Excerpts Related to the Theme of Hawthorne's "The Seven Vagabonds."
"Come, " said I to the damsel of gay attire, "shall we visit all the wonders of the world together?"
. . . Then in my happy youth, and while her pleasant voice yet sounded in my ears, I sighed; for none but myself, I thought, should have been her companion in a life which seemed to realize my own wild fancies, cherished all through visionary boyhood to that hour. To these two strangers, the world was in its golden age, not that indeed it was less dark and sad than ever, but because its weariness and sorrow had no community with their ethereal nature. Wherever they might appear in their pilgrimage of bliss, Youth would echo back their gladness, care stricken Maturity would rest a moment from its toil, and Age, tottering among the graves, would smile in withered joy for their sakes. The lonely cot, the narrow and gloomy street, the sombre shade, would catch a passing gleam like that now shining on ourselves, as these bright spirits wandered by. Blessed pair, whose happy home was throughout all the earth! I looked at my shoulders, and thought them broad enough to sustain those pictured towns and mountains; mine, too, was an elastic foot, as tireless as the wing of the bird of Paradise; mine was then an untroubled heart, that would have gone singing on its delightful way.
. . . I began to think that all the vagrants in New England were converging to the camp meeting, and had made this wagon their rendezvous by the way. The show man now proposed, that, when the shower was over, they should pursue the road to Stamford to-gether, it being sometimes the policy of these people to form a sort of league and confed-eracy.
. . . I now gave myself up to a course of thought, which, whether it flowed naturally from this combination of events, or was drawn forth by a wayward fancy, caused my mind to thrill as if I were listening to deep music. I saw mankind, in this weary old age of the world, either enduring a sluggish existence amid the smoke and dust of cities, or, if they breathed a purer air, still lying down at night with no hope but to wear out to-morrow, and all the to-morrows which make up life, among the same dull scenes and in the same wretched toil, that had darkened the sunshine of to-day. But there were some, full of the primeval instinct, who preserved the freshness of youth to their latest years by the continual excitement of new objects, new pursuits, and new associates; and cared little, though their birth place might have been here in New England, if the grave should close over them in Central Asia. Fate was summoning a parliament of these free spirits; unconscious of the impulse which directed them to a common centre, they had come hither from far and near. . . .
. . . How came I among these wanderers? The free mind, that preferred its own folly to another's wisdom; the open spirit, that found companions every where; above all, the restless impulse, that had so often made me wretched in the midst of enjoyments; these were my claims to be of their society.