Imágenes de páginas

daughter—but that is a vain wish. My sister-in-law has three children, she is poor, and lately I adopted my nephews and niece: they are now receiving the best education that the country affords; I love them dearly, and my heart is satisfied. In truth my ambition is to leave each fifty thousand pounds: so you may observe it is for them, (they are beautiful and to me all in all,) thatjl labour, and not for myself. At present I live in what is called splendid style, but in no year has the amount of my expenses even approached near to my income. My mother (she is an old woman now) and my wife live in health. I am blessed. I am a man of leisure, for being somewhat advanced in years, I am turned of fifty six, though I may look younger—I have sold out my linen draper establishment; and now dabbling in stocks, speculating in lands, and lending money, do I dispel the ennui which might else weigh heavy upon me.

This is the brief outline of my life—and much has experience taught me in its course.

1 have already told you that I never read; my words were true even to a fault, but you may easily imagine that this misfortune, for such I account it, arose more from my way of life, than from a distaste of books. I have, however, read Burns' poems, Blind Harry's history of William Wallace, Pamela, Pilgrim's Progress, and the Bible. These books constituted the library of my worthy mother, in her ancient garret^room; their depository was in a "neuk o' the aumerie," whose place was often usurped by certain plates, bowls, tea-cups and saucers, to the no small discomfiture of the learned leaves. I was a child when I read these books. For more than thirty years, business alone engaged my attention, and when night came, I was too much fatigued to study. Thus passed my days. I regret that I am ignorant: I wish I were only wise enough to know how ignorant 1 am: yet in my intercourse with the world, and more especially since I have given up the labour of trade, I have gathered much useful information. Experience has taught me that a man deep versed in books alone, or deep read in human nature alone, is only half learned ; it requires a man to be deeply skilled in both to be wise. Experience has also taught me, that a knowledge of human nature, if not so pleasant, is more profitable than a knowledge of books, and that with the first, more than with the last, will he pass with people generally for a man of information. My experience also has taught me, that the great object of life is happiness, or in other words to apportion to life as little of misery as possible; yet perfect happiness is not the lot of mortals—content is not in this world. A man must have enough of whatever his aim may be, to enjoy even comparative happiness; yet what is enough? This question was once correctly answered to be "a little more than any man

Tell me, O mother! when I grow old,
Will my hair, which my sisters say is like gold,
Grow grey as the old man's, weak and poor,
Who asked for alms at our pillared door?
Will I look as sad, will I speak as slow,
As he, when he told us his tale of woe?
Will my hands then shake, and my eyes be dim?
Tell me, O mother! will I grow like him?

He said—but I knew not what he meant—
That his aged heart with sorrow was rent.
He spoke of the grave as a place of rest,
Where the weary sleep in peace, and are bless'd;
And he told how his kindred there were laid,
And the friends with whom in his youth he played ,
And tears from the eyes of the old man fell,
And my sisters wept as they heard his tale!

He spoke of a home, where, in childhood's glee,

He chased from the wild flowers the singing bee;

And followed afar, with a heart as light

As its sparkling wings, the butterfly's flight;

And pulled young flowers, where they grew 'neath the beams

Of the sun's fair light, by his own blue streams ;—

Yet he left all these, through the earth to roam I

Why, O mother 1 did he leave his home?

"Calm thy young thoughts, my own fair child IThe fancies of youth in age are beguiled ;— Though pale grow thy cheeks, and thy hair turn grey, Time canot steal the soul's youth away!There's a land of which thouhast heard me speak, Where age never wrinkles the dwellers' cheek;But in joy they live, fair boy! like thee — It was there that the old man longed to be!

"For he knew that those with whom he had played,
In his heart's young joy, 'neath their cottage shade—
Whose love he shared, when their songs and mirth
Brightened the gloom of this sinful earth—
Whose names from oar world had passed away,
As flowers in the breath of an autumn day-
He knew that they, with all suflering done,
Encircled the throne of the Holy One!

"Though ours be a pillared and lofty home,

Where Want with his pale train never may come,

Oh I scorn not the poor, with the scorner's jest,

Who seek in the shade of our hall to rest;

For He who hath made them poor may soon

Darken the sky of our glowing noon,

And leave us with woe, in the world's bleak wild!

Oh! soften the griefs of the poor, my child!'. J, P. Bbown.* TO A BIRD.

* « Poetical Ephemeras. By James Pcnnycook Brown. Aberdeen, 1831/

Sweet bird, that through the budding boughs art flinging Notes of such wild and tremulous delight, That round my very sonl their web is clinging, Inwoven with the dancing waters' light,

And with the feathery wood's melodious sighing, Now bursting forth, full as a pillar bright Of flame upsprung, now fading tenderly, As 'twere an angel winging its slow flight, The soul of music in sweet sadness dying, .,,. ,;,,,-[ ,Would I could float like thee, , ,, ,:,,n.Within the sphere where thou apart dost sit. By thy own flood of melodies conceal'd! For never yet, I think, to mortal wit Hath such surpassing vision been reveal'd,

Or lesson given of such deep mystery As thou proclaim'st in sounds, to them who list'nert be!Time was, when on my solitary walk The stars shone kindly, when before my feet, Turn wheresoe'er I might, The meadows lay asleep, in sunny light, And skies and streams, and every vision bright, With love and joy, my heart of hearts did greet. Then daisies trembling on their curved stalk, The violet-studded bank, the pebbly rill, The crocus and the sheathed daffodil Spoke to me in the music of delight, And with strong incantations, strong but still,
Within my soul awoke its deep indwelling might!
Why pass'd these glorious powers, this strength, away?Oh, gentle bird, alas, what had I done,
That for so many days the beauteous face Of nature, with its many-figured grace,
Lay like a blank before rae! Twilight dun Enwrapt me like a pall! Oh, happier lot, In midnight to be lost, by no dim ray Of light, call'd back to think of the clear day, Which we, with perverse spirit, have regarded not! Oh,joy! to feel again

The old affections wake at thy sweet strain! I feel, I feel thy joy,

Thou happy creature, thou whom no annoy E'er visited! Oh, pleasant power, To win the ancient dower Of natural happiness; to hear the stream Thus musically babble to the beam Of noontide, aud the whispering leaves repeat The old undying melody, and greet An answering spirit in my soul, which springs Out of myself to joy with all created things!


[ocr errors]

Genius of Silence! whose step, as thou walkest over the earth, falls as lightly as the descending snow-flake, invest me with thy mantle of down, and provide me with a quill of softest plume, while I attempt to recount all the properties and associations of thy shibboleth —Wheesht!

Every body must have more or less acquaintance with a provokingly quiet set of people, who constantly look and move as if they were saying wheesht!—a velvet-footed race, with smooth, goodly faces, who eat, drink, walk, and sleep—perhaps snore too—below their breath, and would not for the world be guilty of what they call making a fuss. This set of people are always very anxious that things should be managed in a prudent, quiet, unostentatious way. If they were going to have a ride in a coach—supposing they could bear the rattle of such a thing—they would have it drawn up six doors off.

-lest folk

Should fiay that they were proud."

They keep the doors within their house always well oiled, and the pulleys of their windows in the best state of repair, so that none of them may ever be guilty of a single creak or rattle. Their clothes are always very trim about their persons,—or, to use a Scottish phrase, clappit s no superfluous skirts—no majestic train—not so much as a useless lappel, if it can be avoided ; because such things tend to make a fuss—might even happen to pull down something that would make a crash, or a clash, or a dash, or a splash, or something else in ash. When they rise to leave a room, it is perceptible that they are sedulous to glide away as smoothly, and noiselessly, and unobservedly, as possible: they are evidently much put about, that they cannot devolve through the key-hole, so as to save the fluster of opening the door. "We must learn to walk circumspectly. We must make no stir. Let us take things coolly. Let us do every thing with decency and propriety. Allow no room for evil tongues. As well not give people occasion to speak. We'll do very well in our own quiet way. Wheesht!" As these people move along, they keep a clear look-out on all hands, afraid to come in contact with any thing; and they evidently would feel much convenienced, if Providence would see fit to furnish them with antennae like the spider, or whiskers like the cat, so that they might be admonished beforehand of the chance of m. z

being disturbed by any little object. If they saw a nut-shell in the way, they would go about to avoid treading upon it. "Bad boys, to throw their nut-shells down in the way!" If you were to come up behind one of them in the street, and, conceiving him to be one of your own hearty hail-fellow-well-met kind of acquaintances, give him a sound slap on the shoulder, and ask him how he did, you would see him start like a Laputan philosopher under the influence of the flapper, and perhaps next moment faint, sink, and die away upon the street, unknelled, uncoffined, and unknown, unless an address card happened to be found in his pocket. But see one trysled with an obstreperous bottle of small ale, with which he is going to regale you as you drop in, some warm, thirsty forenoon, at his country box. He brings in the bottle in his arms, nursing it all the way as carefully as he would a new-born babe. He sets about the business of driving in the screw, with all the solemnity, and silence, and decorum, with which a Druid could have set about the sacrifice of a human being. The stopper is recusant; it requires more exertion than he can at any time think of making—for violent gesture is equivalent to noise. It has to be transferred to your own less scrupulous care. You make the cork fly in a moment, and see what a waterspout of foam! The quietist is paralysed with the loudness of the report, and the fizzing, cheeping, squeaking, spirting, and squirting which the liquor makes, as you vainly endeavour to repress it with your hand. The echoes of the house, that have slumbered for months, are roused by your calls for relays of tumblers, wherein to receive the seemingly endless effusion of froth. And after puzzling and noozling your way to the bottom of half-a-dozen of these tumblers, in the vain quest of a mouthful, you leave the unhappy quietist in agony for the evening—his ears rent with your jocund remarks on the small ale, and all the rest of his senses shattered, and torn, and disgusted with the scene of ravage which you have been the innocent means of introducing into his parlour. It must be remarked that these velvet people scarcely detest any thing so much as a hearty laugh. They mark a cachinnator as a man to be avoided. Of men whom they have every other reason to regard with esteem, they will

remark "Yes, he is very good—a very estimable man: but don't you think he has a rather boisterous way of laughing?" Your quietist never laughs, even at the most amusing incident or witticism: he only treats you to a soft noiseless smile. In their conversation, they appear as if they were at some pains to avoid using the harsh consonants, such as r and s: they indulge chiefly in liquids and vowels, and do a great deal with such monosyllabic interjections, as ah, eh, ay, oh, &c. They often speak upon a respiration, instead of an aspiration, as if their words made less noise when bound inwards than

« AnteriorContinuar »