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6. Next was the death of John Rogers, who was burned at Smithfield ; and for a while we could entertain ourselves with counting all his “nine children and one at the breast,” as in the picture they stand in a regular row, like a pair of stairs.
7. These being done, came miscellaneous exercises of our own invention, such as counting all the psalms in the psalmbook backward and forward, to and from the Doxology, or numbering the books in the Bible, or some other such device as we deemed within the pale of religious employments.
8. When all these failed, and it still wanted an hour of meeting-time, we looked up at the ceiling, and down at the floor, and all around into every corner, to see what we could do next; and happy was he who could spy a pin gleaming in some distant crack, and forthwith muster an occasion for getting down to pick it up.
9. Then there was the infallible recollection that we wanted a drink of water, as an excuse to get out to the well; or else we heard some strange noise among the chickens, and insisted that it was essential that we should see what was the matter; or else pussy would jump on to the table, when all of us would spring to drive her down; while there was a most assiduous watching of the clock, to see when the first bell would ring.
10. Happy was it for us, in the interim, if we did not begin to look at each other and make up faces, or slyly slip off and on our shoes, or some other incipient attempts at roguery, which would gradually so undermine our gravity that there would be some sudden explosion of merriment, whereat Uncle Phineas would look
“ Tut, tut,” and Aunt Kezzy would make a speech about wicked children breaking the Sabbath day.
11. I remember once how my cousin Bill got into deep disgrace one Sunday by a roguish trick. He was just about to close his Bible with all sobriety, when snap came a grasshopper through an open window, and alighted in the middle
of the page. Bill instantly kidnapped the intruder, for so important an auxiliary in the way of employment was not to be despised.
12. Presently we children looked towards Bill, and there he sat, very demurely, reading his Bible, with the grasshopper hanging by one leg from the corner of his mouth, kicking and sprawling, without in the least disturbing Master William's gravity. We all burst into an uproarious laugh. But it came to be rather a serious affair for Bill, as his good father was in the practice of enforcing truth and duty by certain modes of moral suasion much recommended by Solomon, though fallen into disrepute at the present day.
13. But it may be asked, what was the result of all this strictness ? Did it not disgust you with the Sabbath and with religion ? No, it did not. It did not, because it was the result of no unkindly feeling, but of consistent principle ; and consistency of principle is what even children learn to appreciate and revere.
14. The law of obedience, and of reverence for the Sabbath, was constraining so equally on the young and the old, that its claims came to be regarded like those immutable laws of nature, which no one thinks of being out of patience with, though they sometimes bear hard on personal convenience. The effect of the system was to ingrain into our character a veneration for the Sabbath which no friction of after life would ever efface.
15. I have lived to wander in many climates and foreign lands, where the Sabbath is an unknown name, or where it is only recognized by noisy mirth; but never has the day returned without bringing with it a breathing of religious awe, and even a yearning for the unbroken stillness, the placid repose, and the simple devotion of the Puritan Sabbath.
CHAPTER L XIV.
1. The Sabbath-bell! - how sweetly breathes
O’er hill and dale that hallowed sound, When spring her first bright chaplet wreathes
The cotter's humble porch around :And glistening meads of vernal green
The blossomed bough— the spiral corn Smile o'er the brook that flows between,
As shadowing forth a fairer morn.
2. The Sabbath-bell! - 't is stillness all,
Save where the lamb's unconscious bleat And the lone wood-dove's plaintive call
Are mingling with its cadence sweet: Save when the lark, on soaring wing,
At heaven's gate pours her matin song: Oh! thus shall feathered warbler sing,
Nor man the grateful strain prolong?
3. The Sabbath-bell! - how soothing flow
Those greetings to the peasant's breast ! Who knows not labor, ne'er can know
The blessed calm that sweetens rest! The day-spring of his pilgrimage,
Who, freed a while from earthly care, Turns meekly to a heaven-taught page,
And reads his hope recorded there.
4. The Sabbath-bell! — yes, not in vain
That bidding on the gale is borne ; Glad respite from the echoing wain,
The sounding axe, the clamorous horn ; Far other thoughts those notes inspire,
When youth forgets his frolic pace, And maid and matron, son and sire,
Their church-way path together trace.
5. The Sabbath-bell!- ere yet thy peal
In lessening murmurs melts away,
Where rests around each kindred clay!
Parent and offspring, shrouded lie!
The living muse, and learn to die!
6. The Sabbath-bell!- 't is silent now;
The holy fane the throng receives :
And slowly turns the sacred leaves.
To tread the path their father's trod,
One fold before one fostering God!
7. The Sabbath-bell! -oh! does not time
In that still voice all eloquent breathe ?
Who sleep those grassy mounds beneath!
of them who listen now
A warning in the Sabbath-bell.
CHAPTER L XV.
1. Of all the ways of travelling which obtain among our locomotive nation, this said vehicle, the canal-boat, is the most absolutely prosaic and inglorious. There is something picturesque, nay, almost sublime, in the lordly march of your wellbuilt, high-bred steam-boat. Go, take your stand on some overhanging bluff, where the blue Ohio winds its thread of silver, or the sturdy Mississippi makes its path through unbroken forests, and it will do your heart good to see the gallant boat walking the waters with unbroken and powerful tread, and like some fabled monster of the wave, breathing fire, and making the shores resound with its deep respirations.
2. Then there is something mysterious, even awful, in the power of steam. See it curling up against a blue sky some rosy morning - graceful, fleeting, intangible, and to all appearance the softest and gentlest of all spiritual things and then think that it is this fairy spirit that keeps all the world alive and hot with motion; think how excellent a servant it is, doing all sorts of gigantic works, like the genii of old ; and yet,
you let slip the talisman only for a moment, wnat terrible advantage it will take of you! and you will confess that steam has some claims both to the beautiful and the terrible.
3. For our own part, when we are down among the machinery of a steamboat in full play, we conduct ourselves very reverently, for we consider it is a very serious neighborhood; and every time the steam whizzes with such redhot determination from the escape valve, we start as if some of the spirits were after us. But in a canal-boat there is no power, no mystery, no danger; one cannot blow up, one cannot be drowned, unless by some special effort; one sees clearly all there is in the case - a horse, a rope, and a muddy strip of water — and that is all.
4. Did you ever try it, reader ? If not, take an imaginary trip with us, just for experiment. “There's the boat!” exclaims a passenger in the omnibus, as we are rolling down from the Pittsburg Mansion House to the canal. “ Where?” exclaim a dozen of voices, and forth with a dozen heads
out of the window. Why, down there, under that bridge; don't you see those lights ?” “ What! that little thing ?” exclaims an inexperienced traveller; "dear me! we can't half of us get into it!”