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It has superior beauties, with none of their defects. For the most part they are more or less Romish, but this is Catholic, and not Romish at all. It is universal as humanity. It is the cry of the human. It bears indubitable marks of being a personal experience.
The author is supposed to have been a monk: an incredible supposition truly did we not know that a monk is also a man. One thing is certain, that the monk does not appear, and that it is the man only that speaks. He no longer dreams and drivels. He is effectually awake. The veil is lifted. He sees Christ coming to Judgment. All the tumult and the terror of the Last Day are present to him. The final pause and syncope of Nature; the shuddering of a horror-struck Universe; the downrushing and wreck of all things—all are present. But these material circumstances of horror and amazement, he feels are as nothing compared with "the infinite terror of being found guilty before the Just Judge.” This single consideration swallows up every other. The interests of an eternity are crowded into a moment.
One great secret of the power and enduring popularity of this Hymn is, undoubtedly, its genuineness. A vital sincerity breathes throughout. It is a cry de profundis ; and the cry becomes sometimes—so intense are the terror and solicitude—almost a shriek. It is in the highest degree pathetic. The Muse is “Mater Lachrymarum, Our Lady of Tears.” Every line weeps. Underneath every word and syllable a living heart throbs and pulsates. The very rhythm, or that alternate elevation and depression of the voice, which prosodists call the arsis and the thesis, one might almost fancy were synchronous with the contraction and the dilatation of the heart. It is more than dramatic. The horror and the dread are real: are actual, not acted. A human heart is laid bare, quivering with life, and we see and hear its tumultuous throbbings. We sympathize—nay, before we are aware, we have changed places. We, too, tremble and quail and cry aloud.
All true lyric poetry is subjective. The Dies Iræ is, as we bave seen, remarkable for its intense subjectivity; and whoever duly appreciates this characteristic will have little difficulty in understanding its superior effectiveness over everything else that has been written on the same theme. The life of the writer has passed into it and informs it, so that it is itself alive. It has vital forces and emanations. Its life mingles with our life. It enters into our veins and circulates in our blood. A virtue goes out from it. It is electrically charged, and contact is instantly followed by a shock and shuddering.
Springing from its subjectivity, if not identical with it, we would further notice the intensifying effect of what may be called its personalism ; in other words, its egoism. It is I and not We. Substitute the plural pronoun for the singular, and it would lose half its pungency.
We have had occasion to observe the weakening effect of this in trans-
The Hymn is not only lyrical in its essence, but also in its form. It
Seer and Sibyl speak concerning,
Oh, what fear shall it engender,
Trumpet, scattering sounds of wonder,
All aghast then Death shall shiver,
Volume, from which nothing's blotted,
When shall sit the Judge unerring,
What shall I say, that time pending ?
Think, ( Jesus, for what reason
Seeking me Thy worn feet hasted,
Righteous Judge of retribution!
Culprit-like, I plead, heart-broken,
Thou, who Mary gav'st remission,
Though my prayers be void of merit,
Be there, Lord, my place decided
When th’ accursed away are driven,
I beseech Thee, prostrate lying,
Day of tears and late repentance,
Benson John Lossing.
Born in Beekman, Dutchess Co., N. Y., 1813.
OLD-TIME LIFE IN ALBANY.
[The Life and Times of Philip Schuyler. Revised Edition. 1872.] NOT
OTWITHSTANDING there was great equality in Albany society,
there was a peculiar custom prevalent until near the time of the kindling of the Revolution, which appeared somewhat exclusive in its character. The young people were arranged in congenial companies, composed of an equal number of both sexes. Children from five to eight years of age were admitted into these companies and the association continued until maturity. Each company was generally under a sort of control by authority lodged in the hands of a boy and girl, who happened to possess some natural preëminence in size or ability. They met frequently, enjoyed amusements together, grew up to maturity with a perfect knowledge of each other, and the results, in general, were happy and suitable marriages. In the season of early flowers, they all went out together to gather the gaudy blossoms of the May-apple; and in August they went together to the forests on the neighboring hills to gather whortleberries, or, later still, to pluck the rich clusters of the wild grape, each being furnished with a light basket made by the expert Indian women.
Each member of a company was permitted to entertain all the rest on his or her birthday, on which occasion the elders of the family were bound to be absent, leaving only a faithful servant to have a general supervision of affairs, and to prepare the entertainment. This
the young people entire freedom, and they enjoyed it to the fullest extent. They generally met at four o'clock in the afternoon, and separated at nine or ten in the evening. On these occasions there would be ample provisions of tea, chocolate, fresh and preserved fruits, nuts, cakes, cider, and syllabub.
These carly and exclusive intimacies naturally ripened into pure and lasting friendships and affectionate attachments, and happy marriages
So universal was the practice of forming unions for life among the members of these circles, that it came to be considered a kind of apostacy to marry out of one's “company.” Love, thus born in the atmosphere of innocence and candor, and nourished by similarity of education, tastes, and aspirations, seldom lost any of its vitality; and inconstancy and indifference among married couples were so rare as to be almost unheard of exceptions to the general rule. They usually married early, were blessed with high physical and mental health, and the extreme love which they bore for their offspring made those parents ever dear to each other under the discipline of every possible vicissitude. The children were reared in great simplicity; and except being 'taught to love and adore the great Author of their being and their blessings, they were permitted to follow the dictates of their nature, ranging at full liberty in the open air, covered in summer with a light and cheap garment, which protected them from the sun, and in winter with warm clothing, made according to the dictates of convenience, comfort, and. health.
The summer amusements of the young were simple, healthful, and joyous. Their principal pleasure consisted in wbat we now call pic-nics, enjoyed either upon the beautiful islands in the river near Albany, which were then covered with grass and shrubbery, tall trees and clustering vines, or in the forests on the hills. When the warm days of spring and early summer appeared, a company of young men and maidens would set out at sunrise in a canoe for the islands, or in light wagons for “the bush," where they would frequently meet a similar party on the same delightful errand. Each maiden, taught from early childhood to be industrious, would take her work-basket with her, and a supply of tea, sugar, coffee, and other materials for a frugal breakfast, while the young men carried some rum and dried fruit to make a light cool punch for a mid-day beverage. But no previous preparations were made for dinner except bread and cold pastry, it being expected that the young men would bring an ample supply of game and fish from the woods and waters, provisions having been made by the girls of apparatus for cooking, the use of which was familiar to them all. After dinner the company would pair off in couples, according to attachments and affinities, sometimes brothers and sisters together, and sometimes warm friends or ardent lovers, and stroll in all directions, gathering wild strawberries or other fruit in summer, and plucking the abundant flowers, to be arranged into bouquets to adorn their little parlors and give pleasure to their parents. Sometimes they would remain abroad until sunset, and take tea in the open air; or they would call upon some friend on their way home and partake of a light evening meal. In all this there appeared no conventional restraints upon the innocent inclinations of