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fain forget it is time to rest; and your last act before you sleep is to look out once more from your balcony upon the silvery mere and moonlit lawn.
The only times when I felt disposed to quarrel with the inexhaustible American mirth was on the hottest days of summer. I liked it as well as ever ; but European strength will not stand more than an hour or two of laughter in such seasons. I remember one day when the American part of the company was as much exhausted as the English. We had gone, a party of six, to spend a long day with a merry household in a country village; and, to avoid the heat, had performed the journey of sixteen miles before ten o'clock. For three hours after our arrival the wit was in full flow; by which time we were all begging for mercy, for we could laugh no longer with any safety. Still, a little more fun was dropped all round, till we found that the only way was to separate, and we all turned out of doors. I cannot conceive how it is that so little has been heard in England of the mirth of the Americans ; for certainly nothing in their manners struck and pleased me more. One of the rarest characters among them, and a great treasure to all his sportive neighbours, is a man who cannot take a joke.
The prettiest playthings of summer are the hummingbirds. I call them playthings because they are easily tamed, and are not very difficult to take care of for a time. It is impossible to attend to book, work, or conversation while there is a humming-bird in sight, its exercises and vagaries are so rapid and beautiful. Its prettiest attitude is vibrating before a blossom which is tossed in the wind. Its long beak is inserted in the flower, and the bird rises and falls with it, quivering its burnished wings with dazzling rapidity. My friend E. told me how she had succeeded in taming a pair. One flew into the parlour where she was sitting, and perched. E.'s sister stepped out for a branch of honeysuckle, which she stuck up over the mirror. The other bird followed, and the pair alighted on the branch, flew off, and returned to it. E. procured another branch, and held it on the top of her head; and hither also the little creatures came without fear. She next held it in her hand, and still they hovered and settled. They bore being shut in for the night, a nest of cottonwool being provided. Of course it was impossible to furnish them with honeysuckles enough for food; and sugar and water was tried, which they seemed to relish very well.
One day, however, when E. was out of the room, one of the little creatures was too greedy in the saucer; and, when E. returned, she found it lying on its side, with its wings stuck to its body, and its whole little person clammy with sugar. E. tried a sponge and warm water; it was too harsh : she tried old linen, but it was not soft enough: it then occurred to her that the softest of all substances is the human tongue. In her love for her little companion, she thus cleansed it, and succeeded perfectly, so far as the outward bird was concerned. But though it attempted to fly a little, it never recovered, but soon died of its surseit. Its mate was, of course, allowed to fly away.
Some Boston friends of mine, a clergyman and his wife, told me of a pleasant summer adventure which they had, quite against their will. The lady had been duly inoculated or vaccinated (I forget which) in her childhood, but nevertheless had the smallpox in a way after her marriage. She was slightly feverish, and a single spot appeared on her hand. The physician declared that is it," and, as good citizens are bound to do, they gave information of this fearful smallpox to the authorities. The lady and her husband were ordered into quarantine ; the city coach came for them, and they were transported to the wharf, and then to the little quarantine island in the harbour, where they spent a particularly pleasant week. My friend was getting well when she went, and she was quite able to enjoy the charms of her new residence. Her husband read to her in the piazza as she worked; he bathed, and was spared a Sunday's preaching; she looked abroad over the sea, and laughed as often as she imagined what their friends supposed their situation to be. They had the establishment all to themselves, except that there was a tidy Scotchwoman to wait on them. Was ever quarantine so performed before ?
The reader may think, at the end of this chapter, that there is something far more pleasant than worthy of complaint in the extremes of the seasons in the United States. It would be so if health were not endangered by them ; but
; the incessant regard to the physical welfare which prudence requires is a great drawback to ease and pleasure ; and the failure of health, which is pretty sure to come, sooner or later, is a much worse. In my own opinion, the dullest climate and scenery may be turned to more pleasurable account by vigour of body and mind, than all the privileges of
American variety and beauty by languid powers. All that the people of New-England can do is to make the best of their case.
Those who are blessed with health should use every reasonable endeavour to keep it; and it may be hoped that an improved settlement and cultivation of the country will carry on that amelioration of its climate which
of its inhabitants are assured has already begun.
“ The ideal is in thyself ; thy condition is but the stuff thou art to shape that same ideal out of. What matters whether such stuff be of this sort or of that, so the form thou give it be heroic, be poetic."Sartor Resartus.
EVERY state of society has, happily, its originals; men and women who, in more or fewer respects, think, speak, and act, naturally and unconsciously, in a different way from the generality of men. There are several causes from which this originality may arise, particularly in a young community less gregarious than those of the civilized countries of the Old World.
The commonest of these causes in a society like that of the United States is, perhaps, the absence of influences to which almost all other persons are subject. The common pressure being absent in some one direction, the being grows out in that direction, and the mind and character exhibit more or less deformity to the eyes of all but the individual most concerned. The back States afford a full harvest of originals of this class ; while in England, where it is scarcely pos. sible to live out of society, such are rarely to be found.
Social and professional eccentricity comes next. When local and professional influences are inadequately balanced by general ones, a singularity of character is produced, which is not so agreeable as it is striking and amusing or this class of characters few examples are to be seen at home; but, instead of them, something much worse, which is equally rare in America. In England we have consessors to tastes and pursuits, and martyrs to passions and vices, which arise out of a highly artificial state of society.
In England we have a smaller proportion of grave, innocent, professional buffoons ; but in America there are few or no fashionable ingrained profligates, few or no misers.
In its possession of a third higher class, it is reasonable and delightful to hope that there is no superiority in the society of any one civilized country over that of any other. Of men and women who have intellectual power to modify the general influences to which, like others, they are subject, every nation has its share. In every country there have been beings who have put forth more or less of the godlike power involved in their humanity, whereby they can stem the current of circumstance, deliberately form the purpose of their life, and prosecute it, happen what may. The number is not large anywhere, but the species is nowhere unknown.
A yet smaller class of yet nobler originals remains; those who, with the independent power of the last mentioned, are stimulated by strong pressure of circumstance to put forth their whole force, and form and achieve purposes in which not only their own life, but the destiny of others, is included. Such, being the prophets and redeemers of their age and country, rise up when and where they are wanted. The deed being ripe for the doing, the doer appears. The field being white for harvest, the reaper shows himself at the gate, whether the song of fellow-reapers cheers his heart, or lions are growling in his solitary path.
Many English persons have made up their minds that there is very little originality in America, except in regions where such men as David Crockett grow up. In the wilds of Tennessee and Kentucky twenty years ago, and now in Arkansas and Missouri, where bear-hunting and the buffalo chase are still in full career, it is acknowledged that a man's natural bent may be seen to advantage, and his original force must be fully tested. But it is asked, with regard to America, whether there is not much less than the average amount of originality of character to be found in the places where men operate upon one another. It is certain that there is an intense curiosity in Americans about English oddities ; and a prevailing belief among themselves that England is far richer in humorists than the United States. It is also true that the fickleness and impressibleness of the Americans (particularly of the New-Englanders) about systems of science, philosophy, and morals, exceed anything ever seen or heard of in the sober old country; but all this can prove only that the nation and its large divisions are not original in character, and not that individuals of that character are wanting.
It should be remembered that one great use of a metropolis, if not the greatest, is to test everything for the benefit of the whole of the rest of the country. The country may, according to circumstances, be more or less ready to avail itself of ihe benefit; but the benefit exists and waits for acceptance. Now the Americans have no metropolis. Their cities are all provincial towns. It may be, in their circumstances, politically good that they should have the smallest possible amount of centralization ; but the want of this centralization is injurious to their scientific and philosophical progress and dignity, and, therefore, to their national originality. A conjurer's trip through the English counties is very like the progress of a lecturer or newly-imported philosopher through the American cities. The wonder, the ex. citement, the unbounded credulity are much alike in the two cases ; but in the English village there may be an old man under the elm smiling good-naturedly at the show without following after it; or a sage young man who could tell how the puppets are moved as well as if he saw the wires. And 80 it is in the American cities. The crowd is large, but everybody is not in it; the believers are many, but there are some who foresee how soon the belief will take a new turn.
When Spurzheim was in America, the great mass of 80ciety became phrenologists in a day, wherever he appeared; and ever since itinerant lecturers have been reproducing the samc sensation in a milder way, by retailing Spurzheimism, much deteriorated, in places where the philosopher had not been. Meantime the light is always going out behind as fast as it blazes up round the steps of the lecturer. While the world of Richmond and Charleston is working at a multiplication of the fifteen casts (the same fisteen or so) which every lecturer carries about, and all caps and wigs are pulled off, and all fair tresses dishevelled in the search aster
organization, Boston has gone completely round to the opposite philosophy, and is raving about spiritualism to an excess which can scarcely be credited by any who have not heard the Unknown Tongues. If a phrenological lecturer from Paris, London, or Edinburgh should go to Boston, the su