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the very poor man has no visitors. He can look into the goings on of the world, and speak a little to politics. At home there are no politics stirring, but the domestic. All interests, real or imaginary, all topics that should expand the mind of man, and connect him to a sympathy with general existence, are crushed in the absorbing consideration of food to be obtained for the family. Beyond the price of bread, news is senseless and impertinent.
3. At home there is no larder. Here there is at least a show of plenty; and while he cooks his lean scrap of butcher's meat before the common bars, or munches his humbler cold viands, his relishing bread and cheese with an onion, in a corner, where no one reflects upon his poverty, he has a sight of the substantial joint providing for the landlord and his family. He takes an interest in the dressing of it, and while he assists in removing the trivet from the fire, he feels that there is such a thing as beef and cabbage, which he was beginning to forget at home. All this while he deserts his wife and children. But what wife, and what children? Prosperous men, who object to this desertion, image to themselves some clean, contented family like that which they go to.
4. But look at the countenance of the poor wives who follow and persecute their good man to the door of the public house, which he is about to enter, when something like shame would restrain him, if stronger misery did not induce him to pass the threshold. That face, ground by want, in which every cheerful, every conversable lineament has been long effaced by misery,—is that a face to stay at home with ? is it more a woman, or a wild-cat? Alas! it is the face of the wife of his youth, that once smiled upon him. . It can smile no longer. What comforts can it share? what burdens can it lighten?
5. Oh, 'tis a fine thing to talk of the humble meal shared together! But what if there be no bread in the cupboard ? The innocent prattle of his children takes out the sting of a man's poverty. But the children of the very poor do not prattle. It is none of the least frightful features in that condition, that there is no childishness in its dwellings. Poor people, said a sensible old nurse to us once, do not bring up
their children : they drag them up. The little careless darling of the wealthier nursery, in their hovel is transformed betimes into a premature reflecting person.
6. No one has time to dandle it, no one thinks it worth while to coax it, to soothe it, to toss it up and down, to humor it. There is none to kiss away its tears. If it cries, it can only be beaten. It has been prettily said, that “a babe is fed with milk and praise." But the aliment of this poor babe was thin, unnourishing; the return to its little babytricks, and efforts to engage attention, bitter, ceaseless objurgation. It never had a toy, or knew what a coral meant. It grew up without the lullaby of nurses; it was a stranger to the patient fondle, the hushing caress, the attracting novelty, the costlier plaything, or the cheaper off-hand contrivance to divert the child ; the prattled nonsense (best sense to it), the wise impertinences, the wholesome lies, the apt story interposed, that puts a stop to present sufferings, and awakens the passions of young wonder.
7. It was never sung to,-no one ever told to it a tale of the nursery. It was dragged up, to live or to die as it happened. It had no young dreams. It broke at once into the iron realities of life. A child exists not for the very poor as any object of dalliance; it is only another mouth to be fed, a pair of little hands to be betimes inured to labor. It is the rival, till it can be the coöperator for food with the parent. It is never his mirth, his diversion, his solace ; it never makes him young again, with recalling his young times. The children of the very poor have no young times. It makes the very heart bleed to overhear the casual street-talk between a poor woman and her little girl, a woman of the better sort of poor, in a condition rather above the squalid beings which we have been contemplating.
8. It is not of toys, of nursery books, of summer holidays (fitting that age); of the promised sight, or play ; of praised sufficiency at school. It is of mangling and clear-starching, of the price of coals, or of potatoes. The questions of the child, that should be the very outpourings of curiosity in idleness, are marked with forecast and melancholy providence. It has come to be a woman-before it was a child. It has learned to go to market, it chaffers, it haggles, it envies, it
murmurs; it is knowing, acute, sharpened; it never prattles. Had we not reason to say, that the home of the very poor is no home?
QUESTIONS.—Is the picture presented in the first stanza an agreeable one? Is it often seen in this country where the heads of families are industrious ? What is meant by “attendance beyond the merits of the trifle which he can afford to spend”? 3. What is meant by the expression, “at home there is no larder"? What is a “trivet”? 5. Why do not the children of the very poor “prattle”? 8. What is meant by “praised sufficiency at school”? by “mangling and clear-starching”? [This piece is simple and conversational in style, but there is an element of deep sadness running through the whole of it. Let the voice be carefully trained to the proper expression of this emotion.]
XI.—THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.
1. There is yet another home which we are constrained to deny to be one. It has a larder, which the home of the poor man wants ; its fireside conveniences, of which the poor dream not. But with all this, it is no home. It is—the house of a man that is infested with many visitors. May we be branded for the veriest churl, if we deny our heart to the many noble-hearted friends that at times exchange their dwelling for our poor roof! It is not of guests that we complain, but of endless, purposeless visitants ; droppers-in, as they are called. We sometimes wonder from what sky they fall. It is the very error of the position of our lodging ; its horoscopy was ill-calculated, being just situate in a mediuma plaguy suburban mid-space-fitted to catch idlers from town or country.
2. We are older than we were, and age is easily put out of its way. We have fewer sands in our glass to reckon upon, and we can not brook to see them drop in endlessly succeeding impertinences. At our time of life, to be alone sometimes is as needful as sleep. It is the refreshing sleep of the day. The growing infirmities of age manifest themselves in
nothing more strongly than in an inveterate dislike of interruption. The thing which we are doing, we wish to be permitted to do. We have neither much knowledge nor devices; but there are fewer in the place to which we hasten. We are not willingly put out of our way, even at a game of ninepins.
3. While youth was, we had vast reversions in time future; we are reduced to a present pittance, and obliged to economize in that article. We bleed away our moments now as hardly as our ducats. We can not bear to have our thin wardrobe eaten and fretted into by moths. We are willing to barter our good time with a friend, who gives us in exchange his own. Herein is the distinction between the genuine guest and the visitant. This latter takes your good time, and gives you his bad in exchange. The guest is domestic to you as your good cat, or household bird ; the visitant is your fly, that flaps in at your window, and out again, leaving nothing but a sense of disturbance, and victuals spoiled.
4. The inferior functions of life begin to move heavily. We can not concoct our food with interruption. Our chief meal, to be nutritive, must be solitary. With difficulty we can eat before a guest; and never understood what the relish of public feasting meant. Meats have no savor, nor digestion fair play, in a crowd. The unexpected coming in of a visitant stops the machine. There is a punctual generation who time their calls to the precise commencement of your dinner-hour-not to eat-but to see you eat. Our knife and fork drop instinctively, and we feel that we have swallowed our latest morsel.
5. Others again show their genius, as we have said, in knocking the moment you have just sat down to a book. They have a peculiar compassionate sneer, with which they " hope that they do not interrupt your studies." Though they flutter off the next moment, to carry their impertinences to the nearest student that they can call their friend, the tone of the book is spoiled ; we shut the leaves, and with Dante's lovers, read no more that day. It were well if the effect of the intrusion were simply coëxtensive with its presence, but it mars all the good hours afterwards. These scratches in
appearance leave an orifice that closes not hastily. “It is a prostitution of the bravery of friendship,” says worthy Bishop Taylor, “ to spend it upon impertinent people, who are, it may be, loads to their families, but can never ease my loads." This is the secret of their gaddings, their visits, and morning calls. They too have homes, which are—no homes.
XII.—THE RETURN OF THE DEAD.
EDNA DEAN PROCTOR.
As lone I climbed the midnight hill,
2. The bolt flew back with sudden clang :
I entered; wall and rafter rang ;
3. And groping up the threshold stair,
And past the chambers cold and bare,
4. Where were those rosy children three ?
The boy beneath the moaning sea;