accustomed eye. Next, the troop of schoolboys, with limbs all life and elasticity, and hearts all harmony and gladness, drunk with their dream of liberty and release from study; mingled with the less happy but perhaps more fortunate boys, whose lot compels them to labor for their bread, with wellstrung nerves and bodies invigorated by health and exercise, bounding, to find their homes, over fields and meadows, over brook and path, with hearts as unconcerned and steps as light as those of the roe or the young hart on the mountains of spices. The apprentice - the implements of his handicraft laid by, and the stinted portion of his daily simple subsistence forgotten, - his eyes glistening with exultation and his breast heaving with the fulness of anticipation — rushes along to meet at home the anxious parent, proud of the boy's advance in a trade, that will make him independent, and the younger child, who wonders if a year can have wrought so astonishing a transformation, and almost doubts his identity.

Now approach the brother and the sister, whom a few months of separation have rendered more affectionate; the friends, whom difference of employment or variety of pursuit had partially estranged; the lovers, whose impatient hearts, though blessed with frequent and delightful intercourse, welcome the return of Thanksgiving as the day when hope and love are to find their consummation — the day which is forever after to be more sacred in their calendar than all the days of the year besides. But the images too thickly throng, “too fast they crowd," for the powers of description. In the midst of the gay and glorious assembly are the father, the mother, the patriarch bowed with years, and she who has been the nurse of generations, partaking of the general joy and congratulation, nor murmuring that, while such a scene engages and employs their faculties, the wheels of time do not more rapidly bring on the promised period of translation to another and more enduring heaven. An anonymous modern writer has beautifully said " There

moments in, existence which comprise the power


of years,

as thousands of roses are contained in a few drops of their essence.” The remark is no more beautiful than just. I once witnessed an incident, which made me feel its truth, though long before the sentiment itself was written. In one of the largest villages in the easterly part of Connecticut, a woman was left a widow with ten children, all but one of whom were under twenty years of age. The family had once enjoyed a competence, and looked forward to years of ease and plenty. Toward the close of the revolutionary war, the father, thinking to make a profitable speculation, disposed of a large and profitable stock in trade, and received in payment what, at the time, was called cash, but which turned out shortly after to be worthless paper- bills of the old “ Continental currency." These bills were laid up in his desk, and soon began to depreciate in value. The deterioration went on from day to day, and in a few months the bubble burst; and the fund, which had been hoarded to educate a family, would not buy them a breakfast. At this moment the father died.

I will not trace the history of this family through its days of destitution and poverty. It is sufficient to state that the children were scattered in various directions, and engaged in various employments, till at length all were gone, and the mother left alone, dependent on friends for a bedroom, and on the labor of her hands for her own subsistence carious dependence, for to other misfortunes had succeeded the loss of health. In process of time, one of the sons, having completed his apprenticeship, hired a house for his mother, and lived with her, while he followed the occupation of a shoemaker. Thanksgiving Day came; and with it returned an opportunity to indulge in its peculiar rites, which they had not enjoyed for ten years. The two youngest boys, who lived at a distance from each other and from the parent, came HOME to keep Thanksgiving.

The festive preparations were completed. The table was spread. Around it stood a mother and three sons, who had

a pre

not been assembled together before within the remembrance of the youngest of the group. The grateful and pious mother lifted her heart and her voice to the widow's God, and uttered a blessing on that kindness which had not broken the bruised reed, and that goodness which had remembered all her sorrows, and permitted her once more to see so many of her orphan children assembled around her. Her expressions of gratitude were not finished, when the tide of affection and thanksgiving, which swelled the heart, overpowered the physical faculties. Her bosom heaved with strong convulsions, her utterance was choked, the lips could not relieve by words the emotions which filled the soul : she faltered, and would have fallen, but that the elder son caught and sustained her in his arms. Tears at length came to her relief, and the earthquake of the soul was succeeded by those grateful and affectionate sensations which can find no parallel but in a mother's heart.

It is more than forty years since this incident took place. The scene is now as fresh and bright to my imagination as it was at the moment of its occurrence. Eternity cannot obliterate its impression from my memory, and, if it could, I would not accept immortality on that condition; for that widow was MY MOTHER.

[blocks in formation]

Sphere, flash'd, shrink, ask, scream, asks, ask'st, ask'd, sleep,

rustl'd, rustles, rustl'st.

On the Receipt of my Mother's Picture.


O that those lips had language! Life has passed
With me but roughly since I heard thee last.

Those lips are thine; thy own sweet smile I see,
The same that oft in childhood solaced me :
Voice only fails; else, how distinct they say,
“Grieve not, my child; chase all thy fears away!'
The meek intelligence of those dear eyes
(Blest be the art tha can immortalize,
The art that baffles Time's tyrannic claim
To quench it) here shines on me still the same.

Faithful remembrancer of one so dear,
O welcome guest, though unexpected here !
Who bidd'st me honor with an artless song,
Affectionate, a mother lost so long.
I will obey; not willingly alone,
But gladly, as the precept were her own;
And, while that face renews my filial grief,
Fancy shall weave a charm for my relief-
Shall steep me in Elysian reverie,
A momentary dream, that thou art she.

My mother! when I learned that thou wast dead,
Şay, wast thou conscious of the tears I shed ?
Hovered thy spirit o'er thy sorrowing son,
Wretch even then, life's journey just begun?
Perhaps thou gav'st me, though unfelt, a kiss ;
Perhaps a tear, if souls can weep in bliss :
Ah, that maternal smile! it answers,
I heard the bell tolled on thy burial day,
I saw the hearse that bore thee slow away,
And, turning from my nursery window, drew
A long, long sigh, and wept a last adieu !
But was it such?

- Where. thou art gone, Adieus and farewells are a sound unknown. May I but meet thee on that peaceful shore, The parting word shall pass my lips no more. Thy maidens, grieved themselves at my concern, Oft gave me promise of thy quick return.

" Yes.”

It was.

What ardently I wished, I long believed,
And, disappointed still, was still deceived ;
By expectation every day beguiled,
Dupe of to-morrow even from a child.
Thus maný a sad to-morrow came and went,
Till, all my stock of infant sorrow spent,
I learned at last submission to my lot;
But, though I less deplored thee, ne'er forgot.

Where once we dwelt, our name is heard no more ;
Children not thine have trod my nursery floor ;
And where the gardener, Robin, day by day,
Drew me to school along the public way,
Delighted with my bauble-coach, and wrapped
In scarlet mantle warm, and velvet-capped,
'Tis now become a history little known,
That once we called the pastoral house our own.
Short-lived possession! but the record fair,
That memory keeps of all thy kindness there,
Still outlives many a storm, that has effaced
A thousand other themes less deeply traced.
Thy nightly visits to my chamber made,
That thou might'st know me safe and warmly laid ;.
Thy morning bounties ere I left my home,
The biscuit or confectionary plum;
The fragrant waters on my cheeks bestowed
By thy own hand, till fresh they shone and glowed; -
All this, and, more endearing still than all,
Thy constant flow of love, that knew no fall,
Ne'er roughened by those cataracts and breaks,
That humor interposed too often makes;
All this, still legible in memory's page,
And still to be so to my latest age,
Adds joy to duty, makes me glad to pay
Such honors to thee as my numbers may;
Perhaps a frail memorial, but sincere,
Not scorned in heaven, though little noticed here,

« VorigeDoorgaan »