« ZurückWeiter »
the more criminal and more destructive and degrading dissipation to which idleness conducts, to which excess stimulates and for which the other indulgences usually prepare.-How extensive is the blight that has been produced by their united influence?
Relaxation is necessary, but it should be rational. It ought to be suited to renew our powers without destroying our morals or impairing our standing in society. And surely no one will pretend that our faculties are improved or that our powers of mind or of body are renewed, preserved or invigorated by the indulgence in pursuits which necessarily demoralize.Such habits not only relax the vigor of our mental faculties but they undermine even the bodily powers. There is an inherent respect and love for virtue in the human mind which even the most depraved course of vice cannot utterly destroy, and which no power of sophistry can delude. I have conversed in his dungeon with the outcast of society; and whilst he braved the scorn of the world and affected to despise its condemnation, he avowed that he could not extinguish the glim merings of conscience, nor be insensible to its reproof. And whilst in defiance of mankind he lifted himself in the bad spirit of unyielding pride even to blaspheme the God of Heaven, and to deny the sanctions of virtue, his heart quailed at his own misconduct, whilst he sought to make the recklessness of despair pass for the courage that accompanies the convictions of truth. Thus it is that the agonies of self-reproach consume the force of the understanding, enervate the soul, and drive the criminal from the calm pursuit of truth and the industrious collection of knowledge, to seek for protection against his inward monitor, by recurring to the distractions of external dissipation and sometimes even that he
obstruct the power of memory by plunging into stupefaction. Hence it is that all writers upon science, and especially when they treat of its applicability to the improvement of others, lay down as å maxim, that its votary should be virtuous, if he would be successful.--And indeed what is thus said of science is true of every other useful occupation. The attainment of success requires that the unbroken powers of the soul should be directed to secure it;-but this cannot be the case where they are prostrated by remorse or impaired by irregular habits. It is true that rare instances of partial success are' occasionally found as exceptions to this position. They are however, not only exceptions, but they are, in general, fearful examples which shew us now some mighty mina gathering the shattered forces which it still retains, may in one splendid effort achieve its object by its own destruction: just as the commander who has prodigally wasted the lives of many of his gallant soldiers by his indiscretion, finding himself driven to his last entrenchment, determines at least to save the city which he covers, and marshalling the fragments of his once powerful host, urges them by word and by example to one noble act of devotion. · The assault is desperate and the result is doubtful; until, at length, the protected city comes forth to weep over the remains of those, who, victims not only to valour but to wanton waste, perished on the very field where they annihilated a foe which they could at an earlier period have subdued with a trifling loss, and having saved their country might have survived to receive its gratitude and to share in its prosperity.
I need not enter upon any elucidation of the well known fact that the close union of the mind and body induces a palpable injury to the mental powers as a consequence of the derangement of the bodily functions. Witness the ravings from fever, the dejection of the dyspeptic, the languor of the conbumptive, the stupor of the dissapated. Nor is it repuisite thai I should even advert to the notorious effects of immorality or dissapation upon the human frame. To me it has always appeared a great mistake to imagine that the preservatiou of political equality required the destruction of distinctions in society. To secure the first, which is of primary importance in our republics, I conceive it to be sufficient that each individual shall be upon an equality with his fellow citizens in the eye of the law; so that the rule by which his property, his peace and his rights are preserved shall be the same which preserves
them for every other; that he shall be liable to punishmeut, only for those acts that are punishable in another, and be tried and convicted only by a similar process. Moreover, that every citizen shall be on a level in the eye of the constitution; that is, that each has only the same burthens to bear, the same duties to perform, and has, according to his qualification, an equal claim to posts of honor or of emolument as any other. In a word, that no one shall have prerogative, that no class shall be priviledged. This in my view forms the extent to which our equality should go. To attempt forcing it beyond these limits would be not only ridiculous and impracticable but the effort would be destructive. Can you establish an equality of property? Suppose you were able to effect it today, how long will it continue? Will all be alike industrious—Will all be equally intelligent? Will all be equally successful? Will all be alike parsimonious, or lavish, or equally burthened with families,' visited by sickness, swept by floods or stricken by lighining? You cannot prevent the existence of classes of and of poor and of comfortable. Diversified as the expressions of countenance is the variety of
Will you compel them to an equality in this regard? Whilst I leave others to a perfect freedom upon this score, shall I not have a just claim to my own freedom also ? And shall not they whose taste is the same be permitted to cultivate it without being intruded upon by others who would mar that cultivation ? There are I believe but two restraints which should be reasonably imposed here upon individuals or associations, viz-1. That this gratification of taste should not be immoral, and 2. That it should not infringe upon the rights of others. The ground of these restraints is so plain that I shall not point it out. It is impossible then that there should not exist in every community various classes whose taste is more or less refined, nor does the cultivation of refinement in our habits impair the equality of our civil and political rights. It would be indeed a cruel tyranny to compel an individual to seek for his enjoyment only in that which, though it suits the
taste of another, yet, is altogether in opposition to his owo.
progress through life is comparatively brief and it is our
“This soothing hope I draw from the dearest and tenderest recollections of my life- from the remembrance of those attic nights and those refections of the gods, which we have spent with those admired and respected and beloved companions who have gone before us; over whose ashes the most precious tears of Ireland have been shed. Yes, my good Lord,
I see you do not forget them. I see their sacred forms pass sing in sad review before your memory. I see your pained and softened fancy recalling those happy meetings, where the innocent enjoyment of social mirth became expanded into the nobler warmth of social virtue, and the horizon of the board became enlarged into the horizon of man-where the swelling heart conceived and communicated the generous purpose;where
my slenderer and younger taper imbibed its borrowed light from the more matured and redundant fountain of
yours. Yes, my Lord, we can remember those nights without any other regret than that they can never more return,
for • We spent them not in toys or lust or wine,
But search of deep philosophy,
Wit, eloquence and poesy,
Relaxation is then necessary for man, but whilst he indulges in it to a proper extent, he should avoid the pernicious, degrading and ruinous modes which too often present themselves to persons of every age, and to which inexperienced, ardent and innocent youth is unfortunately allured by the most wily blandishments. Our recreations should be suited to the place we occupy and made to subserve the improvement of ourselves as well as the interests of the community:
It has frequently struck me that one of the secondary objects of a good collegiate education was to afford to men of improved minds and cultivated taste one of the best resources for. the
purposes alluded to: and that one of the greatest mistakes usually made by our educated men was; casting aside as useless after their graduation, the books to whose study they had been kept for so many years. It is indeed, in a great degree natural, that having theretofore regarded them as instruments of task-work and that frequently of no light description, the mind now rejoicing in its emancipation should view them as a liberated prisoner would the manacles from which he was relieved.---This however is not a correct estimate. They should