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To Chong-Loo, Canton.
This Lee-Hong writes to Chong-Loo, through a man, who paints for him. I write this in Boston, where the world begins again after a long way over the water in the big ships; which lasts so long, that the moon changes four or five times; and I wish Chong-Loo is very well. These are strange people; they have all ugly large eyes, and are very rude to each other; they never bow for fifteen minutes at the door before they enter, two together; but they are very industrious. When they have worked all day, they meet in the evening many together, and make pleasure a very hard labor, so that they perspire much and go very bare the women. They all wear ugly hats, as the foreigners, you have seen in Canton, and are not ashamed to take it off and to show their ugly heads, the hair cut off quite short. Very few men here are big, and the women are lean and very stingy, because they make their gowns so short, that they reach but little under the knee, and I have seen the garters in the street when the wind blows high, and the garter is a ribband round the knee. Their houses are not painted, and they eat much meat, but never cats or dogs; are they not great fools? And they are very indecent, because they speak to women in the open street, and carry them off by the arm. They never marry but one wife, and say they are always happy with her and also contented, but I asked what they do when they do not like this one, but they say, they always like her. Now that is strange. They do not whip much, and never skin a thief, and say, you Chinese are barbarians, and very cruel people. But they skin people of their good name in the newspapers, and say things of them which are not true, and this they call liberty and civilization, which we do not manufacture, and sometimes call it fair play, which is the English word for roguery. They always say that a man is a villain, a murderer, a blockhead, and a great thief, before they make him their emperor, because they make themselves their emperors and have them not from the sun, as we have. They do not sacrifice people or beasts, but some of them say, some men are sacrificed after death forever as long as our Gods live, to pain and grief, because they were made so by their God to be sacrificed, which grieves my heart much. And they have a great book which they say their God has written. And in this book stands that they shall love each other, which is true, because I have seen it myself, and yet they quarrel all the time, which I find very queer. In their temples they say, that all men are wicked in heart and vitiated in judgement, and in the newspapers they say most of the people are always just and enlightened, one of which must be a very big lie, and I believe the last. I stay here in a very large house with many rooms, all built of stone like a great temple, but it is none. There live many people together, and they eat all together, and when they adore each other they lift a glass and look at each other and smile, and then they drink, each his own wine, which is strong water. I will write you more another time. My master, who brought me to Boston is very kind, he never has flogged me once. May you long live and healthy. This was written by Lee Hong.
LINES WRITTEN AMONG THE WHITE MOUNTAINS.
THE multitude of mountains!-like a sea
And thou, proud summit!* Threshold of the day!
Of him, whose name is thine, whose deathless fame,
The world, diminished, spread before the eye
Yes, thou art still the same-even as of old
In headlong haste to seek the expectant meads,
* Mount Washington.
REFLECTIONS FOR THE CLOSE OF THE YEAR.
THERE are moments in life, in which serious thoughts sue for admittance into the mind, with an energy which will take no denial; in which the giddy slaves of impulse entertain for a while that strange guest, contemplation, and in which, the reflections of the naturally meditative assume an unusually grave and pensive character. Such are the anniversaries of our birth and of any striking event in our lives, of great epochs in the history of mankind or of individual nations, and such too are those days in which the year changes its masters and the empire of a new season begins. The luxuriant promise of Spring, the ample fulfilment of Summer, the golden prodigality of Autumn and the deathlike repose of Winter, suggest, each itspeculiar trains of reflection, and each addresses itself to mankind, with a degree of power varied and modified by the age, circumstances and temperaments of individuals.
We are now entering upon that sombre period of the year, during which exhausted Nature seems to fold a mantle of repose about her limbs and to lie down to a long sleep, from which she may arise invigorated, to begin anew her benevolent and vast energies of production and increase. We have been standing for the last two months, as it were, by the bedside of the "dying year," and have been able to mark each successive step in the progress of decay. Day after day, we have seen the sun wheeling through a smaller arc of the heavens, and, day after day, darkness has been extending its conquests into the empire of light. We have seen the leaves of the trees exchange the glossy brightness of summer, for deepening shades of brown, and finally detach themselves from the twigs on which they nodded and danced, and lie in unsightly masses in the fields and by the roadside. The wind has lost that fragrant and spiritual character which it had in the seasons of blossoms and of fruits, and either howls through the air in angry gusts, or sighs along in that cold and melancholy under tone, which is not without its charms to him who trims his studious lamp, and through the watches of the night beholds the cheerful blaze of his hearth reflected from the faces of those he loves. He, who can view with an untouched spirit the great and solemn changes which have been going on in the world around him, must be as insensible as the inanimate forms in which these transformations are displayed. There
is a vividness in the teachings of Nature, which long familiarity cannot diminish, nor continued repetition wear out. That the lines of decay are written upon all things human, is a truth so obvious, that the mind assents to it at once, without the trouble of reflecting; and it requires no common genius, at this age of the world, to set it forth in such a manner as that we shall not regard it with the most listless indifference. We have read of it in so many books and heard it in so many sermons, it has rounded the periods of so many essayists and strung the lyres of so many poets, that it is only the most gifted mind, and lips that are wet with the dew of inspiration, that can treat the subject in such a way as to make our bosoms throb to any new emotion. But it is not so with Nature. The instructions gathered from her broad page have the fresh and enduring beauty of flowers. There is an eloquence in her exhortations, constant as they are, which always arrests our attention, and a music in her voice, which familiarity renders but more sweet. The ocean is the same sublime object to him who has from childhood listened to the solemn and ceaseless dash of its billows. When we stand upon the mountain's top we cannot help feeling that we are nearer heaven, though our youthful feet may have wandered over every green nook and leafy dell upon its sides. And so it is with the changes that are ever going on upon the face of the earth. Each year renews the same vast and beautiful drama, and each year awakens the same reflections and teaches over the same lessons. The peculiar changes, which Autumn effects in our scenery, are as obvious and common as any thing can well be; yet who can look at the forests, clad in the gorgeous and many-colored drapery with which that season invests them, or stand beneath their branches when their sere leaves are falling around him like snow-flakes, without having his heart touched, his pride checked, and his climbing thoughts brought down to that chastened and subdued strain of feeling, which the sight of decay, in any shape, so naturally awakens? No matter how many times we may have contemplated the same scenes before; they have lost no more of their old influence than of their old beauty. We may have watched the hues of three score and ten Autumns, and yet we cannot turn in weariness from them as from a stale jest or an oft-repeated story.
There is a striking and philosophical passage in the poems of one, who deserves to be called the high-priest of Nature, which is not inappropriate to the subject of our reflections, and is withal so beautiful, that if it were, we need hardly make an apology for inserting it.
"In youth we love the darksome lawn
WORDSWORTH'S ODE TO LYCORIS.
These lines seem to us as true as they are beautiful, though that might not be the impression left by their first perusal. Youth is, in its own essence, a prompter of vernal thoughts. It is itself a perpetual spring. It is full of light, and bloom, and promise. The season of Spring
affects a young man less, because he sees, in its hues and forms, the reflected images of his own thoughts. The tone of the outward world chords so exactly with the strain of his own buoyant emotions, that he hardly heeds it. He requires an external influence, which shall throw him out of himself and suggest sensations opposite to those which are the natural offspring of his mind. This he finds in the melancholy repose of Autumn. The old man, on the contrary, is "fallen into the sere and yellow leaf," and his thoughts are tinged with an autumnal soberness and gloom, and the brightness and activity of Spring are dear to him, because it gives them an impulse, and sheds upon them a gleam of sunshine. Old age, too, lives in memory, as youth in anticipation. It delights to be carried back to the time when its energies were new and unexhausted, when life, was in its blossom, and the world wore the beauty of promise. An illustration of the contrary taste of the two different periods of life, may be found in that law of magnetism, whereby the similar poles of two magnets repel each other while the opposite ones attract.
But this is wandering somewhat from the direct track of our subject. There are various causes which operate to give a sober coloring to the thoughts which the present time suggests. The sights and sounds that are around us are calculated to inspire them; the brown earth, the leafless trees and the mournful wind that sighs through them, and that peculiar bright and cold look of the sky, especially during the few moments of evening twilight. The effect of these impressions of the senses is aided by other considerations. The close of the year is a time when we pause and look back at the events which have marked its progress, and especially those in which we ourselves are most directly interested. There are few men, over whose heads a period of twelve months passes without bringing some affliction; and now memory will call up the ghosts of buried enjoyments, and bid the wounds of sorrow bleed afresh; and if we ourselves have been so favored as to have had an unbroken flow of prosperity and happiness, it cannot be the case with many who are dear to us, and we make their sufferings our own; for he, who thinks at all, thinks for others as well as himself. Any peculiar or striking event, which has occurred to us or our friends, any unexpected piece of good fortune, or unhoped deliverance from great danger, will be, or ought to be, characterized by awe of the power which has been displayed, and gratitude for the direction in which it has been exerted. This, too, is the season of self-examination ; and a man will seriously ask himself the question, whether he have not wandered farther from God and truth, than he was a year ago; whether he have not often yielded to temptation when a little more resistance would have vanquished the tempter, and whether he have not often sinned when there was no temptation at all, but only the impulse of his own lawless and uncontrolled desires. It will not be enough for him to ascertain that he is no worse than he was before; it should fill him with shame and compunction, if he be not perceptibly better; and if his moral nature be not improved, he may be sure that it has deteriorated, for there is no such thing as a state of moral rest. It is with a human soul as with a boat propelled against a stream; if the progressive effort be relaxed a moment, it will go backward; and no man of any enlargement of mind, or philanthropy of feeling, will