« AnteriorContinuar »
will continue my observations on yon strange part of the universe. And as the minds of whom you speak act upon society in your world, I shall expect to see yon gloomy prisons disappear, and schools rising in all your villages, and your rich and gay people intermingling with the poor and the laborious.” After he had witnessed, with delight, many of the beautiful scenes of unity and happiness in this New World, the poet returned to the teacher, and asked for instruction as to the best means of improving the condition of the 'Old World. “Here I could willingly stay for ever,” said he ; “but duty calls me to return.” “Tell the men of the Old World,” said the teacher, “what you have seen here, and let them know how human nature may be trained, if never to reach that consummation of which seers have spoken, yet to present to the eye of IIeaven something more like a happy and harmonious system than it does now. Many glorious things are possibilities. Necessary knowledge may be imparted to all ; moral and preventive measures may take the place of a great part of your punitive system ; the rich and the poor need not dwell apart in extreme disunion ; millions of lives and of wealth may be saved by the cessation of war ; the arts and sciences may be devoted to their proper end, to refine society; the physical circumstances of your people may be brought into harmony with the laws of healthful nature. If you would find a centre and a source for all these improvements, let me exhort you to return to the original spirit and purpose of that religion which you still profess. No longer worship the letter ; but unfold and apply to life the benevolent spirit of your creed. Poet I do thy duty. Utter the truth that is in thee. Be faithful to the ideal, even when not a ray of it seems to shine through the real. Strive on and be patient Return to that Old World which is to be renovated, where the evil is even now passing away, though it boasts that it will endure for ever. Go, and be a man of the New World in the midst of the Old. When you have done your work, then come and dwell with us for ever ! ” Then the poet awoke ; for the light of morning was now shining in his chamber, and, inspired by the vision, he said, “As the shades of night are passing from yon mountain, so shall the shades of evil pass away from this world !”
FABLES FOR FOOLISII FELLOWS.
A MöNo the noblest passions of the soul of Man there is one, the noblest and holiest of all, which, while it moves him to wonder and adore, leads him also to aspire—lifts him from the ground, where inferior creatures grovel, to soar in his soul with angels, and stand only a little lower in the sight of their Master and his Heavenly Father. This is Admiration. Admiration came here with the first angelical natures that visited earth as missionaries from beaven to Man, who, as they themselves admire and tremble, instructed the innocent Adam how, and when, and to whom to bend the knee, lift the eyes in adoration, and reverently worship. His own existence, and the sense of how sweet it was to live—the new-created world, and its wondrous works around him, whether animate or inanimate, won, it may be, his earliest looks and thoughts of admiration ; these messengers from their Heavenly Master awakened it next; and, lastly, his lovely and love-worshipped helpmate, Eve, as she stood before him in her first innocence, ere sin and shame were known, and turned not her eyes and perfect beauties from his admiring and adoring gaze, and felt that it was love.
Man still admires, not always wisely—not always well—admires things not worthy of admiration. Do animals admire? Do the inferior in power and beauty admire the superior in beauty and power ? The slow admire the swift—the small wonder at the gigantic—the gigantic curiously consider and marvel at the small? Does the Fieldmouse admire the most magnanimous Lion, and wish he had his mane, and tail, and mouth—a cavern—and claws, and his roar like thunder—a sound more terrible to hear than all the mice in the world could make 2 Does he reckon how he would frighten wild Cats out of eight of their nine lives apiece, and teach them to live inoffensively to mice with the ninth, if he had his talons and his roar 2 Does he speculate how he would give mousing Owls a lesson for life not even to look at, much more to make a mouthful—not a meal—of a poor mouse: if he was a Lion, how he would teach these mousers better manners, when he happened to be in the humour for giving these small tyrants a great moral lesson ? Does the Mole, as he sits in safety at sunrise—molecatchers and their dogs being still abed—outside the little mound he has turned up in the night in his pursuit of worms, wiping his whiskers from the mould he has worked through—does he ever look upwards at the Lark he has knocked up an hour too soon by undermining his bed, and wish he could mount through the air like him—he can just see him ; and sing at heaven's gate like him —he can just hear him ? And does he, with his purblind eyes— good enough for underground work—wish that he could bear the light of day, and bask and glory in the sunshine early and late, like him 2 Does the Crow—doomed like a curate to an eternal decent suit of black—as he struts in a gutter stop to admire the pomp, and precise steps, and pride, and parade, and fine feathers (which make fine birds) of the Peacock on a wall, thinking of singing, and certainly of showing himself,
“To witch the world with noble peacockship ;”
and wish that he had such a tail 2 Wouldn't he cut a figure then, when returned to the Jackdaws' parliament? Does the grey Goose admire the white Swan, and think the movements of his neck, in elegance, excelling all that is thought graceful in the goose world? Does the Wolf admire the Lamb, his inoffensiveness, his innocent looks, and playful leaps and antic springs, and wish he had his gentleness of heart 2 Do silly Sheep admire Dick the shepherd's dog Worry, wonder at his sagacity, think him well-meaning though severe, believe in his general accuracy and Mogg-like knowledge of roads and right turnings ; pardon him all his stretches of authority, and the contempt he shows for the whole flock by making a road over their backs to pull the bell-wether by the car, and put it all down to the score of faithfulness; and do they think him a desirable dog, on the whole 2 Does the Dog admire his master ?—but we know he does. “Man is his god,” says Burns; and what lessons in fidelity does he teach his trainer! Does the noble Steed admire his master or masterer, and look on him as “the paragon of animals 3 '' Man—betting man—admires him too well we know, to very weariness of the odds and evens offered on the Derby Day. But Man—especially barber's man—is a great judge of horse-flesh, or affects to be. Again we ask—are animals touched with admiration of each other's gifts and graces,
or beauty : Our Fable, if true, avouches that they are capable of admiration and envy ; that their admiration is not always wellplaced, and their envy not wise—but envy never is ; and that, if they would weigh their own advantages, and consider their exemptions, and the conditions of their existence, they would be content with the station in which Providence has placed them. Of all the birds of the air, surely there is not one so knowing, and, if we may say so, so musty on his knowledge—so wise in his own conceit, and so simple withal—as a town-born and town-bred Sparrow. From his nest-days in a birdbottle by the side of a second-floor window, or a hole in the wall, or under the eaves, or between the chimneys, or in the chinks of high garden-walls, to his dying day and sepulchre in some out-of-the-way corner of a housetop, (and these street-sparrows live to a grey, good old age), a Sparrow on town risks his charmed life a thousand times a day by dropping he cares not where, and hopping he minds not where, in the most thronged thoroughfares—at the feet of horses in rapid motion—within an inch of wheels whirling along—under the very noses of cats looking out for him, they for their prey, and he for his: but no harm happens to him, he is so alive and alert, and no sooner in danger than out of it ! A Sparrow, country-bred, and brought to town, would be killed in a week, where he lives safely many years. Even rustic Robin, come to winter in the suburbs of London, where he is always welcome, and lives well, though as wary as bold, the town-born Sparrow would laugh at, in his fashion, as a bumpkin in a red waistcoat and imminent danger of being run over. To say nothing of the traps set for him in backyards and on dwarf-walls, in gutters and on coping-stones, by boys in their first corduroys, (when they get into the Rule of Three and the Latin Accidence they know better,) possessed by no means honestly of four bricks and a tile;—and not to count the cats always on the sneak after him ; and the dogs that dash at him out of fun ; and the stones and bird-bolts aimed at him, which don't hurt him, because they never hit him ; and the dexterous thongs of country coachmen come down to a town-cab, who have picked up many a partridge with their whips—his life in London would seem a precarious one: but a well-educated Sparrow—up and down to everything?—manages to make a pleasant, profitable, and lasting life of it; and, on the whole, picks up a decent hand-tomouth living from day to day, thinking nothing of to-morrow. “Let to-morrow provide for himself,”
is his maxim ; and there are many maws, and craws, and “crops” much worse provided for in London than a London sparrow—the more is the pity! It is of a feathered denizen of this sort, whom, for our story's sake, we will call Chummy by name, that we have to relate a remarkable freak of infatuation in a bird so nutty and so knowing ; but as it was begotten in his brain by too lively an admiration to imitation of his betters, he rather deserves our pity than our laughter. Born in St. Giles's (in an eyelet-hole in the steeple of the church honouring that holy man, which may account a little for his lofty notions, and his desire to mix in high life), some time in the spring of 1837, he maintained himself there or thereabouts very well till lately, when, falling in with a scamping set of aristocratic sparrows, out on a spree to see low life in London, when they had had their frolic out, he was led by them to pay St. James's park and palace a visit for the first time ; and having seen and admired all the court lions, and hopped in the path of the Prince of Wales, and been called a pretty bird by that gracious young gentleman, and a bold bird and an impudent bird by his gracious parents, he took it into his ambitious head that the air of St. James's was more salubrious than the odours of the Rookery ; and made up his mind to live in and about Birdcage Walk for the rest of his days, as he found the sparrow world of those parts polite, and ready to pay him every attention as a stranger. Having taken airy lodgings with a good lookout, in an elm which afforded a noble bird’s-eye view of the two parks, the two palaces, and the ornamental waters, he could do nothing for a day or two but admire the Ducks which adorn them, dabbling and diving in the most daring manner ; and as he watched some didappers in particular going down here and coming up there many yards away, he feared that they would overdo their daring, and never come up no more alive. Ducks and their aquatic habits being entirely new to him, he had no notion of such fearless feats as he saw them perform, and think nothing of them. He admired, too, almost to envy, the gloss and beauty of their feathering. Wonderful creatures, ducks | What were sparrows beside them 2 Mere fleas—flies—nobodies' He was humbled for a time, but got over it, as humility will, when it is of the right sort; and lost nothing of his first, fresh, unaffected admiration of the exceeding beauty of the new objects of his wonder.