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saddest that ear ever heard.
It was a wind that
might have swept the fields of mortality for a thousand centuries. Many times since, upon summer days, when the sun is about the hottest, I have remarked the same wind arising and uttering the same hollow, solemn Memnonian but saintly swell; it is in this world the one great audible symbol of eternity." That wind, more real than any that ever blew over earthly fields, was heard by no one but the imaginative child standing, to all appearance, silent and spellbound beside his sister's form.
Not long ago Rosalind was looking through Goethe's "Autobiography" to recall what the German boy of six years thought of the terrible earthquake at Lisbon in 1755, when she happened upon another very interesting and significant passage in child life. The boy Goethe had heard much of the discussion about religious matters which was warm in those days, and invaded even the quiet and somewhat dry atmosphere of his father's house. He gave no sign, but these things sank into his heart, and finally there came to him the great thought that he too might personally approach the invisible God of nature. "The God who stands in immediate connection with nature, and owns and loves it as his work, seemed to him the proper God, who might be brought into closer relationship with man, as with everything else, and who would take care of him as of the motion of the stars, the days and seasons, the animals and plants. The boy could as
cribe no form to this Being; he therefore sought him in his works, and would, in the good Old Testament fashion, build him an altar." To accomplish this deep and secret purpose he took a lacquered music-stand and ornamented it according to his own idea of symbolism. This done, and the fumigating pastils arranged, the young priest awaited the rising. of the sun. When the red light lay bright along the edges of the roofs, he held a burning-glass above the pastils, ignited them, and so obtained both the flame and the fragrance necessary to his worship. Does not this strange, secret act in a child's life parallel and explain some of the earliest experiences. of the most primitive races?
A beautiful and prophetic story is told of William Henry Channing by his latest biographer. He was a singularly noble boy; graceful in figure, charming in manner, expressive in countenance, sensitive, responsive, and imaginative. One night after he had fallen asleep he was suddenly awakened by a noise, and, looking out of the window, he saw a splendid star shining full upon him. "It fascinated my gaze," he writes, "till it became like an angel's It seemed to burn in and penetrate to my ineye. most being. My little heart beat fast and faster, till I could bear the intolerable blaze no more. And, hearing the steps of some servant in the passage, I sprang from my crib, ran swiftly to the door, and, in my long nightgown, with bare, noiseless feet, followed down the stairway to the lower hall. . . .
The footman flung open the drawing-room door, and a flood of light, with a peal of laughter, burst forth, and in the midst some voice cried out, 'What is that in white behind you?' The servant had, affrighted, turned and drawn aside. Instantly from the brilliant circle stepped forth my mother, and, folding me in her bosom, said, soothingly, 'What troubles my boy?' All I could do was to fling my arms about her neck and whisper, 'Oh mamma! The star! the star! I could not bear the star!'
There is a famous description of a kindred experience in one of those poems of Wordsworth's which have become part of the memory of all lovers of nature. It was the first poem I ever heard Emerson read, and the strange, penetrating sweetness of that voice, so spiritual in its tone, so full of interpretation in its accent, is for me part of the verse itself:
"There was a Boy; ye knew him well,
That they might answer him; And they would shout
Responsive to his call, with quivering peals,
And long halloos, and screams, and echoes loud,
Redoubled and redoubled; concourse wild
Of mirth and jocund din! And, when it chanced
Of mountain torrents; or the visible scene
The wonderful experience, described in these lines with the inimitable simplicity of nature itself, marks an epoch in a child's life; it is as if a door were suddenly left ajar into some world unseen before. "Never shall I forget that inward occurrence, till now narrated to no mortal," says Richter, "wherein I witnessed the birth of my self-consciousness, of which I can still give the time and place. One forenoon I was standing, a very young child, in the outer door, and looking leftward at the stack of the fuel-wood, when all at once the internal vision, ‘I am a me' (Ich bin ein Ich), came like a flash from heaven before me, and in gleaming light ever afterward continued." The incommunicable world of childhood, through which we have all walked, but which lies hidden from us now by a golden mist was it not the poetic prelude of life, wherein the deepest things were seen at times in clear vision, and the sublimest mysteries appealed to us with a strange familiarity! To imaginative childhood, is