Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

ments. Temper is not yet embittered by umexpected frustration, nor is exertion checked by insuperable competition. Animated by the gay perspective of future prospects, youth ever casts off the consciousness of care ; and, in the contemplation of happiness, present or to come, delights to dwell upon the glittering scene of promise and expectation. Associated in the enjoyment of these exhilarating ideas with others, sharing equally the gladness and the glory of its hopes, it pursues with avidity the same path, which leads to the stations of distinction, and opens to future views of elevation and of honour. The struggle is that of sport, and like it concludes with satisfaction; the witnesses of the contest, the partners in the success, and the least prosperous in the fortune of the fray, unite to revivify dejected hope, and rekindle the spirit of emulation. The influence which this reciprocal communication of sentiment, this continual contact of mental power and acquirement, possesses over our society, is unlimited: it binds the most distant in the closest union to one another, and first discovers to them the necessity and the usefulness of mutual dependence, For within this varied scene of exertion and inactivity, there always will be those who press forward with impatience to the different degrees of merit and reputation ; while there will be others, who as eagerly decline the restraint of application and the sacrifice of abstraction; who depend for present assistance and freedom from labour on the efforts of the studious, for whom, in after days, they rationally hope to reserve due tributes of gratitude and esteem, anxiously considering the success and fame of their friends as involved in the event of every action over which their interest and inclination enjoy even a partial control; since, in the perfect exercise of genuine friendship, no advantage can attend either party in which both do not equally participate ; for surely they shall be strong in the strength, wealthy in the wealth, and powerful in the influence, of each other; their friendship shall changé storms and tempests in the affections to a day of sunshine, and out of darkness and confusion of thoughts shall bring daylight on the understanding. But there are many connexions, less interested in the commencement, which may prove more beneficial in the event; for such as are founded on personal predilection, or intellectual appreciation, are secured by affection, and confirmed by respect. These have been known to survive the sprightliness and the prime of life, and remain constant even to “ the murmurs of peevishness and the dreams of dotage;" till, when those aged companions have shaken off their load of years, and gone to rest in the peacefulness of the tomb, the memory of their virtue is bequeathed as a monitor to surviving friends, and a cheering director to re-union in a happier world.

If there is felicity in cherishing the social tendencies of the human heart, or if there is advantage in cultivating the social relations of human life, how sincere and pure a pleasure we feel in perusing the simple dialogues of the Roman philosopher, which perpetuate the memory of the best and wisest men, who have filled the world with history and wonder-who have displayed, even in chains and in death, the power of attachment and the spell of affection, and left to posterity the sense of that sublime generosity and moral beauty, which is calculated to produce the most beneficial effects both on the state of general society, and the constitution of individual sensibility. But these ancient pairs, as their conduct towards each other was influenced by esteem and love, so their actions in the world were governed by unblemished integrity; the course of their happy and honourable days terminated, as they commenced, in the light of virtue. For to them what was more beautiful than virtue ? It refined their intentions, and sublimed their thoughts ; it endued them with dignified notions of their relative situations, and spread a sanctity over that closest and gentlest of all endearments, the bosom friend.

It is a chastening task to review the steady friendships of such venerable characters; but to calculate on each impulse or caprice, which excite and regulate our age of enthusiasm, would be the wildest among the absurdities of cold speculation. To measure the ardour, which hurries forward the execution of precipitate designs, and the declaration of incautious opinions, is to attempt impossibilities, and struggle against the laws of reason. For the commencement has been appropriately termed the romance of life: its most unaccustomed scenes are succeeded by novelties more unexpected; the transitions and the changes in its situations are rapid and brilliant; admiration is attracted by the lustre of dazzling possession, and rapture elicited in the delight of luxurious gratification. But the splendor of the pageant serves only to disguise its own unsubstantial and transitory nature, since the next stage of existence reduces the aspiring and unequal thoughts of man to a level with the sober realities of common life. He now discovers the capriciousness of accidental intimacy; the possibility of friendships being obliterated; the warmth of feeling frozen into courteous formality; and the unaffected zealous eagerness of regard checked and bridled into managed condescension. He sees men looking abroad into the world with circumspect reserve and deliberate caution, reposing confidence in no assistance and fidelity but their own-themselves the little centres of their narrow systems, the sole objects of their solicitude and labour. Under such impressions, without great violence, he may in some respects compare such a state of society to that of the ancient Barons, when “ every man's house was his castle," and his sword the only means which the occasion and the law allowed him for defence. He may, indeed, think himself free from personal violence, at least possessed of sufficient remedies for such abuses ; but he will discover a painful reality, that he is scarcely free from insidious circumvention, and barely protected from treacherous importunity; he may be stung by the lifeless adder, which he had imprudently warmed on his hearth; he may be plundered by the houseless steward, to whose hands he had confided the advancement and preservation of his wealth. From this sickening view of worthlessness and corruption, he will look with transport to the days that are gone, when the advanced experience of life had not as yet disclosed the alloy which lurked beneath so brilliant, yet so slight a covering, so near the surface; the brightness of which was so speedily tarnished, and the substance so easily worn away. He will find the consolation of this bitter season, in early recollections connected with former pleasures,

H

unsullied and without alloy; far different from those transitory enjoyments, so happily compared to the crackling of burning thorns, the sound of which is just heard as it is silenced the flame just seen as it sinks into ashes.

From such prospects we have ventured to remove the veil which the thoughtlessness of boyhood spreads across the range its vision. If their aspect is calculated to check impatience for that freedom from restraint, which presents itself with unreal attractions to the imagination; if their description tends to recall the fancy from that eccentricity to which it had been propelled in search of treasures without value, and objects without existence, to its natural course, or determine the relative proportion of happiness and misery allotted to the young and to the old—we shall rest satisfied with the picture we have drawn; and in the hope that it will attach the memory and the affections of those for whom it is designed, to the scenes and associations of their early days, we are content to resign it to their hands, without adding another embellishment, which may endanger the reputation, or weaken the impression of our labour.

M. S.

TO MARY

I've danc'd with Fanny fifty times,

I've laugh'd with Susan fifty more,
I've pros'd with Charlotte about rhymes,

And Boileau, Milanie, Fodor.

A younger came, with angel mien,

A dovelike eye, and heart so free-
Oh! Mary, had I never seen,

Or seeing, never ceas'd to see!

EDITH

EDITH! o'er the waters blue
Ere I'm gone, my love, adieu !
Ere from hence I fly away,
Hear, oh, hear me, while I pray!
Oh! whate'er may be my lot,
Edith, love, forget me not!

When you see this shady scene,
Where together we have been;
When yon babbling brook you view,
Which so oft we've listen'd to;
When you see my father's cot,
Edith, love, forget me not!

By the power thou hast to grieve me-
By the thoughts that will not leave me
By the fear that will not fly—
By the hope that cannot die-
By this sacred parting spot-
Edith, love, forget me not!

O'er the waters when I ride,
Thou shalt o'er my thoughts preside;
In the battle's wild affray,
Thou shalt hold thy wonted sway;
Then, whate'er may be my lot,
Edith, love, forget me not!

Yet one-yet another kiss!
Then adieu to you and bliss !
Oh! what anguish 'tis to part
From the ruler of my heart !
Edith, sweet, forget me not-
Thou canst never be forgot.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »