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his master, and honourable, because it to the marines. The description by him the Lord had given deliver- given is a false because a partial one. ance unto Syria; he was also a mighty Woodbine, blue smoke, garden, and man of valour, but he was a leper." allthe otheraccompaniments, no doubt Ah! the gallant soldier, the puissant there are in thousands of places, but commander, the royal favourite had not to give so much as a hint of his skeleton, you see. Not less touch- social and moral shadows athwart ing was the dying confession of noble these lovely cottages is monstrously David. “Although my house be not unveracious. There is a skeleton in so with God; yet He hath made every one of them; "always a sumwith me an everlasting covenant, mut." Ever and anon the said model ordered in all things and sure.” A husband jostles up to the door very godless family; that was the skeleton late at night in a condition which which occupied the palace at Jerusa- enables him to see double, but deprives lem, and invaded even the death- him of rightful control over his legs. chamber of the monarch. You know The wolf gets there too, not unfrewho was the most illustrious apostle, quently—the wolf of poverty, and a and how large is the debt of gratitude dismal howling he makes. Thatch which humanity owes him. Yet he and woodbine often cover terrible had “a thorn in the flesh." And want. As to the other extreme of these are but specimens of a limitless society, it is hardly needful that we class. It is to-day as it was centu- speak. That royalty is not exempt ries agone.
from its share of tribulation is proved Much nonsense has been written too well by the widowed lady who by dreamy and lackadasical poetasters sits on England's throne.“ Death is about rural places and rural people. come into our palaces.” Windsor has According to these rhymers, the former a skeleton in its stately castle. To are free from vexation and worry, quote from the great satirist who has while the latter are pure-minded and but lately passed from us :-" The content. Sketches are given of village writer of these veracious pages was maidens, modest, coy, and innocent, once walking through a splendid followed by fascinating descriptions English palace, standing amidst parks of “swains" who are as honest and and gardens, than which none more happy as the day is long.
magnificent has been since the days treated to elaborate accounts of low- of Aladdin, in company with a meroofed cottages, the blue smoke rising lancholy friend, who viewed all from the chimney in bold relief things darkly through his gloomy against the foliage of the trees which eyes. The housekeeper, pattering embosom them, walls hidden by jasi- on before us from chamber to mine and woodbine, little gardens chamber, was expatiating on the neatly laid out, industrious wives magnificence of this picture ; the sitting under the porch in the quiet beauty of that statue ; the marevening, and model husbands near vellous richness of these hangings them with a rosy-faced child on each and carpets; the admirable likeness knee. Oh, indeed, Mr. Poet. Now of the late Marquis by Sir Thomas; please favour us with the address of of his father by Sir Joshua, and so the persons in question. We advise on; when, in the very richest room the reader if ever he meets with an of the whole castle, Hicks-such author who presumes so egregiously was my melancholy companion's on the gullability of the public as to namestopped the Cicerone in her paint these arcadias, to bid him tell prattle, saying, in a hollow Toice,
And now, madam, will you show would have treated the invitation as us the closet where the skeleton is. editors often do (no doubt with equal We did not see the room, and yet I wisdom) divers communications have no doubt there is such a one.' which are “respectfully declined." There is a bitter drop in the sweetest But the web was so beautifully cup. The most beautiful rose has a woven, the threads were so silken most disagreeable thorn.
and delicate, the corner in which it say the sky is clear? Perhaps so; hung looked so snug, that although wait a while, a cloud will shortly he knew it was a web, in poor Bagtrail over it somewhere.
shaw went. And now, as you may Without adducing other examples, easily divine, he reaps the consesince life every day furnishes so quences. To wit. He brings a friend many, there are a few remarks on
in to spend the evening, raises his these skeletons which we commend eyes to her (with timidity in his to the reader's attention. Here is look), and says “Xantippe, my dear, the first-Sometimes we put the I have asked Mr. Smith in to see skeleton in the house ourselves. As if us.” She immediately protests that the troubles which must infallibly, she is proud and delighted to seo sooner or later, fall to our lot were you, which is as downright a falsenot numerous enough, we add to hood as “the father of lies" ever inthem. Although the burden which stigated. You should see the look we have to carry up the hill of life she gives her husband when the is heavy, we are so unwise as to keep visitor's attention is distracted. As increasing it. A few instances may to the lecture with which he is easily be given. Mr. Bagshaw is a rocked asleep, that, as novelists case in point. His skeleton is a say, is “more easily imagined than feminine one. The truth is his wife described.” Although she is as stout is a virago. Then why did he marry and strong as need be, she says that her? He knew her cross-grain dispo- smoking disagrees with her, theresition before he uttered the fatal, “I fore, when cigars and tobacco are will;" knew it as any one could do. brought after supper, up rises Yes, but don't you see, there was hard Xantippe and asks if we will excuse cash in the question. “Money, Paul,
Money, Paul, her leaving the room. Really, one will do anything,” said stiff-necked feels desperately disposed to reply, , Dombey to his child. So it seems. “With pleasure, madam.” Now, At any rate, Bagshaw was willing to you observe, this frightful skeleton put on domestic gyves and social was introduced into the house with handcuffs on the ground that they the distinct knowledge that it was a were made of gold. This being the case, skeleton. Mr. Bagshaw deliberately while one is sorry for him in his platted the scourge under which he present condition of conjugal bondage, writhes. that sorrow is mingled
with indigna- Let us go back to the best of tion at his arrant folly in volunteer- books for the next example. “All ing to endure the said bondage on this availeth me nothing, so long as condition that he had a sufficiency I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at of bank notes. It is the old, old the king's gate." All what? Almost story of the spider and the fly, “Will everything that heart could desire. you walk into my parlour, said the Haman had marvellous riches, “a spider to the fly.” Of course, if the multitude of children,” royal favour, fly had been a sensible insect he and promotion. It mattered not. • W. M. Thackeray.
Jealousy saw an enemy occupying a
position of honour. That was enough; which inexperienced folks not selpopularity and prosperity went for dom bring into their houses. Debt nothing, so long as the rival was is its name. My dear Miss, you are there. Here, again, the man him- to be wed in a few months, are you? self introduced the skeleton. There Very good. And you have delightwas no need for discontent. Had ful visions of walnut-wood couches, Haman been wise he would thank- pier-glasses, lace curtains, ormolu fully have enjoyed his own honours clocks, in fine, a whole paradise of and opulence, regardless of another upholstery, grandeurs, and luxuries. being in the same position. Nay, You hope that you and your beloved had he been magnanimous, that last Alfred will be able to give nice fact would have increased his happi- little evening parties to a few select
This Scriptural incident will friends in a quiet way. Certainly; suggest to the reader another. “And it is to be hoped you will. By all Saul eyed David from that day and means have and do these things if forward." That he had but slain -note the word—if you can afford thousands, while David slew his it. Mind that you are on the safe tens of thousands was intolerable. side. Depend upon it, if you get Just as the most fashionable and into the habit of taking tradeselegant attire cannot atone for the people's credit, you will go wrong. obnoxious little gnat which has Truer proverb never became prosecreted itself in the sleeve, and is verbial than this, “ He that goes a bringing blood from one's skin, so borrowing goes a sorrowing.” When the grandeur and power which Saul your name begins to figure conspicupossessed were rendered null and ously in the day-book, and repeat void by the malignant insect of envy. itself ominously in the ledger of the Why did he not pounce upon it, shop-keeper, you may, to use a naupress it closely between his fingers, tical phrase, " look out for squalls." and so put a “finis" to the cruel The household weather-glass will little tormentor. So true is it, how- point to "stormy." The knell of ever, that
your peace is struck.
You have, “Out of the earth the lightning sometimes
with your own hand, brought a springs,
skeleton into the house. Now begins Not always from the sky descends; so men, the dreary category of disasters and Yea, good ones too, will even plant them- miseries which the skeleton debt selves
always introduces where it goes. The seeds of their own ruin."
When you draw your chair to the Newspapers often have advertise- fire, and place your feet comfortably ments To
on the fender, the burning coals It may be that some such indivi- seem to say,
“We are not paid duals are now honouring us with their for.” As you satisfy your appetite perusal. If so we hope they will at dinner, even the frugal joint you appreciate our consideration for them, carve appears to cry, "When shall inasmuch as our final specimen of you settle with Mr. Steelyard, who people creating their own troubles sold me to you ? ”
Fingers that will be appropriate to all who pro- before marriage toyed with openprose entering the estate of matri- work, and coquetted with Berlin mony. Taking Horace's advice, then, wool, are now doomed to try their and going at once in medias res, we skill in patching up old garments, would respectfully, but solemnly, and trying to make them hold out a lift our voice against a skeleton little longer. When an unexpected
ring is heard at the door, there is a “For thou who knowest, Lord, how soon, nervous dread of bills.
Our weak heart clings, nouncement by the servant that
Hast given us joys, tender and true,
Yet all with wings, you are wanted gives you uneasy So that we see, gleaming on high, suspicion that a draper's or grocer's Diviner things." assistant has called with what he calls “that little account." Pray
Notwithstanding, there is a habit don't throw down the magazine in a
of morbidly brooding over care and huff, my young madamoiselle, de- sorrow which forms no part of reliclaring that it is too stupid and gion. It is possible to acquire a dreadful to read. Whether it is or
method of looking at the skeleton is not, be assured that it is neither until the remembrance of it haunts so stupid nor so dreadful as the us in our happiest moments, and stern reality. Let all who are yet throws a sombre shadow across our unchained keep clear of pecuniary sunniest days. A man makes a bad slavery. To return to the general debt, commits a commercial blunder, topic under consideration, we shall
effects a woeful breach in etiquette, act a commendable part to keep as
or, worse still, a disastrous breach in many skeletons out of our houses morality, and he pores over it until it as we can. To fetch the ghastly, effectually destroys his peace, and his ghostly, grinning thing in, and put spirit fails within him. Cui bono ? it in a conspicuous place is perfectly He did far better who spoke of foridiotic. There is always one present, getting things that were behind, and without our seeking more.
Maké reaching forth to things that were the best of it; lessen its horrors ; before. Popish legends tell of saints but, in the name of reason, do not who, to show their invulnerability to bring it companions.
wickedness, went deliberately into This leads to our next reflection,
scenes of the most fascinating tempLet us not look too much and too
tation. Did they? Indeed! then, often at the skeleton. It is well to to speak plainly, they were fools for glance at it now and then. The their pains. There is no virtue in great and good Being who permits rushing after an enemy, squaring your it to abide in the house has a merci- fists, assuming a pugilistic attitude, ful and wise object in so doing. and attempting to provoke an assault The gaunt long figure reminds us by inviting him to “come on.” Not that “this is not our rest;” reminds
Inducements to evil present us that the present world can never
themselves often enough without our satisfy the deep aspirations of our going out of the way to seek them. being; reminds us that there is Yet this is precisely what we do when something behind the veil which is we dwell so much upon our trials : better infinitely than anything which we put ourselves needlessly in the we at present possess. He has read way of temptation,—the temptation the book of life to little purpose who
to indulge in discontent. Therefore, is not able to say,
do not spend much time in looking at the skeleton. If there are two
windows in your parlour, the one "I thank thee, Lord, that all our joy Is touched with pain ;
commanding a view of a bare, dismal, That shadows fall on brightest hours;
blank brick wall, and the other of a That thorns remain ;
cheerful garden, with neat grass-plot, So that earth's bliss may be our guide, deftly trimnied beds, and manyAnd not our chain.
coloured flowers, you had better sit
with your back to the former, and life. The cross, once an object of your face to the latter. Do the same abhorrence, is now one of beauty. in respect of the vexations and the The great sacrifice of love which was blessings of life.
offered on it has transfigured the The way in which many refer to “shameful tree.” Thus may it be Providence is very unsatisfactory with the minor crosses which we are According to them, it is a capricious called to bear. thing meddling with mundane affairs And now, in closing, let us fall only to annoy.
They speak of it as back on the good old truth which if it did no more than take away. our mothers taught us while we were “ It pleased God to take away my yet bairns, and which our preachers child," or "my health," or "my have been telling us from the pulpit money," say they. Very well. But ever since. There is a house wherein does God do nothing but take away? there is no skeleton. “ We have a Is He simply a great destroyer ? Oh building of God, a house not made ungrateful ones ! remember that He with hands,” even • Father's gives as well as takes ; He destroys, house.". The evil spirits of sin are but He also creates. Be just, and for ever absent from it. It is haunted while you talk so readily of the few by no dark spectres of trouble. Anblessings He has seen fit to remove, gels of purity and love, with flaming mind that you state the other side of swords, guard this new and better the case, and acknowledge the many · Eden not from man but for him. In blessings which He has both given this present world two attendants and preserved to you. There is a walk on either side of us. The face skeleton in your house ; there are of the one is radiant with smiles, that likewise angels.
of the other is pale and plaintive. Again : we can, if we will, render Joy and sorrow they are called. But the skeleton less hideous. The ancient when we reach the gate of heaven, if Egyptians used to place a skeleton at we are the servants and disciples of the head of the board when they its Great Ruler, sorrow will remain feasted and made merry. This ghastly behind; her work will have been memento of death was unwelcome to done; we shall have no further need the young people, whereupon they of her kind discipline. Meanwhile, frequently brought garlands of roses joy will dwell with us for ever, conand violets, and twined them around ducting us to Him who shall lead us the naked bones to conceal them. to “living fountains of water.” Their oblivousness of human mortality we ought not to imitate, but we “ Brief life is here our portion, may surely learn from them how to Brief sorrow, short-lived care, act in reference to our troubles.
The life that knows no ending, There is the skeleton. Well, put the
The tearless life is there. wreath of divine promises around its “O one! O only mansion ! shining skull, hide its bare arms with O paradise of joy! the garlands of heavenly consolation, Where tears are ever banished, festoon its hollow bosom with flowers
And joys have no alloy." culled in the garden of the Lord, cover its naked feet with amaranthine
T. R. STEVENSON. branches plucked from the tree of Harlow, Essex.