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Then wearied with listening, I smile as I see
A. B. I.
THE STUDENT AND HIS INMATES.
BY GRACE GRAFTON.
A GENTLEMAN once sat in his study, where he had passed many delightful and tranquil hours. He had fitted it up, and furnished it with many a goodly row of silent and beloved companions, at the happy age when the young, crude aspirant for literary fame has ripened into the man of genius and of learning.
He had chosen that retreat, because, among other recommendations to the student, it possessed one peculiarly suited to his taste and temperament; the view its one large window commanded of a sweet sequestered scene, over which the goddess Nature presided, a deity of harmony and beauty. It was a home view, that the eye could scan at a glance, and grow familiar with; and yet of such varied beauty, that it palled not on the sight; and at one opening in the hilly woodlands, the bold outline of a distant mountain appeared. On that the young student would fix his gaze, after it had wandered in calm delight over the intermediate scene; and then, withdrawing his eye from the outward view, and turning it, with an air of quiet content, round the well-furnished walls of his study, 'Thus, thus,' he thought, 'shall my mind travel through the flowery fields of unexplored literature, till they lead me to the proud height of fame!' He had not yet discovered it was a cold and barren rock.
He had cased his heart about in the lore of the philosophers of old, and thus believed it armed for a noble contest in the arena of letters;
and invulnerable, perchance he deemed it, to the shafts that wound through the affections. But hearts such as his, filled with pure thoughts, and lofty aspirations, are true love's favorite citadels ; and in an unguarded hour, he makes good his entrance, and takes possession; and we all know what a band of ruffians it takes to dislodge him, and what a scene of devastation he and his disappointed crew leave behind.
Some such struggle early laid waste the heart of the student, and damped his ardor in the pursuit of knowledge. The silver chord was loosed, the golden bowl was broken.' But what was once his delight, became at length his solace. He turned the keen scrutiny of a scholar into his own heart; and from beneath the ruins of his buried hopes, brought up precious relics; and from his despair received the gift of eloquence. And then, unsought, the meed was won; the recompense of genius. He stood on that rocky height, and raised his adventurous eyes even to the image of Fame, on the loftiest altar of the temple ; and turning to some drooping figures near, who, with aching heads and bleeding hearts, had reached the same elevation, he acknowledged that all was vanity!'
Years had passed away, and again he sat in his still favorite retreat. Around him, as of old, stood his 'silent, yet eloquent companions ;' and from the open window, his eye wandered over the same scene that had feasted it in former days. But a gloom had gathered over it. Was it autumn, with its fading green and yellow ? or the leafless gloom of winter ? No, it was the dark hue of melancholy; and evening after evening, as he watched the dim twilight, and saw the varying tints of the western sky fade in the horizon, pale Melancholy hovered near, and cast the dull shadow of her pinion on every object he looked upon, and to every sound imparted her plaintive murmurs.
There was a species of enjoyment in this, like the joy of grief,' described by the poet; so that the student courted Melancholy, and even went so far as to write an ode in praise of her charms. What wonder, then, if she haunted his silent dwelling, and hung like a shadow on his footsteps, and pervaded with her gloomy presence the very atmosphere he breathed, till his soul sickened, and his “right hand forgot its cunning,' and he gave himself up an easy prey to a yet darker intruder, of whom Melancholy was but the forerunner.
He was at his open window, as usual, in the dusky light of evening, poring over some old volume, till the characters became indistinct, and the book dropped from his hand, and he fell into sad communings with his own heart. Melancholy, as was her custom on such occasions, drew nigher toward him, and by the uncertain light, he
perceived that close beside her, under the very shadow of her wing, stood Despondency.
• There are two of you now,' said the student, and he sighed deeply : 'It is presuming, O Melancholy, on the favor I have shown thee, to bring hither unbidden yon gloomy stranger.'
• It is my twin sister,' said Melancholy, and she frequently takes my place, when I grow weary. That is the case now. I have watched by you, and echoed your sighs, and mingled my tears with yours, till my health has suffered. My lungs are sore, my appetite fails ; I need change of air. In the mean time, I hope my sister De. spondency will answer every purpose.'
• Thou canst not leave me,' he said. • Are we not bound to each other by many a sad, mysterious tie?'
. May the fates forbid !' ejaculated Melancholy, turning up her eyes, 'you are too sombre even for me ; but my poor sister here is in love with you already; and if it were not quite out of character, I should wish you joy of your union.' So saying, she flitted away with a gentle sigh, and Despondency, extending her lean arms, folded the poor student to her bosom.
After recovering from the surprise of this unexpected salute, he set about making invidious comparisons between heavy-browed Despondency, and her more gentle sister. • How different,' he thought, * is this dark, cold maiden, from my own dear Melancholy! I must get rid of her, or she will prey upon my heart, and reduce me to the mere shadow of a man. He rose accordingly, and walked forth into the open air, hoping thus to shake off his unwelcome guest; and though she followed him out, and stalked by his side in the pale moonlight, on rëentering his study, he flattered himself for awhile that his plan had succeeded. Lights had been placed there, as usual, and be tried to fancy there was an air of cheerfulness in that lonely apartment, as he arranged his books and papers before him, and applied himself to his literary labors, hoping, in the occupation of his mind, to forget the unpleasant intrusion to which he bad been subjected; but his mind wandered, and his heart sank, with a sense of oppression he could not account for, till passing his hand across his brow, and raising his mournful eyes, they encountered those of Despondency, gazing on him with earnest and rueful meaning.
• Alas!' he thought,“ she has followed me unperceived ; yet wherefore should my spirit quail? I will rouse my intellect, and task my brain for some charm wherewith to exorcise the foul fiend !' And he bent his head over his desk again, as in deep reflection. But who ever borrowed inspiration from Despondency? Her gloomy suggestions are at strife with the efforts of genius.. The pen dropped from his hand; he gave up his task, and with a deep drawn sigh, retired to his sleepless couch, where Despondency crept in, and shared his pillow, till daylight came; when, like an evil spirit, she fled away on the wings of the morning.
The twilight hour – blest hour to the happy!- delightful renewer of the domestic bond, that draws the family circle round the cheerful hearth ; and to the pensive mind, sweet season of contemplation! Alas, that the dark countenance of Despondency should intrude itself at such an hour! 'T was then, however, that she appeared, again and again, to the unhappy student, and prolonged her visits, and turned memory into grief, and the future into presages of calamity, till his life was wretched, and a dark temptation came over him to end it with his own hand. Such would assuredly have been the close of his career, had it not been for the intervention of one true friend, whose name it might be irreverent here to mention; but she came in a robe of light, and pointed upward, and inspired him with hopes that brought joy to his soul, and peace unknown before.
Happy the man who, in the bold flights of genius, as in the proud exercise of his intellect, forgets not the Giver of all good,' and retains within the sanctuary of his breast one pure shrine, inviolate to mortal passion!
NARRATIVE OF A JOURNEY TO GUATEMALA IN CENTRAL AMERICA, IN 1838. By
G. W. MONTGOMERY. In one volume. pp. 195. New-York: WILEY AND Putnam. MR. MONTGOMERY, we understand, is the son of a former American consul at Valencia, in Old Spain; and, being brought up in that country, is intimately acquainted with the Spanish language, character, and manners. In fact, he has distinguished himself in Spanish literature, by various works published in that language, one of which, a novel on the story of Bernardo del Carpio, has been translated into English. The present work is a light narrative of a journey made to Guatemala, in the service of our government. It carries uis very pleasantly through the heart of the country, and over the wild and romantic chain of mountains which separate the Atlantic from the Pacific ocean; giving a succession of picturesque descriptions, entertaining anecdotes, and interesting facts, concerning that half savage, but magnificent region. His thorough knowledge of the language, and his early habitudes, make him quite at home among the Spaniards of the new world, by whom he appears to have been generally received with great hospitality. We subjoin a passage or two, taken almost at random.
The following graphic sketch of the commandant of Truxillo, bis establishment, and his dinner, shows how completely sone of the characteristics of Old Spain have been transplanted into the new world :
" The Commandant was about thirty-seven years of age; rather tall, and muscular, though of slender form. He had an expressive countenance, with features strongly marked, dark eyes, black hair, and thick eye-brows. He was somewhat sun-burni, and had a scar near a corner of his inouth ; but, altogether, he was a fine, soldiery looking man. His dress was a blue frock coat with military buttons, gold epaulettes a little tarnished, a sword, and a cocked hal, with a plume of blue and white feathers, the national colors of Central America.
“The house of my new friend was a good sized building of solid masonry. It consisted of une large room, formed by the four walls, without any division into apartments; and above, instead of ceiling, were the rafters of the roof. On one side was the street door, with two windows grated with iron bars; on the other side, another, but smaller door, opening into the esplanade of the fort, where a swarthy sentinel was pacing to and fro with a straw hat, no jacket, and a rusty firelock on his shoulder. The Hoor was paved with fat tiles, and covered here and there with little straw mats of a kind peculiar to the country. This room constituted the whole of the establishment, with the exception of the kitchen. It served for parlor, bed-chamber, diningroom, and office. And well it might; for there was the sofa for the reception of visitors, a subsiantial cedar table for dining, a bed to sleep in, and a desk, with writing apparalus, for the transaction of business. The bedstead was a very neat one, of wrought iron, provided with a handsome mosquito net, and was placed on a platform which raised it about two feet from the floor. A military saddle in one corner of the room, a cavalry sabre in another, and a pair of pistols hanging from the wall, gave a military and picturesque character to this primitive menage, which had very much the appearance of a guard-house.
"At the appointed hour I returned to the house to dine, where I found the Ministro, and another person, who had also been invited. Where the dishes were prepared cannot conjecture. I can only say, that they were brought in from the street. The
first placed on the table was a good soup, which was followed by the inevitable olla of the Spaniards, consisting of beef, mutton, and pork, with an abundant accompaniment of vegetables, served up together. Then came a dish of rice cooked a la Valenciana, and tolerably saturated with oil, which, however, did not prevent my finding it very good. Some beef a la mode was then served up, that smacked a little of garlic, but which I had no objection to on that account. The next dish contained a good sized fowl and a small chicken, both together, and side by side, like mother and daughter. A quantity of vegetables — plantains, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes - all in the same plate, were then placed on the table; and, finally, came a pudding, which terminated the dinner. The desert consisted of fruit and sweetmeats, and then were brought in cigars and coffee. We were attended at table by soldiers in no small number, who performed the part of waiters, and I verily believe that half of the little garrison of Truxillo was that day in requisition for our service.
"The conversation during dinner turned on topics chiefly relating to the United States; a country that seemed to have excited the curiosity of the Commandant, but of which he possessed only a slight degree of knowledge.' I replied to many of his questions on this subject; but when I stated to him distinctly the population, commerce, and resources of our Republic, the progress of the arts, and the facilities of communication by land and water, he would smile, shake his head, and cast a meaning look at the Ministro, as much as to say that he was not to be imposed on. This, though I was relating nothing but the truth, embarrassed me, and made me feel as if I had been detected in using the privilege of a traveller. I thought to extricate myself from this awkward position, by reducing my subsequent statements to the standard of his belief. Accordingly, I relieved the ship Pennsylvania of no inconsiderable weight, by reducing her hundred and forty-eight guns to one hundred. The rate of travelling in rail cars I stated to be from fifteen to twenty miles, instead of from twenty to thirty I even curtailed the amount of the national revenue, and actually purloined the United States of ten or a dozen millions."
RIVER OF IZABAL. "It was late in the evening before our vessel gained the mouth of the Izabal. This river takes it rise in a great fresh water lake called Golfo dulce, and pursues a meandering course for some fifty miles, before falling into the sea. At the head of that lake is situated the town of Izabal, the port of our destination. The entrance to this river is scarcely discernible, even in the day-time, to an unpractised eye, till within about a hundred yards of it, when an opening is perceived in the mountains like the mouth of an iminense cavern. The effect, as we approached it in the night, was still more striking; a starry sky affording just light enough to guide us on our path, but not sufficient to make objecis distinctly visible. On entering the opening just mentioned, we seemed penetrating into the bowels of the earth. On each side of us towered the lofty and precipitous mountains that form the banks of the river: and immediately in froni rose a high land, dark and frowning, as if to debar
completely our further progress. " About midnight the moon rose, and the effect of her pale silvery light on the trees and the water was beautiful beyond description. I could now see objects more distinctly, and felt satisfied that if there is anything picturesque, beautiful, and sublime in nature, it must be the entrance to this river. The banks rise to a height of from two to three hundred feel, and are clothed with a rich and impenetrable foliage, the branches of the trees spreading several yards over the water. In some places this foliage suddenly disappears, and a vast naked rock, smooth and flat, and perfectly perpendicular, rises like a stupendous wall, at the foot of which the depth of water admits of a vessel, brushing the very face of the precipice without danger. Here and there may be seen a rill of water, as clear as crystal, coursing from top to bottom of this natural wall, or gushing out from a fissure in its side. At other places, a group of rocks assumes the appearance of an old castle or ruinous fortification. The stream varies in width from a hundred and fifty to three hundred feet, and is in many places thirty fathoms deep. It is doiled at intervals with little islands covered with reeds; and the sharp turnings it makes, give continual interest and variety to the scenery:
"As we proceeded, the noise of the water thrown up by the paddles startled the tenants of this beautiful wilderness; and every now and then we heard a plunge, like that of an alligator, or an otter, seeking the deepest recesses of the river, or the scream of an aquatic bird flying across the stream: the only sounds that disturbed the silence of this solitary scene.
"In the course of the night the boat stopped at a little fort called San Felipe, to take in fuel. During this detention I allowed myself a little rest, but was up again ihe next morning by daylighi, when I found that the boat was not yet ready to start. The scene around, illuminated by the first rays of the sun, appeared to me even more striking and beautiful than when I had be held it by moonlight. The lofty and um. brageous trees exhibited every variety of green, from the deepest tint to the lightest, and were alive with singing birds, while parrois and mackaws kept up a continued scream. Now and then a monkey would show himself, for an instant, swinging by