The Literary Maiden

A compendium of obscure 19th century writing.

Tag: new york mirror

“Cupid and the Rose” from the New-York Mirror

Cupid and the Rose
April 21, 1838
New-York Mirror

WHITHER, lonely boy of love,
Art thou wandering like a dove,
Seeking in each grove and dell
Some fair form on which to dwell?
Hither his and fondly sip
A parting dew-drop from my lip,
Lingering in my morning cup,
Ere saucy Phoebus drink it up.

Too thirsty me!—this dew of thine,
Sweet rose, is most delicious wine;
So sparkling ripe, so freely given,
Vintage of morning’s rosy heaven.
Ah, me! would such but flow for ever,
I’d leave thee—Leave thee, love? Oh, never!
As it is, the vessel’s empty—
I’m off—good-by—I’ve had a plenty.*

*Also published in Bentley’s Miscellany, Volumes 1 and 3, signed with an “F” in Volume 3.

“LIFE AND THE GRAVE” from the New-York Mirror

I found this curious article within the pages of the December 29, 1827 issue of The New-York Mirror, and Ladies’ Literary Gazette. Certain sections in this are humbling, while others are, understandably, morose. As we enter this New Year, may we all reevaluate our goals, whether short term or long term, and continue striving to do good works, not only for our own benefit, but more importantly for the benefit of others, our planet, and the future generations to come. Time and life are precious, and we needn’t spend our lives perpetually indulging in frivolous pleasure, when we should be lending our talents and resources to better ourselves and those around us while we are still able to. Pseudo-contemplative remarks aside, I hope you enjoy this article. It comes from a series of articles by the same author under “The Essayist” section of The New-York Mirror, and only ran between 1827-1828. To my knowledge and research, the articles cannot be traced to any other source other than the Mirror. Finally, on a side note, I was unable to track down the author of this article, only relying on the author’s initials, “C. M. A.” I am only lead back to one writer and scholar, Charles Anthon (where does the mysterious “M” fit in that name? I’m not positive—), although I doubt he wrote these articles. If you agree, disagree, or have a better lead, please feel free to comment and let me know. Also, if you’d be interested in reading the other articles in his series, I’d be happy to post them.

FOR THE NEW-YORK MIRROR.
LIFE AND THE GRAVE.
“How sad a sight is human happiness,
“To those whose thought can pierce beyond an hour?”

I LOVE to indulge in that kind of pleasure termed melancholy—to look on the dark side of the picture of human life—to meditate on the many ills to which we are subject here—and to become inured, through reflection on the difficulties we meet with, to the various hardships, and troubles, and trails of life. There is a pleasing sadness in this strain of feeling, a melancholy pleasure, which often invites my attention, and which claims the merit of not being elsewhere found. It renders the feelings that were once soft, tender, and fearful of the rude blasts of adversity, cold and callous to their howlings; and imparts to the mind a thoughtful, determined preparation to endure whatever troubles may be imposed upon it.
How gloomy and forbidding is that view which reality and experience unfold to us of the state of human life! How dark the picture presented for our inspection! How few streaks of light and cheerfulness are interspersed throughout that vast extent of gloomy canvass! How few scenes of bliss and happiness are mixed with those numerous objects of misery and wretchedness that appear on its surface! How many and various are the blemishes of crime, rapine, and fraud, that stain and pollute to its appearance! There is, indeed, but little happiness here–but little to hope for—but little that is worth having, which we can desire with a probability of our request being granted.
If we take a retrospective glance, and look back on times and scenes gone by, we find but little in the recollection that can add to our present comfort. A few pleasures we may have experienced, but they were few indeed, and, like angels’ visits, “far between.” The man of fourscore can claim but a small portion of even his past life as being one of pure and unalloyed happiness. If he but estimates his age according to the pleasure he may have enjoyed, deducting from his years every portion of time spent in sorrow or anxiety, he will find himself but an infant in age, a mere babe in life. If we cast a glance beyond time past and present, and look inquiringly into the unborn future, what is there that will calm and cheer our spirits, now so drooping?—what that will make us more peaceful, more happy, more contented?—what that will act as a charm on our senses, rendering them insensible to pain, and lively to emotions of pleasure?—what that will be different from present experience of the vanity, coldness, and dreariness of life? It will be but a repetition of former scenes and former sorrows—a change of time, indeed, not of circumstances;—
——————”Endless is the list of human ills,”
“And sighs might sooner fail than cause to sigh.”
There is another theme of contemplation which I love—that inspired by a walk among the monuments of the dead—among those stones which bear the names and descriptions of those beneath them buried. Can it be that these inmates of the grave, whose forgotten names, and still more forgotten bodies, were once as I am now—as full of life and vigour—more full of its hopes and expectations—as fond of life’s enjoyments—and as pleased with the routine of fashionable pleasures—as those now in being? When they left the world, how did they leave it?—Did they die willing victims to the grave? Did they leave earth’s toys behind them as do those who know their emptiness, and give a welcome to death as a to messenger of peace that would convey them to an abode beyond the reach of life’s adversities?—or did they, in their last agonies, still cling to life—still hang to that brittle thread which bound them to earth’s domain, and wish that it might strengthen and wax stronger, that it could draw them back again to the scenes of gayety, and folly, and fashions, which once occupied their attention, and usurped the greater part of their life?
A walk in the grave-yard, when we are deeply impressed with the sensations of awe and dread inspired by the place and occasion, will be of benefit to the mind, as it is there that we can discuss dispassionately, if any where, the merits and demerits of life’s enjoyments. We feel a kind of sacred seclusion from the world, and that which usually troubles us—we imagine ourselves cut off from all sensual connexion with it, and evince but few, if any, desires to become again possessed of the charms it once maintained;—we wonder in what consisted the attractions which before bound us to life—what there was so great and glorious in the world, of a nature sufficient to cause our labours and cares to be so much and so often called into exercise—why we were once so unwilling to yield and give up those pleasures which now possess no value in our estimation—and why we declined regarding the duties enjoined on us by the will of heaven, when the faithful performance of them we now esteem to be of the greatest consequence. We contemplate also the labours of man, and endeavor to recollect for what ends his exertions are called into motion. We find the gratification of ambition to be the aim of one—the acquisition of wealth to be the desire of another—the indulgence of sensual pleasure to be the wish of a third. Various as are all of these, they alike have their end in the grave. It is, indeed, the end of man. Why then be so anxious to acquire the possession of those things whose stay must be so short, when acquired?
“Why all this toil for triumphs of an hour?
“What though we wade in wealth, or soar in fame?
“Earth’s highest station ends in ‘here he lies’—
“And ‘dust to dust’ concludes her noblest song.”
What a picture of contemplation and reflection does the grave-yard present! The old and the young are there, and the poor and the rich are there. The child of five years lies beside of the man of eighty. They alike rest in peace—unnoticed by friends, undisturbed by foes. Nought remains of what was once flesh, and life, and vigour, but a few crumbling bones, and they turning to their original dust, as fast as the revolutions of times and seasons can make them.
It is but a few years at most that can divide the grave from the now living. A short space of time will intervene, and then shall all be brought victims to its ravages, and be swallowed up in the multitude of its openings. However much we may wish this time protracted, “to this condition we must come at last”—and it is doubtful whether it will then be welcomed more cheerfully than it would be at the present moment.
Taking this view of life and the grave, would it not be wisdom to follow the advice of the poet, so beautifully given in the following lines?
“Lean not on earth—’twill pierce thee to the heart;
“A broken reed, at best; but oft, a spear;
“On its sharp point peace bleeds, and hope expires.”
C. M. A.

“Autumn! thou art with us…” by James B. Marshall, found in the New-York Mirror of 1837

The following article is transcribed from the New-York Mirror of  October 28, 1837, pg. 139. I had recently erroneously misattributed the article to the editors of the New-York Mirror; however, Netherlands scholar Ton F— kindly directed me towards the author and provided the following statement, which I feel is beneficial to the article in its own right,

The real author was James B. Marshall from Louisville KY, at the time editor of the Western Weekly Magazine in Ohio. The piece first appeared in the Louisville City Gazette of Sept 1, 1837, but was written one year earlier. It was called ‘September’, and renamed several times (for instance as Autumn: a Morceau) in many reprints. Marshall wrote the following polite introduction to his piece:
“The season of fruits and falling leaves is here; and seasonably is it ushered in. We have a bright, fresh and balmy day – and a breeze slightly spiced, braced and invigorating, after the heat of summer. One year ago we scribbled a short invocation to autumn. Is it less worthy than it was then? It was but the outpouring of feelings long and still cherished. Some of our cotemporaries flattered its naturalness and made mention of it in complimentary terms. May we be pardoned for repeating this brief evocation?”

-Ann Neilson

Autumn! thou art with us. Already we feel the prickles in the morning air; and the stars shine out with a peculiar lustre. Shortly we shall see the rich tints which thou flingest on the woodlands, and then thy russet livery. And if thou art now bright, and gay, and beautiful, thou art not less lovely when thy hazy atmosphere spreads a voluptuous softness over nature; when the sun himself is shorn of his beams, and, like a pale planet, wanders through the sky. Autumn! with its fields of ripening corn, and its trees laden with fruit, and its vines with the clustering grapes,

“Reeling to earth, purple and gushing;”

and clear, sparkling streams, and salmon-fishing, and field sports is here. Out in the autumn woods! The broad leaf of the sycamore hath fallen upon the streamlet, and hath passed on with its tumbling waters, or disports them where it has rested against some obstruction. The buckeye is bare; the maple is golden-leaved, save where is spread on a field of orange, the hectick [sic] flush which marks approaching decay, or where the sap is yet faintly coursing and a delicate green remains. The oak is of a deep crimson, and the gum even yet of a bloodier hue. Far off on the tall cliff is the spiral pine and cedar, in their eternal green. Out in the autumn woods! when leaves are falling like the flakes in the snow-storm. It is a time for reflection; it is a time for lofty contemplation. The soul is full, if it have the capacity to feel, and it gushes forth, though the tongue speak not. And yet it is irresistible to roam the autumn woods, and listen to the thousand whispering tongues which fill the air. The fulness [sic] of feeling must be relieved by the merry shout and loud halloo. We welcome thee, Autumn! Thou art the dearest to us of the seasons—save the flower-month. We hail thy coming now, not as has been our wont. Since thou were last here, we have lost friends; and in thy wailing winds, and out beneath thy sky, and roaming through thy varied gorgeous liveried wood, our thoughts shall be turned to their memories.

“Autumn” by Nathaniel Parker Willis

The following is a transcription of Nathaniel Parker Willis’ gorgeous article, entitled “Autumn,” taken from the September 30, 1837 issue of The New York Mirror. It was too stirring not to share. —Ann Neilson 

The first severe frost had come, and the miraculous change had passed upon the leaves, which is known only in America. The blood-red sugar-maple, with a leaf brighter and more delicate than a Circassian lip, stood here and there in the forest, like the Sultan’s standard in a host—the solitary and far-seen aristocrat of the wilderness; the birch, with its spirit-like and amber leaves, ghosts of the departed summer, turned out along the edges of the woods like a lining of the palest gold; the broad sycamore and the fan-like catalpa flaunted their saffron foliage in the sun, spotted with gold, like the wings of a lady-bird; the kingly oak, with its summit shaken bare, still hid its majestick trunk in a drapery of sumptuous dyes, like a stricken monarch, gathering his robes of state about him, to die royally in his purple; the tall poplar, with its minaret of silver leaves, stood blanched, like a coward, in the dying forest, burdening every breeze with its complainings; the hickory, paled through its enduring green; the bright berries of the mountain-ash, flushed with a more sanguine glory in the unobstructed sun; the gaudy tulip-tree, the Sybarite of vegetation, stripped of its golden cups, still drank the intoxicating light of noon-day in leaves, than which the lip of an Indian shell was never more delicately tined; the still deeper-dyed vines of the lavish wilderness, perishing with the noble things whose summer they had shared, outshone them in their decline, as woman, in her death, is heavenlier than the being on whom in life, she leaned; and, alone and unsympathising in this universal decay, outlaws from nature, stood the fir and hemlock, their frowning and sombre heads darker and less lovely than ever, in contrast with the death-struck glory of their companions.

The dull colours of English autumnal foliage give you no conception of this marvellous phenomenon. The change there is gradual; in America it is the work of a night—of a single frost!

Oh! to have seen the sun set on hills bright in the still green and lingering summer, and to wake in the morning to a spectacle like this!

It is as if a myriad of rainbows were laced through the tree-tops—as if the sunsets of a summer—gold, purple and crimson—had been fused in the alembick of the west, and poured back in a new deluge of light and colour over the wilderness. It is as if every leaf in those countless trees had been painted to outflush the tulip—as if, by some electrick miracle, the dyes of the earth’s heart had struck upward, and her crystals and ores, her sapphires, hyacinths and rubies, had let forth their imprisoned colours to mount through the roots of the forest, and, like the angels that, in olden times, entered the bodies of the dying, re-animate the perishing leaves, and revel an hour in their bravery.