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THE BEAUTIFUL SNOW
THE BEAUTIFUL SNOW.
O, THE Snow, the beautiful snow,
Beautiful snow! it can do no wrong,
O, the snow, the beautiful snow,
It lights on the face and it sparkles the eye.
The town is alive, and the heart is aglow,
How the wild crowd goes swaying along,
Dashing they go,
Over the crust of the beautiful snow;
Snow so pure when it falls from the sky,
To be trampled in mud by the crowd rushing by,
To be trampled and tracked by the thousands of feet, Till it blends with the filth in the horrible street.
Once I was pure as the snow-but I fell!
Dreading to die,
Selling my soul to whoever would buy,
Once I was fair as the beautiful snow,
Flattered and sought for the charms of my face.
Sister and all,
God and myself lost by the fall.
The veriest wretch that goes shivering by,
Will take a wide sweep least I wander too nigh;
There is nothing that's pure as the beautiful snow.
How strange it should be that this beautiful snow
Too wicked for prayer, too weak for a moan;
With a bed and a shroud of the beautiful snow.
THE AMBITIOUS YOUTH,
THE AMBITIOUS YOUTH.
THE scene opens with a view of the great Natural Bridge In Virginia. There are two or three lads standing in the channel below, looking up with awe to that vast arch of unhewn rocks, which the Almighty bridged over those everlasting abutments, "when the morning stars sang together." The little piece of sky that is spanning those measureless piers is full of stars, though it is mid-day. It is a thousand feet from where they stand, up those perpendicular bulwarks of limestone, to the key rock of that vast arch which appears to them only of the size of a man's hand. The silence of death is rendered more impressive by the little stream that falls from rock to rock down the channel, where once the waters of a Niagara may have rushed in their fury.
The sun is darkened, and the boys have uncovered their heads instinctively, as if standing in the presence-chamber of the Majesty of the whole earth. At last this feeling of awe wears away; they begin to look around them; they find that others have been there and looked up with wonder to that everlasting arch.
They see the names of hundreds cut in the limestone abutments. A new feeling comes over their young hearts, and their jack-knives are in their hands in an instant, "What man has done, man can do," is their watchword, and fired with this noble spirit, they draw themselves up and carve their names above those of a hundred tall, full-grown men, who have been there before them.
They are all satisfied with this exploit of physical exertion, except one, whose example illustrates perfectly the forgotten truth that there is no royal road to intellectual emiThis ambitious youth sees a name just above his reach a name that will be green in the memory of the world when those of Alexander, Cæsar, and Bonaparte shall
rot in oblivion. It was the name of WASHINGTON. Before he marched with Braddock to that fatal field, he had been there and left his name a foot above all his predecessors. It was a glorious thought of the boy to write his name side by side with the great "Father of his country.”
He grasps his knife with a firmer hand, and clinging to a little jutting crag, he cuts a gain into the limestone about a foot above where he stands; he then reaches up and cuts another for his hands. 'Tis a dangerous feat, but, as he puts his feet and hands into these gains, and draws himself up carefully to his full length, he finds himself, to his inexpressible exultation, a foot above every name that was ever chronicled in that mighty wall.
While his companions were regarding him with concern and admiration, he cuts his name in rude capitals, large and deep in that flinty album. His knife is still in his hand, and strength in his sinews, and a new-created aspiration in his heart. Again he cuts another niche, and again he carves his name in large capitals. This is not enough. Heedless of the entreaties of his companions, he cuts and climbs again. The graduations of his ascending scale grow wider apart. He measures his length at every gain, and marks his ascent with larger capitals, and stronger hieroglyphics. The voices of his friends wax weaker and weaker, and their words are finally lost on his ear.
He now, for the last time, casts a look beneath him. Had that glance lasted a moment, that moment would have been his last. He clings with a convulsive shudder to his little niche of rock. An awful abyss, such a precipice as Golster's son depicted to his blind father, awaits his almost certain fall. He is faint from severe exertion, and trembling from the sudden view of the dreadful destruction to which he is exposed. His knife is worn half-way to the haft. He can hear the voices, but not the words of his terror-stricken
companions below. What a moment! What a meager chance to escape destruction. There is no retracing his steps. It is impossible to put his hands in the same niche
with his feet, and retain his slender hold for a moment. His companions instantly perceive this new and fearful dilemma, and await his fall with emotions that "freeze their young blood."
THE AMBITIOUS YOUTH.
He is too high, too faint, to ask for his father and mother, his brother and sister to come and witness or avert his destruction. But one of his companions anticipates his desire; he knows what yearnings come over the human heart when the King of Terrors shakes his swords at his victim at any time or place. Swift as the wind he bounds down the channel, and the situation of the fated boy is told upon his father's hearthstone.
Minutes of almost eternal length roll on, and then there are hundreds standing in the rocky channel, and hundreds on the bridge above, all holding their breath, and awaiting the affecting catastrophe.
The poor boy hears the hum of new and numerous voices, both above and below. He can just distinguish the tones of his father, who is shouting with all the energy of despair, "William! William! don't look down. Your mother and Henry and Harriet are all here praying for you Don't look down-keep your eye toward the top!" The boy did not look down. His cye is fixed like a flint toward Heaven, and his young heart on Him who reigns there. He grasps again his knife. He cuts another niche, and another foot is added to the hundreds that remove him from the reach of human help below. How carefully he uses his wasting blade! How anxiously he selects the softest places in that vast pier! How he avoids every flinty grain! How he economizes his physical powers, resting a moment at each gain he cuts!
How every motion is watched from below! There stand his father, mother, brother and sister on the very spot where, if he falls, he will not fall alone.
The sun is now half way down the west. The lad has made fifty additional niches in that mighty wall, and now finds himself directly under the middle of that vast arch of rocks and earth and trees.