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OR, THE INFLUENCE OF LETTERS UPON MORALS.
A scrap of domestic history.
Break from thy body's grasp thy spirit's trance :
And be, like man at first, " a living soul.”—DANA. SEVERAL years ago, before Lord Chancellor Brougham was editor of a penny magazine, or ever we had heard of the great efforts of learned men in England to diffuse information among the humble classes in that country, a young gentleman, who was a member of a literary society in New-England, which had for its object mutual improvement, and the diffusion of letters among the rising generation, took a bundle of children's books in his chaise-box, as he was setting out on a journey into the country. His intention was to hand them to a clergyman, or schoolmaster, as he passed through some obscure town; but he soon forgot that he had them in his possession. Having travelled two or three days, his horse cast a shoe; and, on inquiry, much to his annoyance, he learned that there was no blacksmith to be found within a mile; the informant assuring the traveller, “That if the smith was sober, he would shoe his horse as well as any man in those parts.” When the traveller reached the blacksmith's shop, he
found him quite sober; his eldest son, he said, had gone to the store, four miles off, to get a jug of rum; and as he must work alone, it would take him some time to make and set the shoe. The gentleman was requested to walk into the house to rest himself, while the smith was at work. The house, on the outside, presented every appearance of poverty and wretchedness; it had battens on the roof for shingles, and the top of the chimney ascended but a few inches above the ridge-pole. Yet the outward aspect of the house was princely when compared with the interior. It had been intended for three rooms on the floor, but there was neither lath, plaster, or jointed boards, by way of partition, to be seen-a few rough boards marked, rather than made, a distinction in the building. The garret,-for the house was only one story high,—was ascended by a short ladder. The furniture in this part of the premises consisted of two beds,-if such a mass of rags as were exhibited to view could be so called,—with some tattered blankets, which showed that a portion of the family slept there. Three wooden bottomed chairs, a table, a milk-pan, and a few tin measures, made up a good part of the moveables in the lower story. There was a large quantity of ashes in the fire-place, covered with potato-skins, and a kettle standing near, which bore evident marks of recent use in making hasty-pudding. There was a window and two port-holes in the main room; several panes of glass had been broken in the window, their places being supplied by bundles of rags. A dirty singed cat slept close to the ashes;
when her mistress attempted to drive her away, she slowly arosé, and stretching one leg after another, and partially opening her eyes, leisurely moved off. She was just such a grimalkin as a rat would like to see—one too indolent to do him any harm. Near one of the beds, a short-legged big-headed, mongrel, surly dog reared himself to eye the stranger, but on his growling several times, the woman gave him a kick, and sent him yelping out of doors. By way of treating her guest with great civility, the mistress of the house took up the broom, and began to sweep a spot for him to place his chair. “She was sorry,” she said, "that her house was so dirty, but her child had been sick for several days, and had taken up all her time.” The traveller had not before noticed a child in one of the beds, of about three years old, pale, emaciated, and listless. The mother observed that within two days it had been very sick, and that she had not had a drop of rum to give her, but hoped her son Jim would be along soon from the store, and then she should have something to offer the gentleman to drink.” In a short time, the son made his appearance. athletic fellow, whose whole dress consisted of a tow-cloth shirt and pantaloons; he was bare-footed and bare. headed ; when he went to the store, he had borrowed his father's hat to wear, but on entering the house he threw it off. His hair was long and matted, looking defiance to comb or brush, things which it had never known. His brawny arms were naked, his shirt sleeves being rolled up; and his whole appearance was that of Caliban's,
before he had been taught human language by Prospero ; but there was a good nature in his face, unlike the expression of Sycorax's son; and after he had drank his fill, he seemed ready to say,
"I pray thee, let me bring thee where crabs grow;
Young sea-mells from the rock." Jim's arrival was a jubilee; the jug went round briskly, and each one poured out what he wanted into a tin dipper, or broken mug, and diluting the liquor a little with some excellent water, took a hearty swig. The mother sweetened some of the rum with maple-sugar, and mixing with it a little milk and water, gave it to the child as food and medicine. The little wretch raised her head to take the dose, as familiarly as she would to have
“ There dear, it will do you good," said the mother, “now go to sleep, and get well." Turning to the stranger, she said, “ she hoped the gentleman would drink with them, if they were poor folks;" but he politely declined, much to their disappointment.
After the father and son had gone into the shop to resume their labors, the traveller made some inquiries of the woman about her family. He found she had five children living. “ Jim" was the first-born; the two next were boys, then gone a fishing; the fourth was a daughter, then about thirteen years old ; and the one in the bed made
the number. “ Lucy, the eldest daughter," she said, " did not live at home, but with Deacon Thompson,
drank a cup