Favorite authors in prose and poetry online

. (page 41 of 66)
Online Libraryi00bostFavorite authors in prose and poetry → online text (page 41 of 66)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

olation that had fallen upon us, the first dark wave of a
whelming tide !

As it passed out of sight, I heard the wheels cease, one
by one, their crunch and grind on the gravelled road up the
slope of the graveyard. I knew they had reached that
hillside where the dead of Ridgefield lie calmer than its
living ; and presently the long-drawn notes of that hymn-
tune consecrated to such occasions old China rose and
fell in despairing cadences on my ear. If ever any music
was invented for the express purpose of making mourners
as distracted as any external thing can make them, it is the
bitter, hopeless, unrestrained wail of this tune. There is
neither peace nor resignation in it, but the very exhaustion
of raving sorrow that heeds neither God nor man, but cries
out, with the soulless agony of a wind-harp, its refusal to be

At length it was over, and still in that same dead calm
Josephine came home to me. Mrs. Bowen was frightened,
Mr. Bowen distressed. I could not think what to do at
first; but remembering how sometimes a little thing had
utterly broken me down from a regained calmness after loss,
some homely association, some recall of the past, I begged
of Mr. Bowen to bring up from the village Frank's knap-
sack, which he had found in one of his men's hands, the


poor fellow having taken care of that, while he lost his
own : " For the captain's wife," he said. As soon as it
came, I took from it Frank's coat, and his cap and sword.
My heart was in my mouth as I entered Josephine's room,
and saw the fixed quiet on her face where she sat. I
walked in, however, witli no delay, and laid the things down
on her bed, close to where she sat. . She gave one startled
look at them and then at me ; her face relaxed from all its
quiet lines ; she sank on her knees by the bedside, and,
burying her head in her arms, cried, and cried, and cried, so
helplessly, so utterly without restraint, that I cried too. It
was impossible for me to help it. At last the tears exhaust-
ed themselv^. ; the dreadful sobs ceased to convulse her;
all drenched and tired, she lifted her face from its rest, and
held out her arms to me. I took her up, and put her to bed
like a child. I hung the coat and cap and sword where she
could see them. I made her take a cup of broth, and be-
fore long, with her eyes fixed on the things I had hung up,
she fell asleep, and slept heavily, without waking, till the
next morning.

I feared almost to enter her room when I heard her stir ;
I had dreaded her waking, that terrible hour that all
know who have suffered, the dim awakening shadow that
darkens so swiftly to black reality ; but I need not 1m -e
dreaded it for her. She told me afterward that in all that
sleep she never lost the knowledge of her grief; she did
not come into it as a surprise. Frank had seemed to be
with her, distant, sad, yet consoling ; she felt that he was
gone, but not utterly, that there was a drear separation
and loneliness, but not forever.

When I went in, she lay there awake, looking at her tro
phy, as she came to call it, her eyes with all their light
quenched and sodden out with crying, her face pale and
unalterably sad, but natural in its sweetness and mobility
She drew me down to her and kissed me.

A WOMAN. 291

* May 1 get up ? " she asked ; and then, without waiting
for an answer, went on, "I have been selfish, Sue ; I will
try to be better now; I won't run away from my battle.
O how glad I am he did n't run away ! It is dreadful
now, dreadful ! Perhaps, if I had to choose if he should
have run away or or this, I should have wanted him to
run, I 'm afraid I should. But I am glad now. If God
wanted him, I 'm glad he went from the front ranks.
those poor women whose husbands ran away, and were
killed, too ! "

She seemed to be so comforted by that one thought ! It
was a strange trait in the little creature ; I could not quite
fathom it.

After this she came down-stairs and went about among
us, busying herself in various little ways. She never went
to the graveyard; but whenever she was a little tired, I
was sure to find her sitting in her room with her eyes on
that cap and coat and sword. Letters of condolence poured
in, but she would not read them or answer them, and they
all fell into my hands. I could not wonder ; for of all cruel
conventionalities, visits and letters of condolence seem to
me the most cruel. If friends can be useful in lifting off
the little painful cares that throng in the house of death till
its presence is banished, let them go and do their work qui-
etly and cheerfully ; but to make a call or write a note, to
measure your sorrow and express theirs, seems to me on a
par with pulling a wounded man's bandages off and probing
his hurt to hear him cry out and hear yourself say how bad
it must be !

Laura Lane was admitted, for Frank's sake, as she had
been his closest and dearest relative. The day she came,
Josey had a severe headache, and looked wretchedly. Lau-
ra was shocked, and showed it so obviously, that, had there
been any real cause for her alarm, I should have turned her
out of the room without ceremony, almost before she was


fairly in it. As soon as she left, Josey looked at me and

" Laura thinks I am going to die," said she ; " but I 'm
not. If I could, I would n't, Sue ; for poor father and
mother want me, and so will the soldiers by and by." A
weary, heart-breaking look quivered in her face as she went
on, half whispering, " But I should I should like to see
him ! "

In September she went away. I had expected it ever
since she spoke of the soldiers needing her. Mrs. Bowen
went to the sea-side for her annual astjima. Mr. Bowen
went with Josephine to Washington. There, by some talis-
manic influence, she got admission to the hospitals, though
she was very pretty, and under thirty. I think perhaps her
pale face and widow's-dress, and her sad, quiet manner,
were her secret of success. She worked here like a sprite ;
nothing daunted or disgusted her. She followed the army
to Yorktown, and nursed on the transport-ships. One man
said, I was told, that it was " jes' like havin' an apple-tree
blow raound, to see that Mis' Addison ; she was so kinder
cheery an' pooty, an' knew sech a sight abaout nussin', it did
a feller lots of good only to look at her chirpin' abaout."

Now and then she wrote to me, and almost always ended
by declaring she was " quite well, and almost happy." If
ever she met with one of Frank's men, and all who were
left re-enlisted for the war, he was sure to be nursed like
a prince, and petted witR all sorts of luxuries, and told
it was for his old captain's sake. Mr. and Mrs. Bowen fol-
lowed her everywhere, as near as they could get to her, and
afforded unfailing supplies of such extra hospital stores as
she wanted ; they lavished on her time and money and love
enough to have satisfied three women, but Josey found use
for it all for her work. Two months ago, they all came
back to Dartford. A hospital had been set up there, and
some one was needed to put it in operation ; her experience

A WOMAN. 293

would be doubly useful there, and it was pleasant for
her to be so near Frank's home, to be among his friends
and hers.

I went in, to do what I could, being stronger than usnal.
and found her hard at work. Her face retained its rounded
outline, her lips had recovered their bloom, her curls now
and then strayed from the net under which she carefully
tucked them, and made her look as girlish as ever, but the
girl's expression was gone ; that tender, patient, resolute
look was born of a woman's stern experience ; and though
she had laid aside her widow's-cap, because it was incon-
venient, her face was so sad in its repose, so lonely and
inexpectant, she scarce needed any outward symbol to pro-
claim her widowhood. Yet under all this new character lay
still some of those childish tastes that made, as it were, the
" fresh perfume " of her nature : everything that came in
her way was petted ; a little white kitten followed her about
the wards, and ran to meet her whenever she came in, with
joyful demonstrations ; a great dog waited for her at home,
and escorted her to and from the hospital ; and three cana-
ries hung in her chamber ; and I confess here, what I
would not to Laura, that she retains yet a strong taste for
sugar-plums, gingerbread, and the "Lady's Book." She
kept only so much of what Laura called her vanity as to be
exquisitely neat and particular in every detail of dress ; and
though a black gown, and a white linen apron, collar, and
cuffs do not afford much room for display, yet these were
always so speckless and spotless that her whole aspect was

Last week there was a severe operation performed hi the
hospital, and Josephine had to be present. She held the
poor fellow's hand till he was insensible from the kindly
chloroform they gave him, and, after the surgeons were
through, sat by him till night, with such a calm, cheerful
face, giving him wine and broth, and watching every indica-


tion of pulse or skin, till he really rallied, and is now doing

As I came over, the next day, I met Doctor Rivers at the
door of her ward.

" Really," said he, " that little Mrs. Addison is a true
heroine ! "

The kitten purred about my feet, and as I smiled assent
to him, I said inwardly to myself,

" Really, she is a true woman 1 "



IF I shall ever win the home in heaven
For whose sweet rest I humbly hope and pray,
In the great company of the forgiven
I shall be sure to find old Daniel Gray.

1 knew him Avell ; in fact, few knew him better ;

For my young eyes oft read for him the Word,
And saw how meekly from the crystal letter

He drank the life of his beloved Lord.

Old Daniel Gray was not a man who lifted
On ready words his freight of gratitude,

And was not called upon among the gifted,
In the prayer-meetings of his neighborhood.

He had a few old-fashioned words and phrases,
Linked in with sacred texts and Sunday rhymes ;

And I suppose that, in his prayers and graces,
I Ve heard them all at least a thousand times.

I see him now, his form, and face, and motions,
His homespun habit, and his silver hair,

And hear the language of his trite devotions
Rising behind the straight-backed kitchen-chair.

296 J. G. HOLLAND.

I can remember how the sentence sounded,

" Help us, Lord, to pray, and not to faint ! "
And how the " conquering-and-to-conquer " rounded

The loftier aspirations of the saint.


He had some notions that did not improve him :
He never kissed his children, so they say ;

And finest scenes and fairest flowers would move him
Less than a horseshoe picked up in the way.

He could see naught but vanity in beauty,
And naught but weakness in a fond caress,

And pitied men whose views of Christian duty
Allowed indulgence in such foolishness.

Yet there were love and tenderness within him ;

And I am told, that, when his Charley died,
Nor Nature's need nor gentle words could win him

From his fond vigils at the sleeper's side.

And when they came to bury little Charley,

They found fresh dew-drops sprinkled in his hair,

And on his breast a rose-bud, gathered early,
And guessed, but did not know, who placed it thera

My good old friend was very hard on fashion,

And held its votaries in lofty scorn,
And often burst into a holy passion

While the gay crowds went by on Sunday morn.

Yet he was vain, old Gray, and did not know it !

He wore his hair unparted, long, and plain,
To hide the handsome brow that slept below it,

For fear the world would think that he was vain I


He had a hearty hatred of oppression,

And righteous words for sin of every kind ;

Alas, that the transgressor and transgression
Were linked so closely in his honest mind !

Yet that sweet tale of gift without repentance,
Told of the Master, touched him to the core,

And tearless he could never read the sentence :
" Neither do I condemn thee : sin no more."

Honest and faithful, constant in his calling,
Strictly attendant on the means of grace,

Instant in prayer, and fearful most of falling,
Old Daniel Gray was always in his place.

A practical old man, and yet a dreamer,

He thought that in some strange, unlooked-for way,
His mighty Friend in heaven, the great Redeemer,

Would honor him with wealth some golden day.

This dream he carried in a hopeful spirit
Until in death his patient eye grew dim,

And his Redeemer called him to inherit

The heaven of wealth long garnered up for him.

So, if I ever win the home in heaven

For whose sweet rest I humbly hope and pray,

In the great company of the forgiven
I shall be sure to find old Daniel Gray.



IN the year 1753 David Hume was living in Edinburgh
and composing his History of Great Britain. He was
a man of great knowledge, and of a social and benevolent
temper, and truly the best-natured man in the world. He
was branded with the title of Atheist, on account of the
many attacks on revealed religion that are to be found in
his philosophical works, and in many places of his History,
the last of which are still more objectionable than the
first, which a friendly critic might call only sceptical
Apropos of this, when Mr. Robert Adam, the celebrated
architect, and his brother, lived in Edinburgh with their
mother, an aunt of Dr. Robertson's, and a very respectable
woman, she said to her son, " I shall be glad to see any of
your companions to dinner, but I hope you will never bring
the Atheist here to disturb my peace." But Robert soon
fell on a method to reconcile her to him, for he introduced
him under another name, or concealed it carefully from her.
When the company parted, she said to her son, " I must
confess that you bring very agreeable companions about
you, but the large, jolly man who sat next me is the most
agreeable of them all." " This was the very Atheist," said
he, " mother, that you was so much afraid of." " Well, says
she, " you may bring him here as much as you please, for
he 's the most innocent, agreeable, facetious man I ever met


with." This was truly the case with him ; for though he
had much learning and a fine taste, and was professedly a
sceptic, though by no means an atheist, he had the greatest
simplicity of mind and manners with the utmost facility and
benevolence of temper of any man I ever knew. His con-
versation was truly irresistible, for while it was enlightened,
it was naive almost to puerility.

I was one of those who never believed that David Hume's
sceptical principles had laid fast hold on his mind, but
thought that his books proceeded rather from affectation of
superiority and pride of understanding and love of vainglory.
I was confirmed in this opinion, after his death, by what the
Honorable Patrick Boyle, one of his most intimate friends,
told me many years ago at my house in Musselburgh, where
he used to come and dine the first Sunday of every General
Assembly, after his brother, Lord Glasgow, ceased to be
Lord High Commissioner. "When we were talking of
David, Mrs. Carlyle asked Mr. Boyle if he thought David
Hume was as great an unbeliever as the world took him to
be ? He answered, that the world judged from his books,
as they had a right to do ; ' but he thought otherwise, who
had known him all his life, and mentioned the following
incident : When David and he were both in London, at the
period when David's mother died, Mr. Boyle, hearing of it,
soon after went into his apartment, for they lodged in the
same house, when he found him in the deepest affliction
and in a flood of tears. After the usual topics of condolence,
Mr. Boyle said to him, " My friend, you owe this uncom-
mon grief to your having thrown off the principles of re-
ligion ; for if you had not, you would have been consoled by
the firm belief that the good lady, who was not only the
best of mothers, but the most pious of Christians, was now
completely happy in the realms of the just." To which
David replied. " Though I threw out my speculations to
entertain and employ the learned and metaphysical world,


yet in other things I do not think so differently from the resi
of mankind as you may imagine." To this my wife was a
witness. This conversation took place the year after David
died, when Dr. Hill, who was to preach, had gone to a room
to look over his notes.

At this period, when he first lived in Edinburgh, and was
writing his History of England, his circumstances were nar-
row, and he accepted the office of Librarian to the Faculty
of Advocates, worth 40 per annum. But it was not for
the salary that he accepted this employment, but that he
might have easy access to the books in that celebrated li-
brary ; for, to my certain knowledge, he gave every farthing
of the salary to families in distress. Of a piece with this
temper was his curiosity and credulity, which were without
bounds, a specimen of which shall be afterwards given when
I come down to Militia and the Poker. His economy was
strict, as he loved independency ; and yet he was able at
that time to give suppers to his friends in his small lodging
in the Canongate. He took much to the company of the
younger clergy, not from a wish to bring them over to his
opinions, for he never attempted to overturn any man's
principles, but they best understood his notions, and could
furnish him with literary conversation. Robertson and
John Home and Baimatine and I lived all in the country,
and came only periodically to the town. Blair and Jardine
both lived in it, and suppers being the only fashionable meal
at that time, we dined where we best could, and by cadies
assembled our friends to meet us in a tavern by nine
o'clock ; and a fine time it was when we could collect David
Hume, Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson, Lord Elibank, and
Drs. Blair and Jardine, on an hour's warning. I remember
one night that David Hume, who, having dined abroad,
came rather late to us, and directly pulled a large key from
his pocket, which he laid on the table. This he said was
given him by his maid Peggy (much more like a man than


a woman) that she might not sit up for him, for she said
when the honest fellows came in from the country, he
never returned home till after one o'clock. This intimacy
of the young clergy with David Hume enraged the zealots
on the opposite side, who little knew how impossible it
was for him, had he been willing, to shake their prin-

As Mr. Hume's circumstances improved he enlarged his
mode of living, and instead of the roasted hen and minced
collops, and a bottle of punch, he gave both elegant dinners
and suppers, and the best claret, and, which was best of
all, he furnished the entertainment with the most instruc-
tive and pleasing conversation, for he assembled whosoever
were most knowing and agreeable among either the laity
or clergy. This he always did, but still more unsparingly
when he became what he called rich. For innocent mirth
and agreeable raillery I never knew his match. Jardine,
who sometimes bore hard upon him, for he had much
drollery and wit, though but little learning, never could
overturn his temper. Lord Elibank resembled David in
his talent for collecting agreeable companions together, and
had a house in town for several winters chiefly for that

David, who delighted in what the French call plaisan-
terie, with the aid of Miss Nancy Ord, one of the Chief
Baron's daughters, contrived and executed one that gave,
him very great delight. As the New Town was making
its progress westward, he built a house in the southwest
corner of St. Andrew Square. The street leading south to
Princess Street had not yet got its name affixed, but they
got a workman early one morning to paint on the corner-
stone of David's house " St. David's Street,'* where it re
mains to this day.

He was at first quite delighted with Ossian'e poems, and
gloried in them ; but on going to London he went over to


the other side, and loudly affirmed them to be inventions
of Macpherson. I happened to say one day, when he was
declaiming against Macpherson, that I had met with nobody
of his opinion but William Caddel of Cockenzie, and Presi-
dent Dundas, which he took ill, and was some time of
forgetting. This is one instance of what Smellie says of
him, that though of the best temper in the world, yet he
could be touched by opposition or rudeness. This was the
only time I had ever observed David's temper change. I
can call to mind an instance or two of his good-natured
pleasantry. Being at Gilmerton, where David Hume was
on a visit, Sir David Kinloch made him go to Athlestane-
ford Church, where I preached for John Home. When we
met before dinner, " What did you mean," says he to me,
" by treating John's congregation to-day with one of Cicero's
academics? I did not think that such heathen morality
would have passed in East Lothian." On Monday, when
we were assembling to breakfast, David retired to the enc
of the dining-room, when Sir David entered : " What are
you doing there, Davy ? come to your breakfast." " Take
away the enemy first," says David. The baronet, thinking
it was the warm fire that kept David in the lower end of
the room, rung the bell for a servant to carry some of it off.
It was not .the fire that scared David, but a large Bible that
was left on a stand at the upper end of the room, a chapter
of which had been read at the family prayers the night
before, that good custom not being then out of use when
clergymen were in the house. Add to this John Home
saying to him at the Poker Club, when everybody wondered
what could have made a clerk of Sir William Forbes run
away with 900, "I know that very well," says John
Home to David ; " for when he was taken, there was found
in his pocket your Philosophical Works and Boston's Four-
fold State of Man?

David Hume, during all his life, had written the most


pleasing and agreeable letters to his friends. I have pre-
served two of these. But I lately saw two of more early
dale in the hands of Mr. Sandiland Dysart, Esq., W. S., to
his mother, who was a friend of David's, and a very accom-
plished woman, one of them dated in 1751, on occasion of
his brother Hume of NinewelTs marriage ; and the other in
1754, with a present of the first volume of his History, both
of which are written in a vein of pleasantry and playfulness
which nothing can exceed, and which makes me think that
a collection of his letters would be a valuable present to the
world, and present throughout a very pleasing picture of his

I have heard him say that Baron Montesquieu, when he
asked him if he did not think that there would soon be a
revolution in France favorable to liberty, answered, " No,
for their noblesse had all become poltroons." He said that
the club in Paris (Baron Holbach's) to which he belonged
were of opinion that Christianity would be abolished in
Europe by the end of the eighteenth century ; and that they
laughed at Andrew Stuart for making a battle in favor of a
future state, and called him " L'ame Immortelle."

David Hume, like Smith, had no discernment at all of
characters. The only two clergymen whose interests he
espoused, and for one of whom he provided, were the two
silliest fellows in the Church. With every opportunity, he
was ridiculously shy of asking favors, on account of preserv-
ing his independence, which always appeared to me to be a
very foolish kind of pride. His friend John Home, with
not more benevolence, but with no scruples from a wish of
independence, for which he was not born, availed himself of
his influence and provided for hundreds, and yet he never
asked anything for himself.

Adam Smith, though perhaps only second to David in
learning and ingenuity, was far inferior to him in conversa-
tional talents. In that of public speaking they were equal


David never tried it, and I never heard Adam but once,
which was at the first meeting of the Select Society, when
he opened up the design of the meeting. His voice was
harsh and enunciation thick, approaching to stammering.
His conversation was not colloquial, but like lecturing, in
which I have been told he was not deficient, especially when
he grew warm. He was the most absent man in company
that I ever saw, moving his lips, and talking to himself, and
smiling, in the midst of large companies. If you awaked
him from his reverie and made him attend to the subject of

Online Libraryi00bostFavorite authors in prose and poetry → online text (page 41 of 66)