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'It is true there are shadows as well as lights, clouds as well as sunshine, thorns as well as roses; but it is a happy world after all.'
'I would not live alway! and yet oh, to die!
With a shuddering thrill how it palsies the heart !
Yet tremble and grieve from earth's kindred 10 part.
Which warm round the heart-strings their tendrils will weave ;
Still lingers, embracing the friends she must leave.
'I would not live alway!' yet 't is not that time,
Its loves, hopes, and friendships, cares, duties, and joys,
The heart to delight, or the soul to employ;
Mid the innocent scenes to life's pilgrimage given;
To the pure 't is the emblem and gate-way of heaven.
'I would not live alway! and yet, while I stay
In this Eden of time, 'mid these gardens of earth,
And gain with their treasures whate'er they are worth :
I would love, as if love were a part of its bliss,
As foretastes of that world, in portions, in this.
'I would not live alway!' yel willingly wait,
Be it longer or shorier, life's journey to roam,
To obey the first call that shall summon me home.
Where pain, sin, and sorrow can never intrude;
And expecting the BETTER, rejoice in the GOOD.
WILLIAM CUTTER. VOL. XI.
Why, at those times when a serious aspect would best become us - when the spirit of sadness is on all around, and we would fain conform to the pervading influence — arises ever before us some merry thought, like a grinning ape, to mock our lengthened visage ? Why, if we are indeed sentient, recognisable beings, having power over ourselves, for good or for evil, are we thus subservient to the elements within ? Philosophers, in seeking a cause for this out-of-time perception of the ludicrous, have termed it hysteria !' Well, if an uncontrollable disposition to a hearty laugh in the wrong place be indeed a disease, and to be overcome by aught within the range of ma cria medica, commend me to a doctor!
Oh! thou who art greatly mad, deign to spare me the lesser mad-man !' - would doubtless have been the response of her for whom, last night, my heart so overflowed with sympathy. And then too, when prompted by the spirit of pity, I flung aside cap and bauble, to don the friar's hood, and mutter · Pax vobiscum ! brief time did Folly grant for the perpetration of a seriousness, ere she again shook her bells in my ear, and brushed the hood from
face with her coxcomb.
There, beneath the silken draperies, amid the blaze of light, the air heavy with the perfume of flowers, the bright and beautiful around, she stood, like a being of eld. Dwarfish in stature, and monstrously hump-backed; with a head of immense size, ill set upon a neck not larger than the arm of a child. Her years might have been fifteen or fifty! You could not read their record in her face, for there were united the hue of youth, and the wrinkles of age! Robed in black, and without ornament, save a dazzling gem upon her forehead, she seemed the embodied remembrance of a fairy tale.
* Ah ! thought I, 'poor unfortunate! why are you here? Your home may be a sunny place ; kind sisters
and your couch be smoothed by the soft hand of maternal affection; the path of your passing hours may be strewn with roses; but here, here you can feel nought but their thorns ! In that breast are garnered up all a woman's hopes, and sweet affections. Love! never, never to be returned ! A blighted, cankered, wasting heart must you bear within you to the grave! Silent and alone, will it beat itself to rest, and none will heed its countless, countless throbbings!'
In short, I had by regular gyrations wound myself to the very apex of sentiment, and was ready upon the summit to deluge all around with my tears.
Still silent and abstracted, she stood gazing on the dancers; and crossing the room, I paused beside her. Ah !' thought I, the brightest flowers have not always the sweetest perfume, and the true gem lies oftenest in the leaden casket,'
What could she be thinking of! -- her gaze so intently following
the mazes of the dance ? The waltz! How her eyes sparkled ! She turned to me suddenly, and said: “Do you dance ?' 'Yes,' gasped I, feeling at the moment something like a shock of electricity. I think of employing a master of the art, to give me some instruction,' rejoined she. See ! see! how graceful ! Oh, I know I should dance well, I'm so fond of it! What a climax! Here was one for whom I had made myself miserable, for a mortal half hour, because she possessed not the beauty of those around her, quite content with the world and herself, and thinking of learning to dance ! The sudden transit of feeling from the sublime to the ridiculous, was irresistible, and — heaven forgive me! - I laughed outright,
'Patriæ fumus igne alieno luculentior.' How incomprehensibly is the love of country interwoven with our natures, and what a power does it exercise over our hearts ! Home! It is the exile's hope, though he dwell in lands gorgeous as the fabled East! It is the weary traveller's guiding-star — the goal to which the mariner speeds o'er the bounding wave his dashing prow.
I reside in the house with an elderly English lady —'a half French, better half English woman,' as · Elia' says -- whose amor patrie a childhood passed in 'la belle France,' and a forty years' residence in America, has not in the least degree diminished, and with whose Saint-George-and-the-Dragon notions I am inclined to quarrel a dozen times a day, while she, I believe, looks upon my independent ideas - my disregard of rank, and refusal to bow to any but the aristocracy of mind - with utter astonishment. Boasting a descent from the nobility of England, and on the maternal side, even from royalty itself - reared in the very precincts of the court of Louis the Sixteenth — still remembering the land of her birth, and abhorring every thing un-English, as foreign - she has from infancy looked upon that gilded toy a king,' and upon the pomps and vanities attendant on that state, with almost religious reverence; the greater, perhaps, from the recollection, that on coming to the land of liberty,' she was led by the republican arguments of love, to cast off the bonds of maternal restraint, and the rank she did inherit, and to a lowly fortune link her high estate ; that estate to which, like the saline wife of the patriarch, she is ever looking longingly back. In our frequent conversations, my reasonings, I am convinced, seem to her to savor of that revolution, of whose horrors she retains a vivid remembrance.
SPEAKING of amor patria. Some years since, journeying, in the intense month of July, through a part of New England, our driver stopped before a country inn, for the purpose of watering his horses. It was on the anniversary of the 'glorious Fourth,' and the whole village wore a true holiday aspect. Upon a large green fronting the inn, was erected an arbor of boughs, beneath which was spread a table, whereon traces of feasting yet remained, and where sat men, in that extreme ‘o-be-joyful state, so well befitting the occasion. As the
coach drove up, one arose, and making a great effort to maintain a sober face, and his equilibrium, gave a toast, The Fair Sex !' in compliment probably to the ladies of our party, which was received with astounding acclamations; and as a gentleman' rolled from his seat, another, in regimentals of the cut of seventy-six,' arose, and swaying now this way, now that, held out a brimming bumper, and exclaimed: Fel' citizens ! I give you John Bull! If ever ag'in he dares to set his foot in this land, to invade it, may Uncle Sam beat him, till he beats his head off'!'
I have had a few thoughts on ambition, and some of its varieties. • He fills his space with deeds, and not with lingering years,' who, like the Spartan Lycurgus, lives but for the glory, and dies for the welfare, of his country.
His was a noble, a self-sacrificing ambition.
The ambition of Brutus was wicked and selfish. · Not that I loved Cæsar less, but that I loved Rome more,' he says in his address to the people. No such thing! 'As he was ambitious, 1 slew him!' Even so ! Cupido dominandi cunetis affectibus flagrantior est;' and o'er the fallen Cæsar hoped the patriot Brutus to rear the column of his own imperious desires. The disposition has not perished with the Roman. The world hath yet many a Brutus.
The weak yet aspiring ambition of one who overrates himself, was his, who, at the Natural Bridge, climbed nearly up its two hundred feet of rocky side, and there, hanging between the parapet and the abyss — the earth and loose stones crumbling from beneath his feet — sought far, far above all others, to write his name upon the enduring height. Unable, from terror, to accomplish his object, he had inevitably fallen from his lofty perch, but for the kindly aid of a rope, and a helping hand tendered him from above, by which, almost paralyzed with affright, he was drawn to the top in safety.
That of the clown, in Shakspeare's 'Midsummer Night's Dream,' who was desirous of enacting the whole play himself, from the 'Lion,' even to . Wall,' or Moonshine,' was a grasping and all-conquering ambition. Had he been born to empire, he had doubtless been an Alexander.
A laudable ambition was his, whose adventure is recorded in an interesting little work, entitled “Mother Goose's Melodies. He was evidently, from the tenor of the story, a fisherman. None of your Isaac Walton sort of person, sitting all the day long beside a brook, and angling with flies for trout. No! He disdained even a cod, or a halibut, or any such small fry, as all too mean for his vast purpose. He went boldly down to the sea-side, and there, with a surpassing grandeur of imagination, he
"Baited his hook with a dragon's tail,
And sat on a rock and bobbed for whale!' This was true ambition. Commend me to the man whose aim is to excel in his vocation.
And he too was ambitious, in a kindred way, who, in an extreme western state, replied to one who asked him, far in the old solemn
wilderness, where his house was: 'Umph !' said he, house, eh? I a'n't one o' them kind. No, no! I sleep o' nights in the big government purchase, eat raw bear and buffalo, and drink out o' the Mississippi !' Like Daniel Boon, he was ambitious of 'elbow-room,' and heartily detested those losel scouts, who were crowding round him, some not more than a hundred miles off!
Time was, ere Babel was my habitation, and unbounded leisure my heritage ; ere the green and palmy days of youth had ripened into womanhood, or ere I, athirst, bent for a draught at Helicon, and the sweet face of Poësy gleamed up to me through the bright waters; when Broadway to me was not, and this proud city was the Utopia of mine imagination ; when I, an untravelled, unsophisticated villager, ambitious of a character for notability, like the little busy bee, 'improved each shining hour.'
When I, a lesser orb, under the tutelage of my maternal planet, shone in the household as 'cook's oracle, and house-keeper's assistant,' and an infallible regenerator of superannuated indescribables. What time I, emulous of Atlas, the great globe-bearer himself, took my world of duties lightly upon my back,
and in my circumscribed sphere, sped on through time and space, with a velocity comparable
the worthy sometime proprietor and wearer of the famous seven-league boots — shadowless Master Peter Schemil! Ah, me! and have I then shot from my sphere of usefulness, to become here 'a voice, and nothing more ?'
Our life! Is it not as the banquet of the ancient Egyptians, where the skeleton PRESENT is ever before us? And from that. hidden Isis, the FUTURE, who hath ever raised the veil ? But · Vive la Bagatelle !
I am not sad — the world for me
Music! To the sound of a barrel-organ, my heart bounds with the monkey, its usual accompaniment, or swells with a jews-harp, or one of the thousand strings. But wo is me! Would that mine habitation were in the skirts of Jericho, rather than thus, next door to, and separated from, by a very lhin partition, that of a family of musical young ladies, whose ear-torturing executions’ I am doomed to suffer, from morning to night! There they go!
• U-na vo-ce po-ca fa!' — piano and voice each in its own independent half dozen' keys, with flats and sharps, ad libitum. Surely they were taught in chaos, ere time was -- or ere the spheres were tuned to harmony - or ere the morning stars sang together!' M. E. H.