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We love to muse upon them, though
TO MY WIFE.
You chide me oft, in softest strain.
Come, list the reason then-'tis plain,
Oh when we write-'tis but to tell
If beauty has been oft my theme,
Whose beauty was it?-own-
Or if at vice, I've spurn'd, the while
What thence could all my thoughts beguile ?
Thro' tears within her eye.
If virtue now has charms for me,
Who bade me seek my God?—
If I have sung religion's power,
Though young, thy sky doth sometimes lower,
Now cast a look at every thing,
Your heart must throb as mine-
What need, my love, then write for you?
Then chide me not my angel wife,
TO A BEECH TREE.
I stand beneath thee, hoary beech!
But where long since, I stood
And carv'd that name, Eliza Lee,
Upon thy yielding bark
The letters now I dimly see,
So time-worn is each mark.
Where are the feelings of that day?
That name to me was like sun-light,
With other eyes, I look on things,
Of sorrow, sickness, death and sin,
But yet that name is in my heart-
But why should it remain, when she
The lost, the lov'd, the beautiful,
The spotless and the pure-
I may escape, my God, thy wrath,
THE OLDFIELD SCHOOL.
Beside yon straggling fence that skirts the way,
There, in his noisy mansion, skill'd to rule,
The village master taught his little school.-Goldsmith.
When the storm of human life has passed, and the tumultuous passions have subsided into a calm, it is pleasant to look back upon the dangers we have encountered, and the narrow escapes we have had from impending destruction. Riding at anchor in the quiet haven of old age, memory loves to wander back over the past, and to contemplate the successive events by which we have been brought to our present condition. How mysteriously connected seem occurrences the most distant from one another, forming links in that long chain to which our lives may be compared! Thus seated at ease, in my old arm-chair, my snug harbor, and having recourse to that peaceful enjoyment of age, the pipe, which helps one to think, it is my purpose to recur to some incidents of my life, which illustrate the mysterious connection alluded to, and show how circumstances, the most trivial in their nature, and apparently requiring no circumspection on our parts, often give a color to our fates. With the mind's eye, I can now see the cloud, no bigger than a man's hand, which arose to spread over and darken my heavens.
Reader, I do not like my exordium; it is a style altogether unnatural to me, and savors too strongly of the circumlocutory vice of the day, to be agreeable. I shall never tell my story, if I go on in that fashion-so I pray you let me fall into my natural gait.
Well, to begin at the beginning-My parents were poor, "but not so dd poor, neither," as an old fellow once said to his lawyer, interrupting him in the midst of his speech, in which he was pathetically depicting the abject poverty of his client. Every thing depended upon the establishment of his poverty, but pride took alarm at the degrading picture, and the old man rose indignantly, and hitching up his breeches with a peculiar jerk, exclaimed, as I have said, “not so d-d poor
neither," thereby completely overthrowing the attorney whose risible muscles could no more be controlled than could those of the whole court. My parents were poor, but still they were able to educate me, as most parents then did, by sending me to an oldfield school, where the three R's, as I have somewhere read, (Reading, Riting, and 'Rithmetic,) were taught in perfection, and some Latin besides. Here I spent the morning of my existence, and while "winters of memory" are rolling over me, I look back to this school as the fountain of all the misfortunes of my life. While others recur to their school-boy days as the bright spot-the Oasis in the desert of their lives,-I see in mine nothing but the Upas tree, which blighted every thing around it. I can recall in perfect freshness the picture of our schoolhouse and the surrounding scenery. In the centre of a large field of broom-straw, skirted on every side but one by pines, stood the house, a plain building of sawed logs, crammed, as we say in Virginia, with mud; on the side excepted, there was a fine grove of oaks, through which passed the public road; a common worm fence enclosed the yard, which was entered by a stile of rude blocks. My feelings of awe on first crossing that stile can never be forgotten. I had never seen a school-master, but had formed a dreadful idea of one, having heard so much of the instructive jerk of his arm. A buzzing sound proceeded from the house, which I could not understand. I approached and knocked, and as soon as the door was opened, such a scene met my eyes, and such a Babel of noise assailed my ears, that I stood for some time rooted to the spot. The master, a rough looking Irishman, dreadfully marked with the small-pox, was scuffling with an overgrown boy, who used in his defence, with no little dexterity, a rule, from one end of which hung a string and lead pencil. After a smart rap over the knuckles of the pedagogue, I heard the boy exclaim, "I'll be bound you'll never write AVOIRDUPOIS WEIGHT* again." On two sides
* A famous copy at school, which, with "Evil communication corrupts good manners," will doubtless be remembered by many of my contemporaries.