« PreviousContinue »
Till her outstretched hands smiled also,
And I almost seemed to see The very heart of her mother
Sending sun through her veins to me!
She had been with us scarce a twelvemonth,
And it hardly seemed a day, When a troop of wandering angels
Stole my little daughter away ; Or perhaps those heavenly Zingari
But loosed the hampering strings, And when they had opened her cage-door,
My little bird used her wings.
But they left in her stead a changeling,
A little angel child,
And smiles as she never smiled :
Where she always used to lie, And feel as weak as a violet
Alone 'neath the awful sky;
As weak, yet as trustful also;
For the whole year long I see
Still worked for the love of me;
Rain falls, suns rise and set,
This child is not mine as the first was,
I cannot sing it to rest, I cannot lift it up fatherly
And bliss it upon my breast ;
And sits in my little one's chair,
to Transfigures its golden hair.
ON A CERTAIN CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS.
PERHAPS one reason why the average Briton spreads himself here with such an easy air of superiority may be owing to the fact that he ineets with so many bad imitations as to conclude himself the only real thing in a wilderness of shams. He fancies himself moving through an endless Bloomsbury, where his mere apparition confers honor as an avatar of the court-end of the universe. Not a Bull of them all but is persuaded he bears Europa upon his back. This is the sort of fellow whose patronage is so divertingly insufferable. Thank Heaven he is not the only specimen of cater-cousinship from the dear old Mother Island that is shown to us! Among genuine things, I know nothing more genuine than the better men whose limbs were made in England. So manly-tender, so brave, so true, so warranted to wear, they make us proud to feel that blood is thicker than water.
But it is not merely the Englishman; every European candidly admits in himself some right of primogeniture in respect to us, and pats this shaggy continent on the back with a lively sense of generous unbending. The German who plays the bass-viol has a well-founded contempt, which he is not always nice in concealing, for a country so few of whose children ever take that noble instrument between their knees.
So long as we continue to be the most common-schooled and the least cultivated people in the world, I suppose we must consent to endure this condescending manner of foreigners toward us. The more friendly they mean to be, the more ludicrously prominent it becomes. They can never appreciate the immense amount of silent work that has been done here making this continent slowly fit for the abode of man,
and which will demonstrate itself, let us hope, in the character of the people. Outsiders can only be expected to judge a nation by the amount it has contributed to the civilization of the world ; the amount, that is, that can be seen and handled. A great place in history can only be achieved by competitive examinations, nay, by a long course of them. How much new thought have we contributed to the common stock ? Till that question can be triumphantly answered, or needs no answer, we must continue to be simply interesting as an experiment, to be studied as a problem, and not respected as an attained result or an accomplished solution. Perhaps, as I have hinted, their patronizing
manner toward us is the fair result of their failing to see here any thing more than a poor imitation, a plaster-cast of Europe. And are they not partly right ? If the tone of the uncultivated American has too often the arrogance of the barbarian, is not that of the cultivated as often vulgarly apologetic? In the American they meet with is there the simplicity, the manliness, the absence of sham, the sincere human nature, the sensitiveness to duty and implied obligation, that in any way distinguishes us from what our orators call “ the effete civilization of the Old World”? Is there a politician among us daring enough to risk his future on the chance of our keeping our word with the exactness of superstitious communities like England ? Is it certain that we shall be ashamed of a bankruptcy of honor, if we can only keep the letter of our bond ? I hope we shall be able to answer all these questions with a frank yes. At any rate, we would advise our visitors that we are not merely curious creatures, but belong to the family of man, and that, as individuals, we are not to be always subjected to the competitive examination above mentioned, even if we acknowledged their competence as an examining board. Above all, we beg them to remember that America is not to us, as to them, a mere object of external interest to be discussed and analyzed, but in us, part of our very marrow.
Let them not
suppose conceive of ourselves as exiles from the graces and amenities of an older date than we, though very much at home in a state of things not yet all it might be or should be, but which we mean to make so, and which we find both wholesome and pleasant for men to live in. “The full tide of human existence may be felt here as keenly as Johnson felt it at Charing Cross, and in a larger sense.
I know one person who is singular enough to think Cambridge the very best spot on the habitable globe.* “ Doubtless God could have made a better, but doubtless he never did.”
It will take England a great while to get over her airs of patronage toward us, or even passably to conceal them. She cannot help confounding the people with the country, and regarding us as lusty juveniles. She has a conviction that whatever good there is in us is wholly English, when the truth is that we are worth nothing except so far as we have disinfected ourselves of Anglicism. She is especially condescending just now, and lavishes sugar-plums on us as if we
* Mr. Lowell resides at Cambridge.
had not outgrown them. I am no believer in sudden conversions, especially in sudden conversions to a favorable opinion of people who have just proved you to be mistaken in judgment and therefore unwise in policy.
I never blamed her for not wishing well to democracy, how should she? The only sure way of bringing about a healthy relation between the two countries is for Englishmen to clear their minds of the notion that we are always to be treated as a kind of inferior and deported Englishman whose nature they perfectly understand, and whose back they accordingly stroke the wrong way of the fur with amazing perseverance. Let them learn to treat us naturally on our merits as human beings, as they would a German or a Frenchman, and not as if we were a kind of counterfeit Briton whose crime appeared in every shade of difference, and before long there would come that right feeling which we naturally call a good understanding. The common blood, and still more the common language, are fatal instruments of misapprehension. Let them give up trying to understand us, still more thinking that they do, and acting in various absurd ways as the necessary consequence'; for they will never arrive at that devoutly-to-be-wished consummation, till they learn to look at us as we are and not as they suppose us to be. Dear old long-estranged mother-in-law, it is a great many years since we parted. Since 1660, when you married again, you have been a stepmother to us.
Put on your spectacles, dear madam. Yes, we have grown, and changed likewise. You would not let us darken your doors, if you could help it. We know that perfectly well. But pray, when we look to be treated as men, don't shake that rattle in our faces, nor talk baby to us any longer.
“Do, child, go to it grandam, child ;
MRS. LE VERT.
Mrs. OCTAVIA Walton Le Vert, a distinguished Southern writer, was born near Augusta, Georgia, in 1820. She was the daughter of Colonel George Walton. While a mere girl she selected a name for the capital of Florida, — of which State her father was at that time governor,
- Tallahassee, an Indian word meaning “beautiful land.” In 1836 she became the wife of Dr. Henry S. Le Vert of Mobile, Alabama. She has traveled much, both in: America and Europe. The observations made during two tours in Europe are given in her Souvenirs of Travel, a duodecimo of two volumes, published in 1858. She has contributed occasionally to current litera. ture; and since the war has given readings from her writings. Of Mrs. Le Vert's tours in Europe N. P. Willis says: “There probably was never a more signal success in the way of access to foreign society, friendly attentions from the nobility, and notice from royalty, than fell to the share of Madame Le Vert.” Her style is spontaneous, often conversational, but always graceful, natural, and easy, and never dull. The best portions are The Eruption of Vesuvius, The Coliseum, The Way over the Simplon, The Brownings in Florence, Moonlight in Venice, A Visit to the Pope, and The Farewell to Italy. In 1869 a similar work, Souvenirs of Distinguished People, by Mrs. Le Vert, was announced as in press; but it has never appeared, owing, the public were advised, to circumstances of a personal natuts
THE STUDY OF LANGUAGE.
“Greek 's a harp we love to hear :
Latin is a trumpet clear;
THERE is not a more useful or delightful occupation for the leisure hours of young ladies than the study of foreign languages. It is the bridge spanning the deep waters which divide our own from the rich and varied literature of other lands. When once we have passed over it, a new world of enjoyment is open to us, and we are quickly brought en rapport with the brilliant intellects that have illustrated the grand and glorious in prose and poetry. The best translation is but à shadow of the original.
the original. We may transplant a tropical flower to our climate, and cherish it with infinite care; still its blossoms will never possess the beauty and fragrance of its own sunny clime. Thus it is with foreign literature. To enjoy perfectly the noble utterances of great minds, we must read them in the language wth which Genius first draped them. The subtile charm