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a web of many textures

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Apropos of Albums. Some regard them as bores,
and even use a harsher term in speaking of them, and
shudder when one is placed in their hands, as some sensitive
people do when asked to hold a baby. The voice
asking the favor of a line in an album sounds harsh and
unpleasant in the ears of such, though flute-like in its
intonation, and the request to climb a greased pole, or
turn a back somerset in the street, seems easy in comparison.
My boarding-house experience embraced an
endless round of albums, — the boarding-house numbering
three or four young women among its occupants,
forming a sort of intellectual exchange of such,
— and it was the practice of the fair owners to make a
direct assault upon all new-comers, as soon as the ceremony
of introduction had been gone through with, so
that the albuminous was largely predominant in our
circle, and, like mucilage, made us stick together.
Those albums exhibited very fine displays of rhetoric,
representing every phase of intellectual calibre, ranging,
as may be imagined, through the whole field of profession,
with very doubtful evidences of sincerity in any
of them. Juliana! O, how well is she remembered,
even at the distance of ever-so-many years, with her


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flaxen hair in papers, and her blue eyes beaming upon
the boy who gazed upon them with a feeling of admiration,
that it took a long time to prove the folly of!
Juliana's album was the most favored. Her album was
made the altar of as many beautiful fancies as there
were leaves contained in it. Herein glowed the
thoughts that breathed and the words that burned with
different degrees of intensity. Here a page of pink
gleamed with couleur de rose imaginings, and there the
yellow bore the bilious lucubrations of diseased fancy;
here the green betrayed the verdancy of young heartburn,
and there the blue glistened with fervent words
like the firmament with its wealth of stars. Above and
through and in all, the sugar of flattery prevailed, to
catch the credulous fly, Vanity; and succeeded but too
well, as was apparent in the fact that one page, which
contained the only honest sentiment that had ever been
written in it, was torn out, on the pretence that it was
so stupid! There were many vows and many protestations,
and much honey about the leaves; but, before we
divided, the falsity of half the two former had been seen,
and an infusion of gall in the latter that rendered its
sweet slightly acrid. The boarders married off, or
changed their boarding-places, and hatred, or, what is
worse, indifference, took the place of the intense sentiment
that lied still upon the centre-table. Poor Juliana!
She will pardon this allusion to herself, if she can
stop from her manifold duties long enough to read it;
for she is now a woman of many cares, and the flaxen
curls, no more in papers, have a tinge of gray pervading
them; but her album was a model. I recollect a
tall, sentimental young man who wrote in it, — who
wore his collar turned over, and encouraged a slight
beard on his chin, who eschewed meat, and chewed


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Graham bread and raisins, to induce right conditions for
intellectual emanations. His muse was prolific, and we
remember well the pride Juliana displayed when she
pointed out the following:

“The harp once struck to that dear theme,
My Juliana's prays,
Should never sound again, I deem,
With no ignoble lays.
“My harp, a loan, her prays shall sing;
No other theme shall clame
To hold dominion o'er a string
Yet thrilling with her name.
“The wild discordancy of life
Around may roar and rave, —
Her name I 'll sound amid the strife,
And still the trubled wave.
“And though we part to meat no more,
And such stern fate must be,
I still shall look towards the shoar
Where first her smiles I see.”

The inspiration was apparent in the bad spelling, and
the sincerity in the fact that he ran away without paying
his board, leaving the “shoar” and Juliana's smiles
behind him. A few pages further, another muse blazed
with the following:

“When upon these lines you gaze,
Think of him who 's gone his ways;
Think of him that once you knew,
Who will evermore prove true;
Think of him who on life's sea
You may never again more see;


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Think of him who with a sigh
Bid you and your mother and all good-by,
Then in the depths of his misery
He took his trunk and went and shipped to go to sea.”

These two specimens are sufficient. Juliana still
keeps the book, and marks are discoverable in it of teardrops,
or of greasy fingers, and it is an object of great
interest with her grown-up daughter. But albums are
really desirable things, discreetly used. They embalm
the friendship of to-day, and may be made the mediums
of pleasant and affectionate thought. Dedicated to
high-toned sentiment and sincerity, they become invaluable
for reference in after time, when the heart is sad
with stings and slights the world inflicts. Unworthy
names may mar their pages, but they may be easily expunged,
or retained as mementoes of the fact that we
are all weak creatures, and liable to fall.