« PreviousContinue »
backward vista of my life in one strong, rich flood, to , dear old friend, looking now down into the face of my which memory ever will have recourse, and where I am cherished one, even while my thoughts Fander off backprone to bury the present in dreams golden and glorious. ward to those hours that so swiftly glided away amid Her letter-I have read it twenty times—reads thus : the haunts of " The Shady Side.” When I think of my
childhood I think of that period of my existence. “ MY DEAR FRIEND :
Whenever I recall the periods of pure happiness I Not a summer has passed since I parted from have experienced, “The Shady Side” comes crowding you without extinguishing a hope of seeing you; and up before them all. I cannot come to you, dear sir, upon each recurring June when the certainty was forced and I want to see you much-and show you my baby. upon me, that my husband's affairs would not permit Will you not some day come to me?" the hoped for visit, the disappointment, believe me, has been severe indeed. My dear friend, I am happier Signed “Beatrice"-nothing more. The burden of now—much happier than when I wrote to you before. her note is happiness—of my heart loneliness. I will I am a mother. For a long time I despaired of this not see her. The wound must not be opened afresh. wished for consummation to my happiness, but at last An unspoken word, or a chance look might reveal to it pleased heaven to respond to my prayers. My little her all that I bear and have borne within me—and I one is more than six months old. It is a daughter, and would not cause her a pang on account of the foolish her father would call her Beatrice. I am very happy, dreams I have nourished, for all my worldly wealth.
THE BEGINNING AND THE END.
A GERMAN TALE.
I HAVE not lived in the world till the present time—I tion of novelty which presents itself to him. And yet am now bordering upon sixty--without having made it is all necessary for his comfort, and for the artificial some observations upon men—their mental and moral state in which he lives. The child of two years, who structure, their physical qualifications, &c. I do not changes liis toys every five minutes, is not more inconthink I am any better, in a pecuniary point of view, for stant than that other child of maturer years, who has having done so; but I am certainly persuaded of this: attained to manhood. that it has enabled me to penetrate with greater facility I do not intend to write a homily upon man, but to into the human character, trace out the springs of relate a few circumstances connected with a recent tour action, and surmise with tolerable accuracy the events in Germany. The whims and eccentricities of a strange that are likely to arise from certain proceedings. This old man have suggested the rambling reflections with observant disposition has led me to the conclusion that which this article is opened: who he was, I know not. man is an erratic, eccentric, phlegmatic creature, fond He occasioned me some alarm and uneasiness, but I for, of change, novelty, money, worldly superiority, and so give him. He probably meant well; at all events, I am forth. To-day he is himself; to-morrow he is somebody willing to suppose that he did. else. He is perpetually acted upon by circumstances; There was no country in the world, I may remark, en and a week may cause him to lose bis identity alto- passant, that I was more anxious of travelling through gether, and leave him without a single trace of his per- than Germany. I liked the character of the people; I sonal existence. The aborigines of New Zealand paint liked their language, their manners and customs; and, their bodies, and decorate their heads with feathers. above all, I liked that fine metaphysical feature which The lounger of Bond street perpetually wears a glass on so frequently pervades their studies. I had read of his eye, and suffers a tuft of hair to grow upon his chin their forests and their mountains, their valleys and their and upper lip; if his hair be not of the orthodox color, streams, teeming with legendary lore. I had pictured he dyes it; if his teeth have decayed, he replaces them to myself their dilapidated castles, and their caverns by with false ones. It is hard to say which of these two the sea, and the sea-nymphs who are said to inhabit men most resembles the natural one.
them; in a word, I had become so thorvughly imbued If a man were to absent himself from civilized society with the spirit of the German people, that the wish to for a month, he would be so far in arrears when he become better acquainted with them was no longer to returned, that he would well-nigh despair of ever being be kept in abeyance, nor my long-projected visit to that able to overtake the world again. So many novelties in country to be deferred. dress—so many new ceremonials in society—so many I departed from England in the autumn. I passed new methods of doing so many new things—so many through most of the German states—visited the princinew events in the social, political, scientific, commer- pal cities and towns, and saw, in short, as much as, if cial, sporting, dramatic, operatic, &c. &c. worlds, shall not more than, most tourists. From the letters of introhave taken place in the interim, that he will be per- duction which I carried with me, I was enabled to gain fectly astounded and dispirited with the vast accumula- access to the best society; and nothing used to afford me more pleasure than to hear a handsome and accom- “I will give you a lodging at the house close at hand plished woman speak her native tongue with purity. I here, on three conditions." have frequently heard the German language objected to "Name them,” I said. as being harsh and unmusical; but O, sapient linguist! “The first is, that you will not attempt to look at my hear it from rich, coral lips-hear those guttural sounds face; the second is, that you will ask no questions conemanate from between two rows of teeth which rival cerning anything you may see; the third is, that after the most beautiful ivory-hear those meaning-fraught your departure you will never cross the threshold of words uttered with eyes beaming with tenderness and the house again." affection-hear them when the fair speaker's coun- “To all these conditions I readily subscribe; but tenance is lit up with pleasure and excitement—and 0, wherefore should you impɔse such mysterious restrichear them when there is none to mar, by unseemly tions ?" intrusion, that inoment of love and rapture; and if you “I object to questions,” said the old man, curtly. can refrain from pressing the coral lips to yours, fie "I perceive-I perceive," I said, checking myself. upon your morality and impassiveness.
In a few minutes we reached the house: we had no However, revenons à nos moutons ; I shall not speak sooner done so than the door, by some incomprebenof the places which I visited during my travels. Isible agency of which I was totally ignorant, was shall therefore say very briefly, that after being six thrown open. The old man led the way into a room, weeks in Germany, I found myself one dismally-dark saying, as be did so—“You will find everything here night on a very lonely road some miles from the town for your accommodation." of Leipzig. I had travelled a considerable distance on I turned towards him to thank him; but when I the day in question on foot, and I was making my way raised my eyes I found, to my inexpressible horror and to the nearest Gasthaus, where I intended to remain for astonishment, he was gone ! Heaven and earth! the night. A great portion of my journeying, I may whither had he gone? By what means had be disremark, was performed on foot. I had a knapsack on appeared so unaccountably? There was no mode of my back, stored with plenty of provisions, and a good egress by the walls or floor, that I could perceive. He staff in my hand, and I preferred this mode of travelling had not escaped by the door; for he could not have to any other. My time was at my own command ; done so without my observing him. I turned pale, and there was no necessity, therefore, for me to pass places trembled. The singularity of my position at once burst with the rapidity of lightning, and make a boast after- upon my mind. I knew not where I was ; I knew not wards to my friends of having seen them.
who the occupants of the house were-I knew not their The road, as I have just said, on which I was travel- character. My imagination forthwith pictured a series ling, was very lonely; it was worse—it was skirted on of dangers and difficulties of the most frightful and disboth sides by two densely-planted forests, which stretch- agreeable character. Why had I come hither? A ed away in the direction in which I was proceeding for dilapidated ruin—a crazy barn-a hedge—nay, the open a considerable distance. What if some ruffian were canopy of heaven-were a better covering, with a mind springing from the midst of them—some gentleman in at ease, than a palace with a mind agitated by a thouthe Carl Moor style, and making an attack on me; or sand vague and indefinable misgivings. Had I not read . if some spectre were revealing itself, arrayed in all the a thousand times of deeds of violence which had been horrors with which the Germans are apt to invest these perpetrated upon belated travellers ? Had I not read shadowy beings! I was not fond of being alone on of the arts and stratagems resorted to, to entrap them? such an occasion, and was, I confess, a little supersti- This old man was no doubt in league with others. Why tious. I was therefore particularly anxious to reach all this mystery? why those strange and incomprehensi“mine inn,” totally ignorant of the precise spot in ble conditions? I was either a fool or a madman. Why which it was to be found. I travelled on, and on, and did I suffer myself to be so misled? Why had I not on, as the nursery tale says, and at last, to pursue the satisfied myself that I was going to a place of safety, same style of composition, I came to a large house before agreeing to the conditions stipulated by the old which stood by the roadside. I stood and inspected it man? His object evidently was to deceive me. This very closely; but the night was so dark, that I could was one view of the case; the other was still less invitnot make out whether it was a private house or one of ing. There was something very remarkable about this public entertainment. I was foot-sore and hungry, and old man. Why did he conceal his features from me? I loath to travel any farther for the night. I knocked at may observe, that whenever I attempted to look at his the door, but no one answered my summons; I repeated face, he turned it from me. If this old man were not the process half a dozen times with the same result. I in league with some desperadoes, he was something concluded that the house was not occupied, so I walked worse.
-eh? my limbs shook beneath me as I had not proceeded far when I met a decrepit old the thought flashed across my mind-he was not human man, who seemed to be walking towards the house in -he was not of this earth—he was in league with evil question.
spirits. I sat down and endeavored to compose myself. Good evening," I said to him, as he approached. I partially succeeded. I shortly after rose from my “Good evening," he repeated.
seat, and began to inspect the furniture of the room. It “ Can you direct me to a house,” I inquired, “where was costly, but antique, and in a former day had no I can obtain a lodging for the night ?”
doubt been considered elegant. When I had in some
degree satisfied my curiosity in respect to the room, my For some moments I could not speak. At length I eyes were suddenly attracted by a walking-stick which stammered out, “No, no,I thank your master-I do lay npon the table.
not feel hungry.” " Thank leaven !" I exclaimed; "here is something “Follow me then, sir, if yon please.” belonging to this old man; for this, I believe, is his stick." "I will stay liere, if you will perinit me,” I said.
I took it up, but in a moment it fell from my hand, “There is a room already provided for you;' and so and came in contact with the floor with a rattling saying, le motioned me to follow. noise. I alınost swooned at this incident, and buge I involuntarily obeyed the mandate. I felt, indeed, drops began to gather upon my brow. If the stick lad | as though I were under a power I could not resist. possessed life; if it had spoken—moved; if its mere “Who, who," I ventured tremulously to ask, “is your touch bad imparted a burning fever to my veins, or if master ?” It had thrilled me as with an electric shock-it could The boy placed his finger upon his lips to imply not have occasioned me more liorror and consternation. silence. I sank into a large easy-chair, and for some minutes I followed my condu or. He led me up a short remained motionless. At length I recovered. The flight of stairs, and then we entered a kind of oblong stick lay upon the floor where it had fallen : it had not gallery; at one end there was a small room, in which moved ; it had not walked across the floor of its own was placed a bed lung with black. free will; it had not danced through the air like a “This is your apartment, sir,” said the boy, pointing phantoin-stick; in short, it had only demeaned itself as to the room I have just mentioned. “At eight o'clock a piece of good stout thorn or ash, or any other ordi- in the morning, breakfast will be served you in the pary stick whatever; and yet the sight of it again room we have just quitted." almost threw me into my former state of agitation. So saying, le departed. There it lay, as still as anything else in the room, and I was quite at a loss to comprehend this mysterious yet, at the moment, I dared not approach it for any treatment. There was nothing remarkable in the room, consideration. It was not because it belonged to the save its sombre appearance. I felt fatigued, and longed old man-it was not because I had seen him walking for repose: I did not undress, but extinguished the with it—that I felt such a dread of it. No. It was light. the stick itself that inspired me with such horror. I I know not how long I had been in bed, but I was have seen sticks of all descriptions. I have seen one with aroused from a profound slumber by delicious strains a very short curve-- I have seen another with a great of music; I listened for some minutes, expecting they club at the end; I have seen the genteel cane ; I have would cease, but they continued without interruption. seen some mounted with silver-some with gold, with I could not rest. I was greatly agitated and alarmed, silk tassels pending from their heads. I have seen them and had no conception as to what they could portend. ornamented with the heads of dogs, horses, foxes, men; I arose from my bed. I stealthily opened the door of but I never saw one possessing such a head as the stick the chamber in which I slept, and a food of light burst in question. Is there anything dreadful in a stick? I upon my eyes. I looked over the railing of the gallery, could not have conceived it possible before the night I and, to my ineffable surprise, I saw figures moving at speak of; no doubt the circumstances by which I was the further end of the chamber below. surrounded led to a deeper feeling of awe and conster- There were several ladies and gentlemen grouped nation than could have happened if I had been differ- round an object that seemed to awaken the utmost inteently sitnated. A miniature human skull was placed rest. They were all gaily dressed, and their counteat the top of the stick, executed in a masterly stylo. nances were lit up with joy and excitement. They Of what it was made I know not; but it had all the appeared to be conversing together with great famiappearance and color of the actual human skull. If it liarity; but although I observed their lips move, I could had not been too small, I should have said it was real. not hear any sounds they uttered. Their attention was Beneath the skull was placed the following inscription, absorbed by the object that was placed in the mid:t of on a circular ring of gold: “ Eram, es, sum, eris.” At them. The room in which they were assembled was another time, these words would have admonished me elegantly furnished. I perceived, however, that it was -at the moment, I could not think of them. I could a bed-chamber, and on one side of the room stood a only think of the skull, and of the taste of the owner bed, hung with superb white hangings; a lady sat in who had placed this emblem of mortality so promi- bed, supported by pillows: her appearance indicated Dently before the eyes. Was the old man a philosopher that she was just recovering from severe illness. I was -a moralist? Had he studied in the school of the most anxious to know what object it was around which ancient Egyptians, who were in the habit of placing a the ladies and gentlemen were grouped. My curiosity skeleton at their banquets to remind them of death? I was soon gratified, for I perceived that it was an infant could not divine lijs meaning.
which had apparently only lately been ushered into I had scarcely recovered from my fright, when the the world. The child, I remarked, by the contortivus door of the room was thrown open, and a boy, habited of its countenance, was cross; but I heard not a in a black livery, entered.
sound, save that of the music to which I have referred. “My master has requested me to ask if you require the figures moved about like aerial beings, yet they any refreshments before you retire to rest ?"
were as palpable as any forms of flesh and blood
I had ever beheld: they conversed—they langbed— 1 of her lover was also prepossessing, though perhaps not they moved various articles of furniture, but these ope- to the same degree as that of his companion. It was a rations created no noise whatever. It was strange. scene worthy of lovers, and one that must greatly have What were they? Were they inhabitants of this contributed to the ecstatic pleasure of which they world, or were they spirits ? Whilst I meditated seemed to be partaking. Again the scene changed, and upon this subject, they melted, as it were, away; I now beheld a large public assembly: there was an the appointments of the room simultaneously disap- orator elevated upon one of the benches; he was harpeared, and a new scene burst upon my astonished anguing those around him. His words seemed to pro
duce an electric effect upon the assembly. Every one A flower-garden, in all the luxuriousness of summer, around him was listening with the most profound attenpresented itself: the trees were clad with the brightest tion, and when he sat down a thrill of admiration perfoliage, and were laden with the most luscious fruit—the vaded his fellow-senators. He sank back exhausted and flowers basked in the glorious sunshine—the lark mounted fatigued, and another orator immediately arose from bis with radiant wing the unclouded atmosphere, and seemed, seat. au Le ascended, to be pouring out his melodious strains. But this scene quickly vanished, and a dreary prosThe bec roved from flower to flower, and thousands of in- pect now succeeded. It was winter. The trees were sects filled the air. In one part of the garden I perceived stripped of their leaves-all vegetation was suspended, a group of young children; their countenances beamed a bleak common rose upon my view, along wlich with health and innocence: they were seated upon a a decrepit and tottering old man was directing lis steps. small plot of grass, and were making wreatlıs of flowers, He was so feeble that it was only with the aid of his with which they decorated each other. In another part staff that he could support himself. He seemed to be of the garden I observed more children, some playing suffering as much from physical disease as from the at shuttlecock, others chasing butterflies. Another coldness of the season; lis eyes were dull and sunken small group were reposing by the side of a small streann in leis head; his face haggard and careworn; his dress of water, and were examining their shadows reflected hung loosely upon him, and was arranged without any therein. The scene was enchanting—there was nothing regard to triste. As he toiled slowly along the road, the to mar its beauty-ail was innocence, joy, health, con- shadows of evening were fast gathering around him, imtentment.
parting a still more gloomy aspect to the scene. The Suddenly the scene again changed, and a large field music, which had bitherto been gay and animating, bespread itself before me. In one part I saw a number of came sad and sorrowful. The view, indeed, was by do youths engaged at cricket-in a different part there were means captivating, and I was not displeased when it others amusing themselves with foot-ball; a third party passed away. was engaged in some game, the nature of which I did not Ilow shall I convey my astonishment at the one thoroughly comprehend. The scene was not so beau- which succeeded ? It was still more gloomy-still more tiful as the former one, but still there was a degree of desolate than its predecessor. A funeral procession hilarity and good-lıumor about it that was very refresh- passed before me: there was the hearse, drawn by black ing. It passed away as its predecessors had done, and horses heavily plumed—there was the churchyard in was succeeded by another of surpassing beauty. It was the distance, and I thought I could perceive the clergymoonlight-a rich landscape lay before me, through man waiting to conduct the funeral procession into the which a small rivulet wound its way in a serpentine church. I was horrified, and my limbs refused their course. On either side of the stream was a thick office. I sank upon the floor. My sudden indisposition, uinbrageous wood; the moon's rays silvered the tops of however, was but momentary; for I rapidly recorered, the trees, and danced upon the surface of the water. and summoned courage to place myself again in a standTo the left of the view stood a grey and time-worn ruin, ing attitude. My astonislıment was increased tenfold. overgrown with ivy and other plants; to the right, I now beheld a miniature representation of each of the and upon the opposite bank of the river, rose a stately tableaux I had witnessed, and beneath the whole were mansion of inodern structure. The moon's rays brought inscribed, in black letters, the following words: every portion of the building out in strong relief. It stood upon elevated ground, with an elegant terrace in
“Eanity of Panities–All is Fanity." front; the gardens lay beneath, and extended towards I staggered into my room, and fell prostrate upon the the margin of the stream. A scene so enchanting foor. I remember nothing further until I heard a I do not remember ever to have witnessed: I was knocking at my door. It was the boy, to announce that in raptures with it. I had not gazed long upon it, it was seven o'clock. This aroused me, and I was glad when two figures appeared on the terrace. I per- to find that it was morning. ceived they were a lady and a gentleman; they were I descended the stairs, and found my way to the
A small cloak was thrown over the room into which I had been conducted on the previous shoulders of the lady: the arm of her companion night. A substantial breakfast was placed before me, encircled her waist as they walked two and fro: her of which I sparingly partook. face was beautiful-it was one of those faces which we When I was ready to depart, I asked the boy if his see but seldom, but which leave an impression that is master would permit me to take my leave of him. He never to be obliterated from the mind. The appearance replied in the negative.
“I beg you will return him my thanks for his hospi- | the follies and the vanities of life. I have speculated tality.”
upon the shortness of man's career. I have moralized He promised to do so, and I quitted this extraordi- upon the various stages he passes through in the course nary habitation; the boy at the same time handing me of his life ; and once a year I trace his career, from the a letter, which he said was from his master, and which cradle to the grave, by a series of tableaux. At one he requested I would not read till I was some distance end of the gallery there is placed a large mirror, at the off. I promised to obey, and pursued my way. I was other end are the performers and scenes which compose curious to know what the letter contained, and, after I the various tableaux. It is merely the reflections that had travelled a few miles, I opened it. Its contents I are visible in the mirror. The day on which you haptranscribe below :
pened to visit my house was the anniversary of my
birth-day: it is on that day, for the last twenty years, * SIR: It is not improbable that you will leave my that this exhibition has taken place. If you can enter house with an impression upon your mind that some into my feelings, what you have seen may, perhaps, not magic has been employed to produce the sights of which | be altogether with advantage to you personally. With you were a witness last night, and that they were pro- every feeling of respect,
I am, &c., duced for the purpose of terrifying you, and rendering
A. VON E your lodging uncomfortable. If such be your impressions, they are altogether erroneous. I am myself an eccentric old man, living by myself ; without friends or This curious epistle astonished me not a little. I relations, and without, perhaps, a very friendly feeling have nothing further to add, than that a week or two towards the human family. I am much addicted to the after my adventure, I landed safely again in my native study of moral philosophy. I have for years observed land.