« AnteriorContinuar »
THE DISCONTENTED PENDULUM.—Jane Taylor.
An old clock that had stood for fifty years in a farmer's kitchen without giving its owner any cause of complaint, early one summer's morning, before the family was stirring, suddenly stopped.
Upon this, the dial-plate (if we may credit the fable,) changed countenance with alarm : the hands made an ineffectual effort to continue their course : the wheels remained motionless with surprise : the weights hung speechless ; each member felt disposed to lay the blame on the others. At length the dial instituted a formal inquiry as to the cause of the stagnation; when hands, wheels, weights, with voice, protested their innocence. But now a faint tick was heard below, from the pendulum, who thus spoke :
"I confess myself to be the sole cause of the present stoppage ; and am willing, for the general satisfaction, to assign my reasons.” Upon hearing this, the old clock became so enraged that it was on the point of striking.
" Lazy wire !” exclaimed the dial-plate, holding up its hands.
“ Very good !” replied the pendulum," it is vastly easy for you, Mistress Dial, who have always, as every body knows, set yourself up above me—it is vastly easy for you, I say, to accuse other peo
ple of laziness! You, who have had nothing to do all the days of your life but to stare people in the face, and to amuse yourself with watching all that goes on in the kitchen ! Think, I beseech you, how you would like to be shut up for life in this dark closet, and wag backwards and forwards, year after after year, as I do.”
“As to that,” said the dial, “ is there not a window in your house on purpose for you to look through ?”
“For all that,” resumed the pendulum, “it is very dark here, and although there is a window, I dare not stop, even for an instant, to look out. Besides, I am really weary of my way of life, and if you please, I'll tell you how I took this disgust at my employment. This morning I happened to be calculating how many times I should have to tick in the course only of the next twenty-four hours ; perhaps some of you above there, can give me the exact sum.'
The minute-hand, being quick at figures, instantly replied, “ Eighty-six thousand four hundred times.”
“ Exactly so," replied the pendulum ! " well, I appeal to all, if the thought of this was not enough to fatigue one ; and when I began to multiply the strokes of one day by those of months and years, really it is no wonder if I felt discouraged at the prospect; so, after a great deal of reasoning and hesitation, thinks I to myself—I'll stop.”
The dial could scarcely keep its countenance during this harangue ; but, resuming its gravity, thus
replied : Dear Mr. Pendulum, I am really astoriished that such a useful, industrious person as yourself should have been overcome by this sudden suggestion. It is true you have done a great deal of work in your time. So we have all, and are likely to do; and although this may fatigue us to think of, the question is, whether it will fatigue us to do: would you now do me the favor to give about half a dozen strokes, to illustrate my argument ?”
The pendulum complied, and ticked six times at its usual pace :—6 Now,” resumed the dial, “ may I be allowed to inquire, if that exertion was at all fatiguing or disagreeable to you. “ Not in the least,” replied the pendulum ;
-it is not of six strokes that I complain, nor of sixty, but of millions."
“ Very good,” replied the dial,“ but recollect that although you may think of a million strokes in an instant, you are required to execute but one; and that however often you may hereafter have to swing, a moment will always be given you to swing in."
“ That consideration staggers me, I confess," said the pendulum.
“ Then I hope,” resumed the dial-plate, “we shall all immediately return to our duty ; for the maids will lie in bed till noon, if we stand idling thus.”
Upon this, the weights, who had never been accused of light conduct, used all their influence in urging him to proceed; when, as with one consent, the wheels began to turn, the hands began to move, the pendulum began to wag, and, to its credit, ticked as loud as ever ; while a beam of the rising sun
that streamed through a hole in the kitchen shutter, shining full upon the dial-plate, it brightened up as if nothing had been the matter.
When the farmer came down to breakfast that morning, upon looking at the clock, he declared that his watch had gained half an hour in the night.
KNICKERBOCKER'S CHARACTERISTICS OF THE NEW
In the last chapter I have given a faithful and unprejudiced account of the origin of that singular race of people, inhabiting the country eastward of the Nieuw Nederlandts ; but I have yet to mention certain peculiar habits which rendered them exceedingly obnoxious to our ever-honoured Dutch ancestors.
The most prominent of these was a certain rambling propensity, with which, like the sons of Ishmael, they seemed to have been gifted by Heaven, and which continually goads them on to shift their residence from place to place, so that a yankee farmer is in a constant state of migration ; tarrying occasionally here and there; clearing lands for other people to enjoy ; building houses for others to inhabit, and in a manner may be considered the wandering Arab of America.
His first thought, on coming to the years of manhood, is to settle himself in the world which means
nothing more or less than to begin his rambles. To this end he takes unto himself for a wife some buxom country heiress, passing rich in red ribands, glass beads, and mock tortoise-shell combs, with a white gown and morocco shoes for Sundays, and deeply skilled in the mystery of making apple sweetmeats, long sauce, and pumpkin pies.
Having thus provided himself, like a pedlar, with a heavy knapsack, wherewith to regale his shoulders through the journey of life, he literally sets out on the peregrination. His whole family, household furniture, and farming utensils, are hoisted into a covered cart; his own and his wife's wardrobe packed up in a firkin—which done, he shoulders his axe, takes staff in hand, whistles “ Yankee doodle," and trudges off to the woods, as confident of the protection of Providence, and relying as cheerfully upon his own resources, as did ever a patriarch of yore, when he journeyed into a strange country of the Gentiles. Having buried himself in the wilderness, he builds himself a log hut, clears away a corn-field and potatoe patch, and, Providence smiling on his labors, is soon surrounded by a snug farm and some half a score of flaxen-headed urchins, who, by their size, seem to have
sprung all at once out of the earth, like a crop of toad-stools.
But it is not the nature of this most indefatigable of speculators to rest contented with any state of sublunary enjoyment-improvement is his darling passion, and having thus improved his lands, the next care is to provide a mansion worthy the residence of a land holder. A huge palace of pine boards imme