Page images

of a new state; and while he remembered his home, he should be stimulated to do some good, if he failed in getting all he hoped. He had communicated his plans to Wallace, and had received a letter from him filled with the most affectionate expostulations, but they had not changed his views. Charles was so important to the home circle, he filled so many places which nobody else could fill, that the whole family protested against his leaving them. His father and mother, after much anxious deliberation, were the first to acquiesce in his wishes. His removal was the greatest disappointment they had ever met with, but, once having made up their minds that it was best for him, they bore it cheerfully. Self-sacrifice is so common in good parents, that it strikes us no more than the falling of the rain, or the shining of the sun, or any other natural result of the beneficent arrangements of Providence.

Charles's departure was loudly lamented by the good people of Greenbrook. They liberally used the right which all social country gossips assume on such occasions, and "judged it a poor move for such a young man as Charles Barclay to leave his privileges in New England to rough it in the West. However, it was nothing strange; all the boys caught the western fever now-a-days. " But deeply as Charies regretted the "privileges" of a more advanced state of society, and above all the "privilege" of his blessed home, he had no reason to regret the vigorous resolution he had taken, when he found his mind recovering its

cheerful tone, without which all the “ privileges that the happiest son of New England ever toiled for and enjoyed, would have been unavailing to him. The healthful state of his mind, the " prosperity of his heart," is best exhibited in the following extract from a letter to his mother.

[ocr errors]

"I have profited by father's rule to drive out private and personal griefs by devotion to the well-being of others. Life is indeed too short to be wasted in brooding over disappointment, and I am convinced there is much more of selfishness than of sensibility in this brooding. The affections are given to us for activity and diffusion, —they are the fire to warm, not to consume us. I am a living witness, dear mother, against the corrupting eloquence we meet with in novels and poetry to persuade us that true love is an unconquerable passion; I did love long and truly, as you know. My affections were worthily placed, and at first, I confess, I thought it impossible they should ever cease to be exclusively devoted to that one object. I remember the night before I left you, when I was expressing my dread of the solitariness that awaited me at my new residence, father said, O my son, you will soon have a family around you.' I replied querulously; 'I never shall have a family!' and I secretly wondered that father could so have forgotten the feelings of his youth, as to think that I could. Now I look forward to such an event as possible; my heart is free.


"I have much reason to rejoice that I came here; there is no time in these busy new settle


ments to look back. The 'go ahead' principle keeps hands and heads at work, and hearts too, dear mother. Do not imagine that in our eager devotion to physical wants, we forget what belongs to the lasting and nobler part of our nature. I have literally made a circulating library of the books father gave me; and if your household maxim holds good here, and the proof of the pudding is in the eating,' the eagerness with which they are devoured is a proof that they were well selected. I have built a small log-house, with two apartments, at a short distance from the good family where I get my meals. One of the apartments is my bed-room, and I assure you it has quite a home look. A little pine table in the corner of the room is covered with the merino cloth which Mary and Haddy embroidered with braids for me; there is my flute, my port-folio, and the little pile of books that was always on my table at home, - then the quilt the girls made of bits of their pretty frocks is on my bed, the curtains Emily hemmed and fringed, before my windows. All these home memorials, with your sweet picture hanging over the fire-place, do confoundedly blur my eyes sometimes.



"The other apartment is, at present, a readingroom. I have induced the young men to join me in a society which we call (you know we are fond of grand names in these parts) Philomathian. Our Philos subscribe for half a dozer. newspapers, and three periodicals. They remain a week at the reading-room where we meet

evenings and rainy days. These meetings keep alive a social spirit, and a barter trade of our ideas, by which all gain, some more and some less. All gain, I say, and so it is; for the most humble has something peculiar in his observations and experience, by which those that are more highly endowed, and far better instructed, may profit. After a certain time our papers, &c. are put in circulation for the benefit of the womankind. My little reading-room serves another purpose that will particularly please you, mother. We meet in it every Sabbath morning for religious service. I am reader to our little congregation. I find the sermons and other devotional books father selected, admirably adapted to our purpose. I began with reading prayers; but our settlers, being chiefly from New England, prefer an extempore service. At first I felt bashful at being their organ, and, I confess it with shame, I thought more of those who were around me than of Him whom I addressed; but I soon learned to abstract myself, and to enter into the spirit of my petitions. We are but an extended family circle, perfectly acquainted with each other's condition, and feeling one another's wants; after our service we have a Sunday school. I adopt my father's mode of passing the afternoon as far as practicable here. I visit the sick and the afflicted, and, where there are no such paramount claims, I impart what religious and moral instruction I can to the children, and to the ignorant who are but grown-up children.



Tell father the slips of fruit-trees he gave me, are thriving on many a sunny patch,growing while we are sleeping; and pray tell the girls, that their last package of flower seeds arrived safely, and they have come up famously. Eve had not a finer soil for her culture in Paradise than we have here. Flowers grow like weeds, and I know many a village in old Massachusetts, shame to them! that has not so many of these luxuries as there are in our little settlement which has been opened to the sun but three years.

"I assisted two little barefoot girls to-day to train a native clematis (a pretty species) over the logs of their hut. There is a honeysuckle and white rose clambering over my window, that came from slips I cut, you know where, mother, the morning I left home. How soon may we plant a paradise in the wilds, if we will! The physical, moral, and intellectual soil is ready; it only wants the spirit of cultivation.

"That honeysuckle and white rose! They have recalled images of the past, but they are no longer spectres that trouble, but spirits that soothe me. How I wish I could be with you on the happy occasion at hand. I cannot, so there is an end of wishing; but pray tell Wallace, with my best love, that I ejoice in his joy, and have no feeling that may not exist when all marrying and giving in marriage is past, and we meet, as I humbly trust we shall, a family in heaven."

The happy occasion alluded to by Charles, was the double marriage of Alice and Harry Norton, Wallace and Emily.

« PreviousContinue »