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Nature, too, in all its forms has a language for man; voices of grief in the winds, joy in its songs of spring, terror in the storm, and it whispers of calmness along the moonlight glades, and strength and quiet in the midnight heavens repose. It is the monopolist of grace; art can only imitate it; yet we reverence it, for it brings beauty from the skies and enthrones it on our hearth-stones. The one hath strewn her jewelry along the pathway of life, the other ever weareth hers, her proper adornments; her beauties are enhanced by the manifold drapery that envelopes her, whereby she displays such grace that the eye is never satiated with gazing at her, nor the heart ever pained by communing with her. Or if we tire of the present, the visible and outward, beyond are the invisible and the unknown realms of imagination and prophetic vision. The present, even with all its splendor, sinks into insignificance when compared with the vastness of the whole; and how infinite soever it be within its bosom, the ant has its home secure as the most splendid star. The same power that suspended the nebulæ in the immensity of space, robed the lilies; the same Being that caused the earth to teem with blossom and fruit for man, attends to the cry of the raven. And all his works are enveloped with and pervaded by Beauty, as the rays of the prism are one in the sun; and in the midst of all, He sits enthroned who created all things and gave to his works such magni. ficence and splendor. From his Heaven he rules by established laws; Him angels and seraphs worship; to Him the earth and the stars do reverence; the deeps respond to his call, and infinities of distances hear him and obey. Magnificent are thy works, worthy the majesty of God, yet shadows are they all, compared to Thee!
A LEGEND: FROM TEE SPANISH,
Sin vos, y sin Dios y mi.
The motto that with trembling hand I write,
And deeply graven on this heart of mine;
* Sin poe,' it saith, if I am without thee
Beloved! whose thought surrounds me every where; • Sin Dios,' I am without God, y mind
And in myself I have no longer share.
False proved the lady, and thenceforth the knight,
Casting aside the buckler and the brand, Lived an austere and lonely anchorite,
In a drear mountain cave in Holy Land.
There, bowed before the Virgin's shrine in prayer,
He would dash madly down his rosary : And cry beloved ! in tones of wild despair,
I have lost God and self in losing thee!
And I, if thus my life's sweet hope were o'er,
An echo of the knight's despair must be; Thus I were lost if loved by thee no more,
For, ah! myself and heaven are merged in thee.
ANACREONTIC STAN ZASTO
For you, as sweet a fairy vision
I've sung to others' beauties rare,
Yes, one-oh God! a face and eyes
But oh! the mild and cheering ray
Each face beside thine own that's bright
Tales of the Back Parlor.
If Circe like you weave a spell
T A LES OF THE BACK PARLOR.
- T18 a history
The summer of 1849 was unusually warm and sultry. The wealthy and the fashionable left their mansions in the crowded city to avoid the terrible pestilence that was approaching. Business itself seemed to sigh for an hour of leisure, and consequently was complained of as intolerably dull. As for myself, I have no fancy for those crowded watering places, where the comforts of home are sacrificed for the miseries of an attic, lest your tattling and inquisitive neighbors should pronounce you unfashionable and vulgar. They are excellent places for exquisite beauty to whisper soft things to tender languishing belles; for manœuvring matrons to entrap butterflies for their portionless daughters; or for ladies of indubitable maturity to figure once more in the careless gayeties of sixteen; but as homes for old unpretending bachelors they are anything but comfortable.
There are, however, some public resorts which are in reality all that the lover of comfort and convenience can desire. Fresh breezes and cool sea-bathing, a room within sight of the earth, plenty of quiet congenial companions, and no hops or fancy balls; at such a place I found myself during the oppressive month of August, and enjoyed the rare satisfaction of undisturbed idleness. Among the many kindred spirits that entertained the same views on such subjects as myself I found an old acquaintance, whose humors and eccentricities had often amused me, and whose fund of stories and legends had served to shorten many a wintry evening in my study at home. He had seen much of the world, and had thus added to his stock of literary information an extensive knowledge of men and manners, derived from a keen observation of the various scenes which he had witnessed, and of the different characters among whom he had been thrown. His physiognomy was marked and peculiar. A pair of gray eyes shone from under a projecting ridge of sandy hair; his high forehead was invariably carelessly shaded with thick and straggling locks; a nose of that good-natured kind which we sometimes see on the faces of old Dutch landlords; while his complexion, though somewhat florid, might have been attributed either to the effect of his travels or to the gentle influence of that far-famed Burgundy wine, whose merits he sometimes rather loudly extolled. Be that however as it may, he was of that race of men who know that living happily is synonymous with living singly, and that the pleasures of life would be neither enhanced by the chorus of babies, nor by the expostulations of an untameable shrew. In addition to all these excellences, he possessed a great taste for literature, which had been judiciously cultivated in his younger days by an erudite parson of the old school, whose historical knowledge was not confined to the books of Moses, and whose poetical studies had not concluded with the psalms.
The dress of my friend was as singular as his countenance. He wore a coat which seemed to be related both to the large family of sacks and to the breed of English riding coats. A row of large hornbuttons extended up and down the front, but whether they were for use or for ornament I never could determine. Capacious pockets gaped on either side, filled with fishing lines, boxes of patent hooks, and all the other troublesome 'conveniences' of an experienced angler. His long-waisted Quakerish vest was also made with an eye to service; for from one pocket protruded the end of a cigar-case, from another a large head of cavendish, and a third seemed pregnant with a sufficiency for a fourth. A pair of buff pants, relics apparently of other days, proudly withdrew from an ample pair of double soles; while a cap, which would have won the palm at a jockey club, completed his outer man. I have been thus particular in describing my companion for no other purpose than to give some idea to my readers of the characters with whom I associate.
We had been fishing one pleasant day, and had experienced unusual good fortune. Our worthy host, skilled in the ways of gratifying the peculiar whims of his guests, had broiled a couple of the largest blue fish which we had caught, and while we were taking our late supper, and praising his cookery, he regaled our imaginations with marvellous accounts of the schools which would run' as the season became a little later advanced. In a mood for promising any thing, we intimated our determination to remain until that time, and our host, assuming the air of a man who has hooked a plump trout with a painted fly, waddled pompously away. We had finished our supper, rendered doubly delicious by the consciousness that we had contributed to its excellence, and with hearts at peace with all mankind, we leaned back, as all bachelors do, in two affectionate rocking chairs, placed in the piazza, which
commanded a beautiful prospect of the entrance of Long-Island Sound. It was one of those soft and exilarating evenings which succeed to the heat and languor of a sultry and oppressive day. The sun bad already sunk below the long range of hills which skirted the western shore of the tranquil bay; but its lingering rays still fringed with a golden hue the edges of the light clouds which floated near the horizon. A light breeze had arisen, and the merry song of a boat's crew, just discharged from a long voyage to the Pacific, was borne to the small knot of anious friends who had collected on the pier to welcome them. Now and then would be heard the bleating of the sheep or the lowing of the kine gathered in some distant farm-yard; while at regular and solemn intervals struck the evening bell, as it tolled the hour for sacred service. There is no man who, at some time in his life, has not experienced the soothing influence of an evening like that. The mind forgets the toils and sorrows of the present, and looks either with bright hopes toward the future, or reviews in pleasing sadness the faded pleasures of the past. It is a feeling neither melancholy nor joyous, yet it somewhat partakes of both. Childhood, with all its innocent amusements, with all its trembling anticipations, and with all its hallowed associations of mother's prayers and father's blessings, crowds back upon the memory. The curtain of recollection is raised, and the panorama of our own experience unwinds slowly before us. 'Tis seldom in this busy, anxious world, that a man finds the leisure to turn over the leaves of his own history; but when he does, he feels himself wiser and better, and perhaps more holy and virtuous.
The boat-load had long since landed, and the last echo of the church bell died plaintively away, when I roused myself from my dreaminess and turned toward my companion. He too had been unusually affected, for his pipe was extinguished, and from the inverted bowl the ashes had lodged like snow flakes upon the wrinkles of his vest. His countenance too had lost the air of careless good nature, which it usually wore, and now assumed a curious look of half solemn seriousness. I had never caught him in a mood of melancholy before; and the expression of his face was so unlike any thing that I had ever seen it wear, that I gratified my curiosity by scrutinizing it. His sharp eyes seemed fixed on some object in the air before him; his nose had lost its social, jolly look; and the corners of his mouth were drawn down, as if his last friend on earth had discharged the final bill of nature. A laugh escaped me as he drew a heavy sigh, when, confused at being caught in reflections which he had invariably denounced as unworthy. of a philosopher and a bachelor, he started up, and stammered out some remark on the oppressiveness of the weather.
You have a meditative turn to-night,' I said, with a look which implied that I had guessed the nature of his thoughts. Have you been ruminating among the memories of college, recalling the sentimentalities of some boyish courtship, or reflecting on the inanities of all human hopes, and the insufficiency of all human calculations ?'
- On none of those,' he replied, though I confess that for once I have departed from my usual rule, and instead of endeavoring to divine the signs of the future, I have been indulging in some reminiscences of the