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The poet's locks shook out reply;
He turned him gayly down the rill;
He strewed the vale with flowers of song;
The country, hamlet, and the town
The voice that to the world belongs.
To beds of pain, to rooms of death,
And yet what was the poet's meed?
The nation heard his patriot lays,
And rung them, like an anthem, round, Till Freedom waved her branch of bays, Wherewith the world shall yet be crowned.
His war-songs fired the battle-host,
His mottoes on their banners burned;
And when the foe had fled the coast,
Wild with his songs the troops returned.
Then at the feast's triumphal board,
His thrilling music cheered the wine;-
"What! he a bard? Then bid him go
And beg,-it is the poet's trade!
Dan Homer was the first to show
The rank for which the bards were made!
"A living bard! What's he to us?
WHAT HE SAID, WHAT HE HEARD, AND WHAT HE SAW.
ONE of our boarders-perhaps more than one was concerned in it-sent in some questions to me, the other day, which, trivial as some of them are, I felt bound to answer.
1.—Whether a lady was ever known to write a letter covering only a single page?
To this I answered, that there was a case on record where a lady had but half a sheet of paper and no envelope; and being obliged to send through the post-office, she covered only one side of the paper (crosswise, lengthwise, and diagonally). 2.- What constitutes a man a gentleman ?
To this I gave several answers, adapt ed to particular classes of questions.
a. Not trying to be a gentleman. b. Self-respect underlying courtesy. c. Knowledge and observance of the fitness of things in social intercourse. d. £. s. d. (as many suppose.)
3. Whether face or figure is most attractive in the female sex?
Answered in the following epigram, by a young man about town:
Quoth Tom, "Though fair her features be, It is her figure pleases me." "What may her figure be?" I cried. "One hundred thousand!" he replied.
When this was read to the boarders, the young man John said he should like a chance to " step up" to a figger of that kind, if the girl was one of the right sort.
The landlady said them that merried for money didn't deserve the blessin' of a good wife. Money was a great thing when them that had it made a good use of it. She had seen better days herself, and knew what it was never to want for anything. One of her cousins merried a very rich old gentleman, and she had heerd that he said he lived ten year longer than if he'd staid by himself without anybody to take care of him. There was
nothin' like a wife for nussin' sick folks
and them that couldn't take care of themselves.
The young man John got off a little wink, and pointed slyly with his thumb in the direction of our diminutive friend, for whom he seemed to think this speech was intended.
If it was meant for him, he didn't appear to know that it was. Indeed, he seems somewhat listless of late, except when the conversation falls upon one of those larger topics that specially interest him, and then he grows excited, speaks loud and fast, sometimes almost savage
ly, and, I have noticed once or twice, presses his left hand to his right side, as if there were something that ached, or weighed, or throbbed in that region.
While he speaks in this way, the general conversation is interrupted, and we all listen to him. Iris looks steadily in his face, and then he will turn as if magnetized and meet the amber eyes with his own melancholy gaze. I do believe that they have some kind of understanding together, that they meet elsewhere than at our table, and that there is a mystery, which is going to break upon us all of a sudden, involving the relations of these two persons. From the very first, they have taken to each other. The one thing they have in common is the heroic will. In him, it shows itself in thinking his way straightforward, in doing battle for "free trade and no right of search" on the high seas of religious controversy, and especially in fighting the battles of his crooked old city. In her, it is standing up for her little friend with the most queenly disregard of the code of boarding-house etiquette. People may say or look what they like, she will have her way about
this sentiment of hers.
The poor relation is in a dreadful fidget whenever the little gentleman says anything that interferes with her own infallibility. She seems to think Faith must go with her face tied up, as if she had the toothache, and that if she opens her mouth to the quarter the wind blows from, she will catch her "death o' cold."
The landlady herself came to him one day, as I have found out, and tried to persuade him to hold his tongue. - The boarders was gettin' uneasy,-she said,and some of 'em would go, she mistrusted, if he talked any more about things that belonged to the ministers to settle. She was a poor woman, that had known better days, but all her livin' depended on her boarders, and she was sure there wasn't any of 'em she set so much by as she did by him; but there was them that never liked to hear about such things, except on Sundays.
The little gentleman looked very smiling at the landlady, who smiled even more cordially in return, and adjusted her cap-ribbon with an unconscious movement, a reminiscence of the long-past pairing-time, when she had smoothed her locks and softened her voice, and won her mate by these and other bird-like graces. -My dear Madam, he said, I will remember your interests, and speak only of matters to which I am totally indifferent.-I don't doubt he meant this; but a day or two after, something stirred him up, and I heard his voice uttering itself aloud, thus:
- It must be done, Sir!-he was saying, it must be done! Our religion has been Judaized, it has been Romanized, it has been Orientalized, it has been Anglicized, and the time is at hand when it must be AMERICANIZED! Now, Sir, you see what Americanizing is in polities; it means that a man shall have a vote because he is a man,- and shall vote for whom he pleases, without his neighbor's interference. If he chooses to vote for the Devil, that is his lookout;-perhaps he thinks the Devil is better than the other candidates; and I don't doubt he's often right, Sir! Just so a man's soul has a vote in the spiritual community; and it doesn't do, Sir, or it won't do long, to call him "schismatic” and “heretic" and those other wicked names that the old murderous Inquisitors have left us to help along "peace and good-will to men"!
As long as you could catch a man and
drop him into an oubliette, or pull him out a few inches longer by machinery, or put a hot iron through his tongue, or make him climb up a ladder and sit on a board at the top of a stake so that he should be slowly broiled by the fire kindled round it, there was some sense in these words; they led to something. But since we have done with those tools, we had better give up those words. I should like to see a Yankee advertisement like this! -(the little gentleman laughed fiercely as he uttered the words,-)
Patent thumb-screws, warranted to crush the bone in three turns.
The cast-iron boot, with wedge only five dollars!
The celebrated extension-rack, warranted to stretch a man six inches in twenty minutes,-money returned, if it proves unsatisfactory.
I should like to see such an advertisement, I say, Sir! Now, what's the use of using the words that belonged with the thumb-screws, and the Blessed Virgin with the knives under her petticoats and sleeves and bodice, and the dry pan and gradual fire, if we can't have the things themselves, Sir? What's the use of painting the fire round a poor fellow, when you think it won't do to kindle one under him, as they did at Valencia or Valladolid, or wherever it was?
What story is that?—I said. Why, he answered,―at the last autoda-fe, in 1824 or '5, or somewhere there, -it's a traveller's story, but a mighty knowing traveller he is, they had a "heretic" to use up according to the statutes provided for the crime of private opinion. They couldn't quite make up their minds to burn him, so they only hung him in a hogshead painted all over with flames!
No, Sir! when a man calls you names because you go to the ballot-box and vote for your candidate, or because you say this or that is your opinion, he forgets in which half of the world he was born, Sir! It won't be long, Sir, before we have Americanized religion as we have Americanized government; and then, Sir,
every soul God sends into the world will be good in the face of all men for just so much of His "inspiration" as "giveth him understanding"!-None of my words, Sir! none of my words!
If Iris does not love this little gentleman, what does love look like when one sees it? She follows him with her eyes, she leans over toward him when he speaks, her face changes with the changes of his speech, so that one might think it was with her as with Christabel,—
That all her features were resigned To this sole image in her mind. But she never looks at him with such intensity of devotion as when he says anything about the soul and the soul's atmosphere, religion.
Women are twice as religious as men; all the world knows that. Whether they are any better, in the eyes of Absolute Justice, might be questioned; for the additional religious element supplied by sex hardly seems to be a matter of praise or blame. But in all common aspects they are so much above us that we get most of our religion from them,- from their teachings, from their example,above all, from their pure affections.
Now this poor little Iris had been talked to strangely in her childhood. Especially she had been told that she hated all good things, which every sensible parent knows well enough is not true of a great many children, to say the least. I have sometimes questioned whether many libels on human nature had not been a natural consequence of the celibacy of the clergy, which was enforced for so long a period.
The child had met this and some other equally encouraging statements as to her spiritual conditions, early in life, and fought the battle of spiritual independence prematurely, as many children do. If all she did was hateful to God, what was the meaning of the approving or else the disapproving conscience, when she had done "right" or wrong"? No "shoulder-striker" hits out straighter than a child with its logic. Why, I can remember lying in my bed in the nursery
and settling questions which all that I have heard since and got out of books has never been able to raise again. If a child does not assert itself in this way in good season, it becomes just what its parents or teachers were, and is no better than a plaster image.- How old was I at the time? I suppose about 5823 years old, that is, counting from Archbishop Usher's date of the Creation, and adding the life of the race, whose accumulated intelligence is a part of my inheritance, to my own. A good deal older than Plato, you see, and much more experienced than my Lord Bacon and most of the world's teachers.- Old books are books of the world's youth, and new books are fruits of its age. How many of all these old folios round me are like so many old cupels! The gold has passed out of them long ago, but their pores are full of the dross with which it was mingled.
And so Iris-having thrown off that first lasso, which not only fetters, but chokes those whom it can hold, so that they give themselves up trembling and breathless to the great soul-subduer, who has them by the windpipe-had settled a brief creed for herself, in which love of the neighbor, whom we have seen, was the first article, and love of the Creator, whom we have not seen, grew out of this as its natural development, being necessarily second in order of time to the first unselfish emotions which we feel for the fellow-creatures who surround us in our early years.
The child must have some place to worship. What would a young girl be who never mingled her voice with the songs and prayers that rose all around her with every returning day of rest? And Iris was free to choose. Sometimes one and sometimes another would offer to carry her to this or that place of worship; and when the doors were hospitably opened, she would often go meekly in by herself. It was a curious fact, that two churches as remote from each other in doctrine as could well be divided her affections.
The Church of Saint Polycarp had very much the look of a Roman Catholic chapel. I do not wish to run the risk of giving names to the ecclesiastical furniture which gave it such a Romish aspect; but there were pictures, and inscriptions in antiquated characters, and there were reading-stands, and flowers on the altar, and other elegant arrangements. Then there were boys to sing alternately in choirs responsive to each other, and there was much bowing, with very loud responding, and a long service and a short sermon, and a bag, such as Judas used to hold in the old pictures, was carried round to receive contributions. Everything was done not only "decently and in order," but, perhaps one might say, with a certain air of magnifying their office on the part of the dignified clergymen, often two or three in number. The music and the free welcome were grateful to Iris, and she forgot her prejudices at the door of the chapel. For this was a church with open doors, with seats for all classes and all colors alike,- a church of zealous worshippers after their faith, of charitable and serviceable men and women, one that took care of its children and never forgot its poor, and whose people were much more occupied in looking out for their own souls than in attacking the faith of their neighbors. In its mode of worship there was a union of two qualities,— the taste and refinement, which the educated require just as much in their churches as elsewhere, and the air of stateliness, almost of pomp, which impresses the common worshipper, and is often not without its effect upon those who think they hold outward forms as of little value. Under the half-Romish aspect of the Church of Saint Polycarp, the young girl found a devout and loving and singularly cheerful religious spirit. The artistic sense, which betrayed itself in the dramatic proprieties of its ritual, harmonized with her taste. The mingled murmur of the loud responses, in those rhythmic phrases, so simple, yet so fervent, almost as if every tenth heartbeat, instead of its dull tic-tac, articulated