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The dark damp vault now echoes his tread,
With a cobweb canopy over his head,
Tlis foot may crush the full-fed worms,
Hie hand may grasp a shroud,
YeL bis tones are light and loud.
He digs the grave, and his chant will break
As he gains a fathom deep— "Whoever lies in the bed I make
I warrant will soundly sleep.''
He piles the sod, he raises the stone,
But whatever his task, 'tis plied alone-
For the sexton gray is a scaring loon—
His name is linked with death: The children at play, should be cross their way,
Will pause with fluttering breath.
They herd together, a frighten'd host,
u Bee, see, 'tis be that sends the ghost
The old men mark him, with fear in their eye,
They hear him chant: "The young may die,
The rich will frown as his ditty goes on—
"Though broad your lands may be, Six narrow feet to the beggar I mete.
And the same shall serve for ye." t. The ear of the strong will turn from his song,
And Beauty's cheek will pale; "Out, out," cry they, " what creature would stay
To list thy croaking tale?"'
Oh! the sexton gray is a mortal of dread;
None like to see him come near; The orphan thinks on a father dead,
The widow wipes a tear.
All shudder to hear his bright axe chink,
Upturning the hollow bone;
He works, he carouses alone.
By night or by day, this, this is his lay:
"Mine is the goodliest trade; Never was banner so wide as the pall,
Nor sceptre so feared as the spade."
CHRONICLE OF THE WEEK,
IN A FOURTH LETTER TO A COUNTRY FRIEND.
I Have ninted to you already that the summer was coming; and a day or two of sunshine, that has made us gasp, have more than justified my announcement. Sea breezes are coming into fashion again, and we shall presently be looking for those fishing companies, which every year vex the waters of our lower bay.
I have often thought (and you would think so too, if you had seen it, in the summer time) what a magnificent spot our New York Bay is one day to become; when the stucco and the wood of baby effort shall give place to the richest veins of our quarries —when our merchants shall drink their tea three leagues from business—when lofty Indiamen shall ride at anchor before their doors, and when Staten Island shall bloom with hedge and cottage—another Isle of Wight—and its waters rival Southampton waters. Say what they will of Dublin Bay, and Naples, and Sorrento, and the rest, no prettier encircled harbor catches the morning than stretches from your eye at the foot of the Battery. There is only needed a Vesuvius, with a lazy smoke-cloud by day, and a jet of fire-stones by night, and a teem
ing cellar of the Lacryma Chritti on its flank, to make you say of our waters—as the hand organists say of the blue seas by Baim —vedi epoimori.
But this is no news—all which I know as well as you can tell me. Yet who cares for novelties when the first simmer of summer is playing on the fields, and the mated birds are idling and oiling their feathers? Or if there be a care, where is news to be found? Politics, you know, is on a sort of vacationhunt; and between the late travel of the President, and the doubtful elections here and there, the plotters are tired of augury, and are lazily sunning themselves under the wall of the newspapers.
You should have seen, by the by, the procession, and the flags, and the crowds which welcomed to the city the Citizen President; it was a worthy honor, and worthily done. And I could have wished a squadron of the horse-guards, who hold their daily quarters down Whitehall-street, could have set an eye upon that easy and voluntary bestowal of honor, which owed nothing to old prerogative—nothing to the orders of a duke, and nothing to the crimson of court-dresses.
They made a brilliant show upon the Thames, that first day of May, it must be confessed; and they had a brilliant occasion. Still I am willing, and proud too, to contrast those hireling trumpeters,and the blackhorsed guardsmen, and the bear-capped footmen with the plain-dressed men, women, and children, who ran from their shops and their homes to spend an echo for the plaindressed man whom they had made their President.
You know what a reception is in the city; how the house-tops are crowded, and the carriages wallow through eager throngs, and the simply-dressed police clear the way with staves, and the huzzas rise with a health in them; so I shall not need to tell you how it begun or how it passed off.'
I may say a word though about the magnificent enterprise which the President and his suite came to inaugurate. You must have known that for years certain digging machines and pile-drivers and Irishmen, counting by the thousands, have been cutting a pathway straight and long—through mountains and by river banks—under rocky ledges and over prairies—to join the waters of Lake Erie, to our queen river the Hudson . And now the work is done, and you go flying over long colonnades of rich and solid masonry, with the tops of the pine forests below you, through countries where, till yesterday, a Troy coach was a matter of wonder.
They tell us,too—both reporters and guidebooks—that sweet gems of valleys burst upon you, which you lose again so quick on your iron and rattling flight, that you will hardly have scared the trout that lurk in the brook of their bosoms. Indeed, the new route is to furnish the sportsman's holiday ground, and even now parties are wandering thither with CosEoy's tackle and Herbert's books, to fling a fly into the eddies that curl under the roots of century-old pines, and you may hear now the click of the angler's reel, where was heard only the click of the hunter's rifle. Think of it for a moment, that in four hours' time, from the heat, dust, plaster, bricks, broken pavements, signs, wateringcarts, and news-boys of the city, you may lap your fevered soul to quiet under the gnarled tops of the primitive forest, a hundred miles away, and forget the hammer of your town upholsterer in watching the deft hangings of the golden oriole!
I was talking of politics ;—which brings me back to where politics are just now most in ferment; I mean in France. They are in a queer muss yonder; and how the issues will lie it is impossible to foresee. Their second election is fast approaching, and whether the heat of its ferment will not set the republic on fire, is a very doubtful question.
It is not a matter as (God be thanked !) it is here—between one man and another— as to who is the best; but a hundred variant elements are in the caldron of their election dinner. First, you know the Bonaparte name is winning what it can to warp the republic into empire; then the old Legitimists are busy in the capital, and in the southwest—tying their hopes to the mother church, and making stump-speakers of priests; and the Due de Nemours is courting a popularity which he has sorely perilled, and making republican pretensions, toward a throne.
The Socialists are busy in full force: and with such wilful, strong-minded, passionate mouth-pieces as Emile De Gibardin, they will raise a voice that will be heard in every corner of France. Perhaps you know his sharp, interrogatory way of startling attention ; if not, I transcribe for you a paragraph or two which show his mode. He questions his rivals with a lofty arrogance, that reminds one of Demosthenes; throwing his hail of psephitmata into the face of iEsoHiNEs:—
"In the present darkened state of the atmosphere, it is easy to perceive that the thunder of a fourth Revolution is hanging over our heads, and waits only for a disturbance to burst forth.
"If this Revolution shall take place, if it proves as bloodthirsty and implacable as the Revolution of 1848 was generous and forbearing, to what parties must the responsibility be attached 1
"Will it not be pre-eminently to those who have provoked it by the sharaeleasness of their apostasies?
"In truth, they will not only have provoked it, but they will have legitimated it, not only have legitimated it, but have disarmed their future defenders. Suppose that one of the first acts of the victorious Revolution should be to invade the offices of the Constitutionel, of the Patrie, of the AeeemblteNationale, of the Journal de* Debate, and throw their types out the window, as was done on the 13th of June with the presses of the Voix du Peuple, of the fiepubtiqrte, of the Democratic Pacifique, and of the EttafeUe, in what terms of just indignation could I protest against the outrage? If I were told, 'This is by way of reprisal,' what could I say? If a war of extermination should be waged against the journals of the vanquished parties, if their sale were utterly prohibited in order to insure a more certain monopoly to the journals of the victorious party, what could I gain for the rights of liberty and equality, by an appeal to the past? If Veron should be thrown into the prison where a great writer, Proudbon, has pined for two years, what could I say in defence of the Alticus who endeavored the overthrow of the Constitution and restoration of the Empire? If Belle-Isle should trade off M. Blanqui against M. Romieu, what could I oppose to the transaction! If M. Guizot should succeed M. Raspail in the prison of Doullens, could I honestly maintain that the author of the law of September 9, 1835, which forbade the advocacy of the Republic under the Monarchy, has respected ihe law of August 11,1848, which no less formally interdicted the defence of the Monarchy under the Republic? If Giraud and Saint-Hilaire should share the fate of Jacques and Michelet, what could I allege in favor of the liberty of teaching, which could not be turned against the deposers of yesterday, the deposed of today? If reversing the scale declared by the law of March, '31, all the tax-payers to the amount of over 100 francs should be deprived of the right of suffrage, what good reason could I bring for sustaining them in their right? If progressive taxation in proportion to property should succeed progressive taxation in proportion to misery, with what arguments could I combat the measure? If the same treatment should be given to all the priests suspected of legitimism, which was mflicted on the teachers suspected of Socialism, what could I say? If all the functionaries who did not give sufficient pledges to the victorious Democracy were set aside, how could I combat such an act of intolerance?"
To balance the opening of the Great Exhibition, the Parisians you know have been arranging a magnificent fete, which passed off in rain and cloud upon the fourth of May. The most noticeable novelty about it was the artificial cascade in the river Seine. You can form some idea of the beauty and wonder of this show, by fancying such a river as Harlem at the turnpike bridge—dammed with rocks to the height of some thirty feet—and half the body of the river lifted by invisible machinery, and made to clatter over in wild confusion upon the surface below. Still further, you will get into your mind an
image of the Paris show, by fancying a magnificent bridge lit up by a thousand lanterns in full view of the cascade,—and strong galvanic lights flashing on the tumbling waters—while at either hand, looming through the night, appear the illuminated frieze, columns, and vestibule of two of the noblest porticoes of modern architecture— that of the Madeleine and of the Chamber of Deputies. I shall say nothing about the corseleted men-at-arms, and the trim gem cTarmerie, and the slouch-hatted hungry fellows from the purlieus of the Pantheon; and the gliding grisettea in witching straws —simply because—I was not there.
As for London, the papers are so full of it, that one seems to be wandering with the wondering groups under that marvellous palace of Paxton, which will surely be rated eighth, in the next Peter Parley book of wonders of the world.
It must be certainly one of the sights of a man's life-time to witness such a Babel of nations, and such a Solomon's Temple. Who among our enterprising panorama-makers, is to start the idea of taking us through— on two miles of canvas—all the curious things of the Great Exhibition? I throw out the bint without charge, and shall expect only a free ticket to the entertainment.
The English papers are full of anecdotes, which—to the delight of the reporters— are occurrences of every day.
Thus we have, in one sheet, a very minute account of the first meeting of Mr. ^jobden with the Marquis of Anglesey, and the Duke of Wellington. To the great surprise of many who do not seem mindful of the fact that a true gentleman is always a gentleman, the meeting is spoken of as one characterized by great courtesy and civility on the part of all the distinguished parties.
Much attention was attracted towards a Chinese Mandarin, in full celestial vestments, who attended the party of ambassadors, and who paid the eastern salute to the Queen—of kissing her toe.
One of the largest fountains—during the Queen's visit—was supplied with eau de Cologne; and a small Austrian jet, it is understood, is to be permanently supplied with the same odorous shower.
Of the great extent of the Crystal Palace you may perhaps form a better concerttion by this bit of newspaper calculation, which I cut from a late London journal:—
"The Crystal Palace is itself the grandest feature of the Exhibition. Not only in its extent, and in its matchless beauty of form and material, but likewise in the rapidity of its construction, it is the most marvellous edifice in the world. The Alhambra and the Tuileries would not fill up the eastern and western naves, and the National Gallery would stand very well beneath the transept. St. Paul's Cathedral does not cover half the ground. The Palace of Versailles, the largest in the world, would extend but a little way beyond the transept. A dozen metropolitan churches would stand erect under its roof of glass. Yet its extent is its least interesting feature. The sense of its marvellous beauty overcomes every other feeling. Since the young imagination, fired with tales of sprites and genii, conjured up visions of Eastern palaces, adorned with the splendors of Arabian fiction, there has been nothing to compare with it for grace, lightness, fancy, and variety of effects as the sun is crossed by moving clouds. That this edifice has been raised and completed in five months—that in November last not a pillar had been erected, and now the whole structure is finished, to the minutest point of decoration—is a fact to impress the stranger with a magnificent conception of our industrial resources."
And, since my scissors are in hand, I cut for you also, this little contretemps, which counts more poorly for French dress than most would have supposed. Indeed, I have half a mind to believe, that the Birmingham gentry were outwitted after all, and that the pseudo police were only accomplished French jUoux:—
Rival Jonathan Wn.DS.—A very amusing mistake occurred on the opening day. Two persons, whose appearance indicated that they were not exactly of the class of threeguinea ticket-holders, were observed in the middle, of the crowd in the transept carefully scrutinizing every one about them; their conduct had so much that was suspicious about it, that an active detective of the Birmingham police who was present, and who had been watching them for nearly an hour, seeing that they took apparently little interest in the magnificent spectacle that was passing in their immediate neighborhood, and that they looked harder than, in his opinion, honest men ought at the watches and other trinkets so profusely displayed, advanced and took them into custody. The strangers turned out to be Frenchmen, but their explanations, whatever they were, being perfectly unintelligible to the Birmingham officer, he conducted
them into one of the private offices of the building and searched them. It was satisfactorily ascertained by documents found on them that they were French police officers, and a series of mutual explanations, if they may be so termed, where neither understood the other, ensued—the strangers were readily satisfied, and the Birmingham detective got a practical lesson in the old Scotch proverb, that "Hawks munna pick out hawks' een.'"
THE BOOK WOELD.
Still I have very little to tell you of book matters. It is too hot for book-making, and almost too hot for book-reading.
A London Guide-Book, published by Jso. Murray, in the style and manner of his redcovered guide-books which have for years designated the English traveller on the continent, cannot fail to be of essential service to every stranger in London. Heretofore the traveller has been more lost for an intelligible and comprehensive guide in Loodon, than in any city of Europe.
Among American announcements, I have to chronicle for you a new book or two from Nathaniel Hawthorne. Of what character they will be does not appear from the programme. Indeed, one is disposed to think that, in virtue of a common ruse of the publishers, the announcement may have been made upon a mere " promise to write." You will hope, as I do, that the cool shades of Berkshire, under which HawThorne is now fanning himself for new triumphs, will not lessen his industry. Yet, to tell truth, there is something wonderfully tempting idlesse in the noise of brooks and birds—a sweet idleness that suffers thought to run wild in its chase of fancies, but which dreads the handling of a quill as it dreads the hot air of a city.
I have told you something, in by-gone numbers, of a Book of Beauty, and indulged in some surmises as to who was to be the literary nurse of such an enterprise. I now learn with pleasure that Mrs. C. SL Kms Land is to have the handling of its dainty pages. A better selection could not have been made, either in view of the artistic pen-work of the lady in question, ot of those substantial qualities of heart, temper, and judgment, which will at once forestall all possible charges of indecorum or frivolity. I remain, yours, Ac.