Page images

We are

we regard it exactly in the light of an insect of an hour, but as one whose vigorous and freshened breathings are eternal. We may examine, not analyse it strictly, not that its gaudiness dazzles us so as to preclude the possibility of seeing every lineament of beauty, every outline of grace. But “Christmas Dreams,” what dost thou think of them, reader? What a crowd of beautiful associations rise up before us at the sound of this household word! Associations enbalmed among the choicest treasures of the memory of the past. Who can look back on the days of childhood and youth, and the periodical return of this gladsome holiday passed in the sportive gambols and frolics which greeted the smiling and fleeting hours as they floated along as joyously as light, without a feeling of pleasure mingled with sadness? The experience of one individual will differ materially from that of another, and materially different will be the images which crowd the individual recollections of everyone, when he threads the mazy and lengthened pathway through which he has passed from the earliest dawn of his spiritual existence to the period, when he is casting backwards his shadowy reminiscences.

Christmas, with its happy faces, with its boisterous or more quiet enjoyments, with its physical and spiritual pleasures, does not in the experience of every one present the same aspect. made to realize the beauty and force of these recollections in “Christmas Dreams,” where the scenes which have been witnessed, and the associations connected with them, were from the experience of one whose form is bent with age, and whose hair is sprinkled by the frost of time; a period at which we delight to dwell on the thick coming and beautiful memories of the past. Who does not feel, in having these associations aroused from the slumber in which they have so long reposed, that memory has consecrated and enshrined them in a light more rosy and etherial than that which invested them as the sober realities of a fleeting exist: ence? Beloved and happy faces are now smiling on our earliest manifestations of a gladness and joy which knew no cause but that others were around us and happy, and the kindling sympathy which dawned as a feeble light reflected back on the sources from whence it was borrowed, that which carried comfort and solace to the innermost soul. But the happy faces of those fond and aged parents where are they? On the slope of yonder hillside with its green church yard, its snow-white tombstones, its mounds covered with the tangled rose and eglantine, beneath the shade of the mournful willow with its graceful solemn trailing on the breeze, sleep the forms of those who smiled upon our days of innocence. Quietly do they sleep; and yet rethinks that in the quiet tranquilty of this lonely place, where the weary spirit would fain rest from its toils, they do not sleep, but on angel wings have soared to other climes where tranquility and peace, and chastened and sublimated love shed their mild and rosy radiance over the dawning brightness of an endless scene. Voices which made the welkin ring with boisterous mirth, or forms which enlivened the snowdrifted scene, or glided gracefully over the ice-bound lake, or mingled confusedly and tumultuously in blind man's buff or the romp, where are they? The voices of many are stilled, and hushed in the silence of the grave. But the forms of others, though changed they be, are seen around us toiling on in the pilgrimage of life-changed indeed are they — not so happy now as the lark when it brushes the dew from its wing, and mounts higher and higher to pierce the blue pavilions of the skies with the full melody of its grateful song, or when they wandered through the flowery fields of innocent delight, and knew not of the thorns that lurked beneath their verdant drapery. They cull but a few solitary flowers now, and saddened and sobered down are they, for amidst the thousand fountains of enjoyment which they tasted, there has been some trace of poison, some element of bitterness, which has transformed the innermost soul. The silver mesh work has been tarnished or darkened by the woof of sorrow, and it no longer shines in the glorious effulgence of the light which shone upon it when it first flashed back its heaven-born brightness; a change came over their spiritual manifestations as years advanced. In a probation, in the midst of a land smiling in beauty, and robed in magnificence, they wandered from flowery fields into darkened pathways, and now in toil and bitterness of spirit, find the brightest scenes of enjoyment overshadowed by sadness and gloom. Other voices and forms indeed have they, and magic could scarce effect transformations more wonderful than time has effected in a few brief years.

What strange mutations mark the course, and define in bold outlines the stages of human life! — A short and happy period of innocence - halcyon days all where the winged hours fly away in the dim past on golden wing as noiseless as the footsteps of the falling snow another, still happier, if not in impulsive joy and fond delight, in thought and feeling-a season of passion when the full flowing heart sends out its gushing and sparkling waters, when young and blushing emotions bud forth, and sentiments unfolds their bright petals in the mellow dew and strong light of kindling affections—these feel their own power, and strengthen in the pride of their own consciousness, purified and sublimated by the innocence upon which they lean for support. Another stage, and all is not so bright and pure. The disposition made selfish from the very desire of enjoyment-morose from rough contact with the world; distrustful, where disappointments wither the fairest buds of promise, anxious, with restlessness to secure in the future what has been denied in the past—sad, where affliction follows in the footsteps of affliction, sorrowful, where one misfortune is too often a prelude to another—is it at all strange or wonderful that a trans


formation should take place, that sad ravages should be made upon the purity and integrity of the life of the inner soul?

And thus it is until the last stage when man lives alone in memory, and robes in the beauty of poesy every hollowed remembrance of the past.

Life with its bitterness and sorrows are forgotten, and life with its beautiful and sacred reminiscences fill the dreams which float through the reveries of the aged. In a delightful and spiritualized form, clothed in the charms of distance, which throw their blue mists over its earlier scenes, life is given up, and the wanderer drops into the tomb; to sleep! perhaps to dream again! and then wake up in a land where the spiritual forms and the charmed imagery of his brightest visions will be realized in the full fruition of eternal day.

But Christmas Dreams, by Christopher North, reader! what thinkest thou of them? We had intended saying something about their merits in a literary point of view: but then we never read them without lapsing into trains of thought like these, and we wander about through sunshine and shade, by twilight, by starlight and moonlight, over mountain and glen, over plains and moors, over field and flood, and never find a resting place in our wild imaginings, or starting point from which we can,

Theseus like, in a direct line find our way by the charmed thread of an Ariadne through the labyrinth of bright and beautiful creations which surround us at every stage of our enchanted pathway. Reader, it you have never read these essays, you should soon avail yourself of this pleasure. But if you have, and can not take pleasure in them, and travel over the same fields with the playful ar.d poetryinvesting spirit of that good old companion with his cheerful face, his benignant soul, and his sporting jacket, we must say, that we indeed pity you, and you are not worthy of peering over the shadowy mists of Cruachan, or of resting in the shade near Windermere, and hearing the young buds of spring open with a noise in one of the many beautiful islets which are reflected from its bosom,


For “Illinois," in the third line of the note on page 7, read "Indiana."

ra critically accurate reprint of the Official Statistics of Public Lands, see Statement E, pages 44, 45, 46 and 47.

[blocks in formation]

Perhaps the most difficult problem in the science of public economy is the enactment of laws relating to industry or trade without affecting adversely the interests of some portion of the community. Indeed, we hold it to be impracticable for human wisdom to devise a measure for the encouragement of any one particular object connected with the general economy of a people without causing a greater or less degree of inconvenience, at least for a season, to those engaged in other pursuits.

Hence the utmost degree of caution should always be observed by the legislator when acting upon subjects relating to the industry, trade or finance of his constituents. It is his duty to examine the entire field of national industry, and be sure that the benefits proposed to one branch shall not be outweighed by injuries done to others.

Though not free tradists in the popular meaning of the term, we repeat what we have expressed upon other occasions, that legislation touching a tariff of duties, or the regulation of trade, is simply an act of expedience, to be governed by circumstances and well defined views of consequences.

Therefore when the circumstances are not absolutely imperious, and the consequences of legislation are uncertain, we hold it to be the wiser policy to leave industry and commerce to regulate themselves. Keeping these premises in view, we shall proceed to inquire into the expediency of abolishing the duties on Iron to be used in the construction of railroads.

While it may be admitted that the circumstances in which many of the railroad companies are placed, imperiously demand they should be

relieved from the high prices of Iron, it is by no means certain that an act of Congress abolishing the duties would afford the relief so much needed. The high price of Iron at the present time is doubtless owing chiefly to the great and growing demand for railroad and other purposes. The producers in Great Britain are, as we believe, working nearly up to their capacity; and it would be absurd to suppose that they would not raise the price of their commodities in proportion to the reduction of duties; unless they should conclude that it was their better policy first to bieak down the American producers by selling at low prices for a time, and then occupy the market at their own rates without competition, In either case the benefits, if any, accruing to the railroad companies of this country would be but temporary; while the act of Congress abolishing duties on Iron would be the means of establishing a scale of prices which would be governed entirely by the demand, with no reference to the cost of producing. The Iron trade of Great Britain was built up and established by a system of protection, which was steadily continued until complete control of the principal Iron markets of the world had been obtained. Under the influence of this system an amount of capital has been brought to bear upon this branch of industry which defies all competition arising from new establishments in countries where the producers are unprotected against its tremendous power.

To show the power of the Iron masters in Great Britain, and the policy by which they control the Iron trade, we make the following extracts from a communication by Charles E. Smith, Esq., of Philadelphia, to the Secretary of the United States Treasury. The writer visited England, Scotland and Wales, in 1849, for the purpose of obtaining information relating to the Iron trade of those countries; and the document before us bears the marks of a close observing and well judging mind. After giving instances of fluctuations in the price of Iron without any apparent cause, except the will of the Iron masters, he proceeds to state that

"In conversation with an English iron-master, he said to me and it was repeatedly confirmed by others subsequently—that they did not pretend nor expect to make a profit every year, but that they averaged their business for several years, and looked to the good years to reimburse them for the bad ones; that the practical result of the great fluctuations was to make the rich ones richer, and the poor ones poorer—in this way: The manufacturers with small capital are obliged to sell, at the market price, nearly as fast

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »