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“ These to the printer," I exclaim'd,
And, in my humorous way,
There'll be the devil to pay.”
And saw him peep within;
Was all upon the grin.
And shot from ear to ear;
I now began to hear.
The fifth, his waistband split;
And tumbled in a fit.
I watch'd that wretched man,
As funny as I can.
THE CHAMBERED NAUTILUS.
This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,
Sails the unshadow'd main,
The venturous bark that flings
And coral reefs lie bare,
Wreck'd is the ship of pearl !
And every chamber'd cell,
Before thee lies reveald, -
That spread his lustrous coil;
Still, as the spiral grew,
Built up its idle door,
Child of the wandering sea,
Cast from her lap, forlorn!
While on mine ear it rings, Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voice that sings :Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past !
Till thou at length art free,
THE TWO ARMIES.
As life's unending column pours,
Two marshall'd hosts are seen,-
That Death flows black between.
The wide-mouth'd clarion's bray,
“Our glory is to slay.”
With sad, yet watchful eyes,
That walks the clouded skies.
No blood-red pennons wave:
“ Our duty is to save.”
At Honor's trumpet-call,
In Glory's arms they fall.
No stirring battle-cry;
Each answers, “ Here am I!”
The builder's marble piles,
Through long cathedral aisles.
That floods the lonely graves,
In flowery-foaming waves.
And angels wait above,
Each falling tear of Love.
Though from the Hero's bleeding breast
Her pulses Freedom drew,
Sprang from that scarlet dew,-
Till all their scars are shown,
To sit beside the Throne !
THE FRONT AND SIDE DOORS.
Every person's feelings have a front-door and a side-door by which they may be entered. The front-door is on the street. Some keep it always open; some keep it latched; some, locked; some, bolted,—with a chain that will let you peep in, but not get in; and some nail it up, so that nothing can pass its threshold. This front-door leads into a passage which opens into an ante-room, and this into the interior apartments. The sidedoor opens at once into the sacred chambers.
There is almost always at least one key to this side-door. This is carried for years hidden in a mother's bosom. Fathers, brothers, sisters, and friends, often, but by no means so universally, have duplicates of it. The wedding-ring conveys a right to one; alas, if none is given with it!
Be very careful to whom you trust one of these keys of the sidedoor. The fact of possessing one renders those even who are dear to you very terrible at times. You can keep the world out from your front-door, or receive visitors only when you are ready for them; but those of your own flesh and blood, or of certain grades of intimacy, can come in at the side-door, if they will, at any hour and in any mood. Some of them have a scale of your whole nervous system, and can play all the gamut of your sensibilities in semitones,-touching the naked nerve-pulps as a pianist strikes the keys of his instrument. I am satisfied that there are as great masters of this nerve-playing as Vieuxtemps or Thalberg in their lines of performance. Married life is the school in which the most accomplished artists in this department are found. A delicate woman is the best instrument; she has such a magnificent compass of sensibilities !
From the deep inward moan which follows pressure on the great nerves of right, to the sharp cry as the filaments of taste are struck with a crashing sweep, is a range which no other instrument possesses.
A few exercises on it daily at home fit a man wonderfully for his habitual labors, and refresh him immensely as he returns from them. No stranger can get a great many notes of torture out of a human soul : it takes one that knows it well,-parent, child, brother, sister, intimate. Be very careful to whom you give a side-door key ; too many have them already.
OLD AGE AND THE PROFESSOR.
Old Age, this is Mr. Professor; Mr. Professor, this is Old Age.
Old Age.- Mr. Professor, I hope to see you well. I have known you for some time, though I think you did not know me. Shall we walk down the street together?
Professor, (drawing back a little.)—We can talk more quietly, perhaps, in my study. Will you tell me how it is you seem to be acquainted with everybody you are introduced to, though he evidently considers you an entire stranger?
oid Age.—I make it a rule never to force myself upon a person's recognition until I have known him at least five years.
Professor.—Do you mean to say that you have known me so long as that ?
Old Age.--I do. I left my card on you longer ago than that, but I am afraid you never read it; yet I see you have it with you.
old Age.—There, between your eyebrows,—three straight lines running up and down; all the probate courts know that token,—“ Old Age, his mark.” Put your forefinger on the inner end of one eyebrow, and your middle finger on the inner end of the other eyebrow; now separate the fingers, and you will smooth out my sign manual ; that's the way you used to look before I left my card on you.
Professor. —What message do people generally send back when you first call on them?
Old Age.-Not at home. Then I leave a card and go. Next year I call; get the same answer ; leave another card. So for five or six-sometimes ten-years or more. At last, if they don't let me in, I break in through the front door or the windows.
We talked together in this way some time. Then Old Age said again,-Come, let us walk down the street together,—and offered me a cane, an eye-glass, a tippet, and a pair of over-shoes. —No, much obliged to you, said l. I don't want those things, and I had a little rather talk with you here, privately, in my study. So I dressed myself up in a jaunty way and walked out alone ;got a fall, caught a cold, was laid up with a lumbago, and had time to think over this whole matter.
Our brains are seventy-year clocks. The Angel of Life winds them up once for all, then closes the case, and gives the key into the hands of the Angel of the Resurrection.
Tic-tac! tic-tac ! go the wheels of thought; our will cannot stop them; they cannot stop themselves; sleep cannot still them; madness only makes them go faster ; death alone can break into the case, and, seizing the ever-swinging pendulum, which we call the heart, silence at last the clicking of the terrible escapement we have carried so long beneath our wrinkled foreheads.
THE SEA-SHORE AND THE MOUNTAINS.
I have lived by the sea-shore and by the mountains. No, I am not going to say which is best. The one where your place is is the best for you. But this difference there is : you can domesticate mountains, but the sea is feræ naturæ.
have hut, or know the owner of one, on the mountain-side ; you see a light half-way up its ascent in the evening, and you know there is a home, and you might share it. You have noted certain trees, perhaps ; you know the particular zone where the hemlocks look so black in October, when the maples and beeches have faded. All its reliefs and intaglios have electrotyped themselves in the medallions that hang round the walls of your memory's chamber. The sea remembers nothing. It is feline. It licks your feet,-its huge flanks purr very pleasantly for you; but it will crack your bones and eat you, for all that, and wipe the crimsoned foam from its jaws as if nothing had happened. The mountains give their lost children berries and water; the sea mocks their thirst and lets them die. The mountains have a grand, stupid, lovable tranquillity; the sea has a fascinating, treacherous intelligence. The mountains lie about like huge ruminants, their broad backs awful to look upon, but safe to handle. The sea smooths its silver scales until you cannot see their joints,—but their shining is that of a snake's belly, after all. In deeper suggestiveness I find as great a difference. The mountains dwarf mankind and foreshorten the procession of its long generations. The sea drowns out humanity and time; it has no sympathy with either; for it belongs to eternity, and of that it sings its monotonous song for ever and ever.
Yet I should love to have a little box by the sea-shore. I should love to gaze out on the wild feline element from a front window of my own, just as I should love to look on a caged panther, and see it stretch its shining length, and then curl over and lap its smooth sides, and by-and-by begin to lash itself into rage, and show its white teeth, and spring at its bars, and howl the of its mad, but, to me, harmless fury.