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HISTORY OF A MAN.
BIRTH AND EARLY YOUTH.
How simple the announcement, such a person was born at such a day and such an hour; and yet how significant and solemn the statement! What comparison between the birth of a sun-a vast mass of mere light, heat, and perishable matter-and the birth of a being who can weigh, measure, love, laugh at, adore, or despise that orb,-kiss his hand and worship, or cry, "Sun, to tell thee how I hate thy beams!" and who is to survive the proud luminary, and to return one day the smile shed by the Day-star on his death-bed and grave, and shall see him snatched from his sphere while holding on his own immortal journey! What a key-note is struck when the tidings are told, "Behold, there is a manchild brought forth,"-a key-note which is to ring and reverberate through eternal ages! This thought is very seldom in men's minds, when they hear of or witness a birth. They see only the poor paltry threescore and ten years of mortal life that are to follow, and not the awful roll of cycles of innumerable centuries! Perhaps men never feel less, or are less certain of the immortality of the soul, than when they watch the puny creature as it enters the stage, "wawling"
and shrinking from the chill air of an inhospitable world. "That child live for ever?-that poor shrunken worm become a winged angel?" Besides, the fact of birth is so common, that to many it loses all its charm, and all its poetic interest. While parents, in general, think too much of their offspring, and act and speak as if they were the creators of the spirits as well as the begetters of the bodies of their children; and, to use the quaint language of a friend long since dead, dress up their young sinners, and bring them to be baptized, as if they were newly-arrived angels, many people go to the other extreme, and are apt to pooh the baby, and to wonder what parents see about their brats, and why they should be expected to kiss and fondle them. To me a child has always had a deeper significance; and I have always regarded it with a warmer interest,-not, indeed, looking on it as an angel, but as a candidate for a life higher than the angelic, or for one lower than the demoniac,-a drop of dew, destined either to be exhaled by the sun of heaven, or to be mixed with that miry stream which flows through this world down to the chambers of death; and have felt this thought invest a cradle with greater grandeur and an interest far more thrilling and profound than, I repeat it, had I seen a sun struggling up through chaos and fire-mist toward its finished and orbed magnificence.
With what emotions my birth was regarded, I know not; but at all events I was born on the 30th of January, 181-. A little girl of four, whom I know right well, was lately overheard by her father soliloquizing thus to herself about a younger brother, whose pet name was Dirrley: "There'll, may be, be more Dirrleys yet; but I'm born, at any rate—yes, I'm born!" She felt this to be a great fact, and that no succeeding arrivals could interfere with the truth that she had come upon the stage,-had got and was to keep the start. It was the queerest assertion of individuality and independence I ever heard of. So I, on a Saturday morning, in the depth of winter, received the unalterable honours of birth. My
father was a parish minister, on the border of the Morayshire Highlands. The parish was an extensive, but a hilly and poor one. The stipend was small, and his family was large. And yet, although I came as one more hungry mouth to a poor household, I have no doubt-although, as aforesaid, I do not know that I was welcomed with considerable gladThe place where I was born had some peculiar advantages. It lay on the very verge of the Highlands. One result of this was, that it brought the manners of two different tribes into contact and contrast, and suggested comparisons interesting to a philosophic mind. Another advantage, of which I never availed myself, was the ease with which Gaelic, as well as English, might be mastered in a parish which was one half Highland, and where my father, although born in the Lowlands, had been compelled to learn, in order to preach Erse one part of each Sabbath. The third advantage lay in the extreme seclusion of the spot, and in the great simplicity of manners which prevailed. But the chief charm of the region was its romantic scenery. Sir Walter Scott has remarked that the finest scenery of Scotland is found at those points where the mountains sink down upon the Lowlands, and where the grandeurs of the hillcountry are at once contrasted and harmonized with the beauties of the more cultivated tracts. This was quite the character of my native parish. A fine level plain had, a poet would say, lain down at the feet of rough gigantic hills, to wonder at their bold sublimity, and to repose in their deep shade. Rich woods here and there, more daring, had run half-way up toward the rocky summits, and there had paused, as if in timidity. At one point, from a deep cleft in a wooded hill, came down a roaring cataract, storming, as it passed, with the black crags, which in vain sought to confine it, but gradually softening when it approached a lovely village, the edge of which it at last kissed-like a lion who, having warred with and torn his keeper, comes, aud in remorse kisses the feet of his fair daughter. The