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my private opinion every mother's son of them will lie at any time rather than confess ignorance.
- I have a kind of dread, rather than hatred, of persons with a large excess of vitality ; great feeders, great laughers, great story-tellers, who come sweeping over their company with a huge tidal wave of animal spirits and boisterous merriment. I have pretty good spirits myself, and enjoy a little mild pleasantry, but I am oppressed and extinguished by these great lusty, noisy creatures, and feel as if I were a mute at a funeral when they get into full blast.
- I cannot get along much better with those drooping, languid people, whose vitality falls short as much as that of the others is in excess. I have not life enough for two; I wish I had. It is not very enlivening to meet a fellow-creature whose expression and accents say, “You are the hair that breaks the camel's back of my endurance, you are the last drop that makes my cup of woe run over ”; persons whose heads drop on one side like those of toothless infants, whose voices recall the tones in which our old snuffling choir used to wail out the verses of
“ Life is the time to serve the Lord.”
- There is another style which does not captivate me. I recognize an attempt at the grand manner now and then, in persons who are well enough in their way, but of no particular importance, socially or otherwise. Some family tradition of wealth or distinction is apt to be at the bottom of it, and it survives all the advantages that used to set it off. I like family pride as well as my neighbors, and respect the high born fellow-citizen whose progenitors have not worked in their shirt-sleeves for the last two generations full as much as I ought to. But grand-père oblige; a person with a known grandfather is too distinguished to find it necessary to put on airs. The few Royal Princes I have happened to know were very easy people to get along with, and had not half the social knee-action I have often seen in the collapsed dowagers who lifted their eyebrows at me in my earlier years.
My heart does not warm as it should do towards the persons, not intimates, who are al. ways too glad to see me when we meet by accident, and discover all at once that they have a vast deal to unbosom themselves of to me.
There is one blameless person whom I can. not love and have no excuse for hating. It is
the innocent fellow-creature, otherwise inoffensive to me, whom I find I have involuntarily joined on turning a corner. I suppose the Mississippi, which was flowing quietly along, minding its own business, hates the Missouri for coming into it all at once with its muddy stream. I suppose the Missouri in like manner hates the Mississippi for diluting with its limpid, but insipid current the rich reminiscences of the varied soils though which its own stream has wandered. I will not com. pare myself to the clear or the turbid current, but I will own that my heart sinks when I find all of a sudden I am in for a corner con. fluence, and I cease loving my neighbor as myself until I can get away from him.-- The Poet at the Breakfast-Table.
HARRIET BEECHER STOWE.'
(BORN, 1812—DIED, 1896.)
VERY New England village, if you only
think of it, must have its do-nothing as regularly as it has its school-house or meetinghouse. Nature is alway wide awake in the matter of compensation. Work, thrift, and industry are such an incessant steam-power in Yankee life, that society would burn itself out with intense friction were there not interposed here and there the lubricating power of a decided do-nothing,-a man who won't be hurried, and won't work, and will take his ease in his own way, in spite of the whole protest of his neighborhood to the contrary. And there is on the face of the whole earth no do-nothing whose softness, idleness, general inaptitude to labor, and everlasting, universal shiftlessness can compare with that of this worthy, as found in a brisk Yankee village.
See Biographical Sketch, p. xxxiv.
Sam Lawson filled this post with ample honor in Oldtown. He was a fellow dear to the souls of all “ us boys” in the village, because, from the special nature of his position, he never had any thing more pressing to do than croon and gossip with us. He was ready to spend hours in tinkering a boy's jack-knife, or mending his skate, or start at the smallest notice to watch at a woodchuck's hole, or give incessant service in tending a dog's sprained paw. He was always on hand to go fishing with us on Saturday after. noons; and I have known him to sit hour after hour on the bank, surrounded by a troop of boys, baiting our hooks and taking off our fish. He was a soft-hearted old body, and the wrigglings and contortions of our prey used to disturb his repose so that it was a regular part of his work to kill the fish by breaking their necks when he took them from the hook.
'Why, lordy massy, boys,” he would say, “I can't bear to see no kind o' critter in torment. These 'ere pouts ain't to blame for bein' fish, and ye ought to put 'em out of their misery. Fish hes their rights as well as any of us.”
Sam was of respectable family, and not destitute of education. He was an expert in at least five or six different kinds of handicraft, in all of