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A PEEP AT THE VILLAGE OF MY SCHOOL-DAYS.
THERE are few who have no inclination to revisit the scenes of their childhood, especially if lengthened years have intervened since they gazed on the spot where their youthful days were passed; and still fewer who can revisit such scenes without emotion. What pleasures and pains mingle in the mind! Early friendships, and long forgotten events, come to our remembrance. The buoyancy of early years, and the cares of manhood, are suddenly contrasted; and we know not whether the tear that has dimmed our sight, is to fall as the tribute of joy, or the manifestation of regret and sorrow.
How many years have fled, since I was a school-boy in the village that I am about to enter! The brook on which I am now gazing was running then, but the wooden bridge that bestrid it has long since been taken away. We used to cross the stream on our way to church
on the sabbath: the very gurgling of the current appears familiar to me.
This brook wherein, when a stripling wild,
I bathed my burning brow;
It rapidly ran when I was a child,
And it runs rapidly now.
Our acquaintance in years that are past was begun,
Not only its waters have rapidly run,
My life has run rapidly too.
This brook may roll onward for ages to come,
When I have long slept in the heart of the tomb,
But when time shall be ended, for weal or for wo,
My life in eternity's channel shall flow,
And rapidly roll on for ever.
The fields, the lanes, and many of the trees, are old acquaintance; and I could almost claim fellowship with the crows, as they fly over me. In the large tree there, by the shed, two ravens used to build their nests; and often, at eventide, have I listened to their hoarse croak with awe. It was in the narrow lane I am about to cross, that a farmer was once waylaid by robbers. Never did we pass the spot at night without a run, lest the same villains should leap out upon us from behind the same tree.
As I pass onwards, fresh reminiscences occur to me here have I gathered nuts; there have I plucked blackberries from the brambles; and yonder, in the meadow, the fresh-sprung mushroom has been my prize. In this very path, and, as near as I can remember, on this very spot, I picked up in my boyhood a packet of guineas, half-guineas, and seven shilling pieces. It was a joyous moment, for money and happiness were too closely associated to be separated in my thoughts. My treasure seemed inexhaustible. In one short hour the bubble burst, the illusion was dispelled, the treasure vanished-my golden coins were all counterfeits.
There is the red sand-stone rock, with the road cut through it. A prickly pear, and a crab tree, used to be seen springing up from the earth on the top of the rock; but they are gone. The letters, also, the initials of our names, that were cut by us on the face of the rock, are gone too; at least I cannot find my own. Well! well! my name may be graven on a tombstone soon. May I be prepared for my latter end, by a lively faith in His inexhaustible "who mercy, his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness," 1 Pet. ii. 24.
Here is the little spring still welling forth its
waters. I have drunk of them in my youth, let me now drink of them in my age; would that they had brought more frequently to my mind than they did, the "living fountains," and that water of which whosoever drinketh shall thirst no more, Rev. vii. 17; John iv. 13, 14.
When I think how carelessly I valued time in my youth, and how costly it now appears to me in my age, I feel desirous to cry aloud to the young, that they may not waste but improve their flying hours.
"Shun delays, they breed remorse;
Take thy time, while time is lent thee;
Fly their fault, lest thou repent thee:
"Hoist up sail while gale doth last;
Tide and wind stay no man's pleasure:
I once knew the tenants of the cottages on the right and left of the road; but none of them, if alive, would now know me. Yonder is the toll-gate, the boundary of our play-ground, and the cluster of small dwellings near it. The
school has just broken upon my view, and my heart is beating more rapidly than it did; I must hasten on.
Ay, here it is; but very different to the school-house of former years. A villager whom I met, tells me that it is a school no longer. What a crowd of thoughts are pressing upon me! My schoolmaster and schoolmistress are long since dead, and where are my schoolfellows? Ask time and change! ask sickness, and the sword, and the boundless ocean! ask accident, disease, and death! for all these have thinned their number. How hard it is to imagine that the boys, who here played with me at leap-frog and prison-base, have grey heads on their shoulders; and yet it must be so with such as are alive.
There, in that hedge, opposite the school, stood the giant elm, that was one night blown down while we were reposing in slumber. Had it fallen a few feet more to the right than it did, these remarks of mine had never been made; for it would have crushed the roof, and overwhelmed us.
How oft, when threatening dangers lower,