« AnteriorContinuar »
tend to them a harvest of so rich blessings in possession, or enliven them with the prospect of so good things to come? The mind of the genuine lover of his race is invigorated and enlarged, by the contemplation of that scene now exhibited to view, and enlivened through all its faculties, by the opening prospects both of the old and new world.
"So live, that when thy summons comes to join
'T is pleasant, as a gentle boy, in the sunny morning hours,
'Tis pleasant, as the reckless youth, on the gallant courser borne,
'Tis pleasant, as the man, world-taught, with high, determined heart,
'Tis pleasant, as the aged sire, by the children-circled hearth,
But I am very weary now, and shall be glad to go.'
H. L. B.
'If thou knewest my modesty and simplicity, thou wouldst easily pardon and forgive what is amiss that shall follow. But I will presume of thy good favor and gra: cious acceptance, gentle reader. Out of an assured hope and confidence thereof, I will begin.'
BURTON. • Boston !' said I - it is impossible: I had not thought of such a thing. I do not deny it is a fine city; 't would be delightful; a people so literary, and polished, and withal so hospitable! The beart, continued I, would expand there in a week more than in an age in many other places of a more genial climate. Under such gentle influences, how would its affections shoot forth, and our humanity as well as our divinity' stir within us! But it is all in vain, Edward,' said I, recovering from my warmth; 'I cannot go: a school-teacher's purse is lanker than his person. What a world, Ned, this is ! It has ever been so; its greatest benefactors receive the least of its favors. Here are lwenty rich men, upon whose sons I have spent a year of toil and care. I have planned by night, and labored by day, until the sources of life are well nigh exhausted -- and this, not in decorating their persons not in gratifying their pride, and pampering their appetites — but in adorning their minds — in nourishing their genius - in creating a thirst for knowledge; in fine, in making them men — such men as shall transmit with honor the names of their fathers to after ages. And for this service to the sons, what did I get from the sires ? the pittance of a few dollars, which came like pulling so many teeth. Faithless teachers, I grant, are well enough rewarded; but did not Mrs. Blank, at the close of last quarter, say her son never learnt till he came to me? And did not 'Squire James tell me, the other day, I had been the making of his son, for which he was very thankful ? Thankful ! And here a little while ago, because his horse did not quite suit him, he exchanged him for another, at only the difference of two hundred and fifty dollars ! Yes,' said I, 'their sons may be horses and asses too have no more of my teaching !'
* True,' said I, coming back to the subject, it does not cost as much to travel as when my grandfather, to save expense, used to make us his annual visit of forty miles, on his white-faced old mare, with his oats behind him; but then neither can one travel in the same way, When a man might tie his own horse, and take care of his own cloak and trunk, he carried both a heavier pocket and a lighter heart. But now, if one is to be a gentleman, he must pay others for these services, while he feels more anxiety than if he performed them himself. And then so many modern offices of kindness, all contrived to get your money; this negro bowing up to you with the politeness of a Frenchman, 10 take your hat and cane; another brushing you when you are not dusty ; and a third, under pretence of holding your stirrup or reins, standing in the way, as you mount your horse, or enter your carriage.
Beside, I must be newly accoutred. Here in the country, where I have few acquaintances, and fewer friends, and where I can steal to my school by a private path -- in such a place,' said I, looking at my
thread-bare coat, 'I can dress with less care; and if my wash-woman, who now for three years has sent in her small bill regularly on quarterday, does know of the scantiness of my stock of small clothes, and to what shifts I am driven to make them last round the year, why it is nothing new to her, and she knows my means. But I cannot do thus in Boston. I have a character to acquire there. And not only should I be ashamed to visit so refined a city without new linen, but if the fashion is in vogue there which prevails here, I should fail of all notice or respect, without a pair of high-healed boots. Ah me miserum ! I thank
you, Edward, for the proposal; but I cannot do it.' Edward, my .son – for this diary is intended for my children, should I ever have any, which I greatly hope, and doubt not there will be sons among them, to the eldest of which I leave this manuscript in special trust — Edward was your father's best friend. He checked his wayward moods, he calmed his stormy hours; and when, Laura — I have been chilled by thy coldness, and pierced by the rejection of my proffered love as, alas! is still the case - then has the warmth of his friendship, and the balm of his kindness, restored me to somewhat of the cheerfulness of life.
My friend's purse was as overflowing as his heart. “I know,' said he, Harry, your slender means; but then you cannot always stay here; your cheek is growing too pale and too hollow. This trip is just what you need; and as I want some one to laugh, to sing, to talk with me, the performance of these offices shall be all it shall cost you.'
I could never yet find it in my heart to reject a favor. In the first place, there is something repulsive in it. Your friend wishes to make proof of his affection, as well as gratify his own feelings, and is met on the very thresh hold of his benevolence with a cold negative. And then, it requires a nicety, which a character as awkward as I am is wholly unable to hit. It will not do to say every thing, when you refuse a kindness: your terms must be choice — your words fitly spoken. But if you accept it, it is the easiest thing in the world to make a hearty declaration of thanks, and all is done. They may say what they please, but for my own part, I should much rather accept even a fortune, than refuse a glass of soda. Beside, look at it in its general bearingsand this is the true test. If I refuse a favor, my neighbor may — and should all the world do the same, what would become of the friendly interchange of society ? — of those kindly offices which so pervade with sunshine and warmth the bosoms of men ? Would there not come a frost over the budding affections - the winding tendrils of the heart as they steal forth to meet or to clasp some loved object? • Beshrew me,' said I, .if I am ever accessory to bringing such a wintry coldness over a single human breast !'
Hoc habeo obfirmatum : 't is determined; I will bear thee company. Shouldst thou be sick, I will attend thee; or melancholy, I will cheer thee. I will beguile thee of the tediousness of the way, and sweeten to thee thus much of the journey of life.
How many sober reflections does one unavoidably fall into, in pre.
paring for a short tour of only two or three weeks! If he be rich, he finds that all his wealth cannot secure him from petty vexations without, nor from restlessness within. He meant to have started on Monday ; but through the negligence of his partner, a certain business transaction, which must be attended to before he goes, cannot be closed till Tuesday. His new dress does no justice to his form, and has been sent in too late to admit of remedy. Shall he go, too, by land or water ? — by public or by private conveyance ? — shall he take this or that elegance or convenience ? — are questions which trouble him the more that they are of little importance; and show him, much more than matters of graver moment, 'that all is vanity.'
* And if he be poor,' said I, bringing together my slender wardrobe, he is silently yet effectually reminded of his humble condition, and that he, at least, has not enough of the goods of this world to seduce him with any sort of reason from those of another. These,' added I, filling up the interstices of my trunk with two or three pairs of venerable-looking stockings, these were made with my mother's own hands at least the most of them — for I see the extremities of their foundations have been embossed with external work of a posterior date. 'T is after the fashion of the old castles of England, whose ruins have been repaired in successive ages, by half a dozen different kinds of workmanship.
Little didst thou think, my mother, when I went forth from thee, some seven years agone, into this rough and jostling world, that I should become so great a man; that I should have charge of a select school in this flourishing village, in a direct line between those seats of science and of wealth, New-Haven and New-York; that I should be ranked almost if not quite next to the minister; and should teach young gentlemen and ladies Virgil and astronomy! To thy virtues I owe it, who wouldst never allow me to be idle, and who, to create within me habits of industry, madest me the while to sew and knit, which even now saves me many a penny in my lowly fortunes.
Lowly fortunes! Heavens and earth! — the greatest men in the world have been poor; 't is sometimes the lot of true talent and genius. Yes, I thank thee, thou Giver of life to me, that thou didst not also give me wealth, to tempt me from the path of greatness — that thou hast not left me without those incentives to action, which the rich never feel.
And yet if one, after having acquired proper habits, and manliness of character, could meet with a comely fortune, it could not do him much harm. But, dear Laura, though thou art well endowed, yet not from such considerations, as thou knowest, and I have often sworn to thee, have I fastened my heart on thee. No, inexorable girl! it is for thine own sweet self — thy rare and surpassing excellence. Could I but carry with me as I go, the assurance of thy affectionate regard, 't would sweeten every sight and every sound. So thou wilt not let me · visit thee at thy father's this summer or autumn !' Should I forget thee, amid the novel charms of Boston, 't were right. Why should I continue warm, when she is so cold? One might as well look for an icicle to melt at the north-west corner of my school-house, in the middle of January, as for her to thaw. And yet, dark-eyed one !' can I forget
the love I have borne thee, for these more than three years? Perish the thought !
The first dark eye that charm'd us,
Is last to lose its light;
Is strongest in its might;
The voice that first enchanted,
Is sweetest in its tone;
Has fragrance all its own. 'Tis like to be fragrant, when I kiss her. And this coat which I got, nothing doubting to visit her in it this glorious fall, will be utterly spoiled by my jaunt. If I put it here in the top of my trunk, its skirts are all wrinkled, and its collar crushed; and if I wear it on the road, its glory is equally tarnished. A plague take it! I could conjugate .amo' as easily again as 'fix' this coat. My friends are right: I have given myself too much to books.