Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

see

[ocr errors]

a

in the pulpit ; but all was calm and gentle as the whisper of a seraph. I hìm now, arrayed in his modest attire, the heavy wrinkles arching his brow, his locks whitened by the snow-flakes of seventy years, standing before me in the little desk he occupied so long. I see him affectionately persuading and entreating his people, to choose the better part' ----to forsake the gaudy and glittering tinsel of wealth — to grasp

after those immortal flowers that know no blight of winter, and to‘lay up for themselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust corrupt, nor thieves break through and steal.' He looked like a being more than human a sentinel, as it were, upon the narrow bridge that divides time from eternity. Every body loved Parson Johnson. The very children of the village would forsake their parents, and hasten to meet his embrace, for his way was as simple as a child's. There was a treasury of anecdote in him, and many is the fireside that has been charmed by his presence. There was nothing sour or morose in his manner : the beauty of his religion consisted in a great measure in the felicity it conferred on man here below. Who ever looked on Parson Johnson, and thought not better of christianity? Who ever suspected for a moment that the Father of the universe was not with him ? It would have been sacrilege ! His opinion on any subject was weighed as closely as though it were holy writ itself. When his master on high called him to his bosom, the little flock stood silent. Their shepherd was no more. It was a bereavement too deep to be soon forgotten. He lingered long in their memories, even as the death of a fond parent remains green in the recollection of his children.

But what rendered the old church more sacred to me, was the fact that a long line of ancestors had loved it before me. There were traces of my own mother's hands throughout the interior; and her form cold many long years ago. This gave a pleasing solemnity to every object around, and threw me into a deeper and holier train of meditation.

But I must not forget Deacon Miller's dog. That dog of the deacon's was the most sanctified animal it has ever been

my

fortune to encounter. He always made his appearance about the commencement of the sermon, (probably having an aversion to prayers,) and after pushing the front door one side with his cold nose, he would curl up his tail as round as a hoop upon his back, and trot up the middle aisle with all the importance of a lord. After making the circuit of the church a few times, by way of preliminary, he would couch himself down at the pew-door of the deacon, and fix his eyes upon Parson Johnson with the most intense attention during the remainder of the discourse. He was a pattern to many of the biped race; and although he undoubtedly did wrong in habitually appearing at so late a period, his demeanor was unexceptionable after his arrival; and when the services were concluded, he retired with decent solemnity, doubtless as much edified as many of the congregation. The deacon thought much of the animal; he lived to a ripe old age, when rheumatism set in, and after a couple of years, carried the favorite to his grave. The deacon proposed that the sexton should toll the age of the departed to the village; but that worthy peremptorily refused, and a dispute arose on the occasion, which rendered them enemies forever afterward.

was

Doubtless this old church will stand when the writer of this is no more. If it does, then let it also remain a lesson to others, as it has been to me. I am not among that misanthropical class who look upon auch works of stability only to ascertain my own frailty. There is an eloquence in those gray and silent objects, that should not be forgotten—a solemn voice, it is true, but it has about it nothing dark nor gloomy. It is sweet and pensive, like the tones of its own bell echoing soberly among the hills and valleys that surround it. One may read a lesson where Time has written his characters in the green and slippery moss upon its eaves. There is a homily in the silver thread of the spider that trembles suspended from its columns. Wherever you turn your eye, in this ancient and holy spot, there is a volume of instruction. It is to be looked upon as we gaze upon the October forests, when, in the silent and smoky noon-day, the leaf turns into gold, and the hills stand up in one full blaze of dying splendor. As you would walk forth on the autumnal hills, and identify yourself with the great phenomena of nature

would pause at the rustle of a leaf, or smile at the sweet and mellow serenity of nature - go, oh! friend and companion of my youth! and linger about this old church: if you are a cheerful man, it will purify your cheerfulness; and whatever you may be, you will return a better and a wiser man.'

H. H. R.

- as you

a

LINES TO A FRIEND

ON BEING REQUESTED TO SING OFT IN THE STILLY NIGHT BEFORE A FASHIONABLE EVENING PARTY.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

a

I have recently come to New-York, as thousands have come before me, to seek my fortune. Whether I shall fill my purse with money, or be benefitted otherwise by the change, time alone can determine. I have walked up and down the streets, traversed every lane and alley, and penetrated all quarters of this great and growing metropolis. I have surveyed its architecture, viewed the curiosities of art with which it so magnificently and munificently abounds, and strange as it may appear, have been as much absorbed in thought, as much isolated in mind, as when wandering alone in the forests and the wilds of the far west. In my rambles to and fro, I have sometimes found myself unconsciously hurried along by the current of population which rolls through the streets with a tremendous tide.

It is not my intention to go into an elaborate discussion of the comparative influence of town and country life upon the moral and physical condition of man. I leave this to the theologian and the physician — to those who are better qualified for the task.

Doubtless all of us have at times experienced difficulty in recollecting distinctly conversations had in the street, and what we have seen and heard in town. This is caused by the rapid succession of objects not affording time for that which precedes to make a permanent impression on the memory, before it is effaced by what follows. Hence a residence in the city rather tends to weaken than to strengthen this faculty. I take this, likewise, to be the case with all the faculties of man, moral, intellectual, and physical.

It may be said that those who reside permanently in the city, are in a great measure unconscious of what is going on around them — that they become familiarized to it — that all the hurry, and noise, and excitement in the town, have no more effect upon a citizen, than the lowing of the herds, the singing of the frogs, or the music of the groves, have upon a countryman. I think otherwise

and my opinion is founded upon a residence of nearly twenty years in the city. It does seem to me that I never can become insensible to this kind of influence. It still annoys me

- nay, at times it is intolerable. But I am aware all men are not alike, and that possibly I am an exception, in this instance, to the rest of mankind.

The result of my observations and reflections upon town life is, that great cities are not, to the mass of their inhabitants, favorable to the growth of virtue, and the consequent increase of human happi

The stir, and noise, and excitement with which they are filled - the anxiety and care with which the mind appears to be loaded — is exhausting, and eminently calculated to disturb the tranquillity of the soul - prematurely to wear out and destroy the constitution of man. But in all this there is something exceedingly fascinating, particularly to the juvenile mind - something that addresses itself so forcibly to the external senses, that few have the moral power and courage to resist its influence. Our senses and our passions usurp the authority and place of our judgment. So much splendor and show dazzle the mind, and fill the imagination

ness.

a

with visions of prospective happiness and earthly glory, and thus set at naught the sober deductions of reason. No wonder, then, that youth from the country are generally led astray by first impressions, on entering one of our large and crowded cities, and sigh to exchange their quiet and peaceful abodes for a residence amid the bustle and noise of the town. It was the opinion of the celebrated Dr. Rush, that human life was abridged ten years, at least, by a residence in cities—and I concur with him. Perhaps a certain degree of excitement is necessary, to awaken and to call into action our mental and physical powers. Excess, however, wastes and destroys both. The case of the inebriate illustrates my position. That abode and that society which presents the most attractions to sense, arouses passion, calls into play the selfish principle, and thus strengthens it in man, is hostile to virtue, and of course destructive to happiness. In large cities this is emphatically the case. In them the population is almost to a man employed in trade, and constant dealing gives rise to duplicity, and attempts to overreach one another. The love of gain absorbs every other consideration. It is the ruling passion of nine-tenths of the inhabitants of popular cities. With them it appears to be the only desideratum. To amass this world's treasure, is the grand point at which all aim, and to which all devote their time, and direct their untiring energies. To accumulate a fortune as speedily as possible— to be able to retire and live upon the income, at ease and in splendor -- is deemed a consideration worth all others. Men, hence impelled by this powerful passion, are not always scrupulous about the means, and those selected are not always honorable nor honest. Unfortunately, in the opinion of the great majority of mankind, the end justifies, and even sanctifies, the means.

I am aware that the spirit of gain also abounds in the country; but there it is not a passion universally prevalent; there it has not acquired such potentiality as in the city. It is confined within reasonable bounds. There the obligations of morality and religion have not wholly yielded to its dominion and

It will not be denied, that where there is most temptation, there is the greatest danger, and that in cities there are more incentives to vice than in the country.

To balance this evil, we are told, that in cities there are constant demands upon our charity, and thus are presented the finest opportunities for the manifestation of our sympathies; that here the loftier and holier principles of our nature are perpetually called into requisition, and thus man is made a better instead of a worse being. But frequent appeals to one's sympathy rather tends to blunt the moral sense, and harden the human heart, than to awaken emotions of tenderness, or call forth a display of generosity.

The closer the proximity of men to one another, the more likely to stir

up
the

angry elements of human nature. In cities they come too often into collision to cherish feelings of brotherly regard.

Beside the love of gain, which predominates universally in cities, pride and vanity spring up in rank luxuriance in these hot-beds of vice and immorality. There are few young men of the present day, who would not feel themselves degraded by carrying a bundle through our streets; and to be compelled to wheel a bartow along the pavement, as the illustrious Franklin did, would cause profound

power.

pain and mortification to the dandies of the town. Such, however, is the effect of city life upon the rising generation.

A citizen feels his consequence, and is apt to institute invidious comparisons between the town and country to speak of the latter, its intellect, attainments, and manners — with supercilious contempt. Frequently we hear them boast of the superiority of their talents, the extent of their acquirements, and the polish of their manners. With many this is a theme of repeated discussion, and a perennial

a source of self-gratulation and enjoyment. I know this is not the case with all. It is the practice only of those whose intellects are barren, whose minds are contracted, whose vanity is unbounded, whose upstart insolence and haughty bearing toward their fellows is precisely in the inverse ratio to their lack of merit. Having risen from the dunghill, these fellows, like chanticleer, strut and crow, as if they were the legitimate lords and sovereigns of the earth. Far be it from me to sow the seeds of jealousy, or awaken unkind feelings in the country against the town. I rejoice to see them fraternize; it is essential to their mutual prosperity and happiness. But to return.

Give me the country for my residence, with its pure water, its invigorating atmosphere, its golden fields and green meadows, its shady forests and mountain scenery, its' calm and solemn quiet' — for these are friendly to humility — these foster sound morals, promote health, are propitious to intellectual improvement, and furnish the immortal mind of man with rational, substantial, and enduring enjoyment. The quiet of the country speaks to my ear a language far

. more intelligible, in tones vastly more solemn — breathes into my soul a religion infinitely more holy — than was ever within my hearing proclaimed by the tongue of mortal man.

Possibly some of my readers may think I have been too censorious in my remarks upon the demoralizing tendency of city life, and animadverted with too much severity upon that nondescript animal, the dandy of the town. I appeal, however, for the truth of what has been said, to the tribunal of fact, and am perfectly willing to abide by its arbitrament. If I have done him injustice, there will not be wanting advocates, able and willing enough, to point out my error, by demonstrating the fallacy of my arguments.

P.

[blocks in formation]

Hail, thou bright evening star! I fix my gaze
On thy calm beauty, brilliant, but serene :
The dazzling king of day, and her bright rays
Who rules the night, can never, never wean
My eyes from thee, inestimable gem !
Thou fairest in the heavenly diadem.
Their gaudy grandeur pains my aching sight;
I may admire, not love them ; but I dwell
On thy calm lustre with supreme delight,
Increasing ever still. The sun shall tell
God's glory, and the moon his goodness; thou
His purity shalt symbol. I worship now
His hand who fixed thee there, and claim his promise sure,
To purify my soul, as he himself is pure!

W. J.

October 15th, 1836.

« AnteriorContinuar »