« PredošláPokračovať »
from public business, and from its wonderful efficacy in popular assemblies, at the bar, and in the senate; can any ihing be more agreeable, or more endearing in private life, than elegant language? For the great characteristic of our nature, and what eminently distinguishes us from brutes, is the faculty of social conversation, the power of expressing our thoughts and sentiments by words. To excel mankind, therefore, in the exercise of that
talent, which gives them the preference to the brute creation, is what every body must not only admire, but look upon as the just object of the most indefatigable pursuit. And now, to mention the chief point of all, what other power could have been of sufficient efficacy to bring together the vagrant individuals of the human race; to tame their savage manners; to reconcile them to social life; and, after cities were founded, to mark out laws, forms, and constitutions. for their government?—Let me, in a few words, sum up this almost boundless subject. I lay it down as a maxim, that upon the wisdom and abilities of an accomplished orator, not only his own dignity, but the welfare of vast numbers of individuals, and even of the whole state, must greatly depend. Therefore, young gentlemen, go on: ply the study in which you are engaged, for your own honour, the advantage of your friends, and the service of your country
On the Cultivation of the Intellectual Powers. A DUTY peculiarly applicable to the season of youth, is the diligent cultivation of the intellectual powers. Yours is the time, my young friends, for forming good mental habits, and acquiring those liberal and rational tastes, which will prove a source of the purest happiness to the very close of existence. Now or never is the time for giving a bent to the character. As yet, you are not deeply involved in the perplexing cares of life; as yet, you are not the slaves of any low and debasing habits: your minds and all their best powers are your own; your curiosity is awake; and your attention capable of being easily directed and fixed to any object-to any pursuit
. Yours are the light and cheerful spirits—the ever-active interest—the clear and unembarrassed memory; yours, the joyous hope and eager expectation, which at once dispose your ninds to seek for knowledge, and qualify them for
gaining it. For you, nature unlocks her stores, and art displays her thousand wonders; to you, are opened the wide fields of science; to you, is unrolled the ample page of history; and for your instruction and delight, is re. corded all that the sage has thought, and the poet sung. To aid your progress, and increase your knowledge, innumerable schemes are devised, and institutions reared, which invite you into the paths of wisdom, and lavish on you the opportunities of improvement. These are the prospects of your happy period. Let them not be offered you in vain.
Let not wisdom cry, and understanding put forth her voice, in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths;" while you turn a deaf ear to her counsels, and go aside into the ways of folly: but rather, in every thing good and liberal—in every thing connected with the progress of truth and knowledge and virtue and vital religion-endeavour to prove yourselves worthy of the age in which you live, and of the country to which you belong.
Learn. also, to be modest in your demeanour, lowly in heart, and humble in your opinion of yourselves. There is no quality more engaging and attractive in youth than modesty. What says the wisest of men ? Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? There is more hope of a fool than of him." An individual's modest opinion of himself, is a tolerable accurate test of his real merit; and if this be true of men in general, it is still more so of young people, who can have but little knowledge, and still less experience. Rashness, petulance, and self-conceit, will sometimes hurry even well-meaning young persons into mistakes, which they could not foresee-perhaps into crimes, which they would have blushed and trembled to think of before-hand. Enter, then, the paths of life, cautiously and circumspectly, distrustful of yourselves, and willing to be advised and directed by those who are wiser and more experienced. Feel your own weakness and liability to err, and it will lead you to cultivate a devotional spirit; acknowledge your own ignorance and want of experience, and it will dispose you to lean upon your parents; confess the feebleness of your abilities, and small extent of your knowledge, and it will stimulate
improve your minds diligently, and may be a of ultimately leading you to the highest attainin knowledge and wisdom.
The Fallen Leaf. "The fallen leat!" Again and again I repeated this sentence to myself, when, after traversing the avenue for some time, I had inadvertently stepped into a heap of these mementoes of the departing year. This trivial incident broke in upon a gay and buoyant train of thought; and, as for a single moment I stood fixed to the spot, the words of the prophet fell with a deep and painful meaning upon my heart. I resumed my walk, and would have resumed with pleasure the train of thought that had been broken, but in vain; and when I again reached the place where the fallen leaves were collected, I made a longer pause. With how loud a voice did they speak of the end of all things! how forcibly remind me, that those busy projects which at that moment agitated my heart, would, like them, fade, and be carried away in the tide of life! The leaves fade away, and leave the parent stem desolate: but, in a few short months, they will bud and bloom again; other leaves, as gay as those were, will supply their place, and clothe the forest with as bright a green. And is it not so with the heart? We are separated from those who are now most dear to us, or they fade away into the tomb; new interests are excited, new friendships contracted, and every former image is effaced and forgotten.
My eye now rested on the venerable pile of building before me: it seemed but as yesterday, since the master of that stately mansion stood at the gate to welcome my arrival; and now, where was he?-Gone-and for ever! The accents of his voice were never again to be heard; my eye was to behold him no more.-As these thoughts passed through my mind, a slight breeze for a moment agitated the naked branches: it helped to complete the work of desolation; and several of the still remaining leaves were wafted to my feet. How indiscriminately were here mingled—the pride of the forest, the majestic oak, the trembling aspen, the graceful poplar, with all the tribe of inferior shrubs! Here lay all that reinained of their once-gay foliage—one undistinguishable mass of decay; with no mark to point out to which they had originally belonged. And shall not Death, the great leveller, reduce us to the same state of equality? The great, the noble, the learned, the beautiful—when they lay down their heads in the grave—what are they more than the mean, the
lowly, and the worthless? They leave a name behind them for a short time, and then-how soon are the best beloved forgotten! Feelings such as these must have been felt by thousands; and, whilst they serve to temper the enjoyment of prosperity, they contribute also to smooth the rugged path of life, and calm the sufferings of the wounded spirit. Since, whether one day has been bright or cloudy, spring and summer must, ere long, give place to autumn; and then comes the winter, when we, too, must fade as the leaf.
Anonymous. Happiness. What is earthly happiness ?—that phantom, of which we hear so much and see so little; whose promises are constantly given, and constantly broken, but as constantly believed; that cheats us with the sound instead of the substance, and with the blossom instead of the fruit. Anticipation is her herald, but disappointment is her companion; the first addresses itself to our imagination, that would believe; but the latter to our experience, that must. Happiness, that grand mistress of the ceremonies in the dance of life, impels us through all its mazes and meanderings, but leads none of us by the same route. Aristippus pursued her in pleasure, Socrates in wisdom, and Epicurus in both; she received the attentions of each, but bestowed her endearments on none of them. Warned by their failure, the stoic adopted another mode of preferring his suit: he thought, by slandering, to obtain her; by shunning, to win her; and proudly presumed, that, by Aeeing her, she would turn and follow him. She is deceitful as the calm that precedes the hurricane; smooth as the water at the edge of the cataract; and beautiful as the rainbow, that smiling daughter of the storm: but, like the image in the desert, she tantalizes us with a delusion, that distance creates, and that contiguity destroys; yet, often, when unsought she is found, and when unexpected, often obtained: while those who search for her the most diligently, fail the most, because they seek her where she is not. Anthony sought her in love; Brutus, in glory; Cæsar, in dominion. The first found disgrace; the second, disgust; the last, ingratitude; and each, destruction.
To some she is more kind, but not less cruel: she hands them her cup, and they drink even to stupefaction, until they doubt whether they are men-with Philip, or dream
that they are gods--with Alexander. On some she smiles,
on Napoleon, with an aspect more bewitching than that of an Italian sun; but it is only to make her frown the more terrible, and, by one short caress, to embitter the pangs of separation. Ambition, avarice, love, revenge, all these seek her, and her alone: alas! they are neither presented to her, nor will she come to them. She despatches, however, to them her envoys. To ambition, she sends power; to avarice, wealth; to love, jealousy; to revenge, remorse:-alas! what are these, but so many other names for vexation or disappointment! Neither is she to be won by flatteries nor bribes: she is to be gained by waging war against her enemies, much sooner than by paying any particular court to herself. Those that conquer her adversaries, will find that they need not go to her; for she will come unto them.
None bid so high for her as kings; few are more willing, none more able, to purchase her alliance at the fullest price. But she has no more respect for kings, than for Their subjects; she mocks them, indeed, with the empty show of a visit, by sending to their palaces all her equipage,
pomp, and her train; but she comes not herself. What, then, detains her? She is travelling incognito, to keep a private assignation with contentment, and to partake of a conversation and a dinner of herbs, with some humble, but virtuous peasant, in a cottage.
The Idiot. A POOR widow, in a small town in the north of England, kept a booth or stall of apples and sweetmeats. She had an idiot child, so utterly helpless and dependent, that he did not appear to be ever alive to anger or self-defence. He sat all day at her feet, and seemed to be possessed of no other sentiment of the human kind, than confidence in his mother's love, and a dread of the schoolboys, by whom he was often annoyed. His whole occupation, as he sat on the ground, was in swinging backwards and forwards, singing“ pal-lal” in a low pathetic voice, only interrupted at intervals on the appearance of any of his tormentors, when he clung to his mother in alarm. From morning to evening he sung his plaintive and aimless ditty; at night, when his poor mother gathered up her little wares to return home, so deplorable did his defects appear, that, while