« AnteriorContinua »
and repose confidence in those whom she soon finds to be unworthy of it.
In literature their tastes are widely different. Matilda hangs with rapture over the passionate dreamings of Byron and the mystical speculations of Shelley; but Mary prefers the tenderness of Cowper and the deep philosophy of Wordsworth. If Matilda could find out some beautiful being that was dying of a consumption, or a broken heart, or any such interesting disease, in a chamber tastefully adorned with flowers, dressed in robes of spotless white, she would devote to her all her time and energies, and be the most assiduous of nurses and the most sympathizing of friends; but she cannot endure smoky houses, unwashed children, or any repulsive form of distress.
I remember very well how differently they behaved on an occasion, when I happened to be present, when the wife of a poor sailor and the mother of many children, who lived near them, rushed into the house with the utmost disorder of look and manner, and told them, with the passionate lamentation customary to persons in her rank of life, in circumstances of overwhelming grief, that she had just heard that her husband was lost at sea, when within two days' sail of the harbor. Matilda was dreadfully overcome, and had nearly fainted; and on recovering, flew to her purse and emptied it into the woman's lap, and then sat down and wept in helpless impotence.
Mary, on the other hand, retained her self-possession throughout, and applied herself at once to the soothing and comforting of her afflicted and humble friend; and, by suggesting to her reflections and consolations, in a manner equally creditable to her judgment and her feelings, soon succeeded in converting the hysterical violence of grief into a more calm and subdued state of feeling. And this was but the beginning of her good deeds. She made a decent suit of mourning for her, went about and procured situations for two or three of her children, and spoke of her case, to
some wealthy friends, with that eloquence which comes from the heart and goes to the heart, so that they became interested in her, relieved her present necessities, and provided her with the means of gaining a permanent livelihood. All this Matilda could not have done, though she would have loaded her with gifts if she had had the means. Mary had as limited means as her cousin; but how much good can be done by one who has a willing heart and a resolute spirit!
These young ladies have a grandmother, who is somewhat in her dotage, and is, moreover, confined to her room by infirmities; and it is curious to see how unconsciously they display their different characters by their treatment of her. Matilda is truly attached to her; often speaks of her with deep feeling, and is ready to do any thing for her, and to contribute to her happiness in any way she can. She goes to see her nearly every day, and lights up the invalid's chamber, like a sunbeam, with her sweet looks. She delights to carry her flowers, pictures, or any thing that will amuse her childish mind; but her lively fancy cannot endure the "bald, disjointed chat" of the poor old lady. She is restless, and fidgets on her chair while she is in the room, and soon makes an excuse to be gone.
But Mary regularly devotes a certain portion of her time to her grandmother. She will read the newspaper to her by the hour together, and listen, without the least sign of impatience, to the threadbare scandal that is half a century old, and to the pointless story that she knows already by heart. She will tell her, too, who is married, and who is engaged, and who has failed, and who has come into town, and who has gone out of it, and who have given parties, and who are going to give them, and, in short, empty the basket of gossip to its last chip. And she will do all this, though, in addition to her excellent sense, she has a very vivid perception and keen enjoyment of the ludicrous.
When they were both about seventeen years old, they
heard of the death of a schoolfellow, whom they both fondly loved, from whom they had been recently separated, and whose residence was only a day's journey from their own. Matilda was almost heart-broken at her loss, and, in the touching language of Scripture, "refused to be comforted." The casual observer read a tale of sorrow in her swollen
eyes and fading cheek. She mourned for her friend long, as well as deeply, but her grief was of that stunning and absorbing nature that it occupied her whole mind, to the exclusion of every other image.
Mary, though deeply afflicted, and disposed to yield to the torrent of grief which came over her, remembered that her obligations to duty yet remained. She thought of the mother and sisters of her friend, and said to herself, "Their sorrow is yet greater than mine." She flew to them on the wings of love. She soothed and consoled them. She took upon herself all those household duties for which they were unfitted, and so occupied herself that she was obliged to forego the luxury of tears, till she had retired to rest. She remained with them till the bitterness of their anguish was over, and then came home and resumed her own duties as quietly as if all she had done had been a matter of
Such are my two cousins, each charming in her way, and I love them both with a truly cousinly affection. But, perhaps, some fair reader may ask, "Suppose they were not your cousins; which of them should you prefer?" Why, in truth, this is one of that numerous class of questions which are more easy to ask than to answer. But if I must give a reply, I should say, that I prefer a twilight walk in the woods with the romantic Matilda, or to sit by her side in a summer evening when the rich moonlight is steeping in its silver beauty her dark hair and spiritual eyes; but if I were about to select a companion to walk hand in hand with through this vale of tears, I think my choice would fall upon the affectionate and kind-hearted Mary.
EXERCISES IN ARTICULATION.
a:- bath, half, laugh, path, balm, calm, palm, psalm, aunt, daunt, haunt.
A RURAL cemetery seems to combine in itself all the advantages which can be proposed to gratify human feelings, or tranquillize human fears; to secure the best religious influences, and to cherish all those associations which cast a cheerful light over the darkness of the grave.
And what spot can be more appropriate than this for such a purpose? Nature seems to point it out, with significant energy, as the favorite retirement for the dead. There are around us all the varied features of her beauty and grandeur- the forest-crowned height; the abrupt acclivity; the sheltered valley; the deep glen; the grassy glade; and the silent grove. Here are the lofty oak, the beech, that "wreaths its old fantastic roots so high," the rustling pine, and the drooping willow; -the tree that sheds its pale leaves with every autumn, a fit emblem of our own transitory bloom; and the evergreen with its perennial shoots, instructing us, that "the wintry blast of death kills not the buds of virtue." Here is the thick shrubbery to protect and conceal the new-made grave; and there is the wild-flower creeping along the narrow path, and planting its seeds in the upturned earth. All around us there breathes a solemn calm, as if we were in the bosom of a wilderness, broken only by the breeze, as it murmurs through the tops of the forest, or by the notes of the warbler, pouring forth his matin or his evening song.
Ascend but a few steps, and what a change of scenery to surprise and delight us! We seem, as it were in an
instant, to pass from the confines of death to the bright and balmy regions of life. Below us flows the winding Charles, with its rippling current, like the stream of time hastening to the ocean of eternity. In the distance, the city at once the object of our admiration and our love-rears its proud eminences, its glittering spires, its lofty towers, its graceful mansions, its curling smoke, its crowded haunts of business and pleasure, which speak to the eye, and yet leave a noiseless loneliness on the ear. Again we turn, and the walls of our venerable university rise before us, with many a recollection of happy days passed there in the interchange of study and friendship, and many a grateful thought of the affluence of its learning, which has adorned and nourished the literature of our country. Again we turn, and the cultivated farm, the neat cottage, the village church, the sparkling lake, the rich valley, and the distant hills, are before us through opening vistas; and we breathe amidst the fresh and varied labors of man.
There is, therefore, within our reach, every variety of natural and artificial scenery which is fitted to awaken emotions of the highest and most affecting character. We stand, as it were, upon the borders of two worlds; and as the mood of our minds may be, we may gather lessons of profound wisdom by contrasting the one with the other, or indulge in the dreams of hope and ambition, or solace our hearts by melancholy meditations.
Who is there, that, in the contemplation of such a scene, is not ready to exclaim, with the enthusiasm of the poet, —
"Mine be the breezy hill that skirts the down,
Fast by a brook, or fountain's murmuring wave,
What a multitude of thoughts crowd upon the mind in the contemplation of such a scene! How much of the future,