Графични страници
PDF файл

something touching and poetical in the old idea of the lost Pleiad ; but say, have the ‘seven sisters,'has that remarkable cluster, suffered aught in 'sweet influences' since, instead of six, the Pleiades have been found to number two hundred stars? The 'bands of Orion' are still beautiful and bright as when they were seen by Job, and as I now gaze at them through my casement, I feel that the telescope is a true friend to poetry.

Who would not be familiar with the stars ? Who would wish to gaze upon them with the weird faith of the astrologer, or watch their courses in the ignorance which shrouded the speculations of the shepherds on the plains of Shinar ? Who would not rather, as he watches them, trace out suns and systems, than, with unanointed eyes, see nothing but spangles on the imperial robe of night? Hazlitt was wrong in saying we should never have another Jacob's dream, because the heavens had gone farther off, and grown astronomical.

Our first impressions of character are stubborn. We are prone to preserve them, as change involves a sacrifice of vanity. Notwithstanding they frequently attain to the strength of prejudices, yet familiarity may banish them. We meet a person casually. There is that about him which excites our dislike some awkwardness of manner, or ugliness of feature, or rudeness of speech some word, look or action, which thoroughly disgusts us, and we turn from him with loathing. On some succeeding occasion we are again thrown into his company, and the laws of society compel us to pay him some attention. We approach him, as we approach a dentist when we have the tooth-ache, not from inclination but overruling necessity. He appears under a changed aspect. Our preconceived opinions of his powers of pleasing us give way. Gradually he wins on our admiration. He gains our confidence. We form an attachment for him. He becomes a welcome visitor at our hearth. Familiarity changes our opinions; and we hail a friend in one to whom our feelings were at first decidedly inimical. This is one of the influences of familiarity over our judgments. It also frequently confirms and deepens our first dislikes, particularly if the fellow happens to be brute-like at heart, and Baotian in the caste of his intellect.

You have had a very dear friend - one who became a sharer of your most sacred confidence. He was indispensable to your happiness. You consulted him on the most important of your interests. With him you roved through the forests, or climbed the hill that overlooks the river which you love. To him you breathed your unexecuted projects of love, literature, or business. Your affections clung to every thing wbich was part of him. You would have been displeased, if he had changed the swing of his arm. Your attachment extended to his seedy coat. You would have resented an indignity shown his old hat. Indeed you felt that your affection for his good qualities branched out kindly even toward his foibles and his wardrobe. Familiarity had endeared all that was associated with him to your heart. If he changed his residence, you continued to love the house in which you formerly visited him. And thus does familiarity, instead of breeding contempt, fill us with affections for persons and objects. How we love to read old familiar faces,' as Lamb terms them. The eye can never be satisfied, though it has dwelt thousands of times on every lineament. In the same manner we love to look on objects which are most familiar to our sight. Like Goldsmith, we think the horizon which embraces old familiar objects, the most charming the world contains. We love to walk in our old accustomed paths. We think the tree in whose grateful shade we have oftenest reposed, the most beautiful of all that throw their stalwart branches heavenward. The birds sing most sweetly in the groves with which we are best acquainted. The skies are brightest, and the clouds are thickest thronged with gathering and dissolving pictures, which overhang our abiding places. Our slumbers are lightest, and our dreams rosiest, when our heads repose on pillows we have pressed a thousand times. The moonbeams are softest on the island whose every shrub has met our gaze. The flowers are brightest which bloom in the garden beneath our window, and the breezes which wanton over them have a peculiarly delicate way of wafting their rifled sweets to our nostrils. The coquettish little stream that babbles and flirts through well-known woodlands, like a beauty at a ball, bas graces that are singularly winning. Streams oftenest seen, murmur the softest melody in our ears. Even as Boreas and his ruthless myrmidons sweep through our accustomed forests, their roar has peculiar intonations, and we fancy something exquisite in it.' Such are some of the charms which cluster around our abode, hallowed as it is by familiarity.

Does familiarity with the beauties of nature dull your admiration ? Is the hue of the rose, or the fragrance of the sweet briar undervalued by acquaintance ? Old ocean's billow's never sound listlessly on the ear. Nor do we ever look indifferently on the twi. light which lingers in the western heaven. The purple flush on the cheek of morning never grows wearisome to the eye. Mountains around our homes are always majestic. We love the flowers, and the birds, and the 'voices of streams,' more dearly as acquaintance with them lengthens. Stars never growdin to the astronomer's, or the poet's, or the lover's vision. Moonbeams always dance on rippling waters. The breath of spring is invariably sweet.

The Sabbath bells never part with their melody; the oftener we hear them, the more we thank Ben Jonson for having called their sounds the ‘poetry of steeples.' And why these effects? Because the objects are all familiar, and familiarity has thrown a thousand hallowed associations around them, and the heart clings to them as portions of its own history.

Music, like wine, improves its flavor by age. One never tires of his sweet-heart's voice. Bonnie Doon, John Anderson, my Joe,' * Auld Lang Syne,'• Home,' and the like, are sweeter to the sense than any songs of more modern origin, because of our familiarity and long associations with them. As we become familiar with an old author, how we reverence him! How close is the tie which binds old Burton, bachelor and phlegmatic though he was, to our bosoms! When you have read Hamlet for the hundredth time, has he lost the power of interesting you? What a touching feeling is that with which we regard a book over which we have wept or laughed! How a Christian in Catholic countries loves his cross!

[ocr errors]

how the stricken pilgrim cherishes his Bible, and how the Persian devotee loves the evening star!

Of all the loves which exercise a tyranny over that restless organ which beats in every bosom, that which looks to novelty for its aliment, we consider most pitiful. We are thankful that we have a love for what is old and familiar to us, from an old friend down to the old shoe which hath kindly accommodated itself to our pedal developments. We hate fashion, because it is ceaselessly innovating forms and styles which have become familiar to our eyes. We love the dress of the Quakers, because it changeth not; and we have a peculiar fondness for the smiles and glances which flash on one from beneath the bonnets which adorn the heads of the female members. We cling to an old hat or coat, which is the relic of a bye-gone fashion, with a most sacred tenacity. We have no wife, and scarcely an old sweet-heart, but certainly the love which man cherishes for these heaven-sent blessings, waxeth stronger as years roll over it, if there is any truth in one's observation.

We have an undeclared affection for the venerable spiders that have gracefully festooned the rafters of our attic, and we would cordially resent the impiety which would sweep them down. We are fond of yonder long-legged fellow, whom we discover, by the light of our lamp, twitching his fore foot as if he were nervous, for he is an acquaintance of some standing. It

may be that it was his grandfather, of whom our memory taketh cognizance, but he evidently hath a familiar look about him, and that is enough to insure our regard. Yes, yes we are thankful that the love of novelty is not our curse. We go for the old and the familiar, in preference to what is new; for whatever is well understood, takes hold of one's love, if it be lovely in its nature, in proportion to our familiarity with it. Finally, we are familiar with this rude apartment, in which we have dodged rain-drops, and weathered other storms; and nothing but fire, intense poverty, matrimony, or some other equally grievous calamity, shall ever drive us from the shelter of the roof under which we now subscribe ourself, dear reader, your friend and well-wisher. Louisville, (Ky.,) 1838.

T. H. S.




I saw a maiden carrying a flower

'T was bright and lovely in its virgin bloom,
And had an inward incense-breathing power,

That filled the air with a most rich perfume.
It smiled on every one that passed, and so

Did the sweet maiden, bearing it along;
They were so like in beauty's modest glow,

I knew that to one race they must belong :
But oh, the maiden was the fairest far!

In woman's angel purity enshrined,
Blending the rose-bud with the beaming star,

Sweetness of heart with purity of mind :
I will not say who that sweet girl might be
I'll only whisper she was much like thee!

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

'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!' - yet 't is not that here

There's nothing to live for, and nothing to love ;
The cup of life's blessings, though mingled with tears,

Is crowned with rich tokens of good from above :
And dark though the storms of adversity rise,

Though changes dishearten, and dangers appal,
Each hath its high purpose, both gracious and wise,

And a Father's kind providence rules over all.


'I would not live alway!' and yet oh, to die!

With a shuddering thrill how it palsies the heart !
We may love, we may pant for, the glory on high,

Yet tremble and grieve from earth's kindred io part.
There are ties of deep tenderness drawing us down,

Which warm round the heart-strings their tendrils will weave ;
And Faith, reaching forth for her heavenly crown,

Still lingers, embracing the friends she must leave.


'I would not live alway! because I am sure

There's a better, a holier rest in the sky;
And the hope that looks forth to that heavenly shore,

Overcomes timid nature's reluctance to die.
O visions of glory, of bliss, and of love,

Where sin cannot enter, nor passion enslave,
Ye have power o'er the heart, to subdue or remove

The sharpness of death, and the gloom of the grave!


'I would not live alway!' yet ’t is not that time,

Its loves, hopes, and friendships, cares, duties, and joys,
Yield nothing exalted, nor pure, nor sublime,

The heart to delight, or the soul to employ;
No! an angel might ostentimes sinlessly dwell

Mid the innocent scenes to life's pilgrimage given;
And though passion and folly can make earth a hell,

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,
I'd enjoy the sweet flowers and fruits as I may,

And gain with their treasures whate'er they are worth :
I would live, as if life were a part of my heaven,

I would love, as if love were a part of its bliss,
And I'd take the sweet comforts, so lavishly given,

As foretastes of that world, in portions, in this.


'I would not live alway! yet willingly wait,

Be it longer or shorter, life's journey to roam,
Ever ready and girded, with spirits elate,

To obey the first call that shall summon me home.
O yes! it is better, far better, to go

Where pain, sin, and sorrow can never intrude;
And yet I wonld cheerfully larry below,

And expecting the BETTER, rejoice in the goop.
Nen-York, March, 1838.



[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Wuy, 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 materia 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 Aung 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 my 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 may minister unto you, 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!

great God! 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

« ПредишнаНапред »