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brightness and the beauty of the world, the other glitters and sparkles awhile in the exhalations of the earth!
But we must condemn that species of romance, which in the vain attempt to portray scenes, cull out the worst features of crime and passion, and give them as leaflets from the book of life. In our little work, which are indeed leaves, our object is to give reality instead of romance; and when the latter has been called in to aid the first, they both go hand in hand throughout each sketch, to the end maintaining the moral which our object was and is to impress upon the reader. The following excellent article is from a late number of Blackwood's Magazine, it is so applicable to our subject that we are induced to give it place:
“ We have Lord Bacon, however, and many other great writers on our side; and there is reason for thinking that the public likewise are beginning to be satiated with the hells of the imagination. It seems, indeed, to be pretty evident that there is enough, in actual life, of suffering, and misery, and crime, and vengeance, and gloom; and that there are but too many coarse ruffians, worthy of the gallows, whether they ever come to it or not: fiction should not, as is vulgarly supposed, present us with a mere representation of what is, or of what is commonly, but should lead us into more sunny and delightful scenes than the rough, ordinary, homespun world affords; and not, as is now but too often the case, make us glad to turn from the horrors of fictitious transactions to the far more tranquil and delightful prospects of common life.
It is the common opinion that the portraying of dark, misanthropical villains, and tremendous events, exhibits greater power, as the phrase is, than the painting of more subdued characters, and the description of more natural and probable transactions. We are not of this creed. According
to our notions, nothing is more difficult than the creation of a little knot of characters, probable but not common, whose adventures shall successively call into play, mirth, humour, pathos, pity, terror, anxiety, hope, delight-without for a moment shocking belief, or bordering on caricature or the horrible. And it is this difficulty, which is felt if not acknowledged, that drives our romance writers and novelists to the use of the marvellous and the abominable. The system, however, as we have said, is nearly worn out. Our nerves are daily becoming more and more used to fictitious horrors, and we shall very shortly be rendered as insensible to the unspeakable sufferings of a hero or heroine of romance, as an old, thorough-paced inquisitor must be to the writhing of a patient of the Holy Office upon the rack. Use, as the proverb says, reconciles us to every thing. Hanging, drowning, burning, &c., are now mere common occurrences in fiction. The executions formerly perpetrated on our stage, and which furnished the French critics with materials for ridicule, are, in fact, every day outdone by our fashionable fiction-mongers, who make nothing of human life, or human suffering, when they expect to amuse their readers by inquisitorial exhibitions.
But, we again repeat, nothing but want of genius can thus induce writers to play roughly upon the great chords of our being, while they dare not lay their unskilful fingers on those softer and finer strings, whose sounds should mingle with and temper the notes of the other.”
The oak has fallen!
How many are there who are acquainted with the amount of misery in our city? How many, who, when the wind whistles around their splendid mansions, and the fire sparkles in their costly grates, think of the suffering poor? How many are there who would quit the comforts of home to brave the pitiless storm, and visit the haunts of misery and distress? Alas! but few.
The heart of a rich man is not the temple for pity to dwell in. Its gates are closed, as are those of his splendid mansion, against the poor and unfortunate. It throbs not at a tale of wo, nor melts at the widow and the orphan's cry for bread. Let us plead, then, for the poor; and while we complain at the conduct of a great portion of our wealthy citizens, let us hope that many of them, at least, are yet in ignorance of this fact, that there are thousands of worthy and deserving people in our city actually suffering for the want of food. We do not, let it be remembered, speak of that class who wander through our streets, and beg from door to door; they are bold in their crimes and poverty, and oftentimes get more than their immediate wants require. It is not that depraved class, whose cry from morn till night vis rum, still rum,” and whose bloated forms present a picture of dissipation disgusting to the sight. No! and yet these creatures, these poor, deļuded, lost beings, have families, yea, little, half-naked, suffering children, whose homes
present an appearance at once pitiable and repulsive. Yet are they human, and help to narrative old Time, in his eternal round
“ Each, in their turn some tragic story tells, With, now and then, a wretched farce between;
And fills his chronicles with human woes."
We speak of those who have known better days, and whose misfortunes arose out of circumstances and events over which the human mind and physical power have no control. We speak of those who have struggled on through life, earning just sufficient to provide for their immediate wants, but when sickness overtakes them, and their labor ceases, those humble supplies which fed and clothed them are cut off, and in silence and sorrow they battle on with fate. The cry of their children for bread excites the already feverish frame, the pale, sunken cheek of a delicate favorite, who watches its mother with anxious looks, almost maddens the brain, and retards the hope of a speedy restoration to health. Their cry for food comes o'er her like the fell simoon of the desert, withering and destroying all before it; and while her skeleton finger points to the last crust of bread, and the parched lips touch the last cooling draught, (it is not in her power to replenish,) the disconsolate parent closes her eyes on the scene, and inwardly offers up a prayer to Him, who alone, in that dark, fearful hour, can aid and save her. Hark, what sound was that?-a step-it comes nearerit stops at the door~a knock. Who is he that approaches the suffering widow ? Who is he that administers relief to the soul and the body, and whose smile sheds a radiant light upon the dark and gloomy chamber, the chamber, as it were, of death? It is the agent of Heaven, the instrument of divine Providence, whose power no man should ever question, and whose ways are as mysterious as are the means used to administer his goodness and make known his mercy. He is indeed the administering angel; and thousands will bless the name of John Street, when more high sounding ones shall have passed away from the earth, and the costly tomb and the gilded epitaph alone shall speak of them.
We now call the attention of our readers to a school-room. Look at that delicate girl, whose scantily clad form calls forth the sneers from her better dressed school-mates—her pale cheek flushes not at their scorn, her thin lips tremble not at their mockery ; she feels her poverty, and patiently submits to it. Her eyes are fixed upon her book, but her thoughts are elsewhere. What's that? a tear; yes, see how it trickles down the delicate channels of her cheek. She sees it not-it rolls on-it falls upon her delicate hand. She gazes at it, then wipes it off with a corner of her ragged though clean apron. Hark! the clock strikes twelve; she starts, her eyes follow the mistress—she rises, takes her little straw bonnet, wraps a thin shawl around her, and with a timid step she approaches the desk.
• What is the matter, Mary?”
before two ?” Before she answered her eyes glanced around, as if apprehensive of being overheard, then coming close up to the teacher, she whispered in her ear:
“ We are going to have a dinner to-day; mother will get the money for a waistcoat she has finished, and intends to buy us something good to eat; that is more than we have had for three weeks."
66 To dinner ? Why, Mary, do you not have a dinner every day?"
“Every day, ma'am! O no, we have had nothing to