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GRAY, in the most familiar of his exquisite Stanzas in a Country Churchyard, (“Full many a gem" &c.,) has expressed most poetically the waste of a false position in life. The fond partiality of every village generation finds in its own burying-ground some "village Hampden," some "mute, inglorious Milton," or
keep a livery stable, or drive four in hand; and there are spiritual teachers, whose whole lives should be passed in the humblest class of learners. Bachelors there are, who would have been pattern husbands and idolized fathers; and husbands and fathers, who should have gone roaming and growling alone through life. It is this prevailing disorder and unfitness, that makes it so
It is a signal good fortune, when an individual has a right position in life. The office of President of the United States is one of the highest among men, and he who worthily fills it is the peer of kings and autocrats. Washington, the elected head of the American people, was truly king of kings. But if the nation put in that high place a man only fitted to be a clever ward politician, or a skilful overseer of a plantation, he is a mark in the pillory, not the light set on a hill.
We see every day men in a false position; in places as ill-fitting as a garment a world too wide, or perchance too narrow. Men are raised to offices of trust and honor, that are worthy neither of the one nor the other; and stout frames, which nature has built of muscle and sinew able to subdue the wildest of our wild land, are in places behind counters, that women of right and grace should fill. Do we not all know ladies in drawingrooms, cumberers of that ground, who would have figured as first-rate milliners? And mistresses of our city palaces, who would have been inestimable market-women? And yellow, languid, fine ladies, who, in their right vocation of chamber-maids, would have been brisk and blooming? And do we not know those in obscure and humble places, who, shuffled to their right position, would bring with them the graces so much wanted to give a zest to high life? There are men born to the inheritance and ministration of a princely fortune, who are only fit to
"Cromwell guiltless of his country's peculiarly delightful to see a friend in the right position-that gives to fitness the effect of harmony.
This felicity of the right position is most strikingly illustrated by a charming friend of mine, who, having an innumerable host of young cousins, is best known by his most common appellative, "Cousin Frank." A discerning girl has tried to fix upon him the sobriquet of Pickwick, but there was a general outcry against this; we were too jealous of the originality of our friend, to blend him in any way with another. Perhaps, we did not all of us fully appreciate the gentle qualities
the romantic benevolence-the exquisite gentlemanliness of the Don Quixote of Mr. Dickens's creation; and besides, the very sound of “Cousin Frank !" is a key-note to our affections. "Cousin Frank" is not too young-and I cannot remember that he ever was-for any kind office; and he never will be too old" for any service of humanity. He is not rich, thank Heaven, for if he were, he would have cares of his own; nor is he poor, and thank Heaven for that, too, for then he would have sordid anxieties. If he were too tall, he might on some occasion (there is a universality in Cousin Frank's occasions) be inconveniently conspicuous; and if he were too short, he might not always command the respect of those who measure dignity by feet and inches; so he is just right-just as high as all our hearts.
Again, "Cousin Frank" is not in the dilemma of one of Mr. Bulwer's heroes, "too handsome for anything," but were you to question his beauty in
a certain circle, any one of a dozen fair young creatures would exclaim, "Cousin Frank not handsome!-I wonder then who is !" He certainly has what our English friends call "a nice countenance;" just that amount of good looks that makes a young lady who has his arm in a company of strangers, feel very complacent.
We have said there is a universality in "Cousin Frank's occasions of benevolent usefulness"-we cannot enumerate them. He is the dear and privileged friend of half-a-dozen families, and the mainspring of three. If there be a pleasant patty on foot, Cousin Frank "must come to make it pleasanter; if a dull one, he must come to make it endurable. If an agreeable dinner is planned, "Cousin Frank" is the guest to make sure all its pleasant little hilarities; if a heavy one is apprehended, he must do its dull honors. A perilous winter's journey can only be encountered with "Cousin Frank; an enticing pic-nic would still be nothing without him. If there be an awkward secret that must be confided to some one, "Cousin Frank" is the chosen recipient; he never tells, and if help be possible, help will come from him.
"Cousin Frank" is no amateur of music, real or pretended. I doubt if he could distinguish an air of Bellini from a sonata of Beethoven. Yet he goes to more concerts than any man in town; for Grisi or Lablache would sing in vain to any of our score of girls, ifCousin Frank" were not there. The lectures-we must confess itsparing neither sex nor age, they have well nigh exhausted even "Cousin Frank's" patience, and he was once seen looking grave and doubtful, when one of his prettiest cousins asked him to attend her to the "Tabernacle." For himself, Cousin Frank" eschews parties; but if there be a timid womankind among us, who fears to go alone in a carriage, he is called upon to attend her; or if there be a frugal one who would fain save coach-hire, he is again called upon, and "Cousin Frank" is that good, that "dainty spirit," that "does always come when you do call him." But he is not merely the preux chevalier of young and pretty girls-most bachelors are willing servants of these; he is the visiter of the neglected, the prop of the old, the 65
cheerer of all. He has that true chivalry which Charles Lamb said he would believe in when he saw the best seat in a coach given to a forlorn old woman.
As to country commissions, scarce a mail arrives without bringing a flood of them for "Cousin Frank." The tide. never ebbs. For example by the last : "Poor B. is getting deafer and deafer every day. It is a sad sight to see the tears in his eyes when he perceives his little boy's lips moving without hearing the accents that come from them. Ask your Cousin Frank to look in at the new-fangled instruments for the deaf, and send us a report of them." "G- -'s eyes are getting worse again;" then comes a statement of the case, and the unfailing conclusion, "Ask your Cousin Frank to step into Elliott's and consult him about her going to town." Again: "We are impatient to see Stephens's new work; ask your Cousin Frank to forward it by the first opportunity." And once more: "Ask your Cousin Frank to send me a couple of dozen of good Port and a half-box of the best cigars; he knows how to choose both."
But we forbear, lest through our dull medium our readers may be-as no one ever yet was-tired of "Cousin Frank." This is not the place to speak of his blessed part in the domestic tragedies of his friends; that memory is cut in to their hearts, and its memorial is written down in the book of which the angel of life keeps the record. Such a character as "Cousin Frank" is a rare social blessing, and its felicity is to have fallen into the right position-upon a family where there is an alarming and most inconvenient preponderance of womankind.
Every now and then we have a rumor that "Cousin Frank" is about "to give to a party what was meant for mankind;" and his cousins look jealously on certain of their charming friends on whom he seems to them to smile too benignly. The cloud passes off. The statue has found its true niche the picture its best light. "Cousin Frank" must not be married. This would be like giving to an individual an exclusive right to the sunshineallowing to one family the monopoly of the Croton water. No: all crowns but the crown matrimonial to our dear "Cousin Frank!"
THE SONG OF THE WAVE.
I am free!-I am free!-I have slumbered long
In the winter's icy chain;
But the hills and the woods shall resound to my song,
As I glide to the billowy main.
I lie like a giant enwrapt in sleep,
Till aroused by the spring's sweet call; But I rise in the might of the swelling deep, And I burst from my frozen thrall.
THE CELESTIAL RAILROAD.
BY NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE.
Nor a great while ago, passing through the gate of dreams, I visited that region of the earth in which lies the famous city of Destruction. It interested me much to learn, that, by the public spirit of some of the inhabit ants, a railroad has recently been established between this populous and flourishing town, and the Celestial City. Having a little time upon my hands, I resolved to gratify a liberal curiosity by making a trip thither. Accordingly, one fine morning, after paying my bill at the hotel, and directing the porter to stow my luggage behind a coach, I took my seat in the vehicle, and set out for the Station-house. It was my good fortune to enjoy the company of a gentleman-one Mr. Smooth-it-away-who, though he had never actually visited the Celestial City, yet seemed as well acquainted with its laws, customs, policy, and statistics, as with those of the city of Destruction, of which he was a native townsman. Being, moreover, a director of the railroad corporation, and one of its largest stockholders, he had it in his power to give me all desirable information respecting that praiseworthy enterprise.
Our coach rattled out of the city, and, at a short distance from its outskirts, passed over a bridge, of elegant construction, but somewhat too slight, as I imagined, to sustain any considerable weight. On both sides lay an extensive quagmire, which could not have been more disagreeable either to sight or smell, had all the kennels of the earth emptied their pollution there. “This,” remarked Mr. Smooth-itaway, "is the famous Slough of Despond-a disgrace to all the neighborhood; and the greater, that it might so easily be converted into firm ground."
"I have understood," said I, "that efforts have been made for that purpose, from time immemorial. Bunyan mentions that above twenty thou sand cart-loads of wholesome instruc
tions had been thrown in here, without effect."
"Very probably!-and what effect could be anticipated from such unsubstantial stuff?" cried Mr. Smooth-itaway. "You observe this convenient bridge. We obtained a sufficient foundation for it, by throwing into the Slough some editions of books of morality, volumes of French philosophy and German rationalism, tracts, sermons, and essays of modern clergymen, extracts from Plato, Confucius, and various Hindoo sages, together with a few ingenious commentaries upon texts of Scripture-all of which, by some scientific process, have been converted into a mass like granite, The whole bog might be filled up with similar matter."
It really seemed to me, however, that the bridge vibrated and heaved up and down, in a very formidable manner; and, spite of Mr. Smooth-it-away's testimony to the solidity of its foundation, I should be loth to cross it in a crowded omnibus; especially, if each passenger were encumbered with as heavy luggage as that gentleman and myself. Nevertheless, we got over without accident, and soon found ourselves at the Station-house. This very neat and spacious edifice is erected on the site of the little WicketGate, which formerly, as all old pilgrims will recollect, stood directly across the highway, and, by its inconvenient narrowness, was a great obstruction to the traveller of liberal mind and expansive stomach. The reader of John Bunyan will be glad to know, that Christian's old friend Evangelist, who was accustomed to supply each pilgrim with a mystic roll, now presides at the ticketoffice. Some malicious persons, it is true, deny the identity of this reputable character with the Evangelist of old times, and even pretend to bring competent evidence of an imposture. Without involving myself in the dispute, I shall merely observe, that, so
far as my experience goes, the square pieces of pasteboard, now delivered to passengers, are much more convenient and useful along the road, than the antique roll of parchment. Whether they will be as readily received at the gate of the Celestial City, I decline giving an opinion.
A large number of passengers were already at the Station-house, awaiting the departure of the cars. By the aspect and demeanor of these persons, it was easy to judge that the feelings of the community had undergone a very favorable change, in reference to the celestial pilgrimage. It would have done Bunyan's heart good to see it. Instead of a lonely and ragged man, with a huge burthen on his back, plodding along sorrowfully on foot, while the whole city hooted after him, here were parties of the first gentry and most respectable people in the neighborhood, setting forth towards the Celestial City, as cheerfully as if the pilgrimage were merely a summer tour. Among the gentlemen were characters of deserved eminence, magistrates, politicians, and men of wealth, by whose example religion could not but be greatly recommended to their meaner brethren. In the ladies' apartment, too, I rejoiced to distinguish some of those flowers of fashionable society, who are so well fitted to adorn the most elevated circles of the Celestial City. There was much pleasant conversation about the news of the day, topics of business, politics, or the lighter matters of amusement; while religion, though indubitably the main thing at heart, was thrown tastefully into the back-ground. Even an infidel would have heard little or nothing to shock his sensibility.
One great convenience of the new method of going on pilgrimage, I must not forget to mention. Our enormous burthens, instead of being carried on our shoulders, as had been the custom of old, were all snugly deposited in the baggage-car, and, as I was assured, would be delivered to their respective owners at the journey's end. Another thing likewise, the benevolent reader will be delighted to understand. It may be remembered that there was an ancient feud between Prince Beelzebub and the keeper of the Wicket-Gate, and that the adherents of the former distinguished personage were accus
tomed to shoot deadly arrows at honest pilgrims, while knocking at the door. This dispute, much to the credit as well of the illustrious potentate abovementioned, as of the worthy and enlightened Directors of the railroad, has been pacifically arranged, on the principle of mutual compromise. The Prince's subjects are now pretty numerously employed about the Stationhouse, some in taking care of the baggage, others in collecting fuel, feeding the engines, and such congenial occupations; and I can conscientiously affirm, that persons more attentive to their business, more willing to accommodate, or more generally agreeable to the passengers, are not to be found on any railroad. Every good heart must surely exult at so satisfactory an arrangement of an immemorial difficulty.
"Where is Mr. Great-heart?" inquired I. "Beyond a doubt, the Directors have engaged that famous old champion to be chief conductor on the railroad?"
"Why, no," said Mr. Smooth-itaway, with a dry cough. "He was offered the situation of brake-man; but, to tell you the truth, our friend Greatheart has grown preposterously stiff and narrow, in his old age. He has so often guided pilgrims over the road, on foot, that he considers it a sin to travel in any other fashion. Besides, the old fellow had entered so heartily into the ancient feud with Prince Beelzebub, that he would have been perpetually at blows or ill language with some of the prince's subjects, and thus have embroiled us anew. So, on the whole, we were not sorry when honest Greatheart went off to the Celestial City in a huff, and left us at liberty to choose a more suitable and accommodating man. Yonder comes the conductor of the train. You will probably recog nize him at once."
The engine at this moment took its station in advance of the cars, looking, I must confess, much more like a sort of mechanical demon that would hurry us to the infernal regions, than a laudable contrivance for smoothing our way to the Celestial City. On its top sat a personage almost enveloped in smoke and flame, which-not to tartle the reader-appeared to gush from his own mouth and stomach, as well as from the engine's brazen abdomen.
"Do my eyes deceive me?" cried I.