Page images
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[blocks in formation]

MELANCHOLY.

ness, yet inwardly thanking God "that he is

not as other men;" or the "patriot” loudly * Away with melancholy,

lamenting the distracted state of his country, in Why should we be melancholy, whose business 'tis to secret anguish because he has failed to procure die ?"

OLD Song. a lucrative contract. I baveu't much respect

for, or faith in the melancholy that finds vent in Away with melancholy, it relaxes the nerves, sighs, woful ballads, groans, and lamentations saps purpose, beclouds the mind, and fosters that are meant for the world's ear. Byron says: selfishness. What if we have griefs, even total disappointment, we are not aloue in the universe, “Mute the camel labours with the heaviest load, we can get think and do for others; God never And the wolf dies in silence." gave us the wonderful machinery of our being, with its great motive-power, to be ever grinding Yet Pollok truly says of him : " His groanings for ourselves. Away with melancholy; over- billed the land his numbers filled." He groaned come the evil with good; fill your mind with in numbers," for the numbers came," but I pleasant images, “ A thing of beauty is a joy suspect that, bad he been limited to plain prose, forever;" let in thoughts that flow and ripple, he would not bave groaned audibly ;' and 'many not such as stamp or gallop, "printing their an echo had been lost from college halls. As hoofs in the receiving”, brain. Enjoy yourself for this groaning in numbers, I don't believe in to-day, and you will add to the happiness of all it; pain is silent, or finds “no language but a your aster-life; our life is not a stream gliding cry.” under the light that here and there gleams on it. The bird forlorn, No; no ray shot from between clouds of an over

That singeth with her breast against a thorn," cast sky, no stray moonbeam, no distant-star glimmer, but is borne along till it is-not lost is but a myth, only shrill screams can come from but drowned in the light that never shone on the agony-pierced breast. There is no poet's earthly waters.

lyre whose strings would not snap asunder under Open your heart to enjoyment; the leaves of the agony-nerved band. . Yet there are the Australian trees can but turn out their woes that may be sung; and all, after they have edges, lest they should absorb all the moisture become remembrances, may be set to musicof the atmosphere. We nead not thus fear to ! and we would not lose one note of those sad unfold our souls; our atmosphere is saturated | sweet strains, or of those grand “organ peals,” with joy; a great ocean of bliss washes our whose highland-shores, and its waters are wafted on

“ Echoes roll from soul to soul every breeze.

And grow forever and forever.” We are as a people too avaricious to take time for enjoyment. It is with us too much work to But we have had too much of selfish Byrontoo little pleasure; ours are the opposite of ism; we should not so concentrate our attention Falstaff's rationsman intolerable deal of bread to on ourselves, that we would lament the breaking one halfpeuny-worth of sack.

of a cog in our machinery, as if it were the Have you heavy griefs ? sometimes forget snapping of the main spring of the universe. them; resolve to enjoy the present time; push Why should we be melancholy, whose back all care, anxiety, all remorse, as the waters business 'tis to die?” Wo will pluck the flowers of the sea were pushed back for the Israelites to and drink of the brooks, and rest under the pass over ; you will not wade in them this day, spreading oaks by the wayside in spring-time or, it may be, but this hour or half-hour, though and summer. In autumn we will step aside to the next they may in a flood rush over you. gather the golden pippins ; we will not wbimper How delightful are such moments, though we at the dust and stones, though we must trudge are continually sprinkled with the spray of the along on foot while others go mounted. There forcibly parted waters.

is rest at home. And “when wintry winds be. I never waste sympathy on the melancholy gin to blow" and the night air grows chill, we man, who constantly cherishes the sparks of his will think of the light and warmth of our discontent, lest they should die out, selfishly be. Father's house. clouding the atmosphere of those around Let us not go fasting and sighing, we will him. He has no genuine sorrow, no heart- “eat, drink, and be merry," not only if "to. consuming grief; the brisk fire emits but morrow we die,” but though we die to-day, and little smoke. There is a lack of sincerity, because we must die, for with all our bravery, of heartiness, about all these fumers ; whether with all our cheerfulness, the bighway of life is it be the lover sighing like furnace, with a weary road to travel. Well was the poniard a woful ballad to his mistress' eyebrow;" the with which the knights despatched their Pharisee ever groaning over his owu unworthi- I enemies called the dagger of mercy.” Why

[ocr errors]

should we be melancholy, whose privilege 'tis , what do you think of your sister's? Yours are to die?

but as one gnat-hers are as a swarm of mosAs for the ills of life, let us remedy those we quitoes. But "the women, God bless them!" can-not spend our breath whining over them. many of them know how to extract the stings. For those that we cannot remedy we have the The vegetation, trampled down by the eleMahometan formula: Allah akbarGod is phant, will spring up again; the insect stings great ; Islam-we must submit to God.

the plant at the root, and it withers and dies

beyond the help of Nature's sunshine and rain. LITTLE THINGS.

The pulsations of the warm heart of Mother

Earth, that send the life-blood into the veins “The impious Nimrod, enraged at the of her poor crushed ones, are but idle beatings destruction of his gods” by Abraham, " sought for these. to slay him and waged war against bim. “God, Our first parents did not leave Eden to be in order to punish Nimrod, “sent a gnat, which devoured by wild beasts or stricken by lightvexed bim night and day, so that he built him. ning ; Heaven's wrath did not meet them in self a room of glass in his palace that he might some fearful form. No; the ground was dwell therein and shut out the insect. But the cursed to bring forth briars and thorns, so that gnat entered also, and passed by his ear into they could not pluck a rose even without being his brain, upon which it fed and increased in pierced. These little cares, little sorrows, little size day by day, so that the servants of remorses--were it not for them earth would be Nimrod beat his head with a hammer continu- an Eden to inore than half the human race... ally that he might have some ease from his The peace of but few souls is destroyed by a pain ; but he died after suffering these torments whale-like grief or leviathan sin. It is too often for four hundred years."

but a mollusk care or coraline imaginery sin,

that, snatching the happiness that the soul " It is the little rift within the lute

holds in solution, ever increases its unrest till That by and by will make the music mute, it becomes like the troubled sea that cannot And, ever widening, slowly silence all.

rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt."

Happy the soul, and rare as happy, that has no “The little rift within the lover's lute,

such sediment! Or little, pitted speck in garnered fruit,

Speak respectfully of little things; you know That, rotting inward, slowly moulders all.”

not how they may influence your destiny. ...

The moon looks on earth, and not only the How many, like poor Nimrod, are constantly ocean surges towards her, but the great molten annoyed by a gnat. We know when a great heart, beating against the rocky breast that shark-like grief that has perhaps been lying, in encloses it, ever throbs towards her; yet she is wait for a man, or following in his wake, seizes but the little satellite that seems to circle around him as its prey. We know when one more is earth, but as the moth around the candle. incidentally crushed beneath i he wheels of Fate, Young man, is there no sweet, pale face toas the blind and deaf victim is mangled by the wards which your whole being surges ? merciless engine, that with swift but measured

Little things, despise them not tread, so like the strides of Fate, passes on. But the gnat that is ever with the man, that

“ It is the little rift within the lute hums him to sleep at night and stings him

That by and by will make the music mute, awake in the morning, that nothing that would

And, ever widening, slowly silence all.” not exclude the life-sustaining air can shut out, Is your heart that lute? The time was when that the swiftness of no railway-train can leave friendship awakened its soft, sweet tones; when behind, who sees it or knows its vexatious its strings thrilled to the touch of Love and stings? God never sent it, therefore he may rid the music surged in great passion-waves; when bimself of it. Alas! too many attempt to do Hope and Joy swept them, and the soul itself so by wallowing in the mire of intemperance. was one "exulting swell” of harmony; when He should rid himself of it before it enters his they vibrated from the rude snatches of Sorrow, brain and feeds itself into an insanity that death or her hand slowly, heavily pressed out the long, alone can dispossess of its royal banquet-room. long wail, or gently the dirge, the requiemHe should call to his aid religion or philosophy Agony, Misery, Sadness; but-Music. Now whatever is his surest help to crush, drive "The little rist," made, perhaps, by avarice or away, or extract the sting of the gnat,

some other selfishness, has widened till the

music has become mute. Oh! this silence! “ That settles beaten back, and beaten back better the low murmuring waves of Sadness, Settles, till one could yield for weariness." better even the wild surges of Misery. You

have lost the chances that the future held for Why, a great grief even is often a benefit to you, the chances of beautiful, even sublime, a man, it drives away the little annoying heart-music. The Israelites, amid Egyptian trouble; somewhat you may think, as Paddy darkness, had light in their dwellings; you, drove the fly from the man's nose-with a amid all the harsh discords of life, might have club.

had music in yourself. Alas! for the little But, man, if you have annoyances, vexations, rift.”

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

.

a

The little sin, do not neglect it

graminiverous elf," that “cannot devour" us,

unlese we are literally as the Scriptures say all " It is the little pitted speck in garnered fruit, flesh is-grass. How grandly Milton's Salan That, rotting inward, slowly moulders all.”

looms up by the side of this grotesque clumsi.

ness! The little sin, do you know the regret, How many good people avoid mentioning the finally remorse, its reverberation: The echo of

common name of this individual, as though it a pistol fired on one of the lakes in the Bavarian Highlands, is at first but a low inutter, then“ it think that, like the Yezidis, they were devil

were blasphemous to say devil! One would gathers along the cliffs like a gradual roll of worshippers. I shall call him devil. What thuoder, increasing in volume till it breaks over

cares he, the chef d'oeuvre of the Almighty, the the head in a deafening crash, louder than the broadside of a ship-of-the-line.”

star of the morning," that dared stand alone, unawed, almost in the Presence unveiled, while

the others “hid their diminished heads”—what SATAN,

cares he by what name human pigmies may "Only supreme in misery

curse bim? Yes, I shall call him devil, though All good to me is lost. Evil, be he may be leering over my shoulder as I write. thou my good.

MILTON. He can probably even read my writing; he has

had a hand in penning most paragraphs, artiWhy on this beautiful day, when the “blue cles, books, rolls, parchments, in engraving sky, like God's great pity,” holds in its bosom most inscriptions (even some on tombstones), soft, fleecy clouds, like the exhalations from a since the art of writing by pictures, by hieropoor earthly heart; when the mountains are glyphs, or by letters was known. He has now beautiful, and hazy, and shadowy-beaven's all over the writing world busy "writing mecolour deepened with earth's—like the diums ;” various are his styles to suit his Christian's horizon, where earth and heaven readers, an odour of brimstone for coarse, an really meet; when the grasshoppers are chirp "odour of sanctity" for refined olfactories.

. ing their song of rest, and all is peace; why Should he now make a "medium" of me, and, should I dwell on that personation of despair, with my hand and pen, write bis own life, bethat “God's great pity'i bends not over, shut ginning far back before he lost his place among in by adamantine rocks of evil, of hatred, of the “stars of the morning," what a record would obstinacy, from all influence of the sweet it be; as beautiful and grand as heaven, as heavens, exbaling only blighting curses in bis gloomy and bitter as bell! What are our petty tremendous unrest, shaking and destroying joys and miseries to his, in their sublime earth's most pleasant places or flooding them heights and depths ? with his own hot misery? No hope, no peace, He may be near me invisible. I could not no songs of rest for that utterly miserable one. have heard the clatter of his hoofs on the Is he not the centre, the ever-raging nucleus of stairs-they were long since shed-they may this earth of ours? Can you not pity him, have been handed down by some witch as heirthough he must ever bear the name of Enemy- looms to her great great granddaughter, and the name wbich he received at his terrible now, shod with felt, may be hidden beneath baptism by immersion in the floods of eternal crinoline and balmoral. I could almost swear woe? Whatever to the sbining ones may have that, the other day, I saw the tips of one peep been the signification of that angelic name, now from under Mrs. 's skirts; but it was so never pronounced in heaven, to us, had he not quickly withdrawn, like a turtle's bead, that I first fallen it would have been Friend. But am not, after all, quite positive that it was there. pow the utter misery of that being, who must If I should ever be called upon to give testiin his never-ending unquiet, in his awful mony in regard to it in a court of justice, say, writhings, produce ruin, and only ruin. I can for instance, in a divorce case, I shall look into pity him. He who has heard the strains of the those heavenly blue eyes, and remember only angels must dwell amid eternal discords, he angels that never wore the disgusting livery: whose eye has been familiar with the beauty of Why do I furtively glance over my shoulder ? beaven must forever mingle with terrible shapes. what if he is here, my room is not such an Was he not pitied by his great biographer, Eden that he need throw into it the seeds of Milton-Milton, whose mind was a camera- his own misery. Come, old fel, I beg your obscura, a darkened chamber, on the wall of pardon, I meant to say, “ Gentleman of the which was pencilled, by a ray of heaven's own old school,” look around, you see my furniture light, all celestial beauty, while a gleam shot is of the plainest sort, on an ink-stained table, from hell threw there hell's horrid imagery? a writing desk containing a few trifling scribHe more than pitied him, his Satan was blings that couldn't harm you, by its side a few subjective.

books-you who have dipped so deep in lore It seems that God himself could pity that cannot begrudge me them—a volume of Shaksoul that, like the ocean, forever holds in its speare, which even you might read with interest, depths untold treasures that eprich it not. your own celebrated biography by John Milton,

It was a strange fancy of the Dark Ages—the á few novels, and so on, all indicating the incarnation of the Devil as a "mild, ruminant, unrest of a soul vainly endeavouring to escape

a

the present and the real —"walking through ing of her own. I cannot tell whether from dry places, seeking rest and finding none,” did the dusky earth, to which she so trustingly you say? I see you retain your old kuack at clings; from the chill air, which she so bravely quoting Scripture. That volume of the Rev. i inhales, she has drawn her perfume and colour,

-'s sermons, on the dusty cover of which or if she reflects the delicate tint of the cheek, you have left your sign-manual, probably would and inbales the perfumed breath of some overbe dry to you. I am glad to see such a mani. bending angel, her own special attendant. ! festation of parental affection. Look further. know the primrose is associated in my mind I am, indeed, anxious to conciliate you : turn with those first years, when such angels might your eyes from the bed where I have so often have walked the earth, and thus might their slept, " full of rest from head to foot.” You breath and colour bave been exbaled and refrown so, I fear you didn't rest well last night; fected. Now that perfume is to me but a sigh and that sigh, perhaps you cannot breathe freely from those glad spring days, when, in my first in our atmosphere ; yonder haugs a match-safe, rambles in the woods, with my first friends, I light a bunch of the matches, they may improve tore it from the earth, with its rich mould clingthe air. Yes, they are called lucifer-matches ! ing to it. First friends did I say? can I forget You are thinking of another kind. Is it the friend first of all, and dearest of all, so early possible that your commanding intellect can taken from me, that yearning thoughts and a stoop to a pun, and a borrowed one at that? mound in the grave-yard are all that is left to Sir, you are getting obtrusive; like many other me of that dear one?' But from the rich mould

gentlemen of the old school,” you are rather of a mother's grave blossoms sweet remem. tedious. Bon jour, Monsieur, I will not say brance-perhaps an angel has breathed into it à dieu-our blessing is a devil's curse - this, its perfume--siveet it is as the primrose, but no alas! is the misery of miseries—there is no frail spring flower. God to whom you would be commended. The first-the first youthful friendship ter. What! not going yet? I hate to be uncivil- minated only when the friend had passed but avaunt ! Get thee hence! Skedaddle! through the river beyond the mist. How now, I beg your pardon, you need not extend your as I recall it, even the most mirthful smile that hand, for though no hoof-on the contrary, a Aitted over that dear face has a depth, an soft, velvety paw-I fear the claws, for, after earnestness, that belongs to all spiritual things all your fine names, you are still the "Old -it seems as if immortality had crystallized it Scratch."

almost into sadness. The first love, pervado ing the being, making the whole soul tremu.

lous. The first great success, before the vanishLOBELIA OR CARDINAL FLOWER. ing of the morning dew, that every young heart

condenses for itsell from the surrounding atTexts taken from no inspired or uninspired mosphere. No wonder poets have ever dwelt buman writer, translated from no "original on the spring-time of life, the morning when tongue :” God's utterances in his own lan- everything was first. guage, which, in its beautiful simplicity, may Butbe understood by you and me without an interpreter ; yet, in the sublime depths of the

“ The last! the last ! the last ! thoughts expressed, unfathomable by an arch.

Oh! by that little word angel.

How many thoughts are stirred ! It is as emblems, or from their associations,

That sister of the past !" that I have chosen these beautiful flowers as texts. First and Last ? they are among the

Nature does her last as if she would leave a results of ages of formations and transforma- glowing impression, as if she had been but tions. Let us trace these froin the “shoreless rehearsing for the final performance; she would sea," whose ceaseless murmur was heard alone be encored. She is beautiful and strong in by those who broke in with a chorus of joyful her mornings and noons; but she is glorious shouts, down througb the upheaving of the first in her sunsets : she is sweet and lovely in her Ararat, on which there was no ark to rest. springs and summers, but she is gorgeous in

Think of the long, nightmare sleep of earth, her autumns. Like a good general she has a her agony, her throes under the incubus of corps de reserve for the final struggle; you go waters; think of the seaming, grinding attri- to bed on a chilly night in October, feeling tion of glaciers, the centuries of life, death, that Winter, the conqueror, is advancing, and before she could bear on her bosom the sweet, that it is almost over with her; you awake the delicate primrose, and the rich, passionate next morning, and lo! she has, in defiance, lobelia.

Aung out all her banners. Alas! that these The primrose : whence .did_she draw her glorious ensigns should trail the ground, torn fragrance and delicate hue ? From the rich, to shreds, with only the flag-staffs left. dark mould of mingled oak and pine leaves, She is brave, Queen Nature, her last heart. and all the refuse of the forest; from the beats are her strongest. The anemone, pale breath of Spring that lies shivering with still as if the first feeble pulsations of that heart half-stiffened blood, the drapery her another sent snow into her veins—the faintly-flushed Winter Aung off, and yet with but little cover. I primrose-the delicate spring-beauty, before

THE

FIRST

AND

THE

LAST-PRIMROSE

« PreviousContinue »