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comment. The moral she drew from it was not very new, to be sure.
The girl had heard it a hundred times before; and a hundred times more she could have heard it, without suspecting it to be tedious. Rosamund loved her grandmother.
The old lady loved Rosamund too; and she had reason for so doing. Rosamund was to her at once a child and a servant. She had only her left in the world. They two lived together.
They had once known better days. The story of Rosamund's parents, their failure, their folly, and distresses, may be told another time. Our tale hath grief enough in it.
It was now about a year and a half since old Margaret Gray had sold off all her effects, to pay the debts of Rosamund's father — just after the mother had died of a broken heart; for her husband had fled his country to hide his shame in a foreign land. At that period, the old lady retired to a small cottage in the village of Widford in Hertfordshire.
Rosamund, in her thirteenth year, was left destitute, without fortune or friends: she went with her grandmother. In all this time she had served her faithfully and lovingly.
Old Margaret Gray, when she first came into these parts, had eyes, and could see. The neighbors said, they had been dimmed by weeping : be that as it may, she was latterly grown quite blind. “God is very good to us, child; I can feel you yet.” This she would sometimes say; and we need not wonder to hear, that Rosamund clave unto her grandmother.
Margaret retained a spirit unbroken by calamity. There was a principle within, which it seemed as if no outward circumstances could reach. It was a religious principle, and she had taught it to Rosamund; for the girl had mostly resided with her grandmother from her earliest years. Indeed, she had taught her all that she knew herself; and the old lady's knowledge did not extend a vast way.
Margaret had drawn her maxims from observation; and a pretty long experience in life had contributed to make her, at times, a little positive; but Rosamund never argued with her grandmother.
Their library consisted chiefly in a large family Bible, with notes and expositions by various learned expositors, from Bishop Jewell downwards.
This might never be suffered to lie about like other books, but was kept constantly wrapped up in a handsome case of green velvet, with gold tassels - the only relic of departed grandeur they had brought with them to the cottage: every thing else of value had been sold off for the purpose before mentioned.
This Bible Rosamund, when a child, had never dared to open without permission; and even yet, from habit, continued the custom. Margaret had parted with none of her authority; indeed, it was never exerted with much harshness; and happy was Rosamund, though a girl grown, when she could obtain leave to read her Bible. It was a treasure too valuable for an indiscriminate use ; and Margaret still pointed out to her granddaughter where to read.
Besides this, they had the “ Complete Angler, or Contemplative Man's Recreation," with cuts; “ Pilgrim's Progress," the first part; a Cookery Book, with a few dry sprigs of rosemary and lavender stuck here and there between the leaves, (I suppose, to point to some of the old lady's most favorite receipts ;) and there was Wither's “Emblems," an old book, and quaint. The old-fashioned pictures in this last book were among the first exciters of the infant Rosamund's curiosity. Her contemplation had fed upon them in rather older years.
Rosamund had not read many books besides these; or if any, they had been only occasional companions : these were to Rosamund as old friends, that she had long known. I know not whether the peculiar cast of her mind might not be traced, in part, to a tincture she had received, early in life, from Walton and Wither, from John Bunyan and her Bible.
Rosamund's mind was pensive and reflective rather than what passes usually for clever or acute. From a child she was remarkably shy and thoughtful : this was taken for stupidity and want of feeling; and the child has been sometimes whipped for being a stubborn thing, when her little heart was almost bursting with affection.
Even now her grandmother would often reprove her, when she found her too grave or melancholy; give her sprightly lectures about good-humor and rational mirth; and not unfrequently fall a-crying herself, to the great discredit of her lecture. Those tears endeared her the more to Rosamund.
Margaret would say, "Child, I love you to cry, when I think you are only remembering your poor dear father and mother. I would have you think about them sometimes it would be strange if you did not; but I fear, Rosamund, I fear, girl, you sometimes think too deeply about your own situation and poor prospects in life. When you do so, you do wrong: remember the naughty rich man in the parable. He never had any good thoughts about God and his religion; and that might have been your case.”
Rosamund, at these times, could not reply. to her. She was not in the habit of arguing with her grandmother; so she was quite silent on these occasions; or else the girl knew well enough, herself, that she had only been sad to think of the desolate condition of her best friend, - to see her, in her old age, so infirm and blind. But she had never been used to make excuses, when the old lady said she was doing wrong
The neighbors were all very kind to them. The veriest rustics never passed them without a bow, or a pulling off of the hat,
some show of courtesy, awkward indeed, but affectionate, with a “Good-morrow, madam," or
young madam,” as it might happen.
Rude and savage natures, who seem born with a propensity to express contempt for any thing that looks like prosperity, yet felt respect for its declining lustre.
The farmers, and better sort of people, (as they are called,) all promised to provide for Rosamund when her grandmother should die. Margaret trusted in God, and believed them.
She used to say, "I have lived many years in the world, and have never known people, good people, to be left without some friend - a relation, a benefactor, a something. God knows our wants -- that it is not good for man or woman to be alone; and he always sends us a help-mate, a leaningplace, a somewhat." Upon this sure ground of experience did Margaret build her trust in Providence.
The Influence of Poetry.
We believe that poetry, far from injuring society, is one of the great instruments of its refinement and exaltation. It lists the mind above ordinary life, gives it a respite from depressing cares, and awakens the consciousness of its affinity with what is pure and noble. In its legitimate and highest efforts, it has the same tendency and aim with Christianity; that is, to spiritualize our nature. True, poetry has been made the instrument of vice, the pander of bad passions ; but when genius thus stoops, it dims its fires, and parts with much of its power; and even when Poetry is enslaved to licentiousness or misanthropy, she cannot wholly forget her true vocation. Strains of pure feeling, touches of tenderness, images of innocent happiness, sympathies with suffering virtue, bursts of scorn or indignation at the hollowness of the world, passages true to our moral nature, often escape in an immoral work, and show us how hard it is for a gifted spirit to divorce itself wholly from what is good.
Poetry has a natural alliance with our best affections. It
delights in the beauty and sublimity of the outward creation and of the soul. It indeed portrays, with terrible energy, the excesses of the passions; but they are passions which show a mighty nature, which are full of power, which command awe, and excite a deep though shuddering sympathy. Its great tendency and purpose is, to carry the mind beyond and above the beaten, dusty, weary walks of ordinary life; to lift it into a purer element; and to breathe into it more profound and generous emotion. It reveals to us the loveliness of nature, brings back the freshness of early feeling, revives the relish of simple pleasures, keeps unquenched the enthusiasm which warmed the spring-time of our being, refines youthful love, strengthens our interest in human nature by vivid delineations of its tenderest and loftiest feelings, spreads our sympathies over all classes of society, knits us by new ties with universal being, and, through the brightness of its prophetic visions, helps faith to lay hold on the future life.
We are aware that it is objected to poetry, that it gives wrong views and excites false expectations of life, peoples the mind with shadows and illusions, and builds up imagination on the ruins of wisdom. That there is a wisdom against which poetry.wars, – the wisdom of the senses, which makes physical comfort and gratification the supreme good, and wealth the chief interest of life, we do not deny; nor do we deem it the least service which poetry renders to mankind, that it redeems them from the thraldom of this earthborn prudence. But, passing over this topic, we would observe, that the complaint against poetry, as abounding in illusion and deception, is in the main groundless. In many poems there is more of truth than in many histories and philosophic theories. The fictions of genius are often the vehicles of the sublimest verities, and its flashes often open new regions of thought, and throw new light on the mysteries of our being. In poetry, when the letter is falsehood, the spirit is often profoundest wisdom. And if truth