Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

CEMETERY of ædication.” Cemetery indeed! The blind leading the blind, with the ancient result; the dead burying their dead.

9. Now not greater is the change we made from that low, small, stifling, gloomy, mephitic room, into the glorious open air,—the loch lying asleep in the sun, and telling over again on its placid face, as in a dream, every hill and cloud, and birch and pine, and passing bird and cradled boat; the Black Wood of Rannoch standing in the midst of its own darkness; and far off in the clear ether, as in another and a better world, the Shepherds of Etive pointing, like ghosts at noonday, to the weird shadows of Glencoe ;-not greater was this change than is that from the dingy, oppressive, weary "cemetery" of mere word-knowledge to the open air,

, the light and liberty, the divine infinity and richness of Nature and her teaching.

JOHN BROWN, M. D.

XCIX.—THE FACE AGAINST THE PANE.

I.

M

ABEL, little Mabel,

With face against the pane,
Looks out across the night
And sees the Beacon Light

A-trembling in the rain.
She hears the sea-birds screech,
And the breakers on the beach

Making moan, making moan.
And the wind about the eaves
Of the cottage sobs and grieves;
And the willow-tree is blown

To and fro, to and fro,
Till it seems like some old crone
Standing out there all alone,

With her woe!
Wringing, as she stands,
Her gaunt and palsied hands,

While Mabel, timid Mabel,

With face against the pane, Looks out across the night, And sees the Beacon Light

A-trembling in the rain.

II.

Set the table, maiden Mabel,

And make the cabin warm;
Your little fisher-lover

Is out there in the storm,
And your father-you are weeping!

O Mabel, timid Mabel,

Go, spread the supper-table, And set the tea a-steeping. Your lover's heart is brave,

His boat is stanch and tight; And your father knows the perilous reef

That makes the water white. -But Mabel, Mabel darling,

With face against the pane, Looks out across the night

At the Beacon in the rain.

III.

The heavens are veined with fire!

And the thunder, how it rolls ! In the lullings of the storm

The solemn church-bell tolls

For lost souls !
But no sexton sounds the knell

In that belfry old and high ;
Unseen fingers sway the bell

As the wind goes tearing by! How it tolls for the souls

Of the sailors on the sea !
God pity them, God pity them,

Wherever they may be!
Gorl pity wives and sweethearts

Who wait and wait in vain!
And pity little Mabel,

With face against the pane.

IV.

A boom!—the Lighthouse gun!

(How its echo rolls and rolls !)
'T is to warn the home-bound ships

Off the shoals !
See! a rocket cleaves the sky

From the Fort—a shaft of light!
See! it fades, and, fading, leaves

Golden furrows on the night!

V.

What made Mabel's cheek so pale ?

What made Mabel's lips so white ? Did she see the helpless sail

That, tossing here and there,

Like a feather in the air, Went down and out of sight? Down, down, and out of sight! O, watch no more, no more,

With face against the pane;
You cannot see the men that drown
By the Beacon in the rain !

VI.
From a shoal of richest rubies

Breaks the morning clear and cold; And the angel on the village spire,

Frost-touched, is bright as gold.
Four ancient fishermen,

In the pleasant autumn air,
Come toiling up the sands,
With something in their hands,
Two bodies stark and white,
Ah, so ghastly in the light,

With sea-weed in their hair!

VII.

O ancient fishermen,

Go up to yonder cot! You'll find a little child,

With face against the pane, Who looks toward the beach,

And, looking, sees it not.

She will never watch again!

Never watch and weep at night!
For those pretty, saintly eyes
Look beyond the stormy skies,
And they see the Beacon Light.

T. B. ALDRICH.

C.-SELF-IGNORANCE.

O ,

F all kinds of ignorance, that which is the most

strange, and, in so far as it is voluntary, the most culpable, is our ignorance of self. For not only is the subject in this case that which might be expected to possess for us the greatest interest, but it is the one concerning which we have amplest facilities and opportunities of information.

2. Who of us would not think it a strange and unaccountable story, could it be told of any man now present, that for years he had harbored under his roof a guest whose face he had never seen—a constant inmate of his home, who was yet to him, altogether unknown? It is no supposition, however, but an unquestionable fact, that to not a few of us, from the first moment of existence there has been present, not beneath the roof, but within the breast, a mysterious resident, an inseparable companion, nearer to us than friend or brother, yet of whom after all we know little or nothing.

3. What man of intelligence amongst us would not be ashamed to have had in his possession for years some rare or universally admired volume with its leaves uncut? or to be the proprietor of a repository filled with the most exquisite productions of genius, and the rarest specimens in science and art, which yet he himself never thought of entering? Yet surely no book so worthy of perusal, no chamber containing objects of study so curious, so replete with interest for us, as that which seldom or never attracts our observation—the book, the chamber of our own hearts.

4. We sometimes reproach with folly those persons who have traveled far and seen much of distant countries, and yet have been content to remain comparatively unacquainted with their own. But how venial such folly, compared with that of ranging over all other departments of knowledge, going abroad with perpetual inquisitiveness over earth nd sea and sky, whilst there is a little world within the breast which is still to us an unexplored region !

5. Other scenes and objects we can study only at intervals: they are not always accessible, or they can be reached only by long and laborious journeys; but the bridge of consciousness is soon crossed—we have but to close the eye and withdraw the thoughts from the world without, in order at any moment to wander through the scenes and explore the phenomena of the still more wondrous world within.

6. To examine other objects, delicate and elaborate instruments are often necessary. The researches of the astronomer, the botanist, the chemist, can be prosecuted only by means of rare and costly apparatus; but the power of reflection—that faculty more wondrous than any mechanism which art has ever fashioned-is an instrument possessed by all: the poorest and most illiterate, alike with the most cultured and refined, have at their command an apparatus by which to sweep the inner firmament of the soul and bring into view its manifold phenomena of thought and feeling and motive.

7. And yet with all the unequaled facilities for acquiring this sort of knowledge, can it be questioned that it is the one sort of knowledge that is most commonly neglected, and that, even among those who would disdain the imputation of ignorance in history or science or literature, there are multitudes who have never acquired the merest rudiments of the knowledge of self?

JOHN CAIRD.

« ZurückWeiter »