A Weaver’s Reverie

It was a sunny day, and I left for a few moments the circumscribed spot which is my appointed place of labor, that I might look from an adjoining window upon the bright loveliness of nature. Yes, it was a sunny day; but for many days before, the sky had been veiled in gloomy clouds; and joyous indeed was it to look up into that blue vault, and see it unobscured by its sombre screen; and my heart fluttered, like a prisoned bird, with its painful longings for an unchecked flight amidst the beautiful creation around me.

Why is it, said a friend to me one day, that the factory girls write so much about the beauties of nature?

Oh! why is it, (thought I, when the query afterwards recurred to me,) why is it that visions of thrilling loveliness so often bless the sightless orbs of those whose eyes have once been blessed with the power of vision?

Why is it that the delirious dreams of the famine-stricken, are of tables loaded with the richest viands, or groves, whose pendent boughs droop with their delicious burdens of luscious fruit?

Why is it that haunting tones of sweetest melody come to us in the deep stillness of midnight, when the thousand tongues of man and nature are for a season mute?

Why is it that the desert-traveller looks forward upon the burning boundless waste, and sees pictured before his aching eyes, some verdant oasis, with its murmuring streams, its gushing founts, and shadowy groves—but as he presses on with faltering step, the bright mirage recedes, until he lies down to die of weariness upon the scorching sands, with that isle of loveliness before him?

Oh tell me why is this, and I will tell why the factory girl sits in the hour of meditation, and thinks—not of the crowded clattering mill, nor of the noisy tenement which is her home, nor of the thronged and busy street which she may sometimes tread,—but of the still and lovely scenes which, in bygone hours, have sent their pure and elevating influence with a thrilling sweep across the strings of the spirit-harp, and then awaken its sweetest, loftiest notes; and ever as she sits in silence and seclusion, endeavoring to draw from that many-toned instrument a strain which may be meet for another’s ear, that music comes to the eager listener like the sound with which the sea-shell echoes the roar of what was once its watery home. All her best and holiest thoughts are linked with those bright pictures which call them forth, and when she would embody them for the instruction of others, she does it by a delineation of those scenes which have quickened and purified her own mind.

It was this love of nature’s beauties, and a yearning for the pure hallowed feelings which those beauties had been wont to call up from their hidden springs in the depths of the soul, to bear away upon their swelling tide the corruption which had gathered, and I feared might settle there,—it was this love, and longing, and fear, which made my heart throb quickly, as I sent forth a momentary glance from the factory window.

I think I said there was a cloudless sky; but it was not so. It was clear, and soft, and its beauteous hue was of “the hyacinth’s deep blue”—but there was one bright solitary cloud, far up in the cerulean vault; and I wished that it might for once be in my power to lie down upon that white, fleecy couch, and there, away and alone, to dream of all things holy, calm, and beautiful. Methought that better feelings, and clearer thoughts than are often wont to visit me, would there take undisturbed possession of my soul.

And might I not be there, and send my unobstructed glance into the depths of ether above me, and forget for a little while that I had ever been a foolish, wayward, guilty child of earth? Could I not then cast aside the burden of error and sin which must ever depress me here, and with the maturity of womanhood, feel also the innocence of infancy? And with that sense of purity and perfection, there would necessarily be mingled a feeling of sweet uncloying bliss—such as imagination may conceive, but which seldom pervades and sanctifies the earthly heart. Might I not look down from my aerial position, and view this little world, and its hills, valleys, plains, and streamlets, and its thousands of busy inhabitants, and see how puerile and unsatisfactory it would look to one so totally disconnected from it? Yes, there, upon that soft snowy cloud could I sit, and gaze upon my native earth, and feel how empty and “vain are all things here below.”

But not motionless would I stay upon that aerial couch. I would call upon the breezes to waft me away over the broad blue ocean, and with nought but the clear bright ether above me, have nought but a boundless, sparkling, watery expanse below me. Then I would look down upon the vessels pursuing their different courses across the bright waters; and as I watched their toilsome progress, I should feel how blessed a thing it is to be where no impediment of wind or wave might obstruct my onward way.

But when the beams of a midday sun had ceased to flash from the foaming sea, I should wish my cloud to bear away to the western sky, and divesting itself of its snowy whiteness, stand there, arrayed in the brilliant hues of the setting sun. Yes, well should I love to be stationed there, and see it catch those parting rays, and, transforming them to dyes of purple and crimson, shine forth in its evening vestment, with a border of brightest gold. Then could I watch the king of day as he sinks into his watery bed, leaving behind a line of crimson light to mark the path which led him to his place of rest.

Yet once, O only once, should I love to have that cloud pass on—on—on among the myriads of stars; and leaving them all behind, go far away into the empty void of space beyond. I should love, for once, to be alone. Alone! where could I be alone? But I would fain be where there is no other, save the Invisible, and there, where not even one distant star should send its feeble rays to tell of a universe beyond, there would I rest upon that soft light cloud, and with a fathomless depth below me, and a measureless waste above and around me, there would I——

“Your looms are going without filling,” said a loud voice at my elbow; so I ran as fast as possible and changed my shuttles.

By Ella.

Originally published in Mind Amongst the Spindles (1845). The full text is available on Project Gutenberg. The above text excerpt was reproduced from the original text by Nicholas A. Ferrell for publication in The New Leaf Journal: Article.