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“The world is empty, the heart is dead surely!
In this world, plainly, all seemeth amiss."
It went to my heart when they cleared the old parlour of the venerable family furniture, and stripped the oak panels of the prints of the months, — July with her large fan and full ruffles at the elbows, and January in her muff and tippet. They would have pulled down the panels, too, to make the room as smart and bright as paper could make it; but placing my back against them, I swore by the spirit of my grandfather, that not a joint in the old work should be started while I could stand to defend it. And I have my revenge when I see how pert, insignificant, and raw every thing looks, surrounded by the high and dark walls of the apartment. But the old furniture was huddled together topsy-turvy in the garret. The round oak table, which had many a day smoked with the substantial dinners of former times, lost one of its leaves by too rough handling; but an old oak desk, at which my grandfather in his days of courtship was wont to pen epistles and sonnets to my grandmother, escaped the violence of the revolution with only a few scratches. I have had the dust wiped off its black polish, brought it
down by my study fire, and placed before it the old gentleman's arm-chair, which I found standing calm and stately upon its four legs, amidst the disordered rubbish of the garret. The mice have made a hole in the smooth leather bottom, which, however, I have never mended, as I keep it to remind me of the neglect and ingratitude of the world. It does not make you hate the world: no man could sit in my grandfather's chair and hate his fellow-beings. I am seated in it this moment; and with my pen fresh dipped in his leaden inkstand, shall scribble on till my mind and heart are eased.
To this corner I retire at the shutting in of day for self-examination and amendment. It is here that I sit in the shadow of a melancholy mind, and see pass before me, in solemn order, my follies and my crimes, and follow them with trembling into the portentous uncertainty of the future. It is here I learn that we must not lean on the world for comfort; it is here that I give myself up to the visions of the mind, and fill the space about me with beings from distant regions and of other times. Here, too, have I looked, with a dreamlike contemplation, upon the shadows sliding over the wall, silent as sunlight, till they seemed to me as monitors from the land of the dead, who had come in kindness to tell me of the vanity of present things, and of the hastening on of another and an enduring world.
It is natural, in these lonely musings, to brood over the heartlessness and noisy joys of the world. There is at bottom a feeling of self-complacency in it. Our calmed reason sets us above the beings about us, while we forget how many, at that very moment, are as meditative and rational as ourselves; and how few there