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friend March would do the same. March having nodded assent, they set to, and a pretty puffing and blowing they made. April, however, continued to drink Madeira, while June, July, and September stuck with exemplary constancy to the Burgundy.
After repeated summonses to the drawing-room, they joined the ladies at the tea table. November drew herself up, and affected to be quite overpowered by the smell of smoke, which March, October, and December had brought in with them; although it was well known that the old lady herself could blow a cloud as well as any of them. August, a grave, stately matron, of extraordinary beauty, although perhaps un peu passée, officiated as tea-maker. Good Friday, who by this time had recovered the fright into which Shrove Tuesday had thrown her, handed about the toasted buns; and Swithin, a servant of July, was employed to keep the tea-pot supplied with water, which he too often did to overflowing.
Tea being over, the old folks went to cards; and the young ones, including October, who managed to hide his years very successfully, to the piano-forte. May was the prima donna, and delighted every one, especially poor April, who was alternately smiles and tears during the whole of her performance. October gave them a hunting song, which caused even the card tables to be deserted; and August sang a sweet, melancholy canzonet, which was rapturously encored.
At length, Candlemas Day having returned from seeing old Januuary home, his mistress, February, took leave of the company. April, who was a little the worse for the wine he had drunk, insisted on escorting November; although she had several servants in waiting, and her road was in an opposite direction to his own. May went away in her own carriage, and undertook to set June down, who lived very near her. The road was hilly and steep, but her coachman, Ascension Day, got the horses very well to the top; and July and August both walked home, each preceded by a dog-day, with a lighted torch. September and October, who were next door neighbors, went away in the same hackney coach; and March departed as he came, on the back of a rough Shetland pony.
Where lives the soul of poetry? Dark caves
Cold, cheerless Greenland, where the ice-berg hoar
Bright tropic bowers, within whose depths of green,
In fadeless robes of bloom and verdure drest;
Where the light pinions of the wooing wind
The rich warm hues that flush the western cloud,
LETTERS FROM PALMYRA.
THE following epistles from a modern Palmyrene to a citizen of Rome, in the empire state, may be read with profit. They throw considerable light upon the wonders of the deep, and indeed upon several of the elements, as well as upon the natural creation generally, inanimate, pedal, quadrupedal, and otherwise. They are submitted to the public with deference, on the part of the translator; but at the same time with a most confident belief that they will be found infinitely to surpass the crude conceptions and rampant twaddle, so common at the present time of day. To say that they are clever, is what the compiler dares openly to insinuate, in the face of Christendom; and to deny that they are genuine, he humbly conceives would be to add insult to injury. Where nothing remains to be said, in most cases, little is vociferated; and it is out of respect to this timehonored custom, that the cicerone who thus ushers to the world these missive fragments, content with their introduction to the universe, withdraws himself from the portico, and leaves them to make their own impression. It remains only to add, that they were found in a canalboat, and were bought for two shillings, from a Syracuse merchant, who was desirous of using the paper to enwrap a piece of cheese in.
FROM GIOVANNI SMITHINI, OF MODERN PALMYRA, LATE OF ROME, A CITY IN ITALY, TO BETSEY BAKERIO, OF ROME, NEW-YORK.
Modern Palmyra, August, 1838. GRACE AND SALUTATION! I address you, beloved Betsey! for the first time in the whole course of my life, strange to say, from this vast metropolis, which, as you know, I have never visited before, and which renders this circumstance only the more remarkable. Familiar as you are with the mysteries of Polytheism, you cannot marvel that I should impute an event so extraordinary to some feat of the gods; many of whom, as we have recently heard, through our oracle, of late consulted at Communipaw, are afflicted with the hydrophobia, and vermes of Digby. The dog-star has raged intensely, and the oracles have teemed with bodings of broil and bother. These things, my Betsey, have upset the usual tranquillity of my mind; and though occasionally cheerful, I am for the most part somewhat restive under the omen.
When we ate our last dish of macaroni under the walls of the empress of the world, I little thought that I should ever salute you from the projected capital of a new republic; from a city, destined, at no great period of remoteness, to be the sister of Rome, the mother of Syracuse, and the venerated grandmother of Salina and Lodi, and in all probability the aunt of Satan's Kingdom,' a place facetiously so called, and situate betwixt the first-named town and modern
* VIDE 'Little Pedlington Guide-Book,' by SIMCOX RUMMINS, Esq.
Utica. Our ancient countryman, who committed suicide, without the benefit of a coroner's jury, near the olden place last mentioned, would scarcely credit the modern synonyme of that capital; expressing as it does so little in comparison with that of by-gone days.
But I digress. Fate has brought us both to America; you in a steam-boat, myself in a packet steerage. Exchanging my paoli for what are called 'levies' and 'fips' in some parts of this new world, I embarked, with a light heart, from Livorno for this distant region. It were useless to speak of my trials; suffice it to say, that the sickness of the sea, as I fondly hoped, resulted in no œconomy of my finances; the captain of the vessel not only refusing to 'throw off' the charge for breakfasts, which my eccentric epigastrium had yielded daily to the dependants of Neptune, and piscatory tide-waiters, but mingled contumely with misfortune, by observing, that I could n't come over him, any way I could fix it.' I give his remark as he spake it, referring you to the commentators for its precise meaning.
How I came to visit this capital, I cannot stop to declare. It is enough that, like one of our people, I can say, Veni, vidi.' All that I saw, would require a library larger than the Vatican; I shall therefore touch lightly upon main particulars. Believe me, my Betsey, prolixity is not to my taste. To be verbose, is not only to be tedious, but to be guilty of amplification; and when we expand without substance, we collapse without sound; like the air, which refuses to antedate the roll of the neglected drum-head, or the clang of unsmitten cymbal; which echoes not the sackbut, when nobody touches it, and rejects the sound-board of the organ, when he who commands its ventiges is laid up with an injured hand, burnt by a hallelujah on the fore-finger, or blistered with a disorderly selah.*
To enumerate the curious wonders of this capital, would indeed surpass the blazon of human pen. You know how often we have admired the verdure which springs amid the ruins of the Colosseum; the towering Basilica de Santa Pietro, and the fragments of timehonored fabrics, which decay has neglected to gnaw upon, and the mould refused to stain; but you can have no conception of what I am about to relate to you. Imagine to yourself, my Betsey, a long, wide street, with houses on either side, and now and then a citizen wending along the thorougfare, intent as it were upon traffic, and forgetful of the gorgeous splendors by which he is surrounded. Fancy the expanse of that renowned work of art, the Erie canal; the placid waters greeting the eye, now turbid with the passage of a liner's keel, fragrant with the steams from an errant kitchen; now green with solemn stagnation, or its quietude broken by the plunge of some ancient bull-frog, bathing at the evening tide. Behold the flouring mills, where the spirit rises into sublime speculations upon the prices of meal per barrel, or sinks into melancholy reflections upon the mutability of wheat. These subjects, my Betsey, are those which come home to the business and bowels of men; and as I have mused upon them, taking umbrage' of some shadowy elm, I have thought that our own Virgil was right, when he peopled its foliage with images, and endowed every branch with a shadowy vision.
* SEE a figure of speech, by the clever poet 'under a bridge.'
The fine arts those brilliant remnants spared by Time and Cambyses here flourish in their native wildness and grandeur. Even the handicraftsmen of the hour bring in the art of painting to illustrate their calling. This morning, my attention was arrested by a mercer's sign, displaying the counterparts of the implements, a goose and shears. My thoughts irresistibly turned to the cackling of those webbed fowl, which are said, by our noble chroniclers, to have once saved the mistress of the world; while the uncertainty of life, and the inexorable nature of the fates, were symbolized by the united edges, which, safe themselves, impair the integrity of all that is called upon to pass between them. You will not wonder that I was overcome with the deep associations thus provoked in my soul. Various, indeed, are the modes in which pictorial divinity manifests itself to the world. There is a species of beverage common to this region, denominated beer; and its action is sometimes represented in appropriate still life, where it is seen describing an aërial semicircle, some two feet apart, leaping from bottle to tumbler, with the most effervescent impatience.
Among the themes upon which my admiration often exhausts itself, the topic of botany has considerable prominence. Of the vegetable tribe, I am a diligent spectator. In this respect, the fields in the suburbs of Palmyra have afforded me abundant consolation. The ambitious tendrils of a plant bearing a long verdant sheath, apparently pregnant with seeds, frequently attracted my attention; and upon asking one of the natives what manner of fruit they were, he replied to me, in the courteous brevity of the region, Stranger, them 's beans.' Some fields are filled with regular rows of tiny mounds, partially cone-like in form, and from the apex of each of which there bursts forth a collection of herbs, called ' small potatoes' by the populace, and yielding a curious esculent, with eyes to it, and a thin skin; like a sensitive poet, all seeing, but shrinking from the rougher contacts of life. A train of severe reflection, accompanied and fed by much research, has convinced me that this fruit, existing under another name, is the identical minima 'tateria, mentioned by Plutarch, and confirmed by many contemporaries of that highly respectable citizen.
I had intended, my Betsey, to dilate more extensively upon the various topics which arrest my intellect on every side; but the limits of this epistle forbid the high endeavor. I shall address you soon again. Meantime, salute for me Sally Johnson and Zenobia Tompkins. I send to the former, in the care of the latter, a specimen of the gummy wood, (hackmatak of Bartram,) so common to the western region. In the language of the people here, 'It's good to chaw.' I have sought eagerly to find the root of this word 'chaw,' but in vain. Sometimes it is used with reference to the discomfiture of individuals, as thus: 'I will chaw you up;' a threat involving defeat. son, lately speaking to this point with me, observed that the phrase is equivalent to licking.' He contends that, it was the original meaning of that word in Scripture; and that Lazarus, in the New Testament dispensation, probably received the severest licking,' from the dogs of Dives, ever bestowed upon an unfortunate person in his situation.