Selections from The Pearl; or, Affection’s Gift (Philadelphia: Thomas T. Ash & Henry F. Anners, 1837)
A CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR’S
THOMAS T. ASH & HENRY F. ANNERS,
Entered, according to act of congress, in the year 1836, by Thomas T. Ash & Henry F. Anners, in the clerk’s office of the district, for the eastern district of Pennsylvania.
A. WALDIE, PRINTER.
In ushering the sixth annual Gift of Affection to the patronage of the public, little is deemed necessary in the form of preface—its predecessors having been so favourably received as to have stamped the Pearl a mental brilliant of untarnished lustre, and admirably adapted to interest, instruct, and improve the young.
Past approbation has only proved an additional incentive with the proprietors to support the character of the work; and of this, what stronger evidence can be given than the array of contributors exhibited in the contents?
The publishers, therefore, unhesitatingly commit this sixth volume of the series to parents and
guardians, and the friends of juvenile literature, in the confident belief that, in all its departments—literary, mechanical, and ornamental—it will fully sustain the previously well-founded reputation of The Pearl.
Introduction ... A. D. W. ... 7
The Sleeping Child ... L. H. S. ... 11
The Little Archer ... Mrs. Anna Bache ... 13
To a Little Girl ... 14
To Lucy, on hearing her sing and play ... A. D. W. ... 15
Uncle David ... Miss Sedgwick ... 17
My Gentle Girl ... James Nack ... 38
The Beautiful School-Girl ... Caroline Gilman ... 39
A Mother’s Anger ... Do. ... 43
The Sail-Boat ... Mrs. Anna Bache ... 
Admonition ...... 
The Blind Boy ... M. E. L. ... 53
The Brothers ... Mrs. Sigourney ... 55
Wishes ... Mrs. Anna Bache ... 75
The Roaring Brook ... Mrs. Sedgwick ... 77
Charade—Snowball ...... 98
The Mother and Child ... Mrs. G. ... 99
The Protégée ... Miss Leslie ... 102
Request of a Dying Child ... Mrs. Sigourney ... 133
I have Lost a Day ... M. E. L. ... 135
Enigma—A Fly ...... 145
A Whole Holiday ... T. H. ... 147
Verses written in a Young Lady’s Album ... T. H. ... 159
To a Young Lady ...... 161
The Indian Arrow-Head ... Mrs. G. ... 163
The Fire ... Mrs. Anna Bache ... 168
Advice to a Young Lady ...... 170
Murder of Edward Fifth ... Mrs. Hughs ... 171
To a Little Girl ...... 178
The Christmas Tree ... Mrs. G. ... 179
City and Country ... A. D. Woodbridge ... 190
To A. S. ... Mrs. Hughs ... 193
Aunt Sarah and her Orphan Family ... 185
Innocence, Painted by Wolworth, Engraved by J. Sartain.
The Little Archer, Sartain [Engraved by J. Sartain]
The Sail Boat, [Engraved by J. Sartain]
Mother and Child, J. P. Davis, [Engraved by J. Sartain]
The Whole Holiday, R. Farrier, [Engraved by J. Sartain]
Murder of the Princes, J. Northcote, [Engraved by J. Sartain]
SCENES ON CHRISTMAS EVE.
Christmas! flinging joy on all,
Bringing gifts for great and small,
Brightest day of all the year,
Welcome Christmas! welcome here!
Christmas eve advances bright,
In a car of silv’ry light,
Woven by the moon on high,
And let down from yonder sky.
We ’ll go forth, for ev’ry street
Echoes glad to joyous feet;
Hear the school-boys’ merry shout,
Freely, gaily, ringing out!
See! the shops are gay to-night,
Sparkling treasures meet the sight;
Here, to brighten childhood’s joys,
There are countless glittering toys:
Gems from ev’ry land and sea,
Shed abroad their radiance free;
Pictures, statues, works of art
Strike the eye, and thrill the heart.
But what scene is this appears,
Crowded with the thoughts of years?
Look around! ’tis here we find
Brightest jewels of the mind:
Poets, sages, mighty men,
Here awaken to life again,
And recount their wonders o’er,
In the Chestnut Street Book-store.
We will enter—what a crowd!
Listen—hush! don’t speak aloud!
“I’ll take a copy of the Pearl,”
Says one, a young and lovely girl;
And with a beaming smile,
She takes the Book of Beauty, fair,
And with a sweet and graceful air,
She turns away; the while
Another comes, and still another,
The last, a fond indulgent mother.
“I’ll take sir, if you please,
Two copies of the Pearl—or more—
My nieces too—I will have four—
Four copies, if you please.”
“The Pearl!” “The Pearl,” cry out a dozen,
“I’ll get one for my little cousin,”
Says one, a noble boy;
“And I’ll have one for Mary Lee,
‘The Pearl—Affection’s Gift’ so free,
I know ’twill give her joy.”
How fast ’t is selling off! and see,
Their hoarded coins are given free,
As they receive the Pearl.
But who is this that looks so queer,
And silent stands? what does he here?
Amid the busy whirl—
He laughs—and then his face is sad,
And then again he looks right glad,
While on his back is seen
A half-filled sack, of monstrous size,
And all around, his small grey eyes
Are turned in glances keen:
And now that all are gone, he speaks—
“Those youngsters in their childish freaks
Must have the Pearl, I see;
I came to buy some twenty score,
But all are gone—I see no more,
Not one is left for me.”
Ere he has done, the nimble clerks
From here, and there, with sudden jerks,
Produce the number sought—
“But who is this?” they seem to say,
“Such buyers, come not ev’ry day.”
As if he knew their thoughts,
He calls aloud—“Make out your bill,
The patron-saint of Christmas, will
Pay every farthing due—
St. Nick to T. T. Ash is debtor,
But won’t be long—so much the better,
Well there’s the sum for you.
And now he lifts the heavy sack,
He flings it lightly o’er his back.
With him, to great and small,
A merry Christmas and New Year
We wish to those both far and near—
And now, good night to all.
A. D. W.
THE LITTLE ARCHER.
This world is an Archery ground, my dear boy,
At different targets we aim;
Some lured on by Hope, and some forced on by Pride,
And some beckoned forward by Fame.
And many the prizes that sparkle in view—
Here Pleasure her wine-cup displays;
There Avarice jingles his guerdon of gold,
And Renown twines her garland of praise.
Ambition contends for a sceptre of state—
Love’s arrow would conquer a heart;
The black shafts of Envy in poison are dipt,
And she sends against Merit her dart.
And thou, boy, in time to the trial must come,
Let me whisper a counsel to thee—
Be Virtue thy target, and steadfast thy aim,
And thy guerdon shall Happiness be.
Mrs. Anna Bache.
TO A LITTLE GIRL,
WHOSE BIRTH-DAY OCCURS ON THE FIRST OF MAY.
Sure never did a sweeter flower
More pure, more white, more fresh or gay,
E’er grace a lady’s favourite bower,
Or smile upon the lap of May,
Than that which met thy mother’s sight,
Sweet bud! when with supreme delight,
And all the rapture of surprise
Thy infant form in fondness pressing,
And with maternal love caressing,
She saw thy soft blue eyes.
And well has she the prize deserved,
For with a careful hand,
With watchfulness that never swerved,
Thy bud of life she fanned,
Basking in love’s bright sunny rays
And nourished by the voice of praise,
And fenced from every ill:
We see thee e’en thus early blowing,
And eager, whilst with beauty glowing,
Her wishes to fulfil.
And long may’st thou adorn her side,
Thou fair and blushing flower!
Of her maternal breast the pride,
And ripening every hour:
Soon may’st thou show that sweetest fruit
Which has religion for its root,
And thus her cares repay;
Until at length from earth retiring,
And to far higher scenes aspiring,
Thou bloom’st in endless May.
BY MISS SEDGWICK.
The return of Uncle David, after an absence of three years, was impatiently expected by two families of nephews and nieces—the Masons and the Cliffords—who resided in New York. He was a bachelor who, at the period of which I am speaking, had fulfilled more than half of life’s allotted term, during the greater part of which he had been a rover—only returning among his friends often enough to keep their memory of him fresh, and to make the acquaintance of those new claimants to his favour with which the circle was from time to time enlarged.
He was what is called a queer man; perfectly independent in his modes of thinking and acting; shrewd, a little bit sarcastic, and strict in his antiquated notions of economy, propriety, deference to superiors, and all such old-fashioned
things. But he was, withal, very warm hearted, and so fond of children, and so devoted to them, as to make himself a great favourite, in spite of that sin of strictness commonly considered by the young the greatest of all offences on the part of their elders. He was, besides, rich and generous, and although he never thought of administering to the pleasure of children through their appetites, or by providing expensive sources of amusement whose attraction lasted only while they were new—and therefore never showered upon them either bonbons or toys, he had his own very acceptable methods of making them exceedingly happy whenever he chose to do so.
For instance, he secured the lasting gratitude of George Mason, who had quite a taste for mineralogy, by fitting up and storing a cabinet of minerals—of Mary Clifford, by his sympathy in her love of drawing, which he manifested by providing her with every possible facility for cultivating her talent, and furnishing her, from time to time, with beautiful prints and pictures. These at length accumulated to such a degree, that he said she must have a picture-room; which was accordingly fitted up, under his direction, with great taste.
Frank Clifford had a taste for whatever was curious; and to him his uncle brought, from all
parts of the world, every variety of curiosity. Sarah Mason, on the contrary, was more interested in her own species than in any thing else—had quick feelings and a tender heart. Her he made his almoner; and in nothing did she take more pleasure than in dispensing his charities. When he was at home he very often employed her in this way; and never went away without leaving with her a fund, part of which was to be appropriated to specific purposes, and the rest to such objects of charity as she could discover and her mother should pronounce worthy.
And this reminds me to mention the great importance he attached to the inculcation, upon young persons, of a wise and proper use of money. Previous to his last departure from the country, he made to each of these four children whom I have named, a present of ten dollars—saying that he was like the man in the parable going into a far country—that he should not give to one ten talents, to another two, and to another one—but should give to each a small sum, that he might be able to test, by their mode of spending it, their idea of the value and uses of money. He wished them to spend it without advice,—in whatever manner they thought best; remembering that he expected they would turn it to some good account.
All these children felt quite a weight of responsibility in regard to what they called their trust-money. George Mason resolved that he would not be in haste, but would wait and see what occasions might offer for its use. Sarah Mason seemed to feel less troubled than the rest, put her money in a place of safety, and said nothing more about it. Frank Clifford declared that he should take an early opportunity to dispose of his; for he had rather fail to please his uncle, than be bothering himself about such a paltry sum: while Mary was sure she should have no difficulty, as not a day passed in which she had not a dozen opportunities for spending money usefully, if she only had it to spend.
Not long after Uncle David’s departure, Mary Clifford lost a little brother, and she did not hesitate to expend her ten dollars in a locket made to contain his hair. Frank was sent into the country to school—and, notwithstanding his previous intention of a hasty appropriation, determined to leave his at home, in Mary’s care. His spending money exhausted, he fell into the habit of borrowing, as one little imaginary want after another arose, and at length sent for his ten dollars to discharge his debts—saying he did not know any better use money could be put to, than paying one’s debts.
Mary wrote an account of her brother’s death to her uncle, and took the same opportunity to mention the purchase of the locket. Receiving Frank’s application for his money before her letter was sent, she mentioned it, together with his accompanying observations, in a postscript.
In process of time she received an answer. Her uncle expressed, very kindly, his sympathy in her affliction and sorrow for the loss sustained, he said, by himself in common with the rest,—for he always identified himself completely with each of the families.
With regard to the locket he expressed himself thus—“It is certain agreeable, and often very proper, to have such mementos of our departed friends; but considering, my dear Mary, that my very object in giving you those ten dollars, was to set your mind at work for the sake of finding out how you might do the greatest amount of good by so small a sum, I confess I am a little disappointed at the result. Men of business talk about dead capital—that is, money that yields no interest. Such is now your ten dollars. Do you think I regret this on account of the money itself? Far form it—but then it might have procured, either for yourself or some one of your fellow creatures, a lasting and substantial good—the best of all modes of preventing
its becoming dead capital. As to Frank, I believe I must make the information you have given me in regard to him the subject of a special message, as the presidents say.”
Accordingly, Frank received, by the same packet, a note from his uncle to the following effect:—
My Dear Frank—You may think it very strange that I should “make or meddle,” as the phrase goes, with whatever disposal you may have chosen to make of the small sum with which I presented you on my departure. ’Tis true it was your own—that you had full liberty to do with it as you pleased—and were you not so well satisfied with yourself on the matter, I might let it pass. But I perceive, my dear fellow, that you are already beginning to delude yourself with false pretences, such as mankind are ever prone to, when duty clashes with inclination, and I wish to put you on your guard in this respect; because, to this very propensity at least one half of the sin, sorrow, and mortification, there are in the world, may be traced. It is certainly true that debts ought to be paid, but it is no less true that foolish and unnecessary debts ought not to be incurred; and your reasoning is very much like that of a merchant who should
buy his own goods, and live extravagantly, in order to increase his business, or a lawyer, who should get into foolish quarrels, in order to give himself professional employment. Excuse me, my dear Frank, and believe me,
Your truly affectionate uncle,
“What a queer man Uncle David is!” said Mary Clifford, after reading his letter to her. “He was very fond of little David, his namesake, too. I cannot conceive why he should object to my having that locket. In regard to Frank, however, I think he is quite right,”—and Frank thought so too.
Six months passed away, and neither George nor Sarah Mason had yet found a sufficient reason for parting with their trust-money. Sarah, in her capacity of almoner to her uncle, had become acquainted with many poor families in the city; but for these objects of charity she had a separate fund, which she did not feel authorised to increase by adding to it that which had ben given her to spend upon her own responsibility.
There was employed in Mrs. Mason’s family a dressmaker—Miss Walker—very lovely in her character, whose parents, old and infirm, depended upon her exertions for their support. During the
winter after Uncle David’s departure, they had a great deal of sickness, and died late in the spring. Miss Walker, exhausted in mind, body and estate, looked as if on the very borders of a decline.
Mrs. Mason’s physician, having attended Miss Walker’s parents, became extremely interested in her; and speaking of her to Mrs. Mason, said it was exceedingly desirable that she should leave off work entirely, and go into the country to recruit.
Mrs. Mason took the earliest opportunity to persuade her to do so; but she replied that it was out of the question, for she had not the means.
Sarah, having overheard the conversation, immediately conferred with George; and they agreed that if their mother thought their united fund sufficient, it should be appropriated to a journey for Miss Walker. Fortunately the latter had a friend, living in a healthy village at the distance of a hundred and fifty miles, with whom she might pass some time very pleasantly; and by way of removing her scruples to accepting the money, Mrs. Mason gave her its history.
The plan took effect, and Miss Walker, after spending two months away, returned quite renewed, happy, and fit for exertion.
The Cliffords did not know of this investment
made by George and Sarah, until Miss Walker told them of it. Her cheek glowed, and a tear stood in her eye as she spoke of it; and she finished by saying, “I do believe, Mrs. Clifford, that it was not more the journey itself, than the delightful feeling which such kindness and sympathy in those dear young hearts produced, that cured me.” Mary, as she looked at her animated, happy countenance, remembered what her uncle had said about dead capital—looked at her locket, and for the first time regretted the purchase.
Uncle David returned; and after this long absence was hailed, if possible, with greater joy than ever. When he left home, Mary Clifford and Sarah Mason were both just about fourteen, and therefore the three years of his absence were precisely those of their life in which that most marked change from the girl to the young lady takes place.
The Masons and the Cliffords were brought up under very different influences. The Masons were made to respect themselves and others only for what is intrinsic and permanent; while the Cliffords were taught, indirectly, to place the highest value upon externals. The Masons were led to find their greatest happiness in useful improving occupation, and in devoting themselves to the happiness of others; the Cliffords to depend upon
others, rather than upon themselves, for happiness, and to consider amusement as the chief end of man, or at least of woman.
Uncle David was struck with surprise and deep interest in seeing the change which had come over his two nieces. They were both good-looking, graceful, and lady-like; but there were intrinsic differences in them which became more marked as they advanced in life. Their uncle closely watched them both, and was not sparing in his criticisms whenever he thought there was occasion for them. Mary affected, a little, the blue stocking—that is, without any great taste for literature, or love of knowledge, she liked to have the credit of both. She always walked to school with a pile of books under her arm, and when sitting at home had always some book about her, to make it appear that they were her constant companions.
She used, too, occasionally to hint that the paleness of her countenance was owing to her intense application—although the fact was that Sarah surpassed her in scholarship, as much as in flesh and colour.
“Mary,” said Uncle David, one day, “since you hang out your flag so constantly, why don’t you prove to us your right to your colours? I have sometimes seen pictures with explanations
appended—as, ‘This is a cow—This is a bunch of roses;’ your books are your inscription, which is I suppose intended to run thus: ‘This is a literary, learned lady.’ Now I think it should be with the lady, as with the true, fine picture, which explains itself. Miss Edgeworth it is, I think, who says that knowledge is like a deep stream, known not by the noise it makes but by the rich verdure and vegetation which it produces. Now if you really have a well improved, highly cultivated mind, let us perceive it in your conversation and conduct, but don’t be for ever hanging out a sign.”
Poor Mary used sometimes to be not very submissive to her uncle’s reproofs, and declared that he was the only person in the world from whom she would endure them. His manner was not that of a grave censor, but of a regular tease, and teasing, though it may be just as severe as scolding, is generally much less offensive, perhaps because it is usually carried on in a jesting manner, and therefore the subjects of it have the apparent liberty of taking it in jest, if they choose.
Another of Mary’s infirmities was an excessive sensitiveness upon the subject of gentility. The fear that she should not be strictly genteel, in every thing, was a constant source of annoyance, and led to the commission of many follies.
One day Uncle David was walking in Broadway, with a niece on each arm. They were directly joined by a fashionable young man of their acquaintance who offered his arm, to Mary. Soon after, they med Miss Silsby, a charming young woman, who taught the girls drawing. Mary hardly seemed to recognise her, and passed on—while Sarah stopped, took her cordially by the hand, and had many kind enquiries to make as to what had happened to her in a period of some five or six weeks that she had just been absent from the city.
Uncle David was much attracted by Miss Silsby’s appearance, and learned from Sarah the circumstances of her history, such as have been told of many a young person reduced, by misfortune, from affluence, to the necessity of earning her own livelihood.
Nothing connected with his nieces ever escaped his observing eye. He had perceived Mary’s contemptible pride, and determined, if possible, to make her ashamed of it. “Mary,” said he, a few days after, “what sort of a young lady is Miss Silsby; is she cultivated, and pleasing?”
“And she draws beautifully?”
“And her pupils are quite attached to her?”
“Yes, they like her very much.”
“Does she visit you?”
“Why it is not the custom, you know, to associate with one’s teachers.”
“Associate with one’s teacher!—but you do constantly associate with them, else how could they teach you?”
“Oh! that is not what I mean; I mean that you don’t invite them to your house.”
“But I am sure I have heard Sarah speak of Miss Silsby’s visiting her.”
“Oh, well—Sarah is different from the rest of the world, and does as she chooses.”
“Then you don’t do as you choose in excluding Miss Silsby from your visiting circle?”
“Oh, yes, I do—I feel and think differently and as the rest of the world do—not as Sarah does.”
“Well, if you do not choose to admit Miss Silsby to your intercourse upon terms of equality, it must be on account of some superiority on your part. Are you better than she?”
“Oh! no, not half so good.”
“Are you better educated?”
“No—not half so much so.”
“Are you of better parentage?”
“What then! your circumstances do not compel you to turn your talents to account in procuring you a livelihood?”
“Yes, sir”—Mary was compelled, though half reluctant, to reply.
“Then a person is more respectable who uses her talents not at all, or for show, or for amusement, than one who uses them for a useful and necessary purpose?”
“So the world has it.”
“And accomplishments, which, while they are merely ornamental, command admiration and respect, the moment they are turned to useful account, become a source of degradation?”
“Make their possessor unfit for the society of elegant idlers—unworthy of being spoken to in Broadway—when a young lady has a fashionable beau in her train?”
“Oh, how I should like to see both my nieces superior to this ridiculous nonsense of the world, which makes people esteemed just in proportion to their total want of every useful aim and occupation in life; which holds them in honour, not for what God has endowed them with, but for
what they or their friends for them have accumulated of this world’s dross.”
Not long after this conversation, Uncle David planned, for his nephews and nieces, including Frank and George, who were just now at home during a vacation, an excursion to West Point, and he requested Sarah that she would invite Miss Silsby to make one of the party. He then informed Mary of this last arrangement, saying, “I hope we shall not lose your company in consequence of it, my dear.”
All the Masons and all the Cliffords, little and big, were of this joyous party; but Miss Silsby was evidently the nucleus of the whole. The little ones sought her, instinctively, as one ever ready to devote herself to their happiness. She could tell the best stories, sing the prettiest songs, and attend to them when every one else was too busy to notice them at all. Nor were the elder ones less dependent upon her. She was always ready for a ride, a walk, or a scramble—the most courageous, the most resolute, the most agile, and the most enthusiastic of the party. Her pencil was ever at hand to sketch a pretty scene which any one of the party was particularly desirous to retain fresh in his mind; she would rise early and sit up late, or vice versa, according to the humour of her companions; a pleasant
joke called forth, on her part, that joyous peal of laughter, which rings so pleasantly upon the ear; and her sympathy was equally prompt and hearty when any occasion arose of trouble or sorrow.
Nor was this all: being extremely well versed in the history of our country, and especially of its most eventful period, the revolution, this circumstance of course added to her attractions as a companion at West Point, so famous in our revolutionary annals.
It was one afternoon when they were sitting in Kosciusko’s garden, that Frank and George began to beg her for a story, saying they did not know why she might not indulge them, as well as the little children, in that way. She replied that she could not possibly draw upon her invention as in their case; but, if they liked, she would give them some history of Kosciusko’s romantic and noble career.
They accepted the proposition most gladly, and she detailed the events of his life from its commencement to its close, in such a manner as awakened the deepest interest in every one of her audience, especially in the boys. “How much pleasanter and more interesting this garden seems now,” said George; “I wonder if I have never had more curiosity about Kosciusko.”
After this, the boys gave Miss Silsby no rest
until they had obtained from her the whole story of Arnold’s treason and Andre’s capture and execution, and every historical fact associated with West Point. Uncle David was not always present when these stories were told, but the children did not fail to tell him of all their pleasures, and he said to Mary, “Why Miss Silsby is a literary lady too, it seems, although she never hangs out a sign, that I can perceive.”
“Oh! do be still, uncle,” said Mary.
Uncle David had never been a very great admirer of women. In fact, he had known very few, but he seemed to be particularly attracted by Miss Silsby. He planned many little excursions of pleasure from time to time, in which she was always included, and he hardly ever failed to offer Mary in explicit terms the alternative of remaining at home, if she objected to the ungentility of her companions; for “I think,” said he, “by this time we must all, in your eyes, come under the same condemnation.” Now and then, she had more than half a mind to take him at his word, but could not resist the attraction of a party of pleasure.
The period allotted for his visit at home passed delightfully away, and the time fixed for his departure was rapidly approaching. Loud and frequent were the lamentations poured out by the
whole tribe of nephews and nieces, and all joined in an unanimous petition for what they called a reprieve. At length he told them that his future plans depended on what he should hear from a correspondent to whom he was shortly to write. They begged the letter might be sent without delay, and he gave his promise to that effect.
The following evening, there was an assembling of the two families in honour of Mary Clifford’s birthday. Contrary to his usual custom Uncle David took his leave early in the evening. When all remonstrated, he told them that the correspondent of whom he had spoken was in the city, and he must have an interview; but would return, if possible, before they dispersed.
When he came in, late in the evening, he was immediately asked his decision.
“I shall not go,” said he; “I am about to form a partnership in the city, and shall give up going abroad, at least for the present.”
“Oh! rejoicing, rejoicing!” cried all the little ones.
“Dear uncle! how glad we are,” said Sarah, throwing her arms around his neck, while all the rest closed around him, with looks and expressions of great pleasure.
“Bless your dear hearts,” said he, “I did not know that I was of so much importance among
you; but I shan’t be contented, for all that, unless you like my partner as well as me.”
“Your partner as well as you! that is a droll idea,” several of them exclaimed.
“An ungenteel partner, too, Mary,” he continued.
“O, uncle,” said Mary, “now I suspect you. I know, I know.”
“Know what, know what?” asked one and another, impatiently.
“Is it not so? uncle?”
“Is it not how, my child?”
“It is a matrimonial partnership you are going to form?”
“Ah-ha! uncle,” said Sarah, “I might have known as much. I wonder that I could have been so stupid; children, Uncle David is going to be married, and I guess I know to whom.”
“Well, I know who I had rather have for an aunt than any body else,” cried little Julia Mason, “and that is Miss Silsby.”
“And, God willing, you shall have her, my darling,” cried Uncle David, embracing her, “for she has given her consent.”
And then there was a clapping of hands, a jumping, and shouting among the little folks, and the most indubitable testimonies of sympathy and satisfaction on the part of the seniors of the
company, saving Mary, who it must be confessed felt a little awkward.
“If you are only half glad, Mary,” said her uncle, “it is all that I can possibly expect, and therefore I shall be quite satisfied.”
“Well, I am at least that, and perhaps I may, in time, become entirely so,” she replied, kissing him.
The wedding was, of course, a most important affair to the young folks. Indeed it would have been no wedding to Uncle David, without the presence and sympathy of his nephews and nieces.
On the morning of his wedding day he enclosed, to George and Sarah Mason $100 each, in an envelope, on which was written “we must celebrate our wedding with good works.” To Frank Clifford he enclosed ten, saying, “If you have debts, my dear boy, pay them; if not, make what use of this little sum you please.”
Frank was delighted to be able to say that he owed nothing, and never had incurred the most trifling debt, since his uncle’s reproof and advice. Mary Clifford received, on the same occasion, a pretty ring. She felt the delicate reproof, but was, nevertheless, pleased with her gift.
George and Sarah regarded their gift almost as heaven-directed. Miss Walker, the dress-maker, had, for some time, been engaged to a very worthy young man, who, from no fault of his
own, was as poor as herself. He had, at one time, amassed by his industry a sum sufficient to set himself up in his trade, and the marriage was to take place very soon; but a long and severe fit of illness involved him in expenses, by which his little capital was so much reduced as to be altogether insufficient for his purposes. The two hundred dollars made good the deficiency, and Miss Walker’s marriage followed closely upon Uncle David’s. Of course the pleasure of this charity, was one in which Uncle David felt peculiar sympathy just at this time.
Aunt Fanny, Uncle David’s wife, became a greater favourite than ever, with all the nephews and nieces; and would not, for any thing, that their uncle should cease to have the same fond familiar intercourse with them as formerly. Her house was ever their chosen place of resort; her influence over them was highly valued by their parents, and delightful to themselves. She was charming in her own home, and occupied a commanding position in society.
Uncle David firmly believed himself the happiest man in the world. “What a pretty mistake I should have made,” said he, after he had been married about a twelvemonth, “if I had weighed my wife only in the balance by which your genteel people measure merit; hey, Mary?”
MY GENTLE GIRL.
BY JAMES NACK.
My gentle girl! if prayers avail,
To bless thee mine shall never fail,
For from my heart beyond the skies
My aspirations shall arise,
That every passing year may shed
A blessing on thy angel head,
And all in vain be time’s control
To cloud thy mind or shade thy soul.
May innocence adorn thee still;
And purity, that thinks no ill;
And modesty, whose bashful grace
In hues of heaven bedyes the face;
And charity, with open heart,
A ministering angel’s part:
Affection too, whose feelings rush
In freshness like a fountain’s gush;
And virtue, that to beauty lends
A charm that every charm transcends;
And piety, that on her flings
All of the angel but the wings!
May these with gems of heaven impearl
Thy path of life, my gentle girl,
Till welcomed to thy home of light,
To dwell with God, an angel quite!
Belinda Wallace was gifted by her Creator with every charm that could delight the senses, and there was a softness and grace in her manner that won all hearts. As strangers gazed on her azure eyes, the delicate carnation of her cheeks, the flowing, wavy hair, which shone richly in the sunbeams, her delicately formed person, her airy step, and heard the soft tones of her youthful voice, they exclaimed, “This is perfection!”
A May-day celebration was in train in the seminary where she was receiving her education, and the excited girls were in a glow of expectation. The great question was, who shall be the queen?
One decided on Louisa Allen. “Louisa is so amiable,” said her advocate; “she always divides every luxury that she owns with her class. She gives up her own preferences to ours, and I have seen her bestow her last cent on the poor.”
“She is very good, I know,” said another,
“but Lucy Wilson must be queen. She is so lively that she will entertain us by her wit, and when sitting prim and precise on her throne, something will burst out so droll as to make us ache with laughter.”
“She is very amusing,” said another, ‘but far from being a good scholar. It would not be creditable to the school to exhibit an inferior scholar as queen. I am for Mary Crosby. She has not missed a lesson this quarter.”
“Mary Crosby is too grave,” said another, “and does not recite well. Eliza Everett is the best reader in school, and her manner will give a fine effect to the address she is to deliver.”
The discussion became quite tumultuous, and might have ended in anger, when Belinda Wallace was called from the consultation.
“Let us have Belinda for our queen,” cried one. “There will be a great many strangers here, and she is so beautiful that she will be very much admired. She dresses so elegantly, too; there is not a girl in the school dresses as prettily as Belinda.”
This young ladies were carried away like the rest of the world by appearances, and Belinda was proclaimed queen.
And now were seen groups clustered together for consultation in busy preparation.
Belinda’s classmates repaired to their teacher on May morning, and requested her, with much earnestness and secrecy, to lend them a beautiful wreath which she had once showed them.
“We want it to crown Belinda,” they said, “and surprise her with it. Will she not look beautifully on her flowery throne with it around her hair?”
The consent was given, and they all rushed to Mrs. Markley’s room to obtain the wreath, but it was not to be found! They looked at each other with disappointment—an anxious search was made, but unavailingly. They hastened to Belinda’s apartment to inform her of their disappointment, and arrange a substitute for the wreath. Mrs. Markley followed. The door was partially fastened by something heavy against it within, but in their eagerness to enter they suddenly forced it. They started in horror and shame—there stood Belinda, resplendent in beauty! Her eyes had the colour of heaven and its brightness—her form was graceful as the fringe-tree waving with its tasseled blossoms in the breeze, and the glow on her cheeks was as dep and rich as the last look the sun casts on an evening sky.
Envy her not, ye lovers of external beauty! Sigh for the butterfly’s tinted wings, or the flower’s bloom, or the bird’s sweet carol, for they are
innocent, but envy not Belinda’s brighter charms, since, twined among the ringlets of her glossy hair, was the wreath sought for by her young companions!
The withering truth fell on all—there was a long and agitating pause. At length Mrs. Markley, in a cold stern voice, addressed the guilty girl:—
“Belinda, that wreath was to have been yours! Your companions, proud, alas! too proud of your beauty, thought that those flowers would have graced your brow. My heart aches, Belinda, my heart is sorrowful beyond expression.” Tears slowly rolled down her cheeks as she spoke, and her pupils sobbed aloud.
“Keep the wreath, unhappy girl!” she continued, as Belinda tore it from her hair, “it may be a warning to you.”
There was another pause.
“We shall have no celebration to-day, my young friends. The first offerings of spring should be sacred to truth and innocence—this day will be one of mourning.”
Charleston, S. C.
A MOTHER’S ANGER.
’Tis the first time—the only time
That e’er she turned away,
And left me with the brand of crime
To curse this fatal day!
For sixteen years her evening kiss
Has dwelt upon my brow,
Or lip, or cheek, in gentleness,—
Alas! where is it now?
Would that I were again the child,
Who lay upon her breast,
And looked into her eyes and smiled
Caressing and caress’d!
Would that I now could bend my head
Upon her knee in prayer,
And hear the holy words she said
When once I nestled there!
Oh, had I dashed the cup away
That lured me to my shame!—
I cannot weep—I cannot pray:
My heart—my thoughts are flame!
Mother, dear mother, turn once more
And bless thy sorrowing son!
Look on me as thou did’st before
Ere sin’s dark work was done.
Oh, heaven! she comes—I feel her breath
Cool, on my fevered eyes!
She speaks—the burning torch of death
At her soft accent flies!
Oh, mother, on my knees I swear
To spurn the tempting bowl,
Nor risk again when revellers are
Thy love—my God—my soul!
Charleston, S. C.
The pretty village of Bloomdale consisted of a single street, at the upper end of which stood the elegant mansion of Mr. Wardour. Two little boys appeared on the piazza, looking eagerly down the road.
“I wish papa would make haste!” said one of the boys, stamping impatiently on the floor.
“Poor papa, you would not wish him to hurry himself this warm afternoon, would you?” said his companion.
“And poor Grey,” said a pretty little girl, in a pink frock and black silk apron, who now appeared at the open door—“you would not wish papa to drive poor Grey too fast, would you, Harold?”
“No,” replied Harold, laughing, “I don’t want to hurry either of them, but I do wish papa was come. I want to see the new toys.”
“But we are not to have them, you know, unless we have obeyed mamma in every thing since
papa went away; and mamma says she will leave it to our own consciences to decide.”
“I am sure of my gift, then!” said Harold, jumping joyously—“Fred, what do you say?”
Frederick reddened, and was silent.
Harold and Frederick were twins, and bore great personal resemblance to each other. But whereas Harold was blooming, robust, and restlessly active, Frederic[k] was pale, delicate, and quiet. Their characters differed as did their persons. Both were intelligent, affectionate, well-mannered children; but Harold was bold, hasty, and candid; Frederick, timid, slow, and irresolute. Harold could not always restrain his temper, but never dreamed of disguising the truth. Frederick’s timidity sometimes tempted him to deceive. During a long and dangerous illness of Mrs. Wardour, her sons had been committed to the care of a fond but weak relative, whose alternate fits of severity and indulgence fostered the characteristic defects of both brothers. On Mrs. Wardour’s recovery, the grieved parents found tares fast choking the good seed they had endeavoured to sow in the minds of their boys, and, with many tears and prayers, they laboured to uproot them.
A gig whirled up the road, and stopped at Mr. Wardour’s door. We will pass over the
clamorous welcomes of the children, and suppose Mr. Wardour seated at the tea-table with his family.
“Another cup, my dear?” said Mrs. Wardour.
“No more, thank you,” replied Mr[.] Wardour, pushing back his chair. “And now, Clara, jump on papa’s knee, and you, boys, stand beside me. What account have you to give me of these three days? What does mamma say you have done and left undone since I went away? Nay,” putting his hand playfully on Harold’s mouth—“let the lady speak first, my boy.”
“Papa,” said little Clara, “I have learned all my English lessons every day, and said them without missing one word. And I have translated half a page of French, and hemmed a handkerchief, and watered your geraniums, and made myself as useful to mamma as I could.”
“Clara has been a very good girl, indeed;” said the invalid mother.
“And you, Harold?”
“Papa, I learned all the lessons you set me, and two more; and have not wished to disobey mamma in any thing. Now, Fred, speak up.”
Frederick coloured, and looked timidly at his mother.
“I believe I must come to the assistance of Frederick’s bashfulness,” said Mrs. Wardour.
“He has been very industrious, very assiduous in attending on me, and perfectly obedient.”
“I am very happy to hear this,” said the glad father—“so bring the square box out of the hall, boys, and we will explore its treasures.”
The eager boys soon deposited the box at their father’s feet, and waited anxiously while he sought for the key.
“You could not look more impatient, if it were the chest of the Merchant Abudah;” said Clara, who had just been reading Tales of the Genii.
The box was opened. First came forth a portable writing case. Its silver topped glasses, neatly made pens, variegated sealing-wax, and transparent wafers, were all complete, all beautiful. The delighted Clara scarcely knew whether to kiss the gift or the giver first, when it was put into her hand. “Oh! thank you, thank you, papa. Look, mamma, did you ever see any thing so pretty. Oh! what nice letters I shall write to my cousin.”
Next appeared some books. The New Children’s Friend, was presented to Frederick; Perils of the Sea, became the property of Harold; and Miss Leslie’s admirable Atlantic Tales, made Clara’s happiness complete.
“But there is something else, papa,” said
Harold, peering into the box. “Gently, my boy, gently,” said Mr. Wardour, stopping Harold’s impatient hand; “I will take it out.”
Carefully Mr. Wardour lifted out the mysterious parcel; slowly he took off its various envelopes; the children, meanwhile, gazing “with wonder-waiting eyes.”
“I think I know what it is,” whispered Harold. “Yes, I am right!” as the last wrapper was taken off, and Mr. Wardour held up a beautiful miniature sail-boat. Frederick uttered an exclamation. Harold jumped up and clapped his hands; and Clara almost let fall her writing case.
“You were wishing for a toy boat to sail on Silver Pond. I have great pleasure in giving you this beautiful vessel, since you have deserved it. You must be joint owners.”
“Frederick, my son,” exclaimed Mrs. Wardour in terror, “what is the matter?—are you sick?—Mr. Wardour, he is very sick!”
The ashy paleness which had alarmed the tender mother, changed to burning crimson. Frederick shrunk from the supporting hand of his father.
“Papa, mama,” said he, trembling very much, and evidently nerving himself to the effort with great difficulty, “I—I am not sick, but—please to hear me, papa. Take back your gifts; I do
not deserve them, but I won’t deceive you, mama—I won’t!”
Mrs. Wardour leaned back, pale and trembling, on the sofa. Clara and Harold stood in mute astonishment. Mr. Wardour drew the agitated child towards him.
“Explain yourself, my son; what does all this mean?”
“Papa, I can’t take your gifts. I have been very naughty. I have disobeyed mama. I have done great mischief. I have broken the curious vase Captain Baldwin sent you.”
Mr. Wardour looked at his wife.
“The vase is certain broken, my dear; but Hannah told me Rover had done it.”
“No, mama; poor Rover did not do it. You told me not to go into papa’s study while he was away; but yesterday I went in, just to get the book of plates that lay on the table, and Rover followed me in, and I was looking at the vase, and I just took it up in my hand, and I thought I heard somebody coming, and went to put it down quick, and it slipped and fell on the floor, and I was frightened, and ran out of the room, and shut Rover in; and when Hannah went to fix the room, she saw the broken vase, and Rover lying beside it, and she thought he did it. I was afraid to tell—but oh! papa—I have been so unhappy
since. I could not sleep all last night for thinking of it,—and I remembered what you said to me last week about ‘Thou God seest me,’—and I wanted to tell,—but somehow I could not, and I put it off, and put it off; but when you seemed so pleased with me, I felt so mean, I could not bear it. Take back the book, papa,” continued Frederick, bursting into tears, “and give the boat all to Harold, for I don’t deserve it,—but I think I will never never try to deceive any more.”
“God helping you, my son, I trust you never will;” said the father, as with glistening eyes he embraced his boy. “I freely forgive you the destruction of my vase. I would lose fifty vases rather than have my son guilty of a falsehood. Go ask your dear mother to forgive your disobedience of her orders.”
The little penitent was quickly pardoned, and received the kiss of peace.
“And now, my son,” said Mr. Wardour, “I know your timid disposition. I know how hard it must have been for you to come forward so honestly with your confession, when concealment was so easy. You have surmounted a strong temptation. I rejoice in this proof of your increasing sense of duty. My God strengthen you to its fulfilment.”
“Take the boat,”—continued Mr. Wardour, after a short pause—“and when you are again tempted to an act of deceit, remember the Sail-Boat.”
Happy were the brothers when sailing their boat on Silver Pond; but far happier the affectionate parents, who rejoiced over the improvement of their children.
Mrs. Anna Bache.
Who would aspire to that domain of thought,
Whose region comprehends the sum of life,
And can display its glory, state, and strife,
In every hue of truth, which they have caught
From old experience;—Let that soul be taught
First to subdue all selfish hopes and aims.
Ere yet the victory of his toils he claims,
Or that high eminence affords him aught:—
He who looks into man, and weeps or sneers,
Bears yet upon his mind the weight of dust,
And is the slave of that which moves him so:—
But he, who the wild turmoil sees and hears,
With pity only, or with holy trust,—
Feels deeplier,—sees the truth,—and shuns the wo.
And thou art blind, poor boy! The sun is shedding
A golden glow upon thy hidden way,
And all things full of loveliness are are spreading
their gayest charms to meet the Eye of Day,
Yet there is nought but shadow in the mind;
Alas! I grieve for thee, that thou art blind.
Fresh breezes blow around. The clouds are waking
The sleeping ether with their foot-tread light;
And insect tribes on filmy wings are taking
Towards its depths of blue their airy flight;
And bird and butterfly and blooming flower,
In every garden, seem to greet the hour.
’Tis holiday abroad. Bright, child-like faces
Form fair and lovely groups at every door,
And many a tiny foot the pathway traces
That leads to social pleasures yet in store;
Yet on thou movest with a measured glide,
Nor turn’st thy rayless eye on either side.
Art thou quite lone? Oh! no, for thou art leaning
With touching confidence on a slight arm;
A child’s soft glance doth look with earnest meaning
Up to thy face, and bids thee fear no harm;
Is she thy sister? that she shares thy lot,
So full of loneliness, yet murmurs not.
The thoughtless prattler! how her lip is telling
Of every pretty thing that meets her sight,
Each passing show and toy and well known dwelling,
All stir her little breast with fresh delight!
And reckless that this world to thee is nought,
She fills with yearnings vain thy cell of thought.
Would I were thy companion: ’twere such pleasure
To learn the unknown language of thy heart;
And grow familiar with each secret treasure
Of joy, that in thy spirit must have part—
I would not read Creation’s sealed book,
Since on its open page thou canst not look.
And yet I err: that guide, so young and simple,
Quite unaware hath touch’d a pleasant theme,
For on thy cheek there rests a playful dimple,
As sports on some rich cloud a bright sunbeam,
And by that happy smile I know full well
There is no solitude where Love doth dwell.
Farewell to thee, blind boy! mysterious Heaven
Hath clos’d the outer door, yet to the shrine
Of thought within, in mercy it hath given
A stronger light,—Oh! guard the lamp divine,
And though deep darkness veils this earthly sod,
No shade can come ’twixt thee and nature’s God!
M. E. L.
Charleston, S. C.
The winter day had been bright and cold. The brief twilight was fading, and the first star appeared.
‘It is time my sons were at home,” said Mrs. Ludlow, as she stirred and replenished the fire.
“I think I hear their voices now,” said little Eliza, climbing into a chair, and peeping through the window curtain. “Yes, yes, they are just coming into the piazza. I will run to the kitchen, and see that the bread is toasted nice and warm, for their milk. I know exactly how they like it.”
Frank and Edward Ludlow were fine boys of eleven and nine years old. They came home in high spirits, from their sport on the frozen lake. Hanging up their skates, they hastened to kiss their mother.
“Have we stayed longer at play than you gave us permission to, dear mother?”
“It is rather beyond the time I mentioned. You should try to be punctual.”
“Edward told me the hour had expired,” said Frank. “But it was such excellent skating, we could not help going round the lake once more. We left all our school-fellows there, when we came away. But the next time, we will be as true as the town-clock. And it is not Edward’s fault, at all, mother, that we were tardy now. Oh, here is Eliza, careful for our supper. What a good little one, to be thinking of her brothers when they are away. Come, sweet sister, sit between us.”
The evening meal passed pleasantly. Each had some agreeable circumstance to relate, and they felt how good it was to love one another. After supper, books, maps, and slates were placed upon the table, and the mother said,—
“Now, boys, you who go to school, ought to teach your sister, who does not. First examine her in the lessons she has learned of me to-day, and then add some gift of knowledge from your own stock.”
So, each brother very kindly overlooked her geography and natural history,—and then explained to her a little arithmetic, and simplified a small portion of the history the had studied themselves. She was attentive to their instruc-
tions, and when the time came for her to retire, kissed them, and bade them an affectionate good night.
Her mother went with her to her chamber, to hear the simple prayer with which she resigned herself to sleep; and afterwards, when Frank and Edward had finished studying their lessons for the following day, she produced a fine basket of apples, and they all drew more closely round the fire, to enjoy each other’s conversation.
Mrs. Ludlow.—I should like to hear more of what you have learned to-day, my children.
Frank.—Mother, I have been so much interested in a book which one of the boys lent me, that I could scarcely give my mind to any thing else. I even put it inside of my large geography, and read it while the master thought I was studying. It was the life of Charles XII. of Sweden. He was the greatest warrior of his times. When only eighteen years old, he conquered the king of Denmark. Then, he beat the Russians at the battle of Narva, though they had eighty thousand soldiers, and he not a fourth part of that number.
Mrs. Ludlow.—How did he die?
Frank.—He went to make war in Norway, notwithstanding it was winter, for he feared no hardship. The cold was very great, and his sentinels were often frozen to death at their
posts. He was besieging a town called Frederickshall, and gave orders that they should not cease to work at the trenches, though it was severe weather in December, and the hands of the soldiers were so stiffened, that they were hardly able to hold the tools with which they laboured. He rose very early one morning, to see if they were diligently employed. The stars shone clear and bright on the snow and frost that covered everything. Now and then there was a firing from the enemy. But he was too courageous to mind it. Then a cannon-shot struck him. He heaved only one sigh and fell. When they took him up his forehead was beat in, but still his right hand strongly grasped his sword. Was not that dying like a brave man, mother?
Mrs. Ludlow.—I should think there was more of rashness than bravery, in thus exposing himself. And do you not feel that there was great cruelty in forcing his soldiers to labours that endangered their lives in that dreadful climate, especially as the war was not necessary? For historians say, that he undertook it only to fill up an interval of time, till he could be prepared for his great campaign in Poland. So, to amuse his restless mind, he was willing to destroy his own people, and see every morning his faithful friends frozen into statues. Edward, will you tell me
what you remember from the lessons of your school?
Edward.—I read in history, the reign of Antoninus Pius. He was one of the best of the Roman emperors. In his youth, he paid great respect to the aged, and when he became rich, he gave liberally to the poor. He was always opposed to war; and said he had “rather save the life of one subject, than destroy a thousand enemies.” He desired to live in peace with every one, and the empire was happy and prosperous under his government. He reigned twenty-two years, and died calmly in his bed, surrounded by his friends, at the age of seventy-four.
Mrs. Ludlow.—And was he not beloved by the people of Rome? It is recorded in history, that they all lamented at his death, as though they had lost a father. Was it not better to be thus remembered, than by the number of men he had slain, and the miseries he had caused?
Frank.—But dear mother, you will not certainly compare the glory of Charles XII. with that of a quiet old man, who very likely was afraid to fight. Antoninus Pius was well enough, but you cannot deny that Alexander, and Cæsar, and Bonaparte, had greater talents, and will be accounted heroes as long as the world shall stand.
Mrs. Ludlow.—My dear boys, those talents
should be most praised which produce the greatest good, and that fame is the highest which best agrees with our duty to God and man. Be not deceived by the false glory that attends the hero. Consider it your glory to live in peace, and make others happy, to the utmost of your power. Believe me, that when you come to your death-beds—and oh! how soon will that be, for man’s life is short—it will give you more comfort to reflect that you have healed one broken heart, or given to one poor child the means of knowledge, or sent to one heathen the book of salvation, than that you have lifted your hand to destroy a fellow-creature, or made many widows and orphans.
The boys rose, as their hour of rest had come. When they took leave of their mother for the night, they were sorry to perceive that there were tears in her eyes. After they had retired, Frank said to his brother,—
“I cannot think it is wrong to be a soldier. Was not our father one? I shall never forget those fine stories of battles he told me, when I was a young child, and used to sit on his knee, listening so earnestly. The first toys that he gave me were a drum and a gun, and he taught me to march and keep time to martial music. Then I used to dream of glittering swords, and
prancing horses, and the sound of a trumpet, and wake and wish I was a soldier. Indeed, the same wish is in my heart now. But I cannot tell it to dear mother, because it would so grieve her.”
“No, don’t ever tell her so, Frank, and don’t ever be a soldier. I have heard her say that our father’s ill health, and most of his troubles, and his early death, came from the life he had led in camps; and that he told her in his last sickness, if his youth could be given back to him again, he would be a meek follower of the Saviour, and not a man of blood.”
“Edward, do you pretend to say, that the war of the revolution, in which our father fought, was not a holy war?”
“I pretend to say nothing, brother, but what the bible says,—‘Render to no man evil for evil,’ and follow after the things that make for peace.”
The brothers frequently conversed together on this subject. It was interesting to both. But they continued to differ. Frank could not lay aside his admiration of war, nor Edward his desire to convince him that the spirit of the gospel breathed good will to all men. As they grew older, they forbore to hold these discourses in their mother’s presence, as they perceived that the opinions of Frank gave her increased
pain. Yet, as they had been early implanted in his mind by his father, who had often risked his life in the service of his country, he was fearful of blaming them too strongly, lest she should seem to dishonour a memory which they all held dear. She devoted much time to the education of her children. She strove to impress right principles of conduct, and to teach a tender and pervading piety. She was rewarded by seeing them affectionate, and anxious to improve. They were obedient to her, and never more happy than in her society.
Years passed away. Mrs. Ludlow’s health, which had long been feeble, began visibly to decline. Eliza was not willing to leave the bed of her mother, either night or day. She had reached her seventeenth year, when God took her mother to himself. Edward was completing his collegiate studies in a distant city. It was not in his power to be with his dear mother as much as he wished, during her last sickness. But his letters were frequent and cheering, and breathed the piety which from his tender years he had cherished. His determination to devote himself to the ministry he often expressed, and the hope that he would be useful in that sacred profession comforted her, as she was about to be separated from earthly things. Frank, who resided at home,
was constantly devising something which he hoped might ease her sufferings. He could not bear to think that she would be taken from him. He begged her for his sake to believe that she should recover. His affectionate heart was exceedingly sorrowful, as he supported his weeping sister by the pillow of the dying. Pain had departed, and their beloved parent was patiently waiting the coming of her Lord. She had given much counsel to her children during her sickness, and dictated the fond farewell message to her absent son. She seemed to have done speaking. They were even uncertain whether she yet breathed. But unexpectedly she raised her eyes once more to her first-born, and said faintly,—“My son, follow peace,—peace with all men!” She spoke no more.
Edward Ludlow was summoned to the funeral of his beloved mother. The few days that he was enabled to spend after the obsequies were devoted to comforting his mourning brother and sister, from the scriptures, which were his hope in all time of tribulation. Frank listened to his words with serious attention, for he greatly loved him and their sister, and had always been affectionate and dutiful to her whose loss they lamented. But she had felt deeply anxious for him in her last moments, because he had not made choice
of religion for his guide, and in his heart he coveted the glory of the warrior.
He continued to reside on the little family estate, whose cultivation he had been accustomed to conduct. He took the kindest care of his sister, who prudently managed his household, until his marriage. His new wife was an amiable young woman, whose society and friendship was most cheering to the bereaved heart of Eliza. There seemed to be nothing to mar the happiness of that small and loving family.
But little more than a year had passed in tranquillity and domestic bliss, ere the second war between Great Britain and the United States commenced. Poor Eliza trembled, as she saw her brother eagerly possessing himself of its minutest details, and neglecting his business that he might collect and circulate every rumour of war. She still comforted herself with the hope that his affection for his wife, and her influence over him, would succeed in retaining him at home. But she did not know the depth and power of the passion that prompted him to be a soldier.
After a period of painful suspense, he rashly enlisted. It was a sad night for that affectionate household when he communicated the tidings that he must leave them and join the army. It was the more keenly felt by his wife, because she
had but a short time before buried their young infant. But he soothed her as well as he was able. He promised to come home as often as possible, and that she should constantly receive letters from him. He told her that his mind had been uneasy and restless ever since war was declared,—that he could not bear his country should be insulted and in danger, and he take no part in its defence. He said he should now feel a quiet conscience, because he had done his duty—that the war would undoubtedly be of short duration, and then he should return, and they would all be happy together. He hinted at the promotion, which was often the reward of bravery—but ambition had no part in her nature, and could not assuage her sorrow. He entreated her not to distress him by lamentations—but to let him go away, with a strong heart, like a hero.
When his wife and sister found that there was no help, they exerted themselves to comply with his request, and to part with him as calmly as possible. So Frank Ludlow went to be a soldier. He was just twenty-five years old, a tall, healthful and beautiful young man. He had been praised, at the regimental trainings in his native town, for his fine appearance in a military dress. He loved martial music, and thought he should never be tired of serving his country.
But a life in camps has many evils, of which those who dwell at home cannot easily conceive. Edward Ludlow scorned to complain of hardship, and bore fatigue and privation as well as the best. His courage was undoubted, and he was never in higher spirits than when preparing for battle.
Yet in a few months, the novelty of his situation wore off; and when there was no excitement, he meditated on his quiet fireside, and dear wife and sister, till his heart was heavy within him. He longed to see them, but leave of absence could not be obtained. He felt so unhappy on this account, that he thought he could not endure it, and always more guided by impulse than principle, broke the laws of the army, and absconded to visit them.
He returned,—but it was to be disgraced for disobedience. This humbled him in the presence of his fellow-soldiers, and awoke his indignation. He knew it was in conformity to military discipline, but he hoped to have been excused.
Not long after, a letter from home informed him of the birth of a son. His feelings as a father were strong, and he was determined to see the babe. Unable to gain a furlough, he again departed without one. But on the second day of his journey, and ere he reached his house, he was taken, and brought back as a deserter.
The punishment that ensued led him to loathe war in all its forms. He had seen it at a distance, in its gorgeous robe, and worshiped the splendour with which it enrobes the hero. But he had not weighed the miseries of the private soldier, until they fell upon him. He began to perceive that the cup of glory was for others, and the cup of bitterness for him,—that his share of the laurels of victory was the toil and the blood by which they are purchased. The patriotism of which he had so much boasted, vanished like a dream in the hour of trial, for the ambition which had deluded him to be a soldier, had no firmness of root.
In his desperation and despair, he again deserted. He reached his sweet home, and its peaceful green shades, and the fair fields, which he so oft had tilled, smiled on him as a paradise. But he entered it as a lost spirit,
His wife and sister wept with joy, as they put his infant boy into his arms. He told them that his leave of absence extended to only a few days. Still he lingered after they had expired. And it was obvious to the keen eye of love, that there was about him both a sleepless apprehension, and
a settled sorrow, which he strove vainly to conceal. To remove their anxieties, he assured them that he had some prospect of obtaining a substitute, and should then be parted from them no more. He left them, as they supposed for his regiment, but he took another direction. His mind was a chaos of torturing thought, and he had no fixed plan, save to avoid the search which he supposed was then being made for him, and which would undoubtedly detect him, should he longer remain at home. He resolved to hide in some remote part of the country, or even to fly from it for ever, rather than rejoin the army.
But suddenly encountering a party of soldiers, he was brought back to the camp,—three times a deserted. Fettered, he was taken to the guard-house, and a court-martial summoned to pronounce judgment on his offence.
It was now the summer of 1814. The morning sun shone forth gloriously upon rock and hill and stream. But the quiet beauty of the rural scene was varied by the glare and bustle of a military encampment. Tent and barrack rose up among the verdure, and martial music, shrill and spirit-stirring, echoed through the deep valley.
On the morning of which we speak, it assumed a solemn tone. Muffled drums, and wind-instruments mournfully playing, announced the slow
march of a warlike procession. A pinioned prisoner came forth from his confinement. A coffin of rough boards was borne before him. By his side walked the chaplain who had striven to prepare his soul for this extremity, and would fain bear him pitying company to the last verge of life.
The miserable man wore a long white mantle like a winding-sheet. On his head was a cap of the same colour, bordered with black. Behind him marched several prisoners—who had been confined for various offences—a part of whose punishment it was to stand hear and witness the fate of the condemned. A strong guard of soldiers followed with loaded guns and fixed bayonets. Such was the strange scenery of that cloudless morning—a man in full strength, clad in burial garments, and walking towards his tomb. The halted at an open field. A mound of earth, freshly thrown up in its centre, showed the yawning and untimely grave. Beyond it, many hundred men, drawn up in the form of a hollow square, stood gazing in solemn silence. The voice of the officer on duty, now and then heard marshalling the soldiers, was low and varied by feeling. In the line, but not as yet called forth, were eight soldiers, drawn by lot, as the executioners of their comrade. They
stood motionless, revolting from a designation which they dared not disobey.
Between the coffin and the pit, he whose minutes were numbered, was directed to stand. His lofty forehead and quivering lips were alike pale. Yet in his bearing there was a struggle for fortitude, like one who had resolved to meet death without shrinking.
“May I speak to my fellow-soldiers?” he said. It was the voice of Frank Ludlow. Permission was accorded and he addressed them. But his words were so hurried and agitated that their import could scarce be gathered. The eye of the commanding officer was fixed on the watch, which he held in his hand.
“The time has come,” he said. “Kneel upon your coffin.”
The cap was drawn over the eyes of the kneeling victim. In that awful moment it would seem that his thoughts were with the objects of his dearest affections, for he said, “I thank thee, my God, that they are not here to see this.” Then suddenly there burst forth, as if from the bottom of his soul, a cry, “O mother, mother!—had I but believed”—
Ere the sentence was finished, a sword glittered in the sun-beam. It was the death-signal. Eight soldiers advanced. There was a sharp report of
arms—a shriek of piercing anguish, a convulsive leap high in the air—and then a dead man lay between his coffin and his grave.
There was an interval of shuddering silence. Then the whole regiment were directed to march by the lifeless corpse, that every soldier might for himself see the punishment of a deserter.
Suddenly there was some confusion, and all eyes turned towards a horseman, approaching at breathless speed. He alighted, and attempted to raise the body which had fallen upon its face. Gazing earnestly upon the rigid features, he clasped the bleeding and mangled bosom to his own, and even the sternest veteran was moved, at the heart-rending cry of “Brother—O, my brother.”
No one disturbed that bitter grief, which the living poured forth in broken sentences over the dead.
“Gone to his account! Gone to his everlasting account! Is it indeed thy blood, my brother, that thus trickles upon me? Would that I might have been with thee in thy lonely prison—that once more we might have mingled our prayers together, and that I might have seen thee look unto Jesus of Nazareth.”
Rising up from the body, he turned to the commanding officer, and spoke through his tears with a tremulous yet sweet-toned voice,—
“And what was the crime for which my brother was condemned to this death? No more loyal heart beats in the bosom of any of these men who do the bidding of their country. His great fault—the source of all his misery, was his love of war. Why should this love be thus recompensed? In the bright days of his boyhood, he ever said he would be content to die on the field of battle. But you have taken away his life in cold blood, among his own people, and no eye hath pitied him.”
The officer stated briefly, but kindly, that desertion, thrice repeated, was death; and that his brother had been condemned by the deliberate decision of a court-martial. Something, too, he added about the necessity of enforcing strict discipline, and the danger of indulgence to offences of this nature.
“If he must indeed die, why was it hidden from those whose life was bound up in his? Why were they left to learn from the idle voice of rumour this death-blow to their happiness? If they might not have gained his pardon from an earthly tribunal, they would have been comforted by knowing that he sought the mercy from above which hath no limit. Fearful power have ye to kill the body! but why need ye put the never-dying soul in jeopardy? There are those to
whom the moving of these lips, which you have silenced, would have been most precious, though their only words had been to say, farewell for ever. There are those to whom the glance of that eye, which you have sealed in blood, was sweet as the clear shining of the sun after rain. The wife of his bosom would have blessed you, might she but have sat with him on the floor of his prison, and his infant son would have played with his fettered hands; and she, to whom he had been as a father, would have soothed his sad spirit with the hymn which she nightly sang with him at their sainted mother’s knee.”
Tears overpowered him. The officer with sympathy assured him, that it was no fault of theirs, if the family of his brother was not apprised of his situation. That it was his earnest desire that no tidings might be conveyed, and that they might not be permitted to witness his humiliating doom,—saying that the sight of their sorrow would unman his soul. That during the brief space between his sentence and execution, he had the constant services of a holy man, to prepare his spirit for its final change.
Edward Ludlow composed himself, and listened attentively to every word. The first tumult of grief and surprise had passed. As he stood with uncovered brow, the bright locks clustering around his
noble forehead, it was perceived how strongly he resembled his unfortunate brother, ere care and sorrow had clouded his manly beauty. His eye was raised upward for a moment, and his lips slightly moved. Devout beholders felt that he was asking strength from above to conquer his emotions, and attain that submission which, as a teacher of religion, he enforced on others.
Turning meekly toward the officer, he entreated for the body of the dead, that it might be borne to the desolate house of his birth, and buried by the side of his father and his mother. The request was granted, and he addressed himself to the services connected with its removal, as one who bowed himself down to bear the will of the Almighty. But as he raised the blood-stained corse of his brother in his arms, he murmured,—“O war! war!—whose tender mercies are cruel, what enmity is so dangerous to the soul, as friendship with thee.”
L. H. S.
Hartford, Conn., March, 1836.
Julius.—I wish I were a comet
To sparkle in the sky,
And have the looks of all the world
Admiring me on high.
Emily.—I’d rather be a taper,
To cheer the winter night;
And shine on happy faces,
Rejoicing in my light.
Julius.—I wish I were Niagara,
Adown the rocks to roar;
And have my glorious waters
With rainbows crested o’er.
Emily.—I’d rather be a streamlet,
To ripple through the wood,
And cherish the sweet flowers
That deck my solitude.
Julius.—I wish I were an oak tree,
To lift my lofty form
Against the winds of winter,
And battle with the storm.
Emily.—I’d rather be a snow-drop,
The pretty, modest thing,
That always brings good news to us,
Sweet harbinger of spring!
Julius.—I wish I were a stout ship,
Across the seas to go;
And bear Columbia’s thunders
Against a gallant foe.
Emily.—I’d rather be a life-boat,
To ride the stormy wave;
It may be glory to destroy,
’Tis happiness to save.
Mother.—Right, Emily—and Julius,
Though man abroad may roam,
While woman’s quiet duties
Are better learnt at home;
This truth, my dearest children,
On memory ever bind—
None but the good and useful
True greatness ever find.
Mrs. Anna Bache.
BY MISS LESLIE.
“Dear Morris!—how I long to perform a good action,” said Harriet Blandon to her brother, who was walking in the front garden, before the window out of which she was leaning with her book, anxious to catch on its pages the last gleams of evening light.
“I am glad to hear you say so,” answered Morris, who, though younger than his sister, and very fond of her, had a suspicion that he was much the wisest person of the two.
“I supposed you happy in the persuasion that you were always as good as possible.”
Harriet.—Yes, but I wish to do something remarkably kind and good—something unusual.
Morris.—Very well! I can soon put you in the way of that. Always hold my great kite for me, whenever I ask you, and do not let go till I have run far enough with the string to give it a fair
start. Lend me your new colour box as often as I want it, and do not lose your temper, even if I should happen to leave a cake of paint soaking in the saucer. Allow Ponto to jump on you and lick your hands, whenever he pleases, and do not scream out, “Oh! his muddy paws! oh! my frock!—my frock!—”—And then, again, promise me that you will never, when I am within hearing, play that thing you call a Pot-pourri. And, moreover, sing me whatever sea-songs and hunting songs I ask you; and do not pretend that you have forgotten them, or that they are old-fashioned. Do all these things, and others like them, and you will never be without the satisfaction of doing a good action.
Harriet.—All these things are trifles.
Morris.—So much the better—then you can perform them the easier.
Harriet.—You do not understand me, I wish to do some extraordinary act of benevolence—something that requires a sacrifice. Such things as I have met with in the French books which I have been reading, ever since I left off taking lessons in that language, and which Madame Pleureuse gave me a list of. She recommended them as works that would equally improve me in French and in feeling.
Morris.—And also in foolishness.
Harriet.—Now, Morris, you are too brusque, but I know you are only in jest.
Morris.—(aside) Not altogether.
Harriet.—If I could only persuade you to read some of these exquisite books, filled as they are with angelic children, all sentiment and sensibility; performing the most generous actions with the utmost grace and elegance, and contriving, in the most ingenious manner, to keep them a secret till the time arrives for an interesting éclaircissement. And, then, the amiable parents, shedding tears over their lovely and benevolent offspring, and rewarding them a hundred fold. And then, the poor people that are relieved—so humble, and so grateful, and so affecting, and so picturesque; kneeling, and weeping, and kissing the hands of their benefactors. And then such fêtes are given on these occasions, and the heroine is crowned with flowers, and presented with jewels.
Morris.—Well, all this may be very proper for French people, but I think it suits us Americans to do all our good things in a plain, straight-forward way, without any plots and stratagems and stage effect. I believe the best and safest course is to be always natural. But what has, jsut now, put this fit of goodness into your head?
Harriet.—I have been reading a divine story in this French book.
Morris.—No, no, it cannot be divine—speak in moderation, and say, “a pretty story.”
Harriet.—Morris, how your brusquerie tries my patience! It is well that I have resolved on mildness.
Morris.—Certainly—it is always your best plan.
Harriet.—Well then, I have just concluded a sweet story of a charming little girl, who generously took off her own beautiful fine Leghorn hat, and presented it, on the spot, to a poor woman whom she saw working in a harvest field, and who had nothing to screen her head from the beams of the sun but a paper cap. I am dying to do something like this.
Morris.—That is, you rather wish—but here in America, women do not work in harvest fields.
Harriet.—Oh! that I could meet with a barefoot beggar girl!—I should be so happy to take off these nice kid slippers and give them to her.
Morris.—Beggars have become scarce—the last I saw was six months ago, and she was a drunken Irish woman.
Harriet.—Poor creature! my heart bleeds for her.
Morris.—No, it does not. But as to this story, my opinion is, that the French girl should have let the harvest-woman wait a little while, till she had time to procure for her a coarse straw bonnet, which would certainly have suited her better, and lasted longer than a fine Leghorn hat; as a pair of strong calf-skin shoes would be more serviceable to your beggar girl than thin kid slippers.
Harriet.—Dear Morris, suppose a starving orphan was to come to the gate, can you imagine no delight in giving up your supper to the weeping little creature, and going without yourself?
Morris.—When hunger is necessary or unavoidable, I can bear it as well as any one, but instead of giving up my own supper to a starving child, and going without myself, I should take a much easier way: I would see that the cook furnished the child with an abundance of food from the pantry, and I would eat my own supper comfortably besides. In our country, there is always enough in every gentleman’s house to satisfy the hunger of an occasional stranger, without obliging any member of the family to forego a single meal.
Harriet.—But the sacrifice, Morris, the sacrifice.
Morris.—Useless sacrifices are foolish, and
there is nothing good in suffering unnecessary hunger—hunger that can easily be avoided.
Harriet.—Ah! Morris, boys will be boys.
Morris.—Undoubtedly; and yet I promise you that, whenever our pantry and store-room are entirely empty, and I have not a cent in my pocket, nor the means of obtaining one, I will freely give up either breakfast, dinner, or supper, to the first beggar that comes, and endure my own hunger with all possible cheerfulness.
Harriet.—I believe you, dear Morris. But what a pity there are no objects of charity in this neighbourhood!
Morris.—What a blessing, rather.
Harriet.—It is so sweet to relieve the distressed. Morris.—But sweeter still to know that all the people, for many miles round,a re able to live decently.
Harriet.—As yet we have not resided here long enough to know every body. I think Hammersly the blacksmith must be poor.
Morris.—I do not; he is going to build a new shop, and has just bought another horse.
Harriet.—There is Buckram, the old tailor; he is, perhaps, a poor man.
Morris.—I think not; on Sunday he wears as fine cloth as any gentleman in church.
Harriet.—Then there is Lasting, the shoemaker; he seems poor. His children generally have their toes out.
Morris.—Oh! that is because their father is a shoemaker, and has so much work that he has no time to mend or make for them. You know the proverb, that “Shoemakers’ children always go barefoot.”
Harriet.—To tell you a secret, I have found an opportunity of performing a little act of benevolence. Yesterday, as I came from the store, where I had been buying some ribbon, I was near being caught in a shower, and I stepped in for shelter, to Gimblet the carpenter’s. He, as they told me, was at work on a house five miles off, but I found his wife and children at their evening meal, and the poor creatures—I can scarcely bear to think of it—the poor creatures were sweetening their tea with brown sugar. So, this afternoon, I sent Phillis for a pound of the best loaf-sugar, and desired her to take it to these unfortunate people. Oh! I see Phillis coming back; now I shall hear the delight of those grateful Gimblets, and of their moistening the sugar with their tears, as the French poor do on such occasions. Well, Phillis, what did that poverty-stricken female, Mrs. Gimblet, say, when you produced the fine white sugar?
Phillis.—Why miss, she did not seem very poverty-struck, for she was dressing for a party at Mrs. Lasting’s.
Harriet.—A party! well, poor creatures, they are glad of a little recreation, no doubt. But what did Mrs. Gimblet say to the sugar?
Phillis.—She said, “she chose to buy her own groceries.”
Morris.—Ha, ha, ha! And what did you say then?
Phillis.—Why, when I found how sassy she was, I sass’d her back again, and was for carrying the sugar away with me; but she cooled down then, and told me in a gruff sort of voice, that “since I’d brung it I might leave it, but that she did not wish Miss Harriet to suppose that she wanted favours from nobody.” So then I cooled down, and I left her the sugar, for all she did not deserve it.
Morris.—(smiling) Mrs. Gimblet must be a high-minded woman.
Harriet.—After all, my chief desire is for a regular protégée, some lovely little girl, with whose destiny I can charge myself; I must endeavour to find one.
Morris.—Well, well, I wish you success; but
if you find one, take care not to make a fool of her. Come, the bell rings for tea.”
On the following morning, Morris Blandon, whose vacation had expired, set out on his return to the boarding-school at which he was preparing for college. His sister greatly lamented his departure, and for several days looked melancholy and walked in lonely places, sighed frequently, kissed the locket with his hair which she wore round her neck, and dressed with flowers the frame of his portrait. Her parents were also away, having gone on a tour to the north, and she had no other society in the house than that of her mother’s cousin, Miss Kirkwood, a maiden lady of forty-five, who rarely talked, and never interested herself in any thing but housewifery, and needlework. She had lived many years in the family, and always had charge of the children in the absence of their father and mother. Miss Kirkwood took care that their apartments should be neat, their clothes in nice order, and that they should have plenty of good things to eat when they were well, and excellent nursing if they were sick. But she never interfered with any of their pursuits, or with the disposal of their time, being always too busy herself.
A few days after the departure of her brother,
as Harriet Blandon was taking a solitary walk along an unfrequented road, she came to a place where there was a number of blackberry bushes, loaded with ripe fruit. She stopped at a very large bush to gather a few, and she presently saw something moving behind the branches. For a moment, her vivid imagination suggested the idea of a robber, or of something equally dangerous, and she started back. But directly a little girl, about seven years old, emerged from behind the bush, with one hand full of blackberries, and a basket in the other. The child was remarkably pretty, with blue eyes, rosy cheeks, and golden hair. She was dressed in a dark calico frock, a check apron, a light calico sun-bonnet, coarse leather shoes, and no stockings. Her clothes were faded from frequent washing, but they were not ragged. She looked much embarrassed at seeing Harriet, (who gazed earnestly in her face,) and was moving off.
“Do not be afraid, little girl,” said Harriet, in a gentle voice, “I will not disturb you. Come back, and continue to gather your blackberries. This bush appears to be very full.”
“They are riper on this side,” said the little girl, timidly offering to Harriet those she held in her hand. “Please to take these, and taste.”
Harriet was enraptured—“Oh! no, my sweet
child,” she exclaimed, “I will not take your blackberries.”
Little Girl.—But I wish you would; I can pick faster than you, for I am used to it, and I am not afeard to go in among the thorns.”
Harriet tasted one of the little girl’s blackberries, and then said; “And what do you do with all the blackberries you gather?”
Little Girl.—I take them to the store, and sell them. They always buy them there.
Harriet.—Poor little dear!
Girl.—I like it, I’d rather do it than nothing else. And when the blackberries is gone, I pick huckleberries.
Harriet.—Have you parents, or are you a desolate orphan?
“Nan!” said the girl, looking puzzled.
“Have you a father and mother?” enquired Harriet.
“I’ve a daddy and mammy,” answered the child.
Harriet.—And where do they live?
Girl.—Just over the branch, yander.
Harriet.—And what are their means of subsistence?
“Nan!”—said the child, again.
“What do they do?” pursued Harriet.
Girl.—Oh! daddy cuts wood on the hills, and
Jake and Joe helps him, and Jim drives team, and Kitty goes out a spinning on the big wheel, and Sally lives at Amos Barnwell’s and helps them with their work. And mammy stays at home, and takes care of the house, and gets victuals—and I help her of mornings as much as I can, and of afternoons I pick blackberries.
Harriet.—Unfortunate child! Are you then obliged to gather blackberries, and sell them for bread?
Girl.—Oh! no—I always sell them for money—four cents a quart. We’ve bread enough at home.
Harriet.—And what do you do with the money?
Girl.—Oh! I give most of it to mammy, and she buys things with it.
Harriet.—Generous exalted child! model of filial piety!
Girl.—I do know what that is. But mammy always lets me keep two or three cents, and I buy mint-stick with it. Which do you like best, the red or the white mint-stick? I think the red ’s the goodest, because it looks the prettiest.
Harriet.—Charming simplicity! My sweet child, tell me your name.
Girl.—My name’s Peggy Peckham.
Harriet.—Peggy! dear child, how they have debased you. But I shall call you Marguerite.
Peggy.—Marget, you mean; you don’t speak it right. I have heard mammy say I was christen’d Marget.
Harriet.—No, no; Marget is almost as bad as Peggy. You must have a better name.
Peggy.—Sometimes they call me Madge.
Harriet.—Barbarous! But I shall call you Marguerite. From this moment you are my protégée.
Peggy.—What is a protégée?
Harriet.—(kissing her) Dear innocence! how I doat on you already. Tell me, sweet Marguerite, do you think you could love me?
Peggy.—I dare say I could, you have such a beautiful white frock, and such a pretty pink ribbon on your bonnet, and I guess you live in a fine big house.
Harriet.—Will you show me the way to your house—I conclude that it is not far off.
Peggy.—I must pick my basket full of blackberries first. Some of them are for our ownselves, and we are going to have them with our milk at supper.
“I will assist you,” said Harriet. She did so, and the basket was soon filled, though the young lady’s muslin frock suffered much from the thorns
on the branches, and from the stains of the fruit.
Harriet then insisted on helping Marguerite, as she called her, to carry home the basket; and they soon arrived at a clear and shady brook, which ran murmuring through a deep ravine at the bottom of a sloping piece of woodland. They crossed the water on stepping stones, and ascending a steep little hill, they came to a beautiful green level, which nature had enclosed with low mossy rocks, and hillocks overgrown with laurel bushes. In a corner sheltered with locust trees, stood a small log hour, or rather cottage, and this the little girl designated as her home. A cow was feeding near it, fowls were scratching and pecking all round, and ducks were swimming in a little pool connected with the brook. A woman was refreshing her milk-pans with cold water, at a bench near the door.
“Is that your mother?” said Harriet; “Come you must introduce me.”
“Mammy,” said the child, “here’s a gal in a white frock, as says she loves me.”
“Dear me!” exclaimed the mother, snatching off her apron, and tying the string of her cap; “Peggy, where’s your manners; calling a young lady, a gal in a white frock! Please, miss, to walk into the house, and sit down.”
“Mrs. Peckham,” said Harriet; “for that I believe is your name, I am perfectly fascinated with this lovely blossom of yours. She is the sweetest little creature I ever beheld. Cheeks like opening roses; eyes blue as violets; locks of gold!”
“Mammy, does not she talk pretty,” said the child; “I could hear her all day.”
“Peggy,” replied the mother; “Go into the shed, and mix some Indian meal to feed the young chickens.”
When Peggy had slowly departed, looking back, and smiling at Harriet, Mrs. Peckham remarked, “I beg your pardon, miss, but I’m afeard if Peggy hears you praise her so much, it will make her desperate proud. She an’t use to much praise, for we’re afeard of spiling her, being the youngest.”
“She’s a little love,” said Harriet; “and I already take a deep interest in her. Of course you will allow her to come to me every afternoon, that I may, at once, commence the delightful task of educating and refining her.”
“But I don’t want her to be made very fine,” answered the mother; “and I hardly know how to spare her. And I must ax husband about it. Oh! here he comes.”
The wood-cutter now appeared with his axe on
his shoulder; a hardy good-looking man, of middle age. He nodded to Harriet, and then took off his hat, and seated himself opposite to her. Harriet after a little embarrassment made herself known to Peter Peckham, and informed him of her engouement, as she called it, for his little daughter, proposing that the child should come to her daily for the purpose of receiving instruction in various branches of female education.
“Why, she’s had some schooling already,” said Peter; “and we expect a new schoolmaster down in these parts, early in the fall, and then I will send her again. Her mother there larns her sewing and house-work. There a’n’t better workers in the whole county than Peggy’s two sisters; and they were brung up chiefly at home, and got their schooling at odd times, just whenever there was a master. And somehow, by hook or by crook, all my children have picked up as much larning as suits them.”
Harriet now grew very importunate; her imagination being fully possessed with the delight of having, at the age of fourteen, a pupil and a protégée. The mother soon became desirous of accepting the young lady’s offer; Petty, who had slipped back from the chicken-feeding, looked anxiously from face to face, and the father at
last yielded his consent, saying, “Well miss, we thank you for the liking you’ve took to our child—and she may go to your of afternoons, for a while, any how, just to oblige you. And if you don’t get along well together, and she don’t like you, or you don’t like her, you can give one another up again, and no harm done.”
It was then settled that Peggy was to commence her visits on the morrow, and Harriet having kissed the little girl (who looked very happy) and shaken hands with the father and mother, took her leave, and departed; scarcely touching the ground as she walked home.
When Harriet informed Miss Kirkwood that she had taken a protégée, and that she intended devoting half the day to the benefit of little Marguerite, the lady merely said, “Very well, my dear—I think you had better spend your afternoons in that manner, than in lolling on the bed, and reading foolish books.”
Early on the following afternoon, Peggy Peckham arrived. Her mother, wishing the little girl to look as well as possible on her first visit, had dressed her in her Sunday frock of bright stiff pink calico, very badly made by the village seamstress, and a round green silk hat, standing out from her face, and trimmed with purple and yellow plaid ribbon. People of the
lower class rarely look as well in their holiday suits as in their working clothes.
Harriet Blandon, whose greatest enjoyments were those of the eye, felt for a moment as if her love for her protégée was rapidly diminishing. “Oh! Marguerite—Marguerite,” she exclaimed; “how they have disfigured you! What a shocking frock, with the back puffing out, and the front riding up, and the sleeves hanging forward! And that dreadful hat! Do pray take it off. And your hair—why, your hair is worse than all—sticking up and down in crooked spikes all round your forehead!”
“I’m very sorry you think I don’t look pretty,” said Peggy—“I have got all my Sunday clothes on, though to-day is only Wednesday; and mammy was an hour curling my hair with the fire-tongs, and bits of the old almanac.”
“Well,” said Harriet, growing more calm; “your mother need have given herself no trouble about your dress, as, of course, I intended to have taken that upon myself, the very first thing. And she shall see how pretty I can make you look. First, we must wet out all these straggling horns that she has meant for curls.”
This was immediately done; and the golden locks of Marguerite, having first been properly trimmed, were nicely pinned up with hair-pins,
so as to form regular ringlets when opened out. She was then fitted for a white petticoat, a printed muslin frock, and other things which were to be made up for her out of the wardrobe of Harriet, who relied on the well-known indulgence of her mother, persuading herself, that on that lady’s return home, she could easily induce her to approve of all she was doing for her protégée.
The remainder of the week was spent in embellishing the person of little Peggy; and now that Harriet had an opportunity of exercising her own fancy without control, she attired the blackberry girl in a much more showy manner than had ever been adopted for herself; the good sense of Mrs. Blandon having dictated the propriety of dressing her daughter with the utmost simplicity, till quite grown up.
With the assistance of Phillis, who had a talent for millinery and mantua-making, Peggy Peckham was finally arrayed according to the taste of her young benefactress, and was sent home to her parents in a blue printed muslin frock, made very tight in the body, (as Harriet said it was quite time to begin to form the figure of Marguerite,) and decorated with a ribbon belt and a buckle. A bobbinet cape was placed on her shoulders, and on her head a blue silk bonnet, with a flower inside of the brim, having
under it a tulle cap with a quilled border. On her feet were fine white stockings with open clocks; red morocco slippers, procured from the village shoemaker; and into her hand was put a bead reticule, containing a cambric handkerchief.
When Peggy was completely equipped, Harriet led her in triumph to Miss Kirkwood, who merely said—“You seem to have taken great pains in dressing this child.”
Harriet would have accompanied Peggy home, that she might witness the effect produced on the parents by the new costume of their little girl but was prevented by the arrival of some visiters; and when she came next day, the young lady was all impatience to hear how her dress had been admired.
“Mammy liked it very much; but daddy thought it did not seem suitable;” said the candid Peggy.
“Oh! he’ll get used to it;” replied Harriet. “But Marguerite, have I not told you to say papa and mamma, instead of daddy and mammy?”
“Daddy won’t let me,” answered Peggy; “He says he won’t be pa to nobody, and that mammy looks nothing like a mamma.”
“How obstinate these people are,” thought Harriet; “how wedded to their ancient barbarisms!”
When Peggy took off her cape, Harriet found that nearly all the hooks up the back of her frock had bursted loose, tearing holes with them, and that their places had been badly supplied with pins, which were also giving way.
“What is all this?” exclaimed Harriet.
“Oh!” replied Peggy, “mammy could hardly drag my frock to, with all her might and main, and somehow it gave way, and tear’d out. You know I told you, Miss Harriet, that it was a heap too tight, but you said it looked the prettier, and that I would not mind it after a few days. But I do think I shall mind it all my life, for every minute it hurts worser and worser; and my sleeve holes too are so tight that I cannot stretch my arms far out, or put my hand to my head. Daddy says I look like skewered poultry.”
“Ungrateful people!” thought Harriet.
However, on consulting Phillis, it was thought advisable to enlarge the back of the frock, and also the sleeve holes.
“Why have you kicked off your shoes, Marguerite?” said Harriet; “I see them under your chair.”
“Indeed, miss,” replied the child; “they pinch my toes so, I’m glad to have them off as much as I can.”
“Oh! but they will soon stretch,” said Harriet,
“if you persist in wearing them. Come, put them on again.” And the little girl, with a melancholy look, resumed her shoes.
The arduous business of Peggy’s equipment being finally accomplished, Harriet commenced the task of improving her mind, and rectifying her numerous errors of phraseology. As yet the little girl read too imperfectly to be able to learn lessons by heart. “When you can read fluently,” said Harriet; “you shall begin a regular course of study in every branch of education. For the present, I must content myself with giving you some general ideas of botany, mineralogy, astronomy, geography, and a few other easy things. This I shall do by explanation. Your reading and writing can lie over for a while. No doubt you will read and write by the time you are grown up—every body does.”
They set to work—the lessons proceeded—and Harriet obstinately shut her eyes to the fact that as yet little Peggy evinced no genius for science of any description, and she was obliged to purchase her attention by rewards of confectionary. However, she flattered herself that Marguerite certainly improved in looks, and was becoming daily more genteel. Other articles of dress were provided for her; and after all it was found a much easier task to adorn her person than to
cultivate her mind; at last according to the process that Harriet had adopted.
In about a month, Mr. and Mrs. Blandon came home from their tour, and Harriet lost no time in giving the history of her protégée. Mr. Blandon, who knew his daughter well, smiled and left the room without making any comment, and Mrs. Blandon merely said—“If I find that the interest you take in this child is likely to add any thing to your happiness or to hers, it shall certainly have my sanction.”
In the afternoon, while Mrs. Blandon was reading in the shady portico at the back of the house, Harriet having previously prepared her pupil for the display, suddenly made her appearance, holding the hand of Peggy, who was newly attired for the occasion, by way of making a favourable first impression.
“She is really a pretty child,” thought Mrs. Blandon.
“Now Marguerite,” whispered Harriet, as they approached, for they had gone round and entered at the garden gate—“now you must kneel at mamma’s feet, seize her hand, kiss it, and bathe it with your tears.”
“What for?” said Peggy.
“What for?” exclaimed Harriet; “Is she not the mother of your benefactress—of me—my
mother; and are you not overcome with sensations of delight and tenderness at the sight of her?”
“Not much,” replied Peggy; “but as you with it, I’ll go on my knees and kiss her hand. But I don’t think I can cry; I never could force a cry, let me try ever so hard.”
The scene in preparation was now interrupted by Mrs. Blandon holding out her arms to the little girl, and saying, “Come my dear, and kiss me without any hesitation. If, as I hope, I find you a good child, I am sure I shall love you after we have become more acquainted.”
“Oh! she is a very good child,” said Harriet, “and you shall see how she has profited by my instructions. Come, Marguerite, let mamma hear how much you know of botany. What is this plant.”
“Mullen,” replied Peggy.
“Mullen,” said Harriet; “oh! no—try again.”
“But I’m sure it is mullen,” persisted Peggy; “don’t you see its woolly stalk and leaves, and its yellow flowers.”
“Verbascum,” said Harriet; “you must give it the botanical name; I told you it was verbascum. And what is this?”
“Trifolium—trifolium—so called from its three leaves.”
“Trifolium—trifolium,” said Peggy.
Harriet.—Well, now we’ll have a little geology. What is this in my hand?
Peggy.—A bit of stone.
Harriet.—Did I not tell you, only five minutes ago, that it was micaceous schistus?
Peggy.—My gracious sisters! But it is a bit of stone for all that.
Harriet.—Pshaw!—Your memory for botany and geology seems to fail you to-day. Come, we will try astronomy. How many planets are there?
Peggy.—Eleven thousand and eighty-nine.
Harriet.—Oh! monstrous! There are eleven primary planets, and eighteen secondary planets or satellites. Now what is the cause of an eclipse of the sun?
Peggy.—Somebody clips a piece off of it.
Harriet.—How very ridiculous! Well—we will now go to geography. What are the poles?
Peggy.—Two great high sticks.
Harriet.—Nonsense! What is the circumference of the globe?
The little girl, whose lip had been trembling and eyes filling for several moments, now burst
into tears, exclaiming in a voice half-stifled by sobs, “I want to go and pick huckle-berries.”
“The child is not far wrong,” said Mrs. Blandon, in a low voice to her daughter. “By partially removing her from her proper sphere, interrupting her usual habits, and attempting to teach her things that are at present beyond her comprehension, and in which she takes no pleasure, you have added nothing to her happiness, and but little, I fear, to your own. And why, my dear,” continued the lady, drawing little Peggy towards her, “why do you want to go and pick huckle-berries?”
“Because,” said the child, “they are all quite ripe now, and I could gets baskets on baskets of big blue ones just back of the long pond. And I want to wear a loose frock all day, and my old leather shoes with the good broad toes. And I want to have my hair combed back, and tucked behind my ears, and not hanging in my eyes for ringlets. And I like my old calico sun-bonnet, because I can toss it about any how. I have to help mammy of mornings, and so of afternoons I’d rather go about, and pick berries, or do what I like. And I’d rather Jake or Joe would take me on their lap and tell me Tom Thumb, or Poncet, or Red Riding Hood, than hear stories about nothing but Greeks and Romans. And I want
to talk my own way, just as daddy and mammy do—and I don’t want to be called Marguerite, when Peggy’s my natural name.”
“Is this then my reward,” exclaimed Harriet, indignantly; “after all the trouble I have taken with you—and all my efforts to improve your mind?”
“My dear Harriet,” said Mrs. Blandon, “you have not gone judiciously to work. But we will talk of this hereafter. In the mean time, my counsel is, that this child shall be at once restored to her usual habits, and to the entire control of her parents—and that all attempts at making a young lady of her shall be given up.” On hearing this, the little girl jumped with joy.
“But even were I willing to give her up,” said Harriet, “it will be so awkward for me to take her back to her father and mother, and tell them that I can make nothing of her.”
“Leave that to me,” replied Mrs. Blandon, “I will manage it for you.”
Having equipped herself for walking, the lady prepared to set out with little Peggy, whose joy was very mortifying to Harriet. “Recollect,” said Mrs. Blandon, “that Peggy is a child of nature, not a child of romance. Giving a little cottage girl uncomfortable finery will not ensure her gratitude, neither can ehr affection be
engaged by attempting to instruct her on subjects that she is incapable of understanding, and for which her mind has had no previous preparation.”
“Marguerite,” said Harriet, as she kissed the child at parting, “are you not thankful for all the good I have done you?”
“Yes miss,” answered Peggy, “only it did not seem to be a good sort of good. “But I thank you very much for the cakes and sugar things.”
So saying, she skipped gaily away, and ran on before Mrs. Blandon, till she had brought her in view of her cottage home. She then called out to her mother, who was sewing just within the door, “Oh! mammy, dear mammy! Miss Harriet has given me up. And I shan’t have to wear tight clothes, and study hard learning any more. And now it a’n’t sundown yet, so I’ll pull off these things and put on my old ones, and take my basket, and go after the blue huckleberries. I guess I can pick a good basketful yet to-day.”
The now happy little girl ran off, and Mrs. Blandon made the proper explanation to her mother.
“Oh! how glad Peter will be,” said the woman. “He didn’t want to afront the young lady, as we know’d she meant well, but he was a good deal
troubled for fear his child should be made a genius of.”
“Do you know what a genius is?” asked Mrs. Blandon, smiling.
“Oh! yes,” replied Mrs. Peckham, “Billy Riskins, that keeps the White Lion, went to town for a wife, and married a genius, as she called herself, and a more useless woman never lived upon the face of the earth. She ’s all the time at arts and sciences, and she does not know a broom from a scrubbing-brush, or a frying-pan from a gridiron. There is not a worse kept tavern within fifty miles. And her husband is quite discouraged, and is going to the dogs as fast as he can. But as to little Peggy, all our hope was that she would not last long, and that the young lady would soon get tired of her, and give her up. We were most afeared that if she kept on, Peggy would get used to finery and edication, though they went very hard with her at first—and that, in time, she would get proud, and be ashamed of her own father and mother, and turn up her nose at her brothers and sisters, who are all honest hard-working people. However, Peter said he would take her away before it came to that. But all’s right now—and we thank Miss Harriet kindly for her good intentions towards our child. But I don’t believe it’s the
right way for the like of us to have our children among great people. And as to edication—if a gal can read and write and cipher and sew, she can get through the world very well with that much; even if she should be called to riches at last.”
When Mrs. Blandon returned home, she held a long conversation with Harriet, and convinced her that she might exercise her benevolent feelings in a much more rational and effective man[n]er than in trying to make a lady of little Peggy Peckham; who after all was not even an object of charity, as her family were industrious decent people, in good health, and in constant employ, and not ashamed to do any thing by which they could honestly add to their gains.
With her mother’s assistance, Harriet Blandon discovered that there were people in the neighborhood, who though not beggars, were still so circumstanced that a little help as they went along was highly acceptable to them, and that it was possible to do a larger amount of good, by occasionally furnishing them with articles that were useful and conducive to comfort, than by selecting a little girl, chiefly because she was pretty, to dress and pamper, and confuse with ideas that did not accord with her capacity or station.
Harriet, however, retained her predilection for Peggy (whom she no longer called Marguerite), but this predilection was now better regulated. Her future gifts were all things of real utility, but plain, simple, and such as were proper for the child of a working man. When the new schoolmaster came, and Peggy was enrolled among his scholars, Harriet desired him to send his account to her, and at the end of every quarter she felt much pleasure in paying for the instruction of her ci-devant pupil. All these acts of judicious kindness were duly appreciated by the parents of the little girl, who said that now she really did love Miss Harriet. And when Morris came home at his next vacation, he acknowledged that his sister had much improved in her ideas of benevolence (many of which he kindly assisted her in carrying into effect), that her manner of expressing herself was much less extravagant, and that she had more sense about things in genera.
[A little boy, of four years old, in his last moments spoke of fair green fields, and beautiful groves, which he supposed that he saw, and his dying words were,—“Let me go to them. Open the door, and let me go. Oh, do let me go home.”]
“Yes, let me go. Yon fields are green,
Those groves are waving fair,
I see my bright and glorious home;
Oh, let me enter there.
Here, ’tis a weary strife to breathe,
A heavy toil to pray,
And goodness fades like morning-dew,
And darkness clouds the day.”
’Twas thus the dying child implored
Of those who wept in woe,
Still sighing, till his eye grew dim,
“Oh, father! let me go.”
His cheek grew pale. Had ghastly death
Death the last mortal blow?
Again those trembling lips unclose,—
“Dear mother,—let me go.”
And how could they the soul detain,
Thus struggling to be free?
How league with the oppressor, Pain,
To bar its liberty?
So, opening wide their stricken hearts,
The uncaged warbler soar’d,
And from the everlasting hills,
A song of rapture pour’d.
L. H. S.
Hartford, Conn., March 1836.
A TRUE SKETCH.
“See, mother,” said little William Harwood, “what a curious stone I picked up in the field.”
“This, my boy,” replied Mrs. Harwood, “is an Indian arrow-head or dart; you can see it has something the form of the head of the spear which was used in war, in ancient times, before gunpowder was invented. This dart is made of white flint; it was cut by a stone, for the Indians were not acquainted with the use of iron. Sharp stones were all the tools they used, and with these they carved their canoes and made their weapons. I have, in my desk, part of a stone hatchet, and several arrow-heads, which were found at different times in our fields.”
“How came they to be found here, mother?” said William; “perhaps those Indians, that you told me were going to Washington, dropped them, and some one might have thrown them into the fields.”
“no, my dear, they once belonged to the Indians who lived here; and, from the number found in this neighbourhood, it is probable that this was the scene of one of their battles, or that it was a great hunting-ground.”
“Did the Indians ever live here, mother, on our farm?” exclaimed William.
“There was no farm here, my boy,” said his mother, “when the Indians possessed this country. There were no gardens—no wheat or corn fields; all these hills and valleys were covered with trees. The Indians roamed through the thick woods in pursuit of deer and other animals, which served them for food; or pitched their tents, which they called wigwams, under the lofty oaks. When the game became scarce in one place, they moved their rude huts to a new spot, for they had no settled place of abode. Forest trees are generally long-lived, and it is probable, that, under the very oaks where you have so often gathered flowers or wild strawberries, the little Indian children have gathered them too, and perhaps fished for trout also in the stream in the meadow.”
“It seems very strange to think of this, mother,” said William; “I never knew it before. How long ago is it since the Indians went away from here?”
“It must be a long, long time, my boy; for this farm has been cultivated more than a hundred years. Do you not recollect that your father showed you the first deed, which was drawn more than fifty years before the revolutionary war?”
“Yes, mother, I do recollect it; and he told me that this country then belonged to England. But what became of all the Indians—where did they go to?”
“When the white men took possession of the lands, some of them removed farther back into the country, but most of them died in war and from other causes; and of the numerous tribes who lived in the states nearest the Atlantic ocean, there is now scarcely a remnant left.”
“I should like very much to hear about the Indians,” said William; “how they brought up their children—about their hunting and their wars.”
“The history of their cruel and bloody wars, my son,” said Mrs. Harwood, “cannot give you any pleasure, but there is much in their manners and customs which might interest you. There has been a great deal written about Indians for the last few years, so that you may have an opportunity of knowing something of their history. When I was a child, nothing pleased me better than to sit down by some old person, and hear
stories about the Indians or the revolutionary war. I can recollect the feelings with which I used to hear an old aunt of your grandfather tell of the time she lived ‘out back,’ as they then called it, though it was only as far west as Wheeling, in Virginia. Sometimes, she said, the children, while playing out, would hear something, and would run to the house, crying out—‘The Indians, the Indians;’ and, if her husband was absent, the women and children would bar up the doors, and keep as quiet as possible, for fear the Indians were indeed coming. Some of the Indians that lived hear them were very friendly, and came often to see them, and would show the boys how to shoot squirrels with the bow and arrow; but my aunt said she never could feel as if she could trust them. I have heard several accounts of children who were stolen by the Indians, and lived a long time with them before they got back to their friends again—and of some of them who never returned. A young friend of mine once gave me a long account of her great-grandmother, who was taken by the Indians, lived several years among them, and at last succeeded in making her escape. She said she had only been dead a few years, and that she had often heard her great-grandmother tell about it. It was quite an interesting history.”
“Oh, tell me about it, mother,” said William, “I should like so much to hear it.”
“It has been so long since it was told me,” said Mrs. Harwood, “that I am fearful I have forgotten some part of it. But I know an old lady who has often heard it from my friend’s great-grandmother herself—and when I see her again I will ask her to relate the particulars, so as to give you the full history of this lady’s adventure among the Indians.”
Life, dear girl! is but a flower,
Gay but transient is its hour!
And, though it blooms so fair in thee,
Then nurse it well while yet it lasts,
Shield it from the withering blasts;
Let indolence ne’er gnaw its root,
Nor folly blight the ripening fruit,
Support it with the props of truth,—
The noblest ornament of youth,—
And watch and guard a bloom so fair,
And shield it from each latent snare.
On it let fancy waft a gale,
And virtue’s quickening suns prevail;
Let knowledge shed enriching dews,
And all its varied sweets infuse;
And hope stand by each storm to quell,
And gild it with her magic spell.
Then though in some ill-fated hour,
A nipping blast may blight they flower,
Though cruel death, with aspect drear,
Forbid thy bud to blossom here,
’Neath brighter suns and clearer skies,
It still will to perfection rise;
Will spring with beauty from the tomb,
Excelling e’en thy present bloom,
And show a brighter richer grace
Than e’en thy sweet ingenuous face.
TO A LITTLE GIRL.
Margaret, we never met before,
And, Margaret, we may ne’er meet more—
Yet this I say at parting:
Scarce half a year has run its race
Since first I saw thy fairy face,
Around this gay and sprightly place,
Sweet smiles and blushes darting;
Yet this to thee I frankly tell,
That from my heart I wish thee well.
I dare not wish thee stores of wealth,
A troop of friends, unfailing health,
And freedom from affliction;
I dare not wish thee beauty’s prize—
Carnation lips and bright blue eyes,
They look through tears, they breathe in sighs—
Hear, then, my benediction:
Of these good gifts be thou possess’d,
Just in the manner God sees best.
But, little Margaret, may thou be
All that His eye delights to see—
All that He loves and blesses:
The Lord in darkness be thy light—
thy help in need, thy shield in fight—
They health, thy treasure, and thy might—
Thy comfort in distresses;
Thy hope through every future breath,
And thy eternal joy in death.
“When will it be Christmas? How much I wish it was here!” said little Mary Selwyn one day to her mother.
“Next Wednesday week will be Christmas, my daughter; but why do you wish so anxiously for it?”
“Because I expect to get a great many presents from grandpa and grandma, aunt Sarah, uncles Charles, and from some other persons, too,” said she, smiling significantly as she looked at her mother. “And how much I should like to have a party—just such a one as Jane Selby had last Christmas.”
“I will make no rash promises,” replied Mrs. Selwyn, smiling; “Christmas is almost two weeks off, and, you know, many things may happen before that time.”
Mr. and Mrs. Selwyn were very affectionate parents, and nothing gave them greater pleasure than to gratify the wishes of their children.
They had been planning a Christmas celebration a few evenings before, and they thought of following the German custom in making it a surprise, by keeping the preparations a secret.
When Christmas Eve came Mary was a little disappointed that her mother had said nothing about a party, but she consoled herself by counting how many presents she expected to get. Every thing, however, was in readiness for the next evening’s celebration; and as the drawing-room was frequently kept locked, the children had no suspicion of the treat their kind parents had in store for them.
Before sunrise the next morning, Mary and her brothers were up and dressed, and ran into their parents’ room, to catch them by calling out “Christmas gift”—knowing that, according to the old custom, if they could say it before their parents, they were entitled to a present.
When the carriage was ready to take the family to old Mr. Selwyn’s country seat, where they always dined on Christmas day, the children thought that their grandpa and grandma would not tell them to wait until the next day for their presents, as their parents had done, for they knew that their Christmas gifts were always ready for them when they arrived.
As soon as they turned into the carriage-road,
winding through the oaks in front of the house, they saw their grandpa and grandma, uncle and aunt, waiting in the porch ready to welcome them. When they went into the parlour there were no presents on the table, and they felt somewhat disappointed, but thought they would get them after dinner. As soon as they had dined, Mrs. Selwyn returned to town, as she said she had something to attend to at home. The children and their father staid until it was almost dark; and when they had taken their seats in their grandpa’s carriage to return home, little Mary could not restrain herself any longer, but burst into tears, saying “she had never spent such a dull Christmas in all her life.”
“I have spent a very merry one,” said Robert, “for Henry and I have had a fine chase over the hills with old Ponto; and we started the prettiest little rabbit, father, you ever saw, and away we ran to try and catch it; but he was too much for us, and got safe into his burrow in spite of us.”
“I was very glad of it,” said Henry, “for I was afraid Ponto would hurt him if he caught him. He began to scratch at the burrow, and we had hard work to call him off.”
“And we saw so many snow-birds, and some bluebirds and some partridges, too, father,” said
Robert. “How much I wished for a gun—I would have had fine sport.”
“It would have been a pity to shoot them, Robert,” replied Henry; “the little snow-birds were hopping about the trees so merrily, picking the cedar berries, and then lighting here and there on the ground to pick up whatever they could get to eat. Every now and then, father, we would hear a bluebird whistle so sweetly in the woods, that it put me in mind of summer. Oh, how I do wish summer was here—every thing is so beautiful!—the trees so full of leaves, the green grass, the little wild flowers; and then there are so many birds—the merry little robin, the busy little wren, the noisy martins, and I know not how many others. Oh, how I love the country! If we all lived here, I would never want to go to town.”
“What are you crying for, Molly,” said Robert; “because you did not get a Christmas gift? You have had plenty of cakes and good things. I expected to get some presents, but I soon forgot all about them.”
“But I did not forget it,” replied Mary; “Christmas is almost over, and I have not had a single present to-day.”
“Never mind, sister,” said Henry, “may-be you will get some on New-Year’s day.”
“I am sorry, my daughter,” said Mr. Selwyn, “to see that you have so little fortitude in bearing disappointment. You cannot expect to have much happiness in this world, my dear Mary, unless you learnt o act differently; for it is the lot of every one to meet with disappointments, and it is for wise purposes. Your brothers, I am pleased to find, have forgotten theirs, in the pleasures they have enjoyed; while every effort that has been made by your kind relatives, to amuse you and make you happy, has been entirely lost, merely because you could not have every wish gratified.”
As soon as they entered the house Mrs. Selwyn met them, and told the children there was company in the parlour, and that they must go up to their rooms and dress themselves in the clothes she had laid out for them. Mary and her brothers were soon ready; their father met them as they were coming down stairs, and led them to the parlour, where, to their surprise and delight, they found a little party of their young friends, who had been invited by Mrs. Selwyn. “Here they are—here they are,” was echoed throughout the group, and merry were the greetings that passed between them. As soon as their mutual salutations were over, they began some little games—such as the “Chair of Criticism,” “Cross Ques-
tions and Silly Answers,” “Ladies’ Toilet,” &c.—which continued until they were called into the next room, where a nice supper was ready for them. When this was over, they returned to the parlour and pursued their lively plays. They were in the midst of a very amusing one, when Mr. Selwyn entered and asked the children to come with him to the drawing-room. The merry little train followed Mr. Selwyn to the second story; and, upon his throwing open the drawing-room door, an universal exclamation of delight burst from their lips at the beautiful sight presented to them. In the centre of the room was a large table covered with a damask cloth, and in the middle of this was placed a Christmas Tree, brilliantly illuminated with wax tapers, and suspended to the branches were all kinds of beautiful gifts. Around the tree there was a raised plat of the greenest moss, surrounded by a little paling fence, which had a gate on one side, with two steps leading up to it. Upon the outside of this there were beautiful vases of flowers, and between them there lay upon the white tablecloth handsomely bound books, étuis cases, work boxes, engravings, and many other pretty as well as useful things. Mr. Selwyn told the little party to go up to the table and examine them. They gladly availed themselves of this permission; and
what was their delight when each one found some article with his or her name attached to it, to which was added “A Christmas gift from Mr. and Mrs. Selwyn to their little friend.” Mary found on some of hers, “A gift to my daughter from her father,” and on others, “To my dear Mary from her mother.” Robert and Henry found also that they had been equally fortunate.
On closely examining the articles suspended to the tree, they found slips of paper attached to them, on which were written, “For Mary Selwyn from her affectionate grandmother”—“To Mary Selwyn from her grandfather”—“To my dear niece, from Aunt Sarah”—“To my little Mary, from Uncle Charles”—“From Charles Selwyn to his nephew Robert”—“From Aunt Sarah to Robert”—“To my grandson Robert, from his grandfather”—“To my dear Robert, from his grandmother”—“To my dear Henry, from Aunt Sarah”—“From Charles Selwyn to his nephew Henry”—“A Christmas gift to Henry, from his grandfather”—“A present to my dear Henry, from his grandmother.”
Never was there a more delighted and gratified little party. “Is not this a beautiful box?” said one. “I am so glad that I have got ‘The Pearl,’ ” said another. “See what a fine penknife I have,” said one little boy. “I have ‘The Boys’ Week-
Day Book’—I have wanted it so much,” replied another. All were delighted with the gifts they had received, and anxious to show them to each other; but every one was so taken up in admiring his own, that he had hardly time to bestow a glance on the presents of his companions.
As soon as the exclamations of pleasure and admiration had somewhat subsided, Mr. Selwyn said to the little party, “Did any of you hang up your stockings last night?”
“No, sir,” replied several voices.
“This old custom is now almost done away with—but when I was a child, no little girl or boy ever went to bed on Christmas Eve without hanging up a stocking, which they expected would be filled with gifts by the good Cristkingle.* They were always up bright and early the next morning, to see what was given to them. The good children were always sure of having their stockings filled with cakes, sugar plums, and little presents by the Christkingle, but the naughty ones would find a rod thrust in theirs by the old Bellsnickel.”
* As I never have seen this word written, I have spelled it as pronounced—the first syllable short, as in Christmas.
This word I have also been obliged to spell according to its pronunciation, but have been unable to trace its origin or derivation.
“Who were the Christkingle and Bellsnickel?” asked some of the children.
“The Christkingle,” said Mr. Selwyn, “we thought was a kind of fairy, or good genius—such as you read of in fairy tales—who rewarded good children; and the Bellsnickel was an evil genius, who punished the bad ones. In a book I have lately read, in speaking of the celebration of Christmas by the Germans, it is remarked, that when the children ask their parents where the pretty presents came from, which they find suspended to the Christmas tree, they tell them ‘the Christ-child brought them;’ * and as I afterwards found that ‘kindchen’ is the German word for ‘little child,’ I supposed that our Christkingle was a corruption of the German term, signifying ‘little Christ-child.’ So you see, my children, our old and popular superstition was an allegory intended to teach a scripture truth. The gifts given on Christmas day, which you all know is kept as our Saviour’s birth-day, were first meant as emblems of the gifts our Saviour brought to mankind. He brought ‘peace and good will to men,’ as the angels told the shepherds to whom they appeared, while watching their flocks by
* Note to Biber’s Life of Pestalozzi
night. His example was given to teach us to follow in his footsteps, and his last and most precious gift was his own life, which he gave up upon the cross, that we, through his death, might be redeemed from sin and the grave. And I hope, my dear little friends, whenever you look at your ‘Christmas gifts,’ you will remember the gifts of which they were intended to be emblems; and, whenever Christmas comes round, you must bear in mind that it is celebrated as the day on which our Saviour appeared on earth in the form of an innocent babe—the little Christ-child; and let it be one of your first employments to take your Bibles and read of the gifts he brought to men, and of all he did and suffered for our sakes.”
Soon after Mr. Selwyn had finished speaking, the servant came into the room to say that some of the children had been sent for; and a few minutes afterward the little party was broken up, and the happy girls and boys were on their way to their homes, where they showed their presents to their parents, and related the events of the pleasant evening they ahd spent, and what Mr. Selwyn had told them.
The next morning, at breakfast, Mr. Selwyn asked Mary if she thought she had spent a dull Christmas. Mary blushed deeply, and could make
no reply, as she recollected her ill-humour the day before.
“I hope, my dear daughter,” said Mr. Selwyn, “that the events of yesterday may teach you a useful lesson: first, that you must learn through life to make the most of the means of happiness within your reach, and not discontentedly turn away from them because some favourite wish remains ungratified; and next, that whenever you are disappointed in your anticipations, instead of repining and indulging a murmuring, rebellious spirit, you ought to submit with cheerfulness to your situation—hoping that better things than you desired are in store for you, and believing that if they are wholly withheld, it is best for you to be without them. It is thus that our Heavenly Father often deals with his children. Remember these truths, my daughter, and pray for strength to act upon them; and then the ‘Christmas Tree,’ and the events of the past Christmas day, will prove throughout your life a source of grateful remembrance.”
CITY AND COUNTRY.
BY A. D. WOODBRIDGE.
“Now tell me, Jinny, don’t you think
That I’m a happy girl,
To live in such a town as this,
Amid the busy whirl?
And in the country don’t you mope,
When ev’ry thing’s so plain—
And where they never think of dress?
Now tell me, Cousin Jane.”
“Why, Ellen, I was always taught
That happiness dwells not
In place, so much as in the heart—
’Tis that which makes our lot:
We can be happy in a crowd,
Nor wretched in a cell,
If but within our breasts the while
All gentle spirits dwell.”
“I know we ought to be content,
Whatever is our lot;
But can I be you choose to dwell
In such a quiet spot?
Just look around—what beauteous things
The wond’ring eye to please—
But in the country you have nought
But birds, and flowers, and trees.”
“But, Ellen, they are ever sweet,
And still it seems to me
That they have charms I find not here,
And grace I do not see.
They are kind nature’s hand-maids bright—
They whisper ‘God is Love;’
And often, when they meet the sight,
They raise the heart above.”
“Yet tell me, Jinny, don’t you tire
Of one unvarying scene;
The hills, and dales, and village spire,
The lawns and meadows green?
Here all is motion—and e’en life
Is like a restless tide;
With you ’tis like those quiet rills,
Which, aye, unchanging glide.”
“Those scenes, ’tis true, remain the same,
Though changing like the face
Of one we dearly, dearly love,
Where varying thoughts have place:
We love them when in smiles and tears,
In sunshine and in shade—
When morning dawns, or dewy eve
Steals o’er each hill and glade.”
“Then, Jinny dear, I’ll seek with you
That sweet and quiet vale;
I’ll stray through nature’s fair domain,
And list her ceaseless tale:
Yet when her voice, in wintry winds,
Comes harshly on the ear,
I’ll seek once more my city-home—
Will you? say, Jinny dear.”
“Yes, dearest, I will join you here,
Around your social hearth—
Where heart-felt pleasures love to throng,
And kindly thoughts have birth.
Sweet Virtue’s lamp in every place
Imparts its guiding ray,
And blest Religion! may she lead
Us onward, day by day.”
TO A. S.
Dear Agnes, of poetic ear,
That loves the tuneful strain to hear,
For you I touch my muse;
Glad if in your young gentle mind,
So artless, innocent and kind,
I can some truths infuse.
I ’ve told you oft, that truth and worth
Of industry alone have birth;
And that no magic art,
Can, as a treasure of your own,
Fair learning to your mind make known,
Or grave it on your heart.
Knowledge from labour is derived,
And if of industry deprived,
She ’ll fly not to your arms;
She shuns the silly vacant mind,
By no exalted hopes refined,
And hides her matchless charms:
Then seek, dear girl, to court her smile;
Be careful and industrious, while
She will your cares repay.
She, by the precious stores she ’ll give,
Will make you blest, both whilst you live
And when you ’ve pass’d away.
And oh! could I to you unfold
The joys, beyond or gems or gold,
Which to your parents dear
You, my sweet girl, would thus impart,
By taking wisdom to your heart,
’T would all your labours cheer.
Then, Agnes dear, proceed, I pray!
Let industry attend your way,
And your reward is sure;
Soon will sweet smiles your face illume
Brighter than e’en your youthful bloom,
And longer will endure.
And He who reigns above the skies,
And views you with paternal eyes,
Will his best blessing give;
Will bless you whilst you ’re here below,
And when from earth at length you go,
Your spirit will receive.