Page images
PDF
EPUB

SELECTIONS.

THE POWER OF HABIT.

I remember once riding from Buffalo to Niagara falls. I said to a gentleman, “ What river is that, sir ?” “ That,” said he, “is Niagara river."

“Well, it is a beautiful stream,—-bright, and fair, and glassy. How far off are the rapids ?”

“Only a mile or two,” was the reply.

“Is it possible that only a mile from us we shall find the water in all the turbulence which it must show near the falls ?”

“You will find it so, sir.” And so I found it; and the first sight of Niagara I shall never forget.

Now, launch your bark on that Niagara river ;—it is bright, smooth, beautiful, and glassy. There is a ripple at the bow; the silver wake you leave behind adds to your enjoyment. Down the stream you glide, oars, sails, and helm in 'proper trim, and you set out on your pleasure excursion.

Suddenly some one cries out from the bank, Young men, ahoy!

" What is it?”
The rapids are below you !"

“Ha! ha! we have heard of the rapids ; but we are not such fools as to get there. If we go too fast, then we shall up with the helm and steer to the shore; we will set the mast in the socket, hoist the sail, and speed to the land. Then on, boys; do n't be alarmed, there is no danger.”

Young men, ahoy there!
6 What is it?”
The rapids are below you !"

66

“Ha! ha! We will laugh and quaff; all things delight us. What care we for the future ! No man ever saw it. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof. We will enjoy life while we may, will catch pleasure as it flies. This is enjoyment; time enough to steer out of danger when we are sailing swiftly with the current.”

“ YOUNG MEN, AHOY!”
66 What is it?”
“ BEWARE! BEWARE! THE RAPIDS ARE BELOW YOU !”
“Now you see the water foaming all around.

See how fast you pass

that point! Up with the helm ! Now turn! Pull hard ! Quick ! quick ! quick! Pull for your lives! pull till the blood starts from your nostrils, and the veins stand like whip-cords upon your brow! Set the mast in the socket! hoist the sail!” Ah! ah! it is too late! Shrieking, howling, blaspheming-over they go.

Thousands go over the rapids of intemperance every year, through the power of habit, crying all the while,“ When I find out that it is injuring me, I will give it up!

-John B. Gough.

LADY GERALDINE'S COURTSHIP.

[ARRANGED BY SARAH NEAL HARRIS.]

A ROMANCE OF THE AGE.

There's a lady-an earl's daughter; she is proud and she is noble; And she treads the crimson carpet, and she breathes the perfumed

air ;

And a kingly blood sends glances up her princely eye to trouble,
And the shadow of a monarch's crown is softened in her hair.

There are none of England's daughters who can show a prouder

presence; Upon princely suitors' praying she has looked in her disdain : She has sprung of English nobles, I was born of English peasants ; What was I that I should love her --save for competence to pain !

Yet I could not choose but love her-I was born to poet uses-
To love all things set above me, all of good and all of fair ;
Nymphs of mountain, not of valley, we are wont to call the

Muses-
And in nympholeptic climbing, poets pass from mount to star.

book appear

And they praised me in her presence :—“Will your

this summer?” Then, returning to each other:— “Yes our plans are for the

moors.” Then with whisper dropped behind me—“There he is, the latest

comer!' Oh, she only likes his verses : what is over she endures.”

among them,

I grew scornfuller, grew colder, as I stood

up

there Till, as frost intense will burn you, the cold scorning scorched my

brow; When a sudden silver speaking, gravely cadenced, overrung them, And a sudden silken stirring touched my inner nature through.

I looked upward and beheld her! With a calm and regnant

spirit, Slowly round she swept her eyelids, and said clear before them all,— “Have you such superfluous honor, sir, that, able to confer it, You will come down, Mr. Bertram, as my guest to Wycombe Hall ?”

In the ancient hall of Wycombe thronged the numerous guests

invited, And the lovely London ladies trod the floors with gliding feet; And their voices low with fashion, not with feeling, softly freighted All the air about the windows with elastic laughters sweet.

Then she drew me the first morning out across into the garden:
And I walked among her noble friends, and could not keep behind ;
Spake she unto all and unto me—“Behold, I am the warden
Of the song birds in these lindens, which are cages to their mind.”

Then we talked—oh, how we talked ! Her voice so cadenced in the

talking Made another singing—of the soul ! a music without bars—

While the leafy sounds of woodlands, humming round where we

were walking, Filled

my soul with aspirations high as sky above the stars.

She was patient with my talking; and I loved her-loved her

certes, As I loved all heavenly objects, with uplifted eyes and hands! As I loved pure inspirations—loved the graces, loved the virtues— In a Love content with writing his own name on desert sands.

Then I heard an earl's voice pleading, for love's sake, for wealth,

position, “For the sake of liberal uses, and great actions to be done”And she interrupted gently, “Nay, my lord, the old tradition Of your Normans, by some worthier hand than mine is, should be

won."

What he said again, I know not. It is likely that his trouble
Worked his pride up to the surface, for she answered in slow scorn-
“ And your lordship judges rightly. Whom I marry shall be noble,
Aye, and wealthy. I shall never blush to think how he was born.”

There, I maddened! her words stung me! Life swept through me

into fever, And my soul

sprang up astonished ; sprang full-statured in an hour : Know you what it is when anguish, with apocalyptic NEVER, To a Pythian height dilates you,—and despair sublimes to power?

I was mad-inspired-say either! anguish worketh inspiration-
Was a man or beast-perhaps so, for the tiger roars when speared ;
And I walked on, step by step, along the level of my passion-
Oh, my soul! and passed the doorway to her face, and never feared.

“For myself I do not argue,” said I, “though I love you,

madain ; But for better souls that nearer to the height of yours have trod. And this age shows to my thinking, still more infidels to Adam, Than directly, by profession, simple infidels to God.

“Have you any answer, madam? If my spirit were less earthly, If its instrument were gifted with a better silver string,

« PreviousContinue »