Page images
PDF
EPUB

heaven, opening in sudden gleams as the foliage broke and closed above it, as sheet lightning opens in a cloud at sunset the motionless masses of dark rock — dark, though flushed with scarlet lichen, casting their quiet shadows across its restless radiance, the foun. tain underneath them filling its marble hollow with blue mist and fitful sound, and, over all, – the multitudinous bars of amber and rose, the sacred clouds that have no darkness, and only exist to illuminate, were seen in intervals between the solemn and orbed repose of the stone pines, passing to lose themselves in the last, white, blinding lustre of the measureless line where the Campagna melted into the blaze of the sea. - Ruskin.

I wish I could describe one scene which is passing before my memory at this moment, when I found myself alone in a solitary valley of the Alps, without a guide, and a thunder-storm coming on. I wish I could explain how every circumstance combined to produce the same feeling and ministered to unity of impression, — the slow, wild wreathing of the vapors round the peaks, concealing their summits, and imparting in semblance their own motion, till each dark mountain form seemed to be mysterious and alive; the eagle-like plunge of the lämmer-geier, the bearded vulture of the Alps; the rising of a flock of choughs, which I had surprised at their feast on carrion, with their red beaks and legs, and their wild shrill cries startling the solitude and silence, — till the blue lightning streamed at last, and the shattering thunder crashed as if the mountains must give way; and then came the feelings which, in their fulness, man can feel but once in life ; mingled sensations of awe and triumph and defiance of danger, — pride, rapture, contempt of pain, humbleness, and intense repose, - as if all the strife and struggle of the elements were only uttering the unrest of man's bosom, so that in all such scenes there is a feeling of relief, and he is tempted to cry out exultingly, “There! there! all this was in my heart, and it never was said out till now." - Robertson.

The gray church and grayer tombs, look divine with this crimson gleam on them. Nature is now at her evening prayers ; she is kneeling before those red hills. I see her prostrate on the great steps of her altar, praying for a fair night for mariners at sea, for travellers in deserts, for lambs in moors, and unfledged birds in woods ..

I saw — now I see a womanTitan: her robe of blue air spread to the outskirts of the heath, where yonder flock is grazing: a veil, white as an avalanche, sweeps from her head to her feet, and arabesques of lightning flame on its border.

Under her breast I see her zone, purple like that horizon; through its blush shines the star of evening. Her steady eyes I cannot picture — they are clear, they are as deep as lakes, they are lifted and full of worship, they tremble with the softness of love and the lustre of prayer. Her forehead has the expanse of a cloud, and is paler than the early moon, risen long before dark gathers, — she reclines her bosom on the ridge of Stilbro' Moor, her mighty hands are joined beneath it. So kneeling, face to face, she speaks with God.-Charlotte Brontë. INDIVIDUALITY.

Emerson. There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide ; that he must take himself for better or for worse, as his portion; that, though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried. Not for nothing one face, one character, one fact, makes such impression on him, and another none. This sculpture in the memory is not without preëstablished harmony. The eye was placed where one ray ashould fall, that it might testify of that particular ray. We but half express ourselves and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents. It may be safely trusted as proportionate and of good issues, so it be faithfully imparted, but God will not have his work made manifest by cowards. A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best; but what he has said or done otherwise, shall give him no peace. It is a deliverance which does not deliver. In the attempt, his genius deserts him ; no muse befriends; no invention, no hope.

Trust thyself; every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine Providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events. Great men have always done

and confided themselves child-like to the genius of their age, betraying their perception that the absolutely trustworthy was seated at their heart, working through their hands, predominating in all their being. WOMAN'S EDUCATION.

Ruskin. “A countenance in which did meet

Sweet records, promises as sweet." The perfect loveliness of a woman's countenance can only consist in that majestic peace, which is founded in the memory of happy

so,

and useful years, – full of sweet records ; and from the joining of this with that yet more majestic childishness, which is still full of change and promise ;-opening always — modest at once, and bright, with hope of better things to be won, and to be bestowed. There is no old age where there is still that promise -- it is eternal youth.

Thus, then, you have first to mould her physical frame, and then, as the strength she gains will permit you, to fill and temper her mind with all knowledge and thoughts which tend to confirm its natural instincts of justice, and refine its natural tact of love.

All such knowledge should be given her as may enable her to understand, and even to aid the work of men; and yet it should be given, not as knowledge, — not as if it were, or could be, for her an object to know; but only to feel, and to judge. It is of no moment, as a matter of pride or perfectness in herself, whether she knows many languages or one; but it is of the utmost, that she should be . able to show kindness to a stranger, and to understand the sweetness of a stranger's tongue. It is of no moment to her own worth or dignity that she should be acquainted with this science or that; but it is of the highest that she should be trained in habits of acurate thought; that she should understand the meaning, the inevitableness, and the loveliness of natural laws, and follow at least some one path of scientific attainment, as far as to the threshold of that bitter Valley of Humiliation into which only the wisest and bravest of men can descend, owning themselves forever children, gathering pebbles on a boundless shore. It is of little consequence how many positions of cities she knows, or how many dates of events, or how many names of celebrated persons — it is not the object of education to turn a woman into a dictionary; but it is deeply necessary that she should be taught to enter with ber whole personality into the history she reads; to picture the passages of it vitally in her own bright imagination; to apprehend with her fine instincts, the pathetic circumstances and dramatic relations, which the historian too often only eclipses by his reasoning, and disconnects by his arrangement; it is for her to trace the hidden equities of divine reward, and catch sight, through the darkness, of the fateful threads of woven fire that connect error with its retribution. But, chiefly of all, she is to be taught to extend the limits of her sympathy with respect to that history which is being forever determined, as the moments pass in which she draws her peaceful breath; and to the temporary calamity which, were it but rightly mourned by her, would recur no more hereafter. She is to exercise herself in imagining what would be tb, effects upon her

mind and conduct, if she were daily brought into the presence of the suffering which is not the less real because shut from her sight. She is to be taught somewhat to understand the nothingness of the proportion which that little world in which she lives and loves, bears to the world in which God lives and loves; — and solemnly she is to be taught to strive that her thoughts of piety may not be feeble in proportion to the number they embrace, nor her prayer more languid than it is for the momentary relief from pain of her husband or her child, when it is uttered for the multitudes of those who have none to love them, — and is “for all who are desolate and oppressed.”

ILLUSTRATIONS OF SEMITONIC MELODY.

DEATH OF LITTLE NELL.

From The Old Curiosity Shop.Dickens. By little and little, the old man had drawn back towards the inner chamber, while these words were spoken. He pointed there, as he replied, with trembling lips,

“You plot among you to wean my heart from her. You will never do that - never while I have life. I have no relative or friend but her — I never had — I never will have. She is all in all to me.

It is too late to part us now.” Waving them off with his hand, and calling softly to her as he went, he stole into the room. They who were left behind drew close together, and after a few whispered words, not unbroken by emotion, or easily uttered, — followed him. They moved so gently, that their footsteps made no noise, but there were sobs from among the group, and sounds of grief and mourning.

For she was dead. There, upon her little bed, she lay at rest The solemn stillness was no marvel now.

She was dead. No sleep so beautiful and calm, so free from trace of pain, so fair to look upon.

She seemed a creature fresh from the hand of God, and waiting for the breath of life; not one who had lived and suffered death.

Her couch was dressed with, here and there, some winter berries and green leaves, gathered in a spot she had been used to favor. “When I die, put near me something that has loved the light, and had the sky above it always.” These were her words.

She was dead. Dear, gentle, patient, noble Nell was dead. Her little bird - a poor slight thing the pressure of a finger would have crushed—was stirring nimbly in its cage; and the strong heart of its child-mistress was mute and motionless forever.

Where were the traces of her early cares, her sufferings, and. fatigues? All gone. His was the true death before their weeping eyes. Sorrow was dead indeed in her, but peace and perfect happiness were born; imaged in her tranquil beauty and profound repose.

And still her former self lay there, unaltered in this change. Yes. The old fireside had smiled on that same sweet face; it had passed like a dream through haunts of misery and care; at the door of the poor schoolmaster on the summer evening, before the furnace fire upon the cold, wet night, at the still, dying boy, there had been the same mild, lovely look. So shall we know the angels in their majesty, after death.

The old man held one languid arm in his, and kept the small hand tight folded to his breast, for warmth. It was the hand she had stretched out to him with her last smile - the hand that had led him on through all their wanderings. Ever and anon he passed it to his lips; then hugged it to his breast again, murmuring that it was warmer now; and as he said it, he looked, in agony, to those who stood around, as if imploring them to help her.

She was dead, and past all help, or need of it. The ancient rooms she had seemed to fill with life, even while her own was ebbing fast - the garden she had tended — the eyes she had gladdened — the noiseless haunts of many a thoughtless hour — the paths she had trodden as if it were put yesterday - could know her no more.

“ It is not,” said the schoolmaster, as he bent down to kiss her on her cheek, and gave his tears free vent — “it is not in this world that Heaven's justice ends. Think what it is compared with the world to which her young spirit has winged its early flight, and say, if one deliberate wish expressed in solemn terms above this bed could call her back to life, which of us would utter it!”

THE BRIDGE OF SIGHS.

Hood.

6. Drowned ! drowned !"

One more unfortunate,
Weary of breath,
Rashly importunate,
Gone to her death!

Take her up tenderly,
Lift her with care;
Fashioned so slenderly,
Young, and so fair!

« PreviousContinue »