Page images
PDF
EPUB

to it, and more nakedly disgusting; because it memories her companions during the liveis stripped of all the allowances and palliations long day. But these subjects are lightly which are admissible in all other cases. And touched on, as though the heart within her this disgust is not compensated for by a corre: failed in giving them utterance; and the sponding satisfaction in our own good; for the very best good we can ever recognize in our sorrowful now was, we fear, victorious in selves falls so far short of our own conceptions, the end. A birth-day spent-we can hardly so fails to satisfy the requisitions of the moral say kept-in a sick room is sufficient to sense, that it can assord no gratification. make the most heedless think; but she

If it is thus in the scason of vigor, health, draws her comfort from the reflection—“If and self-command, how inexpressibly absurd is with every year of contemplation the world the mistake of bringing such a topic as consolation to the sick and sequestered !-10 the appears a more astonishing fact, and life a sick, whose whole heart is faint, and the men- more noble mystery, we cannot but be retal frame disordered more or less, in propor- animated by the recurrence of every birthtion as the body is jaded and the nerves un. day, which draws us up higher into the strung; and to the sequestered, who perforce regions of contemplation, and nearer to the devour their own hearts, and find them the gate within which lies the disclosure of all bitterest food! .

If the consoler could but see the invisible array which comes

mysteries which worthily occupy us now, and thronging into the sick room from the deep doubtless a new series of others, adapted to regions of the past, brought by every sound of our then ennobled powers." A sublime imanature without, by every movement of the gining, and no less true than solemn; yet spirit within—the pale lips of dead friends declaring too well that mere human belp whispering one's hard or careless words, spoken was insufficient on such occasions. in childhood or youth, the upbraiding gaze of duties slighted and opportunities neglected

The su bject of the third Essay is nature the horrible apparition of old selfishness and to the invalid ; it is admirably considered. pusillanimities—the disgusting foolery of idiotic We need not dilate on the theme, in introvanities: if the consoler could catch a momen- ducing it, for its power and beauty are suftary glimpse of this phantasmagoria of the ficient recommendation. All who have seen sick room, he would turn with fear and loath- the look of rapture with which the eyes of ing from the past, and shudder, while the the dying are lighted up on beholding fresh inured invalid smiles, at such a choice of topics and living Powers, remember that sight for for solace. Then it might become the turn of the invalid to console-to explain how these

It is wonderful, that

power of nature are but phantoms-how solace does abound, over sick and wasted forms, acting upon though it comes from every region rather than them like an enchanter's spell, and calling the kingdom of conscience-and how, while back life to beat strongly about the heart, as the past is dry and dreary enough, there are in better days! The sights and sounds streams descending from the heaven-bright about us, at such a time should be wellmountain-tops of the future, for ever flowing chosen ; they will vary with different disfastidious longing, abundant enough for the positions--some are satisfied if they can thirstiest soul. The consoler may then learn lie all day long, with eyes beholding heaven for lite how easily all personal complacencies

-others look lower to the green earth or may be dispensed with; while the sufferer can the sea expanse. tell of a true “refuge and strength,' and 'pres

" When an invalid is under sentence of disent help,' and of this •river that gladdens the

ease for life, it becomes a duty of first-rate imcity of God,' and flows to meet us as we journey towards it.”

portance to select a proper place of abode. This is often overlooked; and a sick prisoner

goes on to where he lived before, for no other There are next some touching allusions reason than because he lived there before. to those "marked days”-anniversaries

Many a sufferer languishes amidst street noisjoyous with us in early youth, so mournful windows command dead walls, or paved courts,

es, or passes year alter year in a room whose when time's finger inscribes them upon or some such objects ; so that he sees nothing tombs. These commemorative seasons, of nature but euch sky and stars as show themand, above all, that day of olden merriment, selves above the chimney-tops. I remenuber Christmas, our invalid recommends should the heart-ache it gave me to see a youth, conbe passed alone. With her sprigs of holly fined to a recumbent position for two or three over the fire-place, she can flit away, fancy- years, lying in a room whence he could see plumed, to a thousand hearths, enter

nothing, and dependent therefore on the cage

of birds by his bed-side, and the flowers his full of young eyes," or gaze for a moment friends sent him, for the only notices of nature on “ the cozy little party of elderly folk that reached him, except the summer's heat round the fire or tea-table, and make her and the winter's cold. There was no sufficient

ever.

-SO

rooms

Case:

reason why he should not have been placed its sandy beach, where there are frequent where he could overlook fields, or even the wrecks—too interesting to an invalid-and a sea."

fine stretch of rocky shore to the left; and

above the rocks, a spreading heath, where I To the latter our friend inclines, and as- watch troops of boys flying their kites; lovers signs her reasons for its choice in her own and friends taking their breezy walk on Sun

days; the sportsman with his gun and dog ; “What is the best kind of view for a sick farm-houses on Saturday evenings, to carry

and the washerwomen converging from the prisoner's windows to command ? I have chosen the sea, and am satisfied with my yet further height. I see them, now talking

their loads, in company, to the village on the choice. We should have the widest expanse in a cluster, as they walk, each with her of land or water, for the sake of a sense of lib- white burden on her head, and now in file, as erty, yet more than for variety; and also because then the inestimable help of a telescope ly, they part off on the village green, each to

they pass through the narrow lane; and finalmay be called in. Think of the difference to us between seeing from our sofas the width of hind the village and the heath stretches the

some neighboring house of the gentry. Bea street, even if it be Sackville-street, Dublin, railroad; and I watch the train triumphantly or Portland-place in London, and thirty miles careering along the level road, and puffing. of sea view, with its long boundary of rocks, forth its steam above hedges and groups of and the power of sweeping our glance over half a county, by means of a telescope! But trees, and then laboring and panting up the the chief ground of preference of the sea is ascent, till it is lost between the two heights,

which at last bound my view. But on these less its space than its motion, and the perpetual shifting of objects caused by it. There can be heights are more objects ;-a windmill, now in

motion and now at rest; a lime-kiln, in a picnothing in inland scenery which can give the sense of life and motion and connexion with barely visible in the morning, but conspicuous

turesque rocky field; an ancient church-tower, the world like sea changes. The motion of a when the setting sun shines upon it; a colliery, waterfall is too continuous, too little varied, as with its lofty wagon-way, and the self-moving the breaking of the waves would be, if that were all the sea could afford. The fitful action wagons running hither and thither, as if in of a windmill, the waving of trees, the ever, various degrees of ascent, whose yards, pad

and three or four farms, at

pure willulness; changing aspects of mountains are good and beautiful; but there is something more life-docks, and dairies I am better acquainted with like in the going forth and return

of ships, in I know every stack of the one on the heights,

than their inhabitants would deem possible. the passage of deets, and in the never-ending Against the sky I see the stacking of corn and variety of a fishery."

hay in the season, and can detect the slicing In the writer's description of her own away of the provender, with an accurate eye,

at the distance of several miles. I can follow retreat, we recognise that pleasant little the sociable farmer in his summer-evening ride, watering place, Tynemouth, in Northum-pricking on in the lanes where he is alone, in berland. What a faithful daguerreotype order to have more time for the unconscionapainting is the following !

ble gossip at the gate of the next farm-house, “But then, there must not be too much sea of the next, or for the third or fourth before

and for the second talk over the paddock fence The strongest eyes and nerves could not sup- the porch, or over the wall, when the resident port the glare and oppressive yastness of an farmer comes out, pipe in mouth, and puffs unrelieved expanse of waters. I was aware of his in time, and fixed myself where the view with a shawl over her cap, to see what can

away amidst his chat, till the wife appears, of the sea was inferior to what I should have detain him so long; and the daughter follows, preferred, if I had come to the coast for a with her gown turned over her head, (for it is summer visit. Between my window and the sea is a green down-as green as any field in horseman finds he must be going, looks at his

now chill evening,) and at last the sociable Ireland ; and on the nearer half of this down, watch, and, with a gesture of surprise, turns hay-making goes forward in its season. It

his steed down a steep broken way to the slopes down to a hollow, where the prior of old beach, and canters home over the sands, left preserved his fish, there being sluices formerly hard and wet by the ebbing tide, the white at either end; the one opening upon the river, horse making his progress visible to me and the other upon the little haven below the

through the dusk. Then, if the question priory, whose ruins still crown the rock. arises, which has most of the gossip spirit

, he From the prior's fish-pond the green down

or I, there is no shame in the answer. Any slopes upwards again to a ridge ; and on the such small amusement is better than harmslope are cows grazing all summer, and half less-is salutary-which carries the spirit of way into the winter. Over the ridge, I survey the sick prisoner abroad into the open air, and the harbor, and all its traffic; the view extending from the light-houses far to the right, among country, people. When I shut down to a horizon of the sea to the left. Beyond my window, I feel that my mind has had an

airing." the harbor lies another county, with, first,

We

We are less inclined to agree with the less relish and success than by those at ease writer's speculations on Life, than with any

and in full vigor. In my childhood, I attendother portion of the volume. The world's ed, as an observer, one fine morning, at the

funeral of a person with whom I was well acamelioration, and the consequent increase quainted, without feeling any strong affection, of human happiness, are her fond dreams; I was somewhat moved by the solemnity, and and she grounds their now probable near- by the tears of the family; but the most powerness upon the growing influence of the ful feeling of the day was excited when the popular classes We are old-fashioned evening closed in, gusty and rainy, and I enough to regard the movements of the thought of the form I knew so well, left alone present day with fear, rather than hope. else was warm and sheltered. I felt that, if I

in the cold and darkness, while every body We do not think we have strengthened our had been one of the family, I could not have political building by knocking away the neglectfully and selfishly gone to bed that buttresses and carefully picking out the night, but must have passed the hours till daycorner-stones; nor do we see that we have light by the grave. Every child has felt this: wisely legislated for the masses, by giving and every child longs to know whether a sick them, through our new enactments, fifty friend contemplates that first night in the cold masters where they had formerly one.

grave, and whether the prospect excites any

emotions. are stupid enough also to discredit the people's advancement in virtue, since the

“Surely ;-we do not contemplate it-freera of reforms began. Neither increased picture the whole scene, under every condi

In the dark night, we

quently-eagerly. power, nor increased knowledge, imply of tion the imagination can originate. By day, necessity augmented goodness. A sword we hold up before our eyes that mosi won in a child's hand is most dangerous to the drous piece of our worldly wealth-our own weak wielder of it; perhaps it had better right hand: examine its curious texture and for ever rested in its sheath. We want mechanism, and call up the image of its sure faith, moreover, in the world's improving tions ? Each must answer for himself. As

deadness and decay. And with what emoitself; and we shall continue to hold such for me, it is with mere curiosity, and without a thing as of impossible occurrence so long any concern about the lonely, cold grave. I as we perceive man deficient alike in the doubt whether any one's imagination rests power and in the will to effect the change. there; whether there is ever any panic about We are sure that when such an advance the darkness and the worm of the narrow

house. ment comes, it will not be from the

operations of the human mind, but from a change

" As for our future home-the scene where in the human heart.

our living selves are to be-how is it possible “Death to the Invalid,'

that we should not be often resorting thither

in imagination, when it is to be our next exthough eminently beautiful, appears to us cursion from our little abode of sickness and over full of shadowy mysticism. There is helplessness-when it is so certain that we too much of philosophy in it—too little of cannot be disappointed of it, however wearily religion. Here, if any where, on account long it may be before we go-when all that of our utter ignorance, speculation should has been best in our lives, our sabbaths, all have little place. None but they who tasted sunset evenings and starry nights, all our revof it, can tell what it really is; yet the when all these things have always pointed

erence and love that are sanctified by death, living love to color it with their own fancy- to our future life, and been associated with it, ings, and according to different dispositions how is it possible that we should not be ever or different emotions, to invest it at one looking forward to it now when our days are time with terrors, at another time with sur-low and weary, and our pleasures few? The passing beauty. To the invalid, and chiefly liability is to too great familiarity with the to the one who is so permanently, it is of subject. When our words make children look course a constant thought; he turns to it abashed, and call a constraint over the manwithout alarm as the natural exodus from cause even the most familiar eyes to be avert

ners of those we are conversing with, and captivity; and as the star brightens on ed, we find ourselves reminded ihat the subject which the eye fastens for a while, he sees of a person's death is one usually thought not in it hour by hour an added glory. We easy to discuss with him. In our retirement, must give an extract :

we are apt to forget, till expressly reminded, the importance of distinctions of rank and pro

perty in society, so nearly as they vanish in “ Those who speculate outside on the expe- our survey of life, in comparison with moral rience of the sick room, are eager to know differences; and, in like manner, we have to whether this solitary transit is often gone over recall an almost lost idea, that death is an in the imagination, and whether with more or awkward topic, except in the abstract, when

The essay

" the bright

our casual mention of a will, or of some trans- sickness, whether in relation to one's self, or action to follow our death, introduces an awe to others; in the former case, as conductand constraint into conversation."

ing to self-contempt, if not self-despair, And again, in reference to dear friends and in the latter, as debarring one especially who have felt with her all her feelings, and from the visits of children, have now gone before her to rest, what est, if not the tenderest, angels of the sickbeautiful thoughts are these! If such de- room.” She shows well, how widely friends partures form, for the healthful, a link with in health may err in the estimation of the the Unseen, how much more do they heigh-sufferer's fortitude—at one time imagining ten the invalid's anticipations of future that all power of endurance has passed things :

away, because, through intense agony the "Perhaps the familiarity of the idea of death at another time giving him credit for sub

soul is made to “ cleave to the dust ;' and is by nothing so much enhanced to use as by lime patience, when he had really no cause the departure before us of those who have sympathized in our prospect. The close do- or temptation to feel otherwise. She demiestic interest thus imparted to that other nies, from deep experience, the possibility life is such as I certainly never conceived of of becoming inured to pain, so as to disrewhen in health, and such as I observe people gard it; but she would have it encountered in health do not conceive of now. but the other day that I was receiving letters by antagonistic forces, and thus subdued of sympathy and solace, and also of religious by the power of ideas. An omnipotent and philosophical investigation as to how life host of these she can call up at will, by her here and hereafter appeared to me; letters books and pictures, and their associations. which told of activity, of labors, and journey. From her couch she has but to turn her ings, which humbled me by a sense of idleness eyes to the wall above, and behold “the and uselessness, while they spoke of humbling consolations of eighteen centuries," in one feelings as regarding the privileges of my se- portrait-the Christus Consolator of clusion. All this is as if it were yesterday; Scheffer; and the fullness of her varied and now, these correspondents have been gone for years. For years we have thought emotions she gives us in this, our last, exof them as knowing the grand secret,' as

tract: familiarized with those scenes we are for ever prying into, while I lie no wiser (in such a others that are tendered for our solace! One

" See what force this is, in comparison with comparison) than when they endeavoured to learn somewhat of these matters from me.

and another, and another of our friends comes And besides these close and dear companions "hope of relief, that talisman which looks so

to us with an earnest pressing upon us of the what departures are continually taking place! well will its virtues are tried! They tell us of Every new year there are several-friends, acquaintances, or strangers--who shake their renewed health and activity-of what it will heads when I am mentioned, in friendly regret

be to enjoy ease again to be useful again

be as we once at another year opening before me without to shake off our troubles, prospect of health-who sends me comforts or

We sigh, and say, it may be so; but luxuries, or words of sympathy, amidst the they see that we are neither roused nor soothed pauses of their busy lives; and before another by it. Then one speaks differently, tells us year comes round, they have dropped out of that we shall never be better-that we shall the world—have learned quickly far more than continue for long years as we are, or shall I can acquire by my leisure and from being that pain, and disturbance, and death are in

sink into deeper disease and death; adding, ed to above and beyond it. Little ones who dissolubly linked with the indestructible life of speculated on me with awe-youthful ones

the soul, and supposing that we are willing to who ministered to me with pity-busy and be conducted on in this eternal course by Him important persons, who gave a cordial but whose thoughts and ways are not as ourspassing sigh to the lot of the idle and helpless; burat in, and take up the word! What have

but whose tenderness

Then how we some of these have outstripped me, and left me looking wistfully after them. Such inci

we not to say, from the abundance of our dents make the future at least as real and hearts, of that benignity, that transcendent familiar to me as the outside world; and every sweet serenity-till we are silenced by our

wisdom-our willingness-our eagerness-our permanent invalid will say the same, and we must not be wondered at if we speak of that

unutterable joy." great interest of ours oftener, and with more familiarity than others use."

Our failing space constrains us to pass

over the two remaining essays, with but a In the inquiry on temper, the writer brief allusion. They relate to the perils searchingly examines the causes and mo- and pains of invalidism, and its gains and difications of the irritability produced by privileges, respectively; and are fully equal

were,

[ocr errors]

.

a few.

to any of the preceding papers. Our read- We reluctantly close this beautiful vol. ers will gather from our quotations the ume, only to make it the frequent compancharacter of the work, which is of the ion of our own leisure hours. It needs purest kind. It is not a volume to be read no further exposition, and what we have through hastily, and then laid aside ; but extracted will sufficiently plead its cause. one at once requiring, and repaying, the We have only to add that the gifted writer severest study. The mind of the writer is is, we understand, Harriet Martineau. plainly of that stamp, which Bacon calls “ full;" and her sentences are weighty in thoughts—thoughts which create thoughts. It was a notion of Shelley's, that feeling so lengthens out life, that the man of talent who dies at thirty is immeasurably older than the dullard who drags on his unmarked existence to threescore. He has, empha- THE ORIGIN OF THE HUMMING-BIRDS. tically, lived more. If we might reason

From the Dublin University Magazine. similarly, the writer of these essays has lived centuries. Each hour has brought When Saint Patrick preached in the Emerald Isle, its thought-life with it, and emotions suffi

The Fairies that haunted the green, cient for years; and hours upon hours have

And their revels bad held, in olden time,

Were filled with envy and spleen. gone over thus with her in her solitary chamber, and she has lived them all. In So they went where the water-lilies float, the present volume we have the records of On the edge of the shallow bay, She possesses, almost in intensity,

And they chose themselves each a little boat, that lovely, yet how fearful, gift, the capa

To carry them far away. bility of suffering; and she has largely Merrily now that little fleet used it. Yet her experiences have ever Bounds o'er the waters blue; brought some good with them, vivifying Boldly the fairies have taken their seat,

Each in her light canoe. the heart, not hardening it; and when they depart, she invariably discovers that they They gave to their Queen the largest flower, have left a blessing behind them.

Their perilous course to guide ; We have thought for many a day—and And after her, like a snowy shower, the book before us revives the impression

The tiny vessels glide. --that more true heroism is needed for a The eddying ripples that bore them along, severe sickness, than for mingling in the

A murmuring melody played; terrors of a battle-field. With life beating And the fairies, who knew the words of its song, strong in his pulses, and health careering A whispering answer made. in his veins, and now half-maddened by The waters are hurrying away to the south, the braying of pibroch or clarion, the sol

And bear them on with their tide, dier rushes against his foeman-determined Till safely they reach the river's mouth, to“ do or die.” If he possesses a minute

And float on the ocean wide. to think, his memories are thronged with the vivas of his countrymen, and the undy- Though many a day and night they sailed, ing remembrances of generations to come; For the might of the winds and waves was stayed

Warmly the sunshine fell, and danger, and wounds, and death are By the power of their magic spell. disregarded, when he feels that his name shall yet be a household word. But oh, That magic spell has banished the night, how changed is everything, when with

While their westward course they take,

For a glorious trail of burnished light nerves unstrung, and health—that life of

Is following in their wake. life-departed, we have to encounter the enemy amidst the heart-depressing silence The fairies have reached the coral strand, of the sick-room! The trial to be under- And left the lily-flowers; gone is not a whit the less fiery, while the They fly away in a merry band

To the pleasant citron bowers. power and stimulant to endure it are wanting. Blessed be God for it, a new series And the humming-birds seen in that sunny clime, of helps then comes in; and when the sun Sparkling with rainbow hues, of this world has gone down, it is not dark- Are the Fairies who left the Emerald Isle,

In their lily-white canoes. ness rules omnipotent, but the moon and stars arise in heaven to guide the wanderer.

H. B.

« PreviousContinue »