Page images
PDF
EPUB

was now too late to shake off the evil companions that dragged her downward, and hindered her for ever more from passing unnoticed into the humble path of duty. Wantonness idled near, and Levity hung about her like a gaudy creeper round a sickly stem.

A crimson flush rested on the chaste brow of Virtue, and indig. nation sparkled in her eyes, when she accidentally encountered the hardened

gaze, and loose disordered air, of the unfortunate; and turning to her friends Modesty and Propriety, whose faces were as red as her own, she cried, in tones that sounded like knells of death in the ears of the guilty : Aid me, aid me, my maidens, in chasing this abandoned creature from our own pure, unsullied walks !'

She had scarcely spoken, when her wish was accomplished, and Vice, seizing on his victim, hurled her into the abyss of infamy, where, through scenes of unspeakable pollution, she trod her way to everlasting sorrow. Where were those lovely sisters, the fair ttend

on Virtue, Faith, Hope, and Charity, whose sweet voices might have counselled that stern dame to listen to the pleadings of Mercy, and stretch forth a redeeming hand to the erring one, before it was too late to save her from the dreadful doom of the wicked ? Faith was at church; Hope dwells too much on the future, to grant assistance in present difficulty; and as for Charity - she was at home.

[blocks in formation]

The maidens of my own countrie,

I boast me of them all ;
As smiling in their tranquil homes,

As blithe in festal hall :
I boast me of their forms of grace,

Their eyes of heavenly blue,
But most I pride me in their hearts

Their hearts, so warm and true.

'Young Ernest leads the dance to-night,

He hath a soul of glee;
Yet were his step not there, I trow,

The ball were bright for me:
But wo's my heart ! all sick and pale

My brother pineth now,
And he will chide for Amie's hand

To bathe his burning brow.'
'Say Isabel, 'our soul's ladyé,'

The ball is blithest now,
Then why amidst its mirth, so pale,

With brimful eye, art thou ?
Ye look just like the new-dressed rose

The big rain has gone o'er,
That droops the head, and seems to say,

I'll queen it here no more.'

• Come, Laura of the siren song

The ball to-night is gay.;
With roses there and music-notes,

They slip the hours away ;
Then be no more the lone wild-rose,

With sweet face aye unseen,
But braid those sunny locks, and come

To reign our Beauty's queen.'
'Gay, gay, I trow the ball may be,

With mirth and music's chime, But I must by, my father sit,

And sing an old world rhyme. Sweeter to me than dancer's praise,

It is to hear him say, "God bless thee now, my bonny child,

Thou steal'st mine age away!' Come, Amie of the roguish eye,

Young Ernest leads the dance,
To him full many a maiden throws

A message-sending glance ;
Come show that dainty cheek to-night,

Its blushes are betrayed,
And be no more the lily-flower,

That lives and dies a maid.
Elizabethtown, (N. J.,) May, 1838.

"The ball is beautiful to me,

The music is most sweet,
'Tis joy to see my sisters glance,

Their glow-worm light'ning feet;
But Leslie is a sailor bold,

And he is on the sea;
The winds may lose his bark, to-night,

Then what's this ball to me?'

The maidens of my own countrie,

I boast me of them all,
As smiling in their tranquil homes,

As blithe in festal hall;
I boast me of their forms of grace,

Their eyes of heavenly blue,
But most I pride me in their hearts,

Their hearts, so warm and true.

H. L. B.

THE EVENING OF LIFE.

· When the summer day of youth is slowly wasting away into the nightfall of age, and the shadows of past years grow deeper and deeper, as life wears to its close, it is pleasant to look back, through the vista of time, upon the sorrows and felicities of our earlier years. If we have a home io shelter, and hearts to rejoice with us, and friends have been gathered together around our firesides, then the rough places of our wayfaring will have been worn and smoothed away, in the twilight of life, while the sunny spots we have passed through, will grow brighter and more beautiful. Happy indeed are they, whose intercourse with the world has not changed the tone of their holier feelings, or broken those musical chords of the heart, whose vibrations are so melodious, so tender and touching, in the evening of age.'

Two articles, one entitled 'Our Birth Days,' and the other • Our Wedding Days,' have appeared in the KNICKERBOCKER. They were designed to present to view many of those interesting scenes which distinguish the period between the dawn of infancy and the meridian of human life ; to trace the gradual formation of early wishes continually expanding, and the aspirations of young ambition, in its advance to the cares and business of the world, and the realization of anticipated happiness, not only in the morning of connubial promises and hopes, but in the calm and retirement of the family circle, amidst its kind, and mild, and purifying influences. Some advice has been offered, and some suggestions have been made, in the hope that they might awaken more particular attention to the discharge of those duties and delightful offices, on which the happiness of home so essentially depends; which assuredly serve to brighten those chains which connect hearts with hearts, here on earth; and, what is of more vital importance, may prepare those hearts for never-ending communion in the regions of love, purity, and peace, in Heaven. In our early days, we are constantly extending our upward view to the elevated landscapes spread out before us.

Our ambition is continually prompting us to ascend, till we can reach them, and join the happy multitudes who possess and enjoy them. In this prospective and distant view, we perceive urinumbered charms, but we have no distinct vision of the scenes beyond. In process of time, in various paths, we advance; and, as we advance, we discover the elevation to be less than we had imagined : and as soon as we arrive at the summit, we see that the plain is not so extensive as we had supposed ; and find that the ground soon becomes gradually descending to the shadowy vale of years. . To this vale, our view is now more particularly to be directed, and to the search for those avenues which may be the most smooth, peaceful, and pleasant.

We are now to consider ourselves as having arrived at that stage of our earthly journey, from which the place of its termination becomes every year more and more distinctly discernible. We perceive a gradual change in the climate, and an autumnal coolness in the air, as we advance : the verdure has lost much of its freshness; and the fading colors around us remind us that we are in the neighborhood of life's sober twilight, and solitude, and decay. Such, at least, is the prospect to the general observer, and such are the reasoning and the conclusions which are constantly commanding our attention. Such scenes as these are of an instructive character. They call to our remembrance the flatteries of the world, and its thousand broken promises, and teach us to depend for our contentment and happiness upon other sources than those which satisfied our desires in the days of the heart's sunshine, while indulging in the pride of health and prospect.

We must search for these sources, and secure a supply from them. Their waters may not be so sparkling as those we loved in former years, but they are more salubrious and composing. The holidays of the heart may not be so gay and joyous, but its seasons of thanksgiving will be calm and peaceful. What then are these sources ? They are numerous, and accessible to all. It is true, that in all periods of life, sickness or sorrow may visit us, and infuse bitterness into our cup. For these, allowances must always be made, in our estimates of happiness : but making proper deductions on this account, it will be found that life's evening, and its near approach to it, have their fair proportion of substantial peace and com'fort.

In the first place, we have the benefit of those lessons which we have been taught by experience; and foolish experiments we shall not be inclined to repeat. We shall be on our guard against temptations, knowing how we are surrounded by them, and knowing also their power. The young are always trying experiments ; the aged have seen their uselessness, and avoid them. “Youth is a bold and imprudent speculator ; Age is cautious, and deals more in realities than in castle-building. Hence the pains and mortifications of disappointment seldom destroy or impair its peace of mind. In the next place, the feelings and passions, which make so much display in the early part of life, in old age become calm and subdued; at least their motion is more gentle and pacific. Anger and resentment are found to be disorderly and disturbing inmates of the bosom ; and they will soon be expelled by those whose experience has taught them the miseries which such intruders always occasion. In the third place, in old age, our friendships become matured ; and our friends are estimated according to what we consider their deserts; whereas the hasty friendships, as they are called, formed in early life, are freqently dangerous, to one or both of the parties : they are formed at random, too often, and end in misfortune. A want of experience occasions thousands of these temporary alliances, which are productive of no valuable results. Old friends are like old wine : more pure, more loved, and more medicinal, than new. • A faithful friend is the medicine of life ;' and when experience is added to fidelity, so much the better.

Again. Go into the family circle, and see the venerable heads of it, whose hands and hearts have been joined for half a century. They have become acquainted with each other's desires, failings, and virtues; and if the world frowns, they are from habit inclined to aid and comfort each other. Their happiness and duty cannot be separated. If any thing is necessary to strengthen their mutual affection and add to the harmony of home, they find it in the consciousness of having been faithful in the education of their children, by planting in their hearts the seeds of religion and virtue. If old age is not a season of pure enjoyment, with a competency, the fault must have been occasioned by early aberrations, or a sinful apostacy from known duty. It is true that the remarks immediately preceding are only generally correct. There is in society a melancholy catalogue of exceptions ; but such is human nature, and such are the frailties and follies of man.

To a certain proportion of mankind — such as the literary, and those whose circumstances place them above the necessity of labor or business, and who are fond of reading and indulging in matters of taste - the evening of life affords especial opportunities for the most tranquil enjoyments, arising from the view of the past, the present, and the future ; and it is the happy season for solemn meditation on subjects of eternal moment: and for this last purpose,

the season is most interesting to all, whatever may be the external circumstances which distinguish their lot in life. The foregoing observations have reference to some of the comforts of old age, as they are seen to exist, arising out of the employments, habits, dispositions, tastes, and views, of people, as they approach the vale of years. It is true, that in countless instances they are imperfect and unsatisfying comforts. They are too often, merely occasional and transitory: but man's imprudence or misconduct gives them this character. Such being the sorrowful truth, the philosopher and the moralist are anxious to change the aspect of society, and by inducing mankind to observe the only true regimen, to increase the moral health, and preserve it in purity and strength, when bodily disabilities are constantly increasing. Let us then resort to the only medicine which possesses the necessary virtue to sustain the health of the heart, and its best affections, not only in the summer of life, but in its waning autumn, and the cold climate of its winter. The only sure way to guard against this climate, is to be constantly preparing for it. Such a preparation renders our approach toward it by no means unwelcome, because it is so gradual. In a word, a virtuous life is the only one which can give serenity and peace during the last act of life's drama. The calm beauty of its evening is generally the natural consequence of a fair morning, properly improved in preparation for the labors and duties of its busy day: and the faithful discharge of these duties will procure those treasures which will last, and preserve their virtues till the close of the evening. We have abundant assurance that such is the course, in the moral as well as the natural world. They who, when young, cultivate kind and affectionate dispositions, will imperceptibly surround themselves with friends, and receive courtesy and kindness from all. The same remark will apply to those in the meridian of life. Sincerity, integrity, and truth, always will command respect, and secure the homage of all hearts, except the hearts of those • whose censure is praise, and whose good opinion is scandal.' In old age, virtue will always enjoy and inspire confidence : and the peace of mind which an old man, walking in the path of honor and truth, displays to those around him, insensibly awakens in them a love of virtue, and kindles the desire of imitation. We are not aware of the extent of that influence which the Christian and good man, without seeming to know it, exerts on all around. His atmosphere is all health and purity.

It should be remembered, that a large portion of those miseries which multitudes suffer in old age, are penalties which they are doomed to endure, as the usual consequences of irregular habits, violent passions, unhallowed desires, or unpardonable carelessness. Heaven thus

teaches wisdom; and yet how few attend to the lessons given them! Let these solemn truths never be forgotten, by the rising or the risen generation. To be sure, there are miseries which age is doomed to suffer, that seem to be the effects of pure misfortune : but what we call misfortunes, too often are occasioned by imprudence or inattention. Afflictions must come, according to the order of nature. Sickness distresses our friends, as well as ourselves; and their death wounds our hearts. Still, in all these cases, the good man finds

peace in the retrospect of life, and is sustained by hopes, and consolations, and humble trust, when he extends his view beyond the valley before him. His life may have been, at certain periods of it, covered with clouds and gloom, and even storms may have overtaken him. Still he is at peace with himself and all around him. In the same manner we often witness days in succession, during which no sunshine gladdens the earth, and the elements are in wild and destructive commotion; yet before those days have closed, the heavens have presented to view the western horizon all mild, cloudless, and beautiful, and glowing with the promises of a morning of serenity and softness. The setting sun of the good man is equally peaceful, and full of promise. Heaven grant that ours may be such ! To gain this blessing should be the unceasing business of life — the constant aspiration of the heart. Whatever may be our sphere of action, we all have our duties; and our great aim should be, to perform them properly. Time is on the wing. Youth soon rises into manhood; manhood is for a while buried in the midst of cares, pleasures, and anxieties, and then hastens onward toward his last resting place. Let us all, in view of Life's Evening,' and the solemnities which are associated with it, sincerely endeaver to be, as will appear to be, such as we ought to be. This is no time for deceiving others or ourselves. Let us not depend on the flattery of our epitaphs, inscribed by the hand of affection, and therefore deceptive and overdrawn; nor let us repose our confidence in the comforting aphorism, that 'Death opens the gate of Fame, and shuts the gate of Envy after him.' Let us establish our own characters, as good and worthy, and deserve them. Let this be our earthly crown of rejoicing. A poet of feeling and sensibility has, in the two following lines, beautifully described the good man's exit :

'Night dews fall not more gently on the ground,

Nor weary, worn-out winds expires so soft.' Portland, (Maine,) June, 1838.

SENEX.

NIGHT.

The earth and air are silent, the pure sky
Relieved alone by pale clouds floating by:
The summer moon, in her soft majesty,
Iε pouring silver on the sleeping sea.
This is the hour when love, deceitful sprite,
Steals with his magic through the shades of night.
Giving, in lover's eyes, a holier smile
Unto the beams which kiss each leafy isle ;
Unto the firmament a softer mood;
Unto the sea a deeper solitude.

Montreal.

A. A. M.

« PreviousContinue »