網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

to Heaven. He then collected together his pencils, his colors, and a small easel, and threw them into a river which flowed beneath the window of his cell. He gazed for some moments in profound melancholy on the stream, which soon drifted these objects from his sight. When they had disappeared, he once more knelt down to pray on his straw mat, and before his wooden crucifix. How powerful must have been the struggle in this man's breast, to overcome the love of fame, and the strong temptation of worldly ambition!

[ocr errors]

LESSON X. The Jay and the Owl; a Fable.

1. A CONCEITED jay once paid a visit to an owl, that was sitting among some sheaves of wheat in a barn. As soon as he had entered and made a few observations upon the weather, the jay went on to tell the owl of the many compliments that had been paid him by the various birds in the neighborhood.

2. One had praised his plumage, another his voice, and another his wit. Having told this with great self-complacency, all the time smirking, and flirting his tail, with an air of vanity, he added, "And now, my dear owl, pray tell me sincerely what you think of me; for I know you are a true friend, and I place more confidence in your opinion, than in that of all the rest of the world."

3. "Shall I tell you the truth, or pay you a compliment?" said the owl.

4. "Oh! the truth, of course," said the jay, "I love the truth, and hate flattery."

5. "Well, then," said the owl, gravely, "in my humble judgment, your dress is gaudy without taste; your song, rather noisy than musical; and your wit, mere impertinence."

6. The jay, sadly crest-fallen, jerked himself out of the barn; and the owl wisely remarked, that conceited persons usually pretend to hate flattery and love frankness, but in doing this they are ever fishing for compliments, and always resent the truth as an insult. Let all young people remember this story.

THE MIDNIGHT MAIL.

LESSON XI. The Midnight Mail.

1. "T is midnight, all is peace profound!
But lo! upon the murmuring ground
The lonely, swelling, hurrying sound
Of distant wheels is heard!
They come, they pause a moment, when,
Their charge resigned, they start, and then
Are gone, and all is hushed again,
As not a leaf had stirred.

2. Hast thou a parent far away,
A beauteous child, to be thy stay
In life's decline, or sisters, they
Who shared thine infant glee?
A brother on a foreign shore,
Whose breast thy chosen token bore?
Or are thy treasures wandering o'er
A wide, tumultuous sea?

3. If aught like these, then thou must feel
The rattling of that reckless wheel,
That brings the bright or boding seal,
On every trembling thread,

That strings thy heart, till morn appears
To crown thy hopes, or end thy fears,
To light thy smile, or draw thy tears,
As line on line is read.

4. Perhaps thy treasure 's in the deep,
Thy lover in a dreamless sleep,
Thy brother where thou canst not weep
Upon his distant grave!

Thy parent's hoary head no more
May shed a silver lustre o'er
His children grouped, nor death restore
Thy son from out the waves!

[ocr errors]

5. Thy prattler's tongue, perhaps, is stilled,
Thy sister's lip is pale and chilled,
Thy blooming bride perchance has filled
Her corner of the tomb.

45

May be, the home where all thy sweet
And tender recollections meet,
Has shown its flaming winding-sheet
In midnight's awful gloom!

6. And while, alternate o'er my soul
Those cold or burning wheels will roll
Their chill or heat, beyond control,

[merged small][ocr errors]

LESSON XII. The Widow and her Son.

1. I APPROACHED the grave. The coffin was placed on the ground. On it were inscribed the name and age of the deceased. "" George Somers, aged 26 years." The poor mother had been assisted to kneel down at the head of it.

Her withered hands were clasped, as if in prayer; but I could perceive, by a feeble rocking of the body, and a convulsive motion of the lips, that she was gazing on the last relics of her son with the yearnings of a mother's heart.

2. Preparations were made to deposit the coffin in the earth. There was that bustling stir, which breaks so harshly on the feelings of grief and affliction; directions were given in the cold tones of business; and there was the striking of spades into sand and gravel; which, at the grave of those we love, is of all sounds the most writhing. The bustle around seemed to waken the mother from a wretched reverie. She raised her glazed eyes, and looked about with a faint wildness.

[ocr errors]

3. As the men approached with cords to lower the coffin into the grave, she wrung her hands, and broke into an agony of grief. The poor woman, who attended her, took her by the arm, endeavored to raise her from the earth, and to whisper something like consolation."Nay, now,- nay now, don't take it so sorely to heart." But the mother

THE WIDOW AND HER SON.

47

could only shake her head, and wring her hands, as one not to be comforted.

{

4. As they lowered the body into the earth, the creaking of the cords seemed to agonize her; but when, on some accidental obstruction, there was a jostling of the coffin, all the tenderness of the mother burst forth; as if any harm could come to him, who was far beyond the reach of worldly suffering.

5. I could see no more, - my heart swelled into my throat, - my eyes filled with tears, I felt as if I were acting a barbarous part in standing by and gazing idly on this scene of maternal anguish. I wandered to another part of the churchyard, where I remained until the funeral train had dispersed.

6. It was some time before I left the place. On my way homeward, I met with the woman who had acted as comforter; she was just returning from accompanying the mother to her lonely habitation, and I drew from her some particulars connected with the affecting scene I had witnessed.

[ocr errors]

7. The parents of the deceased had resided in the village from childhood. They had inhabited one of the neatest cottages, and by various rural occupations, and the assistance of a small garden, had supported themselves creditably and comfortably, and led a happy and blameless life. They had one son, who had grown up to be the staff and pride of their age.

8. But unfortunately, this son was tempted, during a year of scarcity and agricultural hardship, to enter into the service of one of the small craft that plied on a neighboring river. He had not been long in this employ, when he was entrapped by a press-gang, and carried off to sea. His parents received tidings of his seizure, but beyond that they could learn nothing It was the loss of their main prop. The father, who was already infirm, grew heartless and melancholy, and sunk into his grave. The widow, left lonely in her age and feebleness, could no longer support herself, and came upon the parish.

9. Time passed on, till one day she heard the cottage door, which faced the garden, suddenly open. A stranger came out, and seemed to be looking eagerly and wildly around, He was dressed in seaman's clothes, was emaciat

ed and ghastly pale, and bore the air of one broken by sickness and hardships. He saw his mother and hastened toward her, but his steps were faint and faltering; he sank on his knees before her, and sobbed like a child The poor woman gazed upon him with a vacant and wandering eye, "Oh my dear, dear mother! don't you know your son? your poor boy George?"

10. It was, indeed, the wreck of her once noble lad; who, shattered by wounds, by sickness, and foreign imprisonment, had, at length, dragged his wasted limbs homeward, to repose among the scenes of childhood. The rest of the story is soon told, for the young man lingered but a few weeks, and death came to his relief.

11. The next Sunday after the funeral I have described, I was at the village church; when to my surprise, I saw the poor old woman tottering down the aisle to her accustomed seat on the steps of the altar. She had made an effort to put on something like mourning for her son; and nothing could be more touching than this struggle between pious af fection and utter poverty; a black ribband or so, a faded black handkerchief, and one or two more such humble attempts to express by outward signs, that grief which passes show.

[ocr errors]

12. When I looked round upon the storied monuments, the stately hatchments, the cold marble pomp, with which grandeur mourned magnificently over departed pride, and turned to this poor widow, bowed down by age and sorrow, at the altar of her God, and offering up the prayers and praises of a pious, though a broken heart, I felt that this living monument of real grief was worth them all.

13. I related her story to some of the wealthy members of the congregation, and they were moved by it. They exerted themselves to render her situation more comfortable, and to lighten her afflictions. It was, however, but smoothing a few steps to the grave. In the course of a Sunday or two after, she was missed from her usual seat at church, and, before I left the neighborhood, I heard, with a feeling of satisfaction, that she had quietly breathed her last, and had gone to rejoin those she loved, in that world where sorrow is never known, and friends are never parted.

« 上一頁繼續 »