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Their father loved the maidens both so well, that it might be difficult to say which he liked best, saving that, perchance, he loved his graver damsel better in the walk without doors, and
maiden better by the fire-side; that he more desired the society of Minna when he was sad, and that of Brenda when he was mirthsul ; and what was nearly the same thing, preferred Minna before noon, and Brenda after the glass had circulated in the evening.
But it was still more extraordinary, that the affections of Mordaunt Mertoun seemed to hover with the same impartiality as those of their father betwixt the two lovely sisters. From his boyhood, as we have noticed, he had been a frequent inmate of the residence of Magnus at Burgh-Westra, although it lay nearly twenty miles distant from Jarlshof. The impassable character of the country betwixt these places, extending over hills covered with loose and quaking bog, and frequently intersected by the creeks or arms of the sea, which indent the island on either side, as well as by fresh-water streams and lakes, rendered the journey difficult, and even dangerous, in the dark season; yet, as soon as the state of his father's mind warned him to absent himself, Mordaunt, at every risk, and under every
difficulty, was pretty sure to be found upon the next day at BurghWestra, having achieved his journey in less time than would have been employed perhaps by the most active native.
He was of course set down as a wooer of one of the daughters of Magnus, by the public of Zetland; and when the old Udaller's great partiality to the youth was considered, nobody doubted that he might aspire to the hand of either of those distinguished beauties, with as large a share of islets, rocky moorland, and shore-fishings, as might be the fitting portion of a favored child, and with the prospect of possessing half the domains of the ancient house of Troil, when their present owner was no more. This seemed all a reasonable speculation, and, in theory at least, better constructed than many that are current through the world as unquestionable facts. But alas ! all that sharpness of observation which could be applied to the conduct of the parties, failed to determine the main point, to which of the young persons, namely, the attentions of Mordaunt were peculiarly devoted. He seemed, in general, to treat them as an affectionate and attached brother might have treated two sisters, so equally dear to him that a breath would have turned the scale of affection. Or, if at any time, which often happened, the one maiden appeared the more especial object of his atten
tion, it seemed only to be because circumstances called her peculiar talents and disposition into more particular and immediate exercise.
They were both accomplished in the simple music of the north, and Mordaunt, who was their assistant, and sometimes their preceptor, when they were practising this delightful art, might be now seen assisting Minna in the acquisition of those wild, solemn, and simple airs, to which Scalds and harpers sung of old the deeds of heroes, and presently found equally active in teaching Brenda the more lively and complicated music, which their father's affection caused to be brought from the English or Scottish capital, for the use of his daughters. And while conversing with them, Mordaunt, who mingled a strain of deep and ardent enthusiasm with the gay and ungovernable gaiety of youth, was equally ready to enter into the wild and poétical visions of Minna, or into the lively, and often humorous chat of her gayer sister. In short, so little did he seem to attach himself to either damsel exclusively, that he was sometimes heard to say, that Minna never looked so lovely as when her light-hearted sister had induced her, for the time, to forget her habitual gravity; or Brenda so interesting as when she sate listening, a subdued and affected partaker of the deep pathos of her sister Minna.
POETRY AND HISTORY.-WOLFE.
But turn to poetry and history united for your instruction. Human nature is common to both ; but different are their modes of tuition. They supply their respective delineations of character. Poetry, when at maturity, observes it as well with a painter's eye as with the scrutiny of a philosopher. She seizes the moment of sketching it when in its most picturesque attitude; or, if there be many, she groups them so as that they may produce the best general effects; and thus, without annihilating their deformities, she makes them conduce to a pleasing and fascinating impression. But rigid history takes character as she finds it; she displays it more exact and impartial, but less attractive to our contemplation. Poetry displays the moral character; history, the moral and political. Poetry makes the character more palpable ; history, more complete,
THE MORAL INFLUENCE OF VISITING THE GRAVES OF
THE DEPARTED, -STORY.
If this tender regard for the dead be so absolutely universal, and so deeply founded in human affection, why is it not made to exert a more profound influence on our lives? Why do we not enlist it with more persuasive energy in the cause of human improvement? Why do we not enlarge it as a source of religious consolation ? Why do we not make it a more efficient instrument to elevate ambition, to stimulate genius, and to dignify learning? Why do we not connect it indissolubly
associations, which charm us in nature, and engross us in art? Why do we not dispel from it that unlovely gloom, from which our hearts turn, as from a darkness that ensnares, and a horror that appals our thoughts ?
To many, nay, to most of the heathen, the burying-place 'was the end of all things. They indulged no hope, at least no solid hope, of any future intercourse or re-union with their friends. The farewell at the grave was a long, and an everlasting farewell. At the moment when they breathed it, it brought to their hearts a startling sense of their own wretchedness. Yet, when the first tumults of anguish were passed, they visited the spot, and strewed flowers, and garlands, and crowns around it, to assuage their grief, and nourish their piety. They delighted to make it the abode of the varying beauties of nature; to give it attractions which should invite the busy and the thoughtful; and yet, at the same time, afford ample seope for the secret indulgence of sorrow.
Why should not christians imitate such examples? They have far nobler motives to cultivate moral sentiments and sensibilities; to make cheerful the pathways to the grave; to combine with deep meditations on human mortality, the sublime consolations of religion. We know, indeed, as they did of old, that “man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets." But that home is not an everlasting home ; and the mourners may not weep, as those who are without hope. What is the grave to us, but a thin barrier, dividing time from eternity, and earth from heaven? What is it, but
" the appointed place of rendezvous, where all the travelers on life's journey meet," for a single night of repose ?
"'Tis but a night-a long and moonless night,
We make the grave our bed, and then are gone."
" The time draws on
Inviolate ?" Why, then, should we darken, with systematic caution, all the avenues to these repositories? Why should we deposit the remains of our friends in loathsome vaults, or beneath the gloomy crypts and cells of our churches; where the human foot is never heard, save when the sickly taper lights some new guest to his appointed apartment, and “ lets fall a supernumerary horror” on the passing procession? Why should we measure out a narrow portion of earth for our grave-yards, in the midst of our cities; and heap the dead upon each other, with a cold, calculating parsimony, disturbing their ashes, and wounding the sensibilities of the living? Why should we expose our buryinggrounds to the broad glare of day, to the unfeeling gaze of the idler, to the noisy press of business, to the discordant shouts of merriment, or to the baleful visitations of the dissolute ?
Why should we bar up their approaches against real mourners, whose delicacy would shrink from observation, but whose tenderness would be soothed by secret visits to the grave, and holding converse there with their departed joys? Why all this unnatural restraint upon our sympathies and sorrows, which confines the visit to the grave to the only time in which it must be utterly useless, when the heart is bleeding with fresh anguish, and is too weak to feel, and too desolate to desire consolation?
“MAN GIVETH UP THE GHOST, AND WHERE IS HE?”
Yes, when we see the flower of life fade on its stalk, and all its comeliness depart, and all its freshness wither; when we see the bright eye grow dim, and the rose on the cheek lose its hue ; when we hear the voice faltering its last accents, and see the energies of nature paralyzed; when we perceive the beams of intelligence grow fainter and fainter on the countenance, and the last gleam of life extinguished: when we deposit all that is mortal of a fellow-being in the dark, cold chamber of the grave, and drop a pitying tear at a spectacle so humiliating, so mournful; then let us put the solemn question to our souls, Where is he? His body is concealed in the earth; but where is the spirit? Where is the intellect that could look through the works of God, and catch inspiration from the Divinity which animates and pervades the whole ?
Where are the powers that could command, the attractions that could charm? where the boast of humanity, wisdom, learning, wit, eloquence, the pride of skill, the mystery of art, the creations of fancy, the brilliancy of thought? where the virtues that could win, and the gentleness that could soothe ? where the mildness of temper, the generous affections, the benevolent feelings, all that is great and good, all that is noble and lovely, and pure in the human character,—where are they? They are gone. We can see nothing: the eye of faith only can dimly penetrate the region to which they have fled. Lift the eye of faith ; follow the light of the gospel; and let your delighted vision be lost in the glories of the immortal world. Behold there, the spirits of the righteous dead rising up into newness of life, gathering brightness and strength, unincumbered by the weight of mortal clay and mortal sorrows, enjoying a happy existence, and performing the holy service of their Maker.
Let our reflections on death have a weighty and immediate influence on our minds and characters. We cannot be too soon nor too entirely prepared to render the account, which we must all render to our Maker and Judge. All things earthly must fail us; the riches, power, possessions, and gifts of the world will vanish from our sight; friends and relatives will be left behind; our present support will be taken away ; our strength will become weakness; and the earth itself, and all its pomps, and honors, and attractions will disappear. Why have we been spared even till this time? We know not why, nor yet can we say that a moment is our own. The summons for our departure may now be recorded in the book of heaven. The angel may now be on his way to execute his solemn commission. Death may already have marked us for his victims. But, whether sooner or later, the event will be equally awful, and demand the same preparation.
One, only, will then be our rock and our safety. The kind Parent, who has upheld us all our days, will remain our unfail