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Abigail Becker. He found her with her six children, all thinly clad and barefooted in the bitter cold. She stood there six feet or more of substantial womanhood,—not in her stockings, for she had none,—a veritable daughter of Anak, broad-bosomed, large-limbed, with great, patient blue eyes, whose very smile had a certain pathos, as if one saw in it her hard and weary life-experinence. She might have passed for an amiable giantess, or one of those much-developed maids of honor who tossed Gulliver from hand to hand in the court of Brobdingnag. The thing that most surprised her visitor was the childlike simplicity of the woman, her utter unconsciousness of deserving anything for an action that seemed to her merely a matter of course. When he expressed his admiration with all the warmth of a generous nature, she only opened her wide blue eyes still wider with astonishment. Well, I don't know, she said, slowly, as if pondering the matter for the first time,— I don't know as I did <
Marston Moor (search for this): chapter 3
hed advocates of liberty throwing down a nation's freedom at the feet of the shameless, debauched, and perjured Charles II., crouching to the harlot-thronged court of the tyrant, and forswearing at once their religion and their republicanism. The executioner's axe had been busy among his friends. Vane and Hampden slept in their bloody graves. Cromwell's ashes had been dragged from their resting-place; for even in death the effeminate monarch hated and feared the conquerer of Naseby and Marston Moor. He was left alone, in age, and penury, and blindness, oppressed with the knowledge that all which his free soul abhorred had returned upon his beloved country. Yet the spirit of the stern old republican remained to the last unbroken, realizing the truth of the language of his own Samson Agonistes:— But patience is more oft the exercise Of saints, the trial of their fortitude, Making them each his own deliverer And victor over all That tyranny or fortune can inflict. The curse o
, in 1844 contributed this and the companion pieces to The Stranger in Lowell. this, then, is Lowell,—a city springing up, like the enchanted palaces of the Arabian tales, as it were in a single ni which stirs the waters of the beautiful Bay of Casco! But time will remedy all this; and, when Lowell shall have numbered half the years of her sister cities, her newly planted elms and maples, whicroducing. Who can paint like Nature ? First day in Lowell. To a population like that of Lowell, the weekly respite from monotonous in-door toil afforded by the first day of the week is particthat? Don't you know that no unclean thing can enter the kingdom of heaven? If you would see Lowell aright, as Walter Scott says of Melrose Abbey, one must be here of a pleasant First day at the cndary consideration. Gain is the great, all-absorbing object. Very few, comparatively, regard Lowell as their continuing city. They look longingly back to green valleys of Vermont, to quiet farm-h
eathercock glistening in the sun. The bell in its belfry had been brought from France by Skipper Evans in the latter part of the last century. Solemnly baptized and consecrated to some holy saint, ts. He loved to talk with his friends, Elder Staples, the minister, Deacon Warner, and Skipper Evans. He was an expert angler, and knew all the haunts of pickerel and trout for many miles around. ures and over Blueberry Hill, just at the foot of which we encountered Elder Staples and Skipper Evans, who had been driving their cows to pasture, and were now leisurely strolling back to the villagure. A small, sinewy figure, half doubled up, with his chin resting on his rough palms, Skipper Evans sat on a lower projection of the rock just beneath him, in an attentive attitude, as at the feets she passed into the house I saw her put her checked apron to her eyes. By this time Skipper Evans, who had been slowly working his way up street for some minutes, had reached the gate. Look h
real or imaginary suffering. However it might be with others, he never forgot the man or the woman in the pauper. There was nothing like condescension or consciousness in his charitable ministrations; for he was one of the few men I have ever known in whom the milk of human kindness was never soured by contempt for humanity in whatever form it presented itself. Thus it was that his faithful performance of the duties of his profession, however repulsive and disagreeable, had the effect of Murillo's picture of St. Elizabeth of Hungary binding up the ulcered limbs of the beggars. The moral beauty transcended the loathsomeness of physical eviland deformity. Our nearest route home lay across the pastures and over Blueberry Hill, just at the foot of which we encountered Elder Staples and Skipper Evans, who had been driving their cows to pasture, and were now leisurely strolling back to the village. We toiled together up the hill in the hot sunshine, and, just on its eastern declivi
per study of mankind is man, and, according to my view, no phase of our common humanity is altogether unworthy of investigation. Acting upon this belief two or three summers ago, when making, in company with my sister, a little excursion into the hill-country of New Hampshire, I turned my horse's head towards Barrington for the purpose of seeing these semi-civilized strollers in their own home, and returning, once for all, their numerous visits. Taking leave of our hospitable cousins in old Lee with about as much solemnity as we may suppose Major Laing parted with his friends when he set out in search of desertgirdled Timbuctoo, we drove several miles over a rough road, passed the Devil's Den unmolested, crossed a fretful little streamlet noisily working its way into a valley, where it turned a lonely, half-ruinous mill, and climbing a steep hill beyond, saw before us a wide sandy level, skirted on the west and north by low, scraggy hills, and dotted here and there with dwarf pitch
confront danger and death in unselfish devotion to duty. Fox, preaching through his prison-gates or rebuking Oliver Cromwell in the midst of his soldier-court; Henry Vane beneath the axe of the headsman; Mary Dyer on the scaffold at Boston; Luther closing his speech at Worms with the sublime emphasis of his Here stand I; I cannot otherwise; God help me; William Penn defending the rights of Englishmen from the baledock of the Fleet prison; Clarkson climbing the decks of Liverpool slaveships; Howard penetrating to infected dungeons; meek Sisters of Charity breathing contagion in thronged hospitals,—all these, and such as these, now help me to form the loftier ideal of Christian heroism. Blind Milton approaches nearly to my conception of a true hero. What a picture have we of that sublime old man, as sick, poor, blind, and abandoned of friends, he still held fast his heroic integrity, rebuking with his unbending republicanism the treachery, cowardice, and servility of his old associ
etween the poor old man and the temptations which beset him fell the thick curtains of the grave. One day we had a call from a pawky auld carle of a wandering Scotchman. To him I owe my first introduction to the songs of Burns. After eating his bread and cheese and drinking his mug of cider he gave us Bonny Doon, Highland Mary, and Auld Lang Syne. He had a rich, full voice, and entered heartily into the spirit of his lyrics. I have since listened to the same melodies from the lips of Dempster, than whom the Scottish bard has had no sweeter or truer interpreter; but the skilful performance of the artist lacked the novel charm of the gaberlunzie's singing in the old farmhouse kitchen. Another wanderer made us acquainted with the humorous old ballad of Our gude man cam hame at e'en. He applied for supper and lodging, and the next morning was set at work splitting stones in the pasture. While thus engaged the village doctor came riding along the highway on his fine, spirited hor
of Lauterbrunnen's peasant girl. Poor wanderers! I cannot say that I love their music; but now, as the notes die away, and, to use the words of Dr. Holmes, silence comes like a poultice to heal the wounded ear, I feel grateful for their visitation. Away from crowded thoroughfares, from brick walls and dusty avenues, at the sight of these poor peasants I have gone in thought to the vale of Chamouny, and seen, with Coleridge, the morning star pausing on the bald, awful head of sovereign Blanc, and the sun rise and set upon snowy-crested mountains, down in whose valleys the night still lingers; and, following in the track of Byron and Rousseau, have watched the lengthening shadows of the hills on the beautiful waters of the Genevan lake. Blessings, then, upon these young wayfarers, for they have blessed me unawares. In an hour of sickness and lassitude they have wrought for me the miracle of Loretto's Chapel, and borne me away from the scenes around me and the sense of personal
. Here's to budgets, packs, and wallets; Here's to all the wandering train. Burns. I confess it, I am keenly sensitive to skyey influences. I profess no indihave done honor to the revellers at Poosie-Nansie's, immortal in the cantata of Burns. I remember some who were evidently the victims of monomania,—haunted and hunte of a wandering Scotchman. To him I owe my first introduction to the songs of Burns. After eating his bread and cheese and drinking his mug of cider he gave us Boll, to some extent, continued in New England. The inimitable description which Burns gives of similar practices in his Halloween may not in all respects apply to thved to be an English emigrant just landed, and in due time became her husband. Burns alludes to something like the spell above described:— Wee Jenny to her grannies often induced the moralist to hesitate in exposing their absurdity, and, like Burns in view of his national thistle, to Turn the weeding hook aside And spare t
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