Imágenes de páginas

features in that condition, that there is no childishness in its dwellings. Poor people, said a sensible old nurse to us once, do not bring up their children; they drag them up.

The little careless darling of the wealthier nursery, in their hovel is transformed betimes into a premature reflecting person. No one has time to dandle it, no one thinks it worth while to coax it, to soothe it, to toss it up and down, to humour it. There is none to kiss away its tears. If it cries, it can only be beaten. It has been prettily said, that “a babe is fed with milk and praise.” But the aliment of this poor babe was tħin, unnourishing; the return to its little baby-tricks, and efforts to engage attention, bitter ceaseless objurgation. It never had a toy, or knew what a coral meant. It grew up without the lullaby of nurses, it was a stranger to the patient fondle, the hushing caress, the attracting novelty, the costlier plaything, or the cheaper off-hand contrivance to divert the child ; the prattled nonsense (best sense to it), the wise impertinences, the wholesome lies, the apt story interposed, that puts a stop to present sufferings, and awakens the passions of young wonder. It was never sung to-no one ever told to it a tale of the nursery. It was dragged up, to live or to die as it happened. It had no young dreams. It broke at once into the iron realities of life. A child exists not for the very poor as any object of dalliance; it is only another mouth to be fed, a pair of little hands to be betimes inured to labour. It is the rival, till it can be the co-operator, for food with the parent. It is never his mirth, his diversion, his solace : it never makes him young again, with recalling his young times. The children of the very poor have no young times. It makes the


ery heart to bleed to overhear the casual streetFalk between a poor woman and her little girl, a

oman of the better sort of poor, in a condition ther above the squalid beings which we have

n contemplating. It is not of toys, of nursery oks, of summer holidays (fitting that age); of the omised sight, or play; of praised sufficiency at bol. It is of mangling and clear-starching, of




the price of coals.
of the child, that or of potatoes.
of curiosity in idi should be the

The questions

woman, —before

go to marke

murmurs; it is kn


[ocr errors]

ther he child, that should be the very outpourings

Curiosity in idleness, are marked with forecast ind melancholy providence. It has come to be a

han,- before it was a child. It has learned to

ö market; it chaffers, it haggles, it envies, it murs; it is knowing, acute, sharpened; it never

iles. Had we not reason to say that the home of the very poor is no home? There is yet another home, which we are con

ined to deny to be one. It has a larder, which ua home of the poor man wants ; its fireside con

ñces, of which the poor dream not. But with is, it is no home. It is the house of a man is infested with many visitors. May we be

fed for the veriest churl, if we deny our heart bra

the many noble-hearted friends that at times to t

nge their dwelling for our poor roof! It is not of guests that we complain, but of endless

seless visitants; droppers-in, as they are Bled. We sometimes wonder from what sky they fall. It is the very error of the position of our lodging ; its horoscopy was ill calculated. being just situate in a medium-a plaguy suburban mid-space-fitted to catch idlers from town or

frv. We are older than we were, and age is easily put out of its way. We have fewer in our glass to reckon upon, and we cannot brook



to see them drop in endlessly succeeding impertinences. At our time of life, to be alone sometimes is as needful as sleep. It is the refreshing sleep of the day. The growing infirmities of age manifest themselves in nothing more strongly than in an inveterate dislike of interruption. The thing which we are doing, we wish to be permitted to do. We have neither much knowledge nor devices; but there are fewer in the place to which we hasten. We are not willingly put out of our way, even at a game of nine-pins. While youth was, we had vast reversions in time future; we are reduced to a present pittance, and obliged to economize in that article. We bleed away our moments now as hardly as our ducats. We cannot bear to have our thin wardrobe eaten and fretted into by moths. We are willing to barter our good time with a friend, who gives us in exchange his own. Herein is the distinction between the genuine guest and the visitant. This latter takes your good time, and gives you his bad in exchange. The guest is domestic to you as your good cat, or household bird; the visitant is your fly, that flaps in at your window and out again, leaving nothing but a sense of disturbance, and victuals spoiled. The inferior functions of life begin to move heavily. We cannot concoct our food with interruptions. Our chief meal, to be nutritive, must be solitary. With difficulty we can eat before a guest; and never understood what the relish of public feasting meant. Meats have no sapor, nor digestion fair play in a crowd. The unexpected coming in of a visitant stops the machine. There is a punctual generation who time their calls to the precise commencement of your dining-hour---not to eat-but to see you eat. Our knife and fork drop instinctively, and we feel that we have swallowed our latest morsel. Others again show their genius, as we have said, in knocking the moment you have just sat down to a book. They have a peculiar compassionate sneer, with which they “hope that they do not interrupt your studies." Though they flutter off the next moment, to carry their impertinences to the nearest student that they can call their friend, the tone of the book is spoiled; we shut the leaves, and with Dante's lovers, read no more that day. It were well if the effect of intrusion were simply co-extensive with its presence, but it mars all the good hours afterwards. These scratches in appearance leave an orifice that closes not hastily. “It is a prostitution of the bravery of friendship,” says worthy Bishop Taylor, to spend it upon impertinent people, who are, it may be, loads to their families, but can never ease my loads." This is the secret of their gaddings, their visits, and morning calls. They too have homes, which are-no homes.


MY DOG. Good sir, or madam-as it may be—we most willingly embrace the offer of your friendship. We have long known your excellent qualities. We have wished to have you nearer to us; to hold you within the very innermost fold of our heart. We can have no reserve towards a person of your open and noble nature. The frankness of your humour suits us exactly. We have been long looking for such a friend. Quick-let us disburthen our troubles into each other's bosom-let us make our

:: le joys shine by reduplication. — But yap, yap,

yap! what is this confounded cur ? he has fastened his tooth, which is none of the bluntest, just in the Aleshy part of my leg."

“ It is my dog, sir. You must love him for my sake. Here, Test—Test—Test !”

“But he has bitten me.”

Ay, that he is apt to do, till you are better acquainted with him. I have had him three years. He never bites me.”

Yap, yap, yap!-“He is at it again.”

Oh, sir, you must not kick him. He does not like to be kicked. I expect my dog to be treated with all the respect due to myself.”

“But do you always take him out with you, when you go a friendship-hunting ?”

“Invariably. 'Tis the sweetest, prettiest, bestconditioned animal. I call him my test-the touchstone by which to try a friend. No one can properly be said to love me, who does not love him.”

"Excuse us, dear sir-or madam, aforesaid—if upon further consideration we are obliged to decline the otherwise invaluable offer of your friendship. We do not like dogs.”

“Mighty well, sir,-you know the conditionsyou may have worse offers. Come along, Test.”

The above dialogue is not so imaginary, but that, in the intercourse of life, we have had frequent occasions of breaking off an agreeable intimacy by reason of these canine appendages. They do not always come in the shape of dogs; they sometimes wear the more plausible and human character of kinsfolk, near acquaintances, my friend's friend, his partner, his wife, or his children. We could never yet form a friendship-not to speak of more delicate correspondence-however much to our taste, without the intervention of some

« AnteriorContinuar »