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Poor souls! in their age and infirmity, to wander forth, houseless, helpless, pennyless; to find themselves a burthen upon the children whom they had hoped to benefit; or, perhaps, forced to be beholden to the cold charity of strangers.
We, who are warmly clothed, and delicately fed, and comfortably housed,-we, who know not what it is to tremble for the morrow's sustenance; who, wrapped in our furs, listen to the howling blast,—we, who by our blazing hearth, or genial stove, may hear the pelting rain drive against our double casements,-ought we not to be grateful that we are exempted from such woes and wants? Though my early dream of love and happiness has been blighted by death, let me be thankful for the blessings vouchsafed to me, the blessings of competence and independence: let me remember how much more severe are the trials of others: even my own sister, poor Matilda! alas! must it not be more difficult to bear the desertion of the object of one's affection, than the deprivation of that object by the decree of Heaven?
We did our best, by kind words, and such kind deeds as we had it in our power to perform, towards consoling the disconsolate couple. We had not proceeded many miles on our journey, when the sounds of music and rejoicing attracted our attention: in a few moments we were in the midst of the village festivities, in honour of the wedding I have already mentioned.
Old and young were in their gayest apparel. They were not yet aware of the misfortune that had befallen the bride's aged relatives; they were dancing to village music, such as we should think any thing but rustic in England; while the flat white hat, the four broad ribbons hanging over the brim to the shoulder, the long plaits of hair, the large white sleeves, the short waist, and the very full petticoat, gave a picturesque character to the different groups, as they whirled in various circles to the inspiring waltz. The bride's broad hat was decked with flowers; the bridegroom looked triumphant; and the bridemaids laughed with thoughtless gaiety.
Is it not fortunate for us that we know not what may await us in after years? the happiness of the present would be blighted: the smiling girl might then foresee that her bridal wreath was to be changed for the widow's coif; that the adoring bridegroom would prove an unkind husband; that she might be doomed to weep over the early grave of the children of her love.
If she knew my story, that youthful bride would pity my loneliness, while, perhaps, there may be in store for her sorrows bitterer than any I have yet endured: but why should I augur ill? Heaven grant her lot may prove a prosperous one! At all events, it was pleasant to see so many smiling faces: next to being happy oneself, one rejoices to see others happy!
Fribourg, July 10.-Passed the Hollenthal: Margaret was delighted with the soft beauties of the opening of the valley; but that awful chasm, those overhanging rocks, that narrow stream, and narrower road through which one emerges into the weary world, were infinitely more to my taste. I only wish there had been no passage through which one might have again emerged into this weary world.
This vale struck me as an emblem of life. When first one finds oneself surrounded by those soft banks of wood, one wonders as much why it should be named the "Vallée d'Enfer," as in early youth one marvels to hear what then appears a holiday world, called
a vale of tears. But whether one proceeds along the Hallenthal, or along the path of life, one too soon comprehends the aptness with which each has been so designated. The steep banks grow narrower; jagged rocks show themselves even among bright flowers; the luxuriant trees, the rich vegetation disappear; and the impending precipices almost shut out the cheering light of heaven, while they seem to threaten instant destruction: one acknowledges that the awful pass deserves its awful name: even so vanishes all which adorned and sweetened one's journey through life; even so, do sorrows, difficulties, dangers, gather round one, and one feels, too truly, that it is a vale of tears through which one
Margaret was much touched by the grief of an aged couple, whose home had just been destroyed by fire: but they were old! that peasant woman had grown old with a partner who was still there to console her and to support her: surely, both to Margaret and to me, they might rather be objects of envy! They had lived a long life together! That aged