« 이전계속 »
we be; and how much more charitable one to another. How much more ready to assist our neighbour in distress ; how much more lenient to one another's failings ; how much more anxious to be engaged in good work, should we be. Oh! that we had more of the spirit of Abraham ! how much more would freedom, both of body and mind, be advanced in the world. Then would all slavery be wounded, even unto the death.
Having given at length the first example of the departure from the path of freedom, and initiated the long list of noble men who counted not even their lives dear if they only might partly restore that lost freedom, in the earlier ages of the world's history—the time fails me to notice the vast host of men who have done noble deeds in the cause of freedom, both in ancient and modern times, and in every nation of the world. The various records and histories handed down from generation to generation, will amply repay any one who wishes to become acquainted with them.
From the earliest history, we will come down to notice briefly the love of freedom in our own age and country. At the commencement of the present century, even in our own country, while we were singing “ Britons never shall be slaves,” we were allowing British subjects to buy and sell men in our colonies : but noble men came forward, and proclaimed freedom to the slave; and their names are now recorded brightly in our country's history. During the same period, we have had larger freedom of thought and speech granted in every section of the Christian church, in every department of the law, and in every branch of our social and political government. In the same period, too, we have not only had the Gospel preached to the poor, but we have had a noble band of men and women (and their names are legion), who have spent their time, their talent, and their money, to teach the poor man not only to read that he may understand, but to think and act as becomes a freeman.
In conclusion, let us notice very briefly the privileges to enjoy freedom even the poorest among us has or may have, if he wishes; also a few of the snares by which he is beset to enslave him. First, our educational institutions, our churches, chapels, Sunday schools, mechanics' institutes, public libraries, and other charities—all dictated and sup
ported by lovers of freedom. Second, our slavery institutions, our drinking and smoking systems, theatres, singing and gaming houses—all established for the love of gain.
Our churches and chapels-what is the cost to attend ? In all there are free seats for those who cannot pay, while for twopence to threepence per week you may enjoy the luxury of a cushioned seat ; and what do you hear ? The week's experience of the preacher, whose business it is and whose reputation depends on making known something from which you will be a dull hearer, or he will be a dull preacher, if you do not learn something unknown to you before. In addition, you meet with company the most respèctable in society. ' Besides Sunday meetings, nearly all have week-day meetings, more or less useful for a variety of information, which are attended without extra cost.
Compare our drinking and smoking systems with these. The most illiterate among you know how much you get at those places for twopence or threepence. Just as much as you can consume in a few minutes, and very often tempted to repeat the dose again and again ; frequently purchasing a head-ache for yourself, heart-ache for your wife, and very often stomach-ache for your children. In one case you purchase present gratification for the body ; in the other, lasting food for the mind. In one case, you purchase poverty, by being tempted to spend what you cannot afford; in the other, a useful store of a rich and cultivated intellect. In a word, you purchase slavish propensities on the one hand, and elevated ideas of freedom on the other.
Our Sunday schools.—We have nothing to match these, and I pity the parent who is so blind to his child's future prospects as not to embrace their advantages. Our mechanics institutes and libraries.—Here, in Stockport, you may be a member, and have the choice to read as many books as you can, with the privilege of seeing and reading the leading newspapers and best periodicals of the day, all for the amazing sum of two shillings per quarter, or less than twopence per week, with the benefit of the society, and advice, on various subjects, of respectable friends, into the bargain. With this, compare our theatres, singing rooms, and gambling tables. Í need not ask any of you how far twopence
go there. It is a very low-class place if it is less than that amount for admission, and that for only a couple of hours. Who do you meet there? people who are bent on what they call pleasure, to say the least ; but the great majority are there to gratify a vicious disposition free from restraint. Good people you may meet there, but they are the exception. At the singing rooms it is even worse, for you pay very high for what is called talent—very often the talent to sing a frivolous or debauched
would not care to repeat in the hearing of your children; at the same time learning all kinds of bad habits, not the least of which is wasting the time for your natural rest. I will leave to your own judgment which course is the slave's, and which the freeman's.
I will conclude with an illustration on each side, to show how a young man follows on in the course he adopts when young. Thirty years since, the speaker had two play-fellowe, whom nearly
all present would know, were he at liberty to name. One had very much superior advantages over the other, so far as worldly affairs were concerned, he was put to a good trade, and had every advantage and facility to become a useful and respectable townsman. But, alas! he became a slave to bad habits ; little by little they accumulated; one companion after another he had, but all in the downward road. He finished his life not long since, by laying violent hands upon himself—a sad example of the slavishness of wrong-doing !
The other was the son of poorer parents, and he was brought up, like the speaker, to work in one of the cotton mills of this town. While young, he chose for himself the better and cheaper path of education. For years the speaker was a fellow-worker with him by day, and a scholar with him at night, improving his mind after the twelve hours' labour which the mills then worked per day. That same young man is now among us, an honoured and respected townsman, an employer of labour, and esteemed by all who know him.
Like him, young men, choose the better way ; like him, choose companions from whom you can learn something like him, buy cheap that priceless ornament-a cultivated mind. Then, though poor, you will learn that honest poverty is no disgrace; then you will be able to hold con, verse, through reading, with the illustrious both of the dead and living ; then, in a word, you will be a lover-and an enjoyer, too- of freedom, both of body and mind.
yn bringing before you some remarks on the life and wit
of that « reverend divine and learned historian,” as his anonymous biographer terms the subject of my address, I labour under the disadvantage of having to speak of a
man whose writings, once famous, are now but very little - read and sparingly referred to ; whose life, spent in the
service of his country, is unhonoured ; and whose name is vaguely and trivially spoken of, as that of one who has no special claim on our attention. I want to show you, this evening, that THOMAS FULLER was a man who has some claim on our gratitude ; that he was no mean author, and
belonged to no mean age; that at one time he occupied a í very conspicuous position in English literature, and (if not
a conspicuous) an important post at a critical tiine in English history ; and that though in respect to his writings, the opinion of the world has changed, and but little attention is bestowed upon them, yet there may there be found a vast amount of shrewd conimon sense and old English wit, expressed in pithy and forcible language ; and from his life there may be gathered lessons pregnant of good.
Like the quaint age in which he lived, Fuller's mind was most eccentric, and this has made him “ the very strangest writer in our language. Perhaps no man ever excelled him in fulness and readiness of wit;" and this--added to the plain and practical sense which pervades his writings, and which is so characteristic of this nation-makes it "passing strange” that his works should be permitted to die out, and be so scarce and difficult to obtain as some of them are. But ingratitude is ever to be met with, both in contemporaries and posterity. Fuller's works were well abused, as well during his life as since; but he has occasionally met with a generous reception from some of his critics, whose references to him have helped, in some degree, to preserve his works. Coleridge saíd of him, after reading his “ Church History”—“Next to Shakspeare, I am not certain whether Fuller, beyond all other writers, does not excite in me the sense and emotion of the marvellous ;" and “Fuller was incomparably the most sensible, the least prejudiced great man, of an age that boasted a galaxy of great men.” And the genial essayist, Charles Lamb, has commended Fuller's writings, and added a few specimens of his composition ; which notice is sufficient to incite any lover of our English literature to take this quaint and witty author into closer companionship.
The authentic sources from which the particulars of his life are to be gathered, are very few, and those few are very dull and dreary compositions for so lively a subject. Aided, however, by these, and the references to himself contained in his works, I have (to use one of his own modest expressions) “endeavoured” his life, my remarks being taken from more voluminous notes which I have collected for a biographical memoir.
His name may be said to be both a fortunate and an unfortunate one- e—fortunate, as giving us the idea of substance and solidity, very appropriate to an author whose works, compared with others, are “not only fuller in useful matter and varied interest, but (as a punster of his own day would have said) fuller in spirit, fuller in wit, in fact, Fuller throughout-Strong without rage, without o'erflowing, full: unfortunate, as when he good-humouredly but unwittingly is said to have asked one Mr. Sparrowhawk, “What is the difference between an owl and a sparrowhawk ?” received for reply, “ An owl is fuller in the head, fuller in the face, and Fuller all over !"
His lot was cast in eventful and perilous times, when England was, on a small scale, in the same state in which America is now on great one,-devastated and cursed by the most dreadful form of war. He was born in the year 1608, and was the elder of two sons of the Rev. Thomas Fuller, rector of St. Peter's, Aldwincle,
,-a place also famous in giving birth to the poet Dryden. This village is situated on the river Nene, in Northamptonshire; and, says Fuller, “if that worthy county esteem me no disgrace to it, I esteem it an honour to me.” At his day it was a most populous and fruitful county—“Sixteen several towns, with their churches, have at one time been discovered by, my eyes, which are none of the best ; and God grant,” he piously and quaintly adds, “ that those who are sharper.