« ÎnapoiContinuă »
Thin as I was, I was considered a fair mark for the shafts of their ridicule. He grows worse and worse,' they would sigh, audibly; he is ever taking care of his body, but it is evident his disease is in the head. There is no cure for him, unless he be sent to an insane hospital !' Then, with a loud laugh, and a stroke on my back, they would exclaim,-Cheer up!--Don't be alarmed-live as other people do, and toss Graham bread to the dogs!'
Still I went on dieting myself down to the smallest possible fraction of sustenance which the human frame can subsist upon; and I might have persisted in it till the winds of heaven had scattered my attenuate body like withered leaves away. But an incident dispelled the hallucination. Among other expedients to which, by the advice of my master, I resorted to preserve health, was the use of the dumb-bells in the open air. Whenever I went out, I carried with me a pair of these inplements. Doubtless the reader would have smiled to have seen me in broad day, perambulating the most frequented thoroughfares, with rapid strides, swinging in each hand a massive piece of iron, fashioned like a double-headed shot--seeking with anxious face for health, which I grasped at as the dog in the fable at the shadow, while I was losing my substance. In this manner I was one day sailing along, when a crowd was attracted by my singular appearance. I suddenly found myself in the hands of two stout police officers. I was taken off in a twinkling to a magistrate. My situation was horrible. I was accused of lunacy. In vain did I attempt to persuade my captors that I was only pursuing a rational mode of promoting health-acting agreeably to the dictates of the Science of human life.' 6 Human fiddle-stick!' said they; 'come along you are as crazy as a Bedlamite.' So saying, they dragged me, with the dumb-bells clinched convulsively in my fists, up to the bar of justice.' I had little difficulty in proving my sanity. The magistrate was a humane man, and he saw into my case. I was released; and as I passed from his presence, the eyes of the whole posse of constables fastened upon me. Poor fellow!' said one, don't be alarmed-no one shall harm you.'
These words, uttered invariably in a pitiful tone, made a deep impression on my mind. When I returned, I tossed the dumb-bells from the window, and forthwith abjured what I began to suspect were not the true principles of the Science of human life.' I now endeavored to live as the world in general lives, free from care and anxiety for the bodyand so I jogged on through this part of the journey of my life,—sometimes sick, and sometimes well,-now in the sunshine, and now in the shade, just as it happened. And in the main I was well contented with this way of getting along, as it relieved me from a load of care, and I travelled all the lighter, and more easily, for being rid of a tenacious and disagreeable companion.
But this intermission of misery was not long to continue. Thanks to my better stars that I was not in the city during the prevalence of the Cholera on a former occasion. With others, I fled in due season away among the mountains and the cool retreats of the country. I learned the ravages of the pestilence only by the winged messengers of the press
and the post-office. I devoured the daily bills of mortality with the feverish excitement of morbid appetite that finds a rich repast in the perusal of dangers it has escaped. Oh, how far more glorious seemed the country, for the consciousness of its exemption from disease! The fields looked greener, the sky brighter and clearer the sun more brilliant, and the sunsets more gorgeous!
Health returned, and business summoned me to the city. Why did I not flee at the recent approach of the pestilence? Why did I neglect the forewarnings of the disease? Alas! I know not. Like the charmed bird, I lingered about the spot till retreat was too late. My friends laughed at my fears when I spoke of danger; and I too attempted to join in the laugh, but, like Macbeth's amen, it stuck in my throat. In truth, the subject is one of too great anxiety to me to admit of any indulgences, either mental or bodily. I endeavor to conform my diet to the exact rules prescribed by the physicians and Board of Health. eat no vegetables except potatoes, and those of the freshest quality. Peaches have painted on them, in glowing colors, the symptoms of the malady-the sight of melons to me is melancholy enough--pears, apples, and plums, are forbidden fruit, of which to partake is certain death.
But my hardest task is to regulate the mind. My body has been so drilled and habituated to one system and another, that it the more readily conforms itself to any particular manner of living, as the veteran soldier adapts himself to the tactics of the general under whom he may chance to be enlisted. One of the greatest precautions I find enjoined by the medical authorities, is serenity of mind and freedom from alarm.
Don't be alarmed,' say the doctors, and don't be alarmed,' echo my friends; you must not give way to your fears; why, how pale you lookhave you any of the premonitories?" Premonitories !' Premonitories! How pale you look! Don't be alarmed!' Who can hear the daily changes rung upon these words, and not feel the keenest apprehension, unless happily his nerves are iron, and his heart adamant? I strive not to be alarmed. I argue with myself upon the folly of giving way to my fears. Reason may temper what it cannot subdue; but where is the man who can resist alarm by reasoning upon its inutility, or conquer fear by reflecting that it cannot avert danger? Wherever I go, my friends salute me with anxious inquiries after my health, and then, remarking my dejected looks, they ejaculate: Don't be alarmed! Nothing like fear to bring on the cholera. There are more cases from fright than imprudence.' What to do in this dilemma surpasses my enfeebled and distempered judgment. Occasionally I resort to the physicians. After feeling my pulse, examining my tongue, and inquiring into the condition of my bowels,
Go home,' say they; 'endeavor to keep your mind quiet : nothing is the matter with you; don't be alarmed!' Would that I could adopt the advice all are so ready to give, but few able to practise !
Again I become my own physician. The premonitories seize me before I have time to run to the doctors for relief. In my room are the the various prescriptions recommended by the writers on cholera, all numbered and labelled, and put up in different shaped vials and boxes, so that I can reach them from my bed-side in the dark, without the
possibility of a mistake. At such exigences, down goes a blue pill, a dose of calomel, rhubarb, or camphor, just as the particular symptoms of the disorder seem to require. Before I am well through with the operation of the medicine, in comes some well-meaning friend, to whom I relate my case, detail the symptoms, and communicate the remedies adopted. The first words of consolation invariably are: Don't be alarmed!—you should take no medicine without regular prescription. I will go for the doctor.' Thus departs one to be succeeded by another, with another kind advice.
I am alarmed. Do all I can to prevent it, I have the liveliest apprehension of the dreaded disorder. As sleep flies the eyelids of him who anxiously courts its drowsy influence, so does tranquillity of mind retreat from my grasp. I chase it, and it is gone. I endeavor to become reconciled under its loss, when I am reminded by others of my bereavement, and the fountains of apprehension break forth afresh. Thus am I tossed to and fro on the billows of despair. I sink with the falling of one wave, only to rise on another, to be plunged into the deeper abyss bełow. And the very attempt at relief, is to take up arms against a sea of troubles.'
I am resolved to shut my ears to the warnings both of Scylla and Charybdis-to give myself up for lost, like mariners in the last extremity, and drift on the waves whithersoever they may carry me. I know that this is unmanly,-but there is no help for it now. This poor shattered bark has too long been buffetted about, without compass or chart, to attempt to guide it by the light of the false beacons that glimmer along the shore. It will soon drift upon the sands, a helmless and dismantled wreck and should the voice of any of my friends reach my dying ears, the last sounds I shall expect to hear, will be- Don't be alarmed.'
I've wandered oft amid these bowers,
In gloom unchanged alone remain.
E. F. E.
I was much pleased by the perusal of the lament of one Oldschool, in a recent number of the Knickerbocker, wherein he discoursed with true feeling and discretion upon the theme of Music under the Reformation.' True it is, that we receive no longer that auricular gratification from sweet and simple sounds, once commended so delectably to our senses. The reason is obvious. There is a mania among our modern singers for mere execution, which drives harmony and melody at once into the shade. I shall treat of this, in connexion with others, as among the chiefest of my infelicities.
Naturally, I have tender ears. As recipients of the different modulations of sound, they are peculiarly subtile. My nervous organization is delicate; and those airs that melted into my soul, and kindled up my heart in my better days, still charm those recesses of thought and feeling with an influence truly magical. The enchantment of association twines itself among the notes, and awakens all the dreams of the past, until the tear is on my eyelid, and the throb of remembered delight trembling in my bosom like a reed shaken by the wind. I return, with the elastic and visionary tread of memory, into that Happy Valley of Youth, where I spent the sunny morning of my days. I see the streams sparkling blue and bright along the meadows; the bird chants in the wild wood; the flocks are white on the green hill-side; the herds are cropping the herbage in shady places, and lashing the summer flies, murmuring as they sting; and, above all, swells the pomp of the unsearchable sky, and gorgeous companies of clouds.' These, like the pictures of a panorama, ever arise to my mental vision at the sound of music, such as I heard in other times. Mornings, and sunsets, and landscapes that were dear to me of old, throng around me. I give up the present, and live in the past.
But of late these emotions are strangers to my breast, and the pictures have faded from my mind. I hear singers announce and execute songs called by the same names as those I used to hear ;-but how different their sound! New shakes, quavers, and variations murder their sweetness at the very portals of my ear, and put all their associations to flight. Affectation, too, that bane of good singing, has come so much in fashion, that it is quite impossible to hear a simple song without the modern emendations. If you do, it will be from some fresh-hearted creature, with affections as pure as the rose on her cheek, who spends
a few winter weeks amongst friends or relations in the city. Then, to a guileless mind, her attractions in music are transcendent, and she shows among the starched, affected demoiselles of fashion, like to a snowy dove trooping with crows.' I have a good friend, Kate J—, who now and then comes to the city; and I hail her arrival as a blessing. She sings with simplicity, but with correctness and good taste. She feels what she sings-and does not, parrot-like, repeat the sonorous ejaculations and half-musical intonations, expressive of spurious sorrow or delight, taught by some mortally affected master. I sit by her piano, and in a moment my spirit is wandering in the dominions of recollection, and finds the things of the present to be but as entities of the twilight, flitting unobservedly around.
I have said that affectation is now-a-days the bane of social music. And so it is. Your city-bred Miss, following the teachings of her instructor, does not permit her friends to hear, or rather to understand, more than half the words in a song. Some of them are butchered on her lips; some of them come forth clipped of their proportions in such wise that you know them not: others are murdered in her thorax. This is not her fault, for she learns and sings according to the mode,'therefore her tenderness is affetuoso, and her feeling second-hand. If she visit the Theatre, she will hear ladies and gentlemen applauded to the echo, who, if they read a song with the pronunciation with which they sung it, would be hissed out of sight in a moment. For example, I have heard a fashionable female vocalist, whose name I leave unmentioned, sing Black-Eyed Susan with a pronunciation exactly as expressed in the stanza below:
"Yole-d' in the Dunes tha' vlit was moored,-
Does e'my zweet William zale am'eng e-yer cr-rew?”
Now why is it that such errors are tolerated?—and that they are imilated? The musical old gentleman in Salmagundi, who worked several summers in producing a change in the chimes of Trinity church bells, so that instead of going di do ding dong, they might go ding dong do di, was far better employed than the masters or the vocalists who inculcate affectation. Let us have sincerity in music. It is, of all things, the sweetest and most acceptable. Let the ear have its honestly-desired fruition of harmony, and not be mocked with the shadow of music and feeling, when the substance is wanting. RIVERS.