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And grubbing in his dark vocation;
Stupidly hoping To find the art of changing metals, And so coin guineas, from his pots and kettles, By mystery of transmutation.
Our starving poet-took occasion
To seek this conjurer's abode ;
Not with encomiastic ode, Or laudatory dedication,
But with an offer to impart,
For twenty pounds, the secret art Which should procure, without the pain
Of metals, chemistry, and fire, What he so long had sought in vain,
And gratify his heart's desire.
The money paid, our bard was hurried
To the philosopher's sanctorum,
Out of his chemical decorum,
And cried, as he secured the door,
“Now, now, the secret, I implore ! For heaven's sake, speak, discover, utter !”
With grave and solemn air, the poet
Who still, though blessed, new blessings cravo:
HORACE SMITH. (1779 — 1849.) 26
CXXVII. – MY FATHER'S LOG CABIN.
Taunt (au like a in far), n., bitter re- | PRIM'I-TIVE, A., first; original. proach ; upbraiding words. AN'NU-AL, 2., coming yearly.
Do not say shaller for shallow. Pronounce sacrifice, sac'ri.fiz.
1. It is only shallow-minded pretenders who either make distinguished origin matter of personal merit, or obscure origin matter of personal reproach. Taunt and scoffing at the humble condition of early life affect nobody in this country but those who are foolish enough to indulge in them; and they are generally sufficiently punished by public rebuke. A man who is not ashamed of himself need not be ashamed of his early condition.
2. It did not happen to me to be born in a log cabin; but my elder brothers and sisters were born in a log cabin, which was raised amid the snow-drifts of New Hampshire, at a period so early, that when the smoke first rose from its rude chimney, and curled over the frozen hills, there was no similar evidence of a white man's habitation between it and the settlements on the rivers of Canada.
3. Its remains still exist. I make to it an annual visit. I carry my children to it, to teach them the hardships endured by the generations which have gone before them. I love to dwell on the tender recollections, the kindred ties, the early affections, and the touching narratives and incidents, which mingle with all I know of this primitive family abode.
4. I weep to think that none of those who inhabited it are now among the living'; and if ever I am ashamed of it, or if I ever fail in affectionate veneration for him who reared it, and defended it against savage violence and destruction, - cherished all the domestic virtues beneath its roof, and, through the fire and blood of a seven years' revolutionary war, shrank from no danger, no toil, no sacrifice, to save his coun. try, and to raise his children to a condition better than his own,
may my name and the name of my posterity be blotted forever from the memory of mankind!
CXXVIII. - IMPORTANCE OF HABIT.
WRENCH, v. t., to pull with a twist. IN'TE-GRAL, A., whole ; entire. PRONEČNESS, n., habitual disposition. DE-VI-A’TION, n., a turning aside from AV'A-LANCHE (-lansh), n., a mass of
snow sliding down a mountain. RE-VOLT'ING (-võlt- or -võlt-), a., IN-DI-VID-U-AL'I-TY, n., separate ex- shocking. istence.
WONT'ED (wŭnt'ed), a., accustomed. Pronounce Brougham, Broom. Remember that i. e. stands for id est (Latin for
1. Man, it has been said, is a bundle of habits; and habit is second nature. A celebrated Italian poet had 80 strong an opinion as to the power of repetition in act and thought, that he said, “ All is habit;in mankind, even virtue itself.” Butler, in his “ Analogy," impresses the importance of careful self-discipline and firm resistance to temptation, as tending to make virtue habitual; so that at length it may become more easy to be good than to give way to sin. “As habits belonging to the body," he says, “are prodūced by external acts, so habits of the mind are produced by the execution of inward practical purposes,-i. e., car rying them into act, or acting upon them, — the principles of obedience, veracity, justice, and charity.”
2. And again, Lord Brougham says, when enforcing the immense importance of training and example in youth,“ I trust every thing, under God, to habit, on which, in all ages, the lawgiver, as well as the schoolmaster, has mainly placed his reliance; - habit, which makes every thing easy, and casts the difficulties upon the deviation from a wonted course." Thus, make sobriety a habit, and intemperance will be hateful; make prudence a habit, and reckless profligący will become revolting to every principle of conduct which regulates the life of the individual.
3. Hence the necessity for the greatest care and watchfulness against the inroad of any evil habit; for the character is always weakest at that point at which it has once given way; and it is long before a principle restored can become so firm as one that has never been moved. It is a fine remark of a Russian writer, that “ Habits are a necklace of pearls: untie the knot, and the whole unthreads."
4. Wherever formed, habit acts involuntarily and without effort; and it is only when you oppose it that you find how powerful it has become. What is done once and again, soon gives facility and proneness. The habit at first may seem to have no more strength than a spider's web; but, once formed, it binds as with a chain of iron. The small events of life, taken singly, may seem exceedingly unimportant, like snow. that falls silently, flake by flake; yet, accumulated, these snow-flakes form the avalanche.
5. Self-respect, self-help, application, industry, integ. rity, - all are of the nature of habits, not beliefs. Principles, in fact, are but the names which we assign to habits; for the principles are words, but the habits are the things themselves, - benefactors or tyrants, according as they are good or evil. It thus happens that, as we grow older, a portion of our free activity and individuality becomes suspended in habit; our actions become of the nature of fate, and we are bound by the chains which we have woven around ourselves.
6. It is, indeed, scarcely possible to over-estimate the importance of training the young to virtuous habits. In them they are the easiest formed, and,
when formed, they last for life. Like letters cut on the bark of a tree, they grow and widen with age. “ Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” The beginning holds within it the end; the first start on the road of life determines the direction and the destination of the journey. As habit strengthens with age, and character becomes formed, any turning into a new path becomes more and more difficult. Hence it is often harder to unlearn than to learn ; and for this reason the Grecian flute-player was justified, who charged double fees to those pupils who had been taught by an inferior master.
7. To uproot an old habit is sometimes a more pain. ful thing, and vastly more difficult, than to wrench out a tooth. Try and reform an habitually indolent, or improvident, or drunken person, and, in a large majority of cases, you will fail; for the habit, in each case, has wound itself in and through the life, until it has become an in'tegral part of it, and can not be uprooted. Hence the wisest habit of all is the habit of care in the formation of good habits. Even happiness itself may become habitual. There is a habit of looking at the bright side of things, and also of looking at the dark side.
8. Dr. Johnson has said that the habit of looking at the best side of a thing is worth more to a man than a thousand pounds a year; and we possess the power, to a great extent, of so exercising the will as to direct the thoughts upon objects calculated to yield happiness and improvement, rather than their opposites. In this way the habit of happy thought may be made to spring up like any other habit. And to bring up men or women with a genial nature of this sort, a good temper, and a happy frame of mind, is perhaps of even more importance, in many cases, than to per-fect them in much knowledge and many accomplishments.