Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

in the way of Joy, except for bathing purposes ? or Sugar, what is it, but to infants, when alone? or Lemon-juice, that, unless diluted, makes the very nerves revolt and shrink into themselves ? or Rum, that in its abstract and proper state can hardly be received and entertained upon the palate of a Gentleman ? and yet combine them all, and you have the full harmony, the heroism of existence, the diapason of human life!

Let us not then abridge our Water lest we diminish our animal being. Nor change the quantum of our Rum, lest wit and animation cease from among us. Nor our Sugar, lest we find by sad experience that

it is not good for man to live alone.' And, when they occur, let us take those minor acids in the natural cells in which the Lemon nourished them for our use, and as they may have chanced to fall into the pitcher of our destiny. In short let us not refine too much. My dear Sirs, let us not strain our Punch!

When I look around me on the fashionable world, in which I occasionally mingle, with the experience and observation of an old man, it strikes me to be the prevailing characteristick of the age that people have departed from the simpler and I think the healthier pleasures of their Fathers. Parties, balls, soirées, dinners, morning calls, and recreations of all sorts are, by a forced and unnatural attempt at overrefinement, deprived of much of their enjoyment. Young men and maidens, old men and Widows, either give up their Pitchers in despair, or, venturing upon the compound – - strain their Punch.

Suppose yourself for the moment transported into a Ball-room in a blaze of light, enlivened by the most animating musick, and with not one square foot of space that is not occupied by the beauty and fashion of the day. The only individuals that have the power, except by the slowest imaginable sidelong movement, of penetrating this tide of enchantment, are the Redowa-Waltzers; before whom every person recedes for a few inches at each moment, then to resume his stand as wave after wave goes by. '

You can catch only the half-length portraits of the dancers ; but these are quite near enough to enable you to gain by glimpses their full characteristick developements of countenance. Read them; for every conventional arrangement of the features has been jostled out of place by the inspiriting bob-a-bob movement of the dance.

Look before you - a woman's hand, exquisitely formed, exquisitely gloved in white and braceletted, with a wrist round as the circle of Giotto,' rests upon the black-cloth dress of her partner's shoulder; as light, as airy, and as pure, as a waif of driven snow upon a cleft of mountain rock, borne thither in some relenting lull or wandering of the tempest; and beautiful! too beautiful it seems for any lower region of the Earth.

She turns toward you in the revolving movement, and you behold a face that a celestial inhabitant of some superior star might descend to us to love and hope to be forgiven! Now listen, for this is the expression of that face :

Upon my word this partner of mine is really a nice person! how charmingly exact his time is! what a sustaining arm he has, and how admirably, by his good management, he has protected my beautiful little feet against all the maladroit waltzers of the set! I have not had a single bruise notwithstanding the dense crowd ; and my feet will slide out of bed to-morrow morning as white and spotless as the bleached and balmy linen between which I shall repose. Ah! if he could only steer us both through life as safely and as well ! but poor fellow ! it would never do. They say he has no fortune, and for my part all that I could possibly expect from papa would be to furnish the house. How then should we be ever able to strain our Punch!

And he— the partner in this Waltz- instead of growing buoyant and elastick, at the thoughts that belong to his condition of youth and glowing health ;—at the recollection of the ground over which he moves; -of the Government of his own choice, the noblest because the freëst in the world, that rules it ;of the fourteen hundred millions of unoccupied acres of fertile soil, wooing him to make his choice of climate, that belong to it; -of the deep blue sky of Joy and health that hangs above it; -of the God that watches over and protects us all;— and, lastly, of this precious being as the Wife that might make any destiny one of happiness by sharing it - what are the ideas that occupy his soul ?

He muses over the approaching hour of supper, speculates upon his probable share of Steinberger Cabinet Wein, and doubts whether the Restaurateur who provides may or may not have had consideration enough to strain the Punch.

Bear with me once more, gentle Reader, while I recite the title of this Essay: ‘Do not strain your Punch.'

JOHN WATERS.

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

Boasting what we do with clay :
Men are sinning, we are winning,
And renewing wicked doing
In the darkness or the day.

DISEASE. How they dread my silent foot-steps,

Undermining,

As with pining
Soon they sink away and die !
How I feed upon their vitals,

Ever gnawing,

Ever mawing,
When they little think me nigh:
Ever rapping, we are sapping,
Ever dooming all the blooming ;
Oh, they little think us by!

Death. And I laugh until my shaking

Bones do rattle,

At my battle
With the children of the earth;
And the proud, the rich, the humble,

All defying,

Still are dying,
Whether men of wo or worth :
And we greet them as we meet them
At the passes with our glasses,
Wishing them a merry birth.

VII.

Decay. Ha! ha! ha! I'm tired of eating,

And of feeding

On the breeding
Work-upbuilding things that rust :
Noble structures, man and woman,

Ever toiling,

I am spoiling,
With a never-ending lust :
On his coffin Death is laughing
At the palling ever falling :
Ha! ha! ha! they soon are dust!

VIII.

ALL. What a frolic with earth's children,

Gnome deforming,

Devil storming,
From so many we may cull;
What a feasting on the people,

All belying

They are dying,
Though Decay is nearly full :
Death is biering, witches searing,
Spectres warring, Time is sparring,
Dancing, bowling with a skull.

IX.

Now they clapped their bony fingers,

As with yelling

They were spelling
This unearthly fiendish tone;
Oh, such pallid, hueless faces

As the flaming

Fire, unblaming,
Gloating on each visage shone :
Swiftly bounding to the sounding,
In the shading they were fading
To a flash, and they were gone.

TWO CHARACTERS.

Will you lend me your light, Kate, for a moment ? said a young man whom we shall call Harry Eaton, groping in the dusk around a door, from which there streamed through the key-hole a faint tantalizing beam.

The wind was sweeping with a hollow dreary sound through the corridors of the vast deserted building, rattling every window-pane and moaning through every chink. *I am sorry to disturb you,' continued the young man timidly.

As he spoke the door was thrown wide open, and Kate stepped forth into the passage-way, shading her eyes with one hand, and holding her light aloft.

I thought you would be charitable,' he said, confronting her with a look of involuntary admiration •Do you know that you should stand for a picture in precisely the attitude which you have taken. The light from that candle sparkles on your forehead like the glory round the head of a Madonna, and your eyes shine like coals of fire in the shadow of your hand. You seem just now to be something between a lady-saint and Lucifer.'

Indeed, the girl's beauty was so fresh and brilliant that it startled one, as it burst suddenly upon the darkness, and filled the empty space with a glorious presence of youth and vigor and maidenhood.

• The fresh air out of doors,' she answered coldly, 'has given you high spirits, and made you impertinent. Here is the light, Sir; I will leave it on the chair for you.' She turned contemptuously away, without, however, closing the door.

The young man keenly watched her elastic tread and the 'flexible sway in her slight form, as she moved toward the little table in the room to resume her work.

He leaned feebly against the door-post, and seemed to be struggling for energy to tear himself from the spot, and break the toils of a deadly fascination, which was winding itself, thread by thread, about him. The girl, who had seated herself, remained for a few moments idle, her bare arms stretched gracefully upon the shining oaken board, her head

« AnteriorContinuar »