Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

Egæ sinking bencath incumbent Divinity, the bold personification of the waves, that leave the axle of the chariot dry, from homage to their sovereign; the monsters of the ocean, that attend him in his passage-all combine to usher in the presence of the god with appropriate magnificence and grandeur. We will just remark that the horses of Neptune, whose “ hoofs are of brass, and whose manes are of gold,” bear in this instance a strong resemblance to the steeds that conveyed Jupiter to mount Ida, in the passage above quoted; for of both Homer has said “ brass were their hoofs, their curling manes were gold.Does this fill the mind with such majesty as the vision of Saint John in the island of Patmos? “ And I saw a mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud, and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire. And he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left upon the earth, and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth, and when he had cried seven thunders uttered their voices. And the angel, that I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth, lifted

up his hand to heaven, and sware by Him that liveth forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are therein, and the earth and the things that are therein, and the sea, and the things that are therein, that time should be no longer.” We will not dim the splendor of this passage by a single comment.

From the following expression of Saint Paul, he appears to have been conversant with the Grecian poets. In his exhortation to the Athenians, he says, “ as certain of your own poets have said, in God we live, and move, and have our being," the language of Homer. The apostle, it is well known, designates the Christian warfare in the following manner.

" Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand. Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye will be enabled to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.” Now it is far from being improbable that the apostle had his eye upon the celestial armour of

[ocr errors]

Achilles in the above mentioned passage. What Homer designs as the sport of his fancy is thụs applied to purposes far more ble, and appropriated to spiritual use. The apostle seems thus to have pointed the fable of the Grecian bard, and to have disciplined his fancy to the comfort of the Christians. Many poets have attempted versions of the poetical passages of the Bible; but although this may be necessary for the purposes of social worship, it does beyond doubt impair the simplicity and majesty of the dialect. The Scriptures then speak a language not their own, which is but too often prone to captivate the taste of those, who can see no charms in beauty when disarrayed of ornament. This taste resembles that of the silly fop, who is reported to have cast an eye of cold regard on the sparkling eyes and ruddy cheeks of a beautiful nymph, and to have fallen in love with her necklace,

THE SALAD, NO. II.-FOR THE PORT FOLIO.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

SENECA, in his seventeenth epistle, severely arraigns those, who impeach nature and fortune, for their unequal dispensations toward mankind, as if it was not in the power of every one, to make or mar his own peculiar happiness. It is virtue, as the elegant moralist continues, and not an illustrious ancestry, that confers the true nobility. What is all the power of wealth, the pomp of office, or the pride of heraldry abstracted from other good? Such factitious advantages, may surely, for a while purchase the applause of the venal, extort adulation from servilc imbecility, or impose upon credulous ambition; but how short is the period of their duration, and what a multitude of vexatious embarrassments mingle the spirit of bitterness, with the luxury of their enjoyment! On the contrary, virtue imparts blessings that endure forever. It is derived from the Divinity himself; and he, who possessess it, unsullied, may claim some affinity,

with the fountain of all honour and glory. Before its lustre, the pageantry of diadems and stars and garters fade away, and are lost in oblivious shade. Philosophy looks not for pedigree. Socrates was the son of a stone-cutter and a midwife; Aristides owes his fame, not to a splendid lineage, but to his spotless character, and Zeno was presented with a golden chaplet and entrusted with the keys of the Athenian citadel, solely from the consideration of his superior integrity and justice.

My ancestor, Cadwallader Crotchet (a brief memoir of whose life I promised in this paper) could plume himself little on his descent. Ilis father was originally a poor haberdasher of Eng. lish extraction, residing in Wales; his mother was a native of the north country. It is somewhat singular, that the first and only pledge of their love, came into the world, on the twenty-second day of July 1796, the very cpoch, at which the treaty of Union was signed. All hailed this coincidence as an omen, propitious to their prosperity and advancement. Certain it is, that the wares soon after sold more briskly and at a higher price. Success stimulates avarice, and every accession of fortune excites a stronger disposition to scheme and speculate. The parents of my grandfather began to think they had remained too long supine, and contented with a condition much below mediocrity. They determined to fix their eye upon a better prospect. After framing a variety of projects, which were regularly discussed by the fire side, every night, before supper, they at last determined to embark for America. Agreeably to this resolution, all the household goods and chattels, together with the entire stock in trade were sold to the best bidder, and in the succeeding spring, the family performed their destined voyage

They settled in the ancient dominion of Virginia and assumed the profession of husbandry. Unmingled felicity has been long since, banished from the world; but when it was the portion of primeval purity, its presence was only manifested in the walks and bowers of Eden. The largest effusion of its spirit, perinitted to be still enjoyed, is found in its old retreats. The rustic life presents more blandishments than any other lot of man. If it be humble and homely, it is also honest and unsophisticated. If it be full of toil, it is likewise free froin hazard. The cultiva

1

tor of the soil, can be under no obligation, save to the great God of nature; and a dependence on Him is the sweetest liberty.

The new emigrants felt all those blessings, securely realized; and in the course of a short period, acquired a very easy competence. In the meantime my grandfather, increased in years, and discovered a sprightliness of genius, a docility of mind and benevolence of heart, seldom united in the same character. Every day added to his stock of knowledge, and matured virtue into habit. At length having attained his nineteenth year, and completed his classical studies, upon a bed of justice solemnly held, it was decided, that he should be sent to the college of William and Mary. A particular fund arising from the tolls of a small mill on the farm, and from the sweet-potato patches under his mother's jurisdiction were appropriated to defray the expenses. After a long closet lecture on economy and diligence, he was despatched to seek the benefits of Alma mater.

As soon as he had reached the favourite seat of the Muses, and matriculated, he applied himself to science with an ardour, which neither the voluptuousness of youthful fancy could abate, nor the fascination of the circean bowl betray. Nothing transported him more than to converse with Wisdom, in her most secret recesses, or wander among her delicious parterres. His retired manners, and studious mode of life soon engendered ill nature amidst his idle classmates; for the contrast imposed a scandal on them. The ladies of the city, too, exclaimed against that cold and austere philosophy, which it was not in the power of their charms to dissolve away. Thus my poor grandfather was made a butt for the coar se ribaldry of paltry jesters.--Ridiculeis infinitely worse than defamation. Its shafts may be effectually cast by imbecility itself. They are so baited, that the slightest touch infuses the most dangerous poison. The heart of this unoffending victim, filled with sensibility of the liveliest kind, was wrought up to'agony. The only solace he experienced was in the com. munication of his feelings to a fellow student, with whom the most intimate intercourse hal been cherished--Aristotle, according to Diogenes Laertius, being asked“ What is friendship?

VOL. V.

answered, ”one soul in two bodies.” Such was the friendship, which subsisted between the young collegians.

They consulted together, and it was determined, that my grandfather, should, for a while, mingle with the world, in order to dissipate the cloud of prejudice, which was rising against him. His disposition was naturally social, and he accordingly devoted a portion of time to the indulgence of it. There was something singular in the sudden change from a state of scholastic apathy, to one of merriinent and gaite de cæur; but it produced a happy effect. For he, who had been previously subject to the dislike of his own sex, and the neglect of the other, was now caressed by both. One circumstance was however seriously lamented-his heart had firmly withstood the sieges of Beauty, and seemed too firm a fortress to be reduced cither by sap oropen breach. He was then thought entirely incapable of the tender passion, and it was predicted, is he ever experienced it, that like the brother of Charles II, he would marry some deformed arid hideous Sedley, by way of penance for the misprision; or like old Pygmalion be punished with the love of a cold and lifeless statue. Hlow ofien crroncousare our judgments of each other!

My grandfather after his metamorphosis sometimes gratified his humour in playing off all the hairbrained eccentricities of the place. Among other crinkum-crankums, was the following. An election, for burgesses to the general assembly, was going forward; and a large number of freeholders had rode from the country to exercise the right of suffrage. Thcir horses, ready caparissued in all thcir habiliments, stood tied to the saine rack in the court-yard. A number of goodl-humoured wags, passing by, it was suggested, that each man should select a steed, for the purpose of proving his mettle in a race.

The hero of my story being one of the knot, thought himself highly fortunate in his choice, for he mounted a courser, that bounded and curvetted in the air, and scarcely seemed to touch the ground. IIe was in a short time very far beyond his companions, and checked the rein. It was however to no purpose. The horse was conscious of being near hoine, and inpatient to be nearer still: He dashed orard ithilir papirlity of lightning, and having arriver at his

[ocr errors]
« IndietroContinua »