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your ambition. May I ask what has been your course of study for the last six months?"
Never was question more unluckily timed. For the last six months I had been absolutely buried in novels and romances.
Mr. Mackenzie perceived that the question was embarrassing, and with his invariable good breeding, immediately resumed the conversation, without waiting for a reply. He took care, however, to turn it in such a way as to draw from me an account of the whole manner in which I had been educated, and the various currents of reading into which my mind had run. He then went on to discuss briefly, but impressively, the different branches of knowledge most important to a young man in my situation; and to my surprise I found him a complete master of those studies on which I had supposed him ignorant, and on which I had been descanting so confidently.
He complimented me, however, very graciously, upon the progress I made, but advised me for the present to turn my attention to the physical rather than the moral sciences. "These studies," said he, "store a man's mind with valuable facts, and at the same time repress self-confidence, by letting him know how boundless are the realms of knowledge, and how little we can possibly know. Whereas metaphysical studies, though of an ingenious order of intellectual employment, are apt to bewilder some minds with vague speculations. They never know how far they have advanced, or what may be the correctness of their favourite theory. They render many of our young men verbose and declamatory, and prone to mistake the aberrations of their fancy for the inspiration of divine philosophy."
I could not but interrupt him, to assent to the truth of these remarks, and to say that it had been my lot, in the course of my limited experience, to encounter young men of the kind, who had overwhelmed me by their verbosity.
Mr. Mackenzie smiled. "I trust," said he, kindly, “that you will guard against these errors. Avoid the eagerness with which a young man is apt to hurry into conversation, and to utter the crude and ill-digested notions which he has picked up in his recent studies. Be assured that extensive and accurate knowledge is the slow acquisition of a studious life time; that a young man, however pregnant his wit, and prompt his talent, can have mastered but the rudiments of learning, and, in a manner, attained the implements of study. Whatever may have been your past assiduity you must be sensible that as yet
you have but reached the threshold of true knowledge; but at the same time, you have the advantage that you are still very young, and have ample time to learn.'
Here our conference ended. I walked out of the study, a very different being from what I was on entering it. I had gone in with the air of a professor about to deliver a lecture; I came out like a student, who had failed in his examination, and been degraded in his class.
"Very young," and "on the threshold of knowledge!" This was extremely flattering, to one who had considered himself an accomplished scholar, and profound philosopher!
"It is singular," thought I; "there seems to have been a spell upon my faculties, ever since I have been in this house. I certainly have not been able to do myself justice. Whenever I have undertaken to advise, I have had the tables turned upon me. It must be that I am strange and diffident among people I am not accustomed to. I wish they could hear me
talk at home!"
"After all," added I, on farther reflection, "after all, there is a great deal of force in what Mr. Mackenzie has said. Some how or other, these men of the world do now and then hit upon remarks that would do credit to a philosopher. Some of his general observations came so home, that I almost thought they were meant for myself. His advice about adopting a system of study, is very judicious. I will immediately put it in practice. My mind shall operate henceforward with the regularity of clock-work."
How far I succeeded in adopting this plan, how I fared in the farther pursuit of knowledge, and how I succeeded in my suit to Julia Mackenzie, may afford matter for a further communication to the public, if this simple record of my early life is fortunate enough to excite any curiosity.
I saw a maiden carrying a flower
'I was bright and lovely in its virgin bloom,
In woman's angel purity enshrined,
A TALE OT THE THIRTY YEARS WAR.
(Continued from p. 309.)
DAYLIGHT had long since disappeared when Oswald and Faith alighted from their wagon at a solitary inn beyond the Bohemian boundary. "Here you are for the present in safety," said the conductor who had brought them from Friedland, knocking at the door.
"Who comes so late?" asked a little, dark-complexioned old woman, opening the door with her hand held before a flickering torch.
"A young wedded pair, mother Thekla," answered the conductor, "who are fleeing before the converters. Receive them kindly and take good care of them. God will reward you for it." "Come in, poor
"It is but our duty," said the woman. creatures."
"Farewell," said the conductor to Oswald. "I intend to return directly; for my wife and children may not be safely left without a protector among the reckless soldiery."
"And, that you have brought me here-" said Oswald forcing into his hand a couple of dollars over and above the fee agreed upon
"I have already forgotten it," said the conducter laughing. "Besides, when I get into the forest, I intend to load my wagon with wood, which I shall gaily drag into Friedland early in the morning, and nobody will think of asking me what freight I took thence. May God protect you!"
He mounted his wagon and drove rapidly away, while Oswald led his companion into the bar-room. To their great satisfaction it was tolerably empty. Only in one corner of the room snored three men and four large hounds on some straw, and at a table near the grey-headed host, with a goblet before him, sat a large strongly built man in the dress of a Bohemian peasant. Oswald observed the sabre which the guest bore, and the large knife in his girdle, with some suspicion; but the honest lineaments and saddened expression of his brown, haggard face, again inspired him with confidence. He courteously seated himself at the table and called for a glass of wine, while Faith was arranging with the hostess for a supper and accomodation for the night.
"You are in flight on account of your faith, as I hear, my dear sir?" asked the stranger in a voice of the deepest bass, and at the same time glancing at him mistrustfully with his wild, black eyes.
"The time and weather would have been hardly chosen for a journey of pleasure," peevishly answered Dorn.
"You must surely have come from Jauer, or Loewenberg, or Schweidnitz?" further asked the man; " for they are very strenuously pushing the counter-reformation in those places just
"You are by far too curious!" cried Oswald with displeasure. "I do not willingly listen to such questions from strangers."
"It is the business of my office to ask questions, my young gentleman," thundered the stranger; "for I am a captain of Bohemian provincial troops, and am stationed here upon the border to guard against the influx of Silesian heretics."
While he said this, the four hounds sprang up and placed themselves growling before Oswald, and the three men half raised their bodies from the straw, their flashing eyes peering from their dark brown faces, and their well scoured muskets glittering in their hands. Oswald instantly arose and drew his
"Put up your weapon!" the man now cried in an altered tone, seizing his goblet. "I but wished to be certain of my man. Come, be again quietly seated, and do me justice in a fresh goblet. Since we now understand each other, however, I may converse with you without reserve. You are not safe even here. For my old friend, our host, I will indeed be answerable; but the converters sometimes come over the border to us; especially when they deem that they have important game in view; and you appear to me as though you might be of some consequence. Therefore, if it be agreeable I will conduct you and your little wife to a place, where you may dwell in peace behind the everlasting walls which the Lord himself has built for the defence of persecuted innocents."
"There is no falsehood in that face!" answered Oswald; " and I accept your offer with gratitude.”
"You will not indeed find our residence very elegant," said the Bohemian; "and that delicate female form may be wholly unaccustomed to such quarters; but necessity reconciles one to privations, and a very little suffices for our actual necessities."
"Be not concerned on that account," said Faith, who had
now seated herself near Oswald. "A safe shelter is all we wish."
"Well, eat your supper," said the Bohemian, "and retire quickly to rest, that you may be ready to start by day-break in the morning. I have been long accustomed to watch through the night, and will guard you faithfully. With the rising sun we shall be among the rocks."
Wrapped in his cloak, Oswald was yet sweetly and soundly sleeping upon the floor, before the only bed in the house, in which is fair companion was slumbering. A knock was heard at the door, and the Bohemian cried, "bestir yourself, Sir. The morning breaks, and we must away!" The youth sprang upon his feet and awoke the maiden with a kiss. Soon ready to set out, they took a grateful leave of their worthy hosts and stepped to the door. Every object was obscured by a thick morning mist; and the sun, like a large red ball of fearful size, was just rising in the east.
"Let us wait a little, until the sun has dissipated the mist," said the Bohemian, "lest the lady should hurt her feet among the rocks."
They stood a short time, waiting and shivering in the morning wind. Oswald had thrown his cloak over Faith, and held her closely clasped to keep her warm. The mist moved before them like a waving ocean, and apparently resolved itself into numerous dark clouds, which settled down upon the earth, and seemed to root themselves there. Meanwhile the sun had mounted higher, the waving of the ocean of mist increased, and suddenly there came a powerful gust of wind which rent and pressed down the immense cloud-curtain, when a scene as singular as it was magnificent, lay before Oswald's astonished eyes. The dark clouds that had appeared to sink down upon the earth, had changed to huge masses of gray rocks, which, rising up into the blue ether like countless palaces, churches and high towers, assumed the appearance of a gigantic city. Softly rounded snow-domes, crimsoned by the rays of the morning sun and glistening with thousands of diamonds, adorned the summits of these natural edifices, and the undying verdure of the pines and firs which arose here and there from the clefts of the rocks, gave a cheerful aspect to the view.
Great is the Lord, when seen in his works!" cried the enraptured Oswald, withdrawing his mantle from Faith, to enable her to enjoy the spectacle.
Opening her large and beautiful eyes, she stood awhile as if