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"A STORY AS IS A STORY!" --

AN AMERICAN RIVAL TO MR. SPURGEON.

JpsaUraMs liptt. -

.-io. -.----COMMERCIAL GRIEF.

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.-io. COMMERCIAL GRIEF. When business orders are received, From parties painfully bereaved, Five minutes' time is all we ask, To execute the mournful task.—MOSES & SON. When man has more than his usual number of letters of a morning, and leisure to play with them, it is observable what flirtations he indulges himself in, ere he finally makes them unbosom themselves. Now he toys with them, scrutinises one after another, and guesses whom they can be from. Sometimes a hand- writing that he dreamily remembers calls to him, as it were, from the envelope. Such a letter, deeply bordered with black, at once attracted my attention among the heap that lay upon my table. Whom could it be from ? It was evidently a messenger of affliction; but how could that affect an old bachelor with neither chick nor child? I tore the white weeping willow upon a black background, that formed the device upon z' the seal, and read the contents. Nothing more than an intimation from a relative (perhaps once more in- timate than now), of the sudden death of her brother- in-law, and a request that, under the circumstances of the sudden bereavement of the widow, I would un- dertake certain sad commissions relative to the mourning and monument which she entrusted to my care. It is noteworthy that even in the deepest affliction, especially among women, in the matter of dress how the very abandonment of grief is shot, as it were, with the more cheerful love of the becoming; and in this instance I found no departure from the general rule, as I was particularly enjoined, in the most decent terms that the writer could command under the cir- cumstances, to do my sad spiriting at a certain maison de deuil mentioned. Of course the term was not ab- solutely new to me, but I had never realised its exact meaning, cr imagined with what exquisite delicacy and refinement those establishments had gone in part- nership, as it were, with the emotions, and with what sympathy, beautifully adjusted to the occasion, trade had met the afflictions of hnmanity. After breakfast, I set out upon my sad errand, and had no difficulty in finding the maison de deuil in ques- tion. It met me in the sad habiliments of mourning. No vulgar colours glared from the shop-windows, no gilt annoyed with its festive glare. The name of the firm scarcely presumed to make itself seen in letters of the saddest grey, on a black ground. On my pushing the plate-glass door, it gave way with a hushed and muffled sound, and I was met by a gentleman of sad expression, who, in the most sympathetic voice, inquired the nature of my want; and, on my reply, directed me to the Insoluble Grief Department. The inside of the establishment I found to answer exactly to the appear- ance without. The long passage I traversed was panelled in white with black borderings, like so many mourning cards placed on end; and I was becoming impressed with the deep solemnity of the place when I caught sight of a neat little figure rolling up some ribbon, and on inquiring if I had arrived at the Inconsolable Grief Department, she replied in a gentle voice, slightly shaded with gaiety, that that was the half-mourning counter, and that I must proceed until I had passed the repository for widows' silk. Following her directions, I at last reached mv destination, a large room draped with black, .with a hushed atmosphere about it, as though a body was invisibly lying there in state. An attendant in sable habiliments picked out with the inevitable white tie, and with an undertakerish eye and manner, awaited my commands. I accordingly produced my list. Scanning it critically, he said: Permit me to inquire, sir, if it is a deceased partner?" I nodded assent. We take the liberty of asking this distressing question," he replied, "as we are extremely anxious to keep the character of this establishment by matching at once the exact shade of affliction. Our paramattas and crapes in this de- partment give satisfaction to the deepest woe. Permit me to show you a new texture, which we term the Inconsolable." With that he placed a pasteboard box before me, full of mourning fabrics. Is this it?" I inquired, lifting a lugubrious piece of drapery. Oh no he replied the one you have in your hand was termed 'the stunning blow shade;' it makes up well however, with our sudden bereavement' silk—a lead- ing article—and our distraction' trimmings." I am afraid," said I, "my commission says nothing about these novelties." Ladies in the country," he blandly replied, "are possibly not aware of the perfection to which the art of mourning genteelly is now brought. But I will see that your commission is attended to, to the letter." Giving another glance over my list. Oh a widow's cap is mentioned, I see. I must trouble you, sir, to proceed to the Weeds Department for that article-the first turning to the left." Proceeding as I was directed, I came to a recess fitted up with a solid phalanx of widows' caps. I selected some weeds expressive of the deepest dejection I could find; and having completed my commission, I inquired where I could procure for myself some lavender gloves ? Oh, sir, for those things," the attendant said, in the voice of Tragedy speaking of Comedy, "you must turn to your right, and you will come to the Compli- mentary Mourning counter." Turning to the right, accordingly, I was surprised and a little shocked to find myself once more among worldly colours; tender lavender I had expected, but violet, mauve, and even absolute red, stared me in the face. I was about retiring, thinking I had made a mistake, when a young lady, with a charming tinge of cheerfulness in her voice, inquired if I wanted any- thing in her department? "I was looking for the Complimentary Mourning counter," I replied, "for some gloves, but I fear I am wrong." "You are quite right, sir," she said; "this is it." She saw my eye glance at the cheerful silks, and, with the in- stinctive tact of woman, guessed my thoughts in a moment.. "Mauve, sir, is very appropriate for the lighter sor- r°"But absolute red," I retorted, pointing to some velvet of that colour,- "Is quite admissible when you mourn the depar- ture of a distant relative but may I show you some gloves ?" and suiting the action to the word, she lifted the cover from the glove box, and displayed a perfect picture of delicate half tones, indicative of a struggle between the cheerful and the sad. There is a pleasing melancholy in the shade of grey," she said, indenting slightly each outer knuckle with the elastic kid, as she measured my hand. Can you find a lavender ?" Oh, yes ;'the 'sorrow' tint is very slight in that, and it wears admirably." Thus by degrees, growing beautifully less, the grief of the establishment died out in the tenderest lavender, and I left, profoundly impressed with the charming improvements which Parisian taste had made on the old aboriginal style of mourning. But my task was not yet accomplished. A part of my commission was to select a neat and appropriate monument, the selection of which was left entirely to my own discretion. Accordingly I wended my way towards the New Road, the emporium of "monu- mental marble." Here every house has its marketable cemetery, and you see grief in the rough, and ascend- ing to the most delicately chiselled smoothness. Your marble mason is a very different stamp of man from the maison de deuil asssatant, and my entrance into the establishment I sought, was greeted with a certain rough respect by the man in attendance, who was chiselling an angel's classic nose. Will you kindly allow me to see some designs for a monument?" I inquired. Certainly, sir. Is it for a brother or sister, father, or mother, sir?" "A gentleman," I replied, rather shortly. "I hope no offence, sir-but the father of a family ? I nodded assent. Then will you please to step this way 1" he replied; and leading the way through the house, he opened a door, and we entered a back yard filled with broken, but erect, marble columns, that would not have disgraced Palmyra. That," said he, will be a very suitable article." "But," said I, "do you really break these pillars purposely?" "Why, that all de- pends, you see, sir. When the father of a family is called away on a sudden, we break the column off short with a rough fracture: if it has been a lingering case, we chisel it down a little dumpy. That, for instance," said he, pointing to a very thick pillar, fractured as sharp and ragged as a piece of granite, is for an awful sudden affliction—a case of apoplexy" —a wife and seven small children. "But," I observe, "there are some tall and some short columns." Well, you see," said he, that's all according to age. We break 'em off short for old 'uns, and it stands to reason, when it's a youngish one, we give him more shaft." "The candle of life is blown out early in some cases in others, it is burnt to the socket," I suggested. "Exactly, sir," he said, "now you have hit it." Nevertheless," I replied, I have not exactly made up my mind about the column. Can you show me any other designs ?" Yes, certainly, sir," with that he led the way again to the office, and place before me a large book of "patterns." We do a great deal in that way," he said, displaying a design with which my reader is probably familiar. It was an urn, after the old tea-urn pattern, half enveloped in a tablecloth, overshadowed by a weeping-willow and an exceedingly limp-looking lady, who leaned her forehead against the urn, evidently suffering from a sick head- ache. No," I said, I think 1 have seen that design before." Perhaps so," he replied; but really there are so many persons die, that we can't have something new every time." What is this? I inquired. It was an hour-glass and a skull overgrown by a bramble. Oh, that is for the country trade," he said, hastily turning over the leaf; we don't do anything in that way among genteel people. This is the snapped lily-pattern, but that won't do for the father of a family, and here is the dove-design, a pretty thing enough. We do a good many of them among the evangelicals of Clapham." A rather plump-looking bird, making a book-marker of his beak, was directing attention to a passage in an open volume. But," said I, have you no ornamental | crosses ?'" No," said he, you must go to Padding- ton for them sort of things. Lord bless your soul, we should ruin our trade if we was to deal with such Puseyite things." "I never knew before," said I, that sectarianism thus pursued us even to our tomb- stones." The art of design, it is quite clear, has not yet penetrated to the workshop of the marble-mason, so I was content to select some simple little design, and leave my friend to a resumption of the elaboration of the angel's nose, in which occupation I had disturbed him.-Once a Week.

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