صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

the sound of a whistle that I met by the way in the hands of another boy, I voluntarily offered him all my money for one. I then came home, and went whistling all over the house, much pleased with my whistle, but disturbing all the family. My brothers and sisters and cousins, understanding the bargain I had made, told me I had given four times as much for it as it was worth. This put me in mind what good things I might have bought with the rest of my money: and they laughed at me so much for my folly, that I cried with vexation; and the reflection gave me more chagrin than the whistle gave me pleasure.

This, however, was afterwards of use to me, the impression continuing on my mind : so that often, when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary thing, I said to myself, Don't give too much for the whistle ; and so I saved my money.

As I grew up, came into the world, and observed the actions of men, I thought I met with many, very many, who gave too much for the whistle.

When I saw any one too ambitious of court-favor, sacrificing his time in attendance at levees, his repose, his liberty, his virtue, and perhaps his friends, to attain it, I have said to myself, This man gives too much for his whistle.

When I saw another fond of popularity, constantly employing himself in political bustles, neglecting his own affairs, and ruining them by that neglect, He pays, indeed, says I, too much for his whistle.

If I knew a miser who gave up every kind of comfortable living, all the pleasure of doing good to others, all the esteem of his fellow-citizens, and the joys of benevolent friendship, for the sake of accumulating wealth, Poor man, says I, you do, indeed, pay too much for your whistle.

When I meet a man of pleasure sacrificing every laudable improvement of the mind or of his fortune to mere corporeal sensations, Mistaken man, says I, you are providing pain for yourself instead of pleasure: you give too much for your whistle.

If I see one fond of fine clothes, fine furniture, fine equipages (all above his fortune), for which he contracts debts, and ends his career in prison, Alas! says I, he has paid dear, very dear, for his whistle.

When I see a beautiful, sweet-tempered girl married to an illnatured brute of a husband, What a pity it is, says I, that she has paid so much for a whistle !

In short, I conceived that a great part of the miseries of mankind were brought upon them by the false estimates they had made of the value of things, and by their giving too much for their whistles.

TURNING THE GRINDSTONE.

WHEN I was a little boy, I remember one cold winter's morning I was accosted by a smiling man with an ax on his shoulder. My pretty boy,” said he, “ has your father a grindstone ? ” —

Yes, sir,” said 1. “ You are a fine little fellow," said he: “ will you let me grind my ax on it?” Pleased with the compliment of * Fine little fellow!” “Oh, yes, sir!” I answered : “it is down in the shop.” — “And will you, my man,” said he, patting me on the head, “get me a little hot water?” How could I refuse? I ran, and soon brought a kettleful. “How old are you ? and what's your name?” continued he, without waiting for a reply. “I am sure you are one of the finest lads that ever I have seen : will you just turn a few minutes for me?"

Tickled with the flattery, like a little fool, I went to work; and bitterly did I rue the day. It was a new ax; and I toiled and tugged till I was almost tired to death. The school-bell rang, and I could not get away: my hands were blistered; and the ax was not half ground. At length, however, it was sharpened ; and the man turned to me with, “Now, you little rascal, you've played truant: scud to the school, or you'll buy it!”—“Alas !” thought I, “it is hard enough to turn a grindstone this cold day; but now to be called a little rascal is too much."

It sank deep in my mind; and often have I thought of it since. When I see a merchant over-polite to his customers, begging them to take a little brandy, and throwing his goods on the counter, thinks I, “ That man has an ax to grind.” When I see a man flattering the people, making great professions of attachment to liberty, who is in private life a tyrant, methinks, “ Look out, good people ! that fellow would set you turning grindstones.”

When I see a man hoisted into office by party-spirit, without a single qualification to render him either respectable or useful, “ Alas," methinks, " deluded people! you are doomed for a season to turn the grindstone for a booby."

OLIVER GOLDSMITH.

1728-1774.

The kind-hearted, genial author of “The Vicar of Wakefield," “ The Deserted Village,

," “ The Traveler," and the two comedies, " The Good-natured Man" and "She Stoops to Conquer," " Histories of England, Greece, and Rome," and "The Earth and Animated Nature.” Everybody loves Goldsmith and Irving.

THE DESERTED VILLAGE. Sweet Auburn, loveliest village of the plain ! Where health and plenty cheered the laboring swain; Where smiling Spring its earliest visit paid, And parting Summer's lingering blooms delayed, Dear lovely bowers of innocence and ease, Seats of my youth, when every sport could please, How often have I loitered o'er thy green, Where humble happiness endeared each scene! How often have I paused on every charm ! The sheltered cot; the cultivated farm; The never-failing brook; the busy mill; The decent church that topt the neighboring hill; The hawthorn-bush, with seats beneath the shade For talking age and whispering lovers made. How often have I blessed the coming day When toil remitting lent its turn to play, And all the village train, from labor free, Led up their sports beneath the spreading tree, While many a pastime circled in the shade, The young contending as the old surveyed, And many a gambol frolicked o'er the ground, And sleights of art and feats of strength went round! And still

, as each repeated pleasure tired,
Succeeding sports the mirthful band inspired, -
The dancing pair that simply sought renown
By holding out to tire each other down;
The swain, mistrustless of his smutted face,
While secret laughter tittered round the place ;
The bashful virgin's sidelong looks of love;
The matron’s glance that would those looks reprove.
These were thy charms, sweet village! sports like these,
With sweet succession, taught even toil to please.
These round thy bowers their cheerful influence shed;
These were thy charms, — but all these charms are fled.

Sweet smiling village, loveliest of the lawn!
Thy sports are fled, and all thy charms withdrawn.
Amidst thy bowers the tyrant's hand is seen,
And desolation saddens all thy green:
One only master grasps the whole domain,
And half a tillage stints thy smiling plain.
No more thy glassy brook reflects the day,
But, choked with sedges, works its weary way.
Along thy glades, a solitary guest,
The hollow-sounding bittern guards its nest;
Amidst thy desert-walks the lapwing flies,
And tires their echoes with unvaried cries;
Sunk are thy bowers in shapeless ruin all;
And the long grass o'ertops the moldering wall;
And trembling, shrinking from the spoiler's hand,
Far, far away, thy children leave the land.

[graphic]

Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates and men decay :
Princes and lords may flourish or may fade,
(A breath can make them, as a breath has made ;)
But a bold peasantry, their country's pride,
When once destroyed, can never be supplied.

A time there was, ere England's griets began,
When every rood of ground maintained its man:
For him light Labor spread her wholesome store,
Just gave what life required, but gave no more;
His best companions, innocence and health;
And his best riches, ignorance of wealth.

But times are altered: Trade's unfeeling train
Usurp the land, and dispossess the swain.
Along the lawn where scattered hamlets rose,
Unwieldy wealth and cumbrous pomp repose,
And every want to luxury allied,
And every pang that folly pays to pride.
Those gentle hours that Plenty bade to bloom ;
Those calm desires that asked but little room ;
Those healthful sports that graced the peaceful scene,
Lived in each look, and brightened all the green,
These, far departing, seek a kinder shore;
And rural mirth and manners are no more.

Sweet Auburn, parent of the blissful hour!
Thy glades forlorn confess the tyrant's power.
Here as I take my solitary rounds
Amidst thy tangling walks and ruined grounds,
And, many a year elapsed, return to view
Where once the cottage stood, the hawthorn grew,
Remembrance wakes with all her busy train,
Swells at my breast, and turns the past to pain.

In all my wanderings round this world of care,
In all my griefs, — and God has given my share,
I still had hopes, my latest hours to crown,
Amidst these humble bowers to lay me down;
To husband out life's taper at the close,
And keep the flame from wasting by repose.
I still had hopes, for pride attends us still,
Amidst the swains to show my book-learned skill ;
Around my fire an evening group to draw,
And tell of all I felt and all I saw :
And as a hare, whom hounds and horns pursue,
Pants for the place from whence at first she flew,
I still had hopes, my long vexations past,
Here to return, and die at home at last.

O blest retirement, friend to life's decline,
Retreat from cares, that never must be mine!
How blest is he who crowns, in shades like these,
A youth of labor with an age of ease;
Who quits a world where strong tempations try,
And, since 'tis hard to combat, learns to fly!

[ocr errors]

For hiin no wretches, born to work and weep,
Explore the mine, or tempt the dangerous deep;
No surly porter stands in guilty state
To spurn imploring Famine from the gate :
But on he moves to meet his latter end,
Angels around befriending Virtue's friend;
Sinks to the grave with unperceived decay,
While Resignation gently slopes the way;
And, all his prospects brightening to the last,
His heaven commences ere the world be passed.

Sweet was the sound, when oft, at evening's close,
Up yonder hill the village murmur rose!
There as I passed with careless steps and slow,
The mingling notes came softened from below:
The swain responsive as the milk-maid sung,
The sober herd that lowed to meet their young,
The noisy geese that gabbled o'er the pool,
The playful children just let loose from school,
The watch-log's voice that bayed the whispering wind,
And the loud laugh that spoke the vacant mind, -
These all in sweet confusion sought the shade,
And filled each pause the nightingale had made.
But now the sounds of population fail ;
No cheerful murmurs fluctuate in the gale ;
No busy steps the grass-grown footway tread;
For all the blooming flush of life is fled, -
All but yon widowed, solitary thing
That feebly bends beside the plashy spring :
She, wretched matron! forced in age, for bread,
To strip the brook with mantling cresses spread,
To pick her wintry fagot from the thorn,
To seek her nightly shed, and weep till morn, –
She only left of all the harmless train,
The sad historian of the pensive plain!

Near yonder copse, where once the garden smiled, And still where many a garden-flower grows wild, — There, where a few torn shrubs the place disclose, The village preacher's modest mansion rose. A man he was to all the country dear, And passing rich with forty pounds a year. Remote from towns he ran his godly race, Nor e'er had changed, nor wished to change, his place: Unpracticed he to fawn, or seek for power, By doctrines fashioned to the varying hour; Far other aims his heart had learned to prize, More bent to raise the wretched than to rise. His house was known to all the vagrant train : He chid their wanderings, but relieved their pain. The long-remembered beggar was his guest, Whose beard, descending, swept his aged breast; The ruined spendthrift, now no longer proud, Claimed kindred there, and had his claims allowed ;

« السابقةمتابعة »