網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

An old clock, that had stood for fifty years in a farmer's kitchen without giving its owner any cause of complaint, early one summer's morning, before the family was stir

ring, suddenly stopped. & Upon this the dial-plate, (if we may credit the fable,)

changed countenance with alarm ; the hands made an ineffectual effort to continue their course; the wheels remained motionless with surprise; the weights hung

speechless; each member felt disposed to lay the blame 10 on the others. At length the dial instituted a formal

inquiry as to the cause of the stagnation; when hands, wheels, weights, with one voice, protested their innocence. But now a faint tick was heard below, from the pendului,

who thus spoke:15 “I confess myself to be the sole cause of the present

stoppage, and am willing, for the general satisfaction, to assign my reasons. The truth is, that I am tired of ticking." Upon hearing this, the old clock became so en. raged that it was on the point of striking.

“Lazy wire ! ” exclaimed the dial-plate, holding up its hands.

“Very good,” replied the pendulum ; “it is vastly easy for you, Mistress Dial, who have always, as everybody

knows, set yourself up above me, — it is vastly easy for 25 you, I say, to accuse other people of laziness; you, who

have had nothing to do all the days of your life but to stare people in the face, and to amuse yourself with watching all that goes on in the kitchen. Think, I beseech you,

how you would like to be shut up for life in this dark 39 closet, and wag backwards and forwards, year after year, as I do."

"As to that,” said the dial, “is there not a window in your house on purpose for you to look through ?”

“For all that,” resumed the pendulum, “it is very dark 35 here; and although there is a window, I dare not stop,

even for an instant, to look out. Besides, I am really weary of my way of life; and if you please, I'lly tell you how I took this disgust at my employment. This moming I happened to be calculating how many times I should

have to tick in the course only of the next twenty-four 5 hours: perhaps some of you, above there, can give me the exact sum.”

The minute-hand, being quick at figures, instantly replied, “ eighty-six thousand four hundred times.”

“ Exactly so,” replied the pendulum. “Well, I appeai 10 to you all if the thought of this was not enough to fatiguo

one. And when I began to multiply the strokes of one day by those of months and years, really it is no wonder if I felt discouraged at the prospect: so, after a great deal

of reasoning and hesitation, thinks I to myself, I'll stop.” 15 The dial could scarcely keep its countenance during this harangue; but, resuming its gravity, thus replied:

“Dear Mr. Pendulum, I am really astonished that so useful and industrious a person as you are should have

been overcome by this sudden suggestion. It is true you 20 have done a great deal of work in your time. So have we

all, and are likely to do; and, although this may fatigue us to think of, the question is, whether it will fatigue us to do. Would you, now, do me the favor to give about

half-a-dozen strokes, to illustrate my argument?” 25 The pendulum complied, and ticked six times at its

usual pace. “Now,” resumed the dial, “may I be allowed to inquire, if that exertion was at all fatiguing or disagreeable to you?

“Not in the least,” replied the pendulum ; “it is not 30 of six strokes that I complain, nor of sixty, but of millions."

“Very good,” replied the dial; “but recollect that although you may think of a million strokes in an instant,

you are required to execute but one; and that, however 85 often you may hereafter have to swing, a moment will

always be given you to swing in.”

“ That consideration staggers me, I confess," said the pendulum.

“ Then I hope," resumed the dial-plate, “we shall all immediately return to our duty; for the maids will lie in 5 bed till noon if we stand idling thus."

Upon this, the weights, who had never been accused of light conduct, used all their influence in urging him to proceed; when, as with one consent, the wheels began to

turn, the hands began to move, the pendulum began to 10 wag, and, to its credit, ticked as loud as ever; and a beam

of the rising sun that streamed through a hole in the kitchen shutter, shining full upon the dial-plate, it brightened up as if nothing had been the matter.

When the farmer came down to breakfast that morning. 15 upon looking at the clock he declared that his watch had

gained half an hour in the night.

MORAL. — It is said by a celebrated modern writer, Take care of the minutes, and the hours will take care

of themselves.” This is an admirable hint, and might be 20 very seasonably recollected when we begin to be “weary

in well-doing,” from the thought of having a great deal to do. The present is all we have to manage: the past is irrecoverable; the future is uncertain; nor is it fair to bur

den one moment with the weight of the next. Sufficient 25 unto the moment is the trouble thereof. If we had to walk

a hundred miles, we still need set but one step at a time, and this process, continued, would infallibly bring us to our journey's end. Fatigue generally begins, and is always

increased, by calculating in a minute the exertion of hours. 30 Thus, in looking forward to future life, let us recollect

that we have not to sustain all its toil, to endure all its sufferings, or encounter all its crosses, at once. One moment comes laden with its own little burden, then flies. and is succeeded by another no heavier than the last: if one could be sustained, so can another, and another.

Even in looking forward to a single day, the spirit may sometimes faint from an anticipation of the duties, the labors, the trials to temper and patience, that may be ex

pected. Now, this is unjustly laying the burden of many 5 thousand moments upon one. Let any one resolve to do

right now, leaving then to do as it can, and if he were to live to the age of Methuselah, he would never err. But the common error is, to resolve to act right to-morrow, or

next time; but now, just this once, we must go on the 10 same as ever.

It seems casier to do right to-morrow than to-day, merely because we forget that when to-morrow comes, then will be now. Thus life passes, with many, in resolutions for the

future which the present never fulfils. 15 It is not thus with those who, “ by patient continuance

in well-doing, seek for glory, honor, and immortality.” Day by day, minute by minute, they execute the appointed task to which the requisite measure of time and strength

is proportioned; and thus, having worked while it was 20 called day, they at length rest from their labors, and their works " follow them.”

Let us then, “whatever our hands find to do, do it with all our might,” recollecting that now is the proper and the accepted time.

IV. - THE OLD CLOCK ON THE STAIRS.

LONGFELLOW

(HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW is a native of Portland, Maine, and was graduated at Bowdoin College in 1825. Soon after leaving college he went to Europe, and remained there till 1829. He then returned home and assumed the duties of professor of modern languages at Bowdoin College. He resigned his post in 1835, and visited Europe again, and upon his return in 1836, was appointed to a similar professorship in the University at Cambridge. Here he has resided ever since, but he resigned his professorship in 1854.

Mr. Longfellow holds a very high rank among the authors of America, and is one of the most popular of living poets. He has written “Evangeline,» : The Golden Legend,” “ The Song of Hiawatha,” and “The Courtship

of Miles Standish,” narrative poems of considerable length; “The Spanish Student,” a play; and a great number of smaller pieces. He has a fruitful imagination, under the control of the most perfect taste, and a remarkable power of illustrating moods of mind and states of feeling by material forms. He has a great command of beautiful diction, and equal skill in the structure of his verse. His poetry is marked by tenderness of feeling, purity of sentlment, elevation of thought, and healthiness of tone. He understands and can express all the affections of the human heart. The happy delight in his poems; and they fall with soothing and sympathizing touch upon those who have suffered. His readers are more than admirers; they become friends. And over all that he has written there hangs a beautiful ideal light, - the atmosphere of poetry, - which illuminates his page as the sunshine does the natural landscape,

Mr. Longfellow has also won enduring praise as a prose writer. His

Outre-mer,” a collection of travelling sketches and miscellaneous essays, his "Hyperion," a romance, and his “ Kavanagh," a domestic story, are marked by the same traits as his poems. He is a "warbler of poetic prose;" and would be entitled to the honors of a poet had he never written a line of verse. His “ Hyperion,” especially, is full of beautiful description, rich fancy, and sweet and pensive thought. He is also a man of extensive literary attainments, familiar with the languages of modern Europe, and a great master in the difficult art of translation.]

SOMEWHAT back from the village street
Stands the old-fashioned country-seat;
Across its antique portico,
Tall poplar-trees their shadows throw;
And from its station in the hall,
An ancient timepiece says to all, --

“Forever — never!
Never - forever!”

2 Halfway up the stairs it stands,

And points and beckons with its hands
From its case of massive oak,
Like a monk, who, under his cloak,
Crosses himself, and sighs, alas!
With sorrowful voice to all that paso, an

“Forever — never!
Never — forever!”

[ocr errors][merged small]
« 上一頁繼續 »