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THE MOTHER AND SON.
“The sun not set yet, Thomas?” “Not quite, sir. It blazes through the trees on the hill yonder as if their branches were all on fire.”
Arthur raised himself heavily forward, and, with his hat still over his brow, turned his glazed and dim eyes toward the setting sun. It was only the night before that he had heard his mother was ill, and could survive but a day or two. He had lived nearl apart from society, and, being a lad of a thoughtful, dreamy . had made a world to himself. His thoughts and feelings were so much in it that, except in relation to his own home, there were the same vague notions in his brain, concerning the state of things surrounding him, as we have of a foreign.land.
He had passed the night between tumultuous grief and numb insensibility. Stepping into the carriage, with a slow, weak motion, like one who was quitting his sick-chamber for the first time, he began his way homeward. As he lifted his eyes upward, the few stars that were here and there over the sky seemed to look down in pity, and shed a religious and healing light upon him. But they soon went out, one after another, and as the last faded from his sight, it was as if something good and holy had forsaken him. The faint tint in the east soon became a ruddy glow, and the sun, shooting upward, burst over every living thing in full glory. The sight went to Arthur's sick heart, as if it were in mockery of his sorrow.
Leaning back in his carriage, with his hand over his eyes, he was carried along, hardly sensible it was day. The old servant, Thomas, who was sitting by his side, went on talking in a low, monotonous tone; but Arthur only heard something sounding in his ears, scarcely heeding that it was a human voice. He had a sense of wearisomeness from the motion of the carriage; but in all things else the day passed as a melancholy dream.
Almost the first words Arthur spoke were those I have mentioned. As he looked out upon the setting sun, he shuddered and turned pale, for he knew the hill near him. As they wound round it, some peculiar old trees appeared, and he was in a few minutes in the midst of the scenery near his home. The river before him, reflecting the rich evening sky, looked as if poured out from a molten mine; and the birds, gathering in, were shooting across each other, bursting into short, gay notes, or singing their evening songs in the trees. It was a bitter thing to find all so bright and cheerful, and so near his own home, too. His horses' hoofs struck upon the old wooden bridge. The sound went to his heart; for it was here his mother took her last leave of him, and blessed him.
As he passed through the village, there was a feeling of strangeness that every thing should be just as it was when he left it. An undefined thought floated in his mind, that his mother's state should produce a visible change in whatever he had been familiar with. But the boys were at their noisy games in the street, the laborers returning together from their work, and the old men sitting quietly at their doors. He concealed himself as well as he could, and bade Thomas hasten on. As they drew near the house, the night was shutting in about it, and there was a melancholy gusty sound in the trees. Arthur felt as if approaching his mother's tomb. He entered the parlor. There was the gloom and stillness of a deserted house. Presently he heard a slow, cautious step overhead. It was in his mother's chamber. His sister had seen him from the window. She hurried down, and threw her arms about her brother's neck, without uttering a word. As soon as he could speak, he asked, “Is she alive?”—he could not say, my mother. “She is sleeping,” answered his sister, “and must not know to-night that you are here: she is too weak to bear it now.” “I will go look at her, then, while she sleeps,” said he, drawing his handkerchief from his face. His sister's sympathy had made him shed the first tears which had fallen from him that day, and he was more composed. He entered the chamber with a deep and still awe upon him; and, as he drew near his mother's bedside, and looked on her pale, placid face, he scarcely dared breathe, lest he should disturb the secret communion that the soul was holding with the world into which it was soon to enter. His grief, in the loss which he was about to suffer, was forgotten in the feeling of a holy inspiration, and he was, as it were, in the midst of invisible spirits, ascending and descending. His mother's lips moved slightly as she uttered an indistinct sound. He drew back, and his sister went near to her, and she spoke. It was the same gentle voice which he had known and felt from his childhood. The exaltation of his soul left him, he sunk down, and his sorrow went over him like a flood. The next day, as soon as his mother became composed enough to see him, Arthur went into her chamber. She stretched out her feeble hand, and turned toward him, with a look that blessed him. It was the short struggle of a meek spirit. She covered her eyes with her hand, and the tears trickled down between her pale, thin fingers. As soon as she became tranquil, she spoke of the gratitude she felt at being spared to see him before she died. “My dear mother,” said Arthur, but he could not go on. His voice choked, and his eyes filled. “Do not be so afflicted, Arthur, at the loss of me. We are not to part forever. Remember, too, how comfortable and happy you have made my days. Heaven, I am sure, will bless so good a son as you have been to me. You will have that consolation, my son, which visits too few sons, perhaps: you will be able to look back upon your conduct, not without pain only, but with a sacred joy. And think hereafter of the peace of mind you give me, now that I am about to die, in the thought that I am leaving your sister to your love and care. So long as you live, she will find you both father and brother to her.” She paused for a moment. “I have long felt that I could meet death with composure; but I did not know, I did not know, till now that the hour is come, how hard a thing it would be to leave my children.” The hue of death was now fast spreading over his mother's face. He stooped forward to catch the sound of her breathing. It grew quick and faint. “My mother " She opened her eyes, for the last time, upon him; a faint flush passed over her cheek; there was the serenity of an angel in her look; her hand just pressed his. It was all over. His spirit had endured to its utmost. It sank down from its unearthly height; and, with his face upon his mother's pillow, he wept like a child. He arose with a softened grief, and, stepping into an adjoining chamber, spoke to his aunt. “It is past,” said he. “Is my sister asleep? Well, be it so : let her have rest: she needs it.” He then went to his own chamber, and shut himself in. It is an impression, of which we cannot rid ourselves if we would, when sitting by the body of a friend, that he has still a consciousness of our presence; that, though he no longer has a concern in the common things of the world, love and thought are still there. The face which we had been familiar with so long, when it was all life and motion, seems only in a state of rest. We know not how to make it real to ourselves that in the body before us there is not a something still alive. Arthur was in such a state of mind as he sat alone in the room by his mother, the day after her death. It was as if her soul was holding communion with spirits in paradise, though it still abode in the body that lay before him. He felt as if sanctified by the presence of one to whom the other world had been opened,—as if under the love and protection of one made holy. The religious reflections which his mother had early taught him gave him strength: a spiritual composure stole over him, and he found himself prepared to perform the last offices to the dead. When the hour came, Arthur rose with a firm step and fixed eye, though his face was tremulous with the struggle within him. He went to his sister, and took her arm within his. The bell struck. Its heavy, undulating sound rolled forward like a sea. He felt a beating through his frame, which shook him so that he
reeled. It was but a momentary weakness. He moved on, pass ing those who surrounded him as if they had been shadows. While he followed the slow hearse, there was a vacancy in his eye, as it rested on the coffin, which showed him hardly conscious of what was before him. His spirit was with his mother's. As he reached the grave, he shrunk back, and turned pale; but, dropping his head upon his breast, and covering his face, he stood motionless as a statue till the service was over.
It was a gloomy and chilly evening when he returned home. As he entered the house from which his mother had gone forever, a sense of dreary emptiness oppressed him, as if his abode had been deserted by every living thing. He walked into his mother's chamber. The naked bedstead, and the chair in which she used to sit, were all that were left in the room. As he threw himself back into the chair, he groaned in the bitterness of his spirit. A feeling of forlornness came over him, which was not to be relieved by tears. She, whom he watched over in her dying hour, and whom he had talked to as she lay before him in death, as if she could hear and answer him, had gone from him. Nothing was left for the senses to fasten fondly on, and time had not yet taught him to think of her only as a spirit. But time and holy endeavors brought this consolation; and the little of life that a wasting disease left him was passed by him, when alone, in thoughtful tranquillity; and among his friends he appeared with that gentle cheerfulness which, before his mother's death, had been a part of his nature.
RICHARD HENRY WILDE, 1789–1847.
This accomplished scholar and poet was born in Dublin, Ireland, on the 24th of September, 1789. When he was seven years old, his father, who had been a hardware-merchant, came to Baltimore to better his fortunes. By the mismanagement of a partner in Dublin, he lost nearly all the property he left behind, and died poor in 1802. The following year the widowed mother removed to Augusta, Georgia, and there opened a small shop to gain her living, her son Richard aiding her during the day, and pursuing his studies at nightHe early directed his attention to the law, and, in 1809, was admitted to the bar. He rose rapidly in his profession, and was soon elected Attorney-General of the State.
In 1815, when just past the legal age, he was chosen representative to Congress, and served but one term. He was again a member of that body from 1828 to 1835. He then went to Europe, passing most of his time, when abroad, in Italy, in the pursuit of his favorite study, Italian literature. On his return home, he published, in 1842, Conjectures and Researches concerning the Lore, Madness, and Imprisonment of Torquato Tasso, in two volumes." In 1844, he removed to New Orleans, and here acquired the highest rank as a civilian. In the spring of 1847, he was appointed Professor of Constitutional Law in the University of Iouisiana. His lectures had been partially prepared, but were never delivered, his useful career being cut short by death on the 10th of September, 1847. His son, William Cummings Wilde, Esq., of New Orleans, is soon to publish the life and works of his father, in which will be his longest poem, Hesperia, which he left in Inanuscript.
JOHN RANDOLPH AND DANIEL WEBSTER.
Among the legislators of that day, but not of them, in the fearful and solitary sublimity of genius, stood a gentleman from Virginia, whom it was superfluous to designate. Whose speeches were universally read 7 Whose satire was universally feared 2 Upon whose accents did this habitually listless and unlistening house hang, so frequently, with rapt attention ? Whose fame was identified with that body for so long a period 2 Who was a more dexterous debater, a riper scholar, better versed in the politics of our own country, or deeper read in the history of others ? Above all, who was more thoroughly imbued with the idiom of the English language—more completely master of its strength, and beauty, and delicacy, or more capable of breathing thoughts of flame in words of magic and tones of silver ?
Nor may I pass over in silence a representative from New Hampshire, who has almost obliterated all memory of that distinction by the superior fame he has attained as a Senator from Massachusetts. Though then but in the bud of his political life, and hardly conscious, perhaps, of his own extraordinary powers, he gave promise of the greatness he has achieved. The same vigor of thought; the same force of expression; the short sentences; the calm, cold, collected manner; the air of solemn dignity; the deep, sepulchral, unimpassioned voice; all have been developed only, not changed, even to the intense bitterness of his frigid irony. The piercing coldness of his sarcasms was indeed peculiar to him; they seemed to be emanations from the spirit
* “Wilde's theory about Tasso is, that Tasso was devotedly attached to the Princess Leonora of Ferrara, who seems to have requited his affection, but that the difference in their rank made it necessary for him, by feigning madness, to conceal their attachment; that it was most ignominiously betrayed by a heartless friend, who possessed himself of the secret by means of false keys; and that the sub<equent severity of the Duke Alphonso had its origin in his knowledge of the love of the princess. The volume does equal honor to the genius, the learning, and the impartiality of the author. How we could wish, that more of our countrymen, whom circumstances enable to reside abroad, would devote their time and wealth to such honorable labors as have engaged the leisure of Mr. Wilde ("— Lemocratic Review, February, 1842.