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TO-MORROW! didst thou say?
Methought I heard Horatio say, To-morrow.
Against thy plenty-who takes thy ready cash,
It is a period nowhere to be found
In all the hoary registers of time,
Wisdom disclaims the word, nor holds society
But soft, my friend-arrest the present moments;
And though their flight be silent, and their path trackless
They post to heaven and there record their folly.
Didst let them pass unnoticed, unimproved;
For every fugitive: and when thou thus
Shalt stand impleaded at the high tribunal
Imprint the mark of wisdom on its wings;
'Tis of more worth than kingdoms! far more precious Than all the crimson treasures of life's fountain!
Oh! let it not elude thy grasp; but like
The good old patriarch upon record,
Hold the fleet angel fast until he bless thee.
A scene nearly two Centuries ago on the River Hudson.IRVING.
WILDNESS and savage majesty reigned on the borders of this mighty river; the hand of cultivation had not as yet laid low the dark forests, and tamed the features of the landscape; nor had the frequent sail of commerce yet broken in upon the profound and awful solitude of ages.
Here and there might be seen a rude wigwam perched among the cliffs of the mountains, with its curling column of smoke mounting in the transparent atmosphere; but so loftily situated, that the whoopings of the savage children, gamboling on the margin of the dizzy heights, fell almost as faintly on the ear, as do the notes of the lark, when lost in the azure vault of heaven. Now and then, from the beetling brow of some rocky precipice, the wild deer would look timidly down upon the splendid pageant as it passed below; and then, tossing his branching antlers high in air, would bound away into the thickest of the forest.
Through such scenes did the stately vessel of Peter Stuyvesant pass. Now did they skirt the bases of the rocky heights of Jersey, which spring up like everlasting walls, reaching from the waves unto the heavens; and were fashioned, if tradition may be believed, in times long past, by the mighty spirit Manetho, to protect his favorite abodes from the unhallowed eyes of mortals. Now did they career it gaily across the vast expanse of Tappen Bay, whose wide extended shores present a vast variety of delectable scenery -here the bold promontory, crowned with embowering trees, advancing into the bay-there the long woodland slope, sweeping up from the shore in rich luxuriance, and terminating in the upland precipice-while at a distance, a long line of rocky heights threw gigantic shades across the water.
Now would they pass where some modest little interval, opening among these stupendous scenes, yet retreating as it were for protection into the embraces of the neighboring mountains, displayed a rural paradise, fraught with sweet and pastoral beauties; the velvet tufted lawn, the bushy copse, the tinkling rivulet, stealing through the fresh and vivid verdure, on whose banks were situated some little Indian village, or peradventure, the rude cabin of some solitary
The different periods of the revolving day seemed each, with cunning magic, to diffuse a different charm over the scene. Now would the jovial sun break gloriously from the east, blazing from the summits of the eastern hills, and sparkling the landscape with a thousand dewy gems; while along the borders of the river were seen heavy masses of mist, which, like caitiffs disturbed at his approach, made a sluggish retreat, rolling in sullen reluctance up the mountains.
At such times all was brightness, and life and gaiety; the atmosphere seemed of an indescribable pureness and transparency the birds broke forth in wanton madrigals, and the freshening breezes wafted the vessel merrily on her course. But when the sun sunk amid a flood of glory in the west, mantling the heavens and the earth with a thousand gorgeous dyes, then all was calm, and silent, and magnificent.
The late swelling sail hung lifeless against the mast-the simple seaman with folded arms leaned against the shrouds, lost in that involuntary musing which the sober grandeur of nature commands in the rudest of her children. The vast bosom of the Hudson was like an unruffled mirror, reflecting the golden splendor of the heavens, excepting that now and then a bark canoe would steal across its surface, filled with painted savages, whose gay feathers glared brightly, as perchance a lingering ray of the setting sun gleamed on them from the western mountains.
But when the hour of twilight spread its magic mists around, then did the face of nature assume a thousand fugitive charms, which, to the worthy heart that seeks enjoyment in the glorious works of its Maker, are inexpressibly captivating. The mellow dubious light that prevailed, just served to tinge with illusive colors the softened features of the scenery.
The deceived but delighted eye sought vainly to discern, in the broad masses of shade, the separating line between land and water; or to distinguish the fading objects that seemed sinking into chaos. Now did the busy fancy supply the feebleness of vision, producing, with industrious craft, a fairy creation of her own.
Under her plastic wand the barren rocks frowned upon the watery waste, in the semblance of lofty towers and high embattled castles-trees assumed the direful forms of mighty giants, and the inaccessible summits of the mountains seemed peopled with a thousand shadowy beings.
Now broke forth from the shores the notes of an innumerable variety of insects, who filled the air with a strange but not inharmonious concert; while ever and anon was heard the melancholy plaint of the Whip-poor-will, who, perched on some lone tree, wearied the ear of night with its incessant moanings. The mind, soothed into a hallowed melancholy by the solemn mystery of the scene, listened with pensive stillness to catch and distinguish each sound that vaguely echoed from the shore.
Object in Reading.
To become wiser and more intellectual beings; to know more and more of all that our Creator has given us the power to know, of nature, of the mind, of the eternal principles of truth and virtue; to add continually to the stock of just and valuable ideas, and to the power of just reasoning upon them: to cultivate all our faculties, throughout the whole of life, as if it were a school to fit us for a nobler action and a higher advancement in some loftier sphere,— these should be the objects in Reading.
We presume that we lay down the law of all intellectual, and, also, of all moral improvement, when we say, to this end the powers of our nature must be tasked; more than amused, more than employed, that they must be tasked. The heart, in its progress, must overcome temptation; the mind must overcome difficulties.
To do what we did yesterday is only to confirm ourselves in the position then taken. To advance, we must do more than we did yesterday. The first process, the process of repetition, is doubtless important. It strengthens habit; it fixes the acquisition of knowledge and the perceptions of truth. But to recall the same ideas, or to repeat the same efforts forever, would not be advance.
One may read forever, and if his mind passively resign itself to the same entertainment, or mechanically runs the round of the same ideas, he will be growing none the wiser, nor stronger; he will be, for all his reading, as really stationary, as if he had slept through the years or the ages. There must be a grappling with new thoughts, and new forms of thought, in order to become intellectual and to
grow strong in intellect. There must be something studied; something searched out, that is not at first obvious; something investigated, that will task the powers of reasoning. something, on which the mind will feel that it must pause and concentrate its utmost efforts. *****
We believe that the immense reading of the day does not yield half the result it might, for the want of a settled purpose of self-government; and we see no way in which this improvement is to be gained, but by some voluntary efforts at thinking; and it does not appear to us that even the reading of history, much less that of voyages, is likely to awaken this effort.
But to sink still further below the point of intellectual activity, to throw one's self into the current of an all-absorbing tale, to be borne in dreary listlessness or with hurried speed upon its bosom, to make no other intellectual excursions than these, and to make these from day to day, or from week to week, never a whit wiser at the end than at the beginning, never making any progress of thought, never the more prepared either for this world or another, this is a folly and sin, against which we think it time loudly to protest.
It is one step from that absorption in card-playing and other games, which occupied so many hours in the social and domestic circles of the last century. The objection to excess in all these cases is the same. It is, that time and talents are wasted,—not merely taken up with recreation, when recreation is fit,-but wasted, when they might be devoted to nobler ends.
It is for the young, to whom we have already had reference, that we most feel the importance of this subject. We feel it as parents, and we cannot help regarding it as eminently deserving of the attention of all parents. Much is said at this day, about the great advantages that are enjoyed for education; and nothing is more frequently pointed to in proof of this, than the children's book-shelves. Now, we confess we look upon this multiplication of books, or, to speak more accurately, upon the use which is made of them, with more distrust and doubt than upon any other department of early discipline.
Discipline did we say? These books are the very foes of discipline. They are most of them novels, and nothing else but novels. The reading of them, as we have said, is novelreading. And there are as many jaded, and almost as listless novel-readers in the ten thousand nurseries of the land,