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“ To attend you, sir, beneath these famed stones,
On each hand to repose their weary bones.” Good! We like to see folks show “politeness," as the writer well calls it, especially when they are just going to leave the world and have so little time left for it. It was but proper respect in these humble descendants, lo inform the old Governor that they were coming to lie alongside of him. The epitaph is not quite so bad as another we have somewhere seen. We give it according to our recollection.
" Here buried lies Mr. Job D. Strickler,
Dreamy hours! Who does not love them? Who is there, Hamlet to the contrary notwithstanding, who would give a penny to sleep, unless, “perchance, to dream”? It is lost time. The man who is conscious of dreaming during the hours of rest, will live a third longer in the same number of years, than your stolid and soulless lump of breathing clay, who sleeps as if he had no idea of ever waking. What prodigies of valor have we performed in our dreams ? What“ hairbreath 'scapes” have we experienced? We have engaged a whole ambush of hideous, grinning Indians, and fought them with a courage of which we should probably have been destitute, in any other circumstances. We have been riddled again and again with their bullets, and felt nothing but a queer tickling sort of a sensation as they were going through; much like what one feels in his throat when swallowing cherries whole. We have been hurled down steep and rugged precipices, without experiencing the least inconvenience ; and have fallen any distance through space, without having any reason to "curse Sir Isaac Newton for inventing gravitation.” But we never could run the first step. We have tried it often ; but somehow or other our pedal propellers would never get us under headway. There was always some fault in the machinery, so that we couldn't make it " go off.” It is rather unpleasant to see half a dozen fiendish looking shapes coming after you, and apparently bent on having your blood, and you all the while unable to stir an inch. We have been in that situation more than once.
But there is pleasure in waking and finding that “lo! it was but a dream." Not to physical exploits only have our dreamy deeds been confined. We have done “ upwards of considerable” in the intellectual. We have electrified vast audiences with our eloquence, in a way that would have quite astonished Tully and him who « shook the arsenal” to boot. Though no one will accuse us of being a poet in our waking hours, yet in our dreams we have ridden Pegasus tantivy, without curb or saddle, but with mighty long spurs ; and have drank whole bucket-fulls of Castalia's inspiring fountain. With the greatest ease and celerity have we composed poems, more gorgeous and splendid than the description of that “ sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice,” which Kubla Khan decreed in Xanadu; but unlike Coleridge, we never had the knack of writing them down when we waked. That “vague and dim recollection,” which we are told came upon him before he had time to write out the whole poem he had dreamed, always came upon us at the very instant we were rubbing our eyes; and we could never recollect the first line when we were sufficiently awake to get our pen and paper.
As a general thing, we believe there is pleasure in dreaming; unless, perchance, you eat hot waffles the last thing before retiring to rest, or rather to unrest, as it usually proves in that case. We do not say that there is no pleasure in sleeping without being conscious of dreaming ; but we think we don't know very much about it at the time. In this very thing, however, the pleasure perhaps lies. Ignorance, the poet would have us infer, is sometimes bliss.
“And if ignorance be indeed a bliss,
To sleep, and not to know it!" But to one with a light stomach, a clear head, and a quiet conscience, dreams come like visitants from the spirit-land, hovering over and whispering with sweet etherial voices in his ear. Like so many little “ dainty Ariels,” they love to flit around his pillow, and with their airy music soothe and charm his soul. They love to unfold to his enchanted sight, more beautiful and glorious prospects than the waking eye is able to behold. They cheer the hapless sons of want with golden visions. They picture to the wan and emaciated victim of disease the green fields and the shady groves, where in health he used to walk and sport with his mates, and make him again as blithe of limb and strong of frame, as in those by-gone days.
But day-dreams we most especially affect; those sweet and delicious reveries in which we love to indulge ; when the soul seems freed from its prison-house of clay, and roves abroad unfettered and unconfined by the matter-of-fact world surrounding us. We love to yield to that pleasing unconsciousness of present and material things, and revel for awhile in the bright worlds which fancy forms and peoples for itself. Tell us not, ye cold and abstruse reasoners in Menial Philosophy,--ye double-distilled essences and concentrated quintessences of pure intellect,--that the habit of revery is dangerous. Tell us not that it will give a distaste for all usesul and necessary pursuils,
and unfit one for the daily duties of life’s sterner work. Tell us not that in time this habit will gain supreme control over us, and that we can then derive no pleasure from objects as they really exist ; that we cannot descend from the airy and giddy ideal where fancy has borne us, to the groveling pursuits of this lower earth, without being dissatisfied and disgusted with our lot. Such
may be the effect upon some minds; but those are too weak and inefficient to be fit for any thing else. There are very few injured by an occasional revery, save those who are void of power to think, and energy to do the deeds of men. Deprive us not, then, of this delicious enjoyment. When oppressed with harassing toils and vexed with carking cares, it will revive our sinking energies, and give us new life and spirit. When troubles come, and the heart groweth weary and sick of the world, it will be our sweet and soothing antidote. These reveries are a sort of relaxation 10 the mind, which enables it to return to its active employments with renewed vigor.
Day-dreams are sources of unalloyed pleasure, whatever may be said of their usefulness; and we have no mind to throw away pleasure entirely, which is to be had so easily. It is a commodity you can get for nothing, and no charges for delivery ; which is more than can be said of most of our gratifications. Hail then, ye welcome visitants ! Come with your troop of fairy forms, all flitting round my head, as bright and beautiful as that curling wreath of smoke, which gently floateth upward, now melteth into air. But softly; we have betrayed ourselves. We did not mean to have it known we ever indulged in the weed, and have tried to keep it under the rose ; though we fear we have been sometimes suspected. We own it manfully, and stand convicted by our own confession.
“ I love it, I love it, and who shall dare
To chide me for loving” a good cigar? Shade of Sir Walter Raleigh! Couldst thou revisit this earth and take a flying trip through every civilized country, how wouldst thou be elated to behold the influence thou hast exerted on the human race! Faust, with his boasted invention of printing, could hardly be compared with thee! Though a thousand steam-presses are throwing off their reeking volumes to supply the demand of the reading public, yet volumes of smoke more fragrant than the spicy breeze of Araby, are daily ascending as incense to thee! A quaint old writer, who went out in one of Raleigh's ill-fated expeditions, thus discourseth on the plant. “ There is an herb, which is sowed apart by itself, and is called by the inhabitants yppouoc. The Spaniards generally call it tobacco. The leaves thereof being dried, they use to take the fume or smoke thereof by sucking it through pipes into their stomach and head, from whence it purgeth superfluous fleame and other gross humors, and openeth all the pores and passages of the body; by which means the use thereof not only preserveth it from obstructions, but also, if any be, in short time breaketh them ; whereby their bodies are notably preserved in health. We ourselves, during the time we were there, used to suck it in the same manner, as also since our return, and have found many rare and wonderful experiences of its virtues, of which the relation would require a volume of itself.”—Ay, and we do also “suck" it. However, as Lamb said in a letter, we“ design to give up smoking, but have not yet fixed on the equivalent vice.” One thing is certain ; we shall never take the “ quid pro quo,” as he says—for chewing we do eschew and abominate most heartily. We have no wish to share the condemnation of those who "roll sin as a sweet morgel under the tongue ;" which last expression clergymen pretty generally give as a quotation from Scripture, though we never could find any thing of it in our edition. When taken in that way only, can it be properly called “ filth of the mouth.” Of smoking sinners we had rather be with Si. Paul, the chief, than yield to the other vice. We prefer to see our sin in the form of a delicious, delicately tapering roll; and when it wasteth and consumeth slowly away before our eyes, we have the happy consciousness of obeying the injunction,—to "purge it with fire.”
Again have we thrown ourself into the old arm-chair in that especial corner of ours, (we have a corner, dear reader, wherein we sit when we wish our pleasantest fancies to cluster round us,) and indulged in another revery. The glorious dreams of the future-ihose airy castles of the imagination—though they burst as quickly as the bright and gorgeous bubbles we used to blow and send dancing off in the sunbeams, are still enchantingly beautiful while they last. They have at this time given way to the recollections of the past. Visions of our boyhood scenes have been floating before the mind. Cheerful and sunny hours, when the spirits were light and the heart bounded like the cork from a Champaigne bottle ; would that ye might come again! Days of sportive and careless childhood, when tears were chased away by mirth, and the “bitter shower that sorrow sheds” had never gushed from our eyes—ye are gone forever!
Commend me to one of those good, old-fashioned, time-honored, New England sort of things, yclept “ district schools," as a place to learn laughter on the “high-pressure" system. Pen up forty or fifty reckless boys and fun-loving girls in one small square room, with seats arranged round on all sides and the teacher in the centre, for the express purpose of allowing one half of the school to play pranks behind his back while his attention is directed to the other half-which makes a very desirable and instructive contrast—and if you don't find frolic, we have no correct apprehension of the term. In such a place have we passed our merriest hours. There we traded jack-knives, and gambled with pins "heads and pints." There we learned our first rudiments in markmanship with the pop-gun,
There we loaded the master's pipe with powder, (the liberal and christian custom of allowing a teacher to smoke in school after dinner, was in vogue then,) and watched him as he uilted back in his chair, whiffing away with the utmost gravity and complacency while the first class" were reading, till an unexpected volume of smoke, with a sprinkling of flame and a little louder puff than usual, caused him to elevate his inferior extremities in a way decidedly inelegant, and to test the consistency of the posterior portion of his cranium upon the spacious stone hearth before the fire. It was in such a place that we learned to laugh at any thing and every thing, save “old age and religion.”
But when the master began to pick up his books, as he was wont just before closing school, and consign them to bis drawer in the old oaken and battered table, every foot would be ready for a spring over the desk, and every voice for a shout that Stentor might have envied. Joyously the whole troop sallied forth; in winter to our snow-forts and skating-ground,-in summer to the flowery fields, to chase the fairy butterfly, or catch some vagrant bee in our cap and whirl him round the head, till he was practically instructed in the doctrine of the centripetal and centrifugal forces. But oh! the burst of glee with which we hailed our Saturday holidays. With a pin tortured into a shape analogous to that of a fish-hook, a bit of twine, and a rod cut from the first clump of bushes, would we trudge gaily along by the side of the streams, and—frighten the fishes. If we caught one, it was a theme of boasting for the next month. Never till our dying day shall we forget our intense excitement and delight in taking our first trout. Gazing on the golden-spotted thing of beauty, as it lay gasping on the grass at our feet, the spirit mounted within us, and we felt—the man. We have caught hundreds since, but that eager glowing pleasure never came again with its first intensity.
It alters the case materially to be a teacher in such a school as we have described, whereof we have had some little experience. It is not very pleasant, nor calculated to soothe one's ruffled feelings very much, to have the back of your head pelted with white beans and hickory-nuts, while you are flogging a huge, two-fisted, cow-hidebooted lad of sixteen for a like offence. Nor when you make a spring at some new transgressor on the “back seat,” is it particularly agreeable or encouraging to stumble over some half-dozen little urchins in petticoats, sent there for the sole purpose of being "out of their mothers' way," and thus be brought up, or rather down, on all-fours, to the infinite diversion of the whole school. We once visited a friend who was engaged in this delightful occupation, and, looking over his books, we discovered in one of them a half-sheet, scribbled over with something whereof each line began with a capital, showing, it was meant for Ferse. On closer examination, it proved to be a villainous parody of those exquisite verses, which Cowper has “put into the mouth" of that lonely, ship-wrecked sojourner on the island of Juan Fernandez. It was thus headed : “Verses supposed to be written by a poor-devilstudent away from college, during his engagement in a district school." We give the first stanza.
I am master of all I survey,
My right not a boy dare dispute ;
I am lord of the dunce and the dolt.
That others have seen in thy face?
Than reign in this scull-pounding place. We have more of the same, but—"nuff said.” In mercy we forbear.