Page images

times when a diiferent light lay on the spirit of|ad found a conclave of the brightest gods and man from that which I now see upon it, and of goddesses sitting together consulting or enjoying a distant land, you shall hear if you will hear. in their tranquil blessedness—the Propylea with At Athens I was Theophastus. My birth was the widely beautiful temples on its wings—the in Lesbos, the land of Sappho. I first saw statue of Minerva Promachos within the encloAthens just after the day of Mantinea, when sure of the Acropolis, lifting her tall crest and Epaminondas fell in the greatest glory of all the spear-point so high as to be visible to sailors at Greeks. The Athenian warriors had fought sea farther off than Sunium-and to crown all against the Theban that day; but the Theban the works of glory, as it crowned the Acropolis

, had beaten the Spartan wing, not the Athenian there stood the Parthenon itself, and within it wing; and as the news of the fight spread in the the gold-and-ivory statue of Minerva by Phidias. marble city, its mercurial men highly extolled the There was a robe of beauty about these things, great dead Theban as comparable even to their a seeming life and meaning and language which own Pericles, inquired briefly of the battle, gave spoke to the soul as you gazed, and most clearly a few words of pity and regret to their own dead to the highest soul, which nothing but the sudden who had fallen there, and rushed to a drama of breaking out of a vernal sunbeam on an Attic Euripides' at the theatre. Pericles had been landscape could illustrate. It was a city then in dead nearly seventy years. Since he was taken which an hour's walk in the common haunts of away, the disastrous close of the Peloponessian the citizens, sent dreams of ideal loveliness into war, the reign of the Thirty, and the liberation the soul fairer than men of all other ages and by. Thrasybulus had come and gone. Ihicrates climes have since attained to form or to conceive. and Chabrias were the leaders of the State in " Such beauty in the outer world singing its its new freedom; but they were not sons, hardly daily song to the eye and to the imagination,were they effigies, of Pericles. Had you com-almost indeed singing to the ear—was sure to pared them to him in the Agora, some aged man breed its kindred things in the inner world of with his braided hair surmounted by the Golden man. It is true, indeed, that Æschylus, SophoCicada, mingling in his tones, sadness, reproof cles, Euripides, Aristophanes, had all passed and a sense of triumph in the old times, would away. But though dead, yet they were still have shown you Pericles in the field; would have speaking to the Athenians in the theatre. And told you how the eloquence of Pericles inspired by feeding the spirits of men with the intellectual thoughts so lofty and heroic, that the people called beauties they were prepared to taste, the trageit Olympian, and said it thundered ; would have dies were preparing them, by the mystic and described to you the scene when the throneless prophetic strains of the choruses, for higher things and now childless old statesman came one day yet to come. From such a cradle, in such an into the Pnyx into the public Assembly, where age, Plato came; and none less than Plato the fickle Demos bad a little while before fined would have been a worthy offspring. I, a schoolhim fifty talents ; how the crowd saluted him boy, was sent from Lesbos to be his pupil; and with deeper reverence than ever, and sobs of I saw him first seated in the grove of the Acadecontrition burst from the whole Assembly; how my, venerable with more than sixty years of age, they all earnestly entreated his forgiveness, and surrounded by a crowd of the young nobles of by one sweeping vote re-invested him with all all Greece, modestly professing to teach them authority in the State. •That,' he would have merely the philosophy of the murdered Socrates, said, “was indeed a man.' Zeuxis and Parrha- yet bearing away his auditors, their heads insius were men when Pericles was a boy. Phi- clining to him and their countenances lighted dias, the sculptor, was near the same age as his with rapture, in the flights of a genius which all great patron, and died less than one Olympiad felt to be of far more nervous wing, and higher before him. And of about the same age was soaring and keener eye than that of Socrates. also Ictinus, the architect of the Parthenon. 1 Some years after my coming, there came also, myself, in the latter years of my life, saw Praxi- one day, from the city of Stagyra to school there, teles, who came from Italy and wrought in Pa- young ARISTOTLF, a gentleman of the most acrian marble instead of the Pentelican which had complished manners, scrupulously elegant in his been chiefly used before. These were the men dress, contrary to the maxims of the first Acadof Athens of that grand day, which was just be-emy, and of a sort of inexorable justness of fore my day, in the arts which shed glory upon thought, which led him often to scruple at the outward life. I saw their works about the city, loftier visions of the poel-sage. This finally the canvass of Zeuxis and the marble of Praxi- made his house a rallying point to those memteles at the portico of the Poecile, which caused/bers of the Academy in whose minds the rational one to feel on entering and looking around, as if and reflective understanding was stronger than he had entered Jove's richest hall on Olympus,' the poetic faculty; and was the nucleus of the school on the other side of the city in the grove selves, we felt that the beam of the intellectual of the Lyceum :—but not until after the death of light of Athens was complete. Plato. For twenty years Aristotle lived with “Yet fair as was that shining city, it is not the his master, beloved by him, and by him called mere preception of its wonders which chiefly re"the mind of the school.I became a member turns to me now of the reminiscenses of that of that school in the Lyceum called Peripatetic; Athenian life of mine. Although I have stood and finally succeeded Aristotle as its head. From in the Propylea when some grand procession of this new location, between the city walls and citizens of all classes and ranks, clad in mystic Mount Hymettus, on the South-eastern side of or triumphal dress in honor of Minerva, was the city, being not far from the theatre of Bac- about to pass through, and seeing the bronze chus, we could hear every night the plaudits of valves of the five gates fly suddenly open, have the people, and the soft wild chorus of flutes, felt the force of the exultation of Aristophacausing us to feel that Athens was learning rap- nes : idly to speak to the ear in music, and clothe in sound the mystic joy, and love, and aspiration of Shout, shout aloud of the view which appears of the old mortal life, as she had before spoken to the eye

time-honored Athenae, and the imagination, and the reason, by sculpture, Wondrous in sight and famous in song where the noble and poetry, and philosophy. Then it seemed

Demos ahideth,' to us that the beam of light was perfect, having all its prismatic rays, and was pure and clear

when the grandeur of the Parthenon burst upon white. But it was not yet so; there was yet another earthly ray to be added ; another yer Hymettus, I have looked upon the city in distant

my view ;-although from one of the hills of different from that beam from the Higher God which was to shine on another city, far eastward

view, on a fair day, when it seemed as if a bevy of Athens, and which Plato foresaw and longed tle and abide there ;-although I have gazed and

of the Spirits of the Blest had descended to nesto see with open vision, and which he said some wondered for hours at the Poecile and in other greater Socrates, descending from a city above, even higher than that of the Olympian deities, porticoes of the artists ;-although in listening to was to visit the earth to bring down.* There Demosthenes, I have had visions of civil gran

legends of Pericles or in hearing an oration of was yet another ray to come beside that. A

deur brought before me of great magnificence; young orator whom I had known a short while as a senior school-fellow at the Academy was of Euripides in the theatre, or some rhapsody of

even although I have gone along with some chorus the next year hissed from the Bema of Athens.

Plato in the grove, to the highest reach of their For some years he bad been lost from public sight. Few cared to inquire what had become soaring powers of invention,

yet it is the response of him. Of those who spoke of him at all, some which now arises to my view rather than the

to these things in the depths of my own soul said he was taking private lessons from an actor

bare memory of the things themselves. The who professed to see a jewel in him; and others tbat he was living in a cave by the sea-shore, de- fountains of the love of beauty in the human

arts of Athens sprang from certain primitive claiming in greater anger to the angry waves. soul. They did not create those fountains, as But suddenly one day there came a tremendous

some suppose; but were born of them. And as shout from the Public Assembly. It was the

offspring is like parent, as face answers to face in day on which the repeal of Leptines' law came up for discussion. This man, making an invidi

a glass, as the sky which appeared beneath the ous distinction in favor of the descendants of which glided over Attica, so were the arts of

waters at Sunium was the image of the sky Harinodius and Aristogiton, had proposed and Athens the images of the love and the dreams of carried a heavy tax on every other citizen of

ideal beauty in the souls of men. And our souls Athens. Young Demosthenes had reappeared that day; and seizing on the occasion which respond in flashes of inward light and glory to gave full scope to his favorite passion, as well as those flashes of light which now return upon me

their own image in their own offspring. It is the favorite passion of his audience, the pride of in connection with the grandeur of Grecian life, Athenian glory, he overwhelmed Leptines in an

rather than the memory of the scenes and peroration "on the Immunities of Athenian citizens."

ceptions themselves which were but the connectWith such an orator as he proved himself to be

ing chains by which the inward and the outward on this and on other occasions, when even the

world held communion. And flying from life to schools of philosophy went to hear him, not ex- life, those gleams of inward light pass down the cepting the snarlers of the Cynosarges them

stream of life in devious and wonderful ways. • Plato's Alcibides, lib. 2.

| As a poet of the race which is, in the modern


world, what the Greeks were in the ancient, has Soon thus--did I think-will the cares of this life
said :

In the stillness of death be no more,
And the storms, that attend us with tumult and strife,

Forever be hushed in their roa
011 birth is but a sleep and a forgetting
The soul that rises with us, our life's star The sorrows that gather so dark shall be past,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,

The cares that our pleasures would drown-
And conneth from afar;

And all shall be peaceful--be tranquil at last,
Not in entire forgetfulness,

When brightly the sun shall go down!
And not in utter nakedness,

F., D. & H.
But trailing clouds of glory do we come."

Bolivar, Tenn. [Wordsworth.


of another Elderly Gentleman.



I looked on the sun as he sank in the west

When the Countess of Blessington's very agreeNot a cloud overshadowed his beam;

able book first appeared, a number of good peoBut almly he shone from the place of his rest,

ple determined not to be amazed, because the And brightly expired with a gleam.

variety of her hero's entanglements seemed to

them both unnatural and improper. I, on the Anil, while 'neath the curtain of eve his last ray

contrary, belonged to that small and unhappy Was still on the far ro'ling wave,

class, who fancied that she had not done entire He feel like a spirit when passing away Beyond the sad gloom of the grave.

justice to the capacity of the human heart. Look

ing back from my mellow autumn, through a As calmly he poised on his pinions of light

sweet summer, to a pleasant spring, I recalled And left, as he faded from view,

more adventures of that sort, than her amiable Sueh smile as a heaven-bound spirit would write

hero had encountered. Not all indeed were as On his clay when he whispers-adieu !

successful. It is my misfortune to remember

having chased several butterflies, which, after There come o'er the earth and along the blue sky

keeping me breathless with haste, anxiety and A beauty as tranquil as sleep,

expectation, left me, cap in hand, a sad spec. And the soft, balmy dews on the breeze that moaned by Seemed hovering angels to weep!

tacle of their triumphant escape from the pro

jected capture. But yet, on the whole, I have How calm was that hour! as calm as if Death

had no reason to be dissatisfied with my success ; Had reigned o'er the land and the sea

and as the pleasing delusion of being dearly For the dash of each wave, and the moan of each breath loved, has never in my case been purchased by Spoke but of repose unto me.

the misery of the fair lady who did me that honor,

my reflections have not been disturbed by any The green earth around me was yet smiling on,

phantoms of remorse for a little innocent amuseThough its luminous spirit had fled,-And soft from the sky the shone,

The instance that I am about to relate is of Like the hope that remains for the dead!

that kind which derives its chief character from The hues of his glory soon vanished away,

the intention of the man who plays the part of Pursuing the Sun in his flight,

tempter. As I certainly had no satanic design in While, swist on the Irack of the fast-fading day, view, nor dreamed of expelling the fair Eve, at Flew darkly the shadow of night.

whose ear I sat, from that position which through

sheer necessity she was constrained to regard as The reign of deep silence came still o'er the scene- a paradise, I bespeak the silence of all good

Scarce aught save a murmur arose, of the saint-breathing zephyr, that told how serene

people as to the heinous character of my offence. How pure the untroubled repose.

If the tranquillity of my conscience, reflecting at

this day upon the whole affair, be regarded as It seemed that the angel of peace had descended,

any proof of innocent intention, my conduct And all with his spirit had blessed ;

must be looked upon as lamb-like in the retroThe thoughts that rushed darkly within me were blended Spect. With hopes of a heaven of rest!

In the year—, no matter what, I found myself


in the town of Havre, waiting for some ship gingerly along the springing plank, regaining a that would carry me back to the United States. comparative serenity when he reached the brass I was at that period near the mature age of twen- railing at the gangway. Then he was polite ty-three years: a time of life at which a man enough to help the partner of his ascent, through may be considered to have been perfectly capa- the easiest portion of her journey,-handing her ble of appreciating many of those enjoyments to where I stood, with our excellent skipper, which the continent of Europe and the French upon the quarter deck. capital offer to the idle mind. And it may be There may be some need for a national coswell to observe in passing, that during the season tume among certain people. I thank heaven which I had spent abroad, I had not suffered my that we Americans can follow what freak of fancy spirits, inclined as they naturally were to despon- we please without ever losing our national likedency, to wear one hue of the sombre tints of ness. Though we dressed as Bedouins and ramennui.

bled through all sorts of wadys in the desert; I had left Paris for a reason which many of lifted our slippered feet in Ispahan ;--smoked my young countrymen are able to understand. the meerschaum in Heidelberg, or Gottingen,Sitting one evening in my room, I took a sudden played at Baden ;-rode in England ;-and did fancy to discover the precise state of my ac- all unexceptionably ;-the keen eye of a fellow count with the banker. It was, after an adven- countryman, alive to those native graces which ture which I had been unlucky enough to en- survive all changes of climate, could detect the counter on the preceding evening, rather a mat- naked Jonathan, covered up in foreign fashions ter of agreeable surprise for me to discover, and by foreign manners as he might be. Had I that when all my bills were paid, I should have seen the gentleman who settled his hat upon money enough to land me upon the soil of liberty. his head as he reached the spot where we were, My ties in the city were not of that sort which on the top of the Pyramids; or met him as the it required a great effort of the heart to break. man in Eothen did his fellow wanderer in the Soon the following morning, with no more adieux desert, and had done no more than observed him than could be waved from the open window of touch his hat and look at me, I should have murthe coupé of a diligence, I rolled past the barri- mured-Broadway, and known that his feet were ers on my route to Havre.

familiar with the flag-stones of that pleasant avArriving there, I found the ship, in which I enue. If " a body” were to ask me why, and was destined to sail, not quite ready for sea. there are people incredulous enough to ask any Not

, however, being in any condition to commit thing, I should doubtless make a very lame arfurther extravagances, I went on board and put gument about the matter. But if any man ever my house in order. It was dreary enough the saw an American abroad, who had left his own first day. Havre is not a gay town, and after country full grown, without knowing him to be having dusted my boots in a walk around the from the direction of the setting-sun, we have ramparts and had them polished in the public yet to see such a case of amblyopia. square-venturously crossed to Harfleur-stroll- I did not very narrowly consider the exterior ed upon the quais-roamed over the castle of man of my countryman; for the face of his comFrancois ler-watched the process of opening panion was just then turned towards me. She the gates as the tide rose—and generally look- was a beautiful woman. There was no particued into every corner that seemed tolerably at- lar style in her figure of expression. You can tractive, I grew profoundly weary of the place. almost always say of an English woman, “ here Ship-board offered me no great attractions. I is one well-bred : a person of family and forhad the felicity, thanks to the care of the French tune:" or the reverse. And if your eye is fapolice, of going to bed without a light,--this sim- miliarized to the shades of manner, you can soon ple luxury being absolutely prohibited in those discriminate between that general sprightliness pleasant docks.

and suavity of demeanor which all Frenchwomen The next morning as I was pacing up and possess as their peculiar heritages, and the yet down the dead flat of the promenade deck, think- more refined and delicate courtesy, haughty ing of the Rue de Rivoli, and comparing my even in its flattering concessions, which distinsteady step very disadvantageously even with guishes the French lady of the old regime. But the rolling gait of a man at sea, I saw ascend- it is difficult to pronounce upon the social posiing the long plank to the gangway, two figures — tion of an American woman when you see her one a inan and the other, to my profound delight, out of her own country or circle. Every obsera woman. The man was a nervous man, it was ver has had the ill-fortune to behold almost as quite evident. Small attention did he pay to many coarse, ill-bred women filling the saloons the walk of the person following after him. With of good society in this country, as he would be the rope clutched tightly in his hand, he trod likely to find in that lower circle upon which

these peopl look down. While on the other he had found his legs and his voice in the comhand, in some small family group, where such a fortable cabin, and as we sat in the dark, stirring treasure was not to be looked for, as if Nature the unseen sugar at the bottom of our sangarees, in the very bounty of her gifts scorned to be cir- (still no light) he opened his full heart in comcumscribed by any limits not of her own fixing, plaint over all the miseries which he had underthe wandering and almost unobrervant eye will gone since he was beguiled into crossing the sometimes fall upon a woman of such surpassing ocean. There were the children refinement, gentleness and grace, that her untu- But stay, I had forgotten the children. It was tored loveliness appears to be a miracle of de- not worth while to disturb a feature of female light.

loveliness by introducing two such imps. But It would be passing far beyond the bounds of two, nevertheless, this delicate beauty, scarcely that truth, to which, as a veracious historian, I yet turned of twenty-four, unquestionably had— am bound to adhere, for me to say that the lady one a dumpy girl, some four years of age, another who looked at me upon the quarter deck of our a less dumpy but more peevish boy of two sumgood ship was any such miracle. She was very mers. These were the children of whom he bebeautiful, and very graceful; but she had that gan pathetically to lament. He had brought them calm assurance of her own charms, which sets with him to Europe, thinking that in that land the beholder in opposition to their influence. of civilization their young wants would be amply Perhaps the cool manner with which she recog- attended to. But such agonies as they had ennized my sense of her presence on the quarter dured !-rooms without carpets, doors without deck, and the careless catalogue she seemed to listing, hearths without fires large enough to be making in her mind of the items of my iden- blacken them! With a touching pathos he told tity, may have prejudiced me against her discern- me of the sad ravages made by unnumbered ment. And yet, as a judicious man, I could not cramps and coughs in the sad visages of his offquarrel with her taste. Figure to yourself, reader, spring. There was not much amusement to be (alas! how difficult it is for me, now beholding had in the dark; so accommodating myself to the ricketty image of wh I was, in the neigh- my restricted enjoyments, and using my advanboring mirror, to do likewise !) a tall youth, some tages, I strengthened his punch, when our fellow twenty-three years of age, not very carefully ar- voyagers retired and we made a night of it. rayed, with untrimmed, bushy whiskers and twist- His confidences were rather dull, but I gathed moustache, shaded by a travelling cap, the ered enough to be assured that his marriage was worse for wear. She was in a spotless morning of no uncommon sort. Some managing mother dress—the ribbons evidently fresh from the Rue had acted as unlicensed broker and sold her daughChaussée d'Antin, and the exquisitely fitting ter's lilies and roses, her soft brown hair, dark gloves bespeaking No. 8, Rue Castiglione. She lustrous eyes, and well-moulded figure for what glanced at me from head to foot, and entered her they would bring. He spoke of her attractive cabin, leaving me just about commencing a nau- points, as though he had a catalogue of them; tical criticism, which I was ready to think would and I listened, for I love to hear on what terms interest a timorous woman, about to trust her God's creatures are made marketable. precious freight of ribbons and silks to the faith- Early next morning the captain announced to less sea.

us that we had a chance of getting out into the We spent all that day on ship-board, the wind channel when the tide rose, and we all appeared proving too unfavorable to leave the harbor. At upon deck to see the exit of our vessel. The nightour fellow passengers came on board. There quiet way which some of our ships at home have were no more women. There was one young of getting off, such as casting loose the bow and American, who had, like me, been a wanderer stern ropes, and letting the foretopsail fall is not abroad, though for a far longer time than I had jour- to be thought of in Havre. When our turn came neyed, and one old American, who had toiled like a to pass through the narrow gate-way of the dock, galley-slave somewhere in the western part of the we were tugged to the appointed place by an inState of N. York, selling potashes and pearlashes, finitely long string of crapauds and sailors; thus accumulating a large fortune, and who, in which, when we had reached under a storm of his sixtieth year, had quitted his “snuggery” to Sacres, we were joined in brief bonds to a little 1 trust his old age in foreign countries. He was worm of a steamer, and with it struggled out! returning to his own quiet home, to his cosy into the open channel.

i wife and comfortable daughters under the im- Our fair friend watched all these proceedings pression that the wide world did not show any with a sort of scornful curiosity. And really as thing half so beautiful as the falls of the Gene- she stood near the binnacle, with her brown hair see, or as the flats through which the river wan-smoothly tressed over a clear white brow, and ders to Lake Ontario. As for my New Yorker,l falling down upon cheeks of exquisite smooth

[ocr errors]


« PreviousContinue »