Imatges de pàgina


A SPIRIT of air gaily roamed o'er the flowers,
Sleep fell on his eyelids-he needed repose,
And sought for a refuge from dews and from showers,
Beneath the rich leaves of a beautiful rose:

The Spirit awakened, and eager to grant

Some boon to the flower that had saved him from harm;
"Oh! tell me," he murmured, "thy wish or thy want;"
"I ask," said the rose, "one additional charm."

The Spirit bewailed the fair flower's discontent;
"I may not," he sighed, "to improve thee presume;
How balmy, how sweet, is thy exquisite scent!
How lovely thy shape! and how vivid thy bloom!"
Yet still to his promise resolved to be true,

His fancy he tasked some new grace to propose,
Then smiled, waved his wings, and exultingly threw
A veil of soft clustering moss o'er the Rose.

The Rose's vain sisters rejoiced in their pride,
That their charms had not suffered so grievous a loss;
But brief was their triumph-all passed them aside,
To gaze on the Rose with the vesture of moss;-
Revealing this truth-that though gladly we greet
Attractions and grace that our senses enthrall,
We never can deem them entirely complete,
Till humility casts her soft veil o'er them all.


Is yon wide churchyard's meanest nook,
Where sunbeams rarely fall,
A lonely grave o'ershadowed lies
Beneath the ivied wall.

No pompous stone records the name
Or virtues of the dead;

An osier-girded sod alone
Betrays the lowly bed.

Yet oft at eve the village poor

To that lone spot repair,

And wear the grass that grows around,
And weep in silence there.

In vain proud urns and monuments
Invite their feet to stay;

As onward, to the nameless grave,
They urge their mournful way.
Ah! what avails the record vain,
Whence sprung? to whom allied?-
Too often but the incense base

Which Interest burns to Pride.
Thine, grandeur, be the crested tomb,
The praises insincere;

"The poor man's friend" my title be,
My epitaph-his tear.

DIRECTLY Opposite my residence a church is being
erected, and during its progress temporary sheds have
been put up for the use of the workmen, and one as a stable
for a very fine cart horse, the property of the builder. The
extreme docility of this animal attracted my attention to
him, and since that some of his manoeuvres appear to me
to border strongly on the sense and the powers of reflec-
tion. His stable was erected at one end of the church: on one
occasion two poles had been fastened across his usual road
to it, in order to strengthen the scaffolding; he went up,

tried the strength of these first, then finding that he
could neither get over nor under, he turned round, and,
at a full trot, made the circuit of the church, and got to
the other side of the poles by another path. Here was
no straying about, and at last finding his way, but a fixed
resolve to go round, as if an idea had at once flashed
across his mind. Another day, a waggon had been put
standing in the narrowest part of his road to the stable:
he looked and tried each side, but found there was not
space enough for him to pass; he took very little time for
consideration, but put his breast against the back part of
the waggon, and shoved it on to a wider part of the road,
then deliberately passed on one side to his stable. Could
human wisdom have done better? But to crown all his
manœuvres, I mention the following as being, I consider,
very extraordinary. During the winter a large wide drain
had been made, and over this strong planks had been
placed for our friend, the cart horse, to pass over to his
stable. It had snowed during the night, and froze very
hard in the morning. How he passed over the planks
on going out to work I know not, but on being turned
loose from the cart at breakfast, he came up to them,
and I saw his fore-feet slip; he drew back immediately,
and seemed for a moment at a loss how to get on. Close
to these planks a cart-load of sand had been placed; he
put his fore-feet on this, and looked wistfully to the
The boy who attends this

other side of the drain.

horse, and who had gone round by another path, seeing

him stand there, called him. The horse immediately

turned round, and set about scraping the sand most

vigorously, first with one foot then the other.

boy, perhaps wondering what he would be at, waited to

see. When the planks were completely covered with

sand, the horse turned round again, and unhesitatingly

walked over, and trotted up to his stable and driver.—

Sporting Magazine.


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No. 3.]

London Magazine:


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See page 47.

"IT cannot be too often repeated," observes Madame de Staël, "that the experience, whether of individuals or of nations, furnishes to them but one favourable moment for securing good fortune or power; that moment must be seized as it flies; for the happy chance seldom returns a second time in the course of the same destiny; and, to him who has let it slip, there remains for the rest of his life only the bitter experience of continued reverses." These words are little more than a paraphrase of the well-known passage of Shakspeare, which we cannot doubt Madame de Staël had in her eye when

she wrote them.

"There is a tide in the affairs of men

Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life

Is bound in shallows and in miseries."

We should be sorry to acquiesce, without some reservation, in the view of our destiny exhibited either in the lady's prose or the poet's verses. We cannot think so hardly of our common lot, as to represent to ourselves the whole family of man as receiving, among the innumerable openings of fortune presented to each during his three score and ten years, but one that leads to happiness, and enjoying but one fleeting moment of opportunity to enter upon it. What fearful odds would there be against any man's escaping the shoals and miseries of so dubious a voyage! What hope could any of us reasonably entertain, that, among the numberless accidents of a changeful life, he should have the skill, or presence of mind, or good fortune, to seize upon the one right chance at the one right time?

We must not, however, rashly impeach the philo



sophy of our own matchless poet, or of the acute and ingenious Frenchwoman. Principles may be sufficiently true for all the purposes of a limited or occasional application, which become false and dangerous if held forth as universal laws. We may safely admit, that it would be false to lay it down as one of the fixed laws of our being, that, one chance of success suffered to pass unimproved, the shadows of disappointment and reverse sink down upon our fortunes, never to be lifted off or dispersed, for it would be contradictory of our daily experience; and that it would be, moreover, a most mischievous thing for any man to believe in as a general law, because tending to induce a fatalism of the most disheartening character, and to paralyse every effort to redeem the errors of youth and inexperience; and yet leave ourselves room for asserting, that, taken in a restricted sense, and applied to a special description of circumstances, it is a principle founded in sound philosophy, and susceptible of a most salutary application to the business of life, that an opportunity for securing any of fortune's great prizes, once presented and not taken advantage of, seldom or never returns a second time to the

same man.

The lines quoted from Shakspeare are placed by him in the mouth of Brutus, immediately before the battle of Philippi. The philosophic Roman employs them to vindicate his determination, in opposition to the advice of his friend and colleague Cassius, to peril the fate of his cause upon the issue of a decisive battle. The disastrous result would appear to give rather a denial than a practical confirmation to the soundness of the application of the principle in that particular case. Indeed, it may be doubted, whether the main intention of the character of Brutus, as drawn by Shakspeare, was not to illustrate the inadequacy of mere theoretical wisdom, unsupported by practical experience, to grapple with the difficulties of a great emergency, and the danger of rashly applying the refined conclusions of philosophy, gained in the closet by mere study and reflection, and without a sufficient acquaintance with the qualities and powers of the material agents with which they are to be wrought out, to the actual business of life. He, most probably, meant us to infer, that the plain commonsense and military experience of Cassius, the practised soldier and man of the world, would have been a safer guide in a question of mere strategy, than the well-sounding speculations of his philosophic friend, who, with the characteristic dogmatism of a mere theorist, bearing down all opposition by the weight of his unrivalled moral character, and confident in the soundness of his judgment, not so much from overweening self-conceit as from absolute inexperience, assumed the guidance of affairs which he had not sufficient practical knowledge to direct. We may, therefore, with much likelihood, contend that, so far from asserting unqualifiedly, and to its extreme extent, the principle expressed in the passage quoted, it was part of Shakspeare's object to expose the danger of rashly or ignorantly applying such speculations to actual affairs. He rescues it from undue contempt, by putting it into the mouth of the wisest and most philosophic character he had ever drawn; but he makes the result show that it is not by acting upon nice quillets of.philosophy, but by the skill derived from actual experience, that an important enterprise can be ccnducted to a successful issue.

Madame de Staël unquestionably announces the principle broadly and unqualifiedly, as one that she herself fully believes in. The absence of qualification, however, may very fairly be taken for one of those artifices of rhetoric, proper to writings of the class to which the work belongs in which the passage in question is to be found, which are intended to give emphasis to a statement which, if guarded by all the reservations required by strict logic in works of pure reasoning, would fall coldly and ineffectually on the ear. In works of a declamatory character, one of the most effectual means of persuasion is the unhesitating confidence with which the writer commits himself to assertions which will not bear a very minute examination; it shows him to be in carnest; and we give him credit for having satisfied himself on better grounds than he is able to show to us; nay, the slight touch of paradox involved rather enlists our sympathies than shocks our reason. We must, therefore, not reject such a statement of a principle or philosophical law as unworthy of attention, because it will not bear a kind of criticism for which it was never intended. In the present instance, Madame de Staël is speaking of the errors committed by the Constituent Assembly, which gave its first form and body to the French Revolution. She represents it as having had the destiny of France placed in its hands, during the interval between the fall of the Bastile on the 14th of July, and the removal of the Royal Family and Legislature from Versailles to Paris, on the 6th October, 1789. That interval rightly used, she contends, would have enabled it to secure the liberties and future welfare of France; but, having been suffered to pass unimproved, its uses neglected or misunderstood, a second opportunity of saving their country, for the same men, was not within the range of reasonable probability. So applied and limited, we cannot refuse our assent to the proposition, or, at all events, brand it as false in principle or mischievous in practice.

There is a kind of superstition in such matters, which most men have a tendency to cherish. The wisest of us has some hankering after a belief in lucky days, in favourable or unfavourable omens, in the existence of more things in heaven and earth, than are dreamt of in our philosophy. We hold more firmly than we are often aware of, by the persuasion of some mysterious and unseen agency, undefined even to our own minds, and which we should not care to be asked to define,—some power whose seat is higher than earth, yet lower than heaven,--a fate-which gives a direction to our fortunes, and governs the results of our actions, on principles apparently capricious, or at least inexplicable to our reason. It is this which, in former days, gained for the reveries of judicial astrology, admission into minds at the same time fully imbued not merely with philosophy, but with sound religious truth; and which still, although, in these matter-of-fact times, every year clears away some of the not unpleasing twilight which used to hang over certain regions of our belief, leads many a devout Christian, in every walk of life, to mingle with his habitual reliance upon the good providence of God, a clinging belief in something else, as influencing his destiny-he does not well know what-which it would greatly disturb his religious feelings to be compelled to embody to his own mind by giving it a name.

It may be partly some touch of this superstitious feeling, which causes us to hold strongly by the persuasion that every man's life has its turning point, its crisis, which colours, for good or evil, the remainder of his career. It is a belief, however, which we are fully persuaded has more than superstition to rest upon, and forms part of the creed of almost every observer of human life; not in the extravagant sense which we have already disclaimed, as dooming us to but one chance of happiness or success against numberless chances of misery and disappointment, but according to a more sober and regulated understanding of it. The best evidence of the general acceptance of such a persuasion, is the large proportion of the most successful works of fiction whose interest hinges upon circumstances bearing more or less directly upon it. The authors of such works delight to fix our attention upon some one event, often an apparently trivial occurrence, from which issues an influence, good or evil, as the nature of the narrative may require, which pervades its whole course; and the watching for the return of this influence at every important turn of the story, with the feeling of gratified surprise at its occasional, often unexpected, appearance, constitutes one of the most exciting pleasures of that description of reading. Such a mode of viewing our condition and fortunes would not continue to please, had it not some foundation in truth and nature. The biographies of several of the men who have risen to the highest professional eminence, furnish us with striking illustrations of the road to high fortune having been entered upon at some unexpected turning, by a narrow opening, which common observation would have overlooked, which common sagacity would have deemed a deviation from the true path-from the difficulties of which common industry or courage would have shrunk. Such things we generally call fortunate chances, and, in one sense, they are so; they are opportunities for distinction or success, which no merit, no genius, no industry, can create. But they are not so rare in their occurrence, as is the combination of endowments required to seize hold and make a right use of them. Some there may be, the very step-children of fortune, to whom they are never presented; but how much more frequently is it the case, that we have been either dreamingly unconscious of their presence, or too indolent to take advantage of them, or wanting in skill rightly to use them! It is the combination of sagacity to perceive the opportunity, energy and activity to act upon it, presence of mind to act exactly at the proper moment, and skill to turn it rightly to advantage, which makes the fortunate man-the man whom one of those things called lucky chances raises to wealth and distinction.

We may suppose the aspirants for the gifts of fortune to be like men stationed at different points by the side of a road, along which the goddess passes in her chariot at a swift and steady pace, standing still for no one, but ready to carry forward to a happy goal whoever can spring up and take his seat by her side. Noiseless in her approach, she must be carefully watched for; and he whose mind has been occupied by a hundred frivolities, finds that she has passed him long before he dreamt that she was near. The rash man springs too soon, and, falling under the horses' feet, lies stunned and senseless in the dust; then, recover

ing himself after she is far out of sight, limps off a cripple for life. The timid man, fearing a similar mischance, shakes his head and turns despondingly away. The indolent man would gladly step up if she would only stop for a moment, but he cannot risk such a leap; he prefers taking his chance of what may yet cast up by way of conveyance less difficult of entrance. The unready, or irresolute man, gets up with the full purpose of doing what man can in the matter; he considers how he shall best prepare himself for the spring; which leg he shall put foremost; whether he will leap before she has quite come up to him, or after she is a little past, and various other matters; but before he can make up his mind on the half of these points, she has flown past, and his opportunity is gone. But one man alone of many, watchful, resolute, composed,-neither hurrying before the time, nor lagging behind it,-well prepared beforehand, and having accurately calculated his distance,-with a firm foot and fearless spirit, springs in just as she is passing by him, and is borne onward in triumph and safety to receive the reward of his courage and skill. For the rest, some trudge onwards on foot, some are taken up by other and humbler conveyances, and deposited at a humbler resting-place than their fortunate companion has been received into; some get foundered in the mud, and perish by the way.

Taking, then, a somewhat lower ground than Shakspeare and Madame de Staël have done, we may safely assert it for a truth, without meaning to discourage any attempt to retrieve past errors, or to make up for past neglect, that one opportunity allowed to slip past unimproved, a second will not be presented which can be turned to the same account. The tide having turned, does not flow again for that man; it is an ebb which continues to recede till the day of his death. There is no day on which something may not be done, but less than might have been done the day before; and far, far less than might have been done had the tide been taken at the flood.

The practical lesson which we think ought to be drawn from this, is the value of present time; the portion of time with which alone, or at least mainly, we have to do. It is difficult, but it is necessary, to fix upon our minds the conviction, that not some important moment yet to come, but the ordinary common-place-looking one now actually in our hands, may perchance be the turning point of our fortunes. If, while idly lamenting the past, or listlessly speculating upon the future, we suffer the present to pass away without being turned to its proper account, we suffer, beyond all question, a loss which can never be recovered; and, for anything we can tell, we are letting slip the one great chance of our lives. For it has this peculiarity, that we never know when it is presented to us. It sounds no trumpet before it to call our attention to its approach. It comes silently and stealthily upon us, bearing nothing about it to distinguish it from the crowd of every-day times and occurrences by which it is surrounded. To make sure of it we must make sure of all. How many a man of genius and accomplishment is there now wearing out his life in the struggle to make way against a receding current, who might have been standing on the very topmost pinnacle of fortune, had he been sufficiently watchful to take the tide at the flood!



(Continued from page 20.)

Ar the time of my leaving Knightswood, Mary was, I think, about fifteen; Mark Gifford four years older. Their mutual affection seemed so to have grown with their growth, so deeply to have taken root in the heart of each, and so likely to ripen into a full and lasting attachment, that, as I before observed, the intelligence of Mark's union with Harriet Tracey took me by surprise; but enough of these reminiscences.

I resolved on visiting Bath. Julia Tracey was still unmarried; and, although she had long ceased to be an object of particular interest, she had never been forgotten; in short, there was no saying what, after all, might not happen. Discovering, however, that an old and favourite servant of Mrs. Gifford's, and whom I well remembered, was still residing at Fordover, I resolved, before leaving the country, to call upon her; partly with a view to obtain information concerning Mary Deane, of whose history I knew only, that, on the death of Mrs. Gifford, she had gone to reside with some of her father's family. From a passage in one of Mark's letters, written about that period, I feared that she had not been well provided for by her aunt; and although he had, probably, taken upon himself the care of relieving her from all embarrassments of a pecuniary nature, I could not but suspect that there were other claims, which, though gaining by independence the power, he had lost the inclination to fulfil. At all events, I wished to learn the present residence of Miss Deane; and, as the advanced age and infirm health of Mr. Penrose had obliged him to resign the care of his parish to a Curate, I knew no one more likely than old Hannah to satisfy me on that point.

To her cottage I accordingly repaired; and, on entering the neat kitchen, found it necessary, in the first place, to identify myself with the Master Harry of olden time; and next, I had to be well settled in an armchair, and drink currant wine, besides answering a variety of questions, before I could gain, in my turn, the slightest particle of information. After a time, however, Hannah recovering from the surprise which my entrance had occasioned, recollections of former days, of her old mistress, and all appertaining to Beauchamps, prevailed. A strange place it was now, she observed, by all accounts; for her part, she did not like to look at the tops of the high chimneys from her own back window, and therefore it was not to be thought she should ever cross the threshold. Great changes, she did hear, took place after the new lady came; the laundry turned into a servants'-hall, and her mistress's little breakfast-parlour into a housekeeper's room; the main of the old pictures, too, she was told, were stowed away in the lumber-garret. Seemingly she recollected my connexion with the present family, for she suddenly checked herself, and, casting on me a glance of suspicion, added, "but, then, it don't matter what such as I think about it."

After a moment's silence, she resumed, in a more cheerful tone," And you be'nt married, sir, yet?"

"No, Hannah, not I; the means, or the time, or something or other, have always been wanting: and Miss Deane, tell me about her; is she married?"

"No, poor dear, more 's the pity." "Then amongst all the young people whom you remember at Beauchamps and Knightswood, only two have married?"

"And they two," replied Hannah, with some asperity, "wern't paired aright."

"They were not paired, certainly, as I had myself expected; I confess that I always fancied Mr. Gifford more partial to his own cousin than to any one of mine."

"There was no fancy in the case, nor cousinship neither, for that matter; but no one could be off of

loving her, sweet pretty creature as she was; and I shall always think, sir, asking your pardon for saying so, that Miss Tracey, or my lady, wheedled Master Mark away from her."

"I hope not so, Hannah, either."

"I should be sorry to misjudge any one, sir; but with your leave, I will tell you all I know of the matter; and when I have done, perhaps you may come to be pretty much of the same mind yourself." Then, edging her chair a little nearer to the fire, and arranging with the tongs the bits of wood of which it was composed, she continued in a more confidential tone:

"The last time Master Mark left home for the university, he seemed as fond of Miss Deane as ever. The day before he was to go, he came up to the little bookroom, that you may remember; or may be, as it was at the top of the house, you might never have been in it. Miss Deane was very partial to that room, and used mostly to bide there, when not in the parlour with my mistress. There was a sight of old books in this little room, and had been from time out of mind, however they come there; Master Mark went rummaging amongst them one time when he was at home for the holydays, and got leave of my mistress to have a few shelves put up in the same room; after which he and Miss Deane sorted and set up the books. Some of them they read together, by snatches, as they could find opportunity; and some he set marks in, for her to read to herself when he was away; and many a time have I known her sit up there, perishing in the cold, because she would not anger my mistress by taking books into the parlour. To be sure, it was a pleasant sunny place enough, with two windows, one looking out into the wilderness as then was, and the other, front ways, into the pleasure ground. Miss Deane used to keep her canaries up there, and in the south window she had her myrtles and geraniums; and altogether, as I was saying, she took great delight in this room. Well, up came Master Mark; it happened that I was in the next room, which was the china closet, looking for a teapot as my mistress had been inquiring about: he did not shut the door after him, and so, presently I heard him say, how sorry he was to think that this was the last day of his being at home for a good while to come. 6 Will it be longer than usual, Mark?' says she. He made answer, that most likely it would; for he thought next time he must stay up and read for his degree. I think those were his words, though I did not rightly understand their meaning; I remember thinking, there were books enough for him to read in, if that was all he wanted, without stirring from where he then was. I knew, by the sound of her voice, when she answered him, that Miss Deane was very much concerned; though she said he must, in course, know best what he ought to do; and that, for her part, she was sure he would not be absent longer than he could any ways help. Yes,' says he, Mary, you may well be sure of that; and when once I have got through my examinations, I shall lose not a moment in returning to Beauchamps. In the meantime,' says he, you will read what I have looked out for you; and I have left some of my own books for your amusement. I need not commend Carlo to your kindness, for you know the old saying.... Yes, thinks I, any one may know what that means; however, as I did not want to listen to such sort of discourse, I contrived to make a rattle amongst the china, that should let them know whereabouts I was; not but what, as the door of the china closet stood open, Master Mark might have seen me plainly enough as he came up the stairs. Master Mark! how I do forget myself: poor mistress used to be always telling me of it; she said as I should never leave off calling her nephew Master Mark, if I lived till he was as old as herself. However, that did not come true, for I have found it easy enough to say Mr. Gifford since I left Beauchamps; and it is only talking of old times, sir, that makes me go back to Master Mark."

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