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Down fashion's smooth deceitful tide,
MINE UNCLE JOHN.
To those whose habits of ahstraction may have let them into some of the secrets of their own minds, and whose freedom from daily toil has left them at leisure to analyze their feelings, it will be nothing new to say that the present is peculiarly the season of remembrance. The flowers, the zephyrs, and the warblers of spring, returning after their tedious absence, bring naturally to our recollection past times and buried feelings; and the whispers of the full-foliaged grove fall on the ear of contemplation, like the sweet tones of far distant friends whom the rude jostles of the world have severed from us, and cast far beyond our reach. It is at such times, that casting backward many a lingering look, we recall, with a kind of sweet-souled melancholy, the days of our youth and the jocund companions who started with us the race of life, but parted midway in the journey to pursue some winding path that allured them with a prospect more seducing and never returned to us again. It is then, too, if we have been afflicted with any heavy sorrow, if we
have even lost--and who has not? an old friend, or chosen companion, that his shade will hover around us; the memory of his virtues press on the heart; and a thousand endearing recollections, forgotten amidst the cold pleasures and midnight dissipations of winter, arise to our remembrance.
These speculations bring to my mind my UNCLE JOHN, the history of whose loves and disappointments, I have promised to the world. Though I must own myself much addicted to forgetting my promises, yet, as I have been so happily reminded of this, I believe I must pay it at once,
and there an end.” Lest my readers, goodnatured souls that they are ! should, in the ardour of peeping into millstones, take my uncle for an old acquaintance, I here inform them that the old gentleman died a great many years ago, and it is impossible they should ever have known him:-I pity 'them—for they would have known a good-natured, benevolent man, whose example might have been of service.
The last time I saw my uncle John was fifteen years ago, when I paid him a visit at his old mansion. I found him reading a newspaper--for it was election time, and he was always a warm federalist, and had made several converts to the true political faith in his time, particularly, one old tenant, who always, just before the election, became a violent 'anti, in order that he might be convinced of his errors by my uncle, who never failed to reward his conviction by some substantial benefit.
After we had settled the affairs of the nation, and I had paid my respects to the old family chronicles in the kitchen-an indispensable ceremony-the old gentleman exclaimed, with heartfelt glee, " Well, I suppose you are for a trout fishing: I have got every thing prepared, but first you must take a walk with me to see my improvements.' I was obliged to consent, though I knew my uncle would lead me to a most villanous dance, and in all probability treat me to a quagmire, or a tumble into a ditch. - If my readers choose to accompany me in this expedition they are welcome; if not, let them stay at home like lazy fellows and sleep-or be hanged.
Though I had been absent several years, yet there was very little alteration in the scenery, and every object retained the same features it bore when I was a school. s, boy; for it was in this spot that I grew up in the fear of ghosts, and in the breaking of many of the ten commandments. The brpok, or riyer as they would call it in Europe, still murmured with its wonted sweetness through the meadow; and its banks were still tufted with dwarf willows, that bent down to the surface. The same echo inhabited the valley, and the same tender air of repose, pervaded the whole scene. Even my good uncle was but little altered, except that his hair was grown a little grayer, and his forehead had lost some of its former smoothness. Hehad, however, lost nothing of bis former, activity, and laughed heartily at the difficulty. I found in keeping up to him as he stumped through bushes, and briers, and hedges; talking all this time about his improvements, and telling what he would do with such a spot of ground and such a tree. At length, after showing me his stone fences, his fanious two year old bull, his new invented.cart, which was to go before the horse, and his Eclipse colt, he was pleased to return home to dinner.
After dining and returning thanks,—which with him was not a ceremony merely, but an offering from the heart,--my uncle opened his trunk, took out his fishingtackle, and, without saying a word, sallied forth with some of those truly alarming steps which Daddy Neptune once took when he was in a great hurry to attend to the affair of the seige of Troy. Trout fishing was my uncle's favourite sport; and though I always caught two fish to his one, he never would acknowledge my superiority; but puzzled himself often, and often, to account for such a singular phenomenon.
Following the current of the brook, for a mile or two we retraced many of our old haunts, and told a hundred adventures which had befallen us at different times. It was like snatching the hour-glass of time, inverting it, and rolling back again the sands that had marked the lapse of years. At length the shadows began to lengthen, the south wind gradually settled into a perfect calm, the
sun threw his rays through the trees on the hill-tops in golden lustre, and a kind of Sabbath stillness pervaded the whole valley, indicating that the bour was fast approaching which was to relieve for a while the farmer from his rural labour, the ox from his toil, the school urchin from his primer, and bring the loving ploughman home to the feet of his blooming dairy-maid.
As we were watching in silence the last rays of the sun, beaming their farewell radiance on the high hills at a distance, my uncle exclaimed, in a kind of half desponding tone, while he rested his arm over an old tree that had fallen—“I know not how it is, my dear Launce, but such an evening, and such a still quiet scene as this, always makes me a little sad: and it is at such a time I am most apt to look forward with regret to the period when this farm on which I have been young but now am old,' and every object around me that is endeared by long acquaintance, --when all these and I must shake hands and part. I have no fear of death, for my life has afforded but little temptation to wickedness; and when I die, I hope to leave behind me more substantial proofs of virtue, than will be found in my epitaph, and more lasting memorials than churches built or hospitals endowed with wealth wrung from the hard hand of poverty, by an unfeeling landlord, or unprincipled knave; but still when I pass such a day as this and contemplate such a scene, I cannot help feeling a latent wish to linger yet a little longer in this peaceful asylum ; to enjoy a little more sunshine in this world, and to have a few more fishing matches with my boy." As he ended he raised his hand a little from the fallen tree, and drooping it lan, guidly by his side, turned himself towards home. The sentiment, the look, the action, all seemed to be prophetic.— And so they were, for when I shook him by the hand and bade him farewell the next morning it was for the last time!
He died a bachelor, at the age of sixty-three, though he had been all his life trying to get married; and always thought himself on the point of accomplishing his wishes. His disappointments were not owing either to the defor.
mity of his mind or person; for in his youth he was reckoned handsome, and I myself can witness for him that he had as kind a heart as ever was fashioned by Heaven; neither were they owing to his poverty,—which sometimes stands in an honest man's way;—for he was born to the inheritance of a small estate which was sufficient to establish his claim to the title of “one well to do in the world.”. The truth is, my uncle had a prodigious antipathy to doing things in a hurry—“ A man should consider," said he to me once _“ that he can always get a wife, but cannot always get rid of her. For my part, continued he, “ I am a young fellow with the world before me; (he was about forty!) and am resolved to look sharp, weigh matters well, and know what's what before I marry: in short, Launce, I don't intend to do the thing in a hurry, depend upon it." On this whim-wham he proceeded: he began with young girls, and ended with widows. The girls he courted until they grew old maids, or married out of pure apprehension of incurring certain penalties hereafter; and the widows not having quite as much patience, generally, at the end of a year, while the good man thought himself in the high road to success, married some harum-scarum young fellow, who had not such an antipathy to do things in a hurry.
My uncle would have inevitably sunk under these repeated disappointments for he did not want sensibility had he not bit upon a discovery which set all to rights at
He consoled his vanity,—for he was a little vain, and soothed his pride, which was his master passion, by telling his friends very significantly, while his eye would flash triumph, “ that he might have had her.” Those who know how much of the bitterness of disappointed affection arises from wounded vanity and exasperated pride will give my uncle credit for this discovery.
My uncle had been told by a prodigious number of married men, and had read in an innumerable quantity of books, that a man could not possibly be happy except in the marriage state; so he determined at an early age to marry, that he might not lose his only chance for happineas. He accordingly forthwith paid his addresses to