« PreviousContinue »
ing and unchangeable! We shall shortly finish our allotted time on earth, even if it should be unusually prolonged. We shall leave behind us all, which is now familiar and beloved, and a world of other days and other men will be entirely ignorant that once we lived. But the same unalterable Being will still preside over the universe, through all its changes; and from his remembrance we shall never be blotted. We can never be where he is not, nor where he sees and loves and upholds us not. He is our Father and our God forever. He takes us from earth that he may lead us to heaven; that he may refine our nature from all its principles of corruption, share with us his own immortality, admit us to his everlasting habitation, and crown us with his eternity.
The Son.-R. H. DANA.
THERE is no virtue without a characteristic beauty to make it particularly loved of the good, and to make the bad ashamed of their neglect of it. To do what is right, argues superior taste as well as morals; and those, whose practice is evil, feel an inferiority of intellectual power and enjoyment, even where they take no concern for a principle. Doing well has something more in it than the fulfilling of a duty. It is a cause of a just sense of elevation of character; it clears and strengthens the spirits; it gives higher reaches of thought; it widens our benevolence, and makes the current of our peculiar affections swift and deep.
A sacrifice was never yet offered to a principle, that was not made up to us by self-approval, and the consideration of what our degradation would have been had we done otherwise. Certainly, it is a pleasant and a wise thing, then, to follow what is right, when we only go along with our affec
tions, and take the easy way of the virtuous propensities of
The world is sensible of these truths, let it act as it may. It is not because of his integrity alone that it relies on an honest man; but it has more confidence in his judgment and wise conduct, in the long run, than in the schemes of those of greater intellect, who go at large without any landmarks of principle. So that virtue seems of a double nature, and to stand oftentimes in the place of what we call talent.
This reasoning, or rather feeling, of the world, is all right; for the honest man only falls in with the order of nature, which is grounded in truth, and will endure along with it. And such a hold has a good man upon the world, that even where he has not been called upon to make a sacrifice to a principle, or to take a stand against wrong, but has merely avoided running into vices, and suffered himself to be borne along by the delightful and virtuous affections of private life, and has found his pleasure in practising the duties of home, he is looked up to with respect, as well as regarded with kindness. We attach certain notions of refinement to his thoughts, and of depth to his sentiment. The impression he makes on us is beautiful and peculiar. Other men in his presence, though we have nothing to object to them, and though they may be very well in their way, affect us as lacking something, we can hardly tell what, a certain sensitive delicacy of character and manner, without which they strike us as more or less vulgar.
No creature in the world has this character so finely marked in him as a respectful and affectionate son-particularly in his relation to his mother. Every little attention he pays her is not only an expression of filial attachment, and a grateful acknowledgment of past cares, but is an evidence of a tenderness of disposition which moves us the more because not looked on so much as an essential property in a man's character, as an added grace, which is bestowed only
upon a few. His regards do not appear like mere habits of duty, nor does his watchfulness of his mother's wishes seem like taught submission to her will. They are the native courtesies* of a feeling mind, showing themselves amidst stern virtues and masculine energies, like gleams of light on points of rocks. They are delightful as evidences of power yielding voluntary homage to the delicacy of the soul. The armed knee is bent, and the heart of the mailed man laid bare.
Feelings that would seem to be at variance with each other meet together and harmonize in the breast of a son. Every call of the mother which he answers to, and every act of submission which he performs, are not only so many acknowledgments of her authority, but, also, so many instances of kindness and marks of protecting regard. The servant and defender, the child and guardian, are all mingled in him. The world looks on him in this way; and to draw upon a man the confidence, the respect, and the love of the world, it is enough to say of him, he is an excellent son.
In looking over some papers of a deceased acquaintance, I found the following fragment. He had frequently spoken to me of the person whom it concerned, and who had been his schoolfellow. I remember well his one day telling me that, thinking the character of his friend, and some circumstances in his life, were of such a kind that an interesting, moral little story might be made from them, he had undertaken it; but, considering, as he was going on, that bringing the private character and feelings of a deceased friend before the world was something like sacrilege, though done under a fictitious name, he had stopped soon after beginning the tale that he had laid it away amongst his papers, and had never looked at it again
As the person it concerns has been a long time dead, and no relation survives, I do not feel that there can be any im
* Pron. kŭr'-te-sies.
propriety in my now making it public. I give it as it was written, though evidently not revised by my friend. Though hastily put together, and beginning as abruptly as it ends, and with little of story, and no novelty in the circumstances, yet there is a mournful tenderness in it, which, I trust, will interest others in some measure as it did me.
"The sun not set yet, Thomas?". "Not quite, sir. It blazes through the trees on the hill yonder, as if their branches were all on fire."
Arthur raised himself heavily forward, and, with his hat still over his brow, turned his glazed and dim eyes towards the setting sun. It was only the night before that he had heard his mother was ill, and could survive but a day or two. He had lived nearly apart from society, and, being a lad of a thoughtful, dreamy mind, had made a world to himself. His thoughts and feelings were so much in it, that, except in relation to his own home, there were the same vague and strange notions in his brain, concerning the state of things surrounding him, as we have of a foreign land.
The main feeling which this self-made world excited in him was love; and, like most of his age, he had formed to himself a being suited to his own fancies. This was the romance' of life; and though men, with minds like his, make imagination to stand oftentimes in the place of real existence, and to take to itself as deep feeling and concern, yet in domestic relations, which are so near and usual, and private, they feel longer and more deeply than those who look upon their homes as only a better part of the world which they belong to. Indeed, in affectionate and good men of a visionary cast, it is in some sort only realizing their hopes and desires, to turn them homeward. Arthur felt that it was so, and he loved his household the more, that they gave him an earnest of one day realizing all his hopes and attachments.
Arthur's mother was peculiarly dear to him, in having a character so much like his own. For, though the cares and attachments of life had long ago taken place of a fanciful existence in her, yet her natural turn of mind was strong enough to give to these something of the romance' of her disposition. This had led to a more than usual openness and intimacy between Arthur and his mother, and now brought to his remembrance the hours they had sat together by the firelight, when he listened to her mild and melancholy voice, as she spoke of what she had undergone at the loss of her parents and husband. Her gentle rebuke of his faults, her affectionate look of approval when he had done well, her care that he should be a just man, and her motherly anxiety lest the world should go hard with him, all crowded into his mind, and he thought that every worldly attachment was hereafter to be a vain thing.
He had passed the night between violent, tumultuous grief, and numb insensibility. Stepping into the carriage, with a slow, weak motion, like one who was quitting his sick chamber for the first time, he began his journey homeward. As he lifted his eyes upward, the few stars, that were here and there over the sky, seemed to look down in pity, and shed a religious and healing light upon him. But they soon went out, one after another; and, as the last faded from his imploring sight, it was as if everything good and holy had forsaken him. The faint tint in the east soon became a ruddy glow, and the sun, shooting upward, burst over every living thing in full glory. The sight went to Arthur's sick heart, as if it were in mockery of his misery.
Leaning back in his carriage, with his hand over his eyes, he was carried along, hardly sensible it was day. The old servant. Thomas, who was sitting by his side, went on talking in a low, monotonous tone; but Arthur only heard something sounding in his ears, scarcely heeding that it was a human voice. He had a sense of wearisomeness from the motion of