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week ago, he sang the old year," with all its evanishments are jerky, zigzag, bothering. cares, to rest."
You never, so to speak, get nearer them than A neighbour's ivy overhangs part of my the ashes of their last night's camp-fire. It garden-wall
, making a rare shelter against is quite different with the snail. He proceeds, inclement skies for such of the winged by preference, in a right line, and, unless cirinsect folk as have overlived the year--a cumstances beyond his control should compel large-eyed, melancholy fly, its body ringed obliquity, he visibly apologises for digression with yellow and brown, transparent with by writing all along his path, " This is the emptiness, a thing of sad lemurine demeanour way I have gone. So conscientious is he and dreamily torpid; a tortoise-shell butter- that he cannot even bear the suspicion of fly, with wings as tattered as any Crimean dodging, but puts you up all the way a concolours, but holding here and there traces of tinuous sign-post, so that you cannot miss its sumptuous autumnal glories ; a blue-bottle him: he unwinds a bobbin as he goes to his infirm and old, hoary with anxieties, that Bower: sprinkles crumbs on the path to his moves wearily under the burden of its days.
Follow his directions and you
will And not insect folk alone. The possessive come upon the little pilgrim, either upon sparrow does not scorn the thick, close foliage the road or resting in his tracks. Unless, of of evergreen, for often as I pass down the course, some hungry thrush or blackbird has garden-path I hear little sleepy noises thrown anticipated you. But the snail seems to be out from under the eaves of the ivy. Pro- growing, whorl by whorl, under my pen. tests perhaps at my approach ; or perhaps Šo enough here to say that, in spite of the only conciliatory, apologetic intimations of contemptuous attitude of rural tradition topresence, as deprecating dispossession or dis- wards it, I find a good deal to like in this turbance. A wonderfully snug retreat it sober-sided person. And why should folkmakes too, this solid overflow of my neigh- lore always deride it? bour's green-stuff; dry, even dusty, in the
" Snail, snail, put out your horn, wettest of times; weather-proof against all the
Father and mother are dead, watering-pots of all the rain-compellers-of
Brother and sister are in the back yard,
Begging for barley bread." Odin the merciless drencher, Zeus Ombrios or Pluvial Jove, or Indra Parjanga, he who In every language in Europe there are floods the enormous Ganges, drowning even rhymed instructions for beating snails " black the crocodiles where they swim, and rolls the and blue," and apostrophising them as friendIndus, Father of Waters, swollen with the less orphans. It is very queer. However, pride of its fivefold tribute from the north, here in my garden they are safe enough for imperious to the sea.
the present. The sparrows do not understand And the snails are here too, all in a bunch, them, and as for the blue-bottle it is so much pretending to be only knobs on the wall, and occupied in pitying itself it has but little Îiving, as bears do, upon themselves.
thought for its neighbours. Now I have always held the snail in re- Has it ever occurred to you what an amazspect as a model to travellers. He is your ing experience this hibernation must be to true "old campaigner." You can never cut a blue-bottle ? Is it not, as far as the fly him off from his base, for he takes his base is concerned, the end of the world, itself suralong with him. The objective point of the viving? Where has the sun gone from out small strategist is always, more or less, on of the sky? Where too the green earth, his back. He has no lines of communication beautiful with flowers, and the grace of leafy to be harassed and to be kept open when the trees ? Where all the insect peoples, the enemy is hovering round; runs no risk of nations of winged folk? This blue-bottle being caught straggling, or without his bag. has actually outlived its year. It has seen gage, belated, or at the mercy of sudden "the greater light” founder in the snow-storm, storms. He marches with his zereba ready fields and forests shrivel up in catastrophic made for any sudden Arab on-rush, his laager frost, the air desolate of its myriads by reason for Zulu surprises. In Afghanistan you shall of bitter cold. And it is left alone. Not always find his sungum with him, in Burma another blue-bottle, so far as it knows, in all his stockade. Indeed, the forethought of this the universe! Alone, in a miserable immorcompendious little beast, with its industrious tality, of decrepitude, solitariness, and—who ambitions, is very enjoyable, I think. So too knows f-infinite chilblains. On the night is its integrity. Other nomads and gipsies that the world was overwhelmed in Arctic are sudden in their flittings, precipitate, eva- horrors, it happened to be sleeping in a keysive, and spectral. Their apparitions and hole, and so in the general overthrow of the firmament was overlooked by the destroyer In its own tiny way, then, it is very reverend, as he went, and here it is, as wretched as any this grey atom that has lasted out its epoch. of those Struldbruggs that Gulliver saw in Has it not presumptuously trespassed upon Luggnagg
a geological age to which it does not belong? Do you remember them? Gulliver imagined It is a prehistoric relic, an old-world beast them to himself as the happiest of creatures, that has lingered into the present; the Herthe sages of the cities, encyclopædias in- mogene of fies; the Nestor of blue-bottles. carnate, placed by their vast age and the as- So a happy new year to you, Master Struldsurance of perpetuity beyond every senti- brugg, and if that gout which (if I am not ment of uncharitableness, universally re- mistaken) makes your little padded feet so verenced for their immeasurable wisdom and lumpy does not go to your heart, you may beloved for their mild benevolence. And live after all—who knows 1—to see the sun then the wretchedness of the reality! Tooth- shine on the crocuses yet, and when the old less, deaf, blind, decayed, without the sense machinery inside you suddenly falls to pieces, of taste, imbecile, dead in the eye of the at every point simultaneously, like Wendell law, unable from the changes of language Holmes' Wonderful One-hoss Shay, I hope your during successive centuries to converse with inconsiderable fragments may rest, as those of their kind even if their addled minds and a patriarch should do, in peace. complete loss of memory had permitted But we have the lark with us, and the them to articulate, they crawled about in robin, and the wren, delightful birds all the enclosures in which they were kept, ob- three, and our own into the bargain. I am jects of public odium and contempt. Will no nightingale enthusiast. Just as the Emit come to this with the January blue- press of Austria comes over for the hunting, bottle? When the Spring flies are abroad so the diva of the feathered choir comes over in their glossy, vigorous youth, will it be for our May and June. It is too hot in a Struldbrugg to them ? See how infirm it is, Egypt and Palestine ; the food she prefers is how unlike its volatile and nimble kind! When scarce there. So she comes to England it creeps out to sit and warm itself in the to take advantage of our cool, deep-shaded patch of winter sunshine on the brick-wall, hollies for her nesting, and of our exquiyou may push it with your finger, and it will site English summer. As soon as her brood not take alarm. It may fall off in helpless is on the wing she flies away with them protest on to the bench below, and you can back to the East and the South, and pick it up and put it back on to the brick it who can tell ?-perhaps she tells them as fell off. What is the meaning of this apathy? she goes how perfidious Albion is, this EngPerhaps it is this—that the thing has been land of ours which is always so glad to see stunned with the stones that misfortune her, always so hospitable, and gives her of has flung at it. Affliction has emptied its its best. Of course I like to listen to the wallet at it; the phials of disaster are dry. So nightingale. This bird is the crowning glory have poets and moralists described men and of an English spring, a delightful parable women without number, benumbed and and poem. Indeed, I even go so far as to deadened by the repeated blows of grief and think it almost solemn that two little brown careless in the lethargy of despair. Once on birds should have such a charge committed a time when the hammer fell, sparks flew out to them as the hatching and rearing of a whole in hot quick remonstrance. But the hearts of nestful of nightingales, and I delight in the them are chilled dead, blackened, and hard. dignity of the father which prompts him to
It is true the thing is only an old, very old, cease his singing, as conscious of great responblue-bottle, but what of that? Lower your sibilities, as soon as the eggs are pipped. To own standards to its small dimensions, and lighten as it were the anxious hours of his in its way it is as authentic as those Elder brooding mate, he sits close by flooding the Gods whom Keats saw lying outstretched woodland with overflow of song. in the valleys of defeat. Has it not survived
“ Divine melodious truth, the shock of the meeting years ? and with the slender thread of its own life bridged
Tales and golden histories
Of heaven and its mysteries." across from the past to the future: You can blow the fly away with a breath, and yet it It is a delightful bird, this sweet sequeshas had experience of all the solemn epic of tered nightingale, whether at rest, cloisa year, sojourned with the Frost-giants in tered “among cool and bunched leaves,” or Jotunheim and survived. It has seen Rag- busy singing its heart out to the listening narok, the last twilight, and is still alive. night. And yet, and yet, and yet it only
Philosophic numbers smooth,
comes after all to see our English daffodils extraordinary judgment, of all contemporary blow, and goes when the petals of the roses privileges. The telegraph-poles and wires are falling. So I miss it less, this dainty might have been put up for his convenience, migrant, following the swallow summer from the vast domes of our railway stations erected clime to clime, than I should do, I think, to suit his tastes, the omnibuses and tram“The pious bird with scarlet breast,
cars run for his special convenience in locoOur little English Robin."
motion, for he roosts on our wires, nests in Every one delights in it as a winter bird. the vaulted roofs of our stations, travels on For myself I like it best in its pious aspect, all public conveyances. And this assumption the bird that “with leaves and flowers doth of his rights has endeared the small brown cover the friendless bodies of unburied men, bird—deplorably grubby though he often isorelse—the ever-enchanting intrigue of it—as to the British public. He is, indeed, a British the lover of " Jenny” Wren. And the wren, institution, and a supporter of the British what a bewitching little morsel it looks, when arms too—not in the way that the lion and in the leafless publicity of winter it hops about unicorn may be, but in this, that he follows in the empty bushes or perches itself, wee our armies into every field. Wherever our dwarf in feathers, on the wall. Yet within conquering camps are pitched, there the sparits small person, so tradition alleges, it holds row takes possession of foreign soil. He necromantic potentialities of a very serious flies with our battalions, as the eagles did kind, and on one occasion at least was the with the Legions, and perched on our flagabiding-place of Beelzebub himself. Poor staffs, chirps his satisfaction in a full-fed, little mite ! you do not look like it, skipping matter-of-fact sort of way that is strongly in and out my old pea-sticks, and suddenly national. Zululand now knows him, and he stopping in your ellin antics to trill a roun- is familiar in the Soudan ; he is at home delay.
the mulberries in the Candahar bazaar And the robin up in the medlar-tree lis- and out on the peach-dotted plains before tens. He is lord of the garden croft; but Cabul. Nor is it only the commissariat he turns his shapely head—how the round waggons of war that he follows, for he goes black eye glistens—and waits till the wren abroad, a symbol of civilisation and the has finished, and then gives a stave of his commercial conquests of peace. Following
What a gentleman he is, this robin of the course of Empire westward,” the ours, always elegant, always self-possessed. British sparrow has invaded America. Five You can never see without respecting him. years ago it had spread as far as Omaha, His every gesture is in good taste, and on the skirt of the great prairies, and, sailing musicians say his song is singularly correct. round the Horn in our merchant vessels, had Most punctilious as to his honour, he is occupied San Francisco on the Pacific, and ready to draw his sword at the first hint of spread eastward to Salt Lake City. I looked insult, and when with his equals, his hand is out for it in my travels, and made notes of perpetually clapped to his side, a veritable it, and I found then that there was a stripe little fire-eater among his peers, attacking with some thousand miles wide, running north the light-hearted dash, and pursuing with the and south, which the sparrow had not gallant recklessness of a Cavalier. And yet, crossed. But by this time he is probably when the etiquette of robinhood is not in over it, pecking his food in Cheyenne, and fringed, he is a delightfully well-bred little travelling by the Union Pacific across the person, coming into your presence with an levels of the Platte. An excellent little fowl, unassuming, self-respectful independence and a hardy, in his own way genial, and in that is very engaging, and leaving, when every way strongly British. Albeit Luther he has said what he has to say, with the hated sparrows. The “Hebrews,” said he, same ease of bearing, the same unaffected “called them tschirp, and they should be demeanour.
killed wherever found." How different is our sparrow! Thoroughly Perhaps : but not here in England. In the British too, but not of the Elizabethan gai- month of January, with his brave little feet lant or the Royalist type. For the sparrow planted so firmly in the crust of snow, his is a bullet-headed, opinionated, self-assertive plucky little head ruffled by the keen snowBriton of the "average” kind, and dreadfully wind, the chirp still so full of heart, he is a modern; given, too, to grumbling in all lovable bird. He is waiting for his small weathers, though living (the London citizen of dues of crumb; let him have them. Byhis kind) in the foremost city of the world, a and-by the frost will be gone, and the wind freeman of it, and availing himself, with an blow warm and sweet through the bee-be
leaguered limes, and there will be birds in templed city in the East, and all up and down every bough.
the street, screened from the sun, January For January looks forward to the month though it be, sit the artificers in brass plying of daffodils and green-tipped hedgerows. hammer and chisel, engraving the glittering
And looking backwards, my memory lotahs with processionary monkeys, peacocks, flies to those days in India, where the New and fiercely whiskered tigers. And the chinkYear finds us living under a blue sky, with chink-chink of the engraving needles upon the gardens at their brightest, and in the the sharply-resonant metal fills the air for a morning just that touch of sharpness which mile round with a myriad cicada-points of tempts us northern folk out into the air, sound that thrill on the ear with a rhythmic and which shrivels up our Aryan brother, pulsation—a perpetual cadence of little insectmaking his limbs shiver under the many notes, as unlike the voice of serious human folded blanket in which he creeps about tone as well can be. Just such sounds do his duties, and his teeth chatter as he sits the belated travellers in fairy-books hear by the stream, plying his neem-twig tooth- when they find themselves on the hillocks brush with “a face on him," as the Ameri- where the gnomes have their smithies, and cans say, like the ragged edge of despair. the fairies' anvils ring to the strokes of elfin And from the road beyond the wall, where hammers. some villager has taken out her pots and pans Looking back! What a far-off city it seems to the travelling medicine-man, the tink-a- that Benares which I know so well, lying tink-tink on the metal reaches my ear. to-day-New Year's Day-steeped in clear
And suddenly there grows up before the sunlight, and the water-carrier crying down mind the peepul-shaded walls of a many- the street, selling to thirsty folk as he goes.
JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER.
, , born December 17th, 1807, is now verse often exhibits many glowing traits that entering upon his eightieth year. Probably remind us of the brilliant and passionno living man in the United States has more blinded Burns; brought up far from the of the admiration, love, and reverence of centre of academic influence, he has become his countrymen. He has fortunately illus- a member of that higher circle of great trated an agreement of many paradoxes
. minds for whom worldly honours and schoWith a frail physical constitution, and with lastic titles are useless and belittling. life-long ailments, he has attained to great A few paragraphs will be enough for the age; with the scantiest outfit of early edu- history of his life. He was the eldest son cation he has become a well-read man and and the second of four children born to a skilful and influential writer; reared among Quaker family in Haverhill, on the beautiful farmers in a lonely neighbourhood, he had Merrimac River in north-eastern Massachufrom the beginning the simple and distin- setts. The house, which is still standing, guished manners which belong to the highest was built about the time that William and society; a chivalrous admirer of women, he Mary came to the throne of these islands, has remained unmarried; without inherited and its solid oaken frame may last for cenwealth, he has maintained the estate of a turies yet. Some of the small windows have gentleman; a devotee to the principles of the same sashes through which, a hundred peace, he has been most active in the move- and fifty years ago, the poet's ancestors ment which led to the great Civil War; looked out upon the Indians prowling in the once the unsparing denunciator of the ortho- neighbourhood, who plundered, burned, and dox clergy and the great political leaders murdered at will, but who never once mofor subservience to slavery, he has lived to lested the Quakers who had shown them win their respect and homage ; a member of kindness. a sect which has 'lightly valued the graces His father was stern in manner, but kind and has put poetry and song under ban, he and just; his mother was generous, loving, and has lived in an ideal world of beauty and patient. The world, for this lively and immelody, and shown himself the most truly pressionable boy, consisted of the lonely farm, spontaneous and inspired of poets; the most the district school, which was kept in a poor
wooden building for six months in the year, appear in the country newspapers. It might and the Quaker meeting-house in Amesbury, be supposed they were love-songs, but his eight miles distant, to which the family went biblical education and the discipline of the every First-day. Besides the Bible, there Friends held his fancy in awe. His first were scarcely a dozen books in the house- productions were scenes in blank verse from for among the Quakers literature was devoted Scripture, full of fire, but naturally without solely to religion, and music, whether of the grace and finish which he attained later. voice or instrument, was never heard—ex. The editor who printed these verses was cept, indeed, the songs of bobolinks, robins, William Lloyd Garrison, with whom Whitand cat-birds, which were not amenable to tier was afterwards associated in the sublime discipline.
movement which made the United States a One day, when he was about fifteen, there free nation. Garrison drove out to see his came a pedlar, an off-hand rhymer and a unknown contributor, who proved to be a ballad singer, who made use of his talents in barefooted youth at work in a field of Indian showing off his wares. He
sang some of the corn. As a result of the visit, Whittier songs of Burns, and the boy, for the first in the following two years attended an time in his life, knew the delight of music academy at Haverhill, three miles distant, married to the sweetest songs ever written. during two sessions of six months each ; and An unimagined sense of beauty and melody this, with his previous slender training in was suddenly developed in his heart and the district school, covered all his opporbrain. His emotion was overpowering, as tunities for education. With this imperfect on the wings of song his soul floated above preparation he began life about one-andhis native valley. The pedlar had done his twenty as an editor of a weekly paper in appointed work in awakening the feeling of Hartford, Conn. poetry in the soul of Whittier.
At that time literature in the United Thenceforth the boy lived a dual life; the States had scarcely an existence, and the murmur of music was in his ears, and the pay of writers was wretchedly small; but he cadences of verse began to form in his wrote stories, poems, and sketches in great teeming brain. The sights and sounds of numbers. Like some fortunate orators, who the farm became rhythmical : the sleigh-bells think while on their legs before an audience, along the road in winter, the ring of whet- Whittier gained his education, his power as stones upon the scythes, the sweep of the a writer, and his mastery of verse by his mowers through the grass, the brook tinkling incessant industry in writing. In those over the little cascades, the plaintive calls of early years his publications were very nuwhip-poor-wills at night, the hum of the merous; they are to be found now in spinning-wheels, the roaring of the fires in almost all the literary periodicals of the time, the great chimney, and the wild anthem of as well as in the country newspapers of the winds in the neighbouring woods. Then Massachusetts. But it will not be with his the visible universe became alive with mean- approval that they will ever be gathered and ing and analogy, and nature in all its forms reprinted. He would say, "Why does thee filled him with an eager and passionate joy. want to dig up those old things ?” About the same time the present from his The energy of Whittier's life was devoted schoolmaster of Burns's poems completed his to the cause of the slave. He was editor of happiness and determined his career. the Penn. Freeman, at the time (1833) when
In his poems there are pictures of his life a pro-slavery mob sacked the publishing office and experience which scarcely need interpre- and burned
the noble hall overhead, in which tation. In the “Barefoot Boy” may be seen the abolitionists were holding a convention. the image of his own youth and the joys of He was corresponding editor for many years his rural life under the guidance of his light of the National Era—an anti-slavery paper hearted uncle Moses. In “Snow Bound,” in Washington. He was also an occasional the truest and best picture of life on a New contributor to the Liberator, Mr. Garrison's England farm ever written, is a vivid re-paper ; but after a time he came to differ presentation of the poet's family—a series with his friend upon questions of policy. But of “Flemish pictures," as he calls them, the friendship between Whittier and Garrison which may fairly be put by the side of was never strained ; such men could only Burns's immortal « Cottar's Saturday entertain sincere respect for each other; but
they served in different camps. A few years after his introduction to the Then came the civil war—a fierce, tremennew world of poetry his verses began to dous, and exhausting war-but, in the lan