Imagens das páginas


Under the greenwood tree
Who loves to lie with me,
And tune his merry note

Unto the sweet bird's throat,
Come hither, come hither, come hither!

Here shall he see

No enemy,
But winter and rough weather.- Shaks.

'THERE is no class of human beings visited with more matter-of-course vituperation than idle people. Idleness ! it is the greatest vice of civilization, for it is the least profitable. Men may lie, and cheat, and game, and drink, and break the ten commandments in whatsoever way they please, and they will find apologists; but for idleness, no one lifteth up his voice to speak. From the busy haunts of men, from the toil and turmoil of the marts of traffic, from the din and smoke of manufactories, from the high courts of Mammon, it is for ever banished: only on the pleasant hill side, in , the waving meadow, and under the ancient forest


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trees, or by the babbling brook and lazy river hath it sought out an undisturbed retreat; and there its devotee is to be found, stretched luxuriously along the green sward, worshipping his divinity after his own calm and easy fashion. Foolish fellow! up and away unto the crowded city, for there money, "the white man's god," is to be made—spend thy days in bargaining and wrangling and over-reaching, and thy nights in scheming and calculating until thou art worth a million ! but rest not, relax not, toil and bargain and wrangle on, and thou mayest yet be worth a million and a half! and then if death some morning put a stop unto thy profitable speculations, think, for all thy care and anxiety ----thy joyless days and sleepless nights—what a glorious consolation is thine! The poor idler goes to his grave not worth a groat, while thou descendest to thine everlasting rest with more money invested in the funds than any man on 'change!

Idleness,” saith the proverb, “is the mother of mischief.” How strange that such a noisy brawling urchin should spring from so inoffensive a parent! For my own part, I have a respect for idle people; and, when no one suffers by their idleness, they are the most sensible people on the face of the earth-your only true philosophers. Love of ease is natural to man, and industry came into the world


with original sin. Hard work occasioned the first murder. If Cain, instead of tilling the stubborn earth and earning his bread" by the sweat of his brow," had had nothing to do but lounge on the mountain-side like his brother Abel, play his pipe, watch his sheep feeding, and then feed himself, he would never have envied him, and the second great transgression would not have come to pass.

That idleness is the natural state of man, cannot be doubted. Like the flowers of the field it springeth up without care or culture; but industry is a hot-house plant, of forced and artificial growth, and is apt to wither away, if not anxiously tended and cherished. In asserting these undeniable truths, let it not be supposed that any reproach is meant to be cast on the industrious. No the man who sacrifices his love of ease, and labors unremittingly that his wife may be at rest, and his little ones comfortably clothed and fed—that he may be free from duns and debts, and walk through the world fearing and beholden to no living creature-such a man is worthy of all admiration. But there are others, who have enough and to spare, but still go on-the slaves of avarice and habit ; who dignify their love of gain with the name of industry, and plume themselves mightily on “never being a single minute idle;" why what are they at best but miserable earth-worms--voluntary bondmen; the worldly wise, and yet the most egregious fools !

One thing that has undeservedly brought idleness into bad repute, is the confounding it with laziness, than which no two things can be more different. The lazy sluggard who hates motion in every shape, and lies upon the earth an inert piece of animation, is scarcely upon a par with the beasts that perish. A fine specimen of this tribe was a fat old gentleman of this city, a prodigious eater, who, in the summer time, used to sit, by the day together, smoking and steaming like a caldron. The only exercise he was ever known to take consisted in calling out, after he had sat on one seat long enough to make it uncomfortably warm, 6 John, bring me a cool chair !" and then moving from one chair to the other. Now idle people are the very reverse of this. In all sorts of games and sports they are first and foremost. It is they who can pitch a quoit or bowl a cricket-ball straighter and truer than any one else; the swiftest runners and most active wrestlers of the district. It is they who have roamed the country far and wide, and know where the finest fishing streams are to be found, and where the birds are most plentiful-the healthiest, hardiest, and most venturesome of heaven's creatures ; who will scramble up a precipice,

and risk their necks for a bird's nest, but droop and pine away under a regular routine of money-making tasks. There are, however, different varieties of this species, like every other. Some of a more contemplative turn, who seek out the pleasant nooks and shady places, known but to themselves, and there muse away their hours. These are intimate acquaintances of nature, and are initiated into thousands of her little secrets that others know not of; and with Shakspeare in their hand, they read unfolded mysteries of mind and matter, that seem, and are not the records of observation, but the outpourings of inspiration. Such an one was Jaques, though rather too cynical; and, at times, even such an one must Shakspeare have been. It appears impossible that the scenes in the forest of Arden could have been engendered any where except "under the shade of melancholy boughs.” So thoroughly are they imbued with a true pastoral spirit, so free from the noise and smoke of cities, that it is really strange, after reading “ As you like it,” with your mind filled with images of lonely forest walks, and their denizens the duke of Amiens and his mates and brothers in exile,” to walk to the window and see so many streets, houses, carriages, and fantastically dressed men and women.

How pitiable would he be who could afford to dream away


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