Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

There is another class by whom retirement is shunned, not so much from the paucity, as the multiplicity of thoughts which it occasions. In the lonely hour of night, and the unoccupied moments of the day, the guilty are assailed by conscience, with her ten thousand stings. For such to find relief is impossible, save when they attempt to drown these admonitions, by plunging deeper in the gulf of dissipation and vice. No wonder that they associate solitude with melancholy and gloom, and fear it as they would the king of terrors. The more cultivated the intellect, the greater the amount of wretchedness; the more enlightened the understanding, the keener the remorse. Thus deprivation of society is actual misery to multitudes. They form no habits of self-intercourse, are dependent on others sor their action and consequent happiness, or are perhaps educated and refined, but those from whose breasts guilt has banished peace forever.

But we ought not thence to conclude, that solitude may never become profitable and attractive. The wise, who see the vanities of the world, and the virtuous, who weep over the degradation of man, love at times to withdraw, and become spectators instead of actors, in the great drama of human life. It is then alone that prejudices are dispelled, that ardor is guided by the counsels of wisdom, and the judgment regulated by the principles of philosophy. As the world is the theatre for action, so solitude is the place for preparation. It is there that the mind resorts to its own armory, and puts on a panoply of steel for the public contest. When in the midst of battle, the soldier does not stay to give polish or keenness to his sword: nor does the mind, in its more open strife with mind, learn the correct principles of action. Careful study in the closet, patient research in retirement, are necessary to success. Here habits of thought are cherished, the mind stands aloof from all external, places reliance on its own resources, and learns to enlarge its vision by healthy exercise. In solitude have been nurtured the most energetic and powerful minds that mankind ever saw. Here Demosthenes acquired that power of eloquence which enabled him to sway a nation, and bear down all before him with resistless might. Hence came forth a Newton and a Milton; the one to explore the mazes of science, and unlock the store-house of knowledge, the other to restore to earth her ancient muse, and inscribe his name high on the scroll of same.

The effect is no less happy upon the moral feelings. Temptations are removed, or lose in a measure their influence over us. All party feeling is laid aside, and truth is disencumbered of the mists of prejudice. . The attractive brilliancy of earthly pleasure and earthly happiness fades away. Life is felt to be a dream, as the being and destiny of man are deliberatively surveyed. The objects of existence are magnified to the view, and appear to outweigh the interests of time. Yet such themes for meditation are rendered sweet. We

stand on an eminence, while the past, the present, and the future, lie extended before us. From the contemplation, we derive lessons of morality and excellence. We trace through his mad career him who tramples on all law, human and divine; we mark his exposure, his ignominy, and his fate. We follow the good man from infancy to age. We see him diffusing numberless blessings around him, rejoicing in the prosperity, and sympathizing with the woes of his sellow men. We gaze at the sunset of his life, as its last flickering ray expires. We behold him, who was before an inhabitant of this frail tenement of clay and chained down to earth, now enstamped with the image of purity and love; we view him soaring away, to drink deep at the sountain of perennial bliss. Bright visions and anticipations such as these, constitute many of the pleasures and benefits of solitude. Can the heart be otherwise than softened by this selfcommunion ? can the moral feelings be improved, and care and sorrow not be displaced by this influence of virtue and religion in retirement 2 However much then society may be desirable, for the benefits it brings, and the happiness it bestows, it is in solitude that the mind is regulated, the noble qualities of the nature awakened, and the man better fitted for the employments of active life. He who traverses the sands of the desert, when saint with fatigue, and oppressed by the scorching sun, is gladdened by the oasis which offers to him shelter and repose. So he, whom earth can never satissy, rejoices in those intervals of solitude, which sooth his sorrows, and fill his soul with tranquillity and peace. S

THE WORN PEN.

My pen is in rapid decay,
Ere long there will nothing remain;

Rough paper has worn it away;
Such paper I'll use not again.

On superfine letter hot-pressed,
It gaily would trip it along,

And need not a moment of rest
In writing a volume of song.

So life quickly weareth away,
When the page of our being is rough;
Let Fortune a smoother display,
We slip along freely enough.
Vol. II. 17

[merged small][ocr errors]

Again what is't The wind 2 No, no-this time
It is the sable friar—as before,
With awful footsteps, regular as rhyme,
Or (as rhymes may be in these days) much more.
Byron.

The first day of vacation Does one's heart ever beat with joy, and does the blood ever flow through one's veins with a vigor and warmth that diffuses additional life throughout his whole systein, rendering him keenly sensible to all the various sources of pleasure, and kindly disposed towards every existing creature ? If ever, it is on the first day of a college vacation. Far be it from me to depreciate the soul-stirring delights of the classic page, the captivating mysteries of a mathematical problem, or the truly bracing joys of a stormymorning chapel-ward walk. I have experienced all these, and, doubtless, received my share of the gratifications arising therefrom ; yet let me tell thee, dear reader!—sub rosá, however—I have seen the day when I would have gladly exchanged six weeks, ay! or even a whole term, of the so much lauded mathematical, metaphysical, classical joys for a single week of vacation delights.

Of such a character were my feelings on the evening of the first day of our last vacation. , My wonder-working Olmsted's stove, filled to the brim with the best Lehigh in the yard, was performing its wonted office with most marvelous despatch—my light was so shaded that it beamed forth the most persectly thought-encouraging radiance, and the wind was whistling the same old tune around the window, as I accommodated myself to the various inequalities of a wonderfully hard-bottomed arm-chair of unbounded capacity. This same article was thereupon suffered to pass through the first part of an evolution familiar to all horse-jockeys, viz. that of rearing itself upon its hind legs; which being done, nothing more remained for me to do, than to encircle the already mentioned stove with my pedal extremities, and suffer them to rest gently upon the edge of the mantel which is some four or five feet from the level of the floor.

The act of transforming animals of the quadrupedal genus into that of bipeds is, in some cases, we ourselves will allow, ‘treason against nature.” But, in the case now before us, so many manifest advantages arise from the transformation, that we students are in the habit of constantly doing it, and some of us have even become so hardened in our wickedness as to experience no smitings of conscience for the unnatural deed. We have nothing to say to those lynx-eyed European traveling critics, who, mistaking the inability to appreciate the delights arising from the above transformation for “refinement,” have honored us with a few entirely gratuitous sneers on the occasion, and who, inasmuch as their landlords at home breakfast them on toast and coffee, consider themselves authorized in declaring that any addition thereto is a sure index of semi-barbarism, one degree only above the Cherokee and Hottentot state of society— to these geniuses we have nothing at all to say, for an almost infinite multitude of reasons, the principal of which is, that we are well aware that they never would know it were we to say any thing. This reason alone is sufficient to deter from any such attempt persons who like us are generally satisfied with one good reason, and who have been known even to suffer sentiments, (which accorded with our own preconceived opinions,) to be broached in our presence, without contradiction, although it was persectly evident to most persons that they were entirely unfounded. Would to heaven that our numerous readers were no more captious on these points than we ourselves | Then might we sail along quietly and pleasantly in our little tiny vessel; but now, forsooth, we cannot graze a jutting rock, or rub upon a shoal, without our readers imperatively demanding that we at once stop and prove to a demonstration that we were in no danger of being wrecked thereon. Beshrew all these ungentlemanly cavils of thine, dear reader! hinder us not, we entreat thee, in this our onward course ! Little children must be humored at times however, 'tis said, and we therefore sor once will condescend to give our reasons for our actions—not that we care one farthing for our readers’ good opinion, by no means ! like all true authors we write for ourselves solely, and are supremely indifferent to the decisions of others—(prithee, reader! excuse this long parenthesis,) simply to show that we have them, and moreover always can, if necessary, produce them. We can then, we say, most satisfactorily prove, both by strength of argument, and, if this should fail, by strength of muscle, that the above is the only truly rational method of locating one's self. Does one’s mind feel disposed to reflection, or is one’s body averse to any sudden change of place : Our learned professor assureth us that bodies resting on three points of support are far less liable to derangement than when resting on more, and, in this case, our limbs, at their farthest extremities traversing each other, afford this desirable third support. Is it probable, or possible that our ideas will lack sufficient poetry to prevent our falling to sleep In such a case, our center of gravity will have a most extensive field for its vagaries, ere its line of direction wandereth without the base—a most essential requisite, the same authority has ostentimes assured us, for the attainment of stability. Is the cranium for a moment poverty-stricken, or, in other words, destitute of ideas 2 Even as the small column of water will support and raise to an equal height the column of infinite magnitude, in like manner will the increased pressure upon our base, arising from the superior elevation of our “lamp-lighters,” cause an influx of matter into our cerebral organs, which can thence be easily retailed for the edification of an admiring world. Does the eye in its wanderings forth seek diversity of prospect? Verily and in truth, the protrusion of our bodies in the above specified manner adds at once beauty and interest to the scenery, boldly relieving the tame, dull view of things around, and gladdening the eyes of the beholder with that most interesting of all objects—his own person. There ! my dear reader there is the longest paragraph 1 intend to have in the whole piece, penned, too, entirely sor your benefit, full of sage reasoning, weighty enough to convince any respectable sceptic, in which class I hope you enroll yourself. If you're not satisfied yet, then—hang it all ! prove it yourself! I’m off. What a pity it is that our friends will not be content with our word on all these points | Were that the case we should have been half through our tale ere this, while now we are hardly started. However, we shall bring it all up against them in due time. And now in suture, we entreat our readers to take it for granted that we have reasons for all our sayings and all our actions, even though we do not stop by the way to point them out. Surely, no one should know so well as ourselves about this matter. Let us then ever cherish this sublime posture—let the hitherto abased feet now be exalted—let the mantel receive its wonted burthen, and let us not sacrifice divinely-sprung ‘comfort' to miscalled refinement' As usual, a coffee-pot was simmering most furiously upon the stove, (students are invariably earthward inclined during vacation,) warning me by its melodious notes, that soon its contents would be potable, and all things around were thus in a most delectable state of repose, when I leaned back my head into my chair, and, resigning myself to the influences of the time and situation, gave way to the most interesting reflections I could possibly summon up before me. This however was no easy task, and as an assistant in the operation, I took from a box upon the table, an extra-fine Spanish cigar, one extremity of which bringing, for a moment, in contact with the flame of the lamp until it assumed a fierce and warlike hue, I then scientifically inserted the nether end midway between the center and lest corner of my mouth. As the morning breeze dispels the mist collected through the night upon the mountain-tops, (by Jupiter! I believe I could write poetry,) so did the rarefied air from the radiator of my stove cause the mouth-issuing smoke to ascend and resolve itself into thin laminae of matter over my head.

* Heroics for legs.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »