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ciphering-book, however, was my pride, and my mother's too. With what delight did she display those sums, that rose like Banquo's ghosts,
“And drew at each remove a lengthening chain."
At the age of eight years I recollect seeing my mother reading a thin black book, which attracted my attention. It was “Blair's Grave,” .and she read me the passage,
——“But see, the well-plumed hearse comes nodding on.” How distinctly my imagination pictured that hearse and those nodding plumes ! I recollect no other books, until I saw and devoured Shakspeare, at the age of nine, except an odd volume of Pope, containing “The Messiah,” and “The Rape of the Lock.” I sometimes look around on the mass of books collected by my children, and am half skeptical with regard to the value of juvenile literature, when I remember how my mind opened under the mysteries of those writings.
In justice, however, to the good tendency of
engravings, I must mention, that the effect produced on me by the only two picture-books I possessed was an important one. One of them was “Watts’s Hymns for Infant Minds," where fighting animals are portrayed. When friends have wounded or foes oppressed me, the strong but simple lines which elucidate the picture,
“Let dogs delight to bark and bite,”
have arisen to my memory, and calmed my chafed spirit, when mere flimsy sentiment would have afforded me no shelter against wrong.
The other book, and it is as distinct to my imagination now as the rich landscape by Fisher which hangs before me, contained a representation of Miss Kitty Greedy leaning both elbows on a table, with her mouth crammed to repletion, trying in vain to address her mamma. The morale has clung to me to this day, and I never see a young or old gourmand, or detect myself in a superfluous mouthful, without thinking of Kitty Greedy.
The utmost term of my solid education was
one year of attendance at the town school,-a square building, with one room for both sexes, near an open common, without a shrub or tree to grace or shade it. Thither, bearing my own satchel, I walked a mile, being a journey of four miles daily, to make my “young idea shoot." I will not say much for my ideas, but my limbs were not backward in the process. I shot up into a tall girl, and was allowed to go occasionally with my mother to take tea sociably with her friends at four o'clock, carrying my knittingwork for occupation.
My accomplishments are soon told. I opened an exhibition ball with one of the slow minuets of the last century, and I cannot but stop to render a tribute of admiration to that charming movement, in spite of the admirers of the lazy quadrille, or the seductive waltz,
A single courtesy or bow, when well ordered, is graceful; think then how delightful must be the spectacle of a series of these beautiful curves, performed to slow and appropriate music, by so attractive a couple as I certainly be
lieved Clarissa Gray and my partner Benjamin Homes to be. He was a red-cheeked boy of thirteen, and had a pair of new white gloves for the occasion, unharmed by contact with mine, for the minuet allows but the meeting of the extremities of the fingers, and that lightly. I know not thy destiny, Benjamin, but I have sometimes wished thou mightst tread through life on such polished footing, with sweet, music to lead thee, and a partner as kind.
My teacher honoured, or rewarded, me with a choice of fancy dances, and I decided on the slow minuet. How brilliant was the scene ! Our old clergyman and his lady were stationed in conspicuous seats, and looked on with benevolent smiles. We scarcely felt the floor while moving with a step closely resembling the waltz, our hands raised, the top of each fore-finger making a circle with the thumb, then slowly descending, while with sidelong glances, and sidelong steps, with measured obeisances, we evolved the “poetry of motion,"
I commenced learning music upon an old
spinet of my mother's; but her indulgence soon imported for me a harpsichord of the latest fashion, and though my more fastidious ear may be critically pleased with the improvements in the modern piano-forte, I have never felt so rapt and raised as when I sang to a silent circle, “ Henry's Cottage Maid,” or “ Her mouth which a smile,” to my own harpsichord.
My sampler was one of unrivalled beauty. It possessed every shade and glory of tentstitch. At the upper corners were cherubs' heads and wings. Under the alphabets stood Adam and Eve, draperied with fig-leaves, and between them these appropriate lines
Clarissa Gray is my name,
This sampler was a matter of curiosity, and sometimes of ridicule, to my children; but now that they perceive my gray hairs and increasing infirmities, I find the sampler neatly folded and laid aside, and sometimes a conscious look re