But anything that appealed to the sense of beauty, in however humble a

way, did not require to be recommended by these old associations. This

was observable when one of those Italian boys (who are rather a modern

feature of our streets) came along with his barrel-organ, and stopped

under the wide and cool shadows of the elm. With his quick

professional eye he took note of the two faces watching him from the

arched window, and, opening his instrument, began to scatter its

melodies abroad. He had a monkey on his shoulder, dressed in a

Highland plaid; and, to complete the sum of splendid attractions

wherewith he presented himself to the public, there was a company of


little figures, whose sphere and habitation was in the mahogany case of

his organ, and whose principle of life was the music which the Italian

made it his business to grind out. In all their variety of

occupation,--the cobbler, the blacksmith, the soldier, the lady with

her fan, the toper with his bottle, the milk-maid sitting by her

cow--this fortunate little society might truly be said to enjoy a

harmonious existence, and to make life literally a dance. The Italian

turned a crank; and, behold! every one of these small individuals

started into the most curious vivacity. The cobbler wrought upon a

shoe; the blacksmith hammered his iron, the soldier waved his

glittering blade; the lady raised a tiny breeze with her fan; the jolly

toper swigged lustily at his bottle; a scholar opened his book with

eager thirst for knowledge, and turned his head to and fro along the

page; the milkmaid energetically drained her cow; and a miser counted

gold into his strong-box,--all at the same turning of a crank. Yes;

and, moved by the self-same impulse, a lover saluted his mistress on

her lips! Possibly some cynic, at once merry and bitter, had desired to

signify, in this pantomimic scene, that we mortals, whatever our

business or amusement,--however serious, however trifling,--all dance

to one identical tune, and, in spite of our ridiculous activity, bring

nothing finally to pass. For the most remarkable aspect of the affair

was, that, at the cessation of the music, everybody was petrified at

once, from the most extravagant life into a dead torpor. Neither was

the cobbler's shoe finished, nor the blacksmith's iron shaped out; nor

was there a drop less of brandy in the toper's bottle, nor a drop more

of milk in the milkmaid's pail, nor one additional coin in the miser's

strong-box, nor was the scholar a page deeper in his book. All were

precisely in the same condition as before they made themselves so

ridiculous by their haste to toil, to enjoy, to accumulate gold, and to

become wise. Saddest of all, moreover, the lover was none the happier

for the maiden's granted kiss! But, rather than swallow this last too

acrid ingredient, we reject the whole moral of the show.