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not exempt from this national weak- Athanase Ivanovitch began to cry ness : she mused and pondered deeply like a child. over the circumstance, and at length “ Do not weep, Athanase ; it is not came to the conclusion, that it was a right. There is only one thing which warning her latter end drew near. causes me any sorrow, and that is the This feeling gained at last such an ascen- thought that I do not know to whom dancy over her that her spirits became I shall trust you—who will take care of quite depressed; and the ordinary you when I am gone away? You are pleasantries of Athanase were tried in like a little child ; and it is necessary vain. He would inquire why she had that those who serve you should love suddenly become so melancholy? but
you also.” she made no reply; and at last, by As she spoke these words a deep and constantly brooding over the idea, she tender expression of pity beamed from began gradually to lose her strength her face: no one could look on her as well as her appetite.
and feel unmoved. "What on earth is the matter with “ Sister Ivadoka," she said, as the you, Pulcheria ? you must be un- housekeeper, whom she had sent for, well."
made her appearance, “when I shall “ No," she would reply, with a be gone away from you, take care of mournful shake of her head; “I am your master; shield him as you would not unwell, but a presentiment has your own eyes, as if he were your own overtaken me which I cannot get rid child. Take care that the dishes he of, that my life is nearly over: I am likes best are always prepared for him, an old woman now, Athanase, you and that his linen and clothes are kept know."
in good order; never let him out of The lips of Athanase Ivanovitch were your sight, Ivadoka : I shall pray for compressed in a moment with sadness; you in the other world, and God will he tried to conquer the mournful pre- recompense you. Do not forget what sage which constantly communicated I have said to you, Ivadoka ; you are itself to his own mind, and said with already old, and you may not, perhaps, a smile
have many years to live; but if you “God knows what you will say do not take care of him, you will have next, Pulcheria; probably, in place of no happiness in this world: I will your usual beverage, you have taken pray that God may grant you a happy some peach - water, which may have end." disagreed with you."
Poor old woman!
She thought, “No, Athanase, I have not taken then, neither of the solemn moment any peach-water," replied Pulcheria ; which was indeed drawing near, nor and Athanase felt a sudden twinge of of her own soul, nor of the awful furemorse for having thus rallied his ture: she thought only of the poor wife; he looked at her in silence, and companion of her earthly pilgrimage, a tear gathered in his eye.
whom she was so soon to leave behind, “I would make one request of you, like a helpless orphan. She then proAthanase Ivanovitch," said she mourn- ceeded to set her house in order, that fully-"I entreat of you to perform it; Athanase should feel her absence as if what I feel is about to take place little as possible. The conviction that should happen, let me be dressed in her end was approaching was so strong my grey robe with the little brown upon her, that in a few days more flowers; let me be buried near the she took to her bed, and her appetite old church, upon the little grassy entirely failed. Athanase never for mound, from whence we used to watch an instant quitted her pillow, and was the sun set long ago."
sedulous in his attention. “Do not talk such stuff, silly old Would you not like to eat someting, woman," replied Athanase ; "you will my dear Pulcheria Ivanovna ?" he was not die until it is God's will; but such constantly saying, with a sort of dowords as you have just used frighten lorous disquiet.
But poor Pulcheria never answered “So be it, Athanase ; but I am very him ; at last, one day, after a long siold now. I have lived long enough; lence, she sighed faintly ; her lips you are old, too, and before long we moved as if she wished to speak, and shall meet where nothing can separate her last þreath floated out into the us any more."
Athanase appeared overwhelmed by the blow. This death seemed to him so strange that he could not weep; he looked wistfully at the body, with his dim and weary eyes. It was laid, according to the custom of the country, upon a table. They dressed Pulcheria in the robe she had mentioned; they crossed her arms on her chest, and placed a taper between her fingers. He saw them perform these last offices with an air of utter insensibility: the little courtyard was filled with people, and many visitors came to the funeral. Long tables were spread out, covered with koutia, * with pasties, and bottles of eau-de-vie. The guests spoke, wept, and looked mournfully on the dead body; they talked of her good qualities, and then they looked at Athanase Ivanovitch. He went through the crowd like an idiot; at last the corpse was brought out, the procession was formed, and he accompanied it. The sun was shining; the priests carried their golden crosses, children wept in their mothers' arms; a funeral hymn was sung; they finished by placing the coffin beside the grave which had been prepared for its reception. Then Athanase Ivanovitch was asked to approach the body, and embrace it for the last time. He drew near, tears gathered in his eyes, but they were the tears of one who had ceased to feel. The bier went down; the priest, taking a shovel, threw down a little earth; the deacon and his two assistants began to sing the funeral hymn, the music of which, floating upwards, was lost among the clouds. Then the grave-diggers, seizing their spades, soon filled the grave with earth, and covered it over. At this moment Athanase Ivanovitch drew near; every one made room for him ; he raised his eyes, looked about with a troubled glance, and said, “You have just buried someone; why?
He stopped, and was unable to finish the sentence.
But when he had returned home, and saw the empty chamber, and the chair on which Pulcheria used to sit, vacant, he began to weep, and the tears flowed, flowed without ceasing. Five years rolled over since this event took place – what suffering will not that time subdue? I once knew a
man, in the flower of his life, full of the kindest and best qualities; he loved tenderly and devotedly; and before me - almost under my very eyes — the creature whom he loved so fondly, faded away and perished. I have never seen transports of grief or an agony of sorrow more intense than his. They watched him carefully, and removed every implement of destruction out of his reach; in fifteen days he seemed to have got over his sorrows, and talked quite pleasantly and rationally. They gave him his liberty, and the first use he made of it was to purchase a pistol. One morning, a report of firearms was heard, which alarmed the whole honsehold; they entered his room, and found him stretched on the ground, with his skull apparently fractured by a bullet. A surgeon of eminence, who was in the house by the merest accident, thought he saw some signs of life; and to the great surprise of every one he suc. ceeded in restoring the patient to consciousness, and ultimately to health. They redoubled their surveillance, and took away even the table knives. But soon afterwards he found another mode; he threw himself under the wheels of a carriage that was passing ; his arms and feet were severely wounded, but he again recovered.
Nearly a year afterwards I met him in a saloon, in the great world ; he was seated at a table, and said gaily
“ Poor little wretch !"
And behind him, leaning against the back of his chair, was a young and beautiful girl, who played with the tassels of her dress.
About five years after the death of Pulcheria Ivanovna I found myself in the neighbourhood of the cottage, and I went to visit the old gentleman, with whom I had passed so many agreeable days. The house seemed twice as old. The cabins of the village appeared leaning to one side, like their inhabitants. The enclosure which formerly sur. rounded the courtyard was entirely destroyed, and I saw with my own eyes the cook cutting down the piles for fire-wood. I approached the portico. The same dogs were there, but they had grown blind and infirm, and they made an abortive attempt to wag their tails, which were stiff and matted.
* A cake composed of rice, sugar, and dried fruit, which is used for funeral ceremonies.
The old man came out to meet me. and telling stories. Which has the He recognised me in an instant, and strongest dominion over us, habit or accosted me with his usual smile. I passion? He endeavoured many times followed him into the house. At first
to pronounce the name of his dead sight, everything appeared nearly in wife, but in the middle of the word the same condition ; but it was not his countenance altered with a convul. long before I observed sensible traces sive movement, and sobs, like those of the absent. In a word, I felt that of a child, struck me to the heart. emotion which seizes us when we enter These were not the tears of an old for the first time the home of a wi- man who bewails his sad position or his dowed man, whom we have known in- misfortunes, such as he might shed timately under different circumstances. over a bottle of wine; they were tears The table was no longer served with which flowed spontaneously—the offerthe same nicety. One of the knives ing of a heart long since cold, and which was placed on the table wanted wounded by sorrow which was irrea handle.
The viands were less care- mediable. fully prepared. I avoided speaking of Athanase Ivanovitch did not live anything which might recall painful long after my visit. I received intelassociations. When we were seated at ligence of his death ; and what seemed table a servant placed a napkin under strange, his last moments were not the chin of Athanase Ivanovitch, who unlike those of his deceased wife. One listened to my conversation with the day as he was walking in the garden, same air of pleased attention ; but it with his usual slow and measured step, was evident by his questions that his utterly indifferent to every surroundthoughts were far away. His move. ing object, and without any fixed idea ments were uncertain, and not unfre- in his head, he fancied he heard some quently he wandered in his discourse. one pronounce his name, in a clear, It so happened that we had to wait a distinct tone. He turned rapidly; no few minutes for a certain entreé. Atha- one was there. He looked carefully nase Ivanovitch observed the delay. about, and saw nothing. The weather
“Why,” he said, “ do they keep us was fine, and the sun shone brilliantly. waiting so long for the courses ?” The old man reflected for an instant,
But I saw through the door, which his whole countenance lighted up, and was half open, the boy who should he said," It is Pulcheria Ivanovna have served us had fallen asleep, and who calls me." was sitting quietly in that condition It has happened, perhaps, to you, upon a bench outside.
my dear reader, to hear a voice utter“Here is the 'plat,'" said Athanase ing your name. Our peasants explain Ivanovitch, when certain little cakes, the phenomenon by the hypothesis that called “minichis,” were brought in. it is some soul which languishes with
“ Here is the plat,'" continued he, desire of seeing again the person who and I remarked that his voice began is thus called, and that death invariably to tremble, and that tears were ga- follows soon afterwards. I remember thering in his faded eyes. He made an how in my youth the same thing hapeffort to restrain them, but nature at pened often to myself. I heard some last got the upper hand, and he burst
one pronounce my name distinctly beinto tears ; his hand fell
It was a fine sunshiny day. plate, the plate went to the ground; Not a single leaf was stirring on the but he remained seated, and appa- trees. The crickets had ceased their rently indifferent. He endeavoured to
song. There was no living soul in the collect himself, but the fountain of his gardens - all was silent. But I am tears was unloosed, and they flowed, satisfied that the darkest and most as if feelings long pent up had found stormy night which could overtake me at this association their natural vent. in the thickest wood, would be less
“Good heavens!” I thought, as I appalling than that solemn sound of a watched him, “ five years of time, clear, calm, sunny day. which stifle and destroy so many strong
Athanase Ivanovitch became immefeelings, have not obliterated the me- diately, possessed with the idea that mory of the past within the heart of the spirit of his wife had called him ; this old man, who has passed the and from that day, without any pergreater portion of his life seated in an ceptible illness, his strength gradually easy chair, eating pears and dried fish,
« Let me be buried beside my wife,” and in about six months he succeeded were his last words.
in effecting a complete revolution. The His wishes were religiously ob- office of steward was entrusted to an served. His funeral was attended by elderly lieutenant, in an old faded uni. nearly all the country people, and the form, who made a clean sweep of poor regretted their kind and simple. everything. The cabins, which were minded benefactor. The house was now leaning to one side, fell into total ruin. empty. The dishonest steward, with The peasants took to drinking, and the "starosta," carried off between were tipsy all day. The proprietor them all the clothes which the house- himself, who in other respects lived on keeper had not had time to make away good terms with his neighbours, and with. Then came, no one knew from drank punch in their company, came whence, the heir, a distant relative, but seldom into the village, and alwho held the rank of lieutenant in though he frequented most of the fairs some regiment, the name of which I in the province, and accurately inhave forgotten. He soon saw that the formed himself on the prices of such establishment had fallen into complete commodities as are only sold in wholedisorganisation, and set himself vigo- sale, such as corn, and hemp, and rously to the work of reformation. He honey, he seldom bought anything but began by purchasing half-a-dozen fine some trifle which never exceeded the English sickles, caused a number to be value of a rouble. painted by each peasant on his door,
SIR ISAAC NEWTON. * THERE is scarcely any subject which Two errors are not unfrequently contains within itself so much interest, made with regard to heroes and great as the study of the lives of great men. men, in whatever department of merit We are all of us such complete puzzles to they may have excelled. The one is ourselves, when we come to investigate hero-worship, and the other is heroour own thoughts, our own powers, clasticism. One class of men are and our own springs and motives of ready to fall down and worship at the action, that our attention is instantly feet of any man, and all men, who arrested when those of others of our have acquired great fame, to envelope species are laid open to our observa- themselves in the sackcloth of veneration. This is more especially the case, tion, and to cast upon their own heads if the individual thus submitted to the dust of abasement, utterly refusing analysis and description be one of to form any judgment on the objects those who by his native genius and of their adoration, and looking on it ability raised himself to great eminence as a piece of impiety to think of passabove his fellows. Most of us, in our ing an opinion on them, and to search secret aspirations, have longed for this into their characters, and question eminence, and not a few may have their actions, for the purpose of making thought that had circumstances been that opinion a correct one. This is favourable, we might perhaps have at- the method of the common herd of tained to some portion of it at least. men, those who presume not to think We are, therefore, naturally anx- for themselves, who tremble to express ious to know by what means others an idea which has not on it the stamp have reached it, to form some esti. of custom, as much as if they were mate of their powers, or their op- passing unauthorised coin on 'Change, portunities, whether to compare with They make up the mass of political our own, or to learn, in the abstract, parties and of religious sects; they of what their real superiority con- are branded sheep, who consent and sisted.
even rejoice to wear the initials of
"Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton." By Sir David Brewster, K.H. Edinburgh : Constable and Có. 1855.
their master, and to be penned in alted estimate of those peculiar powers folds under the care of their appointed and abilities, those particular faculties shepherd, and guarded by their estab- and special excellences to which great lished watch-dog. Peace, and quiet, men owe their eminence above the and fatness, and length of days be crowd. with them!
This is more especially the case Another class of men there are, when the hero is one whose deeds are however, who have often seceded and of a special, and we may say, a techdissented from the generality, rather nical kind. No one can forin an adeon account of some crotchet, or eccen- quate original judgment of the stratetricity, or mental obliquity of vision, gy of a great general, but one who is, than because they ought not properly or might be, a great general himself. to belong to the masses. These men Admirable seamanship can only be aphaving perhaps discovered some human preciated by a
A great defect or infirmity in the heroes they scientific discoverer and investigator formerly worshipped, instantly jump can only be thoroughly understood, to the conclusion that they were no mastered, and described by one who better than themselves, that their is himself endowed with great scientific great fame and reputation was the powers and attainments. result of accident, based upon false- There is, therefore, a peculiar fithood, or founded upon fortune, and ness and propriety in Sir David they set to work to depreciate and de- Brewster becoming the biographer of grade, to detract from, or utterly to Sir Isaac Newton. In one department break to pieces, the image that has of science, at least, that of optics, he been raised amid the common accla- is the worthy successor of his illustrious mation of mankind. These are the master, and there is no department in hero-clasts - men sometimes not alto- which he is not able to form, and engether useless in their generation, titled to express, an opinion, we may though often of little worth in them- almost say, to pronounce a judgment, selves; they act in the intellectual ex cathedra, upon what Newton did. world the part which storms, and tem- In compiling this life, Sir David has pests, and whirlwinds, and earth- had great advantages, since new matequakes, and other disturbing agencies, rials of many kinds have been placed play in the physical one; they prevent in his hands, as he describes in his stagnation, introduce sudden compen- preface. He has made excellent use sations for long.continued inaction, of them; and in reading his narrative and though by no means agreeable, at we have been struck, among other any time, or to anybody, and often things, by the impartiality he maindoing much injury and damage to tains throughout. He most religiously their immediate vicinity, are yet bene- avoids the two errors we mentioned ficial in the long run in their results. above, and neither exalts his hero
The philosopher and the man of into a demigod, nor allows his human sense and discretion will avoid the failings and imperfections to dwarf in errors of both thèse classes. Bring his eyes the colossal stature of his ining to the examination of the life of tellect, or detract from the nobility any great man all the love, and gratis and native worth of his disposition. tude, and respect which he feels and We regret, however, that one slight knows to be due to the eminent bene- stumbling-block meets us at the outfactors and guides of our species, set, which has elsewhere been remarked he will yet look upon him as a man, upon, and that is, the dedication to and not as a demigod. He will view Prince Albert. His Royal Highness bas him as one subject to the same pas- merit enough of his own to enable him sions and instincts, thinking many of to dispense with adventitious praise and of the same thoughts, feeling many of mere courtier-like compliment; and if the same sensations, and liable to Sir David's work really did stand in many of the same infirmities, as the need of the protection of the Prince's meanest and lowest of our name, it would be of very little ad. Knowing, and making allowance for, vantage to it. Sir David seems himthis large share of common humanity, self to find his courtier's dress sit awkwith all its weaknesses and all its im- wardly upon him, for there is not in perfections, he will be able to form a his two volumes any other such clumtruer, and therefore, often a more ex. sily expressed passage as bis dedica,