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not to be put down by Andrews and Stoddard Then I went on.
Such hospitality as that island has seen there has not been the like of in these our New England sov. ereignties. There is nothing in the shape of kindness and courtesy that can make life beautiful, which has not found its home in that ocean-principality. It has welcomed all who were worthy of welcome, from the pale clergyman who came to breathe the sea-air with its medicinal salt and iodine, to the great statesman who turned his back on the affairs of empire, and smoothed his Olympian forehead, and Aashed his white teeth in merriment over the long table, where his wit was the keenest and his story the best.
(I don't believe any man ever talked like that in this world. I don't believe I talked just so; but the fact is, in reporting one's conversation, one cannot help Blair-ing it up more or less, ironing out crumpled naragraphs, starching limp ones, and crimping and plaiting a little sometimes; it is as natural as prinking at the looking-glass.)
-How can a man help writing poetry in such a place ? Everybody does write poetry that goes there. In the state archives, kept in the library of the Lord of the Isle, are whole volumes of unpub lished verse,—some by well-known hands, and others quite as good, by the last people you would think of 83 versifiers,—men who could pension off all the genuine poets in the country, and buy ten acres of Boston common, if it was for sale, with what they had left. Of course I had to write my little copy of verses with the rest; here it is, if you will hear me read it. When the sun is in the west, vessels sailing in an easterly direction look bright or dark to one who observes them from the north or south, according to the tack they are sailing upon. Watching them from one of the windows of the great mansion, I saw these perpetual changes, and mor alized thus :
SUN AND SHADOW.
As I look from the isle, o'er its billows of green,
To the billows of foam-crested blue,
As the chaff in the stroke of the flail;
The sun gleaming bright on her sail.
Yet her pilot is thinking of dangers to shun,
Of breakers that whiten and roar;
They see him that gaze from the shore !
To the rock that is under his lee,
O’er the gulfs of the desolate sea.
Thus drifting afar to the dim-vaulted caves
Where life and its ventures are laid,
May see us in sunshine or shade;
We'll trim our broad sail as before,
Nor ask how we look from the shore !
- Insanity is often the logic of an accurate mind overtasked. Good mental machinery ought to break its own wheels and levers, if anything is thrust among them suddenly which tends to stop them or reverse their motion. A weak mind does not accumulate force enough to hurt itself; stupidity often saves a man from going mad. We frequently see persons in insane hospitals, sent there in consequence of what are called religious mental disturbances. I confess that I think better of them than of many who hold the same notions, and keep their wits and appear to enjoy life very well, outside of the asylums. Any decent person ought to go mad, if he really holds such or such opinions. It is very much to his discredit in every point of view, if he does not. What is the use of my saying what some of these opinions are? Perhaps more than one of you hold such as ] should think ought to send you straight over to Somerville, if you have any logic in your heads or any human feeling in your hearts. Anything that is brutal, cruel, heathenish, that makes life hopeless for the most of mankind and perhaps for entire races,–
I am very
anything that assumes the necessity of the externi. nation of instincts which were given to be regulated, -no matter by what name you call it,—no matter whether a fakir, or a monk, or a deacon believes it, --if received, ought to produce insanity in every well-regulated mind. That condition becomes a normal one, under the circumstances. much ashamed of some people for retaining their reason, when they know perfectly well that if they were not the most stupid or the most selfish of human beings, they would become non-compotes at once.
(Nobody understood this but the theological student and the schoolmistress. They looked intelligently at each other; but whether they were thinking about my paradox or not, I am not clear. It would be natural enough. Stranger things have happened. Love and Death enter boarding-houses without asking the price of board, or whether there is room for them. Alas, these young people are poor and pallid! Love should be both rich and rosy, but must be either rich or rosy. Talk about military duty! What is that to the warfare of a married maid-of-all-work, with the title of mistress, and an American female constitution, which collapses just in the middle third oi life, and comes out vulcanized India-rubber, if it happen to live through the period when health and strength are most wanted ?)
Have I ever acted in private theatricals ! Often. I have played the part of the “ Poor Gentlo man,” before a great many audiences,-more, I trust than I shall ever face again. I did not wear a stage. costume, nor a wig, nor moustaches of burnt cork but I was placarded and announced as a public performer, and at the proper hour I came forward with the ballet-dancer's smile upon my countenance, and made my bow and acted my part. I have seen my name stuck
up in letters so big that I was ashamed to show myself in the place by daylight. I have gone to a town with a sober literary essay in my pocket, and seen myself everywhere announced as the most desperate of buffos,-one who was obliged to restrain himself in the full exercise of his powers, from prudential considerations. I have been through as many hardships as Ulysses, in the pursuit of my histrionic vocation. I have travelled in cars until the conductors all knew me like a brother. I have run off the rails, and stuck all night in snow-drifts, and sat behind females that would have the window open when one could not wink without his eyelids freezing together. Perhaps I shall give you some of my experiences one of these days;-I will not now, I have something else for you.
Private theatricals, as I have figured in them in country lyceum-halls, are one thing,—and private theatricals, as they may be seen in certain gilded and frescoed saloons of our metropolis, are another. Yes. it is pleasant to see real gentlemen and ladies, who do not think it necessary to mouth, and rant, and