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APRIL, 1875.

LIFE'S SPRING-TIME.

AT
T the time we write, spring is rather an expectation thy youth,” should be considered, not only in a theologi-

than a reality. Snow lies in the fields, whitens the cal, but in a very human sense. The fact that we are hedgerows, and in towns gives a broad line of white created beings, with a past, present, and future, is to be coping to the roofs. March has come in, not in accord. remembered. In youth, and the spring-time of our lives, ance with the old proverb, as a roaring lion, for that has a it

may be—it is-well to prepare for death, for death may hot flavour of the tropics, but rather as a white polar bear, come. But we should also prepare for life. Early death is, an advanced guard of icebergs and snow-falls. By the of course, probable, but life is more so; and it very

much time our readers peruse these lines, March may be going depends upon the use made of the season of the human out like the lamb of the same proverb, with a garland of spring what kind of life our summer and autumn shall spring flowers twining round its dainty neck, and leading enjoy. To revert to the analogy of nature, our spring. the way to the pleasant meadows and gardens where the time has two aspects. We are partly imbibing nutriment " April showers" will bring forth “ May flowers." for the future, and partly enjoying, with no slight capacity

The four seasons of the mind have a certain corre- of enjoyment, our life of the present. It seems to be spondence with the four seasons of external nature. The

quite possible very pleasantly and very rightly to combine similitude is as old as poetry, art, and mythology. In the these two aspects or duties of the spring of life. What babe are the germs of the man or woman's maturer a morbid or ignorant estimate of the beauty, fulness, and growth hidden, as yet small seedlings, but with all the purpose of life that must be which insists upon the duty promise of blossom. Youth and spring-time have been • of repressing the lively emotions of youth, checking associated ever since the first poet sang—perhaps to the laughter, expressing horror at the innocent romp, looking music of Jubal's lyre—the first love-song. The beauty aghast at the singing of a merry or prettily sentimental of youth is fresh, modest, and charming as the white or song! There are some people in the world who are daintily-tinted flowers of the early months; the mind of shocked that young people should“ make melody in their youth is, or ought to be, as delicately sensitive to impres- hearts," as young birds make melody; and, indeed, we sions, gradually developing into the maturity when it will sometimes suspect, would, if they could, limit the song of "fear no more the heat of the sun,” which would now be the birds in the hedgerows and copses to formal tunes, too ardent for its nature, as for the young growth of the given out by an old and sedate bird one bar at a time. corn before it ripens into full ear, or the early blossoms Such folks are almost equal to reproving the skylark for which prepare for the fruit, and in that preparation make being fighty, and the nightingale for keeping bad hours. the world beautiful.

But youth is almost irrepressible in its gaiety and cheer. The precept, “Remember thy Creator in the days of fulness, and what a terrible loss the world would sustain

if it were not! Heaven knows there are often clouds enough to obscure the noon of our lives, and sometimes very dark shadows at eventide. Let us enjoy the sunrise, the golden rays, the arrows of Apollo ready to slay terrible Pythons should they attack youth and innocence. The old fable tells us that raging lions will not hurt young maidens, but even crouch submissively at their feet. We doubt if they would be so complying and forbearing if the maidens were the manufactured creatures, stiff, artificial, and preternaturally sour and worldly, some old folks would make them. It is the frank joyousness, the unconscious beauty, the instinctive innocence of youth, that, like music, “soothes the savage breast.” And music, too, in one of the forms in which the great masters love to embody the thoughts—the symphony—is another symbol of human life. They give as allegro, andante, and a cheerful movement, sometimes, indeed, a scherzo, or series of lively passages. The symphony of our lives has, too, youth, sedate maturity, and it is well if the dying cadences are not too sombre in their tone, if (to change the figure) life fades with a smile upon the face.

Taking into consideration this double aspect of the function and duty of youth, enjoyment and preparation, why should it not experience now, and prepare to experience in greater intensity hereafter,

" All thoughts, all passions, all delight,
Whatever stirs this mortal frame?"

to-day are the wives and mothers of a few years hence. Some day—and for many days, we hope—love will be the great fact of their lives, and if the sentiment is so far idealized that a girl strives to be better worthy of a good man's love, to make herself more gentle, true and loving to him, the better and happier wife she will make; and a certain amount of ideal cultivation in the spring-time of life will very much help to form that frame of mind. Duennas schooled in the old style may keep love off the bookshelves, but they cannot keep it out of the hearts of their charges, and it is wise to recognize it as a great tendency of life, to be watched and directed as other influences, not forbidden; for, depend upon it, nature has a great tendency to grow morbid under the influence of repression and enforced concealment. Sense and sentiment are good loving sisters if they are allowed equal growth, and the end to be desired is that they should grow up together, “like twin cherries on one stalk," and go hand-in-hand, smiling and sisterly, through girlhood, love, marriage, motherhood, and all the other phases of human life.

The time will come in due course when the freshness of the impressions of youth will have passed away, when life will wear a graver aspect, when we come to the andante, or even the adagio movement, of life's symphony ; but the time will not come when, in reason or true religion, we ought to regret that in our spring-time we sowed the seeds of many beautiful thoughts which, in the alchemy of our moral nature, have developed into abiding principles, strengthening the life of our maturity ; that when young we were innocently gay and sensitive, and when standing

“ Where the brook and river meet,

Womanhood and childhood fleet,"

The foreshadowings of heroism, devotion, love, the duty of maturer years—all wait upon the path of youth. The hues are not gloomy; they are like the varying shadows of the branches and leaves of spring-time, which, in the ever-changing variety of form, make the lane-path more beautiful, and the sunshine on the way more delightful and picturesque. To exclude fiction and poetry from a girl's reading is to shut out sunshine, and no flower grows well in the dark. It is, of course, possible for a weak mind to lose all sense of reality, and imagine that the world before her is, or ought to be, nothing but a three-volume novel in action, that the persecuted, unappreciated, but lovely heroine, who will, in the end, marry a marquis, and be happy ever afterwards. Some unhealthy natures breed disease even from good food. But sensible girls know that the ideal is not a region quite apart from the real, but an elevation to which the real may easily be made to reach, that the duties every day brings forth are to be performed, not as daily tasks; but because a more ideal view of life, strengthened by the exercise of the imagination and familiarity with higher models than perhaps the associations of real life afford, has made them show that they are duties to themselves, as well as to others, necessary to that elevation of character which they desire to possess, and which their reading has taught them is possible to human nature, without endangering any of the necessary conditions of their individual and social position.

Why should not girls read love stories ? The girls of

we enjoyed the life of youth, retaining much of the brave cheerfulness of childhood, while gaining glimpses of the broader and maturer life before us. “ Summer is acoming in,” says the old song of the cuckoo; summer is coming to us with all its wealth of verdure and ripening of fruit, but that verdure is growing green and beautiful in the spring-time, and the delicate gracefulness of the apple-blossom was the forerunner of the mellow fruit.

Literature does not possess a more exquisite and thoughtful poem than that“ Maidenhood” of Longfellow's from which we just now quoted two lines. It is really the text of all we have written, and we will finish with the strain of the poet's music in our ear

" Bear through sorrow, wrong, and ruth,

In thy heart the dew of youth,
On thy lips the smile of truth.

" O, the dew, like balm, shall steal

Into wounds that cannot heal,
Even as sleep our eyes doth seal ;

"And that smile, like sunshine, dart

Into many a sunless heart,
For a smile of God thou art."

HOLDEN WITH THE CORDS.

VIII.-AS A DREAM WHEN ONE AWAKETH.

WHEN, in due course of time, Bergan came partially

to himself, he found that he was lying on his own bed, with the twilight shadows gathering duskily in its hangings. But his mind was too dull and confused to trouble itself with the question how he came there, notwithstanding that his ears seemed still to retain the sound of low voices, and his limbs the pressure of careful hands. Scarcely had he unclosed his heavy eyes, ere he was glad to shut them again, and to sink anew into slumber.

But this time, it was not, as before, a profound stupor, a deaf, blind, torpid, state of nothingness. Though it lasted some hours, he never quite lost an oppressive sense of overhanging trouble, imperfectly as its nature was apprehended. Moreover, he was harassed by dreams of that most trying character, wherein varying images revolve around one fixed idea; combining the misery of continual change with that of ceaseless iteration into one intolerable horror.

Breaking, at length, from the teasing spell of these phantasms, he saw that it was past midnight. Through the opposite window, he beheld a pale, waning moon, and, by its light, a grey, dimly-outlined landscape,-a faint and lifeless sketch, as it were, of a once bright, breathing world. While he looked, over it came the black shadow of a wind-driven cloud, blurring the lines here and there, into still greyer indistinctness, sweeping across the lawn, mounting the steps of Bergan Hall, and laying, at last, its thin, light hand over his own brow and eyes.

With it, as if by right of near kinship, a deep gloom fell upon his heart. Till now, it had not occurred to him why his head ached so heavily, nor what weary weight it was that burdened his mind. Yet he did not -as too many would have done, after a brief flush of shame, and a momentary feeling of regret-seek to throw off this burden by telling himself that his late aberration was, after all, a matter of small moment, since it was only what hundreds like him had done before, were now doing, and would continue to do till the end of time. Not of any such weak stuff, incapable of looking his own acts squarely in the face, and judging them according to their merits, was Bergan made. On the contrary, he felt as much humiliated as if he had been the first, last, only intoxicated young man in the universe.

And this, be it understood, was not so much because he had violated the higher law, as because he had broken his own law unto himself. With the Bergan temper, he had also inherited a fair share of the Bergan pride, and the Bergan strength of will. But, softened and guided

by home influences at once wise and genial, the one had hitherto shown itself mainly in a lofty, almost an ideal, purity of character, and the other had expended its force chiefly upon himself. The two, therefore, had served him less effectually, in keeping him free from current vices than higher motives might have done. He had taken a stern, proud pleasure in knowing that he wore no yoke but such as it pleased him deliberately to assume. He would have scorned to say, what he often heard from the lips of his fellows, -"I cannot quit drinking, I cannot live without smoking, I cannot resist the fascinations of gambling," etc. ;-he would have felt it a woful slur upon his manhood to avow himself so abject a slave to his animal nature. So strong was this pride of character, that no sooner did he feel any habit, any appetite, any pleasure, however innocent in itself, taking firm hold of him, than he was immediately impelled to give it up, to refuse it indulgence,- for a time, at least, just to satisfy one part of himself that its control over the other and baser part was still perfect. At whatever price, he was determined to be his own master.

It may be imagined, then, with what sharp sting of pride, what miserable sense of weakness and failure, he writhed, as Memory now flung open the doors of her silent gallery, and showed him sombre picture after picture, representing his own figure in divers humiliating positions. It shrank from the utterance of its strong convictions of right; it gave way to the assaults of a poor ambition; it drifted with circumstance; it was driven to and fro like a shuttlecock between outward temptation and inward passion; it was successively a fighting rowdy, a blind lunatic, an insensate drunkard.

Not that these representations were all true in tone, unexaggerated in colour, and correct in sentiment. Often, there is nothing more difficult than to fix upon the exact point where the plain boundary line between right and wrong was crossed ; and neither pride nor remorse is apt to do it correctly. Some steps may have been taken upon a kind of debatable ground; had the march been arrested at any one of these, its tendency would have been different. In reviewing his conduct, Bergan failed to do justice either to his uncle's undeniable claims to his respectful consideration, up to the point where he had been required to follow him into a low bar-room, or to the real beauty and worth of some of his own feelings and motives. Looking back, he saw-or seemed to see-only a pitiable career of irresolution and moral cowardice, ending in disgrace. Covering his face with his hands, as if to shut out the unwelcome sight, he groaned aloud.

To his surprise, the groan was distinctly prolonged and repeated. Was. it the responsive wail of the ancestral spirits, mourning over their degenerate scion, or only the sympathizing echo of the ancestral walls? Springing to his feet, he beheld a tall, erect figure standing on the hearth, showing strangely weird and unearthly by the flickering blaze of a few dying embers. Nor till it turned and came toward him did he recognize the dusky features and age-whitened hair of Maumer Rue.

“I hope that it is not on my account that you are up at this time of night," said he, gravely.

You forget that night and day are both alike to me,she quietly answered. Are

you better?" “Much better, thank you." And he added after a moment,~"How came I here?

“Brick found you in the avenue. By my direction, you were brought in. At first, it was thought that you had been thrown from your horse, but--"

Rue paused.
“I understand,” said Bergan, bitterly.

"I was drunk.”

Rue did not immediately answer. It was only after some moments that she said, earnestly :“Master Bergan, I am an old woman.

I have seen four generations of your house, I have nursed two, and I have spent my life in its service. If it had been my own, I could not have loved it better, nor felt its welfare nearer my heart. If these things give me any right to say a word of warning to you, let me say it now!"

“Say whatever seems good to you,” replied Bergan, gloomily, as he flung himself into a chair. “I doubt if you can say anything so hard to bear as what I have already said to myself.”

“Is that so?" asked Rue, in a tone of relief—“ is that really so ? Then I need not say anything. It is a higher voice than mine that speaks within you; and my poor words would only weaken its effect. Only listen to it, Master Bergan, pray listen to it !” she went on, with tears streaming from her blind eyes. "If you stifle it now, it may never speak so clearly again!"

“Make yourself easy, Maumer," answered Bergan, much affected, yet doing his best to speak cheerfully," I have not the least intention of stilling it. Moreover, I assure you that I am in no danger of repeating last night's miserable experience; drunkenness is not my besetting sin. I only wish I were as certain that I should never again give way to my temper."

“It has run in the blood a great while,“ remarked Rue, not without a certain respect for its length of pedigree; "it will be hard to get it out.”

“ It shall be gotten out, though,” responded Bergan, knitting his brows and setting his teeth with true hereditary doggedness.

"Very likely it may,” replied Rue, quietly, "if you take that tone. No doubt the Lord meant the Bergan will to conquer the Bergan temper-with his help. But

I will not trouble you any longer, sir ;-thank you for setting my mind at rest. And don't be offended if I recommend you not to come in your uncle's way

this morning; give him a little time to get into a better mood. I will send your breakfast out to you."

Bergan's brow darkened. “I do not intend to come in his way,” he answered, a little shortly, “neither this morning nor at any other time. My visit here is at an end. I leave this house directly."

“Oh, Master Bergan, I beg you will not do that!" exclaimed Rue. “Your uncle really loves you in his heart; he will soon forget all about his anger."

“ It is not because I dread his anger that I go," replied Bergan gravely; "it is because he has lowered me in my own eyes, and disgraced me in the eyes of others, in a way that I cannot forget. At least, not until I have proved to myself that I am neither a moral coward nor a miserable parasite, and to the world that drinking and fighting are not the essential conditions of my existence. I cannot well do either without leaving Bergan Hall. And I certainly shall not put myself in my uncle's way again, until he sees fit to apologize for what he did yesterday."

“Is the world turned upside down, then," asked Rue, with a kind of slow wonder, “that an old uncle must apologize to a young nephew?

Bergan coloured, and the unwonted bitterness and irritation of his manner gave way before the force of the implied rebuke.

“Thank you,” said he, almost in his natural tone, “I see that I am--or, at least, that I wasma little beside myself. Still, I must leave Bergan Hall. I cannot think it right or expedient to remain here longer. But when I have put myself in the way of living independently, and cleared up my reputation, I will do what I can, without loss of self-respect, to establish friendly relations with my uncle. Indeed, I do not mean to be foolishly resentful, nor unbecomingly exacting."

“May I ask what you are going to do?" inquired Rue, after a few moments of thought.

"Certainly. I am going to carry out my original plan, and my mother's express wish, by opening a lawoffice in Berganton, and doing my best to win fame and fortune in the place which my ancestors founded; and in which," he added, with a smile, “their shades may reasonably be expected to watch my career with especial interest, and also to do me a good turn, whenever they have it in their power.”

“Well,” said Rue, after a long pause, "perhaps you are right. I think I begin to see that it may be quite as well for you to go away for a time. You shall not lose anything by it; I will take care of that. I have more influence with your uncle than you would think. And I promise you—remember, I promise you,” she repeated, with marked emphasis—"whatever comes, you shall have Bergan Hall."

The young man shook his head. “I think not," said

he. “Indeed, I have ceased to wish for it; I do not see any place for it in the life which I now contemplate. It was but a pleasant day-dream at best, and it is over.”

“It may be over for you," rejoined Rue, quietly, "but it is not over for me; and my dreams are apt to come true. I may not live to see it-indeed, it is borne in upon me that I shall not—but the Hall will surely be yours one day."

Bergan again shook his head. Without making any pretensions to the prophetic gift, he thought he could foretell, better than old Rue, the effect of the course which he had marked out for himself upon his uncle. But the blind woman could not see the gesture, and he forbore to put his doubt into words, unless its subtle prompting was to be detected in his next apparently irrelevant sentence :

"I shall think it one of my first duties to go and see my Uncle Godfrey."

“I am glad to hear it,” replied Rue, placidly. “He is a wise, just man, and no doubt he will give you good advice about setting up your profession. I have been hoping that, through you, this long family breach would be healed.”

And here the conversation strayed off amid thick growing family topics, where it is unnecessary to follow it.

Grey dawn was in the east when, after a long, lingering look at the ancestral portraits, Bergan went out from the old Hall. He could scarcely believe that it was less than a week since he first entered it. He had passed there one of those crises of life which do the work of years. His short occupancy had left its indelible impress upon his character for good or evil.

Rue attended him to the door, and detained him for a moment on the threshold.

“If ever you are in need of a quiet place where you can feel perfectly at home,” said she, "come here. Your room shall always be ready for you, and you might stay here for weeks together, and no one be the wiser, rarely does any one but me come inside the door. And if ever you should be in any trouble or in any want, come and see what the old, blind woman can do for you ; she may be better able to help you than you think. And now, good-bye, and God bless you, my dear young master-the future master of Bergan Hall!”

She raised her withered hands and sightless eyes to heaven as she ended; and when Bergan looked back from the farther verge of the lawn, she was standing there still, in the dim dawn-light, a grey, venerable, ghostly figure, framed in his ancestral doorway, calling down blessings on his head.

It is the long succession of wearing disappointments and corroding griefs, of anxious days and restless nights, of abortive aims and hopes deferred, which finally overcomes their lightsomeness, and sinks them fathoms deep under a smooth-flowing surface of gentle cheerfulness, a teasing ebb and flow of worriment, or an icy plane of despair.

But of this grievous iteration, and its depressing effect, Bergan, as yet, had no experience. His heart involuntarily grew lighter as he went down the long avenue. The old Hall, with its dust-clogged and tradition-darkened atmosphere, its dusky delights and duskier temptations, seemed to fade back again into the unsubstantiality of his childhood's visions. His sojourn there was, at best, but a brief, casual episode in an otherwise coherent life. He now recurred to the main argument. Not that he could foresee precisely how it was to be wrought out. But the very uncertainty before him was not without its own special and potent charm. It gave such unlimited scope to hope and imagination ; there was in it so much room for sturdy endeavour and noble achievement, for an iron age of progress and a golden era of fame!

It was still early when he reached the Berganton Hotel. The landlord was in the office; he was also in the midst of a prolonged matutinal stretch and yawn, when Bergan surprised him with a pleasant

“Good morning. Have you a vacant room for me?"

Yes, sir ; that is, I will see," was the somewhat inconclusive reply; its first clause being due to the favourable impression made by Bergan's face and manner, and its last to prudential considerations arising from the quickly recognized facts that this prepossessing young man was on foot, and without baggage. “Do you want it long?"

“I can hardly tell ; some days, perhaps ; possibly longer. I wish to see if it be worth my while to locate myself permanently here. My name is Bergan Arling. My baggage is to be sent over from Bergan Hall.”

“Ah, I see," said the landlord, in a tone which implied that he had suddenly been lifted to a point of observation at once wide and unpromising. And almost immediately he added—“On the whole, I believe I haven't got an eligible room to offer you. The one that I thought of at first is partially engaged ; I cannot let it go till I know the gentleman's decision.”

Bergan was gifted with perceptions too quick and fine not to notice the unfavourable effect produced by his frank explanation of himself. Nor was he slow to divine the cause. No doubt his name had been bruited abroad in connection with the disgraceful scenes of yesterday; and, as a natural consequence, in the very place where it would otherwise have been an advantage to him, it would now stand in his way. His heart sank a little to find that he had not left yesterday's acts so completely behind him as he had allowed himself to believe. He had still to endure his inevitable term of bondage to their eyil consequences.

IX. ... The Blot CLEAVES. YOUTHFUL spirits have a natural buoyancy that floats them easily over the first wave of trouble, however severe.

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