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LESSON L XV.
THE FAMILY MEETING.
We are all here!
We're all-all here.
We're not all here!
We're not all here.
We are all here ! Even they, the dead—though dead, so dear, Fond Memory, to her duty true, Brings back their faded forms to view. How life-like through the mist of years, Each well-remembered face appears ! We see them as in times long past, From each to each kind looks are cast; We hear their words, their smiles behold, They're round us, as they were of old
We are all here.
We are all here!
Soon must we join the gathered dead,
THERE is unwritten music. The world is full of it. I hear it every hour that I wake, and my waking sense is surpassed by my sleeping, though that is a mystery. There is no sound of simple nature that is not music. It is all God's work, and therefore harmony. You may mingle, and divide, and strengthen the passages of its great anthem, and it is still melody-melody.
The low winds of summer blow over the waterfalls and the brooks, and bring their voices to your ear, as if their sweetness were linked by an accurate finger; yet the wind is but a fitful player; and you may go out when the tempest is up, and hear the strong trees moaning as they lean before it, and the long grass hissing as it sweeps through, and its own solemn monotony over all,—and the dimple of that same brook, and the waterfall's unaltered base shall still reach you in the intervals of its power, as much in harmony as before, and as much a part of its perfect and perpetual hymn. There is no accident of nature's causing which can bring in discord. The loosened rock
may fall into the abyss, and the overblown tree rush down through the branches of the wood, and the thunder peal awfully in the sky; and sudden and violent as these changes seem, their tumult goes up with the sound of winds and waters, and the exquisite ear of the musician can detect no jar.
It is not mere poetry to talk of the “ voices of summer." It is the day time of the year, and its myriad influences are audibly at work. Even by night, you may lay your ear to the ground, and hear that faintest of murmurs, the sound of growing things. I used to think, when I was a child, that it was fairy music. If you have been used to early rising, you have not forgotten how the stillness of the night seems increased by the timid note of the first bird. It is the only time when I would lay a finger on the lip of nature, the deep hush is so very solemn. By and by, however, the birds are all
and the peculiar holiness of the hour declines, but what a world of music does the sun shine on !—the deep lowing of the cattle blending in with the capricious warble of a thousand of God's happy creatures, and the stir of industry coming on the air like the under tones of a choir, and the voice of man, heard in the distance over all, like a singer among instruments, giving them meaning and language!
But if you would hear one of nature's most various and delicate harmonies, lie down in the edge of the wood when the evening breeze begins to stir, and listen to its coming. It touches, first, the silver foliage of the birch, and the slightly hung leaves, at its merest breath, will lift and rustle like a thousand tiny wings; and then it creeps up to the tall fir, and the fine tassels send out a sound like a low whisper; and as the oak feels its influence, the thick leaves stir heavily, and a deep tone comes sullenly out like the echo of a far off bassoon. They are all wind harps of different power; and, as the breeze strengthens and sweeps equally over them all, their united harmony has a wonderful grandeur and beauty.
There is a melancholy music in autumn. The leaves float sadly about with a look of peculiar desolation, waving capriciously in the wind, and falling with a just audible sound, that is a very sigh for its sadness. And then, when the breeze is fresher, though the early autumn months are mostly still, they are swept on with a cheerful rustle over the naked harvest fields, and about in the eddies of the blast; and though I have, sometimes, in the glow of exercise, felt my life securer in the triumph of the brave contest, yet, in the chill of evening, or when any sickness of mind or body was on me, the moaning of those withered leaves has pressed down my heart like a sorrow, and the cheerful fire, and the voices of my many sisters, might scarce remove it.
Then for the music of winter. I love to listen to the falling of the snow. It is an unobtrusive and sweet music. You may temper your heart to the serenest mood, by its low murmur. It is that kind of music, that only obtrudes upon your ear when your thoughts come languidly. You need not hear it, if your mind is not idle. It realizes my dream of another world, where music is intuitive like a thought, and comes only when it is remembered.
And the frost too has a melodious “ministry.” You will hear its crystals shoot in the dead of a clear night, as if the moon-beams were splintering like arrows on the ground; and you listen to it the more earnestly, that it is the going on of one of the most cunning and beautiful of nature's deep mysteries. I know nothing so wonderful as the shooting of a crystal. God has hidden its principle as yet from the inquisitive eye of the philosopher, and we must be content to gaze on its exquisite beauty, and listen, in mute wonder, to the noise of its invisible workmanship. It is too fine a knowledge for us. We shall comprehend it, when we know how the morning stars sang together.
You would hardly look for music in the dreariness of early winter. But, before the keener frosts set in, and while the warm winds are yet stealing back occasionally, like regrets of the departed summer, there will come a soft rain or a heavy mist, and when the north wind returns, there will be drops suspended like ear-ring jewels between the filaments of the cedar tassels, and in the feathery edges of the dark green
hemlocks, and, if the clearing up is not followed by the heavy wind, they will all be frozen in their places like well set gems. The next morning, the warm sun comes out, and, by the middle of the calm, dazzling forenoon, they are all loosened from the close touch which sustained them, and they will drop at the lightest motion. If you go along upon the south side of the wood at that hour, you will hear music. The dry foliage of the summer's shedding is scattered over the ground, and the round, hard drops ring out clearly and distinctly, as they are shaken down with the stirring of the breeze. It is something like the running of deep and rapid water, only more fitful and merrier; but to one who goes out in nature with his heart open, it is a pleasant music, and, in contrast with the stern character of the season, delightful.
N. P. WILLIS.
THE SAME,-CONCLUDED. HITHERTO I have spoken only of the sounds of irrational and inanimate nature. A better than those, and the best music under heaven, is the music of the human voice. I doubt whether all voices are not capable of it, though there must be degrees in it, as in beauty. The tones of affection in all children are sweet, and we know not how much their unpleasantness in after life may be the effect of sin and coarseness, and the consequent habitual expression of discordant passions. But we do know that the voice of any human being becomes touching by distress, and that even on the coarse-minded and the low, religion and the higher passions of the world have sometimes so wrought, that their eloquence was like the strong passages of an organ.
I have been much about in the world, and with a boy's unrest, and a peculiar thirst for novel sensations, have mingled, for a time, in every walk of life; yet never have I known man or woman that was not utterly degraded, whose voice, under the influence of any strong feeling, did not deepen to a chord of grandeur, or soften to cadences to which a harp might have swept pleasantly. It is a perfect instrument as it comes from the hand of its Maker, and though its strings may relax with the atmosphere, or be injured by misuse and neglect, it is always capable of being re-strung to its compass, till its frame is shattered.
A sweet voice is indispensable to a woman. I do not think I can describe it. It can be, and sometimes is, cultivated. It is not inconsistent with great vivacity, but it is oftener the gift of the quiet and unobtrusive. Loudness or rapidity of utterance is incompatible with it. It is low, but not guttural; deliberate, but not slow. Every syllable is distinctly heard, but they follow each other like drops of water from a fountain. It is a glorious gift in woman. I should be won by it more than by beauty; more, even, than by talent, were it possible to separate them. But I never heard a deep, sweet voice from a weak
It is the organ of strong feeling, and of thoughts which have lain in the bosom till their sacredness almost hushes utterance.