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BY CHARLES LAMB.
GRACE BEFORE MEAT.
turbation of the mind, inconsistent with the purposes of the grace, at the presence of venison or turtle.
When I have sate (a rarus hospes) at rich men's The custom of saying grace at meals had, proba- tables, with the savory soup and messes steaming up bly, its origin in the early times of the world, and the nostrils, and moistening the lips of the guests the hunter-state of man, when dinners were precious with desire and a distracted choice, I have felt the things, and a full meal was something more than a introduction of that ceremony to be unseasonable. common blessing! when a belly-full was a wind. With the ravenous orgasm upon you, it seems imfall, and looked like a special providence. In the pertinent to interpose a religious sentiment. It is shouts and triumphal songs with which, after a sea a confusion of purpose to mutter our praises from a son of sharp abstinence, a lucky booty of deer's or mouth that waters. The heats of epicurism pnt out goat's flesh would naturally be ushered home, exist. the gentle flame of devotion. The incense which ed, perhaps, the germ of the modern grace. It is rises round is pagan, and the belly god intercepts it not otherwise easy to be understood, why the bless- for his own. The very excess of the provision being of food-tie act of eating-should have had a yond the needs, takes away all the sense of proporparticular expression of thanksgiving annexed to it, tion between the end and means. The giver is veil. distinct from that implied and silent gratitude with ed by his gists. You are startled at the injustice of which we are expected to enter upon the enjoyment returning thanks-for what ?- for having too much, of the many other various gifts and good things of while so many starve. It is to praise the Gods existence.
amiss. I own that I am disposed to say grace upon twen I have observed this awkwardness felt, scarce ty other occasions in the course of the day besides consciously perhaps, by the good man who says the my dinner. I want a form of prayer for setting out grace. I have seen ii in clergymen and others—a upon a pleasant walk, for a moonlight ramble, for a sort of shame—a sense of the co-presence of circumfriendly meeting, or a solved problem. Why have stances which unhallow the blessing. After a dewe none for books, those spiritual repasts—a grace votional tone put on for a few seconds, how rapidly before Milton--a grace before Shakspeare-a devo. the speaker will fall into his common voice! helptional exercise proper to be said before reading the ing himself or his neighbor, as if to get rid of some Fairy Queen ?—but the received ritual having pre- uneasy sensation of hypocrisy. Not that the good scribed these forins to the solitary ceremony of man man was a hypocrite, or was not most conscientious ducation, I shall confine my observations to the ex- in the discharge of his duty; but he felt in his inperience which I have had of the grace, properly so most mind the incompatibility of the scene and the called ; commending my new scheme for extension viands before him with the exercise of a calm and to a niche in the grand philosophical, poetical, and rational gratitude. perchance in part heretical, liturgy, now compiling I hear somebody exclaim,-Would you have Chrisby my friend Homo Humanus, for the use of a cer- tians sit down at table, like hogs to their troughs, tain snug congregation of Utopian Rabelæsian Chris- without remembering the Giver !-no- I would have tians, no matter where assembled.
them sit down as Christians, remembering the Giver, The forın, then, of the benediction before eating and less like hogs. Or if their appetites must run has its beauty at a poor man's table, or at the simple riot, and they must pamper themselves with deand unprovocative repasts of children. It is here licacies for which east and west are ransacked, I that the grace becomes exceedingly graceful. The would have them postpone their benediction to a indigent man, who hardly knows whether he shall fitter season, when appetite is laid; when the still have a meal the next day or not, sits down to his small voice can be heard, and the reason of the grace fare with a present sense of the blessing, which can returns-with temperate diet and restricted dishes. be but feebly acted by the rich, into whose minds Gluttony and surfeiting are no proper occasions for the conception of wanting a dinner could never, but thanksgiving. When Jeshurun waxed fat, we read by some extreme theory, have entered. The proper that he kicked. Virgil krew the harpy-nature betend of food—the animal sustenance-is barely con- ter, when he put into the mouth of Celæno anything templated by them. The poor man's bread is his but a blessing. We may be gratefully sensible of daily bread, literally his bread for the day. Their the deliciousness of some kinds of food beyond others, courses are perennial.
though that is a meaner and inferior gratitude : but Again the plainest diet seems the fittest to be pre- the proper object of the grace is sustenance, not ceded by the grace. That which is least stimulative relishes; daily bread, not delicacies; the means of to appetite, leaves the mind most free for foreign life, and not the means of pampering the carcass. considerations. A man may feel thankful, heartily With what frame or composure, I wonder, can a city thankful, over a dish of plain mutton with turnips, chaplain pronounce his benediction at some great and have leisure to reflect upon the ordinance and Hall-feast, when he knows that his last concluding institution of eating ; when he shall consess a per- pious word-and that in all probability, the sacred
name which he preaches—is but the signal for so | tically I own that (before meat especially) they many impatient harpies to commence their foul seem to involve something awkward and unseasonorgies, with as little sense of true thankfulness able. Our appetites, of one or another kind, are ex(which is temperance) as those Virgilian fowl! It cellent spurs to our reason, which might otherwise is well if the good man himself does not feel his debut feebly set about the great ends of preserving and votions a little clouded, those foggy sensuous steams continuing the species. They are fit blessings to be mingling with and polluting the pure altar sacrifice. contemplated at a distance with a becoming grati
The severest satire upon full tables and surfeits tude; but the moment of appetite (the judicious is the banquet which Satan, in the Paradise Regain-reader will apprehend me) is, perhaps, the least fit ed, provides for a temptation in the wilderness : season for that exercise. The Quakers, who go A table richly spread in regal mode
about their business of every description with more With dishes piled, and meats of noblest sort
calmness than we, have more title to the use of these And sayor ; beasts of chase, or foul of game,
benedictory prefaces. I have always admired their In pastry built, or from the spit, or boi
silent grace, and the more because I have observed Gris-amber-steamed; all fish from sea or shore,
their applications to the meat and drink following to Freshet or purling brook, for which was drained
be less passionate and sensual than ours. They are Pontus, and Lucrine bay, and Afric coast.
neither gluttons nor wine-bibbers as a people. They
eat, as a horse bolts his chopped hay, with indifferThe Tempter, I warrant you, thought these cates ence, calmness, and cleanly circumstances. They would go down without the recommendatory preface neither grease nor slop themselves. When I see a of a benediction. They are like to be short graces citizen in his bib and tucker, I cannot imagine it a where the devil plays the host. I am afraid the poet surplice. wants his usual decorum in this place. Was he think I am no Quaker at my food. I confess I am not ing of the old Roman luxury, or of a gaudy day at indifferent to the kinds of it. Those unctuous morCambridge? This was a temptation fitter for a sels of deer's flesh were not made to be received Heliogabalus. The whole banquet is too civic and with dispassionate services. I hate a man who swalculinary, and the accompaniments altogether a pro-lows it, affecting not to know what he is eating. I fanation of that deep, abstracted, holy scene. The suspect his taste in higher matters. I shrink instincmighty artillery of sauces, which the cook-fiend con- tively from one who professes to like minced veal. jures up, is out of proportion to the simple wants There is a physiognomical character in the tastes and plain hunger of the guest. He that disturbed for food. C holds that a man cannot have a him in his dreams, from his dreams might have been pure mind who refuses apple dumplings. I am not ta ught better. To the temperate fantasies of the certain but he is right. With the decay of my first fa mished Son of God, what sort of feasts presented innocence, I confess a less and less relish daily for themselves ? He dreamed indeed,
those innocuous cates. The whole vegetable tribe -As appetite is wont to dream,
have lost their gust with me. Only I stick to aspaOf meats and drinks, nature's refreshment sweet. ragus, which still seems to inspire gentle thoughts. But what meats ?
I am impatient and querulous under culinary disap
pointments; as to come home at the dinner hour, for Him thought, he by the brook of Cherith stood,
instance, expecting some savory mess, and to find And saw the ravens with their horny beaks
one quite tasteless and sapidless. Butter ill meltedFood to Elijah bringing even and morn;
that commonest of kitchen failures-puts me beside Though ravenous, taught to abstain from what they my tenor. The author of the Rambler used to make brought :
inarticulate animal noises over a favorite food. Was He saw the prophet also how he fled
this the music quite proper to be preceded by the Into the desert and how there he slept,
grace ? or would the pious man have done better to Under a juniper; then how awaked
postpone his devotions to a season when the blessing He found his supper on the coals prepared,
might be contemplated with less perturbation? I And by the angel was bid rise and eat,
quarrel with no man's tastes, nor would set my thin And ate the second time after repose,
face against those excellent things, in their way, The strength whereof sufficed him forty days :
jollity and feasting. But as these exercises, however Sometimes, that with Elijah he partook,
laudable, have little in them of grace or gracefulness, Or as a guest with Daniel at his pulse.
a man should be sure, before he ventures so to grace Nothing in Milton is finelier fancied than these tem- them, that while he is pretending his devotions other. perate dreams of the divine Hungerer. To which of wise, he is not secretly kissing his hand to some these two visionary banquets, think you, would the great fish—his Dagon-with a special consecration introduction of what is called the grace have been of no ark but the fat tureen before him. Graces are the most fitting and pertinent ?
the sweet preluding strains to the banquets of angels Theoretically I am no enemy to graces; but prac. and children ; to the roots and severer repasts of the
Chartreuse ; to the slender, but not slenderly acknowledged, refection of the poor and humble man : but at the hea ped-up boards of the pampered and the luxurious they become of dissonant mood, less timed and tuned to the occasion, methinks, than the noise of those better befitting organs would be which children hear tales of, at Hog's Norton. We sit too long at our meals, or are too curious in the study of them, or are too disordered in our application to them, or engross too great a portion of those good things (which should be common) to our share, to be able with any grace to say grace. To be thankful for what we grasp exceeding our proportion, is to add hypocrisy to injustice. A lurking sense of this truth is what makes the performance of this duty so cold and spiritless a service at most tables. In houses where the grace is as indispensable as the napkin, who has not seen that never-settled question arise, as to who shall say it? while the good man of the house and the visitor clergyman, or some other guest belike of next authority, from years or gravity, shall be bandying about the office between them as a matter of compliment, each of them not unwilling to shift the awkward burthen of an equivocal duty from his own shoulders ?
I once drank tea in company with two Methodist divines of different persuasions, whom it was my fortune to introduce to each other for the first time that evening. Before the first cup was handed round, one of these reverend gentlemen put it to the other, with all due solemnity, whether he chose to say anything. It seems it is the custom with some sectaries to put up a short prayer before this meal also. His reverend brother did not at first quite apprehend him, but upon an explanation, with little less im. portance he made answer that it was not a custom known in his church: in which courteous evasion the other acquiescing for good manners' sake, or in compliance with a weak brother, the supplementary or tea-grace was waived altogether. With what spirit might not Lucian have painted two priests, of his religion, playing into each other's hands the compliment of performing or omitting a sacrifice,-the hungry God meantime, doubtful of his incense, with expectant nostrils hovering over the two flamens, and (as between two stools) going away in the end without his supper!
THE OCEAN. BY JOHN AUGUSTUS SHEA. Likeness of Heaven! Agent of power! Man is thy victim! Shipwrecks thy dower! Spices and jewels From valley and sea, Armies and banners Are buried in thee. What are the riches of Mexico's mines, To the wealth that far down In the deep water shines ? The proud navies that cover The conquering westThou flingest them to death With one heave of thy breast. From the high hills that view Thy wreck-making shore, When the bride of the mariner Shrieks at thy roar ; When like lambs in the tempest, Or mews in the blast, O'er thy ridge broken billows The canvass is cast. How humbling to one With a heart and a soul, To look on thy greatness And list to its roll : To think how that heart In cold ashes shall be, While the voice of eternity Rises from thee! Yes! where are the cities Of Thebes and of Tyre? Swept from the nations Like sparks from the fire; The glory of Athens, The splendor of Rome, Dissolved—and for everLike dew in thy foam. But thou art almighty, Eterual-sublineUnweakened-unwastedTwin brother of Time! Fleets, tempests, nor nations Thy glory can bow; As the stars first beheld thee, Still chainless art thou! But hold! when the surges No longer shall roll, And that firmament's length Is drawn back like a scroll; Then then shall the spirit That sighs by thee now, Be more mighty-more lastingMore chainless than thou.
Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage;
That for an hermitage :
And in my soul am free;
BY HORACE SMITH.
BY THOMAS CHURCHYARD.
HYMN TO THE FLOWERS.
Posthumous glories ! angel-like collection !
Upraised from seed or bulb interred in earth, Day-stars ! that ope your eyes with morn to twinkle Ye are to me a type of resurrection
And second birth. From rainbow galaxies of earth's creation, And dew-drops on her lovely altars sprinkle Were I, O God! in churchless lands remaining, As a libation !
Far from all teachers and from all divines, Ye matin worshippers! who bending lowly
My soul would find, in flowers of thy ordaining, Before the uprisen sun, God's lidless eye,
Priests, sermons, shrines !
Incense on high!
It is not beauty I demand,
A crystal brow, the moon's despair,
Nor the snow's daughter, a white hand, 'Neath cloister'd boughs each floral bell that swingeth, And tolls its perfume on the passing air,
Nor mermaid'e yellow pride of hair. Makes Sabbath in the fields, and ever ringeth
Tell me not of your starry eyes,
Your lips, that seem on roses fed,
Your breasts, where Cupid tumbling lies, Attest the feebleness of mortal hand;
Nor sleeps for kissing of his bed, -
A bloomy pair of vermeil cheeks,
Like Hebe's in her ruddiest hours,
A breath that softer music speaks Whose quenchless lamps the sun and moon supply, Than summer winds a-wooing flowers. Its cheir the winds and waves, its organ thunder, Its dome the sky!
These are but gauds; nay, what are lips?
Coral beneath the ocean-stream, There, ,-as in solitude and shade I wander
Whose brink when your adventurer slips, Through the lone aisles, or stretched upon the sod, Full oft he perisheth on them. Awed by the silence, reverently ponder The ways of God,
And what are cheeks, but ensigns oft,
That wave hot youth to fields of blood ? Your voiceless lips, O flowers, are living preachers,
Did Helen's breast, though ne'er so soft, Each cup a pulpit, and each leaf a book,
Do Greece or llium any good ?
Eyes can with baleful ardor burn,
Poison can breathe, that erst perfumed;
There's many a white hand holds an urn, Weep without sin and blush without a crime,
With lover's hearts to dust consumed. 0, may I deeply learn and ne'er surrender Your love sublime !
For crystal brows, there's naught within; ". Thou wast not, Solomon, in all thy glory,
They are but empty cells for pride ; Arrayed,” the lilies cry, " in robes like ours:"
He who the Siren's hair would win
Is mostly strangled in the tide.
Give me, instead of beauty's bust,
A tender heart, a loyal mind,
Yet never linked with error find ;-
One in whose gentle bosom I
Could pour my secret heart of woes, Blooming o'er fields and wave by day and night,
Like the care-burdened honey-fly, From every source your sanction bids me treasure
That hides his murmurs in the rose;
My earthly comforter! whose love
That, when my spirit won above,
Hers could not stay, for sympathy.
BY LYDIA MARIA CHILD.
LOVE FOR ALL.
to be surrounded by circumstances a little more dangerous and exciting, and perhaps you, who now walk
abroad in the sunshine of respectability, might have (Written just after Joha C. Colt avoided capital punishment, come under the ban of human laws, as you have
by suicide.) Every year of my life I grow more and more con
into frequent disobedience of the divine; and then vinced, that it is wisest and best to fix our attention that one foul blot would have been regarded as the on the beautiful and good, and dwell as little as pos
hieroglyphic symbol of your yhole life. Between sible on the evil and the false. Society has done my you and the inmate of the penitentiary, society sees spirit grievous wrong, for the last few weeks, with ed as belonging to the same species; but there is
a difference so great, that you are scarcely recognizits legal bull-baitings, and its hired murderers. They have made me ashamed of belonging to the one who judgeth not as man judgeth. human species; and were it not that I struggled
When Mrs. Fry spoke at Newgate, she was wont hard against it, ar.d prayed earnestly for a spirit of
to address both prisoners and visiters as sinners.
When Dr. Channing alluded to this practice, she forgiveness, they would have made me hate my race. Yet feeling thus, I did wrong to them. Most of them weekly replied, In the sight of God, there is not, had merely caught the contagion of murder, and real. perhaps, so much difference as men think.' In the ly were not aware of the nature of the fiend they often a glimmering evidence that the divine spark is
midst of recklessness, revenge, and despair, there is harbored. Probably there was not a single heart in the community, not even the most brutal, that not quite extinguished. Who can tell into what a would not have been softened, could it have entered holy flame of benevolence and self-sacrifice it might into confidential intercourse with the prisoner as Dr. have been kindled, had the man been surrounded Anthon did. All would then have learned that he
from his cradle by an atmosphere of love? was a human being, with a heart to be melted, and
Surely these considerations should make us indge a conscience to be roused, like the rest of us; that mercifully of the sinner, while we hate the sin with under the turbid and surging tide of proud, exaspe
tenfold intensity, because it is an enemy that lies in
wait for us all. iated feelings, ran a warm current of human affec
The highest and holiest example tions, which, with more genial influences, might
teaches us to forgive all crimes, while we palliate have flowed on deeper and stronger, mingling its waters with the river of life. All this each one would
Would that we could learn to be kind-always have known, could he have looked into the heart of
and everywhere kind ! Every jealous thought I the poor criminal as God looketh. But his whole
cherish, every angry word I utter, every repulsive life was judged by a desperate act, done in the in tone, is helping to build penitentiaries and prisons, sanity of passion ; and the motives and the circum- and to fill them with those who merely carry the stances were revealed to the public only through the same passions and feelings farther than I do. It is cold barbarisms of the law, and the fierce exaggera
an awful thought; and the more it is impressed upon tions of an excited populace ; therefore he seemed me, the more earnestly do I pray to live in a state like a wild beast, walled out from human sympa
of perpetual benediction. thies,-not as a fellow-creature, with like passions And rescue universal man from the hunting hell-hounds of his
• Love hath a longing and a power to save the gathered world, and feelings as themselves.
doings.' Carlyle, in his French Revolution, speaking of one And so I return, as the old preachers used to say, of the three bloodiest judges of the Reign of Terror, to my first proposition; that we should think gently says: Marat too had a brother, and natural affec- of all, and claim kindred with all, and include all, tions; and was wrapt once in swaddling-clothes, and without exception, in the circle of our kindly symslept safe in a cradle, like the rest of us. We are pathies. I would not thrust out even the bangman, too apt to forget these gentle considerations when though methinks if I were dying of thirst, I would talking of public criminals.
rather wait to receive water from another hand than If we looked into our souls with a more wise hu- his. Yet what is the hangman but a servant of the mility, we should discover, in our own ungoverned law? And what is the law but an expression of anger the germ of murder; and meekly thank God public opinion? And if public opinion be brutal, that we, too, had not been brought into temptations and thou a component part thereof, art thou not the too fiery for our strength. It is sad to think how hangman's accomplice? In the name of our comthe records of a few evil days may blot out from the mon Father, sing thy part of the great chorus in the memory of our fellow-men whole years of generous truest time, and thus bring this crashing discord into thoughts and deeds of kindness; and this, too, when harmony ! each one has before him the volume of his own And if at times, the discord proves too strong for broken resolutions, and oft-repeated sins. The temp- thee, go out into the great temple of Nature, and tation which most easily besets you, needed, per. drink in freshness from her never-failing fountain. haps, to be only a little stronger; you needed only the devices of men pass away as a vapour ; but