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Illustrations may be drawn from a thousand sources to help out this meditation on a broomstick. It would not be too great a stretch of fancy to picture the Roman Fetiales carrying a broomstick in place of the caduceus, and thence to make a disquisition on the Verbena and Saguina as kindred with the bonny broom. Kenealey Brallagan on the Dienosophists" would furnish an episode, and Wordsworth's quotations of the broom, in his adulation of Brougham, would give excuse for a chapter on the origin of Broom as an English surname. We could then retreat upon Hogg's lines of the "Broom sae Green" and Aird's "Buy a Broom," without fear of wearying the reader. But even a broomstick must have an end; ours shall not end ingloriously, so this paper shall conclude with a reproduction (verb. et lit.) of a forgotten scrap of wit from the pen of that master of satire, the immortal Dean Swift :
A Meditation upon a Broomstick, and Somewhat Beside; of the same Author's.
London: printed for E. Curll, at the Dial and Bible, against St. Dunstan's Church, in Fleet Street; and sold by F. Harding, at the Post Office, in St. Martin's Lane. 1710. Price 6d.
THIS single Stick, which you now behold Ingloriously lying in that neglected Corner, I once knew in a Flourishing State in A Forest, it was full of Sap, full of Leaves, and full of Boughs; but now, in vain does the busie Art of Man pretend to Vye with Nature, by tying that wither'd Bundle of Twigs to its sapless Trunk: 'tis now at best but the Reverse of what it was, a Tree turn'd upside down, the Branches on the Earth, and the Root in the Air; 'tis now handled by every Dirty Wench, condemned to do her Drudgery, and by a Capricious kind of Fate, destin'd to make other Things Clean and be Nasty itself: At Length worn to the Stumps in the
Service of the Maids, 'tis either thrown out of Doors, or condemned to its last use of kindling Fires. When I beheld this, I sighed, and said within myself,
Surely Man is a Broomstick ;
Nature sent him into the World Strong and Lusty, in a Thriving Condition, wearing his own Hair on his Head, the proper Branches of this Reasoning Vegetable, till the Axe of Intemperance has lopt off his Green Boughs, and left him a withered Trunk: He then flies into Art, and puts on a Peruque, valuing himself upon an Unnatural Bundle of Hairs, all covered with Powder, that never grew on his Head; but now should this our Broomstick pretend to enter the scene, proud of those Birchen Spoils it never bore, and all covered with Dust, tho' the sweepings of the Finest Lady's Chamber, we should be apt to Ridicule and despise its Vanity, partial Judges that we are! of Our own Excellencies, and other men's faults.
But a Broomstick, perhaps you'll say, is an Emblem of a Tree standing on its Head; and pray what is Man, but a topsy-turvy Creature, his Animal Faculties perpetually a Cock-Horse and Rational; His Head where his Heels should be; grovelling on the Earth, and yet with all his Faults, he sets up to be an universal Reformer and Corrector of Abuses, a Remover of Grievances, rakes into every Slut's Corner of Nature, bringing hidden Corruptions to the Light, and raises a mighty Dust where there was none before, sharing deeply all the while, in the very same Pollutions he pretends to sweep away: His last Days are spent in Slavery to Women, and generally the least deserving; 'till worn to the Stumps, like his Brother Bezom, he's either kickt out of doors, or made use of to Kindle Flames, for others to warm Themselves by.
THE SEASON OF BROWN LEAVES.
Race after race of leaves and men
So life and death roll on;
THE spring time came with green and gladness, and the summer followed with its rosy flowers and fruits; and now, after so brief a season of exuberance, the green things fade and die, and the joy of the year withers with the browning of the leaf. For a few moments, ere the branches are stripped of all their russet glories, let us reflect on these autumn changes as they hint of analogies in life and nature, and suggest ideas of hope and duty.
That view of the world which represents the outward and material forms, as perishable symbols of imperishable ideas, is that which should guide our first steps into this region of comparison and speculation. Nature is a series of progressions or unfoldings, and all her creatures are representative of ideas. The human form sinks into
decay, and perishes; the individuals pass from existence one by one; they do not live as individual types, but collectively, as representatives of Man. So the year, with its manifold changes and unfoldings, its many forms, and colours, and voices, has its spiritual and moral analogies, which are infinitely more poetical and instructive than any of its details of animate or inanimate beauty. All through the universe the same few laws peep out under an unity of expression which makes them all parallel. Spring, summer, autumn, winter; infancy, youth, manhood, age. The seasonal unfoldings of the individual; the spring, summer, autumn, and winter changes of the man are seen again in the progress of the race; and the ages of gold, silver, bronze, and iron are but other modes of expressing the same fact.
The tree of life has fruitage and decay;
its budding and blossoming, its and one simple thread of related harmony runs through all its metamorphoses.
The leaves that brown now, and fill the forest paths with pliant matting, from which, as we tread the solitude, a moist odour arises, were in their day rife with life and luxuriance; and having accomplished their work, go back to the soil whence they sprang, to supply the nourishment of another generation. All things change together as the autumn air creeps over the fields. The sun sinks slanting to an early bed; and the day, like the human heart after the shadows of many years have gathered upon it, is less merry than of yore. The golden corn becomes a grey stubble, the green tree a naked brush of branches, and death comes up from the grave to breathe a freezing air upon the world, and to
usher in the days of silence. Yet these leaves, which flutter into autumn graves; this grey stubble, which stands where waved the green before, are the harbingers of spring-life yet to come, and the types of an unceasing series of renewals which eternity may develop, but cannot exhaust. Man gathers the harvests, and survives many generations of falling leaves; and the very wind that beats the trees in their waning life, is to him as a breath from that blooming summer beyond, in which the growths of these years shall still strive for completion. He looks complacently on this flowing of the ages, and as these shadows of destruction weave around him, he sees the rainbow of hope spanning the dark gulf between the summer here and the summer there, and borrows from the joy of this the glory of his future years. What is this, then, but the law of progress, of development for ever of those possibilities which are locked up within the soul of man, and which the changes of the seasons teach and the cycles of the ages help to perfect? Let it once be known that the soul of man is capable of never-ending youth, and this browning of the leaf is a lesson of hope rather than fear, and the story of Eon is seen to be repeated for ever and ever. When the spring of the world was here, and the creatures were creeping up to higher forms by the same law of development, the grey mosses, sown on barren rocks by singing winds, crept up and down the sea-beat solitudes, and there was no man to watch their growth, no man to appreciate their beauty. The grasses came and waved their silken tassels, and the forests followed with their great brown arms and leafy fingers; and when the turf rippled into waves of green