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months, I habitually cast my eyes upon a small recess, filled with books, and, amongst them, upon Ossian; and if I remember any hours of peculiar enjoyment, I do those thus occupied.
The days and feelings of my boyhood are at once brought back again. I connect the scenes and the heroes of the "Voice of Cona' in some mysterious manner, with the memory of those with whom I was wont to admire them; and am snatched from a world of cold calculation and selfishness, in which we all too willingly participate, to one of glory and generosity.
We are often asked wherein consists the peculiar charm of Ossian. It is in the graceful delicacy and refined affection of his female characters; the reckless bravery, lofty sentiment, and generous warmth of his warriors, and the wildness of the scenery in which they dwell. We are delighted to find his lovely and noble beings on their rude heaths, or in their rude halls, exhibiting a poetical refinement of mind, far transcending the tone of modern society, with all the beautiful set-off of the simplicity of ancient
And then, what a pathos is in their sorrows. The harp of Ossian is truly a harp of sorrow.' It breathes perpetually of melancholy tenderness. It is the voice of age lamenting over departed glory; over beauty and strength cut down in their prime; and it comes to us from the dimness of antiquity, and from a land of hills and woods, of mists and meteors, from the heath of mossy and gray stones, the roaring of mountain-streams, the blasted tree, the withered leaves, and the thistle's beard, that flies on the wind of
Am I told that it is merely a pleasant, modern fiction? What then? If so, it is one of the pleasantest fictions that ever were wrought; and the man who made, it, one of the happiest geniuses. For years did he toil to acquire the art and the name of a poet; but in vain. His conceptions were meagre; his style monotonous and common-place; and through the multitude of verses which he has left, we look in vain for aught which might justify the manufacture of them; but, in a happy hour, he burst at once into a most original style of poetry-into a language which shows not symptoms of feeling, but melts and glows with it into poetic imagery; which is not scattered sparingly and painfully, but with a full, a free, and an unwearied hand.
If this be true, it is wonderful; but I shall choose not to
believe it true. I shall choose to think of Ossian as the ancient and veritable bard, and Macpherson as the fortunate fellow, who found his scattered lays, and who perhaps added links and amendments of his own.
The Pleasures of Science.-BROUGHAM.
To pass our time in the study of the sciences has, in all ages, been reckoned one of the most dignified and happy of human occupations; and the name of Philosopher, or Lover of Wisdom, is given to those who lead such a life. But it is by no means necessary that a man should do nothing else than study known truths, and explore new, in order to earn this high title.
Some of the greatest philosophers, in all ages, have been engaged in the pursuits of actiye life; and he who, in whatever station his lot may be cast, Pfers the refined and elevating pleasures of knowledge to the low gratification of the senses, richly deserves the name of a Philosopher.
It is easy to show, that there is a positive gratification resulting from the study of the sciences. If it be a pleasure to gratify curiosity-to know what we were ignorant of to have our feelings of wonder called forth, how pure a delight of this very kind does natural science hold out to its students! Recollect some of the extraordinary discoveries of mechanical philosophy.
Is there any thing in all the idle books of tales and horrors, with which youthful readers are so much delighted, more truly astonishing than the fact, that a few pounds of water may, without any machinery, by merely being placed in a particular way, produce an irresistible force? can be more strange, than that an ounce weight should balance hundreds of pounds, by the intervention of a few bars of thin iron?
Observe the extraordinary truths which optical science discloses! Can any thing surprise us more, than to find that the color of white is a mixture of all others; that red, and blue, and green, and all the rest, merely by being blended in certain proportions, form what we had fancied rather to be no color at all than all colors together?
Chemistry is not behind in its wonders. That the diamond should be made of the same material with coal; that water should be chiefly composed of an inflammable substance; that acids should be almost all formed of different kinds of air; and that one of those acids, whose strength can dissolve almost any of the metals, should be made of the self-same ingredients with the common air we breathe: these, surely, are things to excite the wonder of any reflect. ing mind-nay, of any one but little accustomed to reflect -And yet these are trifling, when compared to the prodigies which astronomy opens to our view: the enormous masses of the heavenly bodies; their immense distances; their countless numbers and their motions, whose swiftness mocks the uttermost efforts of the imagination.
Akin to this pleasure of contemplating new and extraordinary truths, is the gratification of a more learned curiosity, by tracing resemblances and relations between things which, to common apprehension, seem widely different. It is surely a satisfaction, for instance, to know that the same thing, which causes the sensation of heat, causes also fluidity; that electricity, the light, which is seen on the back of a cat when slightly rubbed on a frosty evening, is the very same matter with the lightning of the clouds; that plants breathe like ourselves, but differently, by day and by night; that the air, which burns in our lamps, enables a balloon to mount.
Nothing can at first sight appear less like, or less likely to be caused by the same thing, than the processes of burning and of breathing,-the rust of metals and burning,—the influence of a plant on the air it grows in by night, and of an animal on the same air at any time, nay, and of a body burning in that air; and yet all these operations, so unlike to common eyes, when examined by the light of science, are the same.
Nothing can be less like than the working of a vast steamengine and the crawling of a fly upon the window; yet we find, that these two operations are performed by the same means the weight of the atmosphere; and that a sea-horse climbs the ice-hills by no other power. Can any thing be more strange to contemplate? Is there, in all the fairytales that ever were fancied, any thing more calculated to arrest the attention, and to occupy and to gratify the mind, than this most unexpected resemblance between things so unlike to the eyes of ordinary beholders?
Then, if we raise our views to the structure of the heavens,
we are again gratified with tracing accurate but most unexpected resemblances. Is it not in the highest degree interesting to find, that the power which keeps the earth in its shape and in its path, wheeling round the sun, extends over all the other worlds that compose the universe, and gives to each its proper place and motion; that the same power keeps the moon in her path round the earth; that the same power causes the tides upon our earth, and the peculiar form of the earth itself; and that, after all, it is the same power which makes a stone fall to the ground? To learn these things, and to reflect upon them, fills the mind, and produces certain as well as pure gratification.
The highest of all our gratifications in the study of science remains. We are raised by science to an understanding of the infinite wisdom and goodness which the Creator has displayed in all his works. Not a step can we take, in any direction, without perceiving the most extraordinary traces of design; and the skill, every where conspicuous, is calculated in so vast a proportion of instances, to promote the happiness of living creatures, and especially of ourselves, that we can feel no hesitation in concluding, that if we knew the whole scheme of Providence, every part would appear to be in harmony with a plan of absolute benevolence. Independently, however, of this most consoling inference, the delight is inexpressible, of being able to follow, as it were with our eyes, the marvellous works of the great Architect of Nature, and to trace the unbounded power and exquisite skill, which are exhibited in the most minute, as well as in the mightiest parts of his system.
WITHOUT touching the question of the relative superiority of the sexes, we cannot doubt that their powers are various. The sensibilities and affections are the strength of woman's nature. Feeling is the favorite element of her soul. She has an instinctive sympathy with the tender, the generous, and the pure. We expect from her examples of goodness. Vice appears more unnatural in her than in the other sex; it
certainly is more odious. Vulgarity seems coarser, immorality more inexcusable, impiety more shocking.
A wicked woman expresses the climax of depravity. By the law of her nature, moreover, woman is determined towards reliance and confidence, rather than towards an independence of foreign support. She is willing to rest on another's arm, she seeks protection, she covets affection. We describe hers as the gentler and the feebler sex; and these are not the epithets of poetry, so much as of fact and nature.
The influence of the female sex is not confined to their homes. No; it is felt through society, felt where they are never seen, felt by man in his busiest and his most stormy hours. It would not be easy to exaggerate the amount or the importance of the influence, which they hold over manners, opinions, and customs. I am speaking of a state of society, where that place is given to the sex, of which they have in so many countries and for so many ages been defrauded.
The tone of moral sentiment through the land, depends upon the women of the land. It will bear the character which they consent to have it bear. Neither irreligion nor hypocrisy, neither coarse nor polished vice, neither a false standard of truth, nor a false standard of honor, can prevail, if they discountenance it. Pertness and foppery would be driven by their contempt into the darkness, from which they should never have issued. Arrogant skepticism and lighttongued faith would be rebuked by their frown, while purity of taste, lofty sentiment, intellectual improvement, moral feeling, and a simple but steadfast piety, would flourish under their patronage, like the flowers under the mild sunshine of spring.
And let every one, be she in humble or conspicuous place, be wealth or toil her portion, have she many or few friends, be she admired or passed by in the crowd, let her remember that the whole is made up of its parts, that the influence of the sex results from the character and deportment of each one whom it includes, and that an exception to the general practice might be injurious, though conformity to it might as a single force be productive of little good.
Every woman is as accountable for whatever influence she may exert, as if it would be felt over a continent. Catharine of Russia, even among that rude people, owed a service to society as much in her youthful obscurity, as when she was the sole occupant of the throne. The daughter of