on the fishing ground With a running start, comes upward-bound, Then skimming along the ocean's brim, And just in tone with its solemn hymn, He snorts and blows, with a careless fling Of his short bob-tail, as it suited him Exceedingly, that sort of thing; Or, startled from her easy swing, The fluttering of a sea-bird's wing, The moaning cry of some lost bird, Or the dropping of a spar, is heard. And sudden, as from eternity, Quick to the eye and quickly missed, Just in and out of the driving mist, A something white moves slowly by, And you know that a ship is drifting nigh; A moment in, and a moment out, And then with the lull, a smothered shout, And all is dull and hushed again To the still small talk of the mighty rain; Or the '_Graves_,' that never can quiet be While a pulse is left in the heaving sea; The gossiping Graves, now off the lee You may hear them muttering; either side, As the ship heaves round with the lazy tide; And weary and faint, as a sick man raves, Is the senseless talk of the gossiping Graves.
Farther down in the outer bay, Knocking about as best they may, The ships that rounded the cape to-day Lie off and on, with a slow chasseé; All sorts of freight, from tar to teas, All manner of craft, that skim the seas: Some, just come in from an eastern cruise, Are big with the latest China news; Some, ballasted with golden sand, Are perfumed from Arabia's strand; Some with a crust from the Levant, And some _without_, are from Nahant; (Oh, sweet to them as Sabbath bells Would be the ring of its rocky wells!) And many an enterprising Noah Is there, with latest news from shore; With pilot-boat so snug and taut, And motion of grace, like an æronaut Caught in a cloud, when the wind is low, The sky above and the sea below: But sauciest, among them all, The harlequin of the mist-masked ball, And livelier than the fisherman, With jaunty roll the pinkie trim Turns up his tail to the Indiaman, (Either end is the same to him,) Or skips around the steamer that plays Like a thing bewitched in the general maze; Feeling about, as shy of her limbs, And careful and slow as a blind man swims. And many a turn-coat stomach below, That held out bravely until now, Rises with every swell of the yeast Peculiar to No'th-East by East.
'TIS the morning hour by the Old South clock, But the light is hardly enough to mock The candies lit in the breakfast-room: Ugh! ugh! Ugh! ugh! Nobody up, but the maid and groom, And not a spark to cheer the gloom: Ugh! ugh! Unless they get one up, those two, By the candles lit in the breakfast room.
Is the day foggy and cold? _Decidedly_--both foggy and cold; And so for three long days shall be, While hangs this mist o'er land and sea; Three days and nights, like a frightful dream-- Some say the earth is blowing off steam.
Boston is up, and its noisy blare Strikes heavily on the muffled air; Like the growling of some savage beast, Hidden away at his morning feast: A faint, dull light is off the east, A trifle of cream, that mingles there With the milky hue of the thick, dull air; And by that light in the east, you guess That the Sun is somewhere up to dress, But, held back by some fond caress, Has caught his night-gown over his head, And----Boston, breakfasted, Quite cool, thus knowingly looks up, One hand holding the coffee-cup, The other with the 'Morning Post' To 'calculate' how long, at most, 'This heavy weather will hold on'-- So, breakfasts, dines, and sups, Boston. Oh! pleasant _reflections_ are every where Except in this cursed atmosphere; But nothing whatever, unless their priest, Disturbs your Boston phlegm the least; Not even a storm, No'th-East by East.
THE iron chariots bowling on From Albany and Stonington, Are chiming with their thousand wheels, And within, the living cargo reels And nods about familiarly, Each to the other, as he were a brother, And all as the mist falls silently. Five hundred noses point ahead, And a thousand eye-lids closed, as dead As already the silver coin had pressed, And sealed them in their final rest; So chill, from the mist of the neighboring deep, Is the nodding, nibbling, icy sleep; And dreams confusing go and come, Which blessings are and a curse to some; But all with a feeling of 'Devil-may-care,' Peculiar to the rail-road car, Or such as you fancy a witch's are On a broom-stick ride in the midnight air; Some 'promenade all' at Symms's Hole, Or, 'Hands all around' at the Northern Pole; The spot, where the earth having come to a crisis The Sun goes around on the tops of the ices, A weary Anchises; Ices, like Alps, of all shapes and devices; The pyramid, dome, the temple, and all That seemed 'frozen music' to Madame DE STAEL; While cluster of stars, with their beautiful eyes, Just peep in between, with a kind of surprise; Some fading, some flashing, all grouping anew, Like the lights of a city, when passing: in view, Or laughing young girls, all crowding for places In windows brim full of (God bless!) their sweet faces; And thus night and day, vis-à-vis to each other, Waltz round the horizon like sister and brother; While deep in the vault, with a hand unseen, (The 'unknown God' of the shifting scene.) From the morning of Time, one star has stood And ruled that glittering multitude.
Or, some may prefer, as it's here rather cold, To mount on a streamer of crimson or gold, And shooting off in a shaft of light, Ride tangent up to the top o' the night, And dip in the slant of the Sun, as he Wheels up somewhere in the Indian sea; Or wink to the wink of a new-made star, Not yet rolled round, and 'caviare To the general;' but here with a jar That murders sleep, old Beelzebub, With a kind of 'hip-hurrah!' hubbub, A snort and a scream, has startled all; And the lady in the travelling shawl Has dropped her babe, too drugged to squall; And stiff as a shaking Quaker sits The gentleman in summer 'fits,' No'th-East by East, a point too far; His dream is true, that he left last night New-York, at eighty of Fahrenheit-- And his coat in the baggage-car!
But dreams must change; and now they wake To run on coffee and beef-steak; The latest 'Picayune,' and then A southern climate, to read it in; A flower or two, a light and table, To make the thing more passable; A sea-coal fire, a Tremont-bath-- All the dear _comforts_ Boston hath In such rich store; and _her's_ so much, No other rail-road leads to such: But some, with stubborn memories Of last night's ugly-sounding seas, The few, with stomachs out of tone, Dream every thing; but, senses gone, Have no distinct conception what, Save a fire, and a bed, and something hot, In (oh, so like a home to one!) The pleasant rooms at the Albion.
ALL night long, in the outer bay, The ships have rocked with the lazy sea, Off and on, with a slow chasseé, And all night long, on top of the mist, The stars have danced unceasingly, And the moon has smiled her prettiest; Yet not one ray has wandered by: Oh! when shall we have a brighter sky!
The wind is light and the light is dim, But a single star worn pale and slim, As though the journey had wearied him, Has just come down from Heaven, to say That the Sun is coming up this way, With promise of a gala-day. Great wonder had been, up there, he says, That Boston lay so long in a haze; And strange they hadn't invented a way, Some patent or other, to blow it away; No'th-East by East had gone ashore Below, some twenty leagues or more; He had weathered the Cape about midnight, And was taking a nap, to come up bright; An hour, or two at the most, and he Would bring the bloom of the orange-tree, And swear it was just from Florida, Caught last night at the fall of the dew; He left as the stars came out of the blue, And shunning the breath of the land, by sea Has kept all fresh it fragrancy. Thus spake, or looked the star, and soon The air is soft as a breeze in June; The sun comes down by way of the moon, And all the sister stars and brothers, And other lights, if there _are_ others, Mars, and his Tiger,[C] _all_ are out; And right glad they look, as about to shout, At sight again, their right good will On Boston heights and Bunker Hill: And Bunker Hill's great Orator,'[D] Catching a ray from every star, Binds him a chaplet of Thirteen, And silent, smiles upon the scene. The mists have gone off silently, And scarcely whispered their good-bye; They have crept away with a stealthy roll, Like the gathering of a noiseless scroll; You may see them yet, as they glide away, And hang their curtains about the bay; While the pointed seas flash out between, Like the spears of a host, in battle seen; Or lift their white caps, one by one, A welcome to the rising sun: A moment's hush, on sea and air, Still, as an angel passing were, To bid them breathe a silent prayer, And then, all free and gloriously The Sun comes mounting from the sea, As lightning had sprang sudden there, And lingered in the atmosphere! Again the languid pulses start Like a rush of joy to a weary heart, That hardly hath left a hope for such, So mild its quick but gentle touch: And now it clasps in warm embrace All living things, and face to face And lip to lip, shall cling all day, Still giving life, unceasingly. Beneath the clear unclouded sky All quiet and still the islands lie, Like monsters of the deep, couchant; And farther out is cool Nahant, A finger pointing the sea aslant; The light-house top, and Nix's Mate, And tall ships moving by in state, With top-sails and top-gallants bent To catch each wandering breeze that's sent; Some, just come in from Labrador, Sweep by with the nod of an emperor; And some are there, have dipped their spars In waters that flash back of stars A sky-full from each wave that swells Its mounting crest in the Dardanelles; Some, that have iced them at Cape Horn; And some dash in, with topsails torn In some such trifling matter as A rough-and-tumble at Hatteras; And some, still warm from southern seas And cotton bags, hail out, 'Balize;' A long procession, dashing on, Like the march of men to a clarion.
They may do these things in Italy In a different way; but enough for me The off-hand manner, the tone, the style, The 'keeping' of all, and the glorious smile Of earth and air, and sky and sea, So gayly decked and brilliantly; Why, Heaven has left a door ajar This side the world, to show how fair May be a land, and sky, and air, Where bold and free are 'heart and hand'-- And such is this, our glorious land! Beside, your Greece and Rome, and all Who hold themselves so beautiful, Have no such charming mists as these, No climate changing with each breeze; And nothing to compare, in the least, With a Boston storm, NO'TH-EAST BY EAST.
[C] A small star near Mars.
[D] The monument: vide WEBSTER.
THALES OF PARIS.
FROM THE FRENCH.
ONE of the hobbies cherished in the most especial manner by the good citizen of Paris, is Philosophy; not that he takes delight in the cultivation of wisdom, or makes the study of nature his pursuit: but when things go well with him in the world; when his fortune has reached the limit of his desires; when age has abated the ardor of his passions, and in the bosom of his family he finds himself surrounded with every comfort and luxury that heart could wish; he fancies himself beyond the common accidents of life; he becomes a philosopher. His philosophy is his pet, his play-thing, his hobby-horse upon which he gets astride, and gambols like a frolicsome child. Should his wife scold, should his roast-beef be burnt, should a sudden shower break up a party of pleasure, he alone preserves his equanimity; is smiling, soothing, and consolatory; he is a philosopher. Philosophy is his sovereign panacea; with the understanding that no precautions have been neglected to secure him as far as possible against the weightier mishaps of life. His houses and furniture are insured, and his money, instead of being exposed to the hazards of joint stock companies or rail-roads, is safely invested in the royal funds.
Monsieur d'Herbois was a happy example of this consolatory system, and seemed to have been sent into the world expressly for the purpose of sounding the praises of philosophy, without ever being obliged to test its efficacy in his own case. Wealthy by a paternal inheritance, which thrift on his part had increased, he had early in life married the woman of his choice; and his only son, about twenty-two years of age, was now in his turn about to espouse a young lady, whose character, fortune, and family all exactly suited the fortunate father. And so Monsieur d'Herbois, a man of a naturally placid and even temper, was now busying himself in preparing the dower, or if you please the appanage of Gustavus, with the benignity and disinterested solicitude of a sage.
'My friend,' said he to Monsieur Durand, who was not a philosopher, 'I shall give to Gustavus my house at Sussy. I well know that this will be a great sacrifice, and that we cannot pass the summers there any more, because it is possible that my wife cannot agree on all points with her daughter-in-law; but we love Gustavus so dearly!--and beside, one must be a philosopher. We shall therefore live in Paris on the second floor; the first will be occupied by the young folks. My wife grumbles a little at this; but says I to her: 'My dear, suppose some unexpected calamity should occur, to sweep away all our property?--what would then become of us? Then we should have to climb up into the garret, and would be forced to summon up all our philosophy, of which we shall scarcely stand in need, merely to ascend a few additional steps. Thales of Miletus acted in this manner, one of the seven wise men of Greece, who endured all sorts of troubles without complaint, and in fact defied all mankind to disturb the serenity of his soul and the tranquillity of his spirit.'
'And do you give the same defiance to men as Thales did?' asked Monsieur Durand.
'To be sure I do. You, my friend, ought to know whether I have not the right to do so. Have you ever known me to depart from my principles?'
'I know,' replied M. Durand, 'that during the time since you and I left college together, which is now upward of thirty years, I have never known you to be afflicted with any personal misfortune; and if Thales of Miletus, whose story I do not now remember, was always as lucky, his philosophy would not have cost him more than yours does.'
'To speak candidly,' replied M. d'Herbois, with a good-natured-smile, 'I think that I am a little more of a philosopher than Thales himself was; for I have never been inconsistent with my professions, although a husband and a father, while Thales was a bachelor.'
'But still,' said his friend Durand to him, 'you have never been put to the test.'
'Let the test come; I am ready.'
'Suppose your wife should prove false to you, or your son not turn out in accordance with your expectations?--do you think you would support these misfortunes with the constancy of Job?'
'Of Thales, my dear friend, of Thales, if you please; do not confound them:
'For all events the wise man is prepared.'
Thus said a poet who talked Greek, and not an Arab like your Job.'
M. d'Herbois, proud of Thales, of himself, and of philosophy, proceeded to make careful preparations for the nuptials of his well-beloved son; and already in his mind's eye beheld himself dandling his little grand-children that were to be.
One morning he was about entering the apartment of Gustavus, for the purpose of consulting him on the purchase of some jewels, intended as a present for the bride. The chamber of the young man was situated at one end of the room of M. d'Herbois. The entrance to it was through this latter, and also by a private staircase, which allowed the young man to go in and out without disturbing any body. D'Herbois, just as he was about turning the handle of the glass door, the curtain of which was on his side, checked himself, on hearing the sound of voices. His son, he found, was not alone.
'Oh, ho!' thought he, 'Gustavus is perhaps bidding farewell to the bachelor's life. Can he be consoling some little beauty, who is reminding my young master of his broken vows?'
He raised the corner of the curtain, and was a little tranquillized. The companion of Gustavus was a man. 'May be it is a creditor,' thought he; 'but this is a lesser evil.'
He placed himself so as to see and hear what was going on. Opposite to him, in the middle of his son's room, stood a man of about the age of M. d'Herbois, gray-headed, with a sharp and crafty expression of countenance, and person enveloped in a large farmer's riding-coat.
'My dear Peter,' said this person, 'listen to me----'
'Peter?' replied d'Herbois junior; 'you are mistaken, Sir; my name is Gustavus.'
'I am not mistaken, for all that,' continued the stranger; 'listen to me, I entreat you, my good Sir; I am about to communicate a piece of news which fills me with joy; my only fear, (and I confess it is a natural one,) is that it will not give you as much pleasure.'
'Go on, Sir,' said Gustavus; 'nothing that is agreeable to an honest man can give me pain; speak out.'
The man, whose presence singularly annoyed M. d'Herbois, deliberately took a seat, and commenced thus:
'You know, my good Sir, that it is now about twenty years since Madame d'Herbois gave birth to a son. On account of the weak state of her health, she was not able to afford him nourishment herself. A nurse was sought for, and it was my wife, Margaret Pithou, of Pontoise, who was selected.'
'Ah! you are then my foster-father,' cried Gustavus, with open arms; 'walk in, walk in; my father and mother will be delighted to see you.'
'Softly! softly!' said Pithou; 'neither Monsieur nor Madame d'Herbois must know that I am here, or have spoken with you, until we have had a little explanation together, and you know all.'
'Until I know all! What is it, then, Monsieur Pithou? Pray go on,' said Gustavus, impatiently.
'Patience, my good Sir; you shall hear all in good time.'
The more interesting and mysterious this conversation became, so much the more immovable did his philosophy hold Monsieur d'Herbois, who scarcely dared move, or even breathe.
'My wife and I,' continued Pithou, drawling out his words, 'like most of our neighbors, were at that time dealers in a small way in cattle. But provided the murrain did not get among the beasts, and our cows kept healthy, we managed in one way or another to make both ends meet at the end of the year. We were young then, and had one child, a few months older than the son of Monsieur d'Herbois.'
'Than me?' exclaimed Gustavus.
'You shall see. As ill luck would have it, a speculator came down from Paris, with plenty of money, and established himself at Pontoise; bought up the finest cows, built large stables, raised the price of hay and feed; and in short, broke up all the small dealers like us; for the veal and mutton of this Parisian were always the fattest and brought the best prices. One bad year ruined us. My wife took it sadly to heart, and fell ill; her poor foster child felt the effects of her malady; we dared not say any thing, lest it should be taken from us; in fine, my wife and the child of Monsieur d'Herbois both died on the same night. My poor Peter!' continued Pithou, addressing Gustavus, 'my poor Peter, I was then indeed in a situation to excite pity: nothing left me, no wife, no money, plenty of debts, and an infant in the arms, which looked up to me for support. A thought from heaven suddenly seemed to strike me. Said I to myself, 'The rich are placed here to succor the poor, and render them assistance; but as they are often hard-hearted, selfish, and avaricious, we must have recourse sometimes to stratagem to obtain from their credulity what their indifference refuses.' In pursuance of this idea, I gave out every where that my son was dead, and sent you, my own offspring, to M. d'Herbois, under charge of cousin Potard, who was herself the dupe of my trick. Yes, you are my own son Peter! my dear Peter!'
At the conclusion of this strange story, Pithou arose, drew Gustavus to him, kissed his forehead, his eyes, his hair, and bedewed the young man, who seemed lost in amazement, with paternal tears. 'How otherwise, my dear child,' said he, 'could you have wished me to have acted?' The time passed with Monsieur d'Herbois has procured for you the advantages of a good education, and beside that, has been so much exemption from suffering for you. In truth, when I examine my motives, and think seriously of my conduct, I cannot repent of it. Since then, fortune has been more propitious to me. I came to Paris, engaged in trade, and as others have done before me, have made a handsome fortune. You see that I am too honest to allow you to profit by the riches of M. d'Herbois; we will confess all to him. Adieu, my dear Peter! I have full proofs of what I have told you; I am going to get them, and will take them myself to M. d'Herbois.'
So saying, Pithou again embraced Gustavus, and departed by the private stairs.
Monsieur d'Herbois, upon whom not a word of this conversation had been lost, knew not what to do or think. What! Gustavus, his son! the child of whom he had not lost sight for twenty years; whom he loved more than ever parent loved a son; for whom he had deprived himself of so many comforts; who bore his name; Gustavus to be called Peter! Peter Pithou! to be the son of another! Monsieur d'Herbois was astounded, and in the utmost consternation ran to seek his wife.
'Madame!' cried he, 'Madame d'Herbois, I have no longer a son; my son has been dead for twenty years!'
Madame d'Herbois was a woman of a lively disposition, who knew her husband well, and did not always take his words literally.
'You frightened me,' said she to him, laughingly; 'but as you say that Gustavus has been dead for twenty years, I reassured myself when I thought of the good appetite he had at breakfast this morning.'
'Gustavus is not my son, Madame!'
'What do you mean by that, Sir?'
'Good heavens, Madame, you do not comprehend me! I mean that he is no more your son than he is mine. Poor Gustavus died while nursing; we have got the son of Pithou, Peter Pithou!'
The amazed couple then recalled all the details of the early infancy of Gustavus. He had, in fact, been placed at nurse at Pontoise, and the child had been brought home in consequence of the death of his nurse, Margaret Pithou. All that Pithou had related had the appearance of truth; perhaps, alas! was true.
Gustavus at this moment entered his mother's apartment, and M. d'Herbois now for the first time remarked that the young man did not resemble him as much as he had formerly fancied; in fact, he had neither the same eyes, the same features, nor the same figure. M. d'Herbois also mentally observed that the voice of Gustavus had the same tones as that of Pithou. Gustavus, embarrassed by his secret, knew not how to commence the painful disclosure; his eyes filled with tears; he turned from M. d'Herbois toward his wife, without daring to address or embrace either of them.
'Come to my arms!' passionately exclaimed Madame d'Herbois; 'come here, my child; we know every thing; but you are, yes, you are my son; I feel it in my love! I feel it in my heart! Come to me, my dear son!'
'You know every thing?' said Gustavus; 'has Pithou, then, already brought his proofs?'
'No, my child, but your father overheard it all.'
A domestic entering, announced to M. d'Herbois that a person was waiting to see him in his study.
'It is that Pithou,' said he, as he left the mother and son dissolved in tears.
In the study he found his friend Durand.
'My good friend,' said Durand to him, 'as you are about marrying your son, I thought you would like to have this beautiful cameo that I have recently met with. I think it the finest I have ever seen. Look at it; and it is not dear either.'
'To the devil with your cameo, and with the wedding, and with my son too!' cried d'Herbois, beside himself with passion.
'Hey day! what's the matter now?' inquired Durand; 'has Gustavus been getting into any scrape?'
'There is no such person as Gustavus. I have no longer any son; there is only one Pithou; confounded be the whole race! one Peter Pithou!'
D'Herbois then recounted to his friend the sad discovery he had just made.
'Well, well,' said Durand, coolly, 'this is not so bad after all; the matter may be amicably settled; M. Pithou will doubtless listen to reason. He will possibly consent to leave Gustavus the name which he has hitherto borne; and since you possess the affections of the young man, what difference, after all, does it make to you?'
'What difference does it make to me!' replied M. d'Herbois, in a fury. 'What difference? I have lost my son, my blood, my life! They have left me in his stead the descendant of a Pithou! And do you ask me what _difference_ does it make!'
'Patience, patience, my good Sir! Have you not always loved him until now as if he were your son? Have not your paternal bowels yearned toward him, as if in fact he had been Gustavus and not Peter? Take my advice, my friend; arrange this matter with Pithou. The young man will never lose the affection he bears you, and it will be Pithou, and not you, who will have the worst of the bargain.'
'The wretch!' continued d'Herbois, pacing the room with hurried strides; 'to have played the fool with me in this manner! to have trifled thus with my affections! But there are laws against crimes like this! Thank Heaven! we live in a civilized land; we have the code; the substitution of children is punishable in France; I will invoke the law; I will bring the culprit before the tribunal, and he shall receive the reward of his guilt.'
'But consider,' replied Durand; 'there were many extenuating circumstances in this offence of Pithou. He was suffering from want; his mind was distracted by grief for the loss of his wife. To be sure, nothing can justify a crime; but if any thing could excuse one, would it not be the anxiety of a father to save his child from imminent death? Beside,' continued Durand, 'observe the conduct of this man. As soon as he becomes wealthy, and is able to provide for him, he comes to reclaim his son. He is not willing that he should enjoy any longer the advantages of your wealth; he does not even wait until his child has consummated an advantageous marriage. All these circumstances would plead strongly in favor of Pithou, in a court of justice. And, in fact, the offence is not the complete substitution of a child; it is merely a temporary one; and the court would probably adjudge Pithou to pay to you the expenses of the education of Gustavus, or Peter; this would be all.'
But poor M. d'Herbois would not listen to his friend. He gave himself up to all the violence of his passion, and began already to feel in his heart a strange aversion to a son, whom until now he had so tenderly loved.
'Yes, yes,' said he, 'he has the very voice and look of Pithou; his gestures, his walk. No doubt this Peter Pithou junior will turn out a rogue, like his father.'
'But only one word,' said Durand; 'take my advice; marry Gustavus, who is not to blame in this matter, and buy this beautiful cameo. You will never get another such a chance.'
'I beg you, Sir, to hold your tongue about that cursed cameo!' said d'Herbois, sternly, to his friend.
'But remember, my good Sir, you are a philosopher, and have defied the whole world to disturb the serenity of your soul, or the tranquillity of your spirit.'
'Philosopher! when I have lost my only child!'
'You have lost nothing. Gustavus is in good health. As for the one that died twenty years ago, you have never known him; in fact, have scarcely seen him. Beside, where is the merit and advantage of philosophy, if it is not able to console you under afflictions; to moderate grief, and impart to the mind the calmness requisite to diminish evil, and enable you to arrive at truth?'
Instead of making answer, the philosopher burst into tears; two briny streams flowed down his cheeks, attesting the vanity of his stoicism, and the superiority of Thales of Melitus over Thales of Paris.
'Ah ha!' exclaimed M. Durand, on witnessing the deep humiliation of his friend, 'have I then conquered your philosophy? But cheer up! Lapierre! Lapierre! come this way.'
Lapierre entered; he had laid aside his livery, and had on still the farmer's large coat.
'Here is Pithou, and there is no other; it is Lapierre, my valet. The claim he sets up for your son is all a matter of moonshine. I was acquainted with all the circumstances, and laid my plans accordingly. The true Pithou is still at Pontoise, employed in fattening calves. He has married a second time, has a score of children, and has no thoughts of coming here to claim a son who is none of his. And now, Monsieur Philosopher, is it thus you put in practice the professions you are daily preaching? Is it thus you exemplify the maxims of the great Thales? Let but misfortune touch your little finger, and you are beside yourself: you examine nothing, neither the truth, nor even the probability of a thing; and before the slightest proofs are laid before you, you withdraw your affections, almost discard your child, and are eager to send a man off to the galleys! And yet one of the maxims of Thales was, 'Never decide any thing rashly.'
M. d'Herbois, confused and crest-fallen, hung down his head, and by his silence confessed that the trial had been too severe for his philosophy. Being, however, fortunately possessed of a large stock of good-nature, which is sometimes better than philosophy, he did not think it worth his while to quarrel with his friend. Poor Gustavus alone suffered from the trial. M. d'Herbois from that time forth could no more trace in his features that resemblance to himself of which he had formerly been so proud; and when the young man spoke, 'That is not my voice,' said he to himself; 'it is the very tone of Pithou.'
And so Gustavus, although suitably married, did not get possession of the country-house at Sussy, which was so agreeable to M. d'Herbois during the summer season. Neither did the old folks discommode themselves in town, and the young couple resided on the second floor.
Convinced in this manner of the vanity of his philosophy, M. d'Herbois quietly resumed his position as father and husband. 'It is impossible,' said he, 'to preserve one's serenity, if our happiness is placed upon objects out of ourselves, and depends upon a wife or child. So when the mother of Thales besought him to marry, the sage replied, 'It is not yet time.' After a while she renewed her entreaties; 'It is now too late,' said Thales.
In our days, the philosophy of most people commences the day after marriage.
LINES TO A CANARY BIRD.
WRITTEN during the difficulties of the boundary question in Maine, when Sir JOHN HARVEY, Governor of the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia was deterred from actual hostility by the judicious conduct of General SCOTT, his personal friend. PRESCOTT'S noble work of 'Ferdinand and Isabella' had just appeared, and the 'Crayon Papers' were in course of publication.
GOD bless thee! and thy joyous throat! Thy trill, thy churr, thy piercing note, My sweet canary! Thou gush of song, thou waterbrook Of joy, thou poem, doctrine, book, Vocabulary!
Thou caged-up treasure of delight! That know'st to make a prison bright Through music's mystery! To swell thy rich notes in full tide, Or highest reach of sound divide Like Paganini!
Where didst thou gain this wondrous lore? Where that, (which I admire yet more,) The glad Philosophy, That smiles at iron bars and doors? In loneliness a spirit pours Of mirthful minstrelsy?
Wert ever old? or broken-hearted? Hast ever from thy mate been parted To meet hereafter? It cannot be; that gleesome strain Springs from a heart that ne'er knew pain-- 'Tis almost Laughter!
Now thou art still; thy chaunt is o'er; Thou seem'st intent on something more Important to thee. Hast any thing to lose? or gain? What think'st thou of the war in Maine? And Sir John Harvey?
Would'st Scott, or Prescott, rather be? The Cotton crop--is't aught to thee? The Crayon Papers? Art rich at heart? or yet to know-- But hark! thy strain again doth flow, Again, in music, stirs!
Ah Rogue! I see thee, have thee now-- That leap from off the transverse bough, That knowing look, inspires; The sound _thou_ lov'st shall now be heard: 'Fresh seed and water for my bird, And sugar for his wires!'
'Tis done--and here 'King, Cawdor, Glamis,' Not more to Macbeth were, than this Thy stock of seed renew'd Is joy to thee!--would I might draw, From thy bright gayety, a Law Of confidence and good:
Forget my bars, forget my cage Like thee; my wants, my cares, my age, A lone and widow'd bed; And raise to Heaven thy magic song In words, that might to both belong, 'Thanks for our daily bread.'
MEADOW-FARM: A TALE OF ASSOCIATION.
BY THE AUTHOR OF 'EDWARD ALFORD AND HIS PLAYFELLOW.'
'THE common notion has been, that the mass of the people need no other culture than is necessary to fit them for their various trades; and though this error is passing away, it is far from being exploded.'
THE cultivation of the soil is the most easily learned of any art. It is falsely supposed that a certain degree of obtuseness, roughness, clod-hopper ignorance, is essential to the farmer; that intelligence, refinement, and science are poorly applied to agriculture. This is the impression that farmers themselves have; and as a body they mistrust the advantages of education as applied to their occupation. The cause of this impression may be traced to the fact, that most of the scientific farmers sink money in carrying on their farms, while they who doggedly plough, plant, and dig, as their fathers did before them, lay up money yearly. These successful men sneer at the gentleman-farmer, and deride his science; and his yearly losses only confirm them the more strongly in their previous habits. Now they might be told that this gentleman farmer expects from the beginning to sink money; that he has taken up the cultivation of the land for amusement, health, or scientific experiment; that his object is not to make money, but to gratify his taste, or perhaps benefit the general farming interest of the country by his failures. It can easily be understood that a very erroneous notion of the value of science, as applied to agriculture, is likely to be drawn from such instances, and how the true farmer comes to mistrust the spirit of modern improvement.
It is pretty well understood among farmers that no man can succeed in their employment who hires his labor. The price of products is so low that wages consume all the profits. And yet there is a great deal of labor hired on the land by those who have lately begun to cultivate it; and the farmer should know that these persons can afford to lose five or six hundred dollars a year, and that they expect to do so, while learning the art of country life, and still be better off than they would had they continued in commerce at a yearly loss of as many thousands.
Much surprise is often expressed by those unacquainted with the facts, that the farm-houses of the country look so rough; that more attention is not bestowed upon the cultivation of shade-trees and pleasure-grounds. Why, they ask, are the houses unpainted? why is it that the farmer's horse and cattle look as if they never felt the curry-comb? His harness looks as if it were never washed, and the owner himself only shaves on Sundays! Oh! farming must be a horrid business! So dirty! such smells! and so slovenly! It will do well enough in poetry and pictures, but Heaven preserve us from this harrowing, dung-heaving life!
It must be confessed that the first business of the tiller of the soil is to attend to his crops, his wheat-fields and corn-fields; to think more of the fences around his pasture-lands than the flower-garden before his house. He must think first of these, and afterward of ornament. It must be confessed that the man who makes money or who keeps his farm from running him in debt, 'in these times,' must rise in the morning with his 'boys,' eat with them and work with them. He must wear a coarse frock and thick boots, and lead a rough but a healthful life. And we aver that the smell of the barn-yard is like a bed of violets, when compared with the reeking gutters of the city, and that the very gentlemen who take a pride in eating cheese _all alive_, turn up their noses with a poor grace of consistency at the earth-worms the plough-share turns up in the furrow.
It is worse than idle for any man to expect to better his condition in a pecuniary point of view, by turning gentleman farmer. If a person have a fortune already, he may lay out pleasure-grounds, fence in parks, make experiments in crops, try crosses in breeds of cattle, and set out trees for shade and scenery, and thus gratify his taste, and possibly make some discovery for others to benefit by; but in his own case he will lose money; probably he expects it. What would any one think of a gentleman warrior or gentleman poet? that is, of a man who should hire all his fighting done or all his verses made. If success only crowns individual, personal exertion in all other matters, how is it that in this alone, in the primitive occupation of mankind, men expect it, without putting their own hand to the plough, and girding themselves for the labor? It is a common remark among husbandmen that he who works with his 'hands' gets double the amount of work out of them compared with him who only gives his orders and waits until they are accomplished. The general must lead his troops to victory; he must endanger his own life if he would infuse bravery into the hearts of his soldiers; and this principle is not inapplicable to the 'boss' of the farm.
The snow was not yet off the earth when Rufus Gilbert and his companions reached their new home in Landsgrove. It was one of those late seasons when winter departs tardily and reluctantly, but which almost always repay the farmer by a year of abundance. Vegetation, when it does begin to appear, shoots up as if by magic, and hardly has the snow melted from off the hills before flowers are in blossom all over the valleys. But we must attempt to give the reader some idea of the situation of the place at which they had arrived.
The Green Mountains run north and south nearly in the centre of the State of Vermont, on the west sloping toward Lake Champlain, the Otter Creek river, and the eastern tributaries of the Hudson, and on the east to the Connecticut river. The ascent begins on the eastern side almost as soon as you leave the river. At whatever point you attempt to cross the State, you meet hills which rise in regular succession, until you reach the summit of the ridge. The villages lie mostly in the valleys, although some are perched like watch-towers on the elevations or table-lands of the mountains.
A small river runs through the southern part of the town of Landsgrove, on its way to join the Connecticut. Here it rushes through a narrow gap in the hills, in which its course was undoubtedly once confined, where it formed a lake, now changed into a broad extent of rich meadow land. All about this little amphitheatre the hills rise, sometimes abruptly, and, on the north, by regular steps or plats of table-land. It was upon one of these latter that Rufus had built his house, fronting the south, and overlooking the whole extent of the farm he had purchased.
Human contrivance could hardly have planned a situation so agreeable to the eye, or one better suited to the purpose for which he had made the purchase. Completely shut out from the rest of the world, and yet near enough for all objects of trade and convenience, he owned the whole of this little valley, with enough of the upland for grazing. The widening of the river still left a small lake or pond in the centre of his domain, well stocked by nature with the daring trout which wanders fearlessly up the waterfalls in search of food; and this little sheet of water added much to the beauty of the prospect. The house, on an elevation itself, was protected by still higher land from the cutting north winds, and the plain on which it stood was just large enough for barns, out-buildings, and a garden plat.
Our adventurers had enough to do from the very day of their arrival to improve the snow-paths in drawing in their wood for the next season; for the farmer must always be one year in advance of the elements, and during one winter draws and cuts his wood for the succeeding one. All hands were summoned to assist in this their first united task. One felled the proper trees, taking care to leave the sap-trees, the sugar-maple, untouched; others, the weaker, drove the team and helped to load and unload, while the Stewarts cut the wood into the proper sled length, eight feet. In this form it was taken near the house and piled up, ready to be prepared, at odd moments of time, for fuel. And even in this simple operation, at the close of their first day's labor, they were all astonished at the amount of work which had been accomplished. Each one, having an allotted part to perform, acquired new skill every hour, and no time was lost in changing from one kind of work to another. One man, with the lever power, can lift large logs on to a sled, and do his work alone; but he cannot do one fourth as much as four men can perform in the same time, because he loses time in adjusting a more complicated apparatus. He not only uses the lever, but rolls the logs on an inclined plane, and these must be taken up and put down again for every stick of timber, while the four men, at one effort, lift it at once upon the sled. The mechanical powers enable one man to do alone what he could not do at all without their assistance; but the advantage of their application is by no means universal. On ship-board they are of incalculable service, standing in the place of seamen, whose maintenance and room is of great relative value; for by means of the capstan, ten men can raise an anchor, which, without it, one hundred men could not start; and two men will run up a sail with a pulley, which would resist the strength of many hands. Now any one can see that to keep one hundred men solely to raise the anchor and run up the sails, and who could not in the intervals be employed profitably otherwise, would be a great expense. But on a farm, if it be large enough, no hour is lost; so that ten men united will accomplish more than ten times as much as one man working alone, with all the mechanical power he can bring to his assistance. And as the mechanical powers when combined are capable by one pound of power of lifting millions of pounds' weight, so the force, strength, and capacities of men may be so arranged and systematized, the second acting on the results of the first, and the third on the second, and so on, to produce effects which individual actors would never dream of.
Unimportant as this first effort of their united labor might seem, all the young men were highly delighted with their success, and as they met in the common hall of the house at supper, Ruth, Clara, and the mother of the Stewarts had a story to tell about the expedition with which all domestic affairs had been arranged. One had taken supervision of the sleeping-rooms, another of the kitchen furniture, and a third had arranged the library, as it was called, a room which was to answer the threefold purpose of school-room, chapel, and lecture-hall. The woodmen returned to find every thing in order, a plentiful supper spread for their repast, and smiling faces all around the board; as people are always cheerful when they have done good actions.
Rufus Gilbert, as he sat at the head of the full table, for they numbered fourteen souls, and glanced at the happy countenances of his friends, felt as if his experiment was no longer doubtful. The party lingered long over the table, which each one might feel was his own, talking of the various duties of the next day, of the friends they had left; and the infant delight of two orphan children Rufus had brought with him, whom the novelty of the scene excited to ask a thousand questions, was not repressed amid the general satisfaction. Their impressions were listened to with attention, their inquiries answered, and the little fellows became careful what they said, when they found that their careless words were replied to in earnest. At length, when the company had separated for the night, all except Rufus and Philip, who were too full of hope to regard fatigue, the two young men drew together before the fire, to compare their impressions of their progress, each afraid to speak first, lest the other should think him extravagant; but Philip could not be silent.
'The happiest day of my life!' at length broke from him.
'And of mine!' responded Rufus.
'Brother, friend, let us thank God for this hour!' said Philip, grasping the hand of Rufus, 'for preserving us along our journey, for bringing us together to this peaceful home, in health and strength; for my heart is too full for any words but prayer.'
'Most cheerfully and devoutly,' said Rufus. And the brothers knelt together, and Philip prayed for all beneath their roof; and not alone for them, but for the poor, the oppressed, the ignorant, and the destitute in all lands. They rose from their knees calmer and better prepared to talk together.
'I have read somewhere,' said Rufus in the course of their conversation, 'and the remark struck me as forcible at the time, that men ought to mistrust too favorable beginnings. If in any undertaking every thing goes very smoothly at first, if no obstacles meet you, no misgivings cloud you, you may be sure there is something wrong in your plan. And this quaint writer then remarks, to support his theory, that the early blossoms are apt to be nipped by the frost.'
'And the Scripture hath it still more pointedly; indeed, what very wise or very true saying has not a parallel passage in the Bible? I have often thought that a most interesting book might be made, showing how much even Shakspere accords with the sacred page.'
'The Bible was once read more thoughtfully than it is now,' said Rufus; 'it made a more important part of the instruction of the youth; its words fell with a deeper accent upon the heart of the young man; it was handled reverently and read devoutly. Shakspere must have been familiar with it, or himself divinely inspired.'
'Then you argue failure from our happiness to-night,' said Philip.
'No, but let us study caution; you did not hear me out, for I have a commentary to make. Early success makes men heedless; obstacles and difficulties render them thoughtful and wary. But it is better not to be excited with our first gains, and then we shall have no need of this severe training. Think of this. I will think of it myself; good night' Having succeeded in cooling his own ardor by attempting to bring Philip's feelings down to temperate heat, with a meaning smile on his face, Rufus retired to repose.
THE SUGAR CAMP.
'THERE might you have beheld one joy crown another.'--THE WINTER'S TALE.
As soon as the snow began to melt, another important item of the spring work of the Vermont farmer demanded the attention of the household; no less a business than the making of maple sugar. To this all hands repair, in expectation of many a sweet lump not only of sugar, but of a taste of cherry lips and rosy cheeks. The lads and lasses of the green mountain region begin to lick their lips about the middle of March. The season of the frolic varies many weeks in different years. When warm spring days are succeeded by cool, freezing nights, when the light snows begin to fall, called the 'poor man's manure,' from an idea, true or false, that they fertilize the land, then the sap begins to run, and all hie to the sugar-camp to work and play by turns.
The place selected for operations is often near a clump of hemlock trees, amid whose thick branches a temporary shelter is erected. Boards, straw, and buffalo robes secure a warm and deep sleep after the excitement of the sugaring. Blazing fires burn up here and there, over which the huge kettles, containing the sap, are suspended on cross sticks, replenished now and then from the extempore buckets, troughs roughly hewn in blocks of hard wood, which hang to receive the drippings, drop by drop, from the incisions made in the tree. After it has been boiled to a proper consistency, it is suffered to cool, and with no more labor, becomes the famous maple sugar, the delight of all children and many full-grown people. It is run in fanciful moulds, and easily assumes any shape when in a moist, warm state. The Indians prepare it in bark, curiously ornamented with quill work and beads, and sell it to travellers at an exorbitant price.
Since the abolition movement, many of the members of which society make a virtue of consuming nothing raised by slave-labor, this sugar has become a more important article of trade, and the trees which produce it are guarded with great care. The temperance cause, too, is giving it a new value, as many have the idea that spirit cannot be extracted from it so well as from the West India molasses, which favorite 'sweet'ning' of the Yankee is getting into disrepute with the ultras; a fact which speaks louder for their zeal than their knowledge. So it is engaged in as a serious matter of profit, and the hilarity and fun that once were ripe in the sugar-camp is departed. In former days it yielded not to husking frolics in enjoyment; it was the vintage of the north; but those days are gone, with many a simple custom and innocent pastime which the spirit of modern improvement is frowning down.
Formerly the expedition lasted several days, and the sugar-makers slept in the woods; now the increased population of the State affords a house near to the orchards. Our friends were determined to make the most of the time, and Rufus was glad of a little amusement for the band, but newly leagued together, to wean the thoughts of the home-loving from their old to their new abode; to create pleasant associations about the place not yet honored with a name.
As soon as a light fall of snow was succeeded by a warm, sunshiny day, they all repaired to the woods, and a thrifty clump of trees having been found, commenced their work. The place was not a mile from their house, but a hut was erected as for a regular, old-fashioned encampment, and conveniences for sleeping were not forgotten. And it was well they were not omitted, for late in the afternoon, as they were thinking of returning home, there burst upon them a crowd of visitors from the neighboring settlements, who had waited for this time to make their introduction to their neighbors, wisely choosing a day of merriment, when the heart is open, to spur on their own bashfulness and insure a cordial reception.
If any one is surprised that the news of the contemplated gathering should get abroad so quickly, he has only to live in the country to discover that it is in vain to attempt secrecy in any thing. Whether birds, dogs, or cats carry news, we will not pretend to say; but all we know is, that one may gain information to any extent about any body, who is worth the notice, in a country village. The fact proves the skill that may be acquired in any art by persevering industry, and the fact is all we can state, leaving the wonder unsolved still, for the future investigation of some writer upon the mysteries of human life in general.
We say it was well the sleeping-berths were not omitted, for so numerous was the gathering, that when night drew on, our friends found that beside taking up all the spare beds in the house, and leaving a goodly number in the hut, they should be obliged to give others a bed in the barn, on the hay-mow. But to this the Vermonter does not object, occasionally, when on a frolic; and, indeed, one very essential part of a frolic in the country, and in the city, and in every place, is the doing of things, not better, more joyously and handsomely than usual, but differently. If a man sleep on feathers at home, and in a carpetted room, and eat with a silver fork, it is a frolic to him to eat with his fingers, drink from large leaves, and find rest even in a barn.
The hospitality with which the visiters were greeted, the trouble of having their home turned upside down, for one night, was no loss in any sense to the band; for on the next morning, as the day was favorable, they all turned out to assist in making sugar in earnest; and, before they departed, left the most ample proof of their good wishes and sense of Rufus's kindness. One remembered that he had brought a keg of butter in his sleigh, which his father had sent, begging Mr. Gilbert's acceptance; another unloaded baskets full of dried apples, as his offering of friendship with the new neighbors; a third, a brawny youth of eighteen, was tugging to lift alone a barrel of something from his sleigh, to show his strength to the girls; (every Green Mountain boy being required, before he can be considered marriageable, to load and unload his barrel of cider;) a task rather beyond his powers. John Stewart stepped forward to assist him, and asked the nature of the contents that made his lift so heavy.
'Some of our best cider; the first run from the orchard greenins,' said the youth.
'We drink no such stuff here,' said John; 'but Mr. Gilbert will be very glad to take it to make into vinegar.'
'Vinegar!' exclaimed the young man, opening his eyes to be certain he was not dreaming, 'make _that_ cider into vinegar! It won't be made into vinegar. You might bring all the teetotallers at once to look sour at it; swear at it; damn it up hill and down, and finally keep it into the middle of eternity, and then pour out a mug, and it would sparkle as bright as ever.'
It was touching the young farmer on a tender point to speak disparagingly of his cider; and this has been the great obstacle to be got over in the Temperance reform. Thousands have refused to have any thing to do with the cause, because cider was forbidden in the pledge; and in our opinion the bigots in this cause (for Temperance has its bigots as well as other causes) have presented the question in an untenable form. They have attempted to show that a natural fruit of our region, which cannot be preserved for any length of time, except by expressing the juice, which is slightly mixed with alcohol, is a deadly poison. Now the farmer who has hundreds of bushels of apples yearly, beside those which are fitted to keep sound, knows no other course than to make them into cider; and he argues that the natural product of the soil on which he dwells cannot be a poison; he knows that the _spirit_, as he calls it, meaning the alcoholic principle, in the juice of the apple, preserves it; and when the Temperance apostle comes to him and tells him that this gift of God is a rank poison, he is disgusted with the whole subject, and doubts the sincerity and honesty of those who really are the friends of man, and who are laboring at a pecuniary loss for his and others' good.
The course of Rufus was quite otherwise. The noise attracted the attention of the whole party, and twenty or more young farmers gathered about the youth, who stood over his barrel of cider, ready to support its merits.
'Thank your father in my name,' said Rufus, approaching the place, 'for his kind offer. We will accept it gladly, and doubt not it is as good cider as any in Vermont; he no doubt will suffer us to use it in any way we please.' The opportunity was too favorable to be lost; so he went on to explain why he did not drink it, and the league which had been made with his companions, which in short hand amounted to this.
All the gifts of Providence are good in their place. Men have the power of perverting the blessings of Heaven to curses. It sometimes becomes necessary to abstain from innocent acts, because others deduce wrong inferences from them. Cider and wine, which in their nature contain alcohol, when drank in moderation, are salutary to health, and are nourishing to the body; but we agree to abstain from them because it is dangerous for those whose constitutions have been debilitated by intemperance to indulge in these luxuries. They bring back the old disease in such cases. And as Paul said he would eat no meat (a thing good in itself) if his doing so caused his brother to offend, so we have agreed to deny ourselves cider and wine, for the sake of our fellow-men.
It was evident from the looks of all, that they cared more for the reputation of their cider than for the liquor itself; and when Rufus had finished his remarks, the youth who had brought the barrel was the first to propose that it be emptied upon the ground. It was done with a shout; and so much influence had the words of Rufus, that, with one accord, they all joined in a compact, on the spot, to abstain from cider and all intoxicating drinks. Never did a sugar party terminate more agreeably or profitably for all concerned.
OH! say, can honor lost, And a bright, unspotted name Come back to cheer the tempest-tossed, And cleanse him of his shame?
Say! can an erring heart, That still has thoughts of good. Return once more to the shining part Of life, where once it stood?
Can those who are _more_ just And innocent than he, Refuse unto their kindred dust Their love and sympathy?
Is _man_ more just than Heaven? Shall _he_, himself so weak, Who needs each hour to be forgiven, No words of pardon speak?
Can they, who held him dear, Forget his errors past, And on his penitential tear Affection's glances cast?
Oh! yes! all _this_ may be-- But never, never more, Will he feel the sweet and childlike glee He felt in days of yore.
His eye can never more resume Its calm and fearless gaze; For the pureness of his heart is gone, The freshness of his days!
LECTURES ON THE CIVIL GOVERNMENT OF THE HEBREWS. By E. C. WINES, Author of 'Two Years in the Navy,' Works on Education, etc. Delivered at the New-York Society Library Rooms.
WHEN we first saw the advertisement of Mr. WINES in the public journals, it struck us that the theme he had chosen for his lectures was a _dry_ one, and that it would scarcely be found to interest the general public; but we were greatly in error. It was not only an unhackneyed subject, of intrinsic interest, but it was one that had never before been treated in the manner in which it was presented by Mr. WINES. We are no longer surprised that the lectures should have drawn together overflowing audiences in Philadelphia, nor that they were received with the most marked approbation in our own metropolis. Although the chief authority whence the materials of the discussion are drawn is the Bible, a book in every body's hands, yet the facts in the record are brought by Mr. WINES into such new and sometimes almost startling relations, that while they impart important instruction on a subject venerable by its hoary antiquity, they have yet all the charms of _novelty_ to recommend them. Even acute and diligent students of the Scriptures, after listening to his discourses, must confess that they have not exhausted its riches, especially so far as they treat of the great principles of social organization and constitutional government. Indeed, one of their best fruits will be to send the hearer with a keener spirit of inquiry, and with increased patience and industry of investigation, to the 'Lively Oracles.' The lectures are conceived in a liberal and philosophical spirit, and evince an ardent attachment to, and a firm faith in, our republican institutions. They are written with thorough scholarship and learning, and in a style always lucid and vigorous, often glowing and elegant. In a word, Mr. WINES takes hold of his subject like a man who is conscious of his strength, and he almost invariably carries the sympathies and convictions of his audience along with him, even when advancing opinions quite out of their ordinary habitudes of thought. He has shown how thoroughly a subject, which has been commonly regarded as belonging exclusively to _scholars_, can be brought within the grasp of the popular mind. Whatever currency his elaborate and most interesting disquisitions on the laws and government of the Hebrews may have, will be so much subtracted from the strength of infidelity, and added to the cause of sacred learning and religion.
The lecturer commenced with a reference to the magnificent sepulchral remains of an unknown city on the banks of the Ganges, in Central India, as an emblem of the uncertainty which accompanies most of our researches into the events of remote antiquity. The writings of the best of the Greek historians were represented as filled with contradictions, and with mutual charges of error and falsehood; and several striking instances of historical doubt were adduced; as, whether the famous Trojan war ever actually occurred or not; whether Semiramis lived two thousand or seven hundred years before CHRIST; and whether the Great Cyrus fell in battle near the snowy Caucasus, or died in peace in his palace at Persepolis. The noble historic record of Moses was contrasted with the confused and incredible fictions which disfigure all other ancient annals; and a just eulogium was passed upon its clearness and consistency. Mr. WINES'S brief but clear analysis of the political and social institutions of the various ancient Asiatic dynasties, as also of Egypt, Sparta, Athens, and Rome, fully established his main position in reference to them, that they knew nothing about the true principles of civil liberty; but were, at all times, governed either by arbitrary _men_ or arbitrary _laws_. A sober, rational, well-poised, and well-guarded national freedom was nowhere to be met with in the ancient world, except in Palestine, under the occupancy of the Hebrews; and all antiquity did not afford a single example of a state, where the PEOPLE exercised any just influence in public affairs, till we come to the Jewish republic. The far-famed Spartan Institutes were discussed with merited severity. Their barbarous and even brutal characteristics were drawn in strong relief, but without a single darker shade than truth required. It was admitted that the Spartans were the bravest, the most warlike, the best skilled in the art military, the most politic, the firmest in their maxims, and the most constant in their designs, of all the people of Greece; but in making them so, Lycurgus had stripped them of almost every quality of men, and caused them to put on the fierceness of savage beasts. The war-laws of ancient times were sketched in vivid but truthful colors. One cannot but regard with horror the spirit of barbarity and cruelty that reigned in almost every ancient nation. Death or slavery was the inevitable portion of the vanquished. Cities reduced to ashes; sovereigns massacred in cold blood, and cast out a prey to dogs and vultures; children crushed to death at the breast; queens dragged unworthily in chains, and outrage and humiliation added to the rigors of captivity; these were but the common consequences of victory. And to crown all, the horrible practice of poisoning the arrows to be used in battle was almost universal. The general military regulations of Moses were examined and contrasted with those of the other nations; and, though undeniably severe when compared with the war-laws of our day yet most essential modifications, tending to the progress of refinement and humanity, were introduced into his military code. The severities exercised toward the Canaanites formed no part of the general war-system, having been employed by special warrant and for a specific purpose--the punishment and prevention of idolatry and unnatural lusts.
The institution of slavery was next discussed at considerable length; and an interesting and instructive contrast was drawn between the condition of bond-service as it existed among the Hebrews and in the other nations. The relation of slavery is so ancient that its origin is lost amid the shadows and uncertainties of early legendary traditions. It is, however, a most curious fact, that probably more than one half of the human family have at all times been in bondage to the other, and have been looked upon as the rightful properly of their masters. Gibbon estimates the slave population of the Roman Empire at sixty millions, fully a moiety of the whole; and the proportion of the slaves to the free citizens in Greece almost exceeds belief, being, according to the accurate Mitford, more than four to one. In reference to Eastern nations, we are without these exact statistics; but we have every reason to believe that the slave population was immense. In all these nations the slaves were reduced to the lowest possible depression; and were, in every sense, at the absolute disposal of capricious, greedy, imperious, and merciless owners. They might be tortured, maimed, or put to death, without let or hindrance from the civil power. Mr. WINES gave a variety of deeply interesting details in illustration of these positions. Moses did not abolish slavery; he could not do it, without a miracle wrought upon men's minds. He was too wise to make the attempt, when failure would have been the certain consequence. But he so modified and softened the relation; he so fenced it about with checks, and restrictions, and guaranties; that it was disarmed of most of the evils flowing from it in other countries. Servitude, under the institutes of Moses, at least so far as Hebrew servants were concerned, resembled the system of _apprenticeship_ in vogue in this country, where a child is bound out for a certain number of years for a stipulated compensation, to be paid to the parent at the end of that period. In no nation, either ancient or modern, has slavery existed under so mild a form, and guarding the rights and persons of the slaves with such jealous care, as among the ancient Hebrews. These topics, and some to which we have not had space to allude, were discussed in the opening lecture. In his second, the learned Professor drew a portrait of the illustrious Hebrew sage and law-giver, developed the general policy of his laws, and traced the obligations of other nations, in their legislation and philosophy, to his institutes. Moses was described as possessing, in an eminent degree, all those endowments, natural and acquired, which form the character of a consummate chief magistrate of a nation; an intellect of the highest order; a perfect mastery over all the civil wisdom of the age; a judgment cautious, penetrating, and far-reaching in its combinations; great promptness and energy in action; patriotism that neither ingratitude nor rebellion could extinguish, or even cool; a persuasive eloquence; a hearty love of truth; an incorruptible virtue; and a freedom from selfish ambition, and a greatness of soul, in which none of the most admired heroes of ancient or modern times has ever surpassed him. These positions were proved and illustrated at large; and the lecturer concluded his sketch with a beautiful parallel between the military and civic character of MOSES and WASHINGTON; both were men whom their compatriots placed in the highest position, and both managed their authority so as to produce the 'greatest good of the greatest number.'
In entering upon his account of the political system of Moses, Mr. WINES insisted, with great earnestness, that all the essential principles of civil liberty and constitutional government were as thoroughly embodied in his constitution, as they are in ours; and in fact, that that great charter of human freedom, the DECLARATION OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE, which, like the writing on the wall of Belshazzar's palace, has troubled the thoughts of many a tyrant, and caused his knees to smite one against the other, was but an echo from the deep thunders of Mount Sinai. His great maxims of policy were remarkably sound and judicious. The entire and absolute political equality of the whole body of citizens; the discouragement of a spirit of war and military conquest; the appointment of agriculture as the chief employment of the nation; the universal education of the people, especially in the knowledge of the history, constitution, and laws of their own country; a firm union of hearts and sentiments; and the indispensable necessity of a well-contrived and well-guarded system of checks and balances between the several departments of the government; these were the organic principles on which he founded his civil polity. The lecturer laid down the proposition broadly and without qualification, that there never was a nation, ancient or modern, in which the people stood upon so perfect a level in regard to political rights and influence as the Jews under the Constitution of Moses. Property in the soil is the natural foundation of power, and consequently of authority. Hence, the natural foundation of every government is laid in the distribution of its territory. If the prince own the lands, as was the case anciently in Egypt, and is now in many Eastern governments, such prince will be absolute; for the people, holding of him, and at his pleasure, will be in the condition of slaves rather than of free men. If the land be shared among a few men, the rest holding as vassals under them, as in the feudal system, the real power and authority of government will be in the hands of an aristocracy, or nobility, whatever power may be lodged in one or more persons, for the sake of greater unity in counsel and action. But if the lands be equally divided among all the members of a society, the true power of such government will reside in all the members of the society, and the society itself will constitute a real democracy, whatever form of union may be adopted for the better direction of the whole as a political body. Now this last is an exact description of the provision of the Hebrew constitution in reference to property in the soil. Moses legislated for a people without land, and who had their territories to gain at the point of the sword. He was not therefore trammelled by any prescriptive rights, or long-established laws of inheritance. He was free to adopt any principle he might deem most expedient. The principle actually chosen by him was that of the equal division of all the conquered territories among the whole six hundred thousand citizens; and to render this equality solid and permanent, the tenure was made inalienable, and the estates thus originally settled in each family, were to descend, by an indefeasible entail, in perpetual succession, to all the heirs-male of the original proprietors. Such was the oldest of Agrarian laws. The wisdom of this provision was most refined and admirable. It made extreme poverty and overgrown riches alike impossible, and thus annihilated one of the greatest sources and engines of ambition. It gave every member of the body politic an interest in the soil, and consequently in the maintenance of public order and the supremacy of law over mob violence. It elevated labor to its just dignity, by making the virtues of industry and frugality necessary elements in every man's character. It cut off the sources of luxury, that corruptor and bane of states, by denying the means of it, and took away the strongest incitement to it in the example of others. It served to keep up that original equality of the citizens, which was fundamental to the legislation of Moses, and altogether conformable to its strong democratic spirit and tendency. It rendered it impossible for any Israelite to be born to absolute poverty, for it gave to each his hereditary modicum of land; a garden, an orchard, or an olive-grove. In preventing poverty, it cut off the most prolific source of emigration, and thus preserved unimpaired the strength and vigor of the state. It tended strongly to perfect the science of agriculture. And, finally, it served to bind every Hebrew to his native soil by almost indissoluble ties, and gave to the sentiment of patriotism an almost passionate fervor and intensity. The entire political equality of the citizens was proved by various other arguments, and illustrated with great copiousness of detail.
The system of checks and balances between the several powers of government, provided by the constitution of Moses, evinced the deepest political wisdom, and a most patriotic regard to the public liberties. History is full of proofs that restless and ambitious spirits are the growth of all times and nations. Now there are two principal methods of preventing the evils of ambition; either to take away the common occasions of ambitious views, or to make the execution of them difficult and hazardous. The Hebrew constitution made both these provisions in a manner equal, if not superior, to any known constitution of government in the world. Never did legislator labor with such eagle-eyed jealousy as Moses, to preserve the people from the dangers of ill-balanced power, or guard the public liberty with so many and so admirably-contrived defences against the projects of factions and restless ambition. We regret that we cannot follow the learned lecturer through his earnest and unanswerable argument in support of these positions. All who heard it will yield a full assent to the remark with which he concluded it, that the provisions of the Hebrew government to prevent faction and ambition incomparably surpass all the constitutions of the famed Spartan law-giver for the same purpose, so celebrated in ancient story; nor would they have missed their praise, had they been published by a Lycurgus, a Solon, a Numa, or indeed by any body but Moses. The great principles of the Jewish law early became known to the contemporaneous nations, and were powerfully felt in modifying their political institutions, their philosophical opinions, and their moral practices. This influence was traced in the clearest manner by Professor WINES, in respect both to ancient and modern nations. He drew his proofs from the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia; from the history of the Egyptian Ptolemies; from the writings of Hermippas, Theophrastus, Clearchus, Longinus, and even Aristotle, as well as those of Josephus and Philo; from the public records of France and Great Britain; and from the whole structure of our own government, and the history of our jurisprudence. He maintained with great force, that it is to the laws of Moses, and not the politics of Greece and Rome, that we moderns are indebted for the great and precious principles of civil freedom. He referred to the fact as not a little remarkable, that when the presidents and professors of our colleges are most of them ministers of religion, a contrary impression is permitted to remain upon the minds of the young men, who are there receiving their education to be American citizens. He administered a rebuke to those gentlemen, because they do not give the writings of Moses a more prominent place in their systems of instruction, and because they do not more distinctly inform their pupils that the true elements of republican liberty are to be sought in his institutions; but permit the Greek and Roman authors to monopolize their admiration and their gratitude. The very nations whose achievements in arts and arms these writers so eloquently commemorate, were not a little indebted to the genius of the Hebrew legislator for those principles and qualities in their institutions which awaken our youthful enthusiasm.
In his third lecture, Mr. WINES showed that to suppress and supplant idolatry was the grand design, and constituted, as it were, the very soul, of the Mosaic Institutes. He entered into an elaborate and erudite examination of the qualities and tendencies of polytheism, and of the nature, design, and limit of the theocracy. He showed that the theocratic feature of the government was not an arrangement of the commonwealth, fundamentally different from the monarchical, aristocratical, democratical, and mixed forms of government; but that, viewed as to its main design, it was nothing more than a name, or contrivance, employed the more effectually to exclude idolatry. God took the name of king, as a title that conferred honor on the Israelites, and the great object of it was to supplant idolatry, without an infringement of that essential and precious principle of civil liberty, that mere opinions are not to be cramped and restrained by the pains and penalties of the civil law. Having cleared the ground by these preliminary disquisitions, the lecturer entered upon the analysis of the constitution itself. This part of the discussion was exceedingly novel, philosophical, and luminous. Learned doctors in divinity acknowledged themselves instructed and charmed by his masterly dissection of the _jus publicum_ of the Hebrews; the texture and frame-work of their government; the fundamental, organic law of their state. He proved, conclusively, that the government Moses instituted was a constitutional democracy, and that there were, properly speaking, neither nobles nor peasants under it, but a brotherhood of hardy and industrious yeomen, all politically equal, and having each an important stake in the maintenance of public tranquillity and order. The analogies between the Hebrew government and ours, in their substance, forms, and modes of administration, were shown to be, many of them, most close and surprising. The radical features of that ancient and venerable social compact were stated thus: Each of the twelve tribes formed a separate, and in some respects, independent state, with a local legislature and supreme court of judicature, having absolute power within the limit of its reserved rights. Nevertheless, so long as the Constitution of Moses was preserved unimpaired, there was both a real and a vigorous general government and national administration. The nation might, with strict propriety, have been denominated, 'The United States' of Israel. The government consisted of four departments; the chief magistrate, the senate, the oracle, and the congregation of Israel. This last was the popular branch, and consisted of deputies truly representing the nation, and faithfully embodying and carrying out the decrees of the popular will. The form of a legal enactment might have run thus: 'Be it enacted by the Congregation of Israel, the Senate advising, the Judge presiding, and the Oracle assenting.' There was a supreme national court at Jerusalem, to which difficult causes were adjourned from the local tribunals. And, finally, the organization of the tribe of Levi was such as to impart a vital action to the whole system, at the same time that it served as a sort of counterpoise to the democracy, and prevented its excesses. All these positions, and many others not here enumerated, were sustained with an array of convincing arguments, drawn from the sacred writings themselves.
The great Hebrew statesman foresaw that the time would come, when his countrymen, infected and dazzled by the example of the surrounding nations, would lose their relish for republican simplicity, and demand the splendors of a throne and a court. But it was neither his advice nor his wish that they should have a king. He used every means to prevent it. He reasoned; he dissuaded; he expostulated; he threatened; he uttered many solemn and fearful warnings against the dangers and horrors of despotism. If he could not wholly resist the headlong proclivity of his nation to the regal form of government, he at least postponed the issue which he dreaded; he fenced about the royal power with a thousand unwelcome restrictions; and, by his glowing and withering denunciations against every form and species of despotism, he showed how thoroughly his own spirit was impregnated with popular principles; how deep was his hatred of tyranny and usurpation; and how ardent and irrepressible his sympathy for the rights, the liberties, and the happiness of the people. Whoever, then, holds to the divine legation of Moses, and therefore necessarily believes that a constitutional and representative democracy is a form of government stamped with the seal of the divine approval, while the monarchy was but granted in anger to the mad clamors of the people, will hence derive a new and forcible argument to cherish and defend the precious charter of our own liberties, since its type and model came originally from the depths of the divine wisdom and goodness. We are glad to learn that these very able lectures of Professor WINES are to be re-modelled, extended to eight, and repeated the ensuing season. A syllabus of them lies before us, which we shall have pleasure in presenting, when the time for their delivery shall have arrived.
THE SPANISH STUDENT. A Play in three Acts. By HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW. In one volume, pp. 174. Cambridge: JOHN OWEN. New-York: WILEY AND PUTNAM.
WITH what regularly-progressive steps HENRY W. LONGFELLOW has trod the path of fame! We can scarcely call to mind an American writer who has exhibited the industry of patient acquisition, the increasing refinement of taste, the expansion of fancy, and the enhanced delicacy of execution, which have distinguished the literary career of the author of the volume before us. Nor in depth of thought, and power of expression, have Mr. LONGFELLOW'S writings fallen behind those of any of his contemporaries; while in that winning sympathy with humanity, which finds a response in every bosom, it would be difficult to name his superior. It is not however for this Magazine--which has been the source through which the best and most voluminous portions of Mr. LONGFELLOW'S poetical writings have been given to the public--to praise that which our readers know is its own best commendation. Nor can we, from the scores of pencilled and dog's-eared pages of the beautiful volume under notice, select a tithe of the passages which we indicated as we read, rather with the _hope_ than the _expectation_ of being able to find space for them in our crowded pages. For the beautiful story, we shall, in justice to the publishers and the author, refer our readers to the volume which contains it and its accessories, unmutilated; yet in the mean time we cannot resist an extract or two, as a sample of the execution of the verse. It is enough to 'make lovers of us all,' to read the annexed dialogue between the enamoured PRECIOSA and VICTORIAN:
PREC. Dost thou remember when first we met?
VIC. It was at Cordova, In the Cathedral garden. Thou wast sitting Under the orange-trees, beside a fountain.
PREC. 'Twas Easter-Sunday. The full-blossomed trees Filled all the air with fragrance and with joy. The priests were singing, and the organ sounded, And then anon the great Cathedral bell. It was the elevation of the Host. We both of us fell down upon our knees, Under the orange boughs, and prayed together. I never had been happy, till that moment.
VIC. Thou blessed angel!
PREC. And when thou wast gone I felt an aching here. I did not speak To any one that day.
VIC. Sweet Preciosa! I loved thee even then, though I was silent!
PREC. I thought I ne'er should see thy face again. Thy farewell had to me a sound of sorrow.
VIC. That was the first sound in the song of love! Scarce more than silence is, and yet a sound. Hands of invisible spirits touch the strings Of that mysterious instrument, the soul, And play the prelude of our fate. We hear The voice prophetic, and are not alone.
If any doubt that WORDSWORTH'S 'comfort in the strength of love' can be exaggerated, let him or her 'inwardly digest' the following picture of the power of this passion, drawn by VICTORIAN:
WHAT I most prize in woman Is her affection, not her intellect. Compare me with the great men of the earth-- What am I? Why, a pigmy among giants! But if thou lovest--mark me, I say lovest-- The greatest of thy sex excels thee not! The world of the affections is thy world-- Not that of man's ambition. In that stillness Which most becomes a woman, calm and holy, Thou sittest by the fireside of the heart, Feeding its flame. The element of fire Is pure. It cannot change nor hide its nature, But burns as brightly in a gypsy camp As in a palace hall.
How forcible are the following thoughtful lines:
HYP. HAST thou e'er reflected How much lies hidden in that one word _now_?
VIC. Yes; all the awful mystery of Life! I oft have thought, my dear Hypolito, That could we, by some spell of magic, change The world and its inhabitants to stone, In the same attitudes they now are in, What fearful glances downward might we cast Into the hollow chasms of human life! What groups should we behold about the death-bed, Putting to shame the group of Niobe! What joyful welcomes, and what sad farewells! What stony tears in those congealéd eyes! What visible joy or anguish in those cheeks! What bridal pomps, and what funereal shows! What foes, like gladiators, fierce and struggling! What lovers with their marble lips together!
But we are admonished of our lack of space; and are left only room to say to every lover--whether of some precious maid, or more precious 'wife and mother now,' or lover only of the beautiful and the true in poetry--to obtain the 'Spanish Student,' and lay 'its gentle teachings to the new-warmed heart.'
CLASSICAL STUDIES: ESSAYS ON ANCIENT LITERATURE AND ART: with the Biography and Correspondence of eminent Philologists. By DAVID SEARS, President of Newton Theological Institution; Professor B. B. EDWARDS, of Andover; and Professor C. C. FELTON, of Harvard University. Boston: GOULD, KENDALL, AND LINCOLN.
THIS work will be warmly welcomed by scholars, and all true lovers of classical learning. Professor EDWARDS furnishes an essay upon the study of Greek literature, of classical antiquity, and upon the school of philology in Holland; President SEARS presents the reader with an article upon the schools of German philology, a very voluminous correspondence between eminent philologists in Germany, together with a history of the Latin language: and Professor FELTON contributes an admirable paper upon the Wealth of the Greeks in Works of Plastic Art; the superiority of the Greek Language in the use of its Dialects; the education of the Moral Sentiment among the Ancient Greeks; and, as we have reason, from internal evidence, to believe, the excellent 'Introduction.' We are glad to learn from this last-mentioned treatise, that amidst the din of practical interests, the rivalries of commerce, and the great enterprises of the age, classical studies are gaining ground in public estimation. It is a much more common thing now for young men to continue them after leaving college than in former days. 'The excitements of modern literature lend additional ardor to classical studies. The young blood of modern literature has put new life into the literature of the dead languages.' GOETHE'S 'Iphigenia,' TALFOURD'S 'Ion,' MILTON'S 'Samson Agonistes' and its Dorian choruses, and the creations of the myriad-minded poet of England, are cited, in proof of this position. In short, the benefits, direct and indirect, of classical study are so forcibly illustrated in this work, that we hope to see it widely diffused, as an offset against the declamations of the ignorant--who undervalue what they do not understand--against classical acquirements and sound learning.
THE FIRST TEN CANTOS OF THE INFERNO OF DANTE ALIGHIERI. Newly translated into English verse. By T. W. PARSONS. Boston: WILLIAM D. TICKNOR.
THE well-printed pamphlet before us, as will be seen from its title-page, is merely a specimen of a larger, and as we infer, yet unfinished attempt. We can hardly believe however that it will long remain incomplete, if the approving voice of capable judges shall have weight with the author, to 'whet his purpose.' Although the work must needs abide a triple test, in a comparison with the original, with previous translations, and with finished English poems, it is our own belief, and that of others 'whose judgment cries in the top of ours,' that it will endure the ordeal with honor to the translator. We regard Mr. PARSONS'S translation as indeed excellent. The versification is melodious and smooth, and the translator has evidently been scrupulously careful to confine himself to the exact sense of the original. To the merits of the great creations of DANTE, it is of course quite unnecessary to advert; but of the illustrious Italian's claims to the character of _a philosopher_ it may not be amiss to speak. We glean from a comprehensive and instructive essay, addressed by the translator to the reader, that DANTE was the greatest philosopher of his age. As early as the fourteenth century, he was familiar with the sphericity of the earth, and alluded to the existence of a western hemisphere. He was acquainted with the theory of winds, and had a curious insight into the phenomena of the production of rain. 'He hinted at the laws of gravitation, anticipated NEWTON'S theory of attraction and repulsion, and announced the tendency of the magnet to the polar star. He anticipated also the discovery of the circulation of the blood; he described and explained the phenomena of the shooting stars; and long before the telescope of GALILEO, he taught us that the milky way was nothing else than the combination of light with an immense number of smaller orbs.' The fine etching of the bust of DANTE, which forms the frontispiece of the pamphlet before us, indicates we think, beside the other noble characteristics of the poet, this philosophical bent of his mind. The translator's lines on this bust are admirable. We annex a few forceful stanzas:
'SEE from this counterfeit of him Whom Arno shall remember long, How stern of lineament, how grim The father was of Tuscan song. There but the burning sense of wrong, Perpetual care and scorn abide; Small friendship for the lordly throng; Distrust of all the world beside.
Faithful if this wan image be, No dream his life was, but a fight; Could any BEATRICE see A lover in that anchorite? To that cold Ghibeline's gloomy sight Who could have guessed the visions came Of Beauty, veiled with heavenly light, In circles of eternal flame?
The lips, as Cumæ's cavern close, The cheeks, with fast and sorrow thin, The rigid front, almost morose, But for the patient hope within, Declare a life whose course hath been Unsullied still, though still severe, Which, through the wavering days of sin, Kept itself icy-chaste and clear.
Peace dwells not here; this rugged face Betrays no spirit of repose; The sullen warrior sole we trace, The marble man of many woes. Such was his mien, when first arose The thought of that strange tale divine, When hell he peopled with his foes, The scourge of many a guilty line.'
We counsel Mr. PARSONS to pursue the commendable task which he has allotted to himself, the commencement alone of which redounds so much to the credit of his taste, scholarship, and skill. He cannot fail of entire success.
EARLY WRITINGS OF THE LATE R. C. SANDS: FOURTH NOTICE.--We resume a consideration of the early writings of this true son of genius, in a brief review of a characteristic production of his pen, which we are sorry to say was never completed. It was the singular biography of '_The Man who Never Laughed_.' It purported to be a 'German story;' but the veil of pretended translation was quite too thin to deceive the writer's friends, who perused the manuscript. It was entitled '_Tristan, the Grave_.' The hero was the son of a German Baron in the Duchy of Bremen, in Lower Saxony, 'who traced his ancestry up to Bruno the First.' Tristan, when an infant, was a comely child, 'perfect in his parts and proportions, with a sober and serene countenance, which seemed to indicate that he was born to be a great dignitary in the church or in the state. His lady mother and her attendants soon noticed, however, a strange idiosyncrasy in the hopes of the family; which was, that he never laughed, nor indeed did his features assume the faintest appearance of smiling! He could cry, as other babes are wont to do, and shed as many tears as are usual in the period of childhood; but after the squall was over, and the cloud cleared away, no sunshine illuminated his face and sparkled in his eyes. He looked as sedate as a little stone angel on a monument; his lips were as rigidly fixed; and his gaze expressed but little more intelligence. In vain they tickled and tousled him; instead of chirruping and smiling, he showed his dissatisfaction at this appeal to his cutaneous sensibilities, by sneezing and snarling; and if it was prolonged, by obstreperous lamentation. In vain did the maids snap their fingers, distort their countenances, and make every variety of grimace and ridiculous posture before him. He seemed to look upon their monkey tricks with an eye of compassion, and relaxed not a whit the composed arrangement of his muscles.'
Little Tristan's imperturbable gravity was a great 'thorn in the flesh' of his mother, who attributed it to the _diablerie_ of a suspicious-looking old beldame, who hung about the premises just before he was born, and wrought the unhappy charm upon him. The old baron, however, treated the subject of his wife's uneasiness with levity, and swore that when his son was old enough to understand Dutch, _he_ would make him laugh till his sides ached. The learned Hieronymus Marascallerus, a great astrologer, who superintended at present the baron's kennel, and was to take charge of his son's education, when he should arrive at a suitable age, also stoutly denied the agency of any _diablerie_ in the matter; but said that Tristan's sober demeanor was purely the result of natural causes, he having been born when Saturn and Jupiter were in conjunction in Libra. His temperament was therefore that of a generous melancholy; but whether he would make a great poet, or politician, or captain, Marascallerus could not yet decide, as part of his ephemeris had been eaten by the rats, and he could not adjust the horoscope to his satisfaction! As Tristan grew up to be a tall boy, and verged to man's estate, the same utter insensibility to ludicrous exhibitions and associations displayed itself in his physiognomy and character. He was not unsocial in his disposition, but very condescendingly joined with the younger fry of the village; and in all sports and games where violent exercise, or that dexterity which is called manual wit was concerned, he was distinguished for length of wind and ingenuity. When any one of his playmates tumbled head over heels, broke the bridge of his nose, or put any of his articulations out of joint, he saw nothing but the detriment done to the body of the suffering individual, and was incensed by the boisterous and to him inexplicable merriment of the others. He listened to a droll story as he would to a tragical one; taking an apparent interest in the incidents, but finding no farther relish in their strange combination, than as they might have been mere matters of fact. In a bull he saw nothing but the ignorance of the maker; and he did not detest puns, (if he ever heard any,) because he never suspected the jest. He heard his father's crack-joke without any other expression than that of wonder, as if he half thought the old gentleman was crazy.
As he grew in years, TRISTAN was greatly vexed to find that he lacked one of the common properties of his species, and that his company was by no means considered an acquisition in jovial society. A face all rosy and radiant with unquenchable laughter, though like that of one of HOMER'S divinities, was to him like the countenance of a baboon. He once asked MARASCALLERUS whether he supposed any of the heroes, knights, and kings, recorded in ancient chronicles, ever wrinkled their faces and made hysterical noises, in the manner of those who were said to be laughing? He had several times practised before a mirror the detested corrugations which he had noted on the countenances of others; but on such occasions he succeeded in producing no other expression than that which a Dutch toy for cracking nuts would wear, without any paint; while his eyes seemed looking out above, in wonder and scorn at the performance of his lower features; and he turned with disgust from the image of himself. Time, who travels on at his jog-trot pace, whether men turn the corners of their mouths upward or downward, had carried TRISTAN along with him into the twenty-first year of his serious existence; when his father the baron received a letter from one of his old friends, a brother FREIHERR, as nobly descended as himself. The writer stated that he was waxing old, and that the dearest object of his heart was to establish his only child, the fair CUNEGUNDA, comfortably and according to her rank in the world, before he went out of it; and having heard much of the wisdom and good qualities of his old friend's son, he was anxious to effect a union of two illustrious houses. TRISTAN professed himself ready to set forward on the mission forthwith. Provided with a suitable answer to the epistle which had been received, and a slenderly-furnished purse, and mounted on the least carrion-like looking steed the old gentleman's stables could furnish, he set forth. MARASCALLERUS stood by, wiping away his tears with the end of a dirty apron, which he wore at his more servile occupations, and beseeching his pupil not to go for three days longer, as the planetary influence was just then most malign to all about commencing a journey. But TRISTAN put spurs to his wind-galled charger, and in a short time reached the boundary of his father's domains. Here the beast came to a sudden stand, and exhibited violent symptoms of oppugnancy to the goadings and buffets he received, by way of encouraging him to proceed. Thrice did he wheel round, quivering in all his ill-assorted members, as if under the influence of powerful terror; and thrice did TRISTAN compel him to put his nose in the direction he wished to take. Then uttering a shrill and melancholy neigh, he started forward at his wonted miscellaneous gait. The natural curiosity of so grave a lover, touching the appearance and character of a mistress whom he had never seen, are forcibly depicted:
'ALL along the road the people at the inns treated him with great respect, taking him for a messenger intrusted with important secrets and despatches, from the sobriety of his looks and seriousness of his demeanor. After three days' journey he reached the town of Stade, and after making a disbursement to the improvement of his outward man, repaired to the residence of Baron Ehrenfriedersdorf, his father-in-law elect. The baron's dwelling stood in an old part of the town, and looked a little the worse for wear. Tristan felt a little queerish as he lifted the knocker, at the antiquated and half-ruined gate-way. What sort of a young lady was Cunegunda Ehrenfriedersdorf? Did she squint? and if so, was the obliquity single, double, or manifold? Had she a hump? and if so, where located? On her shoulder, or her back; or how was its topography? Was she subject to nervous spasms? If so, how did the twitchings exhibit themselves? All down one side of her face, or all over? Intermittently, or all the time? Had she had the smallpox? If so, were the cicatrices deep or shallow? Was her countenance rivelled by it, into longitudinal or latitudinal seams, or promiscuously? Was she a natural, or a virago? All these doubts passed over the mind of the suitor as the iron fell from his fingers. A hollow sound reverberated from the ruinous establishment, and the portal was opened by a decayed-looking serving-man, faded alike in years and in his livery. At sight of the grave-looking young man, he bowed respectfully, taking him for a candidate for holy orders, if not a licentiate, and marshalled him across the court.'
The first thing the grave TRISTAN heard, as he followed the seneschal, was 'an uproarious peal of laughter from an upper story and a female organ.' The Baron EHRENFRIEDERSDORF and his family were at the dinner-table; and finishing his third bottle, he was telling one of his favorite High Dutch stories; at which his guests, as in duty bound, including his fair daughter, were in a roar of laughter, of that sort which the little fat schepen died of, as related by DIEDRICH KNICKERBOCKER. An antique figure of a man, at the right of the baron, with lantern-jaws and a long proboscis of a nose, tipped with a pair of green goggles, a dubious figure of fun, had a peculiar asthmatic '_Hugh! hugh! hugh!_'--an ancient maiden of sixty or thereabout, sat near him, whose stiff, starched deportment belied the compulsory '_He! he! he!_' which issued from her inward person--and by _her_ side sat a reverend, round-faced, jolly-looking personage, from whose rosy gills and oral cavity issued an obstreperous '_Ho! ho! ho!_' which seemed to have been fabricated in the inmost recesses of his _præcordia_. Other nameless, or from their German patronymics unnameable guests there were, with kindred voices and physiognomies, who expressed their delight in the same variety of intonation. The apparition of TRISTAN'S wo-begone phiz in the midst of this assembly struck so forcibly the fair CUNEGUNDA'S perceptions of the ludicrous, that she burst into a peal of tremendous cachinnation; while the under-jaw of the baron fell convulsively, as he gazed upon 'the man who couldn't laugh,' and the merry notes of his guests died away into a quaver of consternation. This was a 'pretty fix' for the melancholy TRISTAN! He was taken all aback with the beauty of the lovely heiress of EHRENFRIEDERSDORF. Fair, plump, and just turned of eighteen, she might have served as a model for Hebe. A forehead smooth and white as Parian marble; arching brows, from beneath which glanced the fires of two of the brightest eyes that ever sparkled at a merry tale; cheeks tinted with the rose's deepest dye, and graced by a pair of dimples which seemed the impress of Love's own fingers; and two ruby lips, whose innocent smile disclosed a row of ivory, fairer and purer than the pearls which gemmed her bosom, formed a combination of beauty and expression that would well have become the laughter-loving goddess Euphrosyne in her happiest moments. TRISTAN made a profound obeisance to the lady, and endeavored to put a smirk upon his face, which the sage MARASCALLERUS had tried to teach him, and which he had been practising upon the road; but it was such an utter distortion, that the young lady burst forth into another exorbitant peal of laughter. Being a comely-looking youth, however, and possessed of a sufficiency of the _savor faire_, he soon removed the unpleasant feelings which his ill-timed entrance had produced. He listened to, although he could not laugh at, the baron's stories; and that was such a novelty to the old gentleman, that it 'tickled the very cockles of his heart.' The fair CUNEGUNDA began to feel a rising partiality for him: 'If he would only laugh a little, what a charming youth he would be!' He, on the other hand, could not help exclaiming mentally: 'What a happy mortal I should be, if she didn't laugh so much!' TRISTAN retires to rest at length, and dreams all night of his beautiful inamorata. In the morning he is awakened by the beams of the rising sun streaming gloriously through the casement:
'HE leaned out of the window which looked down upon the baron's garden. It was a lovely morning in the month of June. The twittering of the swallows on the eaves of the roof, the hum of thousands of busy insects, the gentle murmur of the morning breeze, as it played among the leaves of the old elms, and the confused sounds, which, softened by distance, came upon his ear from the awakening city, produced a soothing effect upon Tristan. Two rosy-cheeked, rugged urchins were sporting up and down one of the gravel walks, in all the buoyancy and exuberant spirits of childhood. Every now and then, as some little incident occurred, they gave vent to their feelings in loud bursts of laughter. The sound grated upon Tristan's ear as he turned from the window in disgust. 'Why am I thus continually mocked?' exclaimed he, in the bitterness of his spirit; 'why am I for ever tormented by this strange noise, which I can neither imitate nor comprehend? Why am I alone of all mankind denied the privilege of throwing the muscles of my face into that congregation of wrinkles which men call smiling; or of making that incomprehensible sound to which they give the name of laughter? I can elevate and depress my eyebrows; I can wink, stare, or squint, with my eyes; I can puff out, and suck in my cheeks; I can open or pucker up my mouth. Why can't I smile? I can make all manner of noises too. I can cough. I can whistle, I can sneeze, I can sigh, I can groan; and I can blow the German flute. Why can't I laugh?' Here the unfortunate young man, in a paroxysm of impatience, gave himself several severe thumps on his head, as if to inquire why the organ of risibility had been jostled out of his cranium; and also several plunges in the side with his elbow, as if to know why his diaphragm would not vibrate spasmodically, like those of other people.'
The next evening he accompanies the baron and his daughter to the theatre, to see 'Punch and the Devil.' The audience are ready to die with laughter; but he preserves the most serene and staid deportment amidst the broad grins, suppressed titters, sudden guffaws, and obstreperous explosions, by which he is surrounded. He said, it is true, that it was all very fine, because he heard the others say so; and he joined in encoring the bravura of '_Ich bin der Herr Ponsch!_' because CUNEGUNDA said she 'would give the world to hear it again;' but that was the amount of his capability. His unaltered mien and composed, imperturbable expression, however, were attributed to his good breeding and polished manners, which prevented him from descending so far from his dignity. He was accordingly looked up to with increased reverence and admiration by the more risible plebeians. But alas for TRISTAN! the stream of love does not run more smoothly in Germany than any where else. A storm was brewing for him. Frau EICKENSCHNAUCKER and the venerable GRUBENHAUSEN propagated a report that he was under the influence of the EVIL ONE! GRUBENHAUSEN whispered his insinuations, in confidence, to SCHWILLENAEHLEN, the red-nosed butler, who hiccupped the story over his cups, to OHTZENSTIELER, the ostler, who told it to SCHNIPPENBRITSCHEN, the tailor, with the addition, that TRISTAN was followed by a spirit in the shape of a black dog; SCHNIPPENBRITSCHEN told the tale to KETTELPANSCHEN, the fat landlord opposite the baron's, where TRISTAN used to take his bitters every morning, and he retailed it, with various additions, to his customers. Soon nothing was talked of in the town but 'the grave stranger, who was possessed by the OLD NICK, and couldn't laugh.' As soon as the baron heard the report of witchcraft, he summoned TRISTAN before him, bluntly told him his own suspicions, and read him a long lecture on the danger of evil communications, and concluded by telling him that he 'must learn to laugh like other folks, or he could be no son-in-law of his.' Poor TRISTAN was astounded. In vain he expostulated with the baron on the unreasonableness of his demand; and tried to prove to him that it was undignified to express his satisfaction by twisting up the corners of his mouth, showing his teeth, and making a strange noise in his throat. In vain the fair CUNEGUNDA, with an imploring look, deprecated her father's anger, and begged him to let her have a husband, even if he should not be able to speak. Her entreaties were in vain; and the baron swore with a High Dutch oath, that if he couldn't laugh, he shouldn't have his daughter. She then turned to TRISTAN, and with a look of love and a rosy smile, that would have extorted one in return from Heraclitus himself, besought him to gratify her father by one small snigger. It was all in vain. Threats and entreaties were equally useless, and TRISTAN, instead of growing pleasanter, became graver and graver every instant. In order, however, that the unfortunate youth might not complain of the want of a subject, or an opportunity to display his risible powers, the baron told him he would give him a fair trial the next day, when he meant to show him such droll sights, and tell such funny stories, that if he did not split his sides with laughter, the Devil must have got in him indeed. What the expedients of the baron were, and their effects upon TRISTAN, SANDS'S patient readers waited long to learn; but their curiosity was never gratified. Probably the very profusion of ludicrous incidents and situations which suggested themselves to the fertile imagination of the writer, prevented the fulfillment of his promise and design. But 'we trifle time' and space. Here endeth the fourth chapter.
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THE WASHINGTON MONUMENT.--We never write the name of WASHINGTON, without a thrill of pride that his country is _our_ country, and that, as an American, we hold a property in his undying fame. And we are rejoiced to perceive that a National Monument to this great and good man, a monument worthy his towering name, is at length to be erected in the great metropolis of America. An act was passed last winter by the Legislature of New-York, to incorporate the 'WASHINGTON Monument Association;' and we have been favored with an examination of the design for the magnificent structure, at the rooms of the architect, Mr. POLLARD. It is in the form of a pentagon, and is to be erected of granite, in or fronting on Union-Square; to be finished in the Gothic style of architecture, richly and elaborately ornamented; with spacious rooms below for a Historical Library, Gallery for Paintings, etc., approached from the main rotundas. Its rich Gothic windows, columns, friezes, cornices, and balustrades; its buttresses, turrets, tower, and pinnacle; partake, in the _ensemble_, of the sublime in art; and when the structure shall have towered to its utmost height, the crochet of the pinnacle four hundred and twenty feet in the air, it will be pronounced the noblest _monument_ in the known world. It is to be built by the voluntary contributions of the people of the United States, of _one dollar_ and upward. Some of our wealthy citizens have already headed subscription-lists with five and ten thousand dollars; and arrangements for the immediate commencement of the enterprise are now fast maturing. 'May Heaven speed the good work!' for that monument will rise in honor of one who has 'stamped his impress on the centuries;' whose virtuous deeds and pure example will only lose their influence on the country which he loved and whose freedom he won, 'when rolling years shall cease to move.' If we turn over the pages of history, (says our renowned progenitor, the immortal KNICKERBOCKER) that Man has written of himself, what are the characters dignified by the appellation of great, and held up to the admiration of posterity? Tyrants, robbers, conquerors, renowned only for the magnitude of their misdeeds, and the stupendous wrongs and miseries they have inflicted on mankind; warriors, who have hired themselves to the trade of blood, not from motives of virtuous patriotism, nor to protect the injured and defenceless, but merely to gain the vaunted glory of being adroit and successful in massacreing their fellow beings! What are the great events that constitute a glorious era? The fall of empires; the desolation of happy countries; splendid cities smoking in their ruins; the proudest works of art tumbled in the dust; the shrieks and groans of whole nations ascending unto heaven! How different the means, how different the results, in the case of WASHINGTON! Let a recent orator, an orator worthy his great theme, set forth in appropriate and adequate words what we would but could not hope to express:
'AMERICA has furnished Europe and the world with the character of WASHINGTON. And if our institutions had done nothing else, they would have deserved the respect of mankind. WASHINGTON--first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen--WASHINGTON is all our own. And the veneration and love entertained for him by the people of the United States are proof that they are worthy of such a countryman. I would cheerfully put the question to-day to the intelligent men of all Europe--I will say to the intelligent of the whole world--what character of the century stands out in the relief of history, must pure, most respectable, most sublime; and I doubt not that, by a suffrage approaching to unanimity, the answer would be WASHINGTON. That monument itself is not an unfit emblem of his character, by its uprightness, its solidity, its durability. His public virtues and public principles were as firm and fixed as the earth on which that structure rests; his personal motives as pure as the serene heavens in which its summit is lost. But, indeed, it is not an adequate emblem. Towering far above this column that our hands have built; beheld, not by the citizens of a single city or a single State, but by all the families of man; ascends the colossal grandeur of the character and life of WASHINGTON. In all its constituent parts; in all its acts; in all its toils: in its universal love and admiration, it is an American production. Born upon our soil; of parents born upon our soil; never having for a single day had a sight of the old world; reared amidst our gigantic scenery; instructed, according to the modes of the time, in the spare but wholesome elementary knowledge which the institutions of the country furnish for all the children of the people; brought up beneath and penetrated by the genial influence of American society; partaking our great destiny of labor; partaking and leading in that acmé of our glory, the War of Independence; partaking and leading in that great victory of peace, the establishment of the present Constitution; behold him, ALTOGETHER AN AMERICAN! That glorious life,
'Where multitudes of virtues passed along, Each pressing foremost in the mighty throng; Contending to be seen, then making room For other multitudes which were to come;'
that life in all its purity, in all its elevation, in all its grandeur, was the life of an American citizen. I claim him--I claim WASHINGTON--wholly for America.'
No wonder that 'great cheering'--that 'enthusiastic,' 'prolonged,' 'deafening,' 'long-continued,' 'renewed' applause--followed the utterance of these sentences, from the united voices of a great multitude which no man could number! There swelled the National Heart; there went up to Heaven the voice of a great People, speaking to Posterity.
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'THE POETRY OF LIFE.'--This volume by Mrs. ELLIS, author of the 'Women' and 'Wives' of England, savors of professional book-making. Sitting deliberately down to tell her readers how much poetry may be extracted from the moon, trees, animals, evening, sound, language, grief, flowers, woman, rural life, and the like, strikes us as a 'dead set' at the sentimental; and however well the task may be accomplished, it is but bringing together a confused mass of pleasurable or other emotions, which may not be altogether common to all the world and Mrs. ELLIS. In her description of the poetry of the Bible, she has omitted by far the most prominent exhibitions of that prevalent feature in the Sacred Word. The sublimity and exquisite beauty which characterize the book of Job; the unequalled story of Joseph and his Brethren; the touching pathos of PAUL; it would not have been amiss, one would think, to have included in a notice of the poetry of the Bible. In her essay upon the 'Poetry of Language,' Mrs. ELLIS presents the annexed interesting exhibition of verdancy:
'THE introduction of unpoetical images may be pardoned on the score of inadvertency, but it is possible for such images to be introduced in a manner which almost insults the feelings of the reader, by the doggerel or burlesque style which obtains favor with a certain class of readers, chiefly such as are incapable of appreciating what is beautiful or sublime. One specimen of this kind will be sufficient. It occurs in a volume of American poetry:
'THERE'S music in the dash of waves When the swift bark cleaves the foam; There's music heard upon her deck, The mariner's song of home. When moon and star-beams smiling meet At midnight on the sea-- _And there is music once a week In Scudder's balcony._
'The moonlight music of the waves In storms is heard no more, When the living lightning mocks the wreck At midnight on the shore: And the mariner's song of home has ceased; His course is on the sea-- _And there is music when it rains In Scudder's balcony._'
'What could induce the poet to spoil his otherwise pretty verses in this manner, it is difficult to imagine; but as this is by no means a solitary instance of the kind, we are led to suppose that the minds, in which such incongruities originate must be influenced by the popular notion of imitating Lord BYRON, in the wild vagaries which even his genius could scarcely render endurable.'
Isn't this rather rich, friend HALLECK? We doubt whether Mrs. ELLIS could take a joke, though it were shot at her from a cannon. Indeed, she would doubtless reply to this remark: 'But how can you shoot a joke out of a cannon? Surely, that can hardly be feasible!'
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GOSSIP WITH READERS AND CORRESPONDENTS.--A Friend, writing to us from the City of Brotherly Love, under date of 'Sixth-month 15th,' respectfully inquires: 'Will the Editor accept a few remarks on the communication of 'N. S. D.', from a plain Quaker; one, whose ancestors were Quakers, and who, after a close historical scrutiny, is not ashamed to claim _kith_, if he cannot _kin_, with those of that profession who were hung on Boston Common, or were beaten at cart-tails from village to village throughout puritanic New-England?' To which we cheerfully answer: 'Yea, certainly, Friend 'N.' Lift up thy voice against the accuser of the brethren, and welcome:'
'FROM the days of COTTON MATHER down to the present time, it has been the constant aim of the defenders of the reputation of the founders of New England, to cast upon the early Quakers all manner of aspersions. A few years since, a writer in the 'North-American Review,' having occasion to allude to the banishment of MARY FISHER and ANNE AUSTIN, the first Quakers who ever visited the western world, declared that it was for molesting and interrupting ministers in their places of worship. This assertion is also made by a clergyman of Philadelphia, in a discourse delivered on the anniversary of the landing of the 'Pilgrim Fathers;' with this addition, that one of these women went naked into a place of worship. THESE CHARGES ARE NOT TRUE. I do not believe the reviewer, nor the Doctor of Divinity (so called) wilfully misrepresented the truth; but I believe them culpable in taking for granted assertions of writers living long posterior to the events they describe, without examining for themselves the original documents remaining on the subject. The records of the Massachusetts Colony, as collected by HAZARD, as well as the narratives published at the time by the friends of the sufferers, conclusively show that neither MARY FISHER nor ANNE AUSTIN had ever set foot on the shores of New England until they were taken as prisoners from the vessel in which they came passengers, and carried to the jail of the colony. Deputy governor BELLINGHAM having received intelligence that two female Quakers were in the ship Swallow, then at anchor in the Bay, commanded that they should be closely confined therein, and that all their books should be taken from them, and burned by the hangman. A writer of that day, in reference to the person employed to effect this conflagration, quaintly remarks: 'O, learned and malicious cruelty!--as if another man had not been sufficient to have burnt a few harmless books, who, like their masters, can neither fight, strike, nor quarrel.' At that time there was no law against Quakers; but the council deemed that they were liable to the penalties of a law passed in 1646, against heresy and error, which decreed to banishment the opposers of the baptism of infants, and all such as denied the lawfulness of war. The order of council in this case is now before me, bearing date 'the 11th of July, 1656.' It commences with enumerating the former laws against heretics, and goes on to say, that, notwithstanding these, SIMON KEMPTHORN had brought in two Quakers, who, on examination, are found to hold very dangerous and heretical opinions, which they acknowledge they came purposely to propagate. It directs that the books of the prisoners shall be burned; that the prisoners themselves shall be kept close, and none admitted to see them without leave from the governor, deputy-governor, or two magistrates; and that the said SIMON KEMPTHORN is hereby enjoined, speedily and directly to transport, or cause to be transported, the said persons from hence to Barbadoes, from whence they came, he defraying all the charges of their imprisonment; and for the effectual performance hereof, he is to give security in a bond of one hundred pounds sterling, and on his refusal to give such security, he is to be committed to prison till he do it.'
'Of the four individuals put to death at Boston, after examining all the records extant in the respective cases, the apologies issued by JOHN NORTON and the 'General Court' of Massachusetts, I am prepared to say, that there is not the slightest evidence that they were disturbers of the public peace, or violators of public decorum. The charges brought against them prove indeed that they came to Massachusetts, alleging it was from a sense of religious duty, and that while there, as free-born citizens of England, they refused a voluntary submission to laws violating the rights guarantied them by Magna Charta, and the Common Law of England. I wish not to consume space, but would make a few remarks on the 'frequent occasions' in which the early Quakers, according to 'N. S. D.', went 'stark naked into the public assemblies.' Women of respectable connections, easy fortunes, liberal education, and modest demeanor and carriage, for preaching the gospel, and for merely coming to New-England to look after their rightful possessions, were from time to time stripped naked to the waist, and whipped from township to township; and yet the nice sense of modesty of the New-England folk of that day was not shocked. In 1664, when these scenes had been enacted for seven years, LYDIA WARDELL, who had been summoned repeatedly to appear before the congregation at Newbury, and whose mind was no doubt under much excitement in sympathy with her fellow-believers in their sufferings, went into the place of worship in that village, stripped in the manner the magistrates were continually stripping her friends. The modesty of the people was sorely offended; and seizing her and her female companion, they stripped the latter, and tying their naked bodies to the whipping-posts, with many lashes earnestly laid on, endeavored to heal the wounds inflicted on the sense of decorum of the gaping crowd.
'I have not taken up my pen to defend the conduct of LYDIA, but merely to state the facts of the case. Beside this instance, one other individual, a few months afterward, under similar excitement, performed a similar action. Now to our conclusion. These cases, which are the only ones a close examination of the charges of contemporaneous enemies of the Society, and the defense of its friends exhibit any trace of, are brought forward at this day in justification of acts of oppression committed long before these occurred; Turn to the statements forwarded to England to excuse the murder of STEVENSON, ROBINSON, DYER, and LEDDRA; examine the reasons assigned by NORTON and the 'General Court' for their proceedings. Their enmity to the Quakers is strong, but not the slightest hint is given that these suffered because of any indecent exposure, or that the general persecution the Society at that time endured was occasioned by acts of this or a kindred nature. And why? Because the first instance of the kind occurred more than three years after the death of LEDDRA, the last Quaker martyr in New-England. It is a remarkable fact, that soon after these two cases of voluntary exposure, the public stripping of Quaker women ceased. What effect these had in changing the feelings of the community, I cannot tell; but it is certainly a curious coincidence, that after this period the records of courts, and the copious annals of our Society, scarcely exhibit an instance of these cart-tail indecencies. The rest of the charges of 'N. S. D.' are equally unfounded; and, with sufficient space for quotations, might be satisfactorily confuted.
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RELIGIOUS or sectarian controversy is foreign to the purpose of the KNICKERBOCKER; yet we could not decline the calm consideration of facts brought forward to correct alleged misstatements. 'If,' says the writer, 'N. S. D.' wishes information on a subject with which he seems to be unacquainted, I should like to refer him to works wherein he may find the original documents.' For our own part, we think, as we have already partly intimated, that 'the less said the better' touching the treatment of the Quakers and 'others of the Non-elect' by the New-England Puritans. WASHINGTON IRVING has driven a long nail home on this theme: 'The zeal of these good people to maintain their rights and privileges unimpaired, betrayed them into errors, which it is easier to pardon than defend. Having served a regular apprenticeship in the school of persecution, it behooved them to show that they had become proficients in the art. They accordingly employed their leisure hours in banishing, scourging, or hanging, divers heretical Papists, Quakers, and Anabaptists, for daring to abuse the 'liberty of conscience,' which they now clearly proved to imply nothing more than that every man should think as he pleased in matters of religion, _provided_ he thought _right_; for otherwise it would be giving a latitude to damnable heresies. Now as they were perfectly convinced that they alone thought right, it consequently followed that whoever thought differently from them, thought wrong; and whoever thought wrong, and obstinately persisted in not being convinced and converted, was a flagrant violator of the inestimable liberty of conscience, and a corrupt and infectious member of the body politic, and deserved to be lopped off and cast into the fire!' * * * WE are indebted to a most kind correspondent for the following excerpt from his note-book. It is an extract made many years ago from some author, whose name and that of his work our friend has alike forgotten. How many just such thoughtless, rattle-brained, _aimless_ talkers have we encountered! We rather like the practice of an old friend of ours in this regard! He makes it a point, he says, never to _inquire_ after any body!
'WHOEVER has visited Cambridge, can hardly fail of recollecting Lady ----. The leading idea of her life was to _do the pretty_; to say civil things and make agreeable speeches. But alas! her ladyship was not infallible, and sometimes with the very best intentions would fail desperately. They relate of her at Cambridge, that during a series of concerts which Madame CATALANI gave at the last grand commencement, this Queen of Song was staying at the house of her friend Mrs. F. At an evening party at D---- Lodge, Lady ---- was invited to meet her. 'My dear Madame CATALANI! how delighted, how transported I am to see you! When did you arrive? How is Monsieur VALBRIQUE? and your dear little boy?' CATALANI changed color; her lip quivered, and her fine dark eyes filled with tears, as she murmured: '_Ah! pauvre petit, je l'ai perdu!_' 'What an engaging, interesting, elegant little creature he is!' '_Je l'ai perdu!_' shrieked the foreigner, in a tone of agony. Lady ---- had forgot her French. 'Is he, indeed? I am happy to hear it. I always said he would come out something extraordinary.' '_Je l'ai perdu! Je l'ai perdu!_' cried poor CATALANI, in a more piercing tone, and with increased emotion. 'Don't exert yourself; yes, yes; I understand you, perfectly; well, pray remember me to him very kindly, since he is not with you, and offer him my congratulations.' '_He is dead! he is dead!_ Lady ----,' said Mrs. F. impatiently. 'Dead! Why didn't somebody tell me so? Poor little fellow! And so he's dead! Well, I declare, I am very sorry for him! Dead! That's very surprising!' On another occasion she said to another distinguished guest: 'Ah! my dear Mrs. SIDDONS, what an unexpected gratification to see you at Cambridge! How d'ye do? Ah! but you are altered, when one comes to look at you! very much altered! Let me see; it must be thirty years ago since Sir BENJAMIN and I were first delighted with your Lady Randolph. How life ebbs away! What changes we see! It was poor EDWIN'S night, I think. Surely, that was the Augustan era of the British Theatre! Ah! poor EDWIN! he's gone! And PALMER, Gentleman PALMER, he's gone! And DODD--clever actor, DODD--he's gone! We live in a world of changes!' Mrs. SIDDONS looked sad, and was silent. 'I've been recollecting when it was I saw you last. It must be about fourteen years ago. You played Queen Catherine, and your gifted brother JOHN played Wolsey. What a heat it was! Dear JOHN KEMBLE! and _he's_ gone!' Mrs. SIDDONS burst into tears. 'Amiable creature!' said Lady ---- to the astonished by-standers; 'what an affectionate heart she has!'
WE once saw a painting of the SAVIOUR OF MEN, which we could well deem to be like the divine original; and never while we live shall we forget the heavenly face which the artist had depicted. It was the countenance of a 'man of sorrows, acquainted with grief:' there was a pervading _pathos_ in its expression, which 'brought the water-drops to our eyes.' The picture is now in Germany, where it was painted; and we can never hope to see another so perfect an embodiment of our conception of the lineaments of the REDEEMER. There was something in the _ensemble_ of the picture which we remember to have thought was like a description, by an eye-witness, of the SAVIOUR'S personal presence, which we had read in our youth, and which we were glad recently to encounter in an old common-place book. It was addressed by PUBLIUS LENTULLUS, President in Judea in the reign of TIBERIUS CÆSAR, to the Senate of Rome:
'CONSCRIPT FATHERS: There appeared in these our days a man of great virtue, named JESUS CHRIST, who is yet living among us, and of the Gentiles is accepted for a Prophet of truth; but his own disciples call him the SON OF GOD. He raiseth the dead, and cureth all manner of diseases. A man of stature somewhat tall and comely, and in proportion of body well shaped; his hands and arms delectable to behold; with a very reverend countenance, such as the beholders may both love and fear. His hair is of the color of a filbert full ripe to his ears, whence downward it is more orient of color, somewhat curling or waving about his shoulders. In the midst of his head, is a seam or partition of his hair, after the manner of the Nazarites. His forehead is plain and delicate. His cheeks without spot or wrinkle, beautified with a comely red; his nose and mouth exactly formed. His beard is thick, the color of his hair; not of any great length, but forked. His look innocent and mature. His eyes gray, dear, and quick. In reproving he is awful; in admonishing, courteous and friendly; in speaking, very temperate, modest, and wise. It cannot be remembered that any have seen him laugh, but many have seen him weep. A being for his singular beauty surpassing the children of men.'
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LET us add here a beautiful sonnet, on this great theme, which we derive from an esteemed friend and contributor, who has been kind enough to copy it for us from the writer's manuscript:
By Rev. Theodore Parker.
JESUS, there is no dearer name than thine, Which Time has blazoned on his ample scroll: No wreaths nor garlands ever did entwine So fair a Temple or so vast a Soul. Ay, every Angel set his comely seal Upon thy brow, and gave each human grace, In a sweet copy Heaven to reveal, And stamp Perfection on a mortal face. Once on the earth, before dull mortal eyes, Which could not half thy sacred radiance see, (E'en as the emmet cannot read the skies,) For our weak orbs reach not Immensity, Once on the earth wast Thou a living shrine, Where shone the Good, the Lovely, the Divine.
THE '_Plebeian_' daily journal of Gotham is down upon the _Yanokies_ or Yankees, with a weapon swung round like a flail; and like another valiant defender of the KNICKERBOCKERS before him, he has raised such a buzzing about his unlucky head, that he will need the tough hide of an ACHILLES or an ORLANDO FURIOSO, to protect him from their stings. We do not like the _nucleus_ of the ball which our sturdy democrat has set in motion--the glorious battle of Bunker-Hill; but for the rest, we should do dishonor to the spirit of our great historian and sire, if we did not applaud the prowess which is displayed in this warfare upon a set of 'dieven, schobbejaken, dengenieten, twist-zoëkeren, loozenschalken, blaes-kaken, kakken-bedden;' a squalling, bundling, guessing, questioning, swapping, pumpkin-eating, molasses-daubing, shingle-splitting, cider-watering, horse-jockeying, notion-peddling crew! Let the 'Defender of the Faithful' continue to ply his trenchant quill: thousands of crowded and jostled KNICKERBOCKERS are heart and soul in the contest; and the spirit of WILLIAM THE TESTY, who was translated to the firmament, and now forms a very fiery little star somewhere on the left claw of 'the Crab,' looks approvingly down upon the warfare! We confess that we find it in our hearts greatly to rejoice that the descendants of HABBAKUK NUTTER, RETURN STRONG, ZERUBBABEL FISK, and DETERMINED COCK, those losel scouts who overreached STOFFEL BRINKERHOFF, are to be taught that the 'sins of the fathers may be visited upon the children,' by a right valiant son of New-Amsterdam. When we bethink us how these Yankee varlets penetrated into the New-Netherland settlements, and bored our taciturn progenitors with their volubility and intolerable inquisitiveness; bringing the honest burghers to a stand on the highway, and torturing them with questions and guesses; 'and which is more,' seducing the light affections of the simple damsels from their ponderous Dutch gallants, and introducing among them the ancient practice of _bundling_; when we call to mind how that long-sided, raw-boned, hardy race received the proclamations of the sage Governor of New-Amsterdam, treating them with contempt, and applying them to an unseemly purpose, and foully dishonoring the valorous VAN CURLET, who bore them; when we remember these things, and also how that the tribe has been spreading wider and wider, and growing more impertinent every day; we cannot find it in our heart to regret that a doughty champion has come out against them, to expose their braggadocia and annihilate their pretensions. By the beard of MAHOMET! do they think that wisdom and patriotism lived alone and is to die with them? Because they are virtuous, are there to be no more cakes and ale? Is their aspiring metropolis, climbing upon its little hills to look down upon itself, to eclipse the great capital of the Manhaddoes? Is imperial Rome, in comparison, to be voted a rat-hole, 'Nineveh,' a nook, Babylon a baby-house, and Pekin the paltriest pile of the pigmies?' Unanimously, in this meridian, the KNICKERBOCKERS 'reckon not!' * * * WE place the following passages from recent letters of two excellent friends in juxtaposition, for an especial reason. The epistles are not dated far apart; and in the second, the writer, who dwelleth near 'MASON and DIXON,' descants upon the awful climate hereabout in the summer months. Infatuated person! Observe what he of Tinnecum, living scarcely eight miles away, saith: 'I have watched a fair opportunity to invite you to this '_verum et secretum_ μουσειοι.' The woods are gloriously animated; the fields deliciously green; the west winds overburdened with clover; the sea-shore breezes are life-inspiring; and to quote Greek again from one of the noble bursts of the chorus, I love to sit upon a piazza, with my picturesque head of hair ensnarled in the breeze, and sing out:
Αυρα, ποντιας αυρα, Αυρα, ποντιας αυρα.
'The strawberries (an old writer has remarked that doubtless GOD _might_ have made a better berry, but he never _did_) are as deliriously ripe as if they had been smiled on by Venus, and dear goddess! she had imbued them with the sweetness of her own lips: '_Quinta parte sui nectaris imbuit._' They are charming! To see them piled up in little heaps, like the fruits of an early harvest, not to be stored away for a winter of discontent, but to cheer the immediate moment, to be refreshed every now and then by the anticipation of their sweet breath as it comes up, not obtrusively, gushing into your face, and causing you to throw back your head with a smile, as if all the senses were lulled into a dear security! To see them lying in so many wanton attitudes, as rubicund as if they were intoxicated with sun-beams, in all their variety of shapes; some preciously diminutive, others of an incredible, jovial plumpness; variegated, luxurious, shaped like some pyramids I know of, with their great circumference overshadowing the narrow base; conveying by their very size a provoking, insulting challenge, that they are too big to be swallowed up--by Phœbus! it is a treat to merge expectation in fruition; and if there is any _danger_ in swallowing them up, then I say again with Horace: '_Dulce est periclum_'--the danger is sweet. 'These delights if thou canst give----' Indeed _can_ I; and you shall have others beside--Και πλεον εξεις--as Venus said, when she advertised her missing boy. There is a pleasure in sitting by the window, to be lulled by a variety of murmurs, or to listen to them in the solemn groves; whether it be the sound of the sea, or the winds undulating among the tree-tops, or the swarming of bees, I can hardly tell, they are so like; and if the heart beats at regular intervals not too much in a hurry or with an inconsiderate knocking, being kept from agitation by a good conscience, as may without vanity be claimed both by you and me, we shall be captivated by a music more sweet than BELLINI. _Come out here right off!_' Thus far the favored occupant of this delectable region. Give ear now to that other scholar and gentleman, 'hereinbeforementioned:' 'IT is truly a blistering day, and the breath from the mouth of the approaching Dog is enough to stifle a Christian. I keep continually thinking of Nebuchadnezzar's furnace, and repeat, with more _fervor_ than I could wish, 'Bear me, Pomona, to thy citron shades!' etc. But 'Oh! Jimmy Thompson, Jimmy Thompson, oh!' never in Green England did you experience such an atmosphere as this! Pah! it goes down my throat like the spirit of melted lead. Oh! for some water-sprite to bear me under his dripping wings to the summit of Dawalageri; there among the notched rocks to sit sipping of iced sherry, and with pine-apples pendant to my very mouth, to whiff the cool Havana and read DANTE'S Purgatorio! There might some 'swift-winged courier of the clouds' bring me the July number of the KNICK.; and after laughing at the wit and melting with the pathos of American talent, might some prophetic angel unscale my eyes, and show me in the future the Chinese wall blown up by a match of opium, and the wheels of the Juggernaut carrying a train of burden-cars and a crowd of travellers from Calcutta to Delhi! What an unimaginable world lies behind the vale of that same wonder-pregnant Future! Oh! that one might raise that veil and see all that is to be, save the destinies of himself and his own beloved land! The sight, however, might be far from pleasing to the philanthropist. Freedom may fly again to her hereditary mountains; Knowledge may burn her lonely lamp in conventual cloisters; the 'march of mind' may make a retrograde advancement; another Caliph may fire the Royal Library of Paris; and posterity may be sufficiently unfortunate to have lost all trace and all memorial of you and me! God forbid!' * * * REPINING reader, bethink you in your moments of despondency, or even gloom, of the mind that traced, in the 'enduring dark' of his lonely apartment, these touching lines:
'OH, who on earth would love to live, Unless he lived to love!'
'WHEN in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes, I all alone bewail my outcast fate, And trouble deaf Heaven with my bootless cries, And look upon myself, and curse my fate, Wishing me like to one more rich in hope; Featured like him; like him with friends possessed; Desiring this man's art and that man's scope; With what I most enjoy contented least: Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising, Haply I think on thee--and then my state (Like to the lark at break of day arising From sullen earth) sings hymns at Heaven's gate; For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings, That then I scorn to change my happy state with kings!'
THE following, which we derive from a Boston friend, who assures us that it is a 'statement of a veritable occurrence,' we can very readily believe. Indeed, we have never been able to doubt any thing which a bird might say, since we heard Uncle BEZONNET'S 'Poor Mino' in Nassau-street, laugh, and sing, and exclaim 'Good morning!' 'What's your name?' 'Uncle JOHN! Uncle JOHN! somebody's in the store;' and then, changing his tone, remark, what nobody could deny, 'What an extraordinary bird!' But to his 'Boston contemporary:' 'I came across a pious parrot the other day, while strolling down toward the wharves. It was the first of the class I had ever seen. I was just passing by a sailor boarding-house, when I heard, several times repeated, the words, '_The Lord ha' massy on Poor Poll, a sinner! Lord ha' massy! Amen!_' Turning round, I perceived they were uttered by a parrot in a cage, who with one claw drawn up on her breast, head bent reverently down, and eye cocked solemnly upward, was now following her ejaculations by the most piteous moans. Talking parrots are generally sad creatures, and seldom very choice in their language. 'But here,' thought I, 'is an exception; and surely, a race which has in it even _one_ individual capable of attaining to a knowledge of its utterly depraved condition, cannot be altogether lost.' What seemed to me to be the more remarkable, was the fact that such knowledge should have been attainable in a sailor boarding-house, in one of the most vicious streets of the city. While these thoughts were passing through my mind, the parrot had been eyeing me with an eager, sidelong glance, as if she were quite ready for a chat, and waited only for me to begin it. 'Pretty, pretty Poll:' said I, stroking her head gently with the end of my cane; 'Polly have a biscuit?' '_Yes, G--d d--n you! hand over!_' was the sharp, quick reply.' * * * FEW and far between, now, are the scenes recorded below by a Southern correspondent. The last of the old hearts-of-oak will soon fall to the ground: 'Since I last 'drove pen,' I have sat by the death-bed, watched by the corpse, and shovelled earth upon the coffin, of an old revolutionary soldier. He served four years in WASHINGTON'S own division of the army; and doubtless, although he attained no high official rank, his blood was as freely offered, and his services should be as gratefully appreciated, as those of any general of them all. He was a forgotten unit in that subaltern rank, on whose individual merits the titled built their edifice of fame. His offering was like 'the widow's mite,' an offering as dear to him as any the costliest oblation made unto his country's treasury of glory. Requieseat!' * * * 'YOU will find,' says a friend writing from London, by the last steamer, 'that your portrait has been extensively circulated about Great-Britain and her dominions, in the last number of 'Chuzzlewit.' The artist who draws the illustrations, has given, in the person of young MARTIN, who is reading one of your flash newspapers, in presence of the editor and his war correspondent, a very faithful transcript of the lineaments of the Editor of the KNICKERBOCKER, as we remember them.' We cannot say how far our correspondent is correct in his impressions; although they were corroborated by a score or more of American friends, before we had seen the engraving in question; but _this_ we know, that if any of our readers desire to see a portrait, as life-like as if he had sat for it, of the late lamented WILLIS GAYLORD CLARK, they may find it in the person of young MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT, in the English edition of Mr. DICKENS'S last issue of the work of that name. The outline, the air, the manner, are _perfect_. * * * IT may be thought remarkable, that while to the mass the illusions of the theatre possess unwonted interest, those who know the most of its secrets affect it the least. THEODORE HOOK, we are told by his reviewer, had a fixed and rooted aversion to the stage, and a consummate contempt for the player's profession, as a school of character and manners; an absolute physical loathing, as it were, for every thing connected with the green-room, from the mouthing art of managers, to the melancholy pirouettes of the 'poor plastered things with fringes to their stays, which they call petticoats.' FANNY KEMBLE herself, overcoming so many proud and glorious associations, did not sicken of it more heartily. Doesn't this militate against the argument of 'C.'? _Rather_, we think. * * * IF the reader does not discover something sparkling, quaint, and decidedly _original_ in '_No'th-East by East_,' in preceding pages, we shall inevitably have thrown away and sacrificed 'our guess.' There is a touch of DANA, a dash of COLERIDGE, and the 'slightest possible taste in the world' of HALLECK, yet withal no _imitation_, in that amphibious poem. Some lines _seem_ somewhat amendable; 'As lightning had sprung _sudden_ then,' is one, for example. Lightning _is_ rather 'sudden,' we believe, in most cases. We scarcely remember ever to have seen a _very_ slow flash; yet the line could hardly be bettered, and there is good precedent for the apparently adscititious word. A few 'common substantives' in the poem may require elucidation for the uninitiated. The 'Graves' are rocks in Boston harbor, near the outer light, or 'big bright Eye.' Near this light, and past George's island, by 'Nix's Mate,' is the main channel, through which ships _must_ make a 'procession' in coming up toward Boston. The 'pinkie' is a schooner-rigged craft, sharp at both ends, a short peak running up aft, and designed for a chasing sea. The annexed lines were written to follow the passage wherein the courier-star says 'The sun is coming up this way,' etc., but they came too late for insertion:
'THE sun is now uncovering The mid-Atlantic--scattering The mists, with many a toss and fling Of dangling skirts and weary wing; Half frantic, as they knew not where To hide them from his fiery glare; The iceberg from his ocean-bed Lifts loftily his glittering head, But shakes not off one burnished spear, To ring in the frosted atmosphere.'
PERHAPS we _are_ amenable to the criticism of our New-Haven friend. Certain it is, however, that 'the lightness which predominates in our cogitations and gatherings' is often to us a veritable relief; and if we may trust the candor of many friends, it has been grateful to them also,
... 'when the fretful stir Unprofitable, and the fever of the world Have hung upon the beatings of the heart.'
We are not all constituted alike, dear Sir; yet what is one man's meat we would not have another's poison. 'The amiable qualities of cheerfulness and good-humor,' says an old writer, 'cast a kind of sunshine over a composition, and resemble the gentle smile that often lights up the human countenance, the never-failing indication of a humane temper.' As for wit, we consider it a species of poetry. It amuses and delights the imagination by those sudden assemblages and pleasing pictures of things which it creates; and from every common occasion can raise such striking appearances as throw the most phlegmatic tempers into a convulsion of good-humored mirth. We fear our censor will consider us 'past mending.' We must still hold with the excellent FLETCHER, that 'a little mirth now and then is a great purifier:'
''Tis mirth that fills the veins with blood, More than wine, or sleep, or food; Let each man keep his heart at ease, No man dies of that disease. He that would his body keep From diseases, must not weep; But whoever laughs and sings, Never he his body brings Into fevers, gouts, or rheums, Or ling'ringly his lungs consumes; But contented lives for aye-- The more he laughs, the more he may.'
Does our critic remember an ancient motto on a sun-dial? '_Non numero Horas, nisi serenas?_' It is capable of application. * * * WE are glad to say, since our opinion in this place is requested, that the essay on '_Education of Youthful Morals_' is an _excellent_ one. It is only _too long_ for our Magazine, if we would preserve our accustomed variety. It would make at least fifteen printed pages of the KNICKERBOCKER. We hope however to see the article published. No parent who feels as he ought for the children which GOD has given him, growing up around him, but would honor its aim and emulate its salutary lessons. Years pass quickly away. Yet a little while, and our dear ones will be actors in this busy world, of which at present their knowledge is so small. The article in question has been returned, as requested, through the Upper Post-Office. * * * SOMETHING akin to the following, were certain lines written by '_S. C. M._', now well known in America and England under a popular _pseudonyme_, many years since. There is rather more of the '_cautionary_,' however, in this 'limning from life:'
'TWAS very sweet of a summer's eve, To hear her talk and sing Of stars, and dews, and rocks, and caves, And all that sort of thing.
I loved her for her mild blue eye, And her sweet and quiet air; But I'm very sure that I didn't see The novel on the chair.
I longed to have a quiet wife, For a noise quite drives me frantic; But to be a novel-reader's spouse Is any thing but romantic.
The live-long day does LAURA read In a cushioned easy-chair, In slipshod shoes, and a dirty gown, And tangled, uncombed hair.
The children look like beggars' brats, And little have they of breeding; Yet this is but one of the many ills That flow from novel-reading.
For oh! the meals! I'm very sure You ne'er did see such 'feeding;' For the beef is burnt and the veal is raw, And all from novel-reading.
The bed-room's very like a sty, And the kitchen seems a stable; The lap-dogs litter the parlor o'er, And the nursery is a Babel.
Ho! youth in search of a quiet wife, Before to the shrine you lead her, Take care, I pray you, take good care That she isn't a novel-reader!
WE had lately missed our friend Mr. L. P. CLOVER, from his establishment under the Astor-House, in Vesey-street, and were ignorant of his whereabout; until happening one day to pass Dr. LYELL'S church in Anthony-street, near Broadway, we observed, near the door of a building adjoining that edifice, a couple of large paintings, representing the Falls of Niagara. Entering to inquire the name of the artist, we opened upon Mr. CLOVER, which 'fully accounted' for the presence at his door of works of art; for although his establishment is better known for its excellent looking-glasses and picture-frames, for the sale of which, on reasonable terms, it has become so popular, yet we have been often indebted to the proprietor's taste and enterprise for the enjoyment of some of the best paintings to be met at any similar place in the metropolis. To test the justice of our commendations, let our town readers drop in at Number eighty-three Anthony-street, and examine VANDERLYN'S Views of the Great Cataract, and several of WARD'S fine landscapes. * * * WE hear of various changes and some deaths among our contemporaries. Our friend 'SARGENT'S Magazine' has been swallowed up in 'GRAHAM'S;' two or three 'lady-periodicals,' as they are termed, have been similarly wedded; the 'Southern Literary Messenger,' since the death of its amiable and persevering proprietor, has been advertised for sale at public auction; the Charleston 'Magnolia' is we hear to be discontinued: Mr. SIMMS recently transferred its editorial functions. The 'Orion,' we are informed, will commence its third volume in September, with increased attractions, literary and pictorial. How many Magazines have arisen, struggled, and fallen, within the last ten years, that were going to throw the 'Old KNICK.' into the back-ground, and darken his out-goings! We could at this moment count up a score of such upon our fingers; and yet MAGA 'flourishes in immortal youth!' 'Be virtuous, and you will be happy;' 'Rome was not built in a day;' and so forth. * * * 'REMEMBER that thou keep holy the Sabbath-Day,' is a lesson beautifully enforced in the following lines by Sir MATTHEW HALE. We give them in place of our Baltimore correspondent's remarks upon '_Sunday in the Country_,' in our last number:
'A SABBATH well spent Brings a week of content, And health for the toils of to-morrow; But a Sabbath profaned, Whatsoe'er may be gained, Is a certain forerunner of sorrow.'
THE article upon '_President Tyler and his Family_' in our last number seems, according to the newspapers, to have given offence to a portion of the public. The sketch was from the pen of an old correspondent of the KNICKERBOCKER, who had never failed to please its readers; his articles having always been widely copied and warmly commended. Assured that it had no political bearing, and that it could in nowise trench upon our neutrality, we gave the paper a place; not without the thought also that the recent tour of the President and a portion of his family in this section of the Union would give it additional interest to our readers in the Northern States. The reception of the article, however, has satisfied us that while politics run high, it is not expedient for a neutral work like the KNICKERBOCKER to intermeddle either with public _men_ or public _measures_. We shall therefore eschew all kindred themes hereafter. * * * WE are indebted to a kind friend for the following 'incident of travel.' We have heard before of the couplet which he transcribes, but never of a _serious_ application of the lines. We did not however need the assurance of our correspondent that he 'actually saw them, as stated:' 'During a recent journey through New-Hampshire, with a small party of choice friends, we stopped to refresh ourselves at a little inn in a village that shall be nameless, although it has a name _at home_. The parlor into which we were ushered was ornamented, as is usual in New-England villages, with two or three rude pictures; and among the rest, the indispensable family mourning-piece. This latter is always irresistibly attractive to me. Poorly as it is executed, it is the work of love. It speaks of the natural and holy desire to remember the dead, to hold their images and their memorials near; to bind the members of the little family, in whatever worlds, together into one. It is one of the many symbols in which the affectionate heart imbodies its instinctive prophecy of the indissolubleness of the holy and beautiful alliances of friendship and home. It seems to say: 'We have not yet done loving the dead. Our sympathies and attachments are too strong to be so soon dissolved. Virtuous friendship must endure for ever, or love is a cheat. Our holy associations _must_ abide, or we have no confidence in any thing eternal.' The picture was the work of the needle, representing with wonderful _originality_ of conception, a weeping willow bending over a small obelisk, upon which was recorded the name of an infant, aged seven weeks. Beneath the name were the following lines; the perusal of which, I need not say, produced a most sensible effect upon the feelings of all the travellers, and left an impression never to be effaced:
'Since that I so soon was done for, I wonder what I was begun for.'
The brevity of human life is a mystery, which has often perplexed the wisest heads. But the difficult question is here propounded 'with a _vengeance_,' considering the quarter from which it is represented to have come, that is perfectly overpowering.' * * * WHAT an admirable reproof of selfishness is conveyed in these few words of BACON: 'Divide with reason between self-love and society, and be so true to thyself that thou be not false to others. It is a poor centre of a man's actions, himself. It is right earth; for that only stands fast upon its own centre, whereas all things that have affinity with the heavens move upon the centre of another, which they benefit.' * * * WE like _parts_ of '_The Summer-Storm_' very well; but as a whole, it lacks clearness, and in one or two places the language is tame; mere prose, indeed, and not over-felicitously divided. We can well _imagine_ the appearance of such a storm, however, in the highlands of Rockland county. THOMSON has a spirited picture of a similar scene:
'AT first, heard solemn o'er the verge of heaven, The tempest growls; but as it nearer comes, And rolls its awful burthen on the wind, The lightnings flash a larger curve, and more The noise astounds: till over head a sheet Of livid flame discloses wide; then shuts And opens wider; shuts and opens still Expansive, wrapping ether in a blaze!'
FOR one only reason, we decline the 'thrilling story' of 'M. D.' of Hudson. We do not affect a _fight_ in a tale. Indeed, we crossed out a great battle of fists recently in one of the best articles that has appeared in the KNICKERBOCKER for several months. SIDNEY SMITH'S advice on this point is most judicious: 'Nobody should suffer his hero to have a black eye, or to be pulled by the nose. The Iliad would never have come down to these times, if AGAMEMNON had given ACHILLES a box on the ear. We should have trembled for the Æniad if any Tyrian nobleman had kicked the pious ÆNEAS in the fourth book. ÆNEAS may have deserved it, but he never could have founded the Roman empire after so distressing an accident.' * * * NOW in this fervid summer solstice, forget not, O ye sedentary! that most important requirement of the body, frequent ablution. _Bathe! bathe!_ A recipient ourselves of 'the early and latter rain' of Dr. RABINEAU'S shower-bath, and eke the benefits of his unrivalled swimming-bath, we speak by the card, and as one having authority. Of Mr. H. RABINEAU'S _warm_ salt water baths, at the foot of Desbrosses-street, on the North River, we hear also the warmest praises, from the lips of invalids and others. * * * IF we were to write a page of fine print in reply to one point of 'S.'s remarks upon '_Street Alms-Giving_,' it could not so well express what _he_ at least will understand, as the annexed brief sentence: 'That charity which Plenty gives to Poverty is human and earthly; but it becomes divine and heavenly, when Poverty gives to Want.' * * * WE submit it to the reader whether our correspondent is not excusable for the tardy fulfilment of a promise in which they were interested:
'I'VE had the tooth-ache, DIEDRICH, and have taken All sorts of extracts, essences, and lotions; Have held on blisters, till my jaws were baking, Of mustard, vinegar, and other notions; And for about a week, at midnight waking, Have drank raw fourth-proof brandy, in such portions, (Mixed with quinines, valerians, and morphines,) 'Twould put a dozen stout men in their coffins.'
'M.'s curt notelet is impertinent and ungentleman-like. His article was a mere _ébauche_, and very indifferent at that. The _nuclei_ of his associations were objects of the very smallest kind, and the language was kept down to a sympathetic degradation and due correspondence with the thoughts. The article was 'respectfully declined,' and in the manner prescribed by its author; and for this we are berated in no measured terms. 'Go to; you are a fishmonger.' * * * THE '_Lines to Old Ocean_' possess a kind of latent rough-and-tumble sublimity, not unlike a good borrowed thought smothered in windy words by JOHN NEAL. But we like DICKENS'S prose picture of 'the main' much better: 'The sea never knows what to do with itself. It hasn't got no employment for its mind, and is always in a state of vacancy. Like them polar bears in the wild-beast shows, as is constantly a-nodding their heads from side to side, it never _can_ be quiet.' This is at least '_clear_ to the meanest capacity.' * * * IT is said of RICHTER, that his foremost thought about a wife was, that she should be able to 'cook him something good.' Our Port-Chester epigrammatist seems to have a taste for the fragile in his estimate of the sex:
'LOVELY woman's a flower, so when you address her, If you wish to retain, I advise you to press her.'
The others 'will do.' They bide their time; as also the 'Night on Lake Erie.' * * * THE recent death of WASHINGTON ALLSTON, the painter, the poet, in all respects the man of genius, has left a void which will not soon be filled; and _one_ there is, in a foreign land, who will feel this sad event in his very heart of hearts. WASHINGTON IRVING and WASHINGTON ALLSTON were for many years friends of as confiding a faith and firm an attachment as DAMON and PYTHIAS. They rose to fame abroad together; were constant mutual advisers in literature and art; and at one time, when they were residing temporarily in Rome, we came near losing our renowned author, through the love he bore his friend, and a desire to unite with him in the common pursuit of his delightful art. We shall hope to obtain for these pages a tribute from the pen of Mr. IRVING to the memory of his illustrious friend. * * * HERE is a fact related by an eastern correspondent, that raises HANDY ANDY'S character for truth and veracity greatly in our estimation. It matches the best blunder recorded by that amusing narrator: 'Not many days since, a little child, two years old, the son of a poor Irish widow, lay in the middle of a new road, kicking up a dust, and roasting in the sun. Presently came along an Irish teamster, who in the most deliberate and careless manner walked his team over the little fellow, and crushed him to death. Some dozen or twenty Irish shanties were in full view of the catastrophe; and as might be expected, there was a rush and an ullulloo from a hundred women at once. While some took up the dead body, others shouted after the teamster, who, apparently unconcerned, was making slowly off. They forced him back to the scene of the catastrophe, where they did not hesitate to accuse him of having caused it purposely. Pat of course denied it strenuously, declaring that he did not see the child, and was therefore wholly blameless. But with a hundred fierce eyes glaring upon him at once, and fifty tongues hissing in his ear, he became confused, began to waver, and finally gave up the point entirely, probably as a peace-offering to his tormentors: 'Thrue, thrue, Mistress CONOLLY,' said he to one of them, while he scratched his head sorrowfully, 'I _did_ see the boy lying there, 'pon me word; _but I thought he was asleep!_' This, Mr. C., is a positive fact.' * * * DID you ever peruse these '_Lines written upon a Watch?_' We derive them from a favorite contributor, who informs us that his honored father, in winding up his watch, used often to repeat them:
'COULD but our tempers move like this machine, Not urged by passion, nor delayed by spleen, But true to Nature's regulative power, By virtuous acts distinguished every hour; Then Health and Joy would follow, as they ought, The laws of motion and the laws of thought: Sweet Health, to pass the present moments o'er, And endless Joy, when Time shall be no more!'
'ONE more last word' to '_Mein Herr of Albany_,' to whom we alluded in our last number. We admit the justice of your satire; but with deference, it strikes us that it does not require a cimeter to cut down a gnat. HOOD somewhere mentions an Irishman who apologized to the keeper of a menagerie for insulting his elephant by a rude assault upon his most prominent feature. He couldn't resist, he said, the only chance he had ever had to pull a nose that he could take hold of with both hands! Our correspondent has a kindred excuse, certainly, in _one_ sense, but not in another. 'Fleas are not lobsters,' nor are asses elephants. * * * A VERY charming story, friend 'G.' of Illinois; simple, well-told, and _not too long_--the bane of kindred performances. Love-stories should _end_ once in a while, by way of novelty. How many novelists have elaborated chapter after chapter, to depict the true-hearted constancy which is better described in these four lines:
'I LO'E nae a laddie but ane, He lo'es nae a lassie but me; He's willing to make me his ain, And his ain I am willing to be.'
'T.'S manuscript is _wretched_. The words are strung together like a bunch of onions. Some of the conglomerated syllables reminded us of a sign in London, mentioned by HOOK, whereby a plain manufacturer of Roman cement was turned into a manufacturer of _Romancement_; as if he were anxious to solicit business from the prolific fashionable novelists of the time. * * * WE do _not_ accept '_The Signs of the Times_.' The writer looks through a pair of very dark spectacles, we should say. Going upon the assumption that every man is a rascal until he _proves_ himself an honest man, would be a course as unjust to a community as to an individual. Our correspondent seems to think that 'the world is in a state of bankruptcy; that it owes the world more than the world can pay, and ought to go into chancery and be sold!' The best-laid plans of _honest_ men, our censor should remember, often fail. The race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong, as many a delving, toiling 'two-footed worker' can bear witness:
'DAME FORTUNE is a fickle gipsy, And always blind, and often tipsy; Sometimes for years and years together She'll bless you with the sunniest weather, Bestowing honor, pudding, pence, You can't imagine why, or whence; Then in a moment. Presto, pass! Your hopes are withered like the grass.'
WE have received a very indignant epistle from '_The Mail-Robber_,' who read our last number at Saratoga, where he is temporarily sojourning. We shall present it to our readers, with another poetical epistle, in our September issue. 'Mohawk, a Cluster of Sonnets,' by our friend H. W. ROCKWELL, Esq.; 'Green places of the City,' by Mrs. HEWITT; and 'Thoughts at Niagara,' are in type for our next. A word here to a few correspondents whose articles were not named in the large list enumerated in our last, or who have not been privately advised of the reception and disposition of their papers: Where is our venerable friend to whom we have been indebted for '_The Young Englishman?_' We look for him in our next. The 'Treatise of Books' by 'R.' struck us as rather stiltish and labored in its style, although its _thoughts_ were unexceptionable. It was declined, however, because our port-folios contained three or four papers on the same theme, for whose insertion at some future day we have been looking for several months. The 'Treatise' awaits 'R's order at the publication-office. 'H. W. R.'s indignation at the silly charge of plagiarism of '_The Southern Pinewoods_' by BRYANT--whose lines on '_The Prairies_,' written for the KNICKERBOCKER, furnished every thought and simile for the imitation--would be thrown away upon a 'weak invention.' The whole affair is a stupid joke, not worth a resurrection. 'Chronicles of the Past,' by an esteemed friend and contributor, is filed for insertion. 'Peter Brown and Dolly Cross,' a Legendary Ballad, and 'Night and Morning,' by 'W. H. H.,' bide their time. They are 'booked.' 'T.'s 'Lines on the Death of a Young Girl' are under 'hopeful' advisement. We shall be glad to receive the 'Inquiry concerning the Manifestation of Mind by the Lower Orders of Animals.' The theme is a fruitful one. Notices in type, of several new publications, are _unavoidably_ omitted.
'WASHINGTON: A NATIONAL POEM.'--Who was it contributed five pounds toward the payment of the English national debt? He was such a benefactor to Britain, in a pecuniary point of view, as the author of this 'WASHINGTON' poem is to our national literature. To judge from his high-sounding preface, one would think that MILTON was to be out-done, and the fame of by-gone poets utterly eclipsed. The writer went into a 'state of retiracy' and 'threw himself into his task.' He 'read, mused, and meditated; wrote and re-wrote.' He rose early and reposed late; 'sleepless himself, to give to others sleep!' He 'prepared himself long and laboriously' for his great effort, and 'laid his foundations deep.' And the result is, that he has given us an _original_ poem which sets criticism at defiance. In this judgment, unless 'we bedoubt them o'ermuch,' to use our poet's words, his readers will at least agree with us. Since the 'travail in spirit' of Dr. M'HENRY, in bringing forth 'The Antediluvians' in twelve books--an ominous number in the present instance also--we have seen nothing to compare with the pains and perils which our poet must have suffered and dared, in giving birth to the literary offspring under notice. Our candid and deliberate advice to the author is, to bottle up Book First in spirits, and strangle its eleven brothers.
'ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE CROTON AQUEDUCT.'--We regret that we did not receive this noble work of Mr. F. B. TOWER, of the Engineer Department, in time for adequate notice in the present number. As it is, we cannot forbear to call public attention to its great merits. The volume is a superb quarto, containing upward of twenty large and exceedingly well-executed engravings, illustrating all the important structures on the entire line of the Aqueduct, from its source; its tunnels, aqueducts, bridges, reservoirs, fountains, etc. In the letter-press, which we should not omit to add does great credit to the care and skill of the printer, Mr. OSBORN, we find a clear and comprehensive history of the preliminary measures which led to the accomplishment of this great enterprise, together with accounts of the aqueducts of ancient Rome, and of the Romans in other parts of Europe, as well as of the modern Roman, Italian, French, Mexican, and South American works, of a kindred character. Messrs. WILEY AND PUTNAM are the publishers.
'CLONTARF, OR THE FIELD OF THE GREEN BANNER,' is the title of an Irish Historical Romance, in verse, by JOHN AUGUSTUS SHEA, which reaches us at too late an hour for adequate perusal and notice. Not to pass it wholly by, however, we are fain to say, that in hastily reading a passage here and there through the volume, we have been struck with the warm spirit of freedom which it breathes, the easy flow of its versification, and its frequently agreeable imagery and faithful pictures of passion. The poetical introduction is fervid and felicitous. A few minor poems, which have acquired general celebrity, among them that fine address to the ocean, 'Likeness of Heaven!' etc., close the volume; which being published by APPLETON AND COMPANY is of course in good keeping in its externals.
THE NORTH-AMERICAN REVIEW, for the July quarter, is an excellent issue of that always respectable Quarterly. The leading paper, upon the life and character of THOMAS PAINE, is written with great power, and with evident familiarity with all the details of the history of its notorious subject. STEPHENS'S 'Travels in Yucatan' and Miss BREMER'S novels are noticed in terms of well-deserved praise. These, with an entertaining and instructive article upon the cod, mackerel, and herring fisheries, are all which we have found leisure to read. The remaining papers are upon the 'Mutiny of the Somers,' DRAKE'S 'Northern Lakes and Southern Invalids,' 'The School and the School-master,' 'The Nestorian Christians,' 'Classical Studies,' and the usual briefer 'Critical Notices.'
MR. NISBET'S LECTURE.--We have perused the lecture delivered before the Georgia Historical Society at Savannah, by Mr. EUGENIUS A. NISBET, with satisfaction and pleasure. The writer's remarks upon the drama; the tendency of French literature; the necessity of an international copy-right law; the intellectual inheritance which we have derived from England; and the influence of domestic airs and national songs; are exceedingly forcible and just. We commend especially Mr. NISBET'S argument in favor of literary protection to those liberal-minded casuists who would at the same time pick an author's brains and his pockets, and defend the justice of the operation, on the ground that the victim could not help it, and that _somebody_ would rob him if _they_ did not!
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