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a quarter of a mile to the left hand, with a great deal ado I prevailed upon the postillion to turn up to it. The look of the house, and every thing about it, as we drew nearer soon reconciled me to the disaster. It was a little farm house, surrounded with about twenty vineyard, about as much corn ; and close to the house, en one side, was a potagerie of an acre and a half, full of everything which could make plety in a French peasant's house ; and on the other side, was a little wood, which furnished wherewithal to dress it. It was about eight in the evening when I got to the house ; so I left the postillion to manage his point as he could ; and, for mine, I walked directly into the house.
The family consisted of an old grey headed man and his wife, with five or six sons and sons in law, and their several wives, and a joyous genealogy out of them.
They were all sitting down together to their lentil. soup: A large whealen loaf was in the middle of the table ; and a flaggon of wine at each end of it promised joy through the stages of the repast—it was a feast of love.
The old man rose up to meet me, and with a respectful cordiality would have me sit down at the table. My heart was sit down the moment I entered the room ; so I sat down at once, like a son of the family ; and, to in. vest myself in the character as speedily as I could, I instantly borrowed the old man's knife, and taking up the
af, cut myself a hearty luncheon; and, as I did it I saw a testimony in every eye, not only of an honest wel. come, but of a welcome mixed with thanks, that I had not seemed to doubt it.
Was it this, or tell me, Nature, what else was it that made this morsel so sweet—and to what magic I owe it that the draught I took of their flaggon was so delicious with it, that it remains upon my palate to this hour?
If the supper was to my taste, the grace which followed was much more so.
When supper was over, the old man gave a knock upon the table with the haft of his knife, to bid them prepare for the dance.
The moment the signal was giv. en, the women and girls ran altogether into the back apartments to tie up their hair, and the young men to the door to wash their faces, and change their sabots, ( wooden shoes) and in three minutes every soul was ready, upon a little esplanade before the house to begin. The old man and his wife come out last, and, placing me betwixt them, sat down upon a sofa of turf by the door..
The old man had some fifty years ago, been no mean performer upon the vielle ; and, at the age he was then of, touched it well enough for the purpose. His wife sung now and then a little to the tune, then intermitted, and joined her old man again, as their children and grandchildren danced before them.
It was not till the middle of the second dance, when for some pauses in the movement, wherein they all seemed to look up, I fancied I could distinguish an elevation of spirit, different from that which is the cause or the effect of simple jollity. In a word, I thought I beheld religion mixing in the dance ; but, as I had never seen her so engaged, I should have looked upon it now as one of the illusions of an imagination which is eternally misleading me, had not the old man, as soon as the dance ended, said, that this was their constant way; and that all his life long, he made it a rule, after supper was over, to call out his family to dance and rejoice ; believing, he said, that a cheerful and contented mind was the best sort of thanks to heaven that an illiterate peasant could pay.--Or learned prelate either, said I.
XVIII.-Rustic Felicity.—1b. MANY are the silent pleasures of the honest peasant, who rises cheerfully to his labor. -Look into his dwelling—where the scene of every man's happiness chiefly lies ;—he has the same domestic endearments as much joy and comfort in his children, and as flattering hopes of their doing well—to enliven his hours and gladden his heart, as you would conceive in the most affluent station. And I make no doubt, in general, but if the true account of his joys and sufferings were to be balanced with those of his betters--that the upshot would prove to be little more than this; that the rich man had the more meat—but the poor man the better stomach ;—the one had more luxury--more able physicians to attend and set him 10 rights ;--the other, more health and soundness in his bones, and less occasion for their help ; that, after these two articles betwixt them were balanced
—in all other things they stood, upon a level that the sun shines as warm—the air blows as fresh, and the earth breathes as fragrant upon the one as the other ;—and they have an equal share in all the beauties and real benefits of nature.
XIX.- House of Mourning.—Ib. LET us go into the house of mourning made so by such afflictions as have been brought in merely by the common cross accidents and disasters to which our condition is exposed—where, perhaps, the aged parents sit brokenhearted, pierced to their souls, with the folly and indiscretion of a thankless child—the child of their prayers, in whom all their hopes and expectations cen. tered :—Perhaps, a more affecting scene—a virtuous family lying pinched with want, where the unfortunate support of it, having long struggled with a train of mis. fortunes, and bravely fought up against hem, is now piteously borne down at the last overwhelmed with a cruel blow, which no forecast or frugality could have prevented. O God ! look upon his afHictions. Behold him distracted with many sorrows, surrounded with the tender pledges of his love ; and the partner of his cares without bread to give them ; unable from the remembrance of b-tter days to dig ;
to beg ashamed. When we enter into the house of mourning, such as this—it is impossible to insult the unfortunate, even with an improper look. Under whatever levity and dissipa. tion of heart such objects catch our eyes—they catch likewise our attentions, collect and call home our scattered thoughts, and exercise them with wisdom. A transcient scene of distress, such as is here sketched, how soon does it furnish materials to set the mind at work ! How necessarily does it engage it to the consideration of tne miseries, and misfortune?, the dangers and calamities to which the life of man is subject! By holding up such a glass before it, it forces the mind to see and reflect upon the vanity—the perishing condition and uncertain tenure of every thing in this world. From refections of this serious cast, how insensibly do the thoughts carry us farther ;—and, from considering what we are, what kind of world we live in, and what evils befall us in it, how naturally do they set us to look forward at what possibly we shall be ;- for what kind of world we are intended—what evils may befall us there—and what provisions we should make against them here, whilst we have time and opportunity! If these lessons are so inseparable from the house of mourning here supposed we shall find it a still more instructive school of wisdom, when we take a view of the place in that affecting light in which the wise man seems to confine it in the text; in which, by the house of mourning, I believe he means that particular scene of sorrow, where there is lamentation and mourning for the dead. Turn in hither, I beseech you for a moment. Behold the dead man ready to be carried out, the only son of his mother, and she a widow. Perhaps a still more affecting spectacle, a kind and indulgent father of a numerous family lies breathless—snatched away in the strength of his age—torn, and in an evil hour, from his children, and the bosom of a disconsolate wife. Behold much people of the city gathered together to mix their tears, with settled sorrow in their looks, going heavily along to the house of mourning, to perform that last melancholy office, which when the debt of nature is paid we are called upon to pay to each other. If this sad occasion, which leads him there, has not done it already, take notice to what a serious and devout frame of mind every man is reduced, the moment he enters this gate of affliction. The busy and fluttering spirits, which, in the house of mirth, ivere wont to transport him from one diverting object to another—seel riuy are fallen ! how peaceably they are laid ! In this gloomy mansion, full of shades and uncomfortable damps to seize the soul—see the light and easy heart, which never knew what it was to think before, how pensive it is now, how soft how susceptible, how full of religious impressions, how deep it is smitten with a sense, and with a love of virtue ! Could we, in this crisis, whilst this empire of reason and religion lasts, and the heart is thus exercised with wisdom, and busied with heavenly contemplationscould We see it naked as it is stripped of its passions, unspotted by the world, and regardless of its pleasureswe might then safely rest our cause upon this single evidence, and appeal to the most sensual, whether Solomon has not inade a just determination here in favor of the house of mourning ? Not for its own sake, but as it is fruitful in virtue, and becomes the occasion of so much good. Without this end, sorrow, I own, has no use but to shorten a man's days—nor can gravity, with all its studied solemnity of look and carriage, serve any end but to make one half of the world merry, and impose upon the other.