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sider the person who gives me a beautiful thought, enriches me with a valuable truth, or leads me to take more liberal views of the capacity of the soul or the value of time, is less useful to me than that other kind of beings who make jellies for me, and watch with me in illness, or take me to ride, and entertain me with their best cheer, when I am well. Let none of us neglect the common duties of our spheres; but if any hours be left, can we devote them better than to acquiring a knowledge of the laws of God's world, or the minds and history of his creatures ? Are we not thus fitting ourselves to perform the highest kind of duty towards each other ? And I do believe that, if we judiciously manage our time on earth, — short though it be, — there will be sufficient to enable us to be useful in the highest sense of that term, as well as in the sense in which you use it.
SIR KIT RACKRENT AND HIS LADY, Miss Edgeworth.
“ Sir Kit condescended,” said one of his servants, “to tell us in his letter that all would be speedily settled to his satisfaction, and we should turn over a new leaf, for he was going to be married in a fortnight to the grandest heiress in England, and had only immediate occasion at present for two hundred pounds; as he would not choose to touch his lady's fortune for travelling expenses home to Casıle Rackrent, where he intended to be, wind and weather permitting, early in the next month; and desired fires, and the house to be painted, and the new building to go on as fast as possible for the reception of him and his lady, before that time; with several words besides in the letter, which we could not make out, because he wrote in such a flurry.
“ My heart warmed to my new lady, when I read this. I was almost afraid it was too good news to be true; but the girls fell to scouring; and it was well they did; for we soon saw his marriage in the paper to a lady with I don't know how many tens of thousand pounds to her fortune. Then I watched the post-office for his landing; and the news came to my son of his and the bride being in Dublin, and on the way home to Castle Rackrent. We had bonfires all over the country, expecting him down the next day; and we had his coming of age still to celebrate, which he had not time to do properly before he left the country; therefore a great ball was expected, and great doings upon his coming, as it were, fresh to take possession of his ancestors' estate.
“I never shall forget the day he came home: we had waited and waited, all day long, till eleven o'clock at night; and I was thinking of sending the boy to lock the gates, and giving them up for that night, when there came the carriages, thundering up to the great hall-door. I got the first sight of the bride ; for when the carriage-door opened, just as she had her foot on the steps, I held the flam full in her face to light her, at which she shut her eyes; but I had a full view of the rest of her; and greatly shocked I was, for by that light she was little better than a blackamoor, and seemed crippled; but that was only sitting so long in the chariot.
"• You're kindly welcome to Castle Rackrent, my lady,' says I, (recollecting who she was ;) 'did your honour hear of the bonfires?' His honour spoke never a word, nor so much as handed her up the steps ; – he looked at me no more like himself than nothing at all; I know I took him for the skeleton of his honour. I was not sure what to say next to one or t'other; but seeing she was a stranger in a foreign country, I thought it but right to speak cheerful to her; so I went back again to the bonfires.
“My lady,' says I, as she crossed the hall, there would have been fifty times as many, but for fear of the horses and frightening your ladyship: Jason and I forbid them, please your honour.' With that she looked at me a little bewildered. — • Will I have a fire lighted in the state-room to-night?' — was the next question I put to her ; but never a word she an«swered; so I concluded she could not speak a word of EngTish, and was from foreign parts.
“ The short and the long of it was, I couldn't tell what to make of her; so I left her to herself, and went straight down to the servants' hall to learn something for certain about her. Sir Kit's own man was tired; but the groom set him a-talking at last; and we had it all out, before ever I closed my eyes that night. — The bride might well be a great fortune, — she was a Jewish by all accounts, who are famous for their great riches. I had never seen any of that tribe or nation before, and could only gather that she spoke a strange kind of English of her own, that she could not abide pork or sausages, and went neither to church nor mass.
««Mercy upon his honour's poor soul !' thought I, what will become of him and his, and all of us with his heretic blackamoor at the head of the Castle Rackrent estate!' I never slept a wink all night for thinking of it; but before the servants I put my pipe in my mouth, and kept my mind to myself'; for I had a great regard for the family; and after this, when strange gentlemen's servants came to the house, and would begin to talk about the bride, I took care to put the best foot foremost, and passed her for a nabob, — in the kitchen, - which accounted for her dark complexion and every thing.
“ The very morning after they came home, however, I saw how things were, plain enough, between Sir Kit and my lady; though they were walking together arm-in-arm after breakfast, looking at the new building and the improvements.
“Old Thady,' said my master, just as he used to do, “how do you do?' - Very well, I thank your honour's honour,' said I. But I saw he was not well pleased; and my heart was in my mouth, as I walked along after him.
“Is the large room damp, Thady?' said his honour. — Oh! damp, your honour! how should it but be as dry as a bone,' says I, ' after all the fires we have kept in it day and night? It's the barrack-room your honour's talking on.'
W. And what is a barrack-room, pray, my dear ? ' were the first words I ever heard out of my lady's lips. —No matter, my dear!' said he, and went on talking to me, ashamedlike I should witness her ignorance. To be sure, to hear her talk, one might have taken her for an innocent; — for it was, • What's this, Sir Kit?' and 'What's that, Sir Kit?' all the way we went. — To be sure, Sir Kit had enough to do to answer her. And what do you call that, Sir Kit?' said she, that, that looks like a pile of black bricks, pray, Sir Kit?'
My turf-stack, my dear,' said my master, and bit his lip. - Where have you lived, my lady, all your life, not to know a turf-stack when you see it?' thought I, but I said nothing.
“Then, by-and-by, she takes out her glass, and begins spying over the country. “And what's all that black swamp out yonder, Sir Kit?' says she. — My bog, my dear,' says he, and went on whistling. — 'It's a very ugly prospect, my dear,' says she. — 'You don't see it, my dear,' says he, ‘ for we've planted it out; when the trees grow up in summer-time,' says he. —'Where are the trees,' says she, “my dear?' still looking through her glass. — You are blind, my dear,' says he; — what are these under your eyes?''These shrubs ?' said she. — Trees,' said he. — Maybe they are what you call trues in Ireland, my dear,' says she; 'but they are not a yard high, are they?' - They were planted out but last year, my lady,' says I, to soften matters between them, for I saw she was going the way to make his honour mad with her ; 'they are all very well grown for their age, and you'll not see the bog of Allyballycarrick-o'shaughlin, at all, at all, through the screen, when once the leaves come out. But, my lady, you must not quarrel with any part or parcel of Allyballycarrick-o'shaughlin, for you don't know how many hundred years that same bit of bog has been in the family; we would not part with the bog of Allyballycarrick-o'shaughlin upon no account at all : it cost the late Sir Murtagh two hundred good pounds to defend his title to it, and boundaries against the O'Learys, who cut a road through it.'
“Now one would have thought this would have been hint enough for my lady; but she fell to laughing like one out of their right mind, and made me say the name of the bog over for her to get it by heart, a dozen times; then she must ask me how to spell it, and what was the meaning of it in English, - Sir Kit standing by whistling all the while; I verily believe she laid the corner-stone of all her future misfortunes at that very instant; but I said no more, - only looked at Sir Kit."
IN tropic skies, the moon and planets, instead of cowering low in the southern quarter, and creeping around from east to west, as in northern latitudes, mount in a bolder and more heavenward course, directly above us; — each at times becoming the glittering key-stone and central gem of the blue dome. At about ten o'clock on Sunday night, the evening clouds having vanished, I stretched myself out supinely, at full length, on the tafferel, secured from rolling overboard, by the stern-boat which was triced up there. Looking up into the sky, I saw the moon, with Mars and Jupiter near, one on each side at equal distance, shining with a beauty and power of light, before unknown to me.
The brilliancy of these planets, in the pure, clear sky of
the tropic ocean, which no unwholesome vapour or smoky, dusty haze from the land, ever dims or defiles, is beyond all conception. Jupiter, every night, as it ascended, threw a brilliant, long, silvery track of light over the waters, almost equal to that which I have seen caused by the moon on our northern seas and bays. And so, all over the heavens, the stars were brighter than I had ever imagined it possible for them to shine through any earthly atmosphere.
Yet several nights passed, while I looked in vain for some of those peculiarly interesting constellations near the south pole, which were already above our horizon. For though all the rest of the sky was clear, along the southern quarter, a peculiar dark, misty cloud descended across our path, shroud. ing from view the long-desired lights of the southern hemisphere. The cloud occupying about fifteen degrees in altitude from the horizon, was just sufficient to hide, for some time, the magnificent Southern Cross, so richly described by Humboldt, and by Tyerman and Bennet, whose vivid impressions at the sight, so poetically expressed, had long led me to anticipate this, as one of the richest rewards of a tropical voyage.
And when, at length, my nights of vain watching, and my years of studious hope, were requited by the sight of this most glorious object in the created universe, all the circumstances and incidents seemed wonderfully arranged to impress me not only with gratification at the happy accomplishment of my wishes, and with admiration of the beauty of the spectacle, but also with deeper and farther-reaching feelings, of the moral power of the strange picture before me in heaven and in earth. It was on an evening in January, that I obtained a distinct view of the Starry Cross; the form of it being so perfect, that at the very first glance no observer could be mistaken. I saw it standing erect and resplendent over the dark cloud, in more than imagined beauty and glory, - its four large stars arranged in striking order and symmetry, in the form which all Christendom recognizes as the sign and memorial of God's infinite love and man's eternal hope; and the rapture I then felt was cheaply purchased by all the sufferings and perils of the voyage then past or yet before me. Many hours I enjoyed the scene and the emotions rising from it; and so through months and years of wanderings that followed, that glorious object attracted my eyes through watchful nights of exile, of suffering, of peril, and of loneliness, till it became to me a familiar and welcome thing, asso.