Page images
[ocr errors][merged small]

It is a doctrine of the Bible which common | a great man. Secure one thing more, that his sense and common experience confirm, that affections be placed upon proper objects, and the frequent contemplation of a future heaven he is a great and good man. has a powerful tendency to transform the mind Now, we say, one of those great and blessed and prepare it both for the duties of this life, benefits which the family influence was intendand the rewards of duty in the life to come. ed to work out for us, is this of nurturing Communing with the true, the spiritual and the within us the childlike, while the contemplaholy, we receive their impress and pass into tion of a heavenly home, on the other hand, their likeness. And by the same law of our inspires and cherishes the godlike and lifts us minds, the frequent contemplation of a virtuous | up to its greatness and glory. Just as often as and happy past, tends to produce in us a re we go back in thought to the family, (provided semblance to that past, and to transform us into always, that it has been what it should have its image.

been in character,) and as often as we throw The home of our childhood should be, by its our hearts open to its influence, just so often design and constitution, an image of heaven; do we find ourselves, like the disciple on the and if that design were realized, the active mount, deeming it good to be there and wishportion of human life would be passed in cir. ing to remain. We get back to our old place cumstances peculiarly beautiful. Manhood | on the village green, or by the old fireside, or would accomplish its high task on a field mid at the family board, and for the moment, at way between two heavens : onward are the least, our artificiality and stiffness stand redistant and dim towers and gates of the holy | buked, and we wish we were children again, city, the New Jerusalem-behind him, the sa as free, as artless, as happy as they. We cred inclosure of the family, with its priest and think with sorrow and shame of the changes altar and daily oblation ; in prospect is the that have taken place in us-of the pride, the family of the redeemed with harps of gold-in cunning, the infinite trickery of business and retrospect, the family where his existence had political competition of the idle dreams we its origin, and where his first, and simplest, and have indulged in-of the vain hopes we have purest hopes and joys were felt.

blown and followed, as formerly we chased the The distinguished President Dwight once soap bubble, or pursued the butterfly in the narrated to a friend a striking dream, the most meadow. Above all, we think with sadness of remarkable character in which was an intelli the loss of sensibility and guileless simplicity gence, half child and half cherub. The com which we have suffered, amid the cares and bination, he said, struck him as presenting a pleasures of active life, while the imagined most wonderful and unspeakably beautiful goods for which we have sacrificed them are whole. Infantile and godlike attributes flowed quite as unsubstantial as the toys of childhood. together, and formed one transcendently lovely Thus, evermore, the home of our childhood character.

is saying to us, “Come back and be a child;" Something very like this beautiful creature while the heavens are urging, but not inconof vision might be expected, as the product of sistently, “Come up hither and be an angel." those two concurrent influences which flow, Let us obey both. Let us often catch the inthe one from heaven, the other from “ Home, fluences of both, and hold them to our hearts, sweet Home." What, indeed, but a union, in and live habitually in that precise focus where more or less perfect degree, of the qualities of the soft, mellowing rays from the hearth-stone the angel and the child, constitutes that highest and altar of our childhood's home meet and style of man, the Christian ? The truly god mingle with those which descend from the like, is ever also the truly childlike. To the home of the soul in heaven. Let the voice of idea of intelligence little less than an angel's, the one recall us daily to the simplicity and add the simplicity, frankness, innocence, affec sincerity of childhood, while the whispers of tionateness of a lovely child, and the product is the other allure us onward and upward forever.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

I went to visit my cousin H- His was tur” mode of prescribing be the right one, then a noble nature, but at the time to which I my cousin Hubert's professional and other disnow refer, it was almost a wreck. He had || appointments should have cured themselves ; not grown strong in the struggle of life, as and yet they did not, but left him early in his such brave and athletic natures usually do. life-journey, like the man of Jericho, fallen by A vigorous will is naturally roused by the the wayside, wounded, fevered, heart-sick. opposition of adverse circumstances; but in Thus I found him when I went as the bearer his case, this faculty had sunk into such utter of a message from my dearest friend—a lady powerlessness, that he could neither do nor whom he once fondly loved, and had vainly dare, or even muster manly courage to suffer hoped to win, but whom he was now as vainly uncomplainingly. It had not merely sunk into striving to forget. In losing her, life lost its inertness, and left the mental powers to stag zest so utterly, that if wishing could have nate, but with strange moral perversity, Satan brought the things he once had sighed for, he like, by one desperate and controlling volition, would not have wished, save to lie down and it seemed to say, “Evil, be thou my good.” die. After this shock, an ill-suppressed misan

I need not detail the social circumstances thropy, or at best a cold indifference, seemed which had induced this lamentable condition of to have sent a fatal chill over the warm lifea mind so gifted, yet now so aimless, hope blood of his generous and enthusiastic soul, less, cheerless ; for that were to tell a trite and which once had beat so high with hope and common story. I should but recite the history fond desire. Even his welcome to me, his earof every young man of genius, who, without liest and truest friend, would have been cold, fortune or influential friends, enters the profes but for a certain sudden lighting of the eye and sional lists, already thronging with fierce and a pressure of the hand which bespoke a coreager combatants, who do not always tilt with diality his words did not express. When I hurtless weapons, like the true knights of yore seated myself by his side, he only said, “My

-where the race is not always to the swift, dear Anna, it is kind of you to come to me nor the battle to the strong; the laws of that now," and then relapsed into a sombre and despicable warfare being neither brave nor gal moody silence-a seeming forgetfulness even lant, but allowing fraud to overcome force, and of my presence. I delivered the message with bravery to be outdone by trickery. Never did which I had been charged. It was kind and knight of chivalry run such a gauntlet as the hopeful, yet he did not respond. He seemed young Æsculapian of the nineteenth century, not to feel, for he sat apparently stolid and unwho, armed with drug and scalpel, turns errant, moved. This alarmed me, for I knew how to seek his fortune in the world's great thor every fibre of his heart had hitherto trembled oughfares—striving to win fame, and wealth, responsive to such a touch ; and surely, thought and power, and the sweet smiles of the “ faire I, the golden cord must now be loosened, or it ladye of love." But such a contest, even for would answer to the soft whispering breath of the bravest and manliest spirits, is well nigh hopeless ; for though the young doctor's prac After a moment's silence, I ventured on that? tice be after the most approved allopathic most difficult and delicate of all the duties of methods, his fame and pay are sure to come in friendship--the attempt to encourage and conhomeopathic doses.

sole. I began, however, with common-places, If, however, this “similia similibus curan- fearing to offend or irritate by being more direct.



[ocr errors][merged small]

“All will by and by go well,” said I; , ready for the shambles. Indeed, the grami“ keep up a good heart, your fortunes yet will nivorous feeder is the nobler of the twobrighten."

higher in the scale of being-because truer to “ Perhaps so,” replied Hubert ; “but I never the heaven-implanted instincts of its nature, expect to be happy again, or even to be enough than the half-rational human eater of boiled in love with life to make existence tolerable. and roastel flesh. Yes, the pampered goose The world may perhaps go well with me, as from whose swollen liver we make a paté de you say. I may possibly experience what is fois,' and even an oyster, or its brother clam, called luck or good fortune-that which Chris have each subserved the true ends of their tianity teaches, and which I would fain be existence better than such an earth-cumberer. lieve, is not luck, nor mere worldly chance, Like these silly creatures he is only useful but the clairvoyant eye of an ever-watchful when he dies—when in obedience to the great Providence, spying out among the infinite pos law, dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt sibilities of circumstance and condition, those return,' he renders up his individual being, or which are best suited to my particular wants more properly, surrenders his useless carcass and necessities, tempering the wind to the to fecundate the bosom of the fruitful earth, shorn lamb, and shielding me by its omnipotent from whence he stole her elemental atoms, hand from the 'slings and arrows of outrageous only to animate, and waste, and squander them fortune.' Yes, all this may be, I hope it will in useless breathing. That were a bold stonebe: I shall be glad, and I hope grateful, even cutter who should dare to contradict Heaven, for the satisfaction I may be able to derive by carving · Requiescat in pace' over a heap from a tranquil and satisfed outward life ; but of such human ashes. No! these creature a wounded spirit who can bear? If all the comforts are not happiness, neither do they furdelights of this earth-life were compounded nish material out of which by any cunning into one potent panacea for all the ills the alchemy or talismanic touch the soul of man heart is heir to, it were a useless unguent for can manufacture it. To attempt, Anna, to wounds that lie so deep, and fester even at the satisfy the natural craving of the human soul heart's core. It might prove a medicine for after superhuman good by feeding it on such the mind, and help the brain somewhat to bear delights, is to seek nourishment by eating and the heart-throb. It might, nay, it would cer- drinking from the witches' caldron, where all tainly mollify and heal the bruises on the sur is boil and bubble-toil and trouble.'” face; but could it allay the burning fever of I was silent, because I knew not how to that hidden soul-sickness, which dries up the reply. Here was a mind of immense strength, very fount of human happiness within ? Yes, almost infinite in its reach and grasp, whose I may be happy as the world calls it; I may į power was now destructively turned inward on have a large house, a sumptuous table, and itself. Objective existence seemed to have lost fine clothing.. I may say to others less favored its charm. The love of the sensuous had perthan myself, Go and come; and they shall do ished in the shock which had shaken to its cenmy bidding and await my pleasure. But this tre the inner moral life of the soul. How was is not happiness. To be housed, to be fed and Hope, that most vitative of all human passions, clothed, to be served and obeyed, is not to be again to be resuscitated in such a bosom? I happy. This worldly thrift is after all a mea- | was sorry when he ceased, for it had been long gre thing, and all the happiness it brings but a since he had spoken out his bidden thoughts low and vulgar species of content, even if it so freely; for of late, unlike himself, he had can rise so high as that. That is a coarse and grown cold, reserved, and timid, even with me common greed which is satisfied with mere his most cherished friend, to whom he had alphysical fatness—with a feast of the good ways unreservedly confided his every thought things of this present animal and sensuous and purpose. life. A mere good-liver who enjoys fire be In endeavoring to combat and put to flight cause it warms him, meat because it feeds these gloomy fancies, it seemed to me that him, and fine array because it makes him look “ discretion was the better part of valor ;" that gay and handsome as a peacock, or social rank perhaps a simple hopeful prompting of his because it enables him to strut and gobble like mind, such as had elicited the last reply, might a turkey foremost in the flock, is as surely and urge him unconsciously to disclose his inner entirely a mere animal, as a stall-fed ox just life more fully—to open up to me the depth of

[merged small][ocr errors]

the wound to which he had so affectingly allu | ance, while I calmly replied, that in seeking to ded; for well I knew there was balm in Gilead, comfort him by a prospect of future good forand a physician there, could I but persuade tune, I had not intended to allude merely to him to seek healing. In a season of like suf- those grosser forms of mere animal enjoyment, fering, the armless hand whose mystic hiero. of which he had spoken with so much indifferglyphs once terrified the guilty Belshazzar by ence, and even disgust, but to those more refined a prophecy of coming doom, had extended itself and rational pleasures, which the Creator has to me, yet not in such dire threatenings, though so wisely and beneficently superadded to the well deserved; for it wrote indelibly on the mere pleasure of physical existence. He imdesolate chambers of my soul

patiently interrupted me, by saying

“It matters not, so far as my own case is “Come, ye disconsolate, where'er you languish,

concerned, what kind of enjoyments you inCome at the shrine of God fervently kneel ; Here bring your wounded hearts--here tell your anguish

tended to speak of, because I know well, that Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal."

no plenitude of worldly good, of whatever kind,

can make the really sad-souled, happy. At But how should I tell him this? how urge best, it can only just make them contented to forward a mind, blinded by philosophic skepti live. It can only repress the suicidal longing cism, and withal stronger and fuller than my to lie down with the dreamless dead in the quiet own, to the cross of Calvary-to the Saviour bosom of the all-kind earth. It can only make -to the Holy Comforter ? How, contrary to the restless soul easy, not happy. It can shut its constitutional tendencies, and its long-cher the mouth of the canker-worm, and interrupt ished habits of thought and feeling, should I its gnaw; but it cannot kill it. The enemies make it know the rest, the joy there is in lov of the soul's peace are hydra-headed; and ing and believing-yea, even in suffering when we slay one, we do but make a place when we know that a Father's infinite heart for another to grow, with a yet deadlier venom of pitying love yearns over us, even while His in its viper tooth. Our poor suffering souls, hand wields the rod whose smart chastises our all scarred, and seamed, and wounded, pant for sinful stubbornness into right loyal and loving healing and for rest. They long-nay, they obedience ?

even dare to hope to lie down on some warm Hubert, though still silent, heaved a sigh so genial summer-day of that bright Future, which profound, that his very life seemed breathing shall succeed this winter of our discontent,' itself out along with it; and the shade of abso on soft beds of worldly ease, to rest in peace, lute despair which settled over his face, was or lap themselves in soft Elysian dreams. But sadder and more fearful to look upon, than that such a hope is false as it is fair-false as that awful and passionless repose which over gassy fatuus which lures the sad benighted shadows the human countenance when the wing traveller into yet more fatal mires and footof the Death Angel hovers over it. Had the

falls." wealth of a world at that moment been mine, “Do you really then,” said I, “count as nothI would have gladly bartered it for the joy of ing all the delights of our sensible and rational putting into Hubert's empty and failing hand, existence on this earth, which the Creator has the single pearl of everlasting price. But how built up, and furnished, and roofed over with should I make him comprehend the value of such infinite wisdom, both of design and exesuch heavenly riches ? Alas! that we should cution, as a pleasant dwelling-place for His have in our hands a price to buy wisdom, and earthly children? Can you really look with know it not, nor use it to our everlasting gain. | indifference on the great social system in the } But something told me, You can do it. Heart midst of which we are placed? Can you look will yet answer to heart, but not now. Some- upon life as a lottery, or a game of chance, thing made me know, that when the proper when the slightest observation will teach you, crisis in his moral experiences should come, my that there is an unseen hand somewhere, reguheart would then find ready utterance, and the lating the complex and often inexplicable moveelectric fire of feeling run along the brighten ments of the great wheel of fortune ? else, why ing chain of sympathy between my soul and does industry bring wealth oftener than it does his, till his should be touched and warmed, and poverty, and why does energy beget success, comforted. My heart prayed, oh! how ear rather than defeat ? Can you, Hubert, look on nestly, yet held these deeper emotions in abey- 1 unconcerned, and see the Giver of all distributes




such rich prizes, and lead on to a promised land sweet influences, has died out of me. I am the patient, the diligent, the wise, the hopeful, old—not older than yourself in years, but in and the courageous, while you sit down and that stern discipline of life, which has left me weep by the bitter waters of Meribah, or go disenchanted. This learning, or rather this lonely, sullen, and sad, on your life-journey?" unlearning, has made me wiser than all the

" But,” said Hubert, interrupting me," these | philosophy of the schools could ever do. When golden apples of yours, which shine so fair out you tell me, Anna, of the happiness men find side, are no decoy to one, who, like myself, | in books, and lives of studious thought, do you, knows they are only puff-balls, full of dust and in good faith, really believe that learning can earthiness. I would not put out a hand, much do the soul good ? For what is it? With one less run á race to grasp them, even though man, it is a Babel of confused languages, the they were truly Hesperidean. Do you know, odds and ends of all the words men's tongues Anna, the things you speak of seem to me have syllabled, since the scattered Babel-buildworse than mocking phantoms? When, un ers went forth from the plains of Shinar, to dot bidden, they thrust their unwelcome shapes the virgin face of earth with nations of diverse before my vision, they seem but the melan character and tongues. With another, learncholy ghosts of dead hopes, I petted, nursed, ing is a series of long and tedious trains of and fondled when a child, only to see them die exact and rigid reasonings on the infinites of and bury themselves back again into the unre space, and quantity, and measurement, a kind ality from whence they sprang. Show me of mathematical brain-fever; and is cerebral something real, something worth living for, excitement a cure for heart-ache ? But learn- 3 and I will live again. That is beyond the ing with another is philosophy—a perplexed power of your philosophy; for what earthly and tangled mass of sequences, which have goods are real goods--not shadows--falses been sorted, matched, and mated, as causes cheats? Gold is shining yellow dust; fame a and effects, and then arranged in scientific forchild's rattle, whose noisy din tickles a simple mulæ. Furnished with such instruments as ear, but makes no music to a reasoning soul. Science handles, we may probe nature to the What are rank and elevated station, but a quick, and extort her secrets; but can we narrow standing-place-a terrace on a danger- probe the heart with them, and from its centre ous social precipice? If we fall from thence, remove the fester which sends its poison, at we land not on the terra-firma, where stand every pulse-beat, through all the veins and secure the vulgar multitude below; but a sin fibres of our being?" gle mis-step plunges us into a fathomless gulf “No, Hubert, I did not speak of physics, there of infamy below."

are higher themes than these for contempla“But, Hubert," said I, “ you forget that tive minds-nobler fields of philosophic specuthere are calmer and more retired pleasures for lation. Beyond the confines of matter lies a those who cannot relish such garish outside soul-realm, infinite as God, with objects of cushows as rank, and wealth, and fame. There rious inquiry, various and numberless as the is the calm and contemplative life of the philo myriad orders of intellectual being, with which sophic student. There is the luxury of books

the efflux of the Divine has tenanted this -the power of silent converse with the inartic thickly peopled universe." ulate wisdom of the dead. Can we not thus

“Yes, Anna, there are such realms, but they amplify our existence, till it reaches infinitely are realms of darkness, thick, palpable, impenbeyond the narrow boundaries of our own indi etrable, inscrutable, save to that Eye which vidual wants and woes-embracing in our watches while creation sleeps. Why do you, conscious life, all lives, all beings, all spaces, good cousin, give imagination wing, and talk and all times ?

so finely to a poor broken heart like mine? “Dear Coz,” said Hubert, with more of his Remember fancy has turned to fact with me: natural playfulness than he had yet manifested, nothing pleases, nothing solaces or delights me. "you are both poet and philosopher. If my The universe is a blank, and existence but a cold hard nature could soften, and be warmed sense of misery. You who are so calm and by anything, surely your enthusiasm would be happy in the midst of home, and friends, and the sweet contagion which could breathe its books, cannot know how meagre the consolaown life and joy into my soul again. But that tions are, which you offer to such a sad and young hearty life which opens the soul to such | burdened heart as mine."

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »