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SIMEON'S CHRISTMAS JOY.
FROM THE GERMAN, BY THE EDITOR.
In the city of Damascus, in Syria, lived Simeon, a man who was pious and feared God after the manner of his fathers, and well acquainted with the holy scriptures of the divine covenant. Beyond all others he loved the songs of the royal Psalmist, and the words of prophecy spoken by the Spirit of the Lord, by the mouth of his servant Isaiah, the son of Amos. Not far from Damascus, in a quiet village, lived Phanuel, the friend of his youth; and every Sabbath he came to the house of Simeon, that he might with him praise the Lord, and inquire in the scriptures after the consolation of Israel. When they had read together in the writings of the covenant, Simeon took his harp and played, while Hannah, his wife, accompanied the harp with a devout psalm of David or Asaph. Then they all fell upon their knees and prayed that the Christ of God might come and enlighten Israel.
But alas! soon the harp grew silent, and the song died away For Hannah sickened and died. Then Simeon sank weeping upon the grave of his beloved. Lord-so he prayed-take away also my life, and take me to thyself, for my soul is sorrowful even unto death.
So he prayed, and as he looked up, behold! an angel of God stood at his side. "Simeon!"-so ran his heavenly words-"your prayers have come up before the throne of glory, and I come to bring thee consolation from God. Behold! thou shalt not die until thou hast seen the Christ of God. Wherefore get the hence, and dwell hereafter in Jerusalem; and when thou hast borne the Salvation of Israel upon thine arms, the Lord will permit thee to depart to thy fathers in peace."
Then Simeon arose and went to Jerusalem, and abode there for the space of forty years, serving God. When now he was old and full of days, a heavy sickness came upon him, so that for three months he could not arise from his bed; and his friends said among themselves: "Alas! his hopes will never be fulfilled; we shall soon bury him, and there will be great lamentation over him in all Jerusalem." Simeon smiled secretly, and said: "The word of the Lord is sure, and what he has promised that will he keep. I shall not yet die!"
Now the next day, when the morning dawned, Nathaniel, his youngest nephew, came to his house, fearing that he should find him dead. But behold! the venerable man was walking joyfully up and down in his room like a vigorous youth, and a long festal garland hung down over his shoulders. Then Nathaniel called his father and his brethren, and all were filled with surprise, saying: "What does this mean?" For they knew not that the angel of God had spoken with him in the night, and so strengthened his dying limbs.
Simeon now wandered silently down from his dwelling through the streets of Jerusalem, and all who saw him were filled with surprise and reverence, with such dignity and majesty did he move. Nathaniel accompanied him up to the door of the temple; and when an hour had
passed, Simeon returned to his house, and his countenance shone like that of an angel of God.
Then he came into the midst of his children and nephews, and said: "Blessed be God! Mine eyes have seen the salvation of God, which He has prepared before the face of all people, a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of His people Israel. Blessed be God!"
Then they all cried out: "Blessed be God!"—and Simeon called for his harp and played upon it: and they all with one accord sang the twenty-second psalm from the holy psalter of David.
"Blessed be God !" said Nathaniel, when the song was ended, "that you, my father, hast renewed thy youth as an eagle; mayest thou yet live long on the earth, and your years be for ever and ever!"
"Not so, my son!" answered the venerable man, "have I not seen the Christ of God? Behold! as the divine babe lay upon my arms it smiled upon me, and its smiles proclaimed to me my speedy deliverance. Chil dren! my end draws near, sing me a song in whose blessed tones I may expire!
Then his children and nephews wept together, and with tre mb spirits sang the words of the ninetieth psalm.
The psalm was ended. The harp was quiet. Nothing but a subdued sobbing was heard in the room, as the angel of death came and bore the spirit of the just away into Heaven!
And a soft voice was heard in the heart of each, which seemed like the echoing shout of a great triumph: "Mine eyes have seen thy salvaion!" Simeon rested for ever in the bosom of his God.
MY PILGRIM'S POUCH.
NATIONS like individuals have their periods of life, their seasons of development and decay, their youth, manhood and declining age. As well might an individual expect to evade death as a nation to evade its allotted dissolution. Both are subject to certain fixed laws which inevitably lead to this end. This measurably accounts for the social differences between Germany and America. Here every custom reminds you of a nation in mature life. Not of an effete civilization, as our Fourth of July orators are in the habit of calling it, but a people of settled, fixed habits, who attend to their business with calmness and deliberation; who are seldom in a hurry about anything, and take time to enjoy and be comfortable. But they are so stupidly unprogressive. Well, their age of progress has gone by. After a man is full grown, has reached mature life, there is little hope for further development. If he is so unfortunate as to have any, it will be a superfluous corpulency that will rather encumber than promote his activity. They have had an instance of this during the last fifty years. They made fearful progress until '48, when this helpless, corpulent body-national, stumbled and was thrown back fifty years, in its struggles after freedom. Age is strong and firm on its feet, but when it steps or tumbles, it is helpless, labors and frets monstrously to regain its feet, and most likely will rise with a broken limb, which will leave it a cripple. In America, we can talk of progress, for there we are still in the age of growth. We grow fast. Our habits, customs, fashions, men-great world renowned men-rise and fall, come and go, like the dreams of youth. Here they have no fast men. They had them in '48, and they would have plunged Germany into national perdition in less than forty-eight hours, had not a merciful Providence willed otherwise. The French are an exception. With marvellous dexterity, they turn a political somerset every fifty years, and always safely strike their heels into the old track..
The elite, of course, get the fashions from Paris, the great fountain of the universe for taste-good and bad. But the substantial peasantry still wear the short breeches, long-bodied vests, and broad-brimmed hats, which they wore in the days of Frederick the Great. They still sip their wine and beer, and whiff clouds of tobacco fume from their yard-long pipes, as their great-grand-sires did. No reapers or grain-drills have yet profaned their fields, nor threshing-machines their barns. They still reap their grain by the slow process of the sickle, and thresh it with the flail. They have the same skinning, skimming, two-wheeled, halfwagon plough, they had when my father was a plough-boy on the Rhine. In Science and the fine Arts there has been progress in every branch, though it was, sometimes, downwards. But in the mechanical arts they have not advanced a step, up or down, for several generations. The stove in Luther's study, on the Wartburg, is nearly the same as in com
mon use now, only with some changes which his inventive genius suggested. The wagons, harness, and general farming implements, are the very antipodes of practical utility. They point to a period when the first crude conceptions of agricultural art struggled for expression. Some of their tools show a supreme contempt for all mechanical laws, excellent only to increase the labor and diminish the power to perform it. Their churches, houses, habits, customs, all are old and fixed. Now that they are so, is surely not their fault. It is sad enough that time carries us over the rubicon of five-and-twenty, when we would fain linger longer in the flowery vale of youth and early manhood. But it is verily a cruel philosophy which expects men in mature life, and of a ripe experience, to turn back and dash again through all the pranks and frolics of buoyant, inexperienced youth, when the nimbleness and elasticity of their younger days has left them. The young man is in a constant bustle to acquire money, reputation, learning, and with the least possible labor.
German travelers have given amusing pictures, if true, of this hurry and panic for gain, in America. Some one has said recently, that the hotels of New York, presented most ludicrous spectacles during dinner hours. That crowds of business men would not even take time to eat, but in a few moments gulph down dishes of hot-cakes, sausages and roast beef, with a grabbing voracity; they had no respect for the wants of others, and then quickly rush to their business, with dyspepsia and the fear of poverty at their heels. I will leave that as it is. But the Germans take more time for every thing than we do. They take more time to eat, more time to drink, more time to labor, more time to rest and enjoy. They are slower in good and slower in evil.
The man of riper years, can live on the result of his past labors. So Germany has a fund of mental energy, a literary vitality, which neither admits nor requires any of this helter-skelter, time-saving method of acquiring great ends.
The literature and life of Germany, are peculiar. With us, more like a stream, shallow, broad and brawling. Here, like one that flows narrow and deep. We are practical, they profound. Both united make a consistent and useful compound. Both have their advantages and dangers. Shallow streams are only for light boats, and when they are upset in a gale, we have a hope to reach bottom. Deep streams are more navigable, but many sink therein to rise no more. We are too much given to a certain (vielwisserei) intelligence, which would know every thing. Some of our authors write and talk about things in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth. Write a book in a few months which will run through several editions before the end of the year. Here a man will spend a long life-time, in writing on a Greek article, or in spinning out the web of one idea; and perhaps even leave that but half finished, when he dies. We, in our youthful hurry, pick up grains of truth on the surface, and we sow them again on the surface. The Germans are the miners in literature and science. They burrow among the ore, and the abundance of this in some of their works, makes it difficult for practical minds to see the gold. Their furnaces do not always separate the gold from the dross. The ore in some of their works gives us more trouble than we are willing to spend.
They have a different national and social temperament; the surface is like a waveless calm, there is often a wild and fearful commotion underneath. It is so now. Germany is apparently in a state of perfect tranquility. Yet I see under currents and repressed passions, which, should they boil to the surface, would raise another tempest, whose waves and surges would lash upon every shore of Europe. With us, every thing, good and evil, moves and ripples at once to the surface. We have not yet been taught the art of concealing the passions. We make no secret of our weaknesses. A slight gale in the political firmament will stir up a short bluster, in the form of a local riot, or a Faneuil Hall indignation meeting, to permit the escape of popular foam. Germany is not irritable, though its subjects are characteristically so. Its powers of endurance are astonishing. An old full grown dog seldom notices the barking and biting of young puppies. And when it does turn, it is with the dignity and ripe experience of age. Young America is at times, exceedingly irritable, though our citizens are less so than the Germans. Even things, trivial in themselves, sometimes have roused him into a short spell of national rage, and led him at once to squareoff with 66 a come on, if you dare."
Our progress and success in the mechanical arts, and the constant demand for them, excites and nourishes a passion for the practical, at the expense of the profound. The study of the mechanical and material, monopolizes the field of investigation. We are prone to forget that however important labor-savers, time-savers, and distance-annihilators are, that the steam engine and electric telegraph will hardly regenerate society. In the great sum of means they have their relative worth; but ideas mould mankind. But here, many are profound to a fault. They dive so much that they are mostly beyond hearing distance of those for whom they write. They expect men to receive their metal in the mine instead of bringing it up to the surface. Still in point of originality, productiveness and solid erudition, they are far our superiors. It would be blindness to deny this. And indeed, this need not excite our jealousy, for it would be a great shame if they were not. Let us once have five more centuries behind us, in which to appropriate the treasuries of other nations and assimilate them to our own, as they have done, and we can perhaps also show the world something of our riper years.
The universal custom of living together in towns, gives a peculiar complexion to country life. Here we find no farms, in the American sense, where the owner is snugly nestled down amid his broad acres, a paternal monarch of his little kingdom, where thriving orchards, waving grain fields and verdant and flowery meadows, sloping gently down to some stream spread out before his contented vision, where the sprightly country maiden can find room to go a Maying or gather wild berries, and where the boys may canvass the fields and woods after game. Woe unto the man who wilfully kills a bird or rabbit on his own premises here. All the game on his lots belongs to the Jaeger, (hunter) who pays the Government of the district a fixed annual sum for the privilege of hunting. Here you find little of that lordly, substantial independence, so common to our farmers, which makes them the bone and sinew of our Republic. I do not know why it is, but I have been in many places