"Of what men are, and why they are So weak, so wofully beguiled, Much I have learned, but better far, I know my soul is reconciled."
Before we shut the volumes—which will often and often be re-opened by their readers—we may instance, in proof of the variety of his verse, some masterly heroic couplets on the character of Dryden, which will be seen in a series of admirable "sketches of English poets" found written on the fly-leaves and covers of his copy of Anderson's British Poets. The successors of Dryden are not less admirably handled, and there are some sketches of Wilkie, Dodsley, Langhorne, and rhymers of that class, inimitable for their truth and spirit.
[J] Poems by Hartley Coleridge. With a Memoir of his Life. By his Brother. Two vols. Moxon.
From the Cincinnati Commercial Advertiser.
BY ALICE CAREY.
Maidens, whose tresses shine, Crowned with daffodil and eglantine, Or, from their stringed buds of brier-roses, Bright as the vermeil closes Of April twilights, after sobbing rains, Fall down in rippled skeins And golden tangles, low About your bosoms, dainty as new snow; While the warm shadows blow in softest gales Fair hawthorn flowers and cherry blossoms white Against your kirtles, like the froth from pails O'er brimmed with milk at night, When lowing heifers bury their sleek flanks In winrows of sweet hay, or clover banks— Come near and hear, I pray, My plained roundelay: Where creeping vines o'errun the sunny leas, Sadly, sweet souls, I watch your shining bands Filling with stained hands Your leafy cups with lush red strawberries; Or deep in murmurous glooms, In yellow mosses full of starry blooms, Sunken at ease—each busied as she likes, Or stripping from the grass the beaded dews, Or picking jagged leaves from the slim spikes Of tender pinks—with warbled interfuse Of poesy divine, That haply long ago Some wretched borderer of the realm of wo Wrought to a dulcet line: If in your lovely years There be a sorrow that may touch with tears The eyelids piteously, they must be shed FOR LYRA, DEAD. The mantle of the May Was blown almost within summer's reach, And all the orchard trees, Apple, and pear, and peach, Were full of yellow bees, Flown from their hives away. The callow dove upon the dusty beam Fluttered its little wings in streaks of light, And the gray swallow twittered full in sight— Harmless the unyoked team Browsed from the budding elms, and thrilling lays Made musical prophecies of brighter days; And all went jocundly; I could but say. Ah! well-a-day! What time spring thaws the wold, And in the dead leaves come up sprouts of gold, And green and ribby blue, that after hours Encrown with flowers; Heavily lies my heart From all delights apart, Even as an echo hungry for the wind, When fail the silver-kissing waves to unbind The music bedded in the drowsy strings Of the sea's golden shells— That, sometimes, with their honeyed murmurings Fill all its underswells: For o'er the sunshine fell a shadow wide When Lyra died. When sober Autumn, with his mist-bound brows, Sits drearily beneath the fading boughs, And the rain, chilly cold, Wrings from his beard of gold, And as some comfort for his lonesome hours, Hides in his bosom stalks of withered flowers, I think about what leaves are drooping round A smoothly shapen mound; And if the wild wind cries Where Lyra lies, Sweet shepherds, softly blow Ditties most sad and low— Piping on hollow reeds to your pent sheep— Calm be my Lyra's sleep. Unvexed with dream of the rough briers that pull From his strayed lambs the wool! O, star, that tremblest dim Upon the welkin's rim, Send with thy milky shadows from above Tidings about my love; If that some envious wave Made his untimely grave, Or if, so softening half my wild regrets, Some coverlid of bluest violets Was softly put aside, What time he died! Nay, come not, piteous maids, Out of the murmurous shades; But keep your tresses crowned as you may With eglantine and daffodillies gay, And with the dews of myrtles wash your cheek, When flamy streaks, Uprunning the gray orient, tell of morn— While I, forlorn, Pour all my heart in tears and plaints, instead, FOR LYRA, DEAD.
From Fraser's Magazine.
OR, VARIETIES IN ENGLISH LIFE.
BY PISISTRATUS CAXTON.
Continued from page 126.
PART VIII.—CHAPTER XIII.
Mr. Dale had been more than a quarter of an hour conversing with Mrs. Avenel, and had seemingly made little progress in the object of his diplomatic mission, for now, slowly drawing on his gloves, he said,—
"I grieve to think, Mrs. Avenel, that you should have so hardened your heart—yes—you must pardon me—it is my vocation to speak stern truths. You cannot say that I have not kept faith with you, but I must now invite you to remember that I specially reserved to myself the right of exercising a discretion to act as I judged best, for the child's interests, on any future occasion; and it was upon this understanding that you gave me the promise, which you would now evade, of providing for him when he came into manhood."
"I say I will provide for him. I say that you may 'prentice him in any distant town, and by-and-by we will stock a shop for him. What would you have more, sir, from folks like us, who have kept shop ourselves? It ain't reasonable what you ask, sir!"
"My dear friend," said the Parson, "what I ask of you at present is but to see him—to receive him kindly—to listen to his conversation—to judge for yourselves. We can have but a common object—that your grandson should succeed in life, and do you credit. Now, I doubt very much whether we can effect this by making him a small shopkeeper."
"And has Jane Fairfield, who married a common carpenter, brought him up to despise small shopkeepers?" exclaimed Mrs. Avenel, angrily.
"Heaven forbid! Some of the first men in England have been the sons of small shopkeepers. But is it a crime in them, or their parents, if their talents have lifted them into such rank or renown as the haughtiest duke might envy? England were not England if a man must rest where his father began."
"Good!" said, or rather grunted, an approving voice, but neither Mrs. Avenel nor the Parson heard it.
"All very fine," said Mrs. Avenel, bluntly. "But to send a boy like that to the university—where's the money to come from?"
"My dear Mrs. Avenel," said the Parson, coaxingly, "the cost need not be great at a small college at Cambridge; and if you will pay half the expense, I will pay the other half. I have no children of my own, and can afford it."
"That's very handsome in you, sir," said Mrs. Avenel, somewhat touched, yet still not graciously, "But the money is not the only point."
"Once at Cambridge," continued Mr. Dale, speaking rapidly, "at Cambridge, where the studies are mathematical—that is, of a nature for which he has shown so great an aptitude—and I have no doubt he will distinguish himself; if he does, he will obtain, on leaving, what is called a fellowship—that is a collegiate dignity accompanied by an income on which he could maintain himself until he made his way in life. Come, Mrs. Avenel, you are well off; you have no relations nearer to you in want of your aid. Your son, I hear, has been very fortunate."
"Sir," said Mrs. Avenel, interrupting the Parson, "it is not because my son Richard is an honor to us, and is a good son, and has made his fortin, that we are to rob him of what we have to leave, and give it to a boy whom we know nothing about, and who, in spite of what you say, can't bring upon us any credit at all."
"Why? I don't see that."
"Why?" exclaimed Mrs. Avenel, fiercely—"why? you know why. No, I don't want him to rise in life; I don't want folks to be speiring and asking about him. I think it is a very wicked thing to have put fine notions in his head, and I am sure my daughter Fairfield could not have done it herself. And now, to ask me to rob Richard, and bring out a great boy—who's been a gardener, or ploughman, or such like—to disgrace a gentleman who keeps his carriage, as my son Richard does—I would have you to know, sir, no! I won't do it, and there's an end to the matter."
During the last two or three minutes, and just before that approving "good" had responded to the Parson's popular sentiment, a door communicating with an inner room had been gently opened, and stood ajar; but this incident neither party had even noticed. But now the door was thrown boldly open, and the traveller whom the Parson had met at the inn walked up to Mr. Dale, and said, "No! that's not the end of the matter. You say the boy's a cute, clever lad?"
"Richard, have you been listening?" exclaimed Mrs. Avenel.
"Well, I guess, yes—the last few minutes."
"And what have you heard?"
"Why, that this reverend gentleman thinks so highly of my sister Fairfield's boy that he offers to pay half of his keep at college. Sir, I'm very much obliged to you, and there's my hand, if you'll take it."
The Parson jumped up, overjoyed, and, with a triumphant glance towards Mrs. Avenel, shook hands heartily with Mr. Richard.
"Now," said the latter, "just put on your hat, sir, and take a stroll with me, and we'll discuss the thing business-like. Women don't understand business; never talk to women on business."
With these words, Mr. Richard drew out a cigar-case, selected a cigar, which he applied to the candle, and walked into the hall.
Mrs. Avenel caught hold of the Parson. "Sir, you'll be on your guard with Richard. Remember your promise."
"He does not know all, then?"
"He? No! And you see he did not overhear more than what he says. I'm sure you're a gentleman, and won't go agin your word."
"My word was conditional; but I will promise you never to break the silence without more reason than I think there is here for it. Indeed, Mr. Richard Avenel seems to save all necessity for that."
"Are you coming, sir?" cried Richard, as he opened the street door.
The Parson joined Mr. Richard Avenel on the road. It was a fine night, and the moon clear and shining.
"So, then," said Mr. Richard, thoughtfully, "poor Jane, who was always the drudge of the family, has contrived to bring up her son well; and the boy is really what you say, eh?—could make a figure at college?"
"I am sure of it," said the Parson, hooking himself on to the arm which Mr Avenel proffered.
"I should like to see him," said Richard. "Has he any manner? Is he genteel, or a mere country lout?"
"Indeed, he speaks with so much propriety, and has so much modest dignity, I might say, about him, that there's many a rich gentleman who would be proud of such a son."
"It is odd," observed Richard, "what difference there is in families. There's Jane now—who can't read nor write, and was just fit to be a workman's wife—had not a thought above her station; and when I think of my poor sister Nora—you would not believe it, sir, but she was the most elegant creature in the world—yes, even as a child, (she was but a child when I went off to America.) And often, as I was getting on in life, often I used to say to myself, 'My little Nora shall be a lady after all. Poor thing—but she died young.'"
Richard's voice grew husky.
The Parson kindly pressed the arm on which he leaned, and said, after a pause—
"Nothing refines us like education, sir. I believe your sister Nora had received much instruction, and had the talents to profit by it. It is the same with your nephew."
"I'll see him," said Richard, stamping his foot firmly on the ground, "and if I like him, I'll be as good as a father to him. Look you, Mr.—what's your name, sir?"
"Mr. Dale, look you, I'm a single man. Perhaps I may marry some day; perhaps I shan't. I'm not going to throw myself away. If I can get a lady of quality, why—but that's neither here nor there; meanwhile, I should be glad of a nephew whom I need not be ashamed of. You see, sir, I'm a new man, the builder of my own fortunes; and, though I have picked up a little education—I don't well know how—as I scrambled on, still, now I come back to the old country, I'm well aware that I am not exactly a match for those d——d aristocrats—don't show so well in a drawing-room as I could wish. I could be a Parliament man if I liked, but I might make a goose of myself; so, all things considered, if I can get a sort of junior partner to do the polite work, and show off the goods, I think the house of Avenel & Co. might become a pretty considerable honor to the Britishers. You understand me, sir?"
"Oh, very well," answered Mr. Dale, smiling, though rather gravely.
"Now," continued the New Man, "I'm not ashamed to have risen in life by my own merits; and I don't disguise what I've been. And, when I'm in my own grand house, I'm fond of saying, 'I landed at New-York with ten pounds in my purse, and here I am!' But it would not do to have the old folks with me. People take you with all your faults, if you're rich, but they won't swallow your family into the bargain. So, if I don't have my own father and mother, whom I love dearly, and should like to see sitting at table, with my servants behind their chairs, I could still less have sister Jane. I recollect her very well, and she can't have got genteeler as she's grown older. Therefore I beg you'll not set her on coming after me; it won't do by any manner of means. Don't say a word about me to her. But send the boy down here to his grandfather, and I'll see him quietly, you understand."
"Yes, but it will be hard to separate her from the boy."
"Stuff! all boys are separated from their parents when they go into the world. So that's settled. Now, just tell me. I know the old folks always snubbed Jane—that is, mother did. My poor dear father never snubbed any of us. Perhaps mother has not behaved altogether well to Jane. But we must not blame her for that; you see this is how it happened. There were a good many of us, while father and mother kept shop in the High Street, so we were all to be provided for, anyhow; and Jane, being very useful and handy at work, got a place when she was a little girl, and had no time for learning. Afterwards my father made a lucky hit, in getting my Lord Lansmere's custom after an election, in which he did a great deal for the Blues, (for he was a famous electioneerer, my poor father.) My Lady stood godmother to Nora; and then most of my brothers and sisters died off, and father retired from business; and when he took Jane from service, she was so common-like that mother could not help contrasting her with Nora. You see Jane was their child when they were poor little shop people, with their heads scarce above water; and Nora was their child when they were well off, and had retired from trade, and lived genteel: so that makes a great difference. And mother did not quite look on her as on her own child. But it was Jane's own fault; for mother would have made it up with her if she had married the son of our neighbor the great linen-draper, as she might have done; but she would take Mark Fairfield, a common carpenter. Parents like best those of their children who succeed best in life. Natural. Why, they did not care for me until I came back the man I am. But to return to Jane: I'm afraid they've neglected her. How is she off?"
"She earns her livelihood, and is poor, but contented."
"Ah, just be good enough to give her this," and Richard took a bank-note of fifty pounds from his pocket-book. "You can say the old folks sent it to her; or that it is a present from Dick, without telling her he had come back from America."
"My dear sir," said the Parson, "I am more and more thankful to have made your acquaintance. This is a very liberal gift of yours; but your best plan will be to send it through your mother. For, though I don't want to betray any confidence you place in me, I should not know what to answer if Mrs. Fairfield began to question me about her brother. I never had but one secret to keep, and I hope I shall never have another. A secret is very like a lie!"
"You had a secret, then," said Richard, as he took back the bank-note. He had learned, perhaps, in America, to be a very inquisitive man. He added point-blank, "Pray what was it?"
"Why, what it would not be if I told you," said the Parson, with a forced laugh,—"a secret!"
"Well, I guess we're in a land of liberty. Do as you like. Now, I daresay you think me a very odd fellow to come out of my shell to you in this off-hand way. But I liked the look of you, even when we were at the inn together. And just now I was uncommonly pleased to find that, though you are a parson, you don't want to keep a man's nose down to a shop-board, if he has any thing in him. You're not one of the aristocrats—"
"Indeed," said the Parson with imprudent warmth, "it is not the character of the aristocracy of this country to keep people down. They make way amongst themselves for any man, whatever his birth, who has the talent and energy to aspire to their level. That's the especial boast of the British constitution, sir!"
"Oh, you think so do you!" said Mr. Richard, looking sourly at the Parson. "I daresay those are the opinions in which you have brought up the lad. Just keep him yourself, and let the aristocracy provide for him!"
The parson's generous and patriotic warmth evaporated at once, at this sudden inlet of cold air into the conversation. He perceived that he had made a terrible blunder; and, as it was not his business at that moment to vindicate the British constitution, but to serve Leonard Fairfield, he abandoned the cause of the aristocracy with the most poltroon and scandalous abruptness. Catching at the arm which Mr. Avenel had withdrawn from him, he exclaimed:
"Indeed, sir, you are mistaken; I have never attempted to influence your nephew's political opinions. On the contrary, if, at his age, he can be said to have formed any opinion, I am greatly afraid—that is, I think his opinions are by no means sound—that is constitutional. I mean, I mean—" And the poor Parson, anxious to select a word that would not offend his listener, stopped short in lamentable confusion of idea.
Mr. Avenel enjoyed his distress for a moment, with a saturnine smile, and then said:
"Well, I calculate he's a Radical. Natural enough, if he has not got a sixpence to lose—all come right by-and-by. I'm not a Radical—at least not a destructive—much too clever a man for that, I hope. But I wish to see things very different from what they are. Don't fancy that I want the common people, who've got nothing, to pretend to dictate to their betters, because I hate to see a parcel of fellows, who are called lords and squires, trying to rule the roast. I think, sir, that it is men like me who ought to be at the top of the tree! and that's the long and short of it. What do you say?"
"I've not the least objection," said the crestfallen Parson basely. But, to do him justice, I must add that he did not the least know what he was saying!
Unconscious of the change in his fate which the diplomacy of the Parson sought to effect, Leonard Fairfield was enjoying the first virgin sweetness of fame; for the principal town in his neighborhood had followed the then growing fashion of the age, and set up a Mechanic's Institute; and some worthy persons interested in the formation of that provincial Athenaeum had offered a prize for the best Essay on the Diffusion of Knowledge,—a very trite subject, on which persons seem to think they can never say too much, and on which there is, nevertheless, a great deal yet to be said. This prize Leonard Fairfield had recently won. His Essay had been publicly complimented by a full meeting of the Institute; it had been printed at the expense of the Society, and had been rewarded by a silver medal—delineative of Apollo crowning Merit, (poor Merit had not a rag to his back; but Merit, left only to the care of Apollo, never is too good a customer to the tailor!) And the County Gazette had declared that Britain had produced another prodigy in the person of Dr. Riccabocca's self-educated gardener.
Attention was now directed to Leonard's mechanical contrivances. The Squire, ever eagerly bent on improvements, had brought an engineer to inspect the lad's system of irrigation, and the engineer had been greatly struck by the simple means by which a very considerable technical difficulty had been overcome. The neighboring farmers now called Leonard "Mr. Fairfield," and invited him on equal terms, to their houses. Mr. Stirn had met him on the high road, touched his hat, and hoped that "he bore no malice." All this, I say, was the first sweetness of fame; and if Leonard Fairfield comes to be a great man, he will never find such sweets in the after fruit. It was this success which had determined the Parson on the step which he had just taken, and which he had long before anxiously meditated. For, during the last year or so, he had renewed his old intimacy with the widow and the boy; and he had noticed, with great hope and great fear, the rapid growth of an intellect, which now stood out from the lowly circumstances that surrounded it in bold and unharmonizing relief.
It was the evening after his return home that the Parson strolled up to the Casino. He put Leonard Fairfield's Prize Essay in his pocket. For he felt that he could not let the young man go forth into the world without a preparatory lecture, and he intended to scourge poor Merit with the very laurel wreath which it had received from Apollo. But in this he wanted Riccabocca's assistance; or rather he feared that, if he did not get the Philosopher on his side, the Philosopher might undo all the work of the Parson.
A sweet sound came through the orange boughs, and floated to the ears of the Parson, as he wound slowly up the gentle ascent—so sweet, so silvery, he paused in delight—unaware, wretched man! that he was thereby conniving at Papistical errors. Soft it came, and sweet: softer and sweeter—"Ave Maria!" Violante was chanting the evening hymn to the Virgin Mother. The Parson at last distinguished the sense of the words, and shook his head with the pious shake of an orthodox Protestant. He broke from the spell resolutely, and walked on with a sturdy step. Gaining the terrace he found the little family seated under an awning. Mrs. Riccabocca knitting; the Signor with his arms folded on his breast: the book he had been reading a few moments before had fallen on the ground, and his dark eyes were soft and dreamy. Violante had finished her hymn, and seated herself on the ground between the two, pillowing her head on her step-mother's lap, but with her hand resting on her father's knee, and her gaze fixed fondly on his face.
"Good evening," said Mr. Dale. Violante stole up to him, and, pulling him so as to bring his ear nearer to her lip, whispered,—"Talk to papa, do—and cheerfully; he is sad."
She escaped from him, as she said this, and appeared to busy herself with watering the flowers arranged on stands round the awning. But she kept her swimming lustrous eyes wistfully on her father.
"How fares it with you, my dear friend?" said the Parson kindly, as he rested his hand on the Italian's shoulder. "You must not let him get out of spirits, Mrs. Riccabocca."
"I am very ungrateful to her if I ever am so," said the poor Italian, with all his natural gallantry. Many a good wife, who thinks it is a reproach to her if her husband is ever 'out of spirits,' might have turned peevishly from that speech more elegant than sincere, and so have made bad worse. But Mrs. Riccabocca took her husband's proffered hand affectionately, and said with great naivete:
"You see I am so stupid, Mr. Dale; I never knew I was so stupid till I married. But I am very glad you are come. You can get on some learned subject together, and then he will not miss so much his—"
"His what?" asked Riccabocca, inquisitively.
"His country. Do you think that I cannot sometimes read your thoughts?"
"Very often. But you did not read them just then. The tongue touches where the tooth aches, but the best dentist cannot guess at the tooth unless one opens one's mouth. Basta! Can we offer you some wine of our own making, Mr. Dale?—it is pure."
"I'd rather have some tea," quoth the Parson hastily.
Mrs. Riccabocca, too pleased to be in her natural element of domestic use, hurried into the house to prepare our national beverage. And the Parson, sliding into her chair, said—
"But you are dejected, then? Fie! If there's a virtue in the world at which we should always aim, it is cheerfulness."
"I don't dispute it," said Riccabocca, with a heavy sigh. "But though it is said by some Greek, who, I think, is quoted by your favorite Seneca, that a wise man carries his country with him at the soles of his feet, he can't carry also the sunshine."
"I tell you what it is," said the Parson bluntly, "you would have a much keener sense of happiness if you had much less esteem for philosophy."
"Cospetto!" said the Doctor, rousing himself. "Just explain, will you?"
"Does not the search after wisdom induce desires not satisfied in this small circle to which your life is confined? It is not so much your country for which you yearn, as it is for space to your intellect, employment for your thoughts, career for your aspirations."
"You have guessed at the tooth which aches," said Riccabocca with admiration.
"Easy to do that," answered the Parson. "Our wisdom teeth come last, and give us the most pain. And if you would just starve the mind a little, and nourish the heart more, you would be less of a philosopher, and more of a—" The Parson had the word "Christian" at the tip of his tongue: he suppressed a word that, so spoken, would have been exceedingly irritating, and substituted, with inelegant antithesis, "and more of a happy man!"
"I do all I can with my heart," quoth the Doctor.
"Not you! For a man with such a heart as yours should never feel the want of the sunshine. My friend, we live in an age of over mental cultivation. We neglect too much the simple healthful outer life, in which there is so much positive joy. In turning to the world within us, we grow blind to this beautiful world without; in studying ourselves as men, we almost forget to look up to heaven, and warm to the smile of God."
The philosopher mechanically shrugged his shoulders, as he always did when another man moralised—especially if the moraliser were a priest; but there was no irony in his smile, as he answered thoughtfully—
"There is some truth in what you say. I own that we live too much as if we were all brain. Knowledge has its penalties and pains, as well as its prizes."
"That is just what I want you to say to Leonard."
"How have you settled the object of your journey?"
"I will tell you as we walk down to him after tea. At present, I am rather too much occupied with you."
"Me? The tree is formed—try only to bend the young twig!"
"Trees are trees, and twigs twigs," said the Parson dogmatically; "but man is always growing till he falls into the grave. I think I have heard you say that you once had a narrow escape of a prison?"
"Just suppose that you were now in that prison, and that a fairy conjured up the prospect of this quiet home in a safe land; that you saw the orange trees in flower, felt the evening breeze on your cheek; beheld your child gay or sad, as you smiled or knit your brow; that within this phantom home was a woman, not, indeed, all your young romance might have dreamed of, but faithful and true, every beat of her heart all your own—would you not cry from the depth of the dungeon, "O fairy! such a change were a paradise." Ungrateful man! you want interchange for your mind, and your heart should suffice for all!"
Riccabocca was touched and silent.
"Come hither, my child," said Mr. Dale, turning round to Violante, who still stood among the flowers, out of hearing, but with watchful eyes. "Come hither," he said, opening big arms.
Violante bounded forward, and nestled to the good man's heart.
"Tell me, Violante, when you are alone in the fields or the garden, and have left your father looking pleased and serene, so that you have no care for him at your heart,—tell me, Violante, though you are all alone, with the flowers below and the birds singing overhead, do you feel that life itself is happiness or sorrow?"
"Happiness!" answered Violante, half shutting her eyes, and in a measured voice.
"Can you explain what kind of happiness it is?"
"Oh no, impossible! and it is never the same. Sometimes it is so still—so still—and sometimes so joyous, that I long for wings to fly up to God, and thank him!"
"O friend," said the Parson, "this is the true sympathy between life and nature, and thus we should feel ever, did we take more care to preserve the health and innocence of a child. We are told that we must become as children to enter into the kingdom of heaven; methinks we should also become as children to know what delight there is in our heritage of earth!"
The maid servant (for Jackeymo was in the fields) brought the table under the awning, and, with the English luxury of tea, there were other drinks as cheap and as grateful on summer evenings—drinks which Jackeymo had retained and taught from the customs of the south—unebriate liquors, pressed from cooling fruits, sweetened with honey, and deliciously iced; ice should cost nothing in a country in which one is frozen up half the year! And Jackeymo, too, had added to our good, solid, heavy English bread, preparations of wheat much lighter, and more propitious to digestion—with those crisp grissins, which seem to enjoy being eaten, they make so pleasant a noise between one's teeth.
The Parson esteemed it a little treat to drink tea with the Riccaboccas. There was something of elegance and grace in that homely meal, at the poor exile's table, which pleased the eye as well as taste. And the very utensils, plain Wedgewood though they were, had a classical simplicity, which made Mrs. Hazeldean's old India delf, and Mrs. Dale's best Worcester china look tawdry and barbarous in comparison. For it was a Flaxman who gave designs to Wedgewood, and the most truly refined of all our manufactures in porcelain (if we do not look to the mere material) is in the reach of the most thrifty.
The little banquet was at first rather a silent one; but Riccabocca threw off his gloom, and became gay and animated. Then poor Mrs. Riccabocca smiled, and pressed the grissins; and Violante, forgetting all her stateliness, laughed and played tricks on the Parson, stealing away his cup of warm tea when his head was turned, and substituting iced cherry juice. Then the Parson got up and ran after Violante, making angry faces, and Violante dodged beautifully, till the Parson, fairly tired out, was too glad to cry "Peace," and come back to the cherry juice. Thus time rolled on, till they heard afar the stroke of the distant church clock, and Mr. Dale started up and cried, "But we shall be too late for Leonard. Come, naughty little girl, get your father his hat."
"And umbrella!" said Riccabocca, looking up at the cloudless moonlit sky.
"Umbrella against the stars?" asked the Parson laughing.
"The stars are no friends of mine," said Riccabocca, "and one never knows what may happen!"
The Philosopher and the Parson walked on amicably.
"You have done me good," said Riccabocca, "but I hope I am not always so unreasonably melancholic as you seem to suspect. The evenings will sometimes appear long, and dull too, to a man whose thoughts on the past are almost his sole companions."
"Sole companions?—your child?"
"She is so young."
"She is so—," the bland Italian appeared to check some disparaging adjective, and mildly added, "so good, I allow; but you must own that we cannot have much in common."
"I own nothing of the sort. You have your house and your interests, your happiness and your lives, in common. We men are so exacting, we expect to find ideal nymphs and goddesses when we condescend to marry a mortal; and if we did, our chickens would be boiled to rags, and our mutton come up as cold as a stone."
"Per Bacco, you are an oracle," said Riccabocca, laughing. "But I am not so sceptical you are. I honor the fair sex too much. There are a great many women who realize the ideal of men to be found in—the poets!"
"There's my dear Mrs. Dale," resumed the Parson, not heeding this sarcastic compliment to the sex, but sinking his voice into a whisper, and looking round cautiously—"there's my dear Mrs. Dale, the best woman in the world—an angel I would say, if the word was not profane; BUT—"
"What's the BUT?" asked the Doctor, demurely.
"BUT I too might say that 'we have not much in common,' if I were only to compare mind to mind, and, when my poor Carry says something less profound than Madame de Stael might have said, smile on her in contempt from the elevation of logic and Latin. Yet, when I remember all the little sorrows and joys that we have shared together, and feel how solitary I should have been without her—oh, then I am instantly aware that there is between us in common something infinitely closer and better than if the same course of study had given us the same equality of ideas; and I was forced to brace myself for a combat of intellect, as I am when I fall in with a tiresome sage like yourself. I don't pretend to say that Mrs. Riccabocca is a Mrs. Dale," added the Parson, with lofty candor—"there is but one Mrs. Dale in the world; but still, you have drawn a prize in the wheel matrimonial! Think of Socrates, and yet he was content even with his—Xantippe!"
Dr. Riccabocca called to mind Mrs. Dale's "little tempers," and inly rejoiced that no second Mrs. Dale had existed to fall to his own lot. His placid Jemima gained by the contrast. Nevertheless, he had the ill grace to reply, "Socrates was a man beyond all imitation!—Yet I believe that even he spent very few of his evenings at home. But, revenons a nos moutons, we are nearly at Mrs. Fairfield's cottage, and you have not yet told me what you have settled as to Leonard."
The Parson halted, took Riccabocca by the button, and informed him, in very few words, that Leonard was to go to Lansmere to see some relations there, who had the fortune, if they had the will, to give full career to his abilities.
"The great thing, in the meanwhile," said the Parson, "would be to enlighten him a little as to what he calls—enlightenment."
"Ah!" said Riccabocca, diverted, and rubbing his hands, "I shall listen with interest to what you say on that subject."
"And must aid me; for the first step in this modern march of enlightenment is to leave the poor Parson behind; and if one calls out, 'Hold! and look at the sign-post.' the traveller hurries on the faster, saying to himself, 'Pooh, pooh!—that is only the cry of the Parson!' But my gentleman, when he doubts me, will listen to you—you're a philosopher!"
"We philosophers are of some use now and then, even to Parsons!"
"If you were not so conceited a set of deluded poor creatures already, I would say 'Yes,'" replied the Parson generously; and, taking hold of Riccabocca's umbrella, he applied the brass handle thereof, by way of a knocker, to the cottage door.
Certainly it is a glorious fever that desire To Know! And there are few sights in the moral world more sublime than that which many a garret might afford, if Asmodeus would bare the roofs to our survey—viz., a brave, patient, earnest human being, toiling his own arduous way, athwart the iron walls of penury, into the magnificent Infinite, which is luminous with starry souls.
So there sits Leonard the Self-taught in the little cottage alone; for though scarcely past the hour in which great folks dine, it is the hour in which small folks go to bed, and Mrs. Fairfield has retired to rest, while Leonard has settled to his books.
He had placed his table under the lattice, and from time to time he looked up and enjoyed the stillness of the moon. Well for him that, in reparation for those hours stolen from night, the hardy physical labor commenced with dawn. Students would not be the sad dyspeptics they are if they worked as many hours in the open air as my scholar-peasant. But even in him you could see that the mind had begun a little to affect the frame. They who task the intellect must pay the penalty with the body. Ill, believe me, would this work-day world get on if all within it were hard-reading, studious animals, playing the deuce with the ganglionic apparatus.
Leonard started as he heard the knock at the door; the Parson's well-known voice reassured him. In some surprise he admitted his visitors.
"We are come to talk to you, Leonard," said Mr. Dale, "but I fear we shall disturb Mrs. Fairfield."
"Oh no, sir! the door to the staircase is shut, and she sleeps soundly."
"Why, this is a French book—do you read French, Leonard?" asked Riccabocca.
"I have not found French difficult, sir. Once over the grammar, and the language is so clear; it seems the very language for reasoning."
"True. Voltaire said justly, 'Whatever is obscure is not French,'" observed Riccabocca.
"I wish I could say the same of English," muttered the Parson.
"But what is this?—Latin too?—Virgil?"
"Yes, sir. But I find I make little way there without a master. I fear I must give it up," (and Leonard sighed.)
The two gentlemen exchanged looks and seated themselves. The young peasant remained standing modestly, and in his air and mien there was something that touched the heart while it pleased the eye. He was no longer the timid boy who had sunk from the frown of Mr. Stirn, nor that rude personation of simple physical strength, roused to undisciplined bravery, which had received its downfall on the village-green of Hazeldean. The power of thought was on his brow—somewhat unquiet still, but mild and earnest. The features had attained that refinement which is often attributed to race, but comes, in truth, from elegance of idea, whether caught from our parents or learned from books. In his rich brown hair, thrown carelessly from his temples, and curling almost to the shoulders—in his large blue eye, which was deepened to the hue of the violet by the long dark lash—in that firmness of lip, which comes from the grapple with difficulties, there was considerable beauty, but no longer the beauty of the mere peasant. And yet there was still about the whole countenance that expression of goodness and purity which the painter would give to his ideal of the peasant lover—such as Tasso would have placed in the Aminta, or Fletcher have admitted to the side of the Faithful Shepherdess.
"You must draw a chair here, and sit down between us, Leonard," said the Parson.
"If any one," said Riccabocca, "has a right to sit, it is the one who is to hear the sermon; and if any one ought to stand, it is the one who is about to preach it."
"Don't be frightened, Leonard," said the Parson, graciously; "it is only a criticism, not a sermon," and he pulled out Leonard's Prize Essay.
Parson.—"You take for your motto this aphorism[K]—'Knowledge is Power.'—BACON."
Riccabocca.—"Bacon make such an aphorism! The last man in the world to have said any thing so pert and so shallow."
Leonard (astonished).—"Do you mean to say, sir, that that aphorism is not in Lord Bacon! Why, I have seen it quoted as his in almost every newspaper, and in almost every speech in favor of popular education."
Riccabocca.—"Then that should be a warning to you never again to fall into the error of the would-be scholar—viz. quote second-hand. Lord Bacon wrote a great book to show in what knowledge is power, how that power should be defined, in what it might be mistaken. And, pray, do you think so sensible a man would ever have taken the trouble to write a great book upon the subject, if he could have packed up all he had to say into the portable dogma, 'Knowledge is power?' Pooh! no such aphorism is to be found in Bacon from the first page of his writings to the last."
Parson (candidly).—"Well, I supposed it was Lord Bacon's, and I am very glad to hear that the aphorism has not the sanction of his authority."
Leonard (recovering his surprise).—"But why so?"
Parson.—"Because it either says a great deal too much, or just—nothing at all."
Leonard.—"At least, sir, it seems to be undeniable."
Parson.—"Well, grant that it is undeniable. Does it prove much in favor of knowledge? Pray, is not ignorance power too?"
Riccabocca.—"And a power that has had much the best end of the quarter-staff."
Parson.—"All evil is power, and does its power make it any thing the better?"
Riccabocca.—"Fanaticism is power—and a power that has often swept away knowledge like a whirlwind. The Mussulman burns the library of a world—and forces the Koran and the sword from the schools of Byzantium to the colleges of Hindostan."
Parson (bearing on with a new column of illustration).—"Hunger is power. The barbarians, starved out of their energy by their own swarming population, swept into Italy and annihilated letters. The Romans, however degraded, had more knowledge, at least, than the Gaul and the Visigoth."
Riccabocca (bringing up the reserve).—"And even in Greece, when Greek met Greek, the Athenians—our masters in all knowledge—were beat by the Spartans, who held learning in contempt."
Parson.—"Wherefore you see, Leonard, that though knowledge be power, it is only one of the powers of the world; that there are others as strong, and often much stronger; and the assertion either means but a barren truism, not worth so frequent a repetition, or it means something that you would find it very difficult to prove."
Leonard.—"One nation may be beaten by another that has more physical strength and more military discipline; which last, permit me to say, sir, is a species of knowledge;—"
Riccabocca.—"Yes; but your knowledge-mongers at present call upon us to discard military discipline, and the qualities that produce it, from the list of the useful arts. And in your own essay, you insist upon knowledge as the great disbander of armies, and the foe of all military discipline."
Parson.—"Let the young man proceed. Nations, you say, may be beaten by other nations less learned and civilized?"
Leonard.—"But knowledge elevates a class. I invite my own humble order to knowledge, because knowledge will lift them into power."
Riccabocca.—"What do you say to that, Mr. Dale?"
Parson.—"In the first place, is it true that the class which has the most knowledge gets the most power? I suppose philosophers, like my friend Dr. Riccabocca, think they have the most knowledge. And pray, in what age have philosophers governed the world? Are they not always grumbling that nobody attends to them?"
"Per Bacco," said Riccabocca, "if people had attended to us, it would have been a droll sort of world by this time!"
Parson.—"Very likely. But, as a general rule, those have the most knowledge who give themselves up to it the most. Let us put out of the question philosophers (who are often but ingenious lunatics), and speak only of erudite scholars, men of letters and practical science, professors, tutors, and fellows of colleges. I fancy any member of Parliament would tell us that there is no class of men which has less actual influence on public affairs. They have more knowledge than manufacturers and ship-owners, squires and farmers; but, do you find that they have more power over the Government and the votes of the House of Commons!"
"They ought to have," said Leonard.
"Ought they?" said the Parson: "we'll consider that later. Meanwhile, you must not escape from your own proposition, which is that knowledge is power—not that it ought to be. Now, even granting your corollary, that the power of a class is therefore proportioned to its knowledge—pray, do you suppose that while your order, the operatives, are instructing themselves, all the rest of the community are to be at a stand-still? Diffuse knowledge as you may, you will never produce equality of knowledge. Those who have most leisure, application, and aptitude for learning, will still know the most. Nay, by a very natural law, the more general the appetite for knowledge, the more the increased competition would favor those most adapted to excel by circumstances and nature. At this day, there is a vast increase of knowledge spread over all society, compared with that in the Middle Ages; but is there not a still greater distinction between the highly-educated gentleman and the intelligent mechanic, than there was then between the baron who could not sign his name and the churl at the plough? between the accomplished statesman, versed in all historical law, and the voter whose politics are formed by his newspaper, than there was between the legislator who passed laws against witches, and the burgher who defended his guild from some feudal aggression? between the enlightened scholar and the dunce of to-day, than there was between the monkish alchemist and the blockhead of yesterday? Peasant, voter, and dunce of this century are no doubt wiser than the churl, burgher, and blockhead of the twelfth. But the gentleman, statesman, and scholar of the present age are at least quite as favorable a contrast to the alchemist, witch-burner, and baron of old. As the progress of enlightenment has done hitherto, so will it ever do. Knowledge is like capital: the more there is in a country, the greater the disparities in wealth between one man and another. Therefore, if the working class increase in knowledge, so do the other classes; and if the working class rise peacefully and legitimately into power, it is not in proportion to their own knowledge alone, but rather according as it seems to the knowledge of the other orders of the community, that such augmentation of proportional power is just, and safe, and wise."
Placed between the Parson and the Philosopher, Leonard felt that his position was not favorable to the display of his forces. Insensibly he edged his chair somewhat away, and said mournfully:
"Then, according to you, the reign of knowledge would be no great advance in the aggregate freedom and welfare of man?"
Parson.—"Let us define. By knowledge, do you mean intellectual cultivation?—by the reign of knowledge, the ascendency of the most cultivated minds?"
Leonard (after a pause).—"Yes."
Riccabocca.—"Oh indiscreet young man, that is an unfortunate concession of yours; for the ascendency of the most cultivated minds would be a terrible obligarchy!"
Parson.—"Perfectly true; and we now reply to your exclamation, that men who, by profession, have most learning ought to have more influence than squires and merchants, farmers and mechanics. Observe, all the knowledge that we mortals can acquire is not knowledge positive and perfect, but knowledge comparative, and subject to all the errors and passions of humanity. And suppose that you could establish, as the sole regulators of affairs, those who had the most mental cultivation, do you think they would not like that power well enough to take all means their superior intelligence could devise to keep it to themselves? The experiment was tried of old by the priests of Egypt; and in the empire of China, at this day, the aristocracy are elected from those who have most distinguished themselves in learned colleges. If I may call myself a member of that body, 'the people,' I would rather be an Englishman, however much displeased with dull Ministers and blundering Parliaments, than I would be a Chinese under the rule of the picked sages of the Celestial Empire. Happily, therefore, my dear Leonard, nations are governed by many things besides what is commonly called knowledge; and the greatest practical ministers, who, like Themistocles, have made small states great—and the most dominant races who, like the Romans, have stretched their rule from a village half over the universe—have been distinguished by various qualities which a philosopher would sneer at, and a knowledge-monger would call 'sad prejudices,' and 'lamentable errors of reason.'"
Leonard (bitterly).—"Sir, you make use of knowledge itself to argue against knowledge."
Parson.—"I make use of the little I know to prove the foolishness of idolatry. I do not argue against knowledge; I argue against knowledge-worship. For here, I see in your Essay, that you are not contented with raising human knowledge into something like divine omnipotence, you must also confound her with virtue. According to you, we have only to diffuse the intelligence of the few among the many, and all at which we preachers aim is accomplished. Nay more; for whereas we humble preachers have never presumed to say, with the heathen Stoic, that even virtue is sure of happiness below (though it be the best road to it), you tell us plainly that this knowledge of yours gives not only the virtue of a saint, but bestows the bliss of a God. Before the steps of your idol the evils of life disappear. To hear you, one has but 'to know,' in order to be exempt from the sins and sorrows of the ignorant. Has it ever been so? Grant that you diffuse amongst the many all the knowledge ever attained by the few. Have the wise few been so unerring and so happy? You supposed that your motto was accurately cited from Bacon. What was Bacon himself? The poet tells you:
'The wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind.'
Can you hope to bestow upon the vast mass of your order the luminous intelligence of this 'Lord Chancellor of nature?' Grant that you do so—and what guarantee have you for the virtue and the happiness which you assume as the concomitants of the gift? See Bacon himself; what black ingratitude! what miserable self-seeking! what truckling servility! what abject and pitiful spirit! So far from intellectual knowledge, in its highest form and type, insuring virtue and bliss, it is by no means uncommon to find great mental cultivation combined with great moral corruption." (Aside to Riccabocca)—"Push on, will you?"
Riccabocca.—"A combination remarkable in eras as in individuals. Petronius shows us a state of morals at which a commonplace devil would blush, in the midst of a society more intellectually cultivated than certainly was that which produced Regulus or the Horatii. And the most learned eras in modern Italy were precisely those which brought the vices into the most ghastly refinement."
Leonard (rising in great agitation, and clasping his hands).—"I cannot contend with you, who produce against information so slender and crude as mine the stores which have been locked from my reach. But I feel that there must be another side to this shield—a shield that you will not even allow to be silver. And, oh, if you thus speak of knowledge, why have you encouraged me to know?"
"Ah! my son!" said the Parson, "if I wished to prove the value of Religion, would you think I served it much, if I took as my motto, 'Religion is power?' Would not that be a base and sordid view of its advantages? And would you not say he who regards religion as a power, intends to abuse it as a priestcraft?"
"Well put!" said Riccabocca.
"Wait a moment—let me think. Ah—I see, sir!" said Leonard.
Parson.—"If the cause be holy, do not weigh it in the scales of the market; if its objects be peaceful, do not seek to arm it with the weapons of strife; if it is to be the cement of society, do not vaunt it as the triumph of class against class."
Leonard (ingenuously).—"You correct me nobly, sir. Knowledge is power, but not in the sense in which I have interpreted the saying."
Parson.—"Knowledge is one of the powers in the moral world, but one that, in its immediate result, is not always of the most worldly advantage to the possessor. It is one of the slowest, because one of the most durable, of agencies. It may take a thousand years for a thought to come into power; and the thinker who originated it might have died in rags or in chains."
Riccabocca.—"Our Italian proverb saith that 'the teacher is like the candle, which lights others in consuming itself.'"
Parson.—"Therefore he who has the true ambition of knowledge should entertain it for the power of his idea, not for the power it may bestow on himself; it should be lodged in the conscience, and, like the conscience, look for no certain reward on this side the grave. And since knowledge is compatible with good and with evil, would not it be better to say, 'Knowledge is a trust?'"
"You are right, sir," said Leonard cheerfully; "pray proceed."
Parson.—"You ask me why we encourage you to KNOW. First, because (as you say yourself in your Essay), knowledge, irrespective of gain, is in itself a delight, and ought to be something far more. Like liberty, like religion, it may be abused; but I have no more right to say that the poor shall be ignorant, than I have to say that the rich only shall be free, and that the clergy alone shall learn the truths of redemption. You truly observe in your treatise that knowledge opens to us other excitements than those of the senses, and another life than that of the moment. The difference between us is this, that you forget that the same refinement which brings us new pleasures exposes us to new pains—the horny hand of the peasant feels not the nettles which sting the fine skin of the scholar. You forget also, that whatever widens the sphere of the desires, opens to them also new temptations. Vanity, the desire of applause, pride, the sense of superiority—gnawing discontent where that superiority is not recognized—morbid susceptibility, which comes with all new feelings—the underrating of simple pleasures apart from the intellectual—the chase of the imagination, often unduly stimulated, for things unattainable below—all these are surely amongst the first temptations that beset the entrance into knowledge."
Leonard shaded his face with his hand.
"Hence," continued the Parson, benignantly—"hence, so far from considering that we do all that is needful to accomplish ourselves as men, when we cultivate only the intellect, we should remember that we thereby continually increase the range of our desires, and therefore of our temptations; and we should endeavor, simultaneously, to cultivate both those affections of the heart which prove the ignorant to be God's children no less than the wise, and those moral qualities which have made men great and good when reading and writing were scarcely known: to wit, patience and fortitude under poverty and distress; humility and beneficence amidst grandeur and wealth; and, in counteraction to that egotism which all superiority, mental or worldly, is apt to inspire, Justice, the father of all the more solid virtues, softened by Charity, which is their loving mother. Thus accompanied, knowledge indeed becomes the magnificent crown of humanity—not the imperious despot, but the checked and tempered sovereign of the soul."
The Parson paused, and Leonard, coming near him, timidly took his hand, with a child's affectionate and grateful impulse.
Riccabacca.—"And if, Leonard, you are not satisfied with our Parson's excellent definitions, you have only to read what Lord Bacon himself has said upon the true ends of knowledge, to comprehend at once how angry the poor great man, whom Mr. Dale treats so harshly, would have been with those who have stinted his elaborate distinctions and provident cautions into that coxcombical little aphorism, and then misconstrued all he designed to prove in favor of the commandant, and authority of learning. For," added the sage, looking up as a man does when he is taxing his memory, "I think it is thus that after saying the greatest error of all is the mistaking or misplacing the end of knowledge, and denouncing the various objects for which it is vulgarly sought;—I think it is thus that he proceeds.... 'Knowledge is not a shop for profit or sale, but a rich storehouse for the glory of the Creator, and the relief of men's estate.'"[L]
Parson (remorsefully)—"Are those Lord Bacon's words? I am very sorry I spoke so uncharitably of his life. I must examine it again. I may find excuses for it now that I could not when I first formed my judgment. I was then a raw lad at Oxford. But I see, Leonard, there is still something on your mind."
Leonard.—"It is true, sir. I would but ask whether it is not by knowledge that we arrive at the qualities and virtues you so well describe, but which you seem to consider as coming to us through channels apart from knowledge?"
Parson.—"If you mean by the word knowledge something very different from what you express in your essay, and which those contending for mental instruction, irrespective of religion and ethics, appear also to convey by the word —— you are right; but, remember, we have already agreed that by the word knowledge we mean culture purely intellectual."
Leonard.—"That is true—we so understood it."
Parson.—"Thus, when this great Lord Bacon erred, you may say that he erred from want of knowledge—the knowledge that moralists and preachers would convey. But Lord Bacon had read all that moralists and preachers could say on such matters; and he certainly did not err from want of intellectual cultivation. Let me here, my child, invite you to observe, that He who knew most of our human hearts and our immortal destinies, did not insist on this intellectual culture as essential to the virtues that form our well-being here, and conduce to our salvation hereafter. Had it been essential, the Allwise One would not have selected humble fishermen for the teachers of his doctrine, instead of culling his disciples from Roman portico or Athenian academy. And this, which distinguishes so remarkably the Gospel from the ethics of heathen philosophy, wherein knowledge is declared to be necessary to virtue, is a proof how slight was the heathen sage's insight into the nature of mankind, when compared with the Saviour's; for hard indeed would it be to men, whether high or low, rich or poor, if science and learning, or contemplative philosophy, were the sole avenues to peace and redemption; since, in this state of ordeal, requiring active duties, very few in any age, whether they be high or low, rich or poor, ever are or can be devoted to pursuits merely mental. Christ does not represent heaven as a college for the learned. Therefore the rules of the Celestial Legislator are rendered clear to the simplest understanding as to the deepest."
Riccabocca.—"And that which Plato and Zeno, Pythagoras and Socrates, could not do, was done by men whose ignorance would have been a by-word in the schools of the Greek. The gods of the vulgar were dethroned; the face of the world was changed! This thought may make us allow, indeed, that there are agencies more powerful than mere knowledge, and ask, after all, what is the mission which knowledge should achieve?"
Parson.—"The Sacred Book tells us even that; for after establishing the truth that, for the multitude, knowledge is not essential to happiness and good, it accords still to knowledge its sublime part in the revelation prepared and announced. When an instrument of more than ordinary intelligence was required for a purpose divine—when the Gospel, recorded by the simple, was to be explained by the acute, enforced by the energetic, carried home to the doubts of the Gentile—the Supreme Will joined to the zeal of the earlier apostles the learning and genius of St. Paul—not holier than the others—calling himself the least, yet laboring more abundantly than them all—making himself all things unto all men, so that some might be saved. The ignorant may be saved no less surely than the wise; but here comes the wise man who helps to save! And how the fulness and animation of this grand Presence, of this indomitable Energy, seem to vivify the toil, and to speed the work! 'In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils amongst false brethren.' Behold, my son! does not Heaven here seem to reveal the true type of knowledge—a sleepless activity, a pervading agency, a dauntless heroism, an all-supporting faith? A power—a power indeed—a power apart from the aggrandizement of self—a power that brings to him who owns and transmits it but 'weariness and painfulness; in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness'—but a power distinct from the mere circumstance of the man, rushing from him as rays from a sun—borne through the air, and clothing it with light—piercing under earth, and calling forth the harvest! Worship not knowledge—worship not the sun, O my child! Let the sun but proclaim the Creator; let the knowledge but illumine the worship!"
The good man, overcome by his own earnestness, paused; his head drooped on the young student's breast, and all three were long silent.
Whatever ridicule may be thrown upon Mr. Dale's dissertations by the wit of the enlightened, they had a considerable, and I think a beneficial, effect upon Leonard Fairfield—an effect which may perhaps create less surprise, when the reader remembers that Leonard was unaccustomed to argument, and still retained many of the prejudices natural to his rustic breeding. Nay, he actually thought it possible that, as both Riccabocca and Mr. Dale were more than double his age, and had had opportunities not only of reading twice as many books, but of contracting experience in wider ranges of life—he actually, I say, thought it possible that they might be better acquainted with the properties and distinctions of knowledge than himself. At all events, the Parson's words were so far well-timed, that they produced in Leonard very much of that state of mind which Mr. Dale desired to effect, before communicating to him the startling intelligence that he was to visit relations whom he had never seen, of whom he had heard but little, and that it was at least possible that the result of that visit might be to open to him greater facilities for instruction, and a higher degree in life.
Without some such preparation, I fear that Leonard would have gone forth into the world with an exaggerated notion of his own acquirements, and with a notion yet more exaggerated as to the kind of power that such knowledge as he possessed would obtain for itself. As it was, when Mr. Dale broke to him the news of the experimental journey before him, cautioning him against being over sanguine, Leonard received the intelligence with a serious meekness, and thoughts that were nobly solemn.
When the door closed on his visitors, he remained for some moments motionless, and in deep meditation; then he unclosed the door, and stole forth. The night was already far advanced, the heavens were luminous with all the host of stars. "I think," said the student, referring, in later life, to that crisis in his destiny—"I think it was then, as I stood alone, yet surrounded by worlds so numberless, that I first felt the distinction between mind and soul."
"Tell me," said Riccabocca, as he parted company with Mr. Dale, "whether you think we should have given to Frank Hazeldean, on entering life, the same lecture on the limits and ends of knowledge which we have bestowed on Leonard Fairfield."
"My friend," quoth the Parson, with a touch of human conceit, "I have ridden on horseback, and I know that some horses should be guided by the bridle, and some should be urged by the spur."
"Cospetto!" said Riccabocca; "you contrive to put every experience of yours to some use—even your journey on Mr. Hazeldean's pad. And I see now why, in this little world of a village, you have picked up so general an acquaintance with life."
"Did you ever read White's Natural History of Selborne?"
"Do so, and you will find that you need not go far to learn the habits of birds, and know the difference between a swallow and a swift. Learn the difference in a village, and you know the difference wherever swallows and swifts skim the air."
"Swallows and swifts!—true; but men—"
"Are with us all the year round—which is more than we can say of swallows and swifts."
"Mr. Dale," said Riccabocca, taking off his hat with great formality, "if ever again I find myself in a dilemma, I will come to you instead of to Machiavelli."
"Ah!" cried the Parson, "if I could but have a calm hour's talk with you on the errors of the Papal relig—"
Riccabocca was off like a shot.
The next day, Mr. Dale had a long conversation with Mrs. Fairfield. At first, he found some difficulty in getting over her pride, and inducing her to accept overtures from parents who had so long slighted both Leonard and herself. And it would have been in vain to have put before the good woman the worldly advantages which such overtures implied. But when Mr. Dale said, almost sternly, "Your parents are old, your father infirm; their least wish should be as binding to you as their command," the Widow bowed her head, and said,—
"God bless them, sir, I was very sinful—'Honor your father and mother.' I'm no scollard, but I know the Commandments. Let Lenny go. But he'll soon forget me, and mayhap he'll learn to be ashamed of me."
"There I will trust him," said the Parson; and he contrived easily to reassure and soothe her.
It was not till all this was settled that Mr. Dale drew forth an unsealed letter, which Mr. Richard Avenel, taking his hint, had given to him, as from Leonard's grandparents, and said,—"This is for you, and it contains an inclosure of some value."
"Will you read it, sir? As I said before, I'm no scollard."
"But Leonard is, and he will read it to you."
When Leonard returned home that evening, Mrs. Fairfield showed him the letter. It ran thus:
"Dear Jane,—Mr. Dale will tell you that we wish Leonard to come to us. We are glad to hear you are well. We forward, by Mr. Dale, a bank-note for L50, which comes from Richard, your brother. So no more at present from your affectionate parents,
"JOHN AND MARGARET AVENEL."
The letter was in a stiff female scrawl, and Leonard observed that two or three mistakes in spelling had been corrected, either in another pen or in a different hand.
"Dear brother Dick, how good in him!" cried the widow. "When I saw there was money, I thought it must be him. How I should like to see Dick again. But I s'pose he's still in Amerikay. Well, well, this will buy clothes for you."
"No; you must keep it all, mother, and put it in the Savings' Bank."
"I'm not quite so silly as that," cried Mrs. Fairfield, with contempt; and she put the fifty pounds into a cracked teapot.
"It must not stay there when I'm gone. You may be robbed, mother."
"Dear me, dear me, that's true. What shall I do with it?—what do I want with it, too! Dear me! I wish they hadn't sent it. I shan't sleep in peace. You must e'en put it in your own pouch, and button it up tight, boy."
Lenny smiled, and took the note; but he took it to Mr. Dale, and begged him to put it into the Savings' Bank for his mother.
The day following he went to take leave of his master, of Jackeymo, of the fountain, the garden. But, after he had gone through the first of these adieus with Jackeymo,—who, poor man, indulged in all the lively gesticulations of grief which make half the eloquence of his countrymen; and then, absolutely blubbering, hurried away—Leonard himself was so affected that he could not proceed at once to the house, but stood beside the fountain, trying hard to keep back his tears.
"You, Leonard—and you are going!" said a soft voice; and the tears fell faster than ever, for he recognized the voice of Violante.
"Do not cry," continued the child, with a kind of tender gravity. "You are going, but papa says it would be selfish in us to grieve, for it is for your good; and we should be glad. But I am selfish, Leonard, and I do grieve. I shall miss you sadly."
"You, young lady—you miss me!"
"Yes. But I do not cry, Leonard, for I envy you, and I wish I were a boy: I wish I could do as you."
The girl clasped her hands, and reared her slight form, with a kind of passionate dignity.
"Do as me, and part from all those you love!"
"But to serve those you love. One day you will come back to your mother's cottage, and say, 'We have conquered fortune.' Oh that I could go forth and return, as you will. But my father has no country, and his only child is a useless girl."
As Violante spoke, Leonard had dried his tears; her emotion distracted him from his own.
"Oh," continued Violante, again raising her head loftily, "what it is to be a man! A woman sighs, 'I wish,' but man should say, 'I will.'"
Occasionally before, Leonard had noted fitful flashes of a nature grand and heroic, in the Italian child, especially of late—flashes the more remarkable from their contrast to a form most exquisitely feminine, and to a sweetness of temper which made even her pride gentle. But now it seemed as if the child spoke with the command of a queen—almost with the inspiration of a muse. A strange and new sense of courage entered within him.
"May I remember these words!" he murmured half audibly.
The girl turned and surveyed him with eyes brighter for their moisture. She then extended her hand to him, with a quick movement, and, as he bent over it, with a grace taught to him by genuine emotion, she said,—"And if you do, then, girl and child as I am, I shall think I have aided a brave heart in the great strife for honor!"
She lingered a moment, smiled as if to herself, and then, gliding away, was lost amongst the trees.
After a long pause, in which Leonard recovered slowly from the surprise and agitation into which Violante had thrown his spirits—previously excited as they were—he went, murmuring to himself, towards the house. But Riccabocca was from home. Leonard turned mechanically to the terrace, and busied himself with the flowers. But the dark eyes of Violante shone on his thoughts, and her voice rang in his ear.
At length Riccabocca appeared, followed up the road by a laborer, who carried something indistinct under his arm.
The Italian beckoned to Leonard to follow him into the parlor; and after conversing with him kindly, and at some length, and packing up, as it were, a considerable provision of wisdom in the portable shape of aphorisms and proverbs, the sage left him alone for a few moments. Riccabocca then returned with his wife, and bearing a small knapsack:—
"It is not much we can do for you, Leonard, and money is the worst gift in the world for a keepsake; but my wife and I have put our heads together to furnish you with a little outfit. Giacomo, who was in our secret, assures us that the clothes will fit: and stole, I fancy, a coat of yours for the purpose. Put them on when you go to your relations: it is astonishing what a difference it makes in the ideas people form of us, according as our coats are cut one way or another. I should not be presentable in London thus; and nothing is more true than that a tailor is often the making of a man."
"The shirts, too, are very good holland," said Mrs. Riccabocca, about to open the knapsack.
"Never mind details, my dear," cried the wise man; "shirts are comprehended in the general principle of clothes. And, Leonard, as a remembrance somewhat more personal, accept this, which I have worn many a year when time was a thing of importance to me, and nobler fates than mine hung on a moment. We missed the moment, or abused it, and here I am, a waif on a foreign shore. Methinks I have done with Time."
The exile, as he thus spoke, placed in Leonard's reluctant hands a watch that would have delighted an antiquary, and shocked a dandy. It was exceedingly thick, having an outer case of enamel, and an inner one of gold. The hands and the figures of the hours had originally been formed of brilliants; but the brilliants had long since vanished. Still, even thus bereft, the watch was much more in character with the giver than the receiver, and was as little suited to Leonard as would have been the red silk umbrella.
"It is old-fashioned," said Mrs. Riccabocca, "but it goes better than any clock in the country. I really think it will last to the end of the world."
"Carissima mia!" cried the Doctor, "I thought I had convinced you that the world is by no means come to its last legs."
"Oh, I did not mean any thing, Alphonso," said Mrs. Riccabocca, coloring.
"And that is all we do mean when we talk about that of which we can know nothing," said the Doctor, less gallantly than usual, for he resented that epithet of "old-fashioned," as applied to the watch.
Leonard, we see, had been silent all this time; he could not speak—literally and truly, he could not speak. How he got out of his embarrassment, and how he got out of the room, he never explained to my satisfaction. But, a few minutes afterwards, he was seen hurrying down the road very briskly.
Riccabocca and his wife stood at the window gazing after him.
"There is a depth in that boy's heart," said the sage, "which might float an Argosy."
"Poor dear boy! I think we have put every thing into the knapsack that he can possibly want," said good Mrs. Riccabocca musingly.
The Doctor (continuing his soliloquy).—"They are strong, but they are not immediately apparent."
Mrs. Riccabocca (resuming hers.)—"They are at the bottom of the knapsack."
The Doctor.—"They will stand long wear and tear."
Mrs. Riccabocca.—"A year, at least, with proper care at the wash."
The Doctor (startled).—"Care at the wash! What on earth are you talking of, ma'am?"
Mrs. Riccabocca (mildly).—"The shirts, to be sure, my love? And you?"
The Doctor (with a heavy sigh).—"The feelings, ma'am!" Then, after a pause, taking his wife's hand affectionately—"But you did quite right to think of the shirts; Mr. Dale said very truly—"
The Doctor.—"That there was a great deal in common between us—even when I think of feelings, and you but of—shirts."
Mr. and Mrs. Avenel sat within the parlor—Mr. Richard stood on the hearth-rug, whistling Yankee Doodle. "The Parson writes word that the lad will come to-day," said Richard suddenly—"let me see the letter—ay, to-day. If he took the coach as far as ——, he might walk the rest of the way in two or three hours. He should be pretty nearly here. I have a great mind to go and meet him: it will save his asking questions, and hearing about me. I can clear the town by the back-way, and get out at the high road."
"You'll not know him from any one else said Mrs. Avenel.
"Well, that is a good one! Not know an Avenel! We've all the same cut of the jib—have not we, father?"
Poor John laughed heartily, till the tears rolled down his cheeks.
"We were always a well-favored family," said John, recomposing himself. "There was Luke, but he's gone; and Harry, but he's dead too; and Dick, but he's in Amerikay—no, he's here; and my darling Nora, but—"
"Hush!" interrupted Mrs. Avenel; "hush, John!"
The old man stared at her, and then put his tremulous hand to his brow. "And Nora's gone too!" said he, in a voice of profound woe. Both hands then fell on his knees, and his head drooped on his breast.
Mrs. Avenel rose, kissed her husband on the forehead, and then walked away to the window. Richard took up his hat, and brushed the nap carefully with his handkerchief; but his lips quivered.
"I'm going," said he, abruptly. "Now mind, mother, not a word about Uncle Richard yet; we must first see how we like each other, and (in a whisper) you'll try and get that into my poor father's head?"
"Ay, Richard," said Mrs. Avenel, quietly. Richard put on his hat, and went out by the back way. He stole along the fields that skirted the town, and had only once to cross the street before he got into the high road.
He walked on until he came to the first milestone. There he seated himself, lighted his cigar, and awaited his nephew. It was now nearly the hour of sunset, and the road before him lay westward. Richard from time to time looked along the road, shading his eyes with his hand; and at length, just as the disc of the sun had half sunk down the horizon, a solitary figure came up the way. It emerged suddenly from the turn in the road; the reddening beams colored all the atmosphere around it. Solitary and silent it came as from a Land of Light.
"You have been walking far, young man," said Richard Avenel.
"No, sir, not very. That is Lansmere before me, is it not?"
"Yes, it is Lansmere; you stop there, I guess?"
Leonard made a sign in the affirmative, and walked on a few paces; then seeing the stranger who had accosted him still by his side, he said—
"If you know the town, sir, perhaps you will have the goodness to tell me whereabouts Mr. Avenel lives?"
"I can put you into a straight cut across the fields, that will bring you just behind the house."
"You are very kind, but it will take you out of your way."
"No, it is in my way. So you are going to Mr. Avenel's?—a good old gentleman."
"I've always heard so; and Mrs. Avenel—"
"A particular superior woman," said Richard. "Any one else to ask after—I know the family well."
"No, thank you, sir."
"They have a son, I believe; but he's in America, is not he?"
"I believe he is, sir."
"I see the Parson has kept faith with me," muttered Richard.
"If you can tell me any thing about him," said Leonard, "I should be very glad."
"Why so, young man?—perhaps he is hanged by this time."
"He was a sad dog, I am told."
"Then you have been told very falsely," said Leonard, coloring.
"A sad wild dog—his parents were so glad when he cut and run—went off to the States. They say he made money; but, if so, he neglected his relations shamefully."
"Sir," said Leonard, "you are wholly misinformed. He has been most generous to a relative who had little claim on him; and I never heard his name mentioned but with love and praise."
Richard instantly fell to whistling Yankee Doodle, and walked on several paces without saying a word. He then made a slight apology for his impertinence—hoped no offence—and with his usual bold but astute style of talk, contrived to bring out something of his companion's mind. He was evidently struck with the clearness and propriety with which Leonard expressed himself, raised his eyebrows in surprise more than once, and looked him full in the face with an attentive and pleased survey. Leonard had put on the new clothes with which Riccabocca and wife had provided him. They were those appropriate to a young country tradesman in good circumstances; but as he did not think about the clothes, so he had unconsciously something of the ease of the gentleman.
They now came into the fields. Leonard paused before a slip of ground sown with rye.
"I should have thought grass land would have answered better, so near a town," said he.
"No doubt it would," answered Richard; "but they are sadly behind-hand in these parts. You see that great park yonder, on the other side of the road? That would answer better for rye than grass; but then what would become of my Lord's deer? The aristocracy eat us up, young man."
"But the aristocracy did not sow this piece with rye, I suppose?" said Leonard, smiling.
"And what do you conclude from that?"
"Let every man look to his own ground," said Leonard, with a cleverness of repartee caught from Doctor Riccabocca.
"'Cute lad you are," said Richard; "and we'll talk more of these matters another time."
They now came within sight of Mr. Avenel's house.
"You can get through the gap in the hedge, by the old pollard oak," said Richard; "and come round by the front of the house. Why, you're not afraid—are you?"
"I am a stranger."
"Shall I introduce you? I told you that I knew the old couple."
"Oh no, sir! I would rather meet them alone."
"Go; and—wait a bit,—harkye, young man, Mrs. Avenel is a cold-mannered woman; but don't be abashed by that."
Leonard thanked the good-natured stranger, crossed the field, passed the gap, and paused a moment under the stinted shade of the old hollow-hearted oak. The ravens were returning to their nests. At the sight of a human form under the tree, they wheeled round, and watched him afar. From the thick of the boughs, the young ravens sent their hoarse low cry.
The young man entered the neat, prim, formal parlor.
"You are welcome!" said Mrs. Avenel, in a firm voice.
"The gentleman is heartily welcome," cried poor John.
"It is your grandson, Leonard Fairfield," said Mrs. Avenel.
But John, who had risen with knocking knees, gazed hard at Leonard, and then fell on his breast, sobbing aloud—"Nora's eyes!—he has a blink in his eyes like Nora's."
Mrs. Avenel approached with a steady step, and drew away the old man tenderly.
"He is a poor creature," she whispered to Leonard—"you excite him. Come away, I will show you your room."
Leonard followed her up the stairs, and came into a room—neatly, and even prettily furnished. The carpet and curtains were faded by the sun, and of old-fashioned pattern, but there was a look about the room as if it had long been disused.
Mrs. Avenel sank down on the first chair on entering.
Leonard drew his arm round her waist affectionately: "I fear that I have put you out sadly—my dear grandmother."
Mrs. Avenel glided hastily from his arm, and her countenance worked much—every nerve in it twitching as it were; then, placing her hand on his locks, she said with passion, "God bless you, my grandson," and left the room.
Leonard dropped his knapsack on the floor, and looked around him wistfully. The room seemed as if it had once been occupied by a female. There was a work-box on the chest of drawers, and over it hanging shelves for books, suspended by ribbons that had once been blue, with silk and fringe appended to each shelf, and knots and tassels here and there—the taste of a woman, or rather of a girl, who seeks to give a grace to the commonest things around her. With the mechanical habit of a student, Leonard took down one or two of the volumes still left on the shelves. He found SPENSER'S Fairy Queen, RACINE in French, TASSO in Italian; and on the fly-leaf of each volume, in the exquisite handwriting familiar to his memory, the name "Leonora." He kissed the books, and replaced them with a feeling akin both to tenderness and awe.
He had not been alone in his room more than a quarter of an hour, before the maid-servant knocked at his door and summoned him to tea.
Poor John had recovered his spirits, and his wife sate by his side holding his hand in hers. Poor John was even gay. He asked many questions about his daughter Jane, and did not wait for the answers. Then he spoke about the Squire, whom he confounded with Audley Egerton, and talked of elections and the Blue party, and hoped Leonard would always be a good Blue; and then he fell to his tea and toast, and said no more.
Mrs. Avenel spoke little, but she eyed Leonard askant, as it were, from time to time; and after each glance the nerves of the poor severe face twitched again.
A little after nine o'clock, Mrs. Avenel lighted a candle, and placing it in Leonard's hand, "You must be tired—you know your own room now. Good night."
Leonard took the light, and, as was his wont with his mother, kissed Mrs. Avenel on the cheek. Then he took John's hand and kissed him too. The old man was half asleep, and murmured dreamily, "That's Nora."
Leonard had retired to his room about half an hour, when Richard Avenel entered the house softly, and joined his parents.
"Well, mother?" said he.
"Well, Richard—you have seen him?"
"And like him. Do you know he has a great look of poor Nora?—more like her than Jane."
"Yes; he is handsomer than Jane ever was, but more like your father than any one. John was so comely. You take to the boy, then?"
"Ay, that I do. Just tell him in the morning that he is to go with a gentleman who will be his friend, and don't say more. The chaise shall be at the door after breakfast. Let him get into it: I shall wait for him out of the town. What's the room you give him?"
"The room you would not take."
"The room in which Nora slept? Oh, no! I could not have slept a wink there. What a charm there was in that girl!—how we all loved her! But she was too beautiful and good for us—too good to live!"
"None of us are too good," said Mrs. Avenel with great austerity, "and I beg you will not talk in that way. Good night—I must get your poor father to bed."
When Leonard opened his eyes the next morning, they rested on the face of Mrs. Avenel, which was bending over his pillow. But it was long before he could recognize that countenance, so changed was its expression—so tender, so motherlike. Nay, the face of his own mother had never seemed to him so soft with a mother's passion.
"Ah!" he murmured, half rising and flinging his young arms round her neck. Mrs. Avenel, this time, and for the first, taken by surprise, warmly returned the embrace; she clasped him to her breast, she kissed him again and again. At length with a quick start she escaped, and walked up and down the room, pressing her hands tightly together. When she halted, her face had recovered its usual severity and cold precision.
"It is time for you to rise, Leonard," said she. "You will leave us to-day. A gentleman has promised to take charge of you, and do for you more than we can. A chaise will be at the door soon—make haste."
John was absent from the breakfast-table. His wife said that he never rose till late, and must not be disturbed.
The meal was scarce over, before a chaise and pair came to the door.
"You must not keep the chaise waiting—the gentleman is very punctual."
"But he is not come."
"No, he has walked on before, and will get in after you are out of the town."
"What is his name, and why should he care for me, grandmother?"
"He will tell you himself. Now, come."
"But you will bless me again, grandmother? I love you already."
"I do bless you," said Mrs. Avenel firmly. "Be honest and good, and beware of the first false step." She pressed his hand with a convulsive grasp, and led him to the outer door.
The postboy clanked his whip, the chaise rattled off. Leonard put his head out of the window to catch a last glimpse of the old woman. But the boughs of the pollard oak, and its gnarled decaying trunk, hid her from his eye. And look as he would, till the road turned, he saw but the melancholy tree.
[K] This aphorism has been probably assigned to Lord Bacon upon the mere authority of the index to his works. It is the aphorism of the index-maker, certainly not of the great master of inductive philosophy. Bacon has, it is true, repeatedly dwelt on the power of knowledge, but with so many explanations and distinctions, that nothing could be more unjust to his general meaning than to attempt to cramp into a sentence what it costs him a volume to define. Thus, if in one page he appears to confound knowledge with power, in another he sets them in the strongest antithesis to each other; as follows, "Adeo, signanter Deus opera potentiae et sapientiae discriminavit." But it would be as unfair to Bacon to convert into an aphorism the sentence that discriminates between knowledge and power as it is to convert into an aphorism any sentence that confounds them.
[L] "But the greatest error of all the rest is the mistaking or misplacing of the last or farthest end of knowledge:—for men have entered into a desire of learning and knowledge, sometimes upon a natural curiosity and inquisitive appetite: sometimes to entertain their minds with variety and delight; sometimes for ornament and reputation; and sometimes to enable them to victory of wit and contradiction; and most times for lucre and profession,"—(that is, for most of those objects which are meant by the ordinary citers of the saying, 'Knowledge is power;') "and seldom sincerely to give a true account of these gifts of reason to the benefit and use of men; as if there were sought in knowledge a couch whereon to rest a searching and restless spirit; or a terrace for a wandering and variable mind to walk up and down, with a fair prospect; or a tower of state for a proud mind to raise itself upon; or a fort or commanding ground for strife and contention; or a shop for profit or sale—and not a rich storehouse for the glory of the Creator, and the relief of men's estate."—ADVANCEMEMT OF LEARNING, Book I.
From the new novel, "Rose Douglass."
A FAMILY OF OLD MAIDS.
Such a family of old maids! The youngest mistress was forty, and the two servants were somewhat older. They had each their pets too, except I think the eldest, who was the clearest-headed of the family. The servants had the same Christian name, which was rather perplexing, as neither would consent to be called by her surname. How their mistresses managed to distinguish them I do not recollect; but the country people settled it easily amongst themselves by early naming them according to their different heights, "lang Jenny," and "little Jenny." They were characters in their way as well as their mistresses. They had served them for upwards of twenty years, and knew every secret of the family, being as regularly consulted as any of the members of it. They regulated the expenses too, much as they liked, which was in a very frugal, economical manner. The two Jennies had not much relished their removal to the country, and still often sighed with regret for the gossipings they once enjoyed in the Castlegate of Lanark. But they could not bear to part from the family; so they now boomed at their wheels or mended the household linen in the damp dull kitchen of Burnside, instead of performing the same work in their old cosy, comfortable one in the burgh town, and tried to indemnify themselves for their privations by establishing a kind of patronizing familiarity with various of the cottagers' wives.
Miss Jess and Miss Jean were the names of the younger ladies. There was that species of resemblance among all the sisters, both mental and personal, which is often to be observed in members of the same family. Menie, the eldest sister, was, however, much superior to the others in force of character, but her mind had not been cultivated by reading. Jess, the second, was a large coarse-looking woman, with a masculine voice, and tastes decidedly so. An excellent wright or smith she would have made, if unfortunately she had not been born a gentlewoman. She had a habit of wandering about the grounds with a small hammer and nails in her huge pocket, examining the fences, and mending them if necessary. She could pick a lock too, when needed, with great neatness and dispatch. I rather think she could repair one also. I have still in my possession a small box of her making, which, for execution and durability, I will match against the performance of any rival amateur of the opposite sex. In spite, however, of such freaks, and as if to make amends for them, Miss Jess possessed one of the softest and most impressionable hearts which ever fell to the lot of a mature maiden of forty-five. She had suffered from no less than six different attachments during her life (she made me her confidante), and most unfortunately they had never been to the right individual, for they were not returned. But poor Miss Jess cherished no malice; she freely forgave them their insensibility. Indeed, she had not the heart to kill a fly. Every beggar imposed on her, and her sisters were obliged for her own sake to restrain her charities. Her dress, like her pursuits, had always a certain masculine air about it. She wore large rough boots, coarse gloves, and a kind of man's cravat constantly twisted about her neck when out of doors. In short, she was one of those persons one cannot help liking, yet laughing at. Jean, the youngest sister, had been a beauty in her time, and she still laid claim to the distinction resulting from it. It was a pity, considering the susceptibility of her second sister, that her charms had not been shared by her. Jean was coquettish, and affected a somewhat youthful manner and style of dress, which contrasted ill with her time of life. But the rest of the family, in which of course I include the servants, evidently considered her a young thoughtless thing for whom much allowance must be made.
Historical Review of the Month.
THE UNITED STATES.
Since the close of the Executive Session of the Senate and the departure of the members for their homes, Washington has relapsed into the usual quiet of its summer season. Mr. Corwin, Secretary of the Treasury, has been dangerously ill, but is now slowly recovering. The duties of the office were temporarily performed by the Chief Clerk of the Department. Senor Molina, Charge to the United States from the Central American State of Costa Rica, has presented his credentials to the President. M. Bois le Comte, the French Minister Plenipotentiary, having been superseded by the appointment of M. de Sartiges, has sold his furniture and gone to Havana. A public dinner was given to Mr. Webster at Annapolis, Maryland, on the 24th of March, by the Delegates of the Maryland State Convention. It was attended by a large number of distinguished persons. Mr. Webster then proceeded to Harrisburgh, where he had been invited by the Legislature of Pennsylvania. A grand reception was given him in the Hall of the House of Representatives. Gov. Johnson introduced the distinguished guest in a brief address of welcome, to which Mr. Webster responded in a speech of an hour's length. He spoke of the commanding physical position of Pennsylvania, forming, as it were, the key-stone between the North and the South, the waters of the Atlantic and the Mississippi. Occupying, thus, a middle ground between the two conflicting portions of the Union, he considered her disposed to do her duty to both, regardless of the suggestions of local prejudices. He then pronounced a most glowing and eloquent eulogium on the Constitution, and concluded by affirming his belief that ages hence the United States will be free and republican, still making constant progress in general confidence, respect, and prosperity. Mr. Webster is at present on his Marshfield estate, recovering from an indisposition consequent on his labors during the past winter.
The State Convention of Ohio has framed a new Constitution, which is to be submitted to the people for acceptance. It provides for the maintenance of religious freedom, equality of political rights, liberty of speech and of the press, and no imprisonment for debt. The members of each branch of the Legislature are chosen biennially. The Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer, and Attorney General, are to be chosen by the people for a term of two years, and the Judges for a term of five years. The Legislature is to provide a system of Free Education, and Institutions for the Insane, Blind, Deaf and Dumb are to be supported by the State. The Ohio Legislature has passed resolutions in favor of the repeal or modification of the Fugitive Slave Law, principally on account of its denial of a trial by jury to the fugitive.
The Union feeling is entirely in the ascendant throughout the Southern States. A Committee of the Virginia Legislature, to whom the resolutions of the South Carolina Convention were referred, reported a preamble and series of resolutions of the most patriotic character. They declare that while Virginia deeply sympathizes with South Carolina, she cannot join in any action calculated to impair the integrity of the Union. She believes the Constitution sufficient for the remedy of all grievances, and invokes all who live under it to adhere more strictly to it, and to preserve inviolate its safeguards. Virginia also declines to send Delegates to the proposed Southern Congress. In Georgia, a number of Delegates have been elected to a State Convention of the Union party for the nomination of a Candidate for Governor. The State Convention of Missouri has adopted an address and resolutions fully sustaining Mr. Benton in his course in opposition to the Disunionists. In Mississippi, the Union party have taken measures for a thorough organization. Delegates have been chosen to a State Convention for the nomination of a ticket. The Southern party are about forming a similar organization, the old party lines having been almost entirely abandoned. The only counter-movement in the North, is the assembling of a State Convention in Massachusetts, in opposition to the Fugitive Slave Law, without distinction of party. In Tennessee, the friends of the Free School System have called a General State Convention, to be held at Knoxville. The New-Jersey Legislature has enacted a law prohibiting the employment of children under ten years of age in factories, and providing that ten hours shall be considered a legal day's labor in all manufacturing establishments.