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poet, Edgar Allen Poe, is natural and correct, when, in his celebrated
“The Raven," he makes this bird
"Speak ench words as- -- Nevermore !!! He is also cunning, thievish, and full of tricks. When tamed he will steal the ladies' scissors from the open window, or take away to his nest a tea-spoon, pen-knife, or ring.
The raven builds its nest in ancient trees, along the rocky precipice, or in old towers. It lays five or six eggs of a pale gree, color, marked with small brownish spots. The Raven is long lived. Hesiod says that he lives nine times as long as
This may be an extreme assertion; they have, however, been known to reach near one hundred years.
Appropriately does the poet make one, perched upon a limb, speak to a spectator of his own years past and to come, thus :
When I was hatched, my father set this tree,
4 century after thou hast ceased to be." Let us attend now to the sacred history of this bird. It is frequently referred to in the Bible; and very interesting truths are represented and illustrated by it.
It is first mentioned in the account of the flood. After the waters had been forty days upon the earth and Noah was desirous of knowing whether there was dry land any where, he “gent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth."
from off the earth." Gen. 8. 7. This bird was. no doubt chosen on account of its sagacity. It could almost understand what its master had in view in sending it forth from the ark. Its flying to and fro, till the waters were dried up, without returning to the ark, is also characteristic; for this bird is exceedingly fond of exercise, and does not grow weary in flight.
In Levit. 11. 15, and Deut. 14. 14, it is pronounced unclean; and the Jews are forbidden to eat its fesh. The reason of this prohibition is, no doubt, to be found in its mode of life. It is à glutton in its habits. Besides this it feeds upon unclean food; thus its flesh is rendered unsavory and unwholesome.
This bird is celebrated in the history of the prophet Elijah. When his enemies under the direction of the furious Ahab, pressed closely upon this good man, the Lord said to him, * Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. 'And it shall be that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there. And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening, and he drank of the brook.” 1 Kings 17. 3—7.
Some have endeavored to explain away this beautiful and touching miracle, or at least to reduce it to a mere natural occurrence. It has been said that the original word may be rendered merchants or Arabs, or the inhabitants of the city Arbo. But why should there be this shifting of the sense of a plain passage; especially when it renders no service to the case. For whether is easier for God, to command the ravens, or the Arabs, to feed his prophet?
It has also been attempted to explain away the miracle by recourse to the habits of this bird. Thus : It had its nest by the brook Cherith-to this place it bore food for its own youngthe prophet took advantage of the natural habits of the bird, and supplied his wants with that food which was designed for the young ravens! Thus does a rationalistic spirit seek to drag down the sublime miracles of the scriptures into the mere sphere and order of nature; and while it seeks to make the holy oracles palatable to faithless human reason, it robs them of their beauty and their power.
They were, not men, but veritable ravens, which fed the venerable prophet. It is not by a trick played on irrational birds! but by a beautiful and touching miracle, that God provided food for his faithful servant. This is the sense of the Jewish and Christian church. This is, moreover, not the only place in scripture when God commands irrational creatures to do his will—the locusts, the serpent, the fish—thus showing that he is Lord over all, able to make them all obedient to his holy pleasure, and serviceable to the children of his love.
It was very anciently noticed, and it is confirmed by the observations of modern naturalists, that the ravens very early drive out their young ones from the nest, and thus oblige them to seek their own food, and to become early hardened to the perils and chances of a marauding life. Being thus left in a helpless and destitute condition, they gave forth signs and notes of distress. This fact explains those passages of touching beauty and tenderness in Job 38. 41, and Ps. 147. 9. provideth for the raven his food ? When his young ones cry unto God, they wander for lack of meat.” Again, “He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry. No doubt the Saviour also alludes to this fact in that beautiful passage, by which he would inspire us with an implicit trust in Providence. “ Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap: which neither have storehouse nor barn ; and God feedeth them. How much more are ye better than the fowls ?" Luke 12. 24.
The raven when he lights upon a dead body to feed upon it, always begins with the eyes ; this be regards as the most delicious part. It was customary anciently in the east to take the dead bodies of criminals who had suffered the punishment of death at the hands of the law, and cast them forth upon the open fields to be devoured by the beasts of the fields and the fowls of heaven. This mode of punishment was dreaded above all others by the orientals. Aristophanes, an old man, deprecates the punishment of being given as a banquet to ravens ; and Horace pronounces it as the last degree of degradation to be devoured by these hateful birds. This gives a fearful meaning to the saying of Solomon-Prov. 38, 17: “The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it!”How often does that course of life which ends in capital punishment, begin by disobedience and disrespect to parents! Here is a true prophecy. It is a common expression in the east, in reference to one who is leading an improper course of life: “Ah! the crows shall one day pick out thy
“Yes, the lizards shall lay their eggs in thy sockets !"
It is on account of the beautiful glossy blackness of this bird that the spouse compares the hair of her beloved to it: “His locks are bushy and black as a raven." Songs 5, 11.
The raven was regarded by the orientals as an ominous bird. According as he flew, or croaked, he waked distressful forebodings in the bosoms of men. From his habits of preference to live amid old ruins, or in gray and dreary towers, gloomy associations associated themselves with this bird. Thus the poet:
“Thin is thy plumage, death is in thy croak;
Raven, come down from that majestic oak." Hence the prophet Isaiah, chap. 34, 11, in speaking of the desolations which should come upon Idumea, says, “The owl also and the raven shall dwell in it."
THE RICH POOR MAN.
BY REV. S. H. REID.
Society is full of strange things. We sometimes look upon people who, we think, are very well off in the world, and are consequently very happy. They are surrounded with every conceivable comfort. They know no want which has not its supply. Their dress is costly and fashionable. Their fare is rich and sumptuous. And every thing which appears to the eye of sense to be necessary to make people happy in this world, they possess.
And yet do we find that these people are always happy? Do we find that their dwellings are always the abodes of contentment and peace? Do we find that their external comforts are always enjoyed to that extent to which we might suppose them to be ? Not if what we see is to be taken as an index of what really exists. And not, if the confessions of men are to be taken as an expression of their true feelings and experience!
The writer is very well acquainted with a man still living, who was once poor, very poor, but who is now very wealthy. From low beginnings and hard labor and economy, he has arisen to be the owner of large estates. He indeed possesses so much land, and has such an amount of this world's goods at his command, that it is said he does not know how rich he is. He has lands in a number of counties in the State in which he lives. He owns dwellings in cities and in towns. He has stocks in railroads, in turnpikes, and in steamboat navigation companies. There is scarcely a Bank in which he does not do business, and upon whose books his name is not to be found. In a word, his wealth knows no bounds.
One should suppose that this man is a happy man. Judging as men of the world generally judge, from what they see, one would think that such unbounded wealth, such enlarged resources of competence and pleasures, could not fail to make their possessor one of the most independent and happy beings upon the earth. In this man’s abode, adorned with all the splendor which wealth can possibly secure, and filled with the richest luxuries which nature can yield, domestic happiness might be supposed to reign without a limit. And its owner might be supposed to be the most enviable being that lives.
But, alas! for the sequel. Not every man that appears to be happy, is so in reality. A splendid exterior often conceals a wretched and miserable heart. Gilded mansions are often the abodes of domestic strife and individual wretchedness; and a smile upon the cheek is not always an evidence that a thorn is not festering in the heart.
The subject of this chapter fully confirms, in his experience, the truth of these statements. With all his wealth he is an unhappy man. His unbounded possessions carry with them corresponding cares. Day after day and night after night his mind is agitated with thoughts on business. His large investments naturally involve a vast amount of anxiety and care. And indeed the man is so tossed and torn in his mind from week to week, not even excepting the Sabbath, until he is made to confess, that the condition of many of his dependants is far more preferable than his own.
In addition to this he has his domestic trials and troubles. His children, raised up in the lap of luxury and idleness, are just as their training might be expected to make them. His daughters, rich by reputation, have attracted suitors perfectly in keeping with their own proud and haughty natures. And these, in union with their idle and extravagant wives, have repeatedly rendered it necessary for the old man' to interfere with his purse, and save the youngsters' from a disgraceful arrest for debt.
And besides all this, the man's own conscience is powerfully at work, lashing him with its strokes, until he is made to writhe under its influence. “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of heaven," is a sentiment that gives him a great deal of uneasiness. Thoughts of a future world and an impending retribution, are very unwelcome to his mind. It is even said that he is unwilling to retire at night to his bed, unless some attendant keeps him company. And when sickness interrupts his worldliness and compels him to think of death, those who witness his condition assure us, that he trembles like an aspen leaf. This, then, is a rich man! And this is the reward of over worldliness! Is such an one happy? Nay, verily! with great propriety and truthfulness may he be styled, The Rich Poor Man!
THE POOR RICH MAN.
We shift now the point of our observations; and we look out upon another class of society. We see some people who make but little stir in the world. They pass along through life, treading diligently and faithfully the even tenor of their way, without exciting any particular notice from their neighbors of passers-by. Scarcely are they known beyond the circle in which they live, and even here they are generally considered