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to figure to myself the miseries of confinement. I was in a right frame for it, and so I gave full scope to my imagination. I was going to begin with the millions of my fellow-creatures born to no inheritance but slavery; but finding, however affecting the picture was, that I could not bring it near me, and that the multitude of sad groups in it did but distract me, I took a single captive, and having first shut him up in his dungeon, I then looked through the twilight of his grated door to take his picture. I beheld his body, half wasted away with long expectation and confinement; and felt what kind of sickness of the heart it was that arises from hope deferred. Upon looking nearer, I saw him pale and feverish; in thirty years, the western breeze had not once fanned his blood; he had seen mp sun, no moon, in all that time; nor had the voice of friend or kinsman breathed through his lattice; his children - but here my heart began to bleed, and I was forced to go on with another part of the portrait. - He was sitting upon the ground, upon a little straw, in the furthest corner of his dungeon, which was alternately his chair and bed; a little calendar of small sticks lay at the head, notched all over with the dismal days and nights he had passed there; he had one of these little sticks in his hand, and with a rusty nail he was etching another day of misery, to add to the heap. As I darkened the little light he had, he lifted up a hopeless eye towards the door; then cast it down, shook his head, and went on with his work of affliction. I heard his chains upon his legs, as he turned his body to lay his little stick upon the bundle. He gave a deep sigh; I saw the iron enter into his soul. I burst into tears; I could not sustain the picture of confinement which my fancy had drawn.
A FRENCH PEASANT'S SUPPER. A SHOE coming loose from the fore-foot of the thill-horse, at the beginning of the ascent of Mount Taurira, the postilion dismounted, twisted the shoe off, and put it in his pocket. As the ascent was of five or six miles, and that horse our main dependence, I made a point of having the shoe fastened on again, as
well as we could ; but the postilion had thrown away the nails, and the hammer in the chaise-box being of no great use without them, I submitted to go on. He had not mounted half a mile higher, when, coming to a flinty piece of road, the poor devil lost a second shoe, and from off his other fore-foot. I then got out of the chaise in good earnest, and seeing a house about a quarter of a mile to the left-hand, with a great deal to do, I prevailed upon the postilion to turn up to it. The look of the house, and of everything about it, as we drew nearer, soon reconciled me to the disaster. It was a little farm-house, surrounded with about twenty acres of vineyard, about as much corn, and close to the house, on one side, was a potagerie of an acre and a half, full of everything which could make plenty in a French peasant's house; and on the other side was a little wood, which furnished wherewithal to dress it. It was about eight in the evening when we got to the house; so I left the postilion to manage his point as he could; and for mine, I walked directly into the house.
The family consisted of an old gray-headed man and his wife, with five or six sons and sons-in-law, with their several wives, and a joyous genealogy out of them. They were all sitting down together to their lentil-soup; a large wheaten loaf was in the middle of the table ; and a flagon of wine at each end of it promised joy through the stages of the repast; — 't was a feast of love. The old man rose up to meet me; and with a respectful cordiality, would have me sit down to the table. My heart was set down the moment I entered the room; so I sat down at once, like a son of the family; and to invest myself in the character as speedily as I could, I instantly borrowed the old man's knife, and taking up the loaf, cut myself a hearty luncheon; and as I did it, I saw a testimony in every eye, not only of an honest welcome, but of a welcome mixed with thanks that I had not seemed to doubt it. Was it this, or tell me, Nature, what else it was, that made this morsel so sweet; and to what magic I owe it, that the draught I took of their flagon was so delicious with it, that they remain upon my palate to this hour ? If the supper was to my taste, the grace which followed it was much more so.
When supper was over, the old man gave a knock upon the table with the haft of his knife, to bid them prepare for the dance. The moment the signal was given, the women and girls ran all together into a back apartment, to tie up their hair; and the young men to the door, to wash their faces and change their sabots; and in three minutes, every soul was ready, upon a little esplanade before the house, to begin. The old man and his wife came out last, and placing me betwixt them, sat down on a sofa of turf by the door. The old man had, some fifty years ago, been no mean performer upon the vielle; and at the age he was then of, touched it well enough for the purpose. His wife sung, now and then, a little to the tune; then intermitted, and joined her old man again, as their children and grand-children danced before them.
It was not till the middle of the second dance, when, for some pauses in the movement, wherein they all seemed to look, I fancied I could distinguish an elevation of spirit different from that which is the cause or the effect of simple jollity. In a word, I thought I beheld Religion mixing in the dance; but as I had never seen her so engaged, I should have looked upon it now as one of the illusions of our imaginations, which is eternally misleading me, had not the old man, as soon as the dance ended, said that this was their constant way; and that, all his life long, he had made it a rule, after supper was over, to call out his family to dance and rejoice; believing, he said, that a cheerful and contented mind was the best sort of thanks to Heaven that an illiterate peasant could pay. “Or a learned prelate, either," said I.
WILLIAM SHENSTONE. 1714-1763.
Shenstone's most celebrated poem, The Schoolmistress, was written in commemoration of the venerable dame at whose school he was taught to read. This poet was educated at Oxford; but on the death of his parents, their estate fell into his hands, and he immediately began to devote a large part of his time and income to landscape gardening and ornamental agriculture. At length, having reared up a sort of rural paradise around him, he was obliged to live in a dilapidated house, unfit, as he said, to receive“ polite friends,” and pecuniary difficulties
troubled the latter days of his life. Added to this, an unfortunate attachment to a young lady rendered him querulous and dejected, and he died in solitude.
Such as I oft have chancéd to espy,
In every village marked with little spire,
And oft-times on vagaries idly bent,
And all in sight doth rise a birchen tree,
And as they looked, they found their horror grew,
Near to this dome is found a patch so green,
Eager, perdie, to bask in sunny day!
Where sits the dame, disguised in look profound,
Her cap, far whiter than the driven snow,
And steadfast hate, and sharp affliction joined,
A russet stole was o'er her shoulders thrown; A russet kirtle fenced the nipping air; 'T was simple russet, but it was her own; 'T was her own country bred the flock so fair! 'T was her own labor did the fleece prepare ; And, sooth to say, her pupils ranged around, Through pious awe, did term it passing rare; For they in gaping wonderment abound, And think, no doubt, she been the greatest wight on ground. *
And warned them not the fretful to deride,
Right well she knew each temper to descry,