« AnteriorContinuar »
This, her beacon, Hope displays;
For, in Mercy's diadem,
The Star that rose in Bethlehem.
When this gloomy life is o'er,
When we smile in bliss above,
We enjoy the heaven of love,
Round salvation's purest gem!
Gild the Star of Bethlehem !
The Funeral of Maria.--MACKENZIE.
MARIA was in her twentieth year. To the beauty of her form, and excellence of her natural disposition, a parent, equally indulgent and attentive, had done the fullest justice. To accomplish her person, and to cultivate her mind, every endeavour had been used, and had been attended with that success which parental efforts commonly meet with, when not prevented by mistaken fondness, or untimely vanity.
Few young ladies have attracted more admiration; none ever felt it less : with all the charms of beauty, and the polish of education, the plainest were not less affected, nor the most ignorant less assuming. She died when every tongue was eloquent of her virtues, when every hope was ripening to reward them.
It is by such private and domestic distresses, that the softer emotions of the heart are most strongly excited. The fall of more important personages is commonly distant from our observation; but, even where it happens under our immediate notice, there is a mixture of other feelings, by which our compassion is weakened.
The eminently great, or extensively useful, leave behind them a train of interrupted views, and disappointed expectations, by which the distress is complicated beyond the simplicity of pity. But the death of one, who, like Maria, was to shed the influence of her virtues over the age of a
father, and the childhood of her sisters, presents to us a little view of family affliction, which every eye can perceive, and every
heart can feel. On scenes of public sorrow and national regret, we gaze as upon those gallery pictures, which strike us with wonder and admiration : domestic calamity is like the miniature of a friend, which we wear in our bosoms, and keep for secret looks and solitary enjoyment.
The last time I saw Maria, was in the midst of a crowded assembly of the fashionable and the gay, where she fixed all eyes by the gracefulness of her motions, and the native dignity of her mien; yet, so tempered was that superiority which they conferred with gentleness and modesty, that not a murmur was heard, either from the rivalship of beauty, or the envy of homeliness. From that scene the transition was so violent to the hearse and the pall, the grave and the sod, that once or twice my imagination turned rebel to my senses : I beheld the objects around me as the painting of a dream, and thought of Maria as still living.
I was soon, however, recalled to the sad reality. The figure of her father bending over the grave of his darling child; the silent, suffering composure, in which his countenance was fixed; the tears of his attendants, whose grief was light, and capable of tears ; these gave me back the truth, and reminded me that I should see her no more. There was a flow of sorrow, with which I suffered myself to be borne along, with a melancholy kind of indulgence; but when her father dropped the cord, with which he had helped to lay bis Maria in the earth, its sound on the coffin chilled my heart, and horror for a moment took place of pity!
It was but for a moment.--He looked eagerly into the grave; made one involuntary motion to stop the assistants, who were throwing the earth into it; then, suddenly recollecting himself, clasped his hands together, threw up his eyes to heaven; and then, first, I saw a few tears drop from them. I gave language to all this. It spoke a lesson of faith, and piety, and resignation. I went away sorrowful, but my sorrow was neither ungentle nor unmanly; I cast on this world a glance rather of pity than of enmity; and on the next, a look of humbleness and hope!
Such, I am persuaded, will commonly be the effect of scenes like that I have described, on minds neither frigid nor unthinking : for, of feelings like these, the gloom of the ascetic is as little susceptible as the levity of the giddy. There needs a certain pliancy of mind, which society alone can give,—though its vices often destroy it,—to render us capable of that gentle melancholy, which makes sorrow pleasant, and affliction useful.
It is not from à melancholy of this sort, that men are prompted to the cold, unfruitful virtues of monkish solitude. These are often the effects rather of passion secluded than repressed, rather of temptation avoided than overcome. The crucifix and the rosary, the death's head and the bones, if custom has not made them indifferent, will rather chill desire than excite virtue ; but, amidst the warmth of social affection, and of social sympathy, the heart will feel the weakness, and enjoy the duties, of humanity.
Perhaps it will be said, that such situations, and such reflections as the foregoing, will only affect minds already too tender, and be disregarded by those who need the lessons they impart. But this, I apprehend, is to allow too much to the force of habit, and the resistance of prejudice.
I will not pretend to assert, that rooted principles, and long-established conduct, are suddenly to be changed by the effects of situation, or the eloquence of sentiment; but, if it be granted that such change ever took place, who shall determine by what imperceptible motive, or accidental impression, it was first begun ? And, even if the influence of such a call to thought can only smother, in its birth, one allurement to evil, or confirm one wavering purpose to virtue, I shall not have unjustly commended that occasional indulgence of pensiveness and sorrow, which will thus be rendered not only one of the refinements, but one of the improvements of life.
A Leaf from “ The Life of a Looking-Glass.”_
Miss JANE TAYLOR..
It being very much the custom, as I am informed, even for obscure individuals to furnish some account of themselves, for the edification of the public, I hope I shall not be deemed impertinent for calling your attention to a few particulars of my own history. I cannot, indeed, boast of any very extraordinary incidents; but having, during the course of a long life, had much leisure and opportunity for observation, and being naturally of a reflecting cast, I thought it might be in my power to offer some remarks that may not be wholly unprofitable to your readers.
My earliest recollection is that of a carver and gilder's workshop, where I remained for many months, leaning with my face to the wall; and, having never known any livelier
scene, I was very well contented with my quiet condition. The first object that I remember to have arrested my attention, was, what I now believe must have been, a large spider, which, after a vast deal of scampering about, began, very deliberately, to weave a curious web all over my face. This afforded me great amusement, and, not then knowing what far lovelier objects were destined to my gaze, I did not resent the indignity.
At length, when little dreaming of any change of fortune, I felt myself suddenly removed from my station; and, immediately afterwards, underwent a curious operation, which, at the time, gave me considerable apprehensions for my safety ; but these were succeeded by pleasure, upon finding myself arrayed in a broad black frame, handsomely carved and gilt; for, you will please to observe that the period, of which I am now speaking, was upwards of fourscore years ago.
This process being finished, I was presently placed in the shop window, with my face to the street, which was one of the most public in the city. Here my attention was, at first, distracted by the constant succession of objects that passed before me. But it was not long before I began to remark the considerable degree of attention I myself excited; and how much I was distinguished, in this respect, from the other articles, my neighbours, in the shop window.
I observed, that passengers, who appeared to be posting away upon urgent business, would often just turn and give me a friendly glance as they passed. But I was particularly gratified to observe, that, while the old, the shabby, and the wretched, seldom took any notice of me, the young, the gay, and the handsome, generally paid me this compliment; and that these good-looking people always seemed the best pleased with me; which I attributed to their superior disvernment.
I well remember one young lady, who used to pass my master's shop regularly every morning, in her way to school, and who never omitted to turn her head to look at me as she went by; so that, at last, we became well acquainted with each other. I must confess, that, at this period of my life, I was in great danger of becoming insufferably vain, from the regards that were then paid me; and, perhaps, I. am not the only individual, who has formed mistaken notions of the attentions he receives in society.
My vanity, however, received a considerable check from one circumstance : nearly all the goods by which I was surrounded, in the shop window,--though, many of them, much more homely in their structure, and humble in their destinations, were disposed of sooner than myself. I had the mortification of seeing one after another bargained for and sent away, while I remained, month after month, without a purchaser.
At last, however, a gentleman and lady, from the country, who had been standing some time in the street, inspecting, and, as I perceived, conversing about me, walked into the shop; and, after some altercation with my master, agreed to purchase me; upon which, I was packed up, and sent off. I was very curious, you may suppose, upon arriving at my new quarters, to see what kind of life I was likely to lead. I remained, however, some time, unmolested in my packing-case, and very flat I felt there.
Upon being, at last, unpacked, I found myself in the hall of a large, lone house in the country. My master and mistress, I soon learned, were new-married people, just setting up house-keeping; and I was intended to decorate their best parlour, to which I was presently conveyed, and, after some little discussion between them, in fixing my longitude and latitude, I was hung up opposite the fire-place, in an angle of ten degrees from the wall, according to the fashion of those times.
And there I hung, year after year, almost in perpetual solitude. My master and mistress were sober, regular, oldfashioned people; they saw no company, except at fair time and Christmas-day; on which occasions, only, they occupied the best parlour. My countenance used to brighten up, when I saw the annual fire kindled in that ample grate, and when a cheerful circle of country cousins assembled round it. At those times I always got a little notice from the young folks; but, those festivities over, I demned to another half year of complete loneliness.
Ilow familiar to my recollection, at this hour, is that large,