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delightful, the most grateful spectacle to the eye, take it all in all, of any country under heaven; let him see the perfection to which every thing is carried there — agriculture, mechanism, and the whole machinery of social comfort; let him gaze, as he passes, upon its ever-green fields, its lovely landscapes, its old ancestral trees, embowering thousands of beautiful cottages, as well as surrounding hundreds of princely palaces; let him linger about its ancient and venerable churches, its mighty cathedrals, its stupendous ruins, around which the affections of the people are clinging, like the ever-fresh ivy that clothes them; and he will find it as difficult, as it would be horrible, to believe, that the children of the soil should rise to carry fire, and sword, and slaughter, through that glorious and beautiful country.
The unexpected length to which this article has run, although consisting of imperfect hints, obliges me to bring it abruptly to a close; as also to defer, till another number, some observations which I intended to offer on the Duties of the Age.
READING OF THE WILL.
It was a gorgeous room, — the rich, warm light
Softened a blaze of splendor else too bright:
Blushed the pale statues; while each pictured knight
There wealth had toiled to rival and outshine
The feudal pomp of old baronial line.
Such was the hall of banquet, where full oft
Had feasted high, the noble and the fair:
In homage to the upstart millionaire,
Now at that cold and final banquet, where,
Death had consigned him to his mighty larder.
But while below ground, Death's blind scavengers
Avarice, that abject appetite, which stirs
Had gathered to his doors the flatterers
Hoping—to liquidate their penury's bill —
A fit'consideration' in the will.
And there they sat, 'a goodly convocation,'
In all the hollow circumstance of wo j
Of solemn pomp and phansaic show.
For mutual hatred barred the feelings' flow:
Anon, the door was opened, and walked in
And he, the man of law, now came to spin
Nervous with eagerness, on thorns they sat,
* Being of sound mind' — the scroll commenced thus-wise Proceeding— some old servants being pensioned—
'I eive, bequeath, makeover, and devise,
'My real estate, worth —say a million more,
To build a place of worship, I bestow:
'A mighty debt of— gratitude I owe;
That when my head was laid the sod below,
Here paused the lawyer, and looked slily round, But on each face met such a leer and grin
For a brief moment, fury master'd speech:'T was like the pause ere yet the lighted train The subterranean magazine can reach,
Whose hidden thunder splits the rocks in twain. Then, in all phrase malignity can teach To lip and tongue, burst passion's hurricane: The men stamped, hissed, and impiously swore — The women shinckcd, rush'd out, and slammed the door.
At length a sense of something like propriety
Their fiery indignation 'gan to cool;
And felt and looked a little like a fool, —
Much like a child's who has been whipped at school, With heads depressed, clench'd hands, and knitted brows, The group of pseudo mourners left the house.
And such as theirs be ever the reward
Of all, who, like the Israelites of old.
From that for which their dignity they sold.
The human soul, is greediness of gold.
Reader, — do you skate? Have you ever enjoyed the exulting sense of standing upon some wide, ice-bound river, having your loins girded about, and your feet shod with the preparation of that pleasant pastime? If not, then hath the culture of your understanding been grievously neglected. With me, skating is a passion. When the winter air is mild and bracing— when there are no clouds about the zenith, but a few quiet, golden ones, hanging like a rich curtain all round the horizon —then to step with your glittering heel upon an expanse of congelated chrystal, and outstrip the wind — there is rapture in it. It is the quintessence of life and ' free moral agency.' You can go where you list, and as you list; fast or slow; gliding or shooting over the area where you are disporting, until it is with lines 'both centric and eccentric scribbled o'er,' —and you feel that you have done wonders. I love to push onward in a straight line, or to wheel in curious circumgyrations; forming parallels and circles on my bright high-dutchers; leaving droves behind, and feeling at my heart the fiery glow of the skater's ambition; until the city, with its spires, and flags flouting the sky, disappears in the distance. There is nothing like it, — for it is, next to a sleigh-ride, the very soul of existence. Nature to me is very beautiful in winter. How pure is the air! What loveliness, surpassing even the springtime, rests on the landscape! The hills, rising pale and blue afar; the vales and plains, dotted with farm-yards, where the herds are huddled 'in their cotes secure,' and the yellow straw or green hay, marks the place of their pleased imprisonment. From the barn, you hear the hollow-sounding flail of the thresher; from the street, near and far, the cheerful jingle of bells; and all around you, when you gain some eminence, you behold the shining lakes and mountains, bright as silver in the beams of the sun! Then again, winter is so perfectly salubrious. Sanctified and enshrined in its atmosphere, 'the dog, the horse, the rat,' though never so defunct, are inoffensive for months ; whereas, in the solstice, they would directly fill your nostril with indignation, and demand prompt exequies. I say I like winter, and I care not who knows it. He that differs from me, may go his ways. His taste mislikes me.
Charles Kemble is probably one of the best skaters in the world. Jehu! how he used to 'go it' on the Schuylkill, — until he seemed, not an aged, wig-ensconced man, in lean and slippered pantaloon, but a creature of the elements, endowed with the power of out-chasing the very lightnings of heaven. His elementary instruction began on the Serpentine, in London; it was completed in Germany; and he now stands before the world, accounted a superior skater — oh, very much so! But he is very dull in Macbeth.
Winter gives energy to every thing. A full city, in sleighingtime, is a perfect carnival. Whew !—how the cutters, pungs, and foursin-hand, sweep over the pav6! How the bells tintinnabulate! Woman looks sweeter then, than ever. The demoiselle in her boa, with her muff and fur-shoes, presents a picture of warmth and comfort, that you cannot too much admire. At this season — perhaps in this I am peculiar— 'high mountains are a feeling.' How I should liked to have been with Napoleon, when he crossed those wintry Alps! — to have shared in the excitement — the danger — the triumph! Never, in all his brilliant career, did he perform an act more sublime and powerful, in my eyes. This alone, had he achieved nothing more, would have stamped him the greatest Captain of his age.
Appropos of Napoleon. I remember hearing from somebody, or reading in some book, or pamphlet, or newspaper — bear with me, kind reader, in this incertitude, for I have forgotten all the particulars — an anecdote of him, that seems to me worth preserving — or perhaps I should rather say, rescuing — from the oblivion to which it is rapidly hastening. It finely illustrates one portion of his infinitely-diversified character; and I marvel that it has escaped the notice or the researches of all his biographers, eulogists, critics, and censors. I must be forgiven, if, in recalling it, I should be guilty of a lapse from historical accuracy: I am a sad bungler at dates, and my library boasts not a ' Chronology.'
Thus ran the tale. One of the detenus, whom the abrupt resumption of hostilities after the short peace of—Tilsit, was it 1 — found a wanderer upon the French soil, for his greater misfortune, was an Englishman of large fortune, and some rank above that of a mere private gentleman— but whether knight, baron, or baronet, is more than I can remember. He was a widower, with an only child, a daughter. He had become personally known to the Emperor, when First Consul, and a certain degree of friendship had sprung up between them. This friendship was in some sort renewed, when the Englishman became an involuntary resident of the French capital; the rigors of detention and surveillance were much softened in his behalf, and he was often a partaker of the Emperor's hospitality — not indeed at the formal levees and soirees of the palace, but in private and familiar visits, of which Napoleon was fond, and to the enjoyment of which he appropriated as much of his time, as could be spared from the immense number and magnitude of his burdensome imperial occupations. The Englishman was discreet, and the monarch condescending; their tete-a-tctes were, therefore, not infrequent, and both parties seemed to take pleasure in their repetition.
The child of the Englishman had been placed at a school in one of the provincial towns; but he solicited and obtained from his imperial friend permission for her to join him at Paris. He received intelligence of her setting out, accompanied by a faithful domestic; but days passed away, and she came not to lighten his solitude. His anxiety and alarm gained strength, day after day, until at length they drove him almost to frenzy. He implored leave to proceed in search of her, and it was granted; but the search proved unavailing. He was enabled to trace her some distance on her journey to the capital, but at a certain point, all indications disappeared, and he was driven to the miserable conviction that, in some mysterious and unaccountable manner, she had perished. He returned to Paris, almost heart-broken.
The morning after his arrival, he was astonished by a sudden visit from an officer, at the head of a body of gens-d'armes, who arrested him in the name of the Emperor. His first emotion was astonishment — his second indignation; and this was not a little heightened, when the officer, with an unusual degree of harshness and brusquerie, announced to him that he was accused of conspiring against the life of the Emperor, and that he was to be confined, en secret, until the day of his trial before a military commission.
His temper was naturally quick and ardent, and it vented itself in reproaches, exclamations, and perhaps a few oaths — but as they were uttered in English, they seemed to produce no effect on the officer. He was placed in a carriage — the blinds were drawn — and the horses started at full speed.
After riding some distance, but in what direction the prisoner could not determine, by reason of the closeness of the vehicle, it stopped suddenly — a bandage was drawn over his eyes, and he was led into some building; but whether the Conciergerie, or the Bicetre, he could only conjecture. After traversing various passages, in silence, but brooding over his wrongs, and almost bursting with indignation, his progress was arrested, the blind was removed from his eyes, and he found himself in presence of his friend, the Emperor. His first glance conveyed mere wonder; but those which followed it, were glowing with anger, which increased at every moment. The brow of Napoleon wore a gloomy frown, but the heart of the Englishman was too full of wrath to quail even before that fearful sign; it was but reflected from his own bold front. 'Tyrant!' he exclaimed—but before he could add another word, a door was flung open, and his blooming child bounded, all life and loveliness, into his arms. Amazement and happiness made him dumb; and Napoleon, smiling as none but him could smile, turned to leave the room, with the single remark: 'Joy and surprise would have turned your brain; it was better to prepare you for the shock, by rousing you to anger.'
The surpassing skill of Fouche's myrmidons had been called into employment by the Emperor's command, and had succeeded in discovering the child, —but how, or where, I have forgotten.
Poor Napoleon! I can never think of his brilliant career, and desolate end, without feeling the sublimity of Massillon's ejaculation over the dead body of his monarch, as it lay in state before him, in the church of Notre Dame' 'God alone is great!' He commissions Death, with his cold shaft, and the mighty are fallen. The cemetery is sublimer than the battle, or the coronation. There speaks a power which is beyond all others; there, in the rustling grass, or whisper of the cypress^we hear the knell of nations, and the prophecy of that to which they all must come — to dust and silence! I am tempted, here, to transcribe one of the noblest poems ever written in our language. It may be familiar to some of my readers, but it is worth a hundred perusals; while to those who have never seen it, I convey a treasure and a talisman — a memento mori. The author, Herbert Knowles, wrote it