READER.—You were to be pitied.
I was. I rose one morning with the sun—it scorched my face, but shone not. Nature was in her spring-time to all others, though winter to me. I wandered beside the banks of the rapid Rhine, I saw nothing but the thick slime that clogged them, and wondered how I could have thought them beautiful; the pebbles seemed crushed upon the beach, the stream but added to their lifelessness by heaping on them its dull green slime; the lark, indeed, was singing—Juliet was right—its notes were nothing but “harsh discords and unpleasing sharps”—a rainbow threw its varied arch across the heavens—sadness had robbed it of its charm—it seemed a visionary cheat—a beautiful delusion.
READER.—I feel with you.
I thank you. I went next day.
The glorious sun shed life and joy around—the clear water rushed bounding on in glad delight to the sweet music of the scented wind—the pebbly beach welcomed its chaste cool kiss, and smiled in freshness as it rolled again back to its pristine bed. The buds on which I stepped, elastic with high hope, sprung from the ground my foot had pressed them to—the lark—
READER.—You can say nothing new about that.
You are right. I’ll pass it, and come at once to an end. My boots stood upright, conscious of their glare; a new spring rushed into my bottles; Flora’s sweets were witnessed in my dress; a mite, a tiny mite, might have made progress round my room, nor found a substance larger than itself to stop its way. My lips at dinner were scalded with the steaming soup; the eager waiters, rushing with the choicest sauce, in dread collision met, and soused my well-brushed coat. I was once more number one!—all things had changed again.
READER—Except the rainbow.
Ay, even that.
READER,—Indeed! how so?
If still impalpable to the gross foot of earth, it seemed to the charmed mind a glowing passage for the freed spirit to mount to bliss!
READER.—May I ask what caused this difference?
You may, and shall be answered. I had received—
* * * * *
There is a large class of people in the world—the business of whose lives is to hunt after and collect trifling curiosities; who go about like the Parisian chiffonniers, grubbing and poking in the highways and byeways of society, for those dearly-prized objects which the generality of mankind would turn up their noses at as worthless rubbish. But though the tribe of curiosity-hunters be extremely numerous, Nature, by a wise provision, has bestowed on them various appetites, so that, in the pursuit of their prey, they are led by different instincts, and what one seizes with avidity, another rejects as altogether unworthy of notice.