Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

was still at work within—a hollow cheek and faded countenance, told me that the mental malady had possessed me too long for hope. I am clearly in the decline of my short day. My heart strives not to deceive itself. With talents—with acquirements—with garnered wisdom, oftentimes dear bought—I contemplate a blank eaistence And why? In truth,

“The thorns which I have reaped are of the tree
I planted"—

I sought what the present life will not yield.

Had I early seized on the present—forgotten the past, and been reckless of the future, I might now be hurrying forward in the great crowd—buoyant with life—revelling in success—

THE MUTABILITY OF EMPIRE.

–Sed improvisa lethi

Vis rapuit rapietaue gentes.
IIor.

WHAT does not fade and die 2 Mark ye the earth—
Its fairest flowers but blossom to decay;
And man, its lord—scarce learn we of his birth,
Ere life's last sun has closed his fleeting day;
And all his proud creations—what are they 3
Mere transient mockeries of his idle power;
Time turns his glass—like clouds they've passed away;
And Change sits monarch of the flying hour.

Assyria once upraised her princely head,
The mother-queen of luxury and pride;
And Egypt, too, with her uncrumbling dead
And massive temples, Time's stern power defied.
And early Greece in classic splendor shone,
The light and glory of the mystic past;
And Rome's broad empire reared its golden throne—
Of ancient realms the strongest and the last.

These once rejoicing in their manly strength,
Thought not that change could on their vigor seize,
Or that brief years could measure out their length,
And Time the current of their life-streams freeze.
But lo! their glory and their pride have fled—
Their names scarce known, save on the classic page,
Their bustling myriads slumbering with the dead,
And half their deeds long perished with old age.

And cities, too, though bound with massive walls,
And built with palaces, plunge, as would seem,
Beneath Time's flood from off high rocks, as falls
The autumn leaf down on the dusky stream.
Great Babylon arose and sunk, and none
Can now point out the ashes of her dead;
Palmyra, too, scarce shows a crumbling stone—
Her gold has cankered and her glory fled.

Thebes, with her brazen gates and winding tombs,
Has gone, as evanescent bubbles go;
And e'en in Athens the wild thistle blooms,
While sculptured marble mould'ring lies below.
Time's breath has swept the seven hills of Rome,
And blown that mistress of the earth away,
Though once she seemed as distant from her doom,
As e'en the mountains upon which she lay.

Thus fades all human grandeur; words in sand
Last not more briefly on the ocean's shore,
Than same, and power, and all that these command,
When Time's dark-heaving billows on them pour.
Yet light comes from their ruins;–man may lay
Proud plans of empire, yea, may blindly deem
His fond creations lasting; still, one ray
Faint-streaming from the past, dispels the dream.

The future, too—how clearly one brief glance
Back on the mirror of departed years
Reveals, like magic power in old romance,
Dim coming scenes; and oh, what change appears!—
Old Europe's plains a dismal forest bear—
The gloomy home of some barbarian race;
Her sculptured piles o'ershade the lion's lair,
And light canoes her storied streams disgrace.

These rock-bound shores, where erst did Freedom reign,
Again barbarians trample with delight,
While on the borders of the western main
A mighty empire bursts upon our sight.
A new Britannia in New Holland lies,
A second France on China's fruitful plain,
While German States, o'erarched by Birman skies,
From learning's mines the gems of science gain.

Thus change comes over all. And e'en the rocks
Of rugged, bald-head mountains, that dare stay
The storm's dark fury and the lightning's shocks,
The deep-worn wrinkles of old age betray.
Yet all things are not thus. While time shall be,
Though man, and man's productions come and go,
The same blue sky shall roll, the same green sea,
The same sun shine, and same bland breezes blow.

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

“Well, Ned' I wax rather sleepy—how do you wax * quoth Bill Easter, one evening, as longitudinally occupying some dozen chairs, we lay snoring in full concert to the tune of “Old Hundred.”

“Who did you say she was going to marry '' yawned out Dick Harvey—a chap, at that time, well known to be rather the ‘worse for love,’ which said love, however, though it bound him rather closely to the heart of Susan M , nevertheless, by no means destroyed the various qualities of ‘good fellowship,” which every one could testify that he naturally possessed.

“Ha! has hal” roared Bill, “you don’t know then eh that's too bad. But come, fellow, wake up !”

Bill's injunction came a little too late ; for his hearty laugh, together with Dick's mistake, a confused idea of which was still running in my mind, had fully roused us, and there we now sat—I confusedly rubbing my eyes, but Dick, by this time, fully alive to the dangers of his perilous situation in having so unguardedly given vent to the feelings of his heart.

Many better jokes having undoubtedly been made known to the world, than those which were then and there cracked by us over poor Dick's head, we therefore spare the reader a recital of ours, but few, we dare wager, ever caused more hearty laughter, than that which ever and anon rang through that room. To do Dick justice, however, he ran the gauntlet most manfully, never flinching in the least, but ever, as some one appeared more keen than its predecessors, crying out

[ocr errors]

In fine, as Jack Downing would say, “he grinned and bore it,” which we advise others to do in all disagreeable situations, pledging our word that they will find marvelous comfort in this same remedy. But to all things there's an end, as well as a ‘time,’ and at last even we came to a pause, decidedly to Dick's relief. A most awful stillness ensued, and Dick's head was already commencing anew its vibrations, when Bill, in a most sepulchral tone, offered the following resolution—

“Resolved, that for the promotion of our corporeal welfare, and for the further invigoration of our drooping spirits, we as a body, will, and hereby do adjourn to the tabernacle of our friend Dike.” Now be it known to all who may chance to honor us with a perusal, that the above mentioned Dike was, in the year 18—, an inhabitant of the goodly town of S-, situated somewhere on the banks of the Connecticut, and was, withall, “a quiet and orderly citizen,” of a fair reputation, generally known as the village tailor; and, in addition to this, his professed profession, master of a small unpretending store, which, at the time we are now writing, contained some marvelously musty brazil nuts, as also some exquisitely sweet licorice-ball. But more of this anon. Bill's resolution passed unanimously, and we forthwith prepared to adjourn sine morá to this gentleman's shop—we ask his pardon— St0re. It was a cold winter night, and as we sallied forth, well booted and cloaked, it was, I believe, pretty unanimously decided that it was— cold. Even Dick, in remembrance, doubtless, of the dreams of his late disturbed slumbers, was heard to unphilosophically exclaim, ‘’gad fellows, I wish I was in bed.’ The wind whistled through the trees with a most mournful melody, and, as it caused the creaking boughs to bend before its power, one might be pardoned for indulging even a less poetical wish than that to which Dick had just given utterance. But like the great modern “magician,” we “bared our breasts to its icy touch,” which, in our case (as also in his, we take it) means simply, we cut and run. Readers have you ever seen a tame crow? one that has, from time immemorial, with one wing clipped, hopped round your kitchen door, and have you ever observed it, as it made a desperate effort to run—its neck extended to its utmost length, and its long black legs and claws barely enabling it to maintain its upright position, evidently weakened by the inequality of its wings : If you have, ou can form no very faint conception of the appearance of Dick #. as muffled up in his cloak, he made his way against a strong north wind. Unless you have, I despair of your being able to do justice to his appearance that night. Bill—take him all in all—was a passably respectable-looking fellow, considerably like what we, now-a-days, imagine a Kentuckian to be—a real roarer.” As to myself (kind reader my modesty will not allow me to occupy a separate paragraph,) as to myself, I say— let it suffice, that I at that time somewhat affected the “Exquisite”—wore thin boots instead of cow-hide—was believed to have tried, for six months, to encourage a pair of whiskers into existence, and moreover was universally known to possess a breast pin It must have been a glorious sight, to have seen our noble trio on that memorable night treading the only street of S , Dick with his rapid strides led the van, and Bill valiantly brought up the rear, while I fulfilled the duties of first corporal, musician, etc. Less heroic minds than ours would have sunk beneath the arduous difficulties

which we encountered on the way, in the form of exceedingly cold weather, and a lusty north easter. But

“Nil desperandum Dick duce”

was our motto and we nobly persevered. Fortunately, however, we soon reached the seat of Dike's public ministrations—no symptoms of “mutiny in the ranks” as yet appearing. As we entered, we found him, as usual, enthroned on a lofty bench, in the farthest recess of his shop, and diligently engaged in constructing a pair of what are commonly yelept breeches. By the way, though, Dike's breeches bore but precious little resemblance to the like articles of more modern manufacture. One would be inclined to the opinion, that a Lilliputian tailor had the honor of constructing them, were it not evident, from the most casual glance at Dike, that “quadrants,’ and “angles of elevation’ were unknown terms to him. But, as before said, in our gallant trio went, and

“Oh, what glorious visions burst on our enraptured eyes.”

Here, at the window, might be seen some venerable tobacco-pipe, which had bleached in many a noon-tide sun, and by its side, might also then and there be seen, a cracker of a ‘lily hue,’ save here and there some wandering fly had o'er it walked, and, as it walked, had left a track That window ! oh ! that window ! How often have I seen some dirty little urchin, as he was lazily sauntering along to school, stop, and leaning against that barrel, which you may see placed nearly in front of it, with “molasses for sale” chalked on it, wonder at the immense treasures congregated there ! How his eyes sparkle as he gazes at that paper of various-colored, as also colorless peppermints, which lies in the farthest corner What emotions are excited in his mind on beholding those huge cards of gingerbread, and how supremely happy would the possession of one of those dried and dirty rusks render him " We might here, dear reader, introduce a few sage reflections on the wonderful “mystery of life”—how it is that we are so constituted, that the most trifling things will, in one season of life, render us immoderately joyful, while at another, the wealth of the whole world can scarce cause one emotion of pleasure in our hearts—we might do this, we say, if we only—knew how. But, alas ! moralizing or sentimentalizing we never dared attempt, for fear our readers would not understand us. We might possibly do it in poetry, but then the trouble would be, we could not comprehend ourselves. So we pass on. Match-boxes, shoe-blacking, sugar whistles, brass jews-harps, and divers bunches of raisins—all contributed to adorn that most capacious window, while huge hunks of licorice-ball, scattered here and there, filled up

“The symphony between.” WOL. II. 11

« FöregåendeFortsätt »