Слике страница
PDF
ePub

It was

“Lend me fifty," said his friend," and I'll show you a thing or two. There are several things to be seen yet, by individuals who don't wear spectacles.”

He followed the advice of his friend. No one knew the world better, and therefore he must, of course, be right. So Slyder Downehylle became convivial. He slept by day, and he frolicked by night. If this was not the long-sought “it,” where could "it" be? Slyder Downehylle was merry - exceeding jocose. He earned the right and title to be known as a spirited youth; and so he was, generally. But by dint of repetition, the blue began to disappear from this plum also the peach was no longer downy. It was not, indeed, perfect bliss - Slyder was subject to headache in the earlier part of the day; yet it was as nearly “something to be happy with " as he had yet been enabled to discover.

a hard case, view it as you will. Mr. Slyder Downehylle wanted to be happy - he had the greatest disposition to be happy. He had tried every possible experiment in that direction that either he or his friend could suggest; but yet he was a dejected man, even when tipsy twice a day. He could find no delight that was of a substantial character — nothing to which he could constantly recur without fear of disappointment and disgust — nothing that would wear all the week through, and be the same to-day, tomorrow, and the day after that. It was in vain that he intermingled his pleasures took them in alternation-over-ate himself in the morning and over-drank himself in the evening, or reversed the process, turning the bill of fare upside down. It came all to the same thing in the end. There must be something wrong - why could not Slyder Downehylle be happy? Who labored harder to boil down common. place, and to extract from it the essence of felicity- to concentrate the soup of life, and to elicit essentials from their insipid dilution ?

He was engaged in solving a great moral problem. He left longitude and the squaring of the circle to intellects of an inferior order. It was for him to determine whether it was possible to live upon the principal of one's health and capacities for enjoyment, without being restricted to such beggarly returns as the mere interest thereof.

As for content - the "being happy with one's self,” as uncle John expressed it - this was a very flat sort of happiness in Slyder Downehylle's estimation, if, indeed, he ever placed it in that category at all. Slyder Downehylle had never tried gambling; but on the recommendation of his friend, he did try it, and thought that he rather liked it. In short, it improved upon acquaintance. At length, he had reached the ultima Thule. The “something to be happy with” had, to all appearance, been found. But the top of our speed brings the end of the race. He who moves most rapidly is the soonest at the close of his career. Fortune is fickle, and Slyder Downehylle, in his zeal to pile enjoyment upon enjoy ment, - to be happy, if possible, with several things at a time,

had, unluckily, a habit of drinking deep; and, as his head became warm, the “cool” amounts in his pockets melted away.

Slyder Downehylle was now a cashless man; his researches after felicity had not only proved unsuccessful, but had left him without the means of future progression. He was swamped, as it were, in sight of port.

Even his borrowing friend no longer recognized him The tailors desired no more of his custom; his apartments at the hotel were wanted. The“ credit system” was out of fashion. Financiering had been clipped in its wings. How doleful looks the candle when capped with an extinguisher ! The wounded squirrel drops from limb to limb. The world has many wounded squirrels, that do not even crack nuts to earn a living. Just such a squirrel was Slyder Downehylle, compelled, before he reached the top of his aspiring hopes, to abandon every step that he had so toilfully surmounted.

He is sadly emaciated, and in all respects considerably the worse for wear; while a hollow aɔugh indicates that his

one.

physical capabilities have proved inadequate to the requirements of his method of employing life, and are fast dropping to pieces. Slyder Downehylle is consequently more miserable than ever. He is troubled with doubts. Perhaps he may have proceeded upon an error; perhaps the principle — the high pressure principle- of his action was not the right

It may be that excitement is not happiness; that our pleasures are fleeting in proportion to their intensity; that, indeed, if “life be a feast," the amount of satisfaction to be derived from it is rather diminished than increased by swallowing the viands hastily, and by having a free recourse to condiments; and that a physical economy is as wise and as necessary to well-being, as economy of any other kind. He is almost led to suppose that his "something to be happy with " is a fallacy; he never could hold it within his grasp : and he inclines to the belief that a man probably does well to have a home in himself, that he may not always be compelled to run abroad for recreation, or to appeal to his senses to give vivacity to the hour. If it were his luck to begin again But that hollow cough! Our experiences oft reach their climax too late; yet others may learn from the example of Slyder Downehylle.

JOSEPH C, NEAL.

131. Fitz-James and Roderick Dhu.

Fitz-James, in danger and alone,
Famished and chilled, through ways unknown, ,
Tangled and steep, yet journeyed on;
Till, as a rock's huge point he turned,
A watch-fire close before him burned

Beside its embers, red and clear,
Basked, in his plaid, a mountaineer:

[ocr errors]

And

up
he
sprung

with sword in hand, -
“Tliy name and purpose! Saxon, stand!”
"A stranger.” “What dost thou require?
“Rest and a guide, and food and fire.
My life's beset, my path is lost,
The gale has chilled my limbs with frost."
“ Art thou a friend to Röderick ?

"No" Thou dar’st not call thyself a foe!” “ I dare! to him and all the band He brings to aid his murderous hand." “Bold words ! — but though the beast of game The privilege of chase may claim, Though space and law the stag we lend, Ere hound we slip, or bow we bend, Who ever recked, where, how, or when, The prowling fox was trapped or slain? Thus treacherous scouts, yet sure they lie, Who

say

thou camest a secret spy ! "They do, by Heaven ! Come Roderick Dhu, And of his clan the boldest two, And let me but till morning rest, ( write the falsehood on their crest." “ If by the blaze I mark aright, Thou bear'st the belt and spur of knight." “ Then, by these tokens, mayst thou know Each proud oppressor's mortal foe.” “Enough, enough; sit down and share A soldier's couch, a soldier's fare."

He tended him like welcome guest,
Then thus his further speech addressed :
Stranger,

I am to Roderick Dhu
A clansman born, å kinsman true;
Each word against his honor spoke
Demands of me avenging stroke;

- upon thy fate, 'tis said, A mighty augury is laid.

Yet more,

It rests with me to wind my horn,
Thou art with numbers overborne ;
It rests with me, here, brand to brand,
Worn as thou art, to bid thee stand;
But not for clan, nor kindred's cause,
Will I depart from honor's laws :
To assail a wearied man were shame,
And stranger is a holy name;
Guidance and rest, and food and fire,
In vain he never must require.
Then rest thee here till dawn of day;
Myself will guide thee on the way,
O'er stock and stone, through watch and ward,
Till past Clan Alpine's outmost guard,
As far as Coilantogle's Ford;
From thence thy warrant is thy sword.”
I take thy courtesy, by Heaven,
As freely as 'tis nobly given!”
Well, rest thee; for the bittern's cry
Sings us the lake's wild lullaby."
With that he shook the gathered heath,
And spread his plaid upon the wreath ;
And the brave foemen, side by side,
Lay peaceful down like brothers tried,
And slept until the dawning beam
Purpled the mountain and the stream.

With morn they came where, stern and steep,
The hill sinks down upon the deep;
Here Vennachar in silver flows,
There, ridge on ridge, Benledi rose.
Ever the hollow path twined on,
Beneath steep bank and threatening stone:
A hundred men might hold the post
With hardihood against a host.
The guide led through the pass's jaws,
And asked Fitz-James by what strange cause

« ПретходнаНастави »