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5. A dissertation on the moral and physical nature of man might be given to prove to a demonstration, that domestic ties are a necessity of his existence; and let any man gaze forward into future years, and fancy that some cold barren is placed between him and domestic affection; that uo kindred eye is to brighten at his presence, no affectionate lip smile at his happiness, no tear of sympathy to wash away one half of his griefs, no cheerful voice to dispel the thoughts of care, no assiduous hand to smooth the pillow of sickness, and close the eye of death, let him picture his being solitary, his joys unshared, his sorrows undivided, his misfortunes unaided but by general compassion, his sickness tended by the slow hand of mercenaries, and his eyes closed, while the light has scarce departed, by the rude touch of some weary and indifferent menial, let him fancy all this, and then he will feel, indeed, that domestic ties are a necessity of our existence.
Moonlight and Midnight.
6. Let any one who is fond of sublime sensations, take his hat and staff, and climb a high hill in a moonlit midnight. There is a part of that dust of earth which gathers so sadly upon our spirit, during our daily commune with this sordid world, cast off at every step. The very act of climbing has something ennobling in it, and the clearer air we breathe, the elevation to which we rise, all give the mind a sensation of power and lightness, as if it had partly shaken off the load of clay that weighs it down to the ground. But, still more, when with solitude, the deep solitude of night,
we rise up high above the sleeping world, with the bright. stars for our only companions, and the calm moon for our only light, when we look through the profound depth of space, and see it peopled by never-ending orbs, when we gaze round our extended horizon, and see the power of God on every side, then the immortal triumphs over the mortal, and we feel our better being strong within us. the sorrows, the anxieties of earth seem as dust in the balance weighed with mightier things; and the grandest
earthly ambition, that ever conquered worlds and wept for: more, may feel itself humiliated to the dust in the presence of silence, and solitude, and space, and millions of eternal
Uncertainty of Life.
7. It is a wonder, that man ever smiles; for there is something so strange and awful in the hourly uncertainty of our fate, in the atmosphere of darkness and insecurity that surrounds our existence, in the troops of dangers to our peace and to our being, that ride invisible upon every moment as it flies, that man is, as it were, like a blind man in the front of a great battle, where his hopes and his joys are swept down on every side, and in which his own existence must terminate at length in some undefined hour, and in some unknown manner, - and yet he smiles as if he were at a pageant.
The Rising Moon.
8. From sunset till about nine o'clock, there had been a light, refreshing rain, not one of those cold, autumnal pours, which leave the whole world dark, and drenched, and dreary, but the soft falling of light, pellucid drops, that scarcely bent the blades of grass on which they rested, and through which, ever and anon, the purple of the evening sky, and, as that faded away, the bright glance of an evening star, might be seen among the broken clouds. Towards nine, however, the vapors, that rested upon the eastern uplands, became tinged with light; and, as gifted with the power of scattering darkness from her presence, forth came the resplendent moon, while the dim clouds grew pale and white as she advanced, and, rolling away over the hills, left the sky all clear. It required scarcely a fanciful mind to suppose that, in the brilliant shining of the million of drops, which hung on every leaf, and rested on every bough,
in the glistening ripple of the river, that rolled in waves of silver through the plain, in the checkered dancing of the light and shadow through the trees, and in the sudden brightening up of every object throughout the scene which could reflect her beams, it required scarcely a fanciful
mind to suppose, that the whole world was rejoicing in the soft splendor of that gentle watcher of the night, and gratulating her triumph over the darkness and the clouds.
LESSON LXXXII. Traits of Irish Character.
1. WHO has not been struck with the natural eloquence of the Irish? We need not go to Grattan, Curran, or Burke for specimens of this gift of genius. The rudest Irish laborer among us seems to be, endowed with it. If an Irishman really sets about persuading you of a thing, he seldom fails of his object, unless, indeed, it be to prove that black is white.
2. It is curious to see how an Irishman can embellish the most naked idea, and amplify the commonest topic. There is a picture called "The Sturdy Beggar," belonging to the Athenæum in Boston. It is the portrait of an Irishman; and I have heard something like the following anecdote respecting it. One day a man presented himself at the artist's door, and begged for alms. “Walk in," said the painter; " and tell me your name." My name, Sir," said the beggar, "is Patrick McGruger, and it's true what I tell ye.' 3. " But," "said the artist, "why don't you go to work, instead of begging about the streets in this fashion?" "Why don't I go to work, your honor? and is it that, ye'd like to know? When ye 've threescore years and ten like myself, ye 'll be more ready to answer such a question than to ask it."
4. "Well, well, my good fellow," said the artist, "you can at least sit down and let me paint your portrait.' .""Is it my handsome portrait you 're wanting? and do you wish me to sit down there, and let you paint it? Faith! that's a thing I can do, though I was not brought up to it. The time has been, your honor, when Patrick McGruger could do better than sit for the portrait of a beggar. But must do what I may; for these old limbs ask to be fed, though they refuse to work."
5. The author of the " Lights and Shadows of Irish Life" furnishes us with a characteristic, though fictitious, specimen of this natural eloquence of the common people,
TRAITS OF IRISH CHARACTER.
in a poor woman who mourns, at a wake, over the dead body of her patron, Goodman Lee. She is described as seated on the floor, her eyes closed, her hands clasped around her knees, while, in a low and mournful tone, she spoke as follows.
6. "Kind and gentle were you, and lived through sorrow and tears, frost and snow, with an open house and an open heart. The sun of Heaven shone on you, and you reflected its warmth on others. The Flower of the Valley saw and loved you; and though she is of a strange country, you taught her to love the Green and Weeping Island, - to dry the widow's tears, to feed the orphan, to clothe the
7. “O, why did you die, and leave behind you all the good things of life, — and, above all, the beautiful boy who will be the oak of the forest yet. O, the justice and the mildness were you of the country's side, and, while grass grows, and waters run, we will mourn for Goodman Lee. The beggar walked from his door with a full sack,— and he turned wormwood into sweetness with his smile. But now his wife is desolate, and his full and plentiful home has no master!"
8. The wit of the Irish is no less natural and striking than their eloquence. That very transposition of ideas, which sometimes produces a bull or a blunder, not unfrequently startles us as if with the scintillations of humor. "What are you doing there?" said one Irishman to another, who was digging away the dirt before a cellar-window. "I'm going to open this window," said Pat, “to let the dark out of the cellar!"
9. A few years ago, as several persons were standing on a wharf at Liverpool, one of them slipped into the dock. The first individual to move for the relief of the drowning man was an Irishman, who plunged into the water, and, after a severe struggle, rescued the person from the waves. When the man had at length recovered from his ducking, he took some change out of his pocket, and, selecting a sixpence, handed it to the Irishman who had saved his life. The latter looked an instant at the sixpence in the palm of his hand, — and then slowly measured with his eye the individual whom he had rescued, and observing, that he was a very thin, withered little man, he put the money into his
pocket, and turned on his heel, saying significantly, "It's enough!"
10. Wit is, in fact, the whole stock in trade of one half the Irish nation, and, though it often leaves them destitute of a dinner, it seldom fails to make, even destitution and want, the occasion of its merry sallies. It is perhaps this playfulness of fancy, that is partly the source of that cheerfulness which forms a remarkable characteristic of the Irish people. "Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof," is an injunction literally construed and implicitly obeyed.
11. Cheerfulness seems, indeed, to be so natural to the Irish, as hardly to possess the self-denying ingredients of virtue. Not even poverty, want, oppression, can wholly shut out the genial light of cheerfulness from an Irishman's cabin. If it come not in at the door or the window, fancy will strike out the spark, hope cherish it, wit blow it into a blaze.
12. There is something even pathetic in the instances that are related of Irish wit and cheerfulness in the midst of poverty and desolation. A traveller in Ireland tells us, that on one occasion he went to an Irish cabin, where he found a peasant and his numerous family crowded into the only room in the building, which was scarcely more than twelve feet square. In one corner lay a pig, it being the custom among these poor people to fatten one of these animals every six months for the purpose of paying the rent.
13. The traveller describes the hut as exhibiting the most naked scene of relentless poverty that could be imagined. The gaunt form of the peasant, the sunken cheek of the wife, the pallid countenances of the children, all showed that the craving wants of nature were but half supplied. But the pig presented a remarkable contrast to this general aspect of want and woe. There it lay, luxuriously embedded in aristocratic straw, sleek, round, and pampered.
14. As the stranger entered the hut, it did not even condescend to rise; but seemed to intimate, by a delicate and affected grunt, the sentiment of the fat lady in the play, "Don't be rude, for really my nerves wont bear it!"
15. The stranger felt his heart touched at this scene, for it seemed to show, that, day by day, the food that the peasant and his children needed, was doled out to this pampered animal, to provide for the payment of the rent, and thus