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Help! help! He's gone! Oh, fearful woe,
Such screams to hear, such sights to see!
I am not mad, but soon shall be.
Mark how yon demon's eyeballs glare ;
He whirls a serpent high in air.
Deep in my heart, so crush'd and sad :
Your task is done! I'm mad! I'm mad!
BY THEODORE PARKER. 1. I CANNOT tell where childhood ends, and manhood begins; nor where manhood ends, and old age begins. It is a wavering and uncertain line, not straight and definite, which borders betwixt the two. But the outward characteristics of old age are obvious enough. The weight diminishes. Man is commonly heaviest at forty, woman at fifty. After that, the body shrinks a little; the height shortens as the cartilages become thin and dry. The hair whitens and falls away. The frame stoops; the bones become smaller, feebler, have less animal and more mere earthy matter. The senses decay slowly and · handsomely. The eye is not so sharp; and, while it penetrates farther into space, it has less power clearly to define the outline of what it sees. The ear is dull; the appetite less. Bodily heat is lower; the breath produces less carbonic acid, than before.
2. The old man consumes less food, water, air. The hands grasp less strongly; the feet tread less firmly. The lungs suck the breast of heaven with less powerful collapse. The eye and ear take not so strong a hold upon the world :
“And the big manly voice, Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound.” , The animal life is making ready to go out. The very old man loves the sunshine and the fire, the arm-chair and the shady nook. A rude wind would jostle the full-grown apple from its bough,-. full-ripe, full-colored, too. The internal characteristics correspond. General activity is less. Salient love of new things and new persons, which bit the young man's heart, fades away. He thinks the old is better.
3. In intellectual matters, the venerable man loves to recall the old times, to revive his favorite old men,-no new ones half so fair. So in Homer, Nestor, who is the oldest of the Greeks, is always talking of the old times, before the grandfathers of men then living had come into being, not such as live in these degenerate days.' Verse-loving John Quincy Adams turns off from Byron, and Shelley, and Wieland, and Goethe, and returns to Pope, “who pleased his childhood and informed his youth.” The pleasure of hope is smaller; that of memory greater. The venerable man loves to set Recollection to beat the roll-call, and summon up from the grave the old time,—“the good old time,”— the old places, old friends, old games, old talk: nay, to his ear, the old familiar tunes are sweeter than any thing that Mendelssohn, or Strauss, or Rossini, can bring to pass. Elder Brewster expects to hear St. Martin's and Old Hundred chanted in heaven. Why not?
4. Then the scholar becomes an antiquary; he likes not young men unless he knew their grandfathers. The young woman looks in the newspaper for the marriages, the old man for the deaths. The young man's eye looks forward: the world is “all before him where to choose." It is a hard world: he does not know it; he works a little, and hopes much. The middle-aged man looks around at the present; he has found out that it is a hard world; he hopes less and works more. The old man looks back on the fields he has trod,—“This is the tree I planted, this is my footstep,”—and he loves the old house, his old carriage, cat, dog, staff, and friend.
5. Iu lands where the vine grows, I have seen an old man sit all day long, a sunny autumn day, before his cottage-door, in a great arm-chair, his old dog crouched at his feet in the genial sun. The autumn wind played with the old man's venerable hairs; above him, on the wall," purpling in the sunlight, hung the full clusters of the grape, ripening and maturing yet more. The two were just alike; the wind stirred the vine-leaves and they fell; stirred the old man's hair, and it whitened yet more. *** Both were waiting for the spirit in them to be fully.ripe. The young man . looks forward ; the old man looks back. How long the shadows lie in the setting sun; the steeple a mile long reaching across the plain, as the sun stretches out the hills in grotesque dimensions ! So are the events of life in the old man's consciousness."
BY THOMAS CAMPBELL.
Lochiel. Go preach to the coward, thou death-telling seer !
Wizard. Ha! laugh’st thou, Lochiel, my visiou to scorn? Proud bird of the mountain, thy plume shall be torn ! Say, rush'd the bold eagle exultingly forth From his home in the dark-rolling clouds of the North? Lo! the death-shot of foeman outspeeding, he rode Companionless, bearing destruction abroad; But down let him stoop from his havoc on high; Ah! home let him speed, for the spoiler is nigh. Why flames the far summit? Why shoot to the blast Those embers, like stars from the firmament cast? 'Tis the fire-shower of ruin, all dreadfully driven From his aerie, that beacons the darkness of heaven O crested Lochiel ! the peerless in might, Whose banners arise on the battlement's hight,
Heaven's fire is around thee, to blast and to burn;
Lochiel. False wizard, avaunt! I have marshal'd my clan; Their swords are a thousand, their bosoms are one! They are true to the last of their blood and their breath, And, like reapers, descend to the harvest of death. Then welcome be Cumberland's steed to the shock! Let him dash his proud foam like a wave on the rock! But woe to his kindred, and woe to his cause, When Albin her claymore indignantly draws; When her bonneted chieftains to victory crowd, Clan Ronald the dauntless, and Moray the proud, All plaided and plumed in their tartan array
Wizard. Lochiel ! Lochiel ! beware of the day!
Lochiel. Down, soothless insulter! I trust not the tale;
For never shall Albin a destiny meet
A RILL FROM THE TOWN PUMP.
BY NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE. 1. Noon, by the north clock! Noon, by the east! High noon, too, by these hot sunbeams, which fall, scarcely aslope, upon my head, and almost make the water bubble and smoke in the trough under my nose. Truly, we public characters have a tough time of it! And, among all the town officers chosen at March meetings, where is he that sustains, for a single year, the burden of such manifold duties as are imposed, in perpetuity, upon the Town Pump? The title of “town treasurer” is rightfully mine, as guardian of the best treasure that the town has. The overseers of the poor ought to make me their chairman, since I provide bountifully for the pauper, without expense to him that pays taxes.
2. I am at the head of the fire-department, and one of the physicians to the board of health. As a keeper of the peace, all water-drinkers will confess me equal to the constable. I perform some of the duties of the town clerk, by promulgating public notices, when they are posted on my front. To speak within bounds, I am the chief person of the municipality, and exhibit, moreover, an admirable pattern to my brother officers, by the cool, steady, upright, downright, and impartial discharge of my business, and the constancy with which I stand to my post. Summer or winter, nobody seeks me in vain; for all day long I am seen at the busiest corner, just above the market, stretching out my arms to rich and poor alike; and at night I hold a lantern over my head, both to show where I am and keep people out of the gutters.