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Written for the Ladies' Garland.
REMINISCENCES OF BY-GONE DAYS.
When young life's journey I began,
The glittering prospect charmed my eyes;
Joy after joy successive rise:
And learned the fond pursuit to shun,
And thousands daily are undone.
The sunny hours of childhood, with me, have passed away, and manhood, with its responsibilities and its cares, is now upon me. The morning and twilight of youth have imperceptibly glided onward, and the noon-tide hours of middle age crowding fast upon the meridian of life's short day. Much of the past has been fraught with
"Scenes of wo, and scenes of pleasure."
To the contemplative mind, there is a mournfully pleasing melancholy in the contemplation of scenes and incidents connected with the soft-winged hours of by-gone days. When the song of revelry and mirth enraptured my boyish ear with its dulcet sounds, the thought never crossed my imagination that behind the rose "is secreted the thorn." The dream of romance pictured out the future full of fairy delights, and invited the rovellings of fancy to banquet on her honeyed sweets. But, alas! the spell of delusion has bnen broken, and the dream of imagination has subsided into calm and sober reality. I have been tossed upon the edying whirls of time—the tear of sorrow has dimmed my eye, and adversity has thrown her gloomy mantle over every cheering prospect. Anon, the star of hope has shot its sparkling gems across my bosom's sadness, and my heart, like a bird freed from its wiry prison, has soared aloft, and left its cares behind.
But, dear reader, mstead of indulging in such romantic reveries of fancy, I will introduce you to a, few of my Reminiscences of By-gone Days.
It was a beautiful morning in the merry month of May; nature was clothed in her gayest attire, and every zephyr wafted the richest perfume from her loveliest parterre. The little birds carolled forth in sweetest melody their notes of joy, as they hopped from spray to spray, and gladdened the heart of the early traveller as he passed by the flowery landscape, or leisurely wended his way onward through shady bowers sparkling with Aurora's glittering gems as the sun gilded the eastern horizon, and appeared in all the rich and varied splendor of the king of day. * * *
The sun had already passed the meridian, and was again gently declining behind the western hills. As the departing day was
hushed into stillness and repose, I found myself near the dwelling of one whose lovely image had often flit across my midnight visions, and caused my dreams to be sweet when I awoke. A few minutes more, and I
was seated by the side of Miss , bar-king
in the sunbeams of her soft blue eyes, which rolled in liquid lustre and sparkled with the diamond's brilliancy.
. "For O! 'tis ecstacy most sweet,
With a heart naturally susceptible of the most exquisite sensations, and an imagination that loved to revel on the fairy delights which liemale charms never fail to throw around the heart's best associations, I was now happier in the possession of the warm affections of her
Whose smiles could win And captivate the heart, than if I had possessed the diadem of royalty, or swayed a sceptre over the empire of the world. But, oh! how transient is sublunary bliss! The chalice which contains the exhilarating draught is no sooner touched than broken, and sorrow and disappointment take the place of joy and expectation.
The look of joy, of love, and affection, that beams from the eye of beauty to-day, and throws a sacred halo, almost unearthly, over the soul, may to-morrow be shrouded in the gloom of melancholy, and the eye that shone with lustre bright, be dimmed and suffused with a tear. The rose that unfolds its vermilion leaves to the morning sun, in all its beauty and pride, may be scattered by the whirlwind blast, and its fragrance wasted on the desert air. * * * *
The vernal bloom had decayed^" and the glories of summer had withered and faded away. "It was an evening of autumn's loveliest mood"—the dying breeze that sung itself asleep, and the silvery queen of night was careering through the spangled finrrament. I stood upon the banks of ihe Delaware, as it rolled its dark blue waves in majestic grandeur onward toward the mighty deep, where, in by-gone days, I used to sit in sweet meditations with her I loved. But how changed was the scene! We had often met and embraced each other on this very spot in all the warm affection of youthful lovers, and at every meeting renewed our pledge of love, which had already been kindled into enthusiasm. This evening we met again, and for the last time. With a tremulous voice, 1 a told her tale of sorrow,
and leaning her head on my bosom, while her beautiful auburn tresses partly covered her face, she gave vent to her feelings in a flood of tears, which told in deepest anguish, the blasted hopes and the withering blight that were about to extinguish her dreams of future bliss, and throw the gloomy pall of disappointment over the unconsummated happiness of coming years. One hour more, and we parted in doubtful expectation of ever seeing each other again. The cause of our separation, dear reader, must, with you and me, remain a secret forever. We have never seen each other since the memorable night on which we took the last sad adieu. Years have passed away, and have witnessed the untold anguish of her heart in becoming, by an act of imprudence, the bosom companion of a young man who was first a moderate drinker, but soon threw off restraint, and became a wretched inebriate. The garland of roses which virtue, morality pnd religion had been weaving to decorate the nuptial hour, was soon after torn from her brow by the demon of intemperance, and all her brilliant prospects for future life entombed beneath the wreck of hope's disappointed career.
No. 2. I Lavgh and set them Flyivg.— The Maintopmari's Deathbed. 61
"Scenes of wo and scenes of pleasure,
Scenes of wo and scenes of pleasure,
Harmony, N. J., May, 1842. * * *.
[To be concluded in next No.l
I LAUGH AND SET THEM PLYING.
And droop their heads with sorrow;
1 know they'll leave to-morrow.
My heart is light to match it;
I lajigh the while I patch it.
I've Se&jksome elves, who call themselves
My friends in summer weather,
AsNgjnds would blow a feather.
(The rascals, who would heed 'em?)
If false when most you- need 'em?
I've seen some rich in worldly gear,
With gladness never shining.
For all their gold and sorrow;
Can neither buy nor borrow.
And still, as sorrows come to me,
(As sorrows sometimes will come,)
Is bidding them right welcome.
They're used to sobs and sighing;
Is sure to set them flying.
From the London Keepsake for 1842.
THE MAINTOPMAN'S DEATH-BED.
BY EDWARD HOWARD.
The assistant-surgeon, and the overgrown and womanish-looking youth who tended upon the afflicted, were the only persons in the sick-bay, excepting the departing seaman, John Rockwood. The evening breezes dallied genily with the white and extended sails, and marie a melancholy music, peculiarly their own, among the tightened and wellstretched standing and running rigging. The sounds from these rough and noble harpstrings might, fancy-aided, have been thought to breathe a requiem of the most soothing melody to the dying maintopman.
There was that awful hush throughout the populous ship which, though not absolute silence, might be said to be something more still. The low moaning of the gentle winds, the faint splashing of the waves, and the careful tread of the few officers who were moving about, indicated that life and action still existed, but existed with a subdued solemnity, well befitting the quiet death-bed of the humble and the good.
The hardy and stalwart seamen were at quarters, and they whispered to each other in sorrowful accents that their shipmate was "goins; aloft," was "under weigh for the right place," had "trippled his anchor for glory," and in many other sea-taught and quaint expressions intimated their conviction that he "wasdown in the good behavior list," and had secured "a good berth" where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary find rest.
The men had been mustered, whilst the slanting sunbeams streamed through the port-holes upon their glistening cutlasses: all the dreadful appurtenances belonging to " glorious war" had been reported ready tor action, and secured for the night, and Captain Dabricourt was on the point of ordering the first lieutenant to "beat the retreat," when the assistant-surgeon walked slowly and lightly across the quarter deck, and whispered the surgeon, who approached the captain, and communicated with him in a low tone.
The commnnder of the Majestic bowed his head sorrowfully at this information, and approaching the break of the quarter-deck, commanded, in a subdued tone of voice, that the boatswain's-mntes should pass the word fore and aft, for the men to disperse themselves quietly. One man on board was to hear no more the cheerful rattle of "doubling drum."
Attended by the surgeon and his assistant, Captain Dabricourt proceeded to the sickbay, and was soon standing near the ham
mock, where swung, on his death-bed, the: honest and once blythe maintopman, John Rockwood.
There was no chaplain on board. At the time of which we are speaking, there were, at most, but three or four clergymen dispersed among many ships, and it was seldom that a single cruizer was so fortunate as to possess one. As Captain Dabricourt stood over the dying man, gazing wistfully in the wan countenance beneath him, he held open the prayer book at the office of the visitation of the sick.
"Is he rational enough to benefit by divine consolation?" said the captain, addressing the surgeon.
"I hardly know, Captain Dabricourt.— The poor fellow fancies that he is overlooking a party of agricultural laborers who are mowing down the grass in the green fields of his native village. He is very restless. Listen!"
"The scythes want sharpening, lubbers all!" murmured Rockwood. "See the waving grass rises again fast—fast as they sweep it down. A ropeyarn for such mowers! They do no more than the summer wind as it sweeps over the fields; there—there—there!" and he pointed to the dancing waves, all green and joyous, which rose and fell not unlike the bending and rising grass in a meadow ready for the scythe.
Rockwood was then silent for a space, gazing intently through the port-hole upon the sea, and feebly nodding his head and waving his attenuated hand to the motion of the waters. "Yes," he continued, "1 know that I am very ill, and it is terrible to die here, away from my gallant ship, and my jolly, jolly messmates. I always hoped to be buried in the cool blue seas, a thousand fathoms down, below all the sharks. What a quiet, roomy, pleasant grave! No mould, no dirt, no filthy worms. But now, poor Jack will be huddled into the church-yard, among the bones of a parcel of shore-going sinners, to rot in a six feet deep grave. How I hate that rotting! Mow away, mow away, ye lubbers! You see the grass is up again before ye have time to bring your scythes round."
An expressive look passed between the captain and the surgeon, which plainly indicated that they thought the poor fellow in extremity, and that they ought not to pray with, but for him. The captain then commenced, with a solemn voice, reading the prayers for the sick at the point of departure. When he came to the words—" We humbly commend the soul of this thy servant, our dear brother," the sailor rallied at the word brother amazingly, for very strongly had the captain emphasized it.
"Brother! my brother! Where is he ?—
and where am I? No, no, no—your honor: you are not my brother:" and he made an abortive effort to the accustomed pluck at the forelock—the mark of deference to his commander; "I know better nor that: you are my captain—God bless you, sir."
"Your brother—your friend and brother, believe it;" said the captain, placing much stress upon the words "your friend and brother!"
"I cannot very well make out my bearings and distance," said Rockwood, hesitatingly, and with a very feeble voice. "I seem to be in two places at once—in my own village and my aunt's room, looking out upon the half-yearly parish land; and yet, things are about me that could only be on board ship. I am sure I've had a methody parson praying with me the last two glasses; and what vexes me is, that I, a thorough seaman, who have always done a seaman's duty, should be buried in a dirty grave ashore!" This was uttered with many interruptions, yet the meaning was distinct.
"John Rockwood," said the captain, "I never, purposely, deceived any one. Collect yourself, my good friend. Believe it, that you are now very dangerously ill, on board his majesty's ship Majestic."
"In deep sea, and in* bjue waterV asked the poor man, anxiously."
"The water blue as midnight—the depth unfathomable—we have no soundings."
Then, after a pause, the sailor said, in a very low,' yet firm voice—" I am ready—aye —ready l'1>*-**
"Then turn your thoughts with me to your Maker," replied Captain Dabricourt.— He then read the necessary praye#j^i w hich it was evidert that the dcparrfljgSLan attended devoutly, as, when the office was finished, he appeared to lapse iuto.4&nsciousness; those that were about him prepared to depart; his embrowned and now bony fingers were uplifted, and he was perfectly heard to ask—" Have I done my duty?"
"Gallantly, nobly, bravely—always—always !" said Captain Dabricourt, with a voice trembling with emotion.
"Alow and aloft—alow and aloft! Hurrah!" flow faint, how pitiable was that dying shout. It was the last sound uttered by John Rockwood, the maintopman.
In the middle-watch, two of his messmates were assisting the soil-maker in sewing John up in a hammock, chaunting, in a low voice, the simple dirge—'' He's gone, what a hearty good fellow!"
"Give him a double allowance of shot," said one; "'cause as how, poor fellow, he had a notion that the deeper he went, it was more becoming to a regular out and out sailor. But it's my notion, that seeing as if we docs
our duty, it won't signify where we start from, when we are all mustered at the last day. We shall all be in time, depend on't!"
"I think so, too," said the sail-maker.
It was a cold and bleak evening in a most severe winter. Few dared or were willing to" venture abroad. It was a time which the poor will not soon forget.
In a most miserable and shattered tenement, somewhat remote from any habitation, there then resided an aged widow, all alone, and yet not alone.
During the weary day, in her excessive weakness, she had been unable to step beyond her door stone, or to communicate her wants to any friend. Her last morsel of bread had been long since consumed, and none heeded her destitution. She sat at evening by her small fire, half famished with hunger, from exhaustion, unable to sleep—preparing to meet her dreadful fate from which she knew not how she should be spared.
She prayed that morning, "Give me this day my daily bread;" but the shadows of evening had descended upon her, and her prayer had not been answered.
While such thoughts were passing through her weary mind, she heard the door suddenly open and shut again, and found deposited in her entry, by an unknown ^and, a basket crowded with all those articles of comfortable food, which had the sweetness of manna to her.
What were her feelings on that night God only knows! But they were such as rise up to Him—the Great Deliverer and Provider— from ten thousand hearts every day.
Many days elapsed before the widow learnt through what messenger God had sent to her that timely aid. It was at the impulse of a little child, who, on that dismal night, seated at the cheerful fireside of her home, was led to express the generous wish that the poor widow, whom she had sometimes visited, could share some of her numerous comforts and cheer. Her parents followed out the benevolent suggestion; and a servant was soon despatched to her mean abode, with a plentiful supply.
What a beautiful glimpse of the chain of causes, all fastened at the throne of God! An angel, with noiseless wing came down, stirred the peaceful breast of the child, and with no pomp or circumstance of the outward miracle, the widow's prayer was answered.— The Watchtower.
Written for the Ladies' Garland.
HEAVEN AND EARTH.
BY JAMES LUMBAKD.
Earth has sunshine, blight and shade,
But in those bright, celestial bowers,
Here clouds with aspect drear and cold,
But one eternal sunshine pours
The loveliest of earth depart—
The dwellers in yon heavenly clime,
Vtica, JV. Y., 1843.
Surprises are like misfortunes or herrings —they rarely come single.