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THE SISTER'S WISH.
LANGUAGE Scarce hath power to tell
How I love thee, brother; Dearer than all else below, Since we lost our mother: Ever while I think of thee, Tears of sweet emotion, And the faltering of my voice, Show my deep devotion.
Could a sister's prayer avail,
And her warm caressing,
I would rear for thee a home
Nothing sad should entrance gain,
Philadelphia, Aug. 20, 1838.
Flowers, whose leaves should wither not,
These should cluster round thy home,
Ah, that smile! it tells me thou
And that other!- mortal eye
Vanish then, my fairy dream,
Z. H. S.
MY OWN PECULIAR:
OR STRAY LEAVES FROM THE PORT-FOLIO OF A GEORGIA LAWYER.
THERE are three things in life, for which I have an unutterable and unconquerable aversion, namely: dust, a north-east wind, and a petulant old maid. These are the three grand divisions of human misery. All other evils, mental and physical, corporeal or incorporeal, take their origin from these. They are the fountains from whence flow penury, affliction, disease, and death; and if there be such a thing as a ' material hell,' I doubt not that it is made up of a happy admixture of these three. The old story of literal fire and brimstone, has lost half its terrors. If our energetic preachers, of the modern ultra or Burchard school, who deal out these articles by the wholesale, to the racing, dancing, and drinking reprobates, of the present generation, would but change their metaphor, and draw a vivid picture of a dry and barren plain, with clouds of dust floating over its surface, blinding the eyes and choking the breath of the condemned sinner; with a north-east wind chilling the very marrow of his bones, and an innumerable host of antiquated virgins hovering around him one for each sin he had committed on earth-I am quite sure that an amazing and immediate reformation would be the inevitable consequence. The fellow who would grin at 'brimstone,' would look serious at 'dust;' the 'north-east wind' would stop
the most hardened offender in mid-career; but when he was told that each sin he committed would visit him hereafter in the shape of a crabbed octogenarian old maid, you would see forcibly illustrated that line in Virgil,
'Steteruntque comæ et vox faucibus hæsit.'
If he did not then reform, you might give him up. If he stood that, he would stand any thing. You might put him down as incorrigible; as 'an apostate from his mother's womb.' You might search his head for a twelve-month, without finding the organ of caution, while that of amativeness would be prodigiously large. In short, he would be just such a man as phrenologists tell you have 'an especial relish for damnation, for its own sake.'
Don't imagine, reader, that I belong to that whining class, who sigh over all the little evils of existence. On the contrary, I have met and conquered some of its sternest foes. Gout has twisted my toes into ribbands; apoplexy has darted sheet-lightning through my brain; and angina pectoris has sent the warm blood leaping to the inmost citadel of my heart; but I have struggled through them all, and I am now a hale, hearty, cheerful, and vigorous old man, willing to live, and ready to die. It is not the light cloud of summer daydust, nor the gentle north-east wind, nor the cheerful, amiable, delightful old maiden lady, that I dread; but it is the Egyptian cloud; the terrible searcher from the sea;' the cross, crabbed, vinegar, man-hating, cat-loving, match-breaking specimen of virginity. I can stand all evils but these, which I hate with a fervor that has acquired the force of habit.
SPEAKING of habit: Phrenologists are all at fault, when they tell us that our actions originate entirely from the developments of the brain. They do no such thing. We are the creatures of habit and association. Our pleasures are derived from our association of ideas, and these proceed from our habits. Let me give you an instance. I was seated in my study the other day, plodding over the mysteries of my old master, Coke, when I heard the terrible cry of Fire!' I ran to the window, and looked out; and sure enough, there it was ! A volume of black smoke was clouding and obscuring the atmosphere, while ever and anon a vivid sheet of fire would dart forth from the surrounding darkness, like a ray of hope springing out of the clouds and blackness of existence. I seized my hat, and rushed down. On my way to the locus in quo, I passed the Exchange building, in whose steeple there is a bell, that has been wont to sound the tocsin of alarum of fire, for a period longer than the memory of that most respectable of all individuals, 'the oldest inhabitant.' At the base of the edifice, and gazing intently on the bell, stood an old acquaintance of mine. 'Why don't you go to the fire?' said I, shaking him. Fire?' answered he, there is no fire.' 'No fire!' said I, 'why don't you see it? It is close upon you, man! You'll feel it directly.There is no fire,' exclaimed he, with vehemence; the bell has not rung.' Unable and unwilling to combat this logic, I left him; but as I like to read the pages of human nature, I turned, when
I had passed on about twenty steps, and gazed at him. There he stood, the atmosphere redolent with flame, and crowds of men, women, and incipient specimens of both sexes, rushing by him. Horses without riders, and riders without horses; fire-engines tossing their giant arms; the echo of a thousand voices flinging back that awful monosyllable, fire !'— and yet there he stood, transfixed, a statue, immovable. The bell had not rung;' but of a sudden, it 'gave tongue,' and its first stroke had the same effect upon him as Mr. Cross' electro-galvanic battery has upon flints and pummice stones. It vivified him; the statue started into life; and with an energy perfectly appalling, he rushed to the scene of confusion, shouting 'fire! fire! fire!' with a vehemence that arrested the crowd in its career. Why don't you go to the fire?' bawled he, as he passed me. 'Oh, nonsense!' said I, there's no fire.' 'No fire!' screamed he, in tones of the direst astonishment; 'why, don't you hear the bell?"
Now that's what I call association of ideas. That man, during his whole existence, had been summoned to fires by the ringing of that bell; he could not, therefore, for the life of him, separate the ideas in his mind; and though his wife, children, and goods, (last, not least,) were being consumed before his eyes, he would not have moved a muscle to save them from the devouring element, until 'the bell had rung.'
Let me give you another example. My study is in the second story of a building, and beneath me there dwells a tailor; a hardworking, clever, and honest man. My window looks out upon his garden, a spot some two by three feet, and where he spends his leisure moments. His pleasures are all concentrated in that 'oäsis of life's desert.' Now, fair reader, what do you think he has planted there? Violets?' No. 'Sweet-williams?' Not exactly; he has planted Stop, do n't tell me! Indian creepers and morning glorys? Try it again. Phsaw! Well, button-weed, I suppose?' That's somewhat nearer; but you have not hit it yet. Do you give it up? Well, he 's planted a cabbage - a full blown, vigorous cabbage!' No lover of the honey-moon looks more anxiously for the smile of his mistress, than does our friend of the shears watch over the verdant developments of his much-loved plant. Pygmalion's adoration of Marmorea was a milk-and-water feeling, compared with the enthusiastic devotion of our tailor to his cabbage. It is watered by his tears, and tended with his hands. The blighting frosts of winter harm it not, in its moss-covered sanctuary; and my own heart leaps with benevolent feeling, as I see my honest friend plying his needle at his shop-board, and casting now and then delighted glances at the beloved of his eyes, while his voice carrols forth some longremembered ditty, forcibly reminding the hearer of the nightingale's sonnet to the rose. In the language of the poet,
'It is the rainbow of his sight,
His joy, his heaven of pure delight.'
Now, I ask whence springs this affection? Answer, ye echoes of the human heart! Is it not association of ideas? Surely!
THE truth of the matter is, that all mankind are mad, and womankind also. There breathes no man, woman, or child, who is not, on some point or other, hopelessly insane. The symptoms are various, but the disease is the same. The other day, an individual called to consult me professionally. He belonged to the Dr. Johnson class, albeit rather a minute specimen. 'Sir,' said he, 'I desire to state a case to you; to get your advice, promptly, clearly, categorically. I dislike circumlocution. I love brevity. Sir, a dog came on my premises yesterday; a white dog, Sir, with black spots, a cut tail, and long ears, Sir. I describe him, Sir, with this precision, because I know the necessity of your being acquainted with all the leading facts, before you venture an opinion. Sir, I hailed him; I repeated it—and again; you perceive, Sir, three times. I did thus to the dog, because I would do the same to the man, Sir. It is a part of the law of nature, Sir, that you should hail three times, before you shed blood, Sir. Well, Sir, as I said, I received no answer. course, I expected none; but I desired to preserve my consistency, Sir, and to act toward a beast with the same humanity I would exercise toward a man. They are both God's creatures, Sir. Well, Sir, I say I received no answer. I had a gun, a double-barrelled gun, Sir. I held it in my right hand, Sir-observe, I say 'the right hand;' make yourself acquainted with the leading facts, Sir, before you venture an opinion. I raised it slowly. No answer yet, Sir; I expected none, Sir, of course. I cocked it. Still no answer. Of course, I expected none. I applied my finger to the trigger, Sir; I pulled it; I fired! He fell he bled he died. I did not fire the second barrel, Sir. I considered it unnecessary. I belong, Sir, to the utilitarian class. I do nothing that is unnecessary, Sir. Now, Sir, I am coming to the important point. Suppose, Sir, that instead of the white dog, with black spots, a cut tail, and long ears, suppose a man had entered my premises; that I had hailed him three times; you perceive, three times; I receive no answer; I raise my gun, I cock it, fire it. He falls he bleeds - he dies. Tell me, Sir, briefly, distinctly, categorically, without equivocation, Sir, what, in your opinion, would be the consequences.'
'Hanging,' said I.
'Sir, I deny it. I asked your opinion, Sir, as a matter of form, but my own judgment was made up long ago. No court on earth, Sir, could so far violate the primitive rules of nature, as to hang a man, Sir, who had hailed three times. Nature says, Sir, hail three times, and fire.'
'My good Sir,' I interposed, 'you forget that Nature has no blunderbusses how then can she command to fire?'
'She has no blunderbusses, Sir, as you truly, but, I regret to add, ignorantly and flippantly, remark, but she has sticks and stones, Sir, and she throws them in the way of the oppressed. I reason analogically, Sir, and progressively. Nature gives sticks and stones, Sir; nature gives man intellects, Sir; man makes blunderbusses. Now, Sir, observe the analogy; notice the progression; perceive the reasoning. Nature makes man; man makes blunderbusses; ergo, nature makes blunderbusses. Man is the agent of nature, the 'general agent,' Sir, as you lawyers call it, with unlimited powers- ' qui
facit per alium, facit per se.'
Yes, Sir, nature makes blunderbusses,
Sir. I have studied these
things, Sir; I read nature, Sir.
pages are not sealed books to me. I have the open sesame' to her most hidden treasures, Sir. There's your fee, Sir. Good morning,
What a powerful intellect that man has!' said a good-natured and slightly-troubled-with-the-fool friend of mine, who had been a listener to our discourse; 'what a pity he is so eccentric! If he would only apply his vast learning to some useful object, if he were not quite so positive and rude, he would be a most estimable and distinguished man.'
'What an ass you are!' I was tempted to say; but I checked myself. Now, reader, both these men were crazy -as mad as 'March hares.' The first imagined himself one of the master spirits of the age, and his rudeness he considered the sure indication of genius; and the base coin passed current with the other man. He mistook the coarse, rude, stubborn, digressive, and insane speech of his co-madman, for genuine intelligence, and commendable decision. And so it generally passes with the world. Kindness and gentleness of manner is regarded as the unerring index of a weak and vacillating mind, while the brute, who tramples on the feelings of all those on whom he dares to make the experiment, is looked upon as a man of energy and firmness, and as veiling under the exterior of a bear the gentleness and amiability of the dove. That anomalous class of mankind, merchant tailors,' show their judgment of human nature in this respect, when they hang a pea-jacket at their doors, to indicate that they have fine broad-cloth coats and linen shirts for sale within. Now a sensible man, or, to speak more correctly, a man whose monomania was of a different kind, would have put the question thus: 'Sir, a dog broke into my ground yesterday, and after making three efforts to drive him out, I killed him. I am desirous to know what consequences would attach to the act, if, under similar circumstances, I should kill a man?' But this would have been regarded, by the bystander of whom I spoke, as mere common-place, while all his encomiums were lavished on the rigmarole stuff of the pompous maniac, in whose whole speech there was not a single word of meaning or common sense. Stop, reader; I take back the last assertion. There were three words in that speech, which were indicative of sound judgment, clear perception, and unclouded intellect. They were, if I may speak figuratively, the sun's ray amid the morning mist; the eye in the toad; the grain of wheat in the dung-hill; the green spot in the desert. The most acute observer of human nature, the soundest philosopher, the most kind-hearted and benevolent individual, could not have used more fit, more appropriate, more intelligible expressions. In truth, they softened my wrath, they mollified my displeasure. I forgot the stubbornness of the individual who stood before me, and I could not help thinking, after all, that my good-natured friend was half right; if he were not quite so positive and rude, he would be a most estimable and distinguished man. 'Can you guess the talismanic words? No? Then I'll tell you. They are contained in the last sentence but one, when, suiting the action to the word, he observed: There's your fee !' SENEX.