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AMONG those to whom our Magazine makes its monthly visit, may be reckoned a due proportion of minds that have never enjoyed the advantage of a liberal education, and have never endeavored by diligent self-culture to supply the deficiency. And it is reasonable to suppose further, that many of these minds, if fairly nurtured and developed, would be highly useful, and highly respectable beyond anything that can now be expected of them.
It would be to us, and much more to them, a source of unmingled joy could we succeed in awakening in those persons the desire and the determination to undertake seriously and systematically, a process of self-education, and to do this, under a sense of their moral obligation to cultivate to the highest point of improvement the faculties of their minds. At present, we apprehend, there are but few who recognize any obligation to cultivate their minds. Many who readily admit their obligation to keep their hearts with all diligence and to educate and improve their moral powers, with a strange and absurd inconsistency think it lawful to neglect their mental faculties. Is this reasonable? Is it right? Is it not supremely self-contradictory and ridiculous? And should it not subject any man to the reproaches of his conscience and the rebuke of his Creator, who bestowed the wonderful faculties of the human soul to the intent that under the wise and diligent culture of their possessor, they should improve and expand for ever, and become reflectors of the Infinite Intelligence. It is not the duty of every man to become a member of a learned profession; nor is it required of every one to forsake his ordinary avocations and spend a portion of his life within the walls of a college; for this, in a multitude of cases, is impracticable. But it is a plain case, that every man should be an educated man to the extent of his opportunity. He is no more at liberty to starve his mind than he is to starve his body. He is no more at liberty, by exclusive or undue attention to the means of securing a temporal subsistence, to repress his mental growth and vigor, than he is to destroy or paralyze the limbs of his body. Every man, every youth, owes it to himself, to his fellow-men and to his Maker, to carry the culture of his mind to the highest attainable point. He owes it to himself. His personal happiness cannot be secured otherwise, for it is a law of our being, that our happiness depends upon the employment of all our faculties. The dignity of his rational nature
demands it. He is constituted a thinking being, capable of endless growth and progression, and he is unworthy of his place in the scale of being who practically denies his rationality. He owes to his fellow-men the culture of his powers, for he cannot insulate himself from others, nor escape from the obligation to contribute in every way in which he is capable to their happiness. And he owes it to his Maker, whose steward he is, to improve all his talents, be they few or many. There is scarcely a more wonderful, as there is not a more gross mistake than this, that a man may without criminality omit the cultivation and development of his mental pow
We should rejoice in what we believe would be both for the honor and the best interests of our readers, that each should deliberately propose to himself and herself, a system of self-culture which should henceforth be as assiduously pursued as we are wont to pursue our several fixed and ordinary avocations. We wish to see those who have enjoyed advantages, make continued efforts, and those who have not, begin forthwith, and carry forward simultaneously with their other and ordinary avocations, a work of improvement in their own bosom. We desire to see and hasten the time when every farm-house and every mechanical establishment shall embrace thinking minds, conscious of their dignity and vast capabilities. We wish not a community of pedants, or speculatists, or of mere newspaper readers, but of industrious, well-balanced minds, engaged honestly and earnestly in the pursuit of knowledge.
Some may be discouraged from undertaking anything, because so much of their life has already passed without culture. But when we look at the lives of others who have distinguished themselves, there seems no reason for discouragement. Dr. Carter was originally a grazier, and did not commence his studies till he was nineteen or twenty. Ogilby, the translator of Virgil and Homer, was above forty years of age when he commenced the study of Latin, and not till his fifty-fourth year did he commence the study of Greek, What has been done may be done again. Examples, enough to fill at volume, might be brought to show that it is never too late to hope for success.
Some may apprehend difficulty from the want of suitable instruction. Self-education seems to them a hard process But they should remember that the ancient philosophers were all self
Sir Wm. Herschell was a self-edu
cated man. So was Sir Humphrey Davy. So was Alexander Murray-who is supposed to have prosecuted the study of the languages to a greater extent than any man who ever lived, and who, in 1812, was chosen to the professorship of Oriental languages in the University of Edinburgh a self-taught man. Before his connection with the university, his whole school attendance had been but thirteen months-and
he was but thirty-eight years of age when he died. And, in our own country, many of the leading minds who have shaped and adorned our history, have been self-educated men. Such were the Shermans, the Franklins, the Rittenhouses, and numbers more whose names we need not stay to mention.
We earnestly commend these suggestions to those whose benefit they more especially contemplate.
NEGLECT-OR THE LESSON OF A DAY.
Pa, I am sure I shall never become a Christian under the preaching of Mr. Taylor. It only hardens my heart. So far as it has any effect, it only sours my mind, makes me unhappy and dissatisfied, so that I am afraid church-going will become at length positively burdensome.”
And pray, my dear, what was Mr. Taylor's fault to-day?" replied her father. "I thought the discourse a very superior one. Its statements were clear, its arguments and illustrations forcible, its appeals to the heart tender and persuasive, and the manner of the preacher was in beautiful keeping with the benevolent spirit of the discourse. For my part I felt, as I have often before, thankful that it was the privilege of myself and family to sit under such an instructive and faithful ministration; and I much regret that you do not share in my feelings. Now tell me, my dear, what has ruffled your peace to-day?"
New Year gifts which always punctually made its appearance at this season, from their uncle, who was a wealthy merchant in the city of New York, and who, having no children of his own, cherished a fond affection for his three nieces, the daughters of Mr. Vinton. The arrival of the annual package was to them like the arrival of an argosy with the treasures of the east, and indeed it never failed to contain a costly and well selected outfit for the year, of articles both of necessity and luxury.
Mr. and Mrs. Vinton were soon summoned from their chamber to preside at the opening of the precious package. There were rich dresses, a casket of jewelry, and various sundries directed to Ella, the eldest, and a choice variety suited to her years, to Clara, the youngest, but to the surprise of them all, there was nothing for Emmeline, and even in the hasty note which accompanied the presents, no allusion was made to the omission, and her name was not even mentioned. This was the more surprising, as she had always been considered the favorite niece. Poor Emmeline was so overpowered by her feelings that she burst into tears, and her distress was uncontrollable. She was a tenderhearted, sensitive, yet high-spirited girl. She fondly loved her uncle, and now the painful conviction, that by some means unknown to her, his heart had become alienated and his
"Well, pa, what I complain of is, that Mr. Taylor makes no distinction at all between the best people, if they don't happen to be religious, and the very worst. For instance, from the text to-day,How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation,' I am sure he made out mere inattention to the subject of religion to be as criminal and blameworthy as the very worst sins I ever conceived of, and destroyed all distinc-interest in her destroyed, fastened upon her tion among the very different classes of those who have not been converted. Now I am not disposed to be classed with profane swearers, liars, blasphemers, and the like, although I admit that thus far I have been a neglecter of religion."
Mr. Vinton was proceeding to reply, when the dinner bell interrupted the dialogue.
At an early hour on Monday morning there was quite a commotion among the young people, occasioned by the arrival of the package of
mind and crushed it to the earth, and the anguish of a life-time seemed compressed into that hour. It was, of course, in vain that her kindhearted sisters insisted upon sharing with her in the most liberal manner the presents directed to them; and equally in vain did the parents conjecture reasons explanatory of his omission to send to her. She felt that she had been neglected, and if neglected, despised, and she stole to her chamber to give free vent to her feelings.
NEGLECT-OR THE LESSON OF A DAY.
In the afternoon, the family were called to attend the funeral of a beloved neighbor and friend, who had been cut off in the brightness of youth but a little more than a year after her marriage. Prior to that event, Mary had been a daily visitor in the Vinton family, and was as a daughter and sister; and although, when she became the wife of Mr. Ashley, their intercourse was less frequent, the depth and tenderness of their attachment was in no degree diminished. Slowly and mournfully they entered the house of death, and grouped themselves around the remains of Mary. There she lay in beautiful repose, like an angel overtaken by a dream; or like a fresh creation of the divine artist only waiting for the breath of life to heave that breast, and dilate that flowing form, and part those lips, upon which even now seemed to hang some utterance of gentleness and love. Alas! within that tabernacle, the lamp of life had gone out, never to be rekindled; and that frame so beautiful, was attired, not for the gaieties of life, but for the gloom of the grave. Oh Death! thou great reaper of this world's field, thus it is ever.
Thou cullest the lovely, the tender, the good. With thy frosts and chills thou strikest the child amid his playthings, and the young saint kneeling at God's altar, and sparest to fill up his three-score and ten the reviler of his Maker and the foe of his kind.
The funeral solemnities over, the Vintons, who were truly the chief mourners, returned to their homes, severally occupied with reflections befitting the melancholy employment of the afternoon. There a pleasant surprise awaited them. Mr. Vaugher, the uncle of whom we have already spoken, had arrived from the city an hour before, taken possession of the premi ses, and roused up the parlor fire to a generous glow. Finding, he said, that by some inadvertence of the person charged with sending the annual package of knick-nacks, Emmeline's parcel had been omitted, and having, moreover, a little leisure on hand, he had resolved at once to allow himself the pleasure of an old-fashioned winter evening with those he loved best. The cordial welcomes showered upon him, and the fond kisses of the affectionate girls, effectually dispelled the chilliness of his ride. Poor Emmeline's fears and sorrows were of course brought to an end, and she was now the happiest of the group.
The conversation after tea naturally turned to the funeral of Mrs. Ashley, whose many virtues all eagerly dwelt upon, and whose early
BROKEN HEART! Yes," said he, "the man who vowed to her and to God, to love her truly and only, forswore himself, and lavished his gross affection upon another and an unworthy object. She knew it. In vain was her dwelling supplied with every necessary and with every adornment and luxury. In vain did he look blandly upon her in public. She was an unloved, NEGLECTED WIFE. The consciousness of this was a scorpion upon her heart, till the grave pitied her and took her to its bosom." The old man wept as he added, in subdued, solemn undertone: Sleep there, pale and weary one, for thou hast long been sleepless, and there none shall disturb thee. Thanks to God, though thou wast a neglected wife, thine was not a neglected Saviour."
As he uttered these words Emmeline shrieked in an agony of feeling, and for some time lay sobbing on the sofa, unable to speak a word. At length, beckoning her father to her side, she said, "Pa, 1 understand it." "Understand what? my dear." "The sermon, pa, Mr. Taylor-the sinfulness of NEGLECT-O, I see it all. Was I not tortured this morning, when apparently only our dear uncle had slighted me, and have not I slighted the Saviour indeed all my life, when he justly looked for the evidences of my affection? Did our poor Mary pine and perish amid all the brightness and bloom of youth, stung with a sense of neglect? And is it nothing to the Saviour that I, the poor worm upon whom he set his everlasting love, and to the door of whose heart he has so often come knocking till his locks were wet with the dews of the night, that I should regard him with indifference, and repel him with neglect? My eyes are open, and I see that what we call mere neglect, may be indeed cruel and criminal as the murderer's steel. Never again shall it be my plea that I am only a neglecter of the Saviour, and soothe myself with the idea that it involves no positive and flagrant transgression." And they all knelt in prayer for a blessing upon the lesson of the day.