Page images
PDF
EPUB

ing3 near us, and our hovel, with numerous other dwellings, were entirely consumed. In the hurry and confusion, I was thrown into the street, and there I lay with hundreds trampling upon me, until at last my head was broken off, and I might be properly termed a broomstick again. A young buck, who was amusing himself at the spectacle, picked me up, declaring I was just the thing he had been looking for, as I would serve him for a stall just then, in default of a better. He was a high-blooded young fellow, and made many remarks on the splendor, sublimity, and poetic beauty of fires. He thought, however, he should not like a fireman's berth; would'nt work as they did, to save his grandfather's house — no, he'd be d-d if he would. Thinks I to myself, • I shall have a bold master now : quite a change from my former situation. The fire was soon over, and away we trudged toward home. He and his companion were amusing themselves on the way, in conversing about their female acquaintance. They appeared to have been quite frequent attendants at the parties, soirées, etc., given of late.

• I say, Jim,' says one, that was a devil of a pretty girl you was monopolizing all last evening. You must be in for it there, I guess, eh ?

• Pshaw, Dick ! — none of that now. Why she'll do to talk with ; but I can assure you there is nothing serious there. Why Dick, between you and me, she is just one of the sort with whom to chat and pass an evening ; but after all, I could make her believe white was black in two minutes.'

• Well, now, Jim, 't is pretty much so : these girls have more show than any thing else, after all, hav'n't they?'

• Some have most have, Dick ; but, Dick, those two whom we saw at the party on Tuesday night — they were substantial. Those eyes ! do n't talk of them!'

Pretty large feet, though,' said Dick, hesitatingly: 'if it was n't for their feet, they would do; but while I think of it, did ’nt you observe at times rather an insipid cast of features in one of them ? a kind of I-can't-explain-it sort of look, eh ?' he continued.

Well, that was queer in her, was n’t it ?' said Jim, starting. 'I should have forgotten it if you had not spoken. A strange turn of the eye, occasionally, that almost ruined her.'

• The girls are all flirts, an't they Jim ?' continued Dick; all but yours and mine. They make fools of us young fellows.'

• Yours is as great a one as the rest,' replied Jim. You are under petticoat government, and do n't know it. Let me tell you, that girl of yours has always been considered a coquette; not that I by any means would hurt your feelings, Dick, you know; but that 's what people say, that's all.'

• That's what people say, is it ? Well, my friend, people say' about yours too. They say she talks too much. They say she always monopolizes the conversation - no chance to say booh! when she is by. So we both have a benefit from the people.''

• Let them talk,' said Jim. "They told many she did not talk enough ; Julia was a little too much between both not enough of either ; Elizabeth was not witty ; Sarah, on the contrary, was letting fly her sarcasms in all directions; Ellen was too rude ; Jane too for

6

case.

mal- and so it goes. There is no pleasing all parties, my dear fellow.'

This conversation was carried on for quite a length of time, the object of which appeared to be, a decision upon what constituted real beauty. The whole circle of their acquaintance were brought up in conversation, and every charm and blemish underwent a regular criticism. Yet after all their logic, nothing definite was decided upon. What surprised me most, was the curious standard of merit which they had erected. Personal appearance, not mind and disposition, was the criterion. It was not, how meek, or how amiable, or how modest, she is; but what a form! what eyes ! what a foot ! etc., to the end of the chapter. How falsely the world often judge in such matters! Who would choose a male friend for beauty alone? Why then a female ? Mind and matter are not allied in proportion to the appearance of the former; though one would suppose such to be the

This false judgment too often leads young men into difficulties which are subsequently heartily repented of. Another circumstance which attracted my attention, was the devotional respect they paid to the opinion of the world. It was what the world thought and said, which governed them. Poor deluded beings ! But let me resume my history.

It appeared, finally, that my new master was a young clerk of the city, who thought full as much of dress and personal appearance, as he did of his business. He conveyed me home to his boarding house, and after eyeing me carefully, concluded I would make quite a plain, eccentric walking-staff

. Away I went to the mechanic, and soon came out in a fresh costume - being handsomely polished up buckhorn head, with a hole bored through it, and a string attached, a fine iron point to stand on, etc., - all “armed and equipped' for staff duty. But, reader, do not think I intend to part with my cognomen of 'Broomstick.' No, Sir, I cannot. Aa those actresses who have won public favor under their maiden name, still retain that name after marriage, so I, the Broomstick, intend to write as a broomstick still.

Well, my friends, my new master was quite a buck in his way, and circulated considerably in society, in a small way. He was extremely fond of promenading Broadway. Every summer afternoon, when the sky was clear, and the sinking sun hung low in the west, just shading one side of the street, be was out, pushing his way among silks, and satins, and plumes, and poverty, and rags, and the other thousand specimens of animated nature, which Goldsmith has not particularly described. I had been his companion on so many occasions, that I vainly thought I was quite a physiognomist. I began to imagine I almost knew the occupation and station which many of them held in the community. I recollect, particularly, one June afternoon, my reflections as I passed up this main artery of the city, that great receiver of all the numerous little streams that pour their living currents into it.

The street was all alive. Coaches, omnibuses, and small vehicles innumerable, were rushing various ways, their wheels flashing in the sunlight. The side-walk was crowded to excess. So dense was it, as to become completely dammed up,' at times; and, as is said by

the poet, the weary wheels of life at last stood still.' I was attentive on all sides. Here tripped along a little miss in solitary beauty; there a young bride, leaning indolently on the arm of the stronger vessel, telling her story with an uncommon flow of spirits.

Ah! my little maiden, in simple attire — with hair so simply dressed - you who cast many a glance about you, and, occasionally, with an exclamation of surprise, point to some object of astonishment — I know you well. You were bred in those regions which .God made,' as Cowper beautifully expresses it : 'God made the country, but man made the town.' You know nothing of the city. Transplanted from your native soil into this great hot-bed, you seem to wilt in a day. You wonder and wonder again where all the people can come from ; if they throng the streets in such numbers every day, where can they all live? You are surprised, also, at the want of familiarity on every side. There is no nodding - no smile of recognition; but each one passes, coldly and carelessly, on his way. You would not live here for the wealth of the Indies. The splendor of a day has already thrown a faintness over thy fresh heart. Go on, fair one! Thine are the first pure emotions of an unsophisticated heart, which might be changed by circumstances.

Ah! my pale, cadaverous, yellow and bilious maid - I know you, too! That was truly a splendid banquet which you attended last evening; a little too late, however, in its duration.

Your morning's rest was a feverish one ; perhaps the champagne was not pure. You almost wish the young broker in Wall-street had not pressed you so fervently to continue your potations, Another party is on the tapis for to-night. You are sorry but then all the respectable and wealthy will be there; how can you remain absent ? And so you are promenading a little, to resuscitate your weary system. The fresh air and smiling faces, you think, will be beneficial. Perhaps they will, my fair one ; but you cannot last long, and it is the opinion of the broomstick-walking-staff

, that when you are at last gone, a coroner should be sent for, and a verdict of death by suicide' rendered.

'Halloo! my little chubby man, in homespun clothes, and heavy boots, pushing along with ceaseless speed! You came near prostrating a lady just now. Oh yes! I recognise you

- a Connecticut farmer, who has just sold his butter, and now on his track for the steamboat, You are a plain, substantial man, and not easily caught by the glitter of this world. You promised your family to be home on such a day, and you would not fail

, for a trifle, to keep your word. • Why, you old apoplectic soul ! how you waddle along! Your eyes are fixed on the pavement, and you seem in deep meditation. Going into Wall-street, eh? You are really puzzled which stock to deal in to-day. Bought on time sixty days ago, and lost. You do n't like buying on time, you say to yourself; it is too bazardous; stocks are too shifting, to trust them sixty days. Delaware is down, but you think kept down by adventitious circumstances, and may be pressed still lower. O how you wish you could look into the future ! You would make lame ducks' as thick as blackberries. You are a close one, though, my old fellow. That family of yours is extravagant and expensive ; and the command was given by you, before

your departure, to the coachman, to order the carriage for the use of the family, at ten. Good morning, Sir!'

Here comes my whiskered, moustach'd friend, flourishing his cane, and tripping along very gingerly. He is one of those characters left in possession of more money than brains, and who after idling a few years at college, took the tour of Europe, corresponding, at the same time, with some obscure journal in his native village. He has been fortunate in aping all the accomplishments of another nation, turning them into the ridiculous more completely than the sublime was ever transformed. How little he knows in regard to himself ! While he imagines that he is an object of universal admiration, he is regarded with pity and contempt by all sensible beings. When death overtakes him at last, the vacuum which he leaves will never be observed.

But I must draw this number of my biography to an end. I trust it will not be altogether unprofitable to the reader, simple as it is. It will be perceived, that my whole history is rapidly drawing to a close that the volume of my existence is fast filling — soon to be clasped and silently put away for ever.

But we will not mourn. The immortal Hogarth has sketched a broomstick as a figure representing the close of a busy life. Permit me, therefore, kind reader, to moralize.

Life, I repeat, then, is short. And how many trivial circumstances occur daily to remind us of this truth. The pilgrim who has wandered far from his native village, on returning to its little burial-place, finds many a stone, and many an inscription to chain him in wonder and silence. So short a period, and yet how many lights of friendship have gone out! He wanders among the shadows of the ancient elms which shade bis home, but he is a stranger. That silver-headed old man, who was the 'uncle' of the village, has laid aside his staff, and has gone to sleep for ever. Every one knew him; and his lips were eloquent with many a tale. A play-mate that was, had married, and died — one here, and another there. We trace them to the grave, and nought breaks the silence of that holy spot, save the tinkling of the brook, or the sighing of some passing zephyr. The grave ! That home of the great, and final couch for earth's kings! What a glorious company the living have in view, when they are called away from their idols above! The patriarchs of old, Jacob, and Joseph, and the Pharaohs of Egypt --- Solomon, whose golden temple mocked the glory of the morning sun -- the Thebans - Emperors of Rome and Greece — with thousands of the illustrious of more modern days. The grave is indeed rich with departed greatness. Where is Scott — the immortal Scott ? He sleeps with his brother in fame, Shakspeare! Where is our own Washington ? He sleeps with Cincinnatus and Alfred, three names as legible as the stars of heaven. The grave has them all - and never will such dust dissolve again in its hallowed precincts. But I must pause; and if age spares me, I trust I shall be enabled to give another chapter, closing my diversified history. New-York, May, 1837.

H. H. R.

TIM E.

BY THE REV. J. H CLINCH.

I.

I stood in thought beside an arrowy stream,
Holding its way through many a flowery mead
And woodland, where alone the fitful gleam
Of the sun pierced the gloom - then, quickly freed
From forest twilight, with a noisy speed
It daslied and bubbled onward down a slope
Where rocks arose its rushing to impede,

But rose in vain, like terrors against Hope
Or foes against Despair, where spears a path must ope.

11.
On, on it flew, o'er every barrier springing.
With mighty impulse and with headlong leaps,
To where, the ceaseless hymn of Nature singing,
Ocean's eternity of waters keeps
Perpetual music, and the voice of deeps
Calleth to deep ; – the wild brook swept away
To mingle with those tides where darkness sleeps

Far down in their abysses, and a ray
Entrance hath never found from the serene of day.

III.

And as the stream passed on, the dewy flowers
That decked its marge their silky petals threw
Upon its eddying waters, and the showers
of pattering rain, when gusts of autumn blew,
Bade the tall trees their leaves by thousands strew
Upon its heaving bosom - and ihe bank,
Where with sharp turn the impetuous torrent flew

In foamy eddies onward, piecemeal sank,
Borne by ihe food to fill the caves of ocean dank.

IV.

And ever and anon some goodly tree,
By woodsman's axe subdued or slow decay,
Swept by to ocean's broad eternity,
Rolling and plunging on its foamy way,
And spurning from its knotted limbs the spray
E'en like a drowning giant; now a rock
Grasping in vain its desperate course to stay -

And now some root which rends before the shock,
And now smooth bending reeds which all its efforts mock.

V.

In that swift brook I saw the fight of Time -
Of Time which, like a tributary uide,
Empties its waters into that sublime
And mighty torrent which shall ever hide
Its source in clouds and darkness - and the wide
Extension of whose stream forbids all sense
A limit to define on either side -

A shoreless ocean wrapped in vapors dense -
For ever w roll on — mysterious - dim -- immense.

VI.

Time's stream flows into that eternity -
Eternity its secret source supplies
And as its troubled billows swiftly flee,
Passing Earth's shifting scenes and changeful skies,
It bears to that far ocean as its prize
The dewy flowers of youth — the searer leaves
Of manhood — and at times her agonies

A dying nation o'er its current heaves,
As, like the shattered tree, her wreck Time's flood receives.

« PreviousContinue »