페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

as there are stretched upon the parlor couches,—not to say in the study easy-chairs. Children too much indulged in this way, (and that may happen long enough before the parent is aware of it,)—acquire an almost inveterate hostility to all severe application of mind. There are thousands of such, who need to be put, without delay, upon a dispensation of hard study, to save them from utter ruin.

Alas! for those, whose parents, instead of offering any counteraction to this mighty power of the press, resolve that their children shall have nothing but a lot of ease and gratification, that they shall be urged to no tasks, that they shall be led into none but inviting and flowery paths, to the heights of knowledge, and power. It is a mistake; an utter mistake. There are no steps to those heights, but rugged steps. There is no way of intellectual advancement, but the way of strenuous effort and patient toil.

The subject has wider bearings. It concerns the national character, that a healthful and manly taste be cultivated. It concerns the national literature. Authors write to be read; and if nothing will be read but what is easy and amusing, or if the prevailing and craving demand is for that species of composition, if profound disquisition of learning stand but a poor chance with the people, if all science must be brought within the compass of Libraries of Entertaining Knowledge,' if the deeper meditations of genius must give place to the light and flashy productions of extemporaneous wit and fancy, it is not difficult to predict the result.

We shall have a light and trifling literature. We shall have the songs of the Troubadours back upon us. We shall hear again that flagitious reasoning, as abandoned in morals as in taste, that talks of soft and voluptuous forms and features, from which severe intellect is banished, as the forms and features of beauty. We shall hear of that light and graceful drapery wherewith imagination clothes_its creation, and which cannot bear the eye of reason. We shall become excessively afraid of good sense, and account that dull, which is, if it can be understood, the grand and predominant quality of real genius.

Heaven avert the plague from our young and rising literature. The truth is, that the same law obtains in the cultivation of the mind, that governs all other success,-the law of labor. Wo to the young man, who thinks to rise to the heights of intellectual power by any easy flight! All the noblest efforts of the mind are intense, laborious, patient

efforts; all real genius, all true originality, all lofty poetry, all powerful writing and speaking, consist in these, and in nothing else. And the young man,-the professional man, let us say, in particular,-who spends much of his time in reading Reviews and Romances, and abhors every severe task, though he may be a respectable man, can never be much more, be his talents what they may.

LESSON CXXIV.

Horrors of War.-CHALMERS.

THE first great obstacle, to the extinction of war, is the way in which the heart of man is carried off from its barbarities and its horrors, by the splendor of its deceitful accompaniments. There is a feeling of the sublime in contemplating the shock of armies, just as there is in contemplating the devouring energy of a tempest, and this so elevates and engrosses the whole man, that his eye is blind to the tears of bereaved parents, and his ear is deaf to the piteous moan of the dying, and the shriek of their desolated families.

There is a gracefulness in the picture of a youthful warrior burning for distinction on the field, and lured by this generous aspiration to the deepest of the animated throng, where, in the fell work of death, the opposing sons of valor struggle for a remembrance and a name; and this side of the picture is so much the exclusive object of our regard, as to disguise from our view the mangled carcasses of the fallen, and the writhing agonies of the hundreds and the hundreds more, who have been laid on the cold ground, where they are left to languish and to die.

There no eye pities them. No sister is there to weep over them. There no gentle hand is present to ease the dying posture, or bind up the wounds, which, in the maddening fury of the combat, have been given and received by the children of one common father. There death spreads its pale ensigns over every countenance, and when night comes on, and darkness gathers around them, how many a despairing wretch must take up with the bloody field as the untended bed of his last sufferings, without one friend to bear the message of tenderness to his distant home-without one companion to close his eyes.

I avow it. On every side of me I see causes at work, which go to spread a most delusive coloring over war, and to remove its shocking barbarities to the back ground of our contemplations altogether. I see it in the history which tells me of the superb appearance of the troops, and the brilliancy of their successive charges. I see it in the poetry which lends the magic of its numbers to the narrative of blood, and transports its many admirers, as by its images, and its figures, and its nodding plumes of chivalry, it throws its treacherous embellishments over a scene of legalized slaughter.

I see it in the music which represents the progress of the battle; and where, after being inspired by the trumpet-notes of preparation, the whole beauty and tenderness of a drawingroom are seen to bend over the sentimental entertainment; nor do I hear the utterance of a single sigh to interrupt the death-tones of the thickening contest, and the moans of the wounded men as they fade away upon the ear, and sink into lifeless silence.

All, all goes to prove what strange and half-sighted creatures we are. Were it not so, war could never have been seen in any other aspect than that of unmingled hatefulness; and I can look to nothing but to the progress of christian sentiment upon earth, to arrest the strong current of its popular and prevailing partiality for war.

Then only will an imperious sense of duty lay the check of severe principle, on all the subordinate tastes and faculties of our nature. Then will glory be reduced to its right estimate, and the wakeful benevolence of the gospel, chasing away every spell, will be turned by the treachery of no delusion whatever, from its simple but sublime enterprises for the good of the species. Then the reign of truth and quietness will be ushered into the world, and war, cruel, atrocious, unrelenting war, will be stripped of its many and its bewildering fascinations.

LESSON CXXV.

The Effect of Prosperity on the Manners of the Athenians.— GILLIES.

IN the course of a few years, the success of Aristides, Cimon, and Pericles had trebled the revenues, and increased, in a far greater proportion, the dominions of the republic.

MJUTATION NOTIL

page 251-253

And sat with quivering plumage on the mast: Flashes were seen, and distant sounds were heardPresages of a storm.

The sun went down in beauty; but the skies
Were wildly changed. It was a dreadful night—
No moon was seen, in all the heavens, to aid
Or cheer the lone and sea-beat mariner;
Planet nor guiding star broke through the gloom;
But the blue lightnings glared along the waters,
As if the fiend had fired its torch to light

Some wretches to their graves. The tempest winds
Raving came next, and, in deep hollow sounds,
Like those the spirits of the dead do use,
When they would speak their evil prophecies,
Muttered of death to come; then came the thunder,
Deepening and crashing as 't would rend the world;
Or, as the Deity passed aloft in anger,

And spoke to man-despair! The ship was tossed,
And now stood poised upon the curling billows,
And now 'midst deep and watery chasms-that yawned
As 't were in hunger-sank. Behind there came
Mountains of moving water, with a rush

And sound of gathering power, that did appal
The heart to look on: terrible cries were heard;
Sounds of despair-some like a mother's anguish—
Some of intemperate, dark, and dissolute joy—
Music and horrid mirth--but unallied

To joy; and madness might be heard amidst
The pauses of the storm; and when the glare
Was strong, rude savage men were seen to dance
In frantic exultation on the deck,

Though all was hopeless. Hark! the ship has struck,
And the forked lightning seeks the arsenal!

'Tis fired-and mirth and madness are no more!
Midst columned smoke, deep red, the fragments fly
In fierce confusion--splinters and scorched limbs,
And burning masts, and showers of gold,-torn from
The heart that hugged it even till death. Thus doth
Sicilian Etna in her angry moods,

Or Hecla 'mid her wilderness of snows,
Shoot up its burning entrails, with a sound
Louder than e'er the Titans uttered from

Their subterranean caves, when Jove enchained

Them, daring and rebellious. The black skies,
Shocked at the excess of light, returned the sound
In frightful echoes,—as if an alarm

Had spread through all the elements: then came
A horrid silence-deep-unnatural-like
The quiet of the grave.

LESSON CXXVIII.

Twilight.-HALLECK.

THERE is an evening twilight of the heart,
When its wild passion-waves are lulled to rest,
And the eye sees life's fairy scenes depart,
As fades the day-beam in the rosy west.
"T is with a nameless feeling of regret
We gaze upon them as they melt away,
And fondly would we bid them linger yet,

But Hope is round us with her angel lay,
Hailing afar some happier moonlight hour;

Dear are her whispers still, though lost their early power.

In youth the cheek was crimsoned with her glow;
Her smile was loveliest then; her matin song
Was heaven's own music, and the note of wo
Was all unheard her sunny bowers among.
Life's little world of bliss was newly born;

We knew not, cared not, it was born to die."
Flushed with the cool breeze and the dews of morn,
With dancing heart we gazed on the pure sky,
And mocked the passing clouds that dimmed its blue
Like our own sorrows then-as fleeting and as few.

And manhood felt her sway too,-on the eye,
Half realized, her early dreams burst bright,
Her promised bower of happiness seemed nigh,
Its days of joy, its vigils of delight;

And though at times might lower the thunder storm,
And the red lightnings threaten, still the air
Was balmy with her breath, and her loved form,
The rainbow of the heart, was hovering there.
'T is in life's noontide she is nearest seen,

Her wreath the summer flower, her robe of summer green.

« 이전계속 »