Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

own.

The prejudices of one age are condemned even by the prejudiced of the succeeding ages: for endless are the modes of folly, and the fool joins with the wise in passing sentence on all modes but his

Who cried out with greater horror against the murderers of the prophets than those who likewise cried out, Crucify him! crucify him! The truth-haters of every future generation will call the truth-haters of the preceding ages by their true names, for even these the stream of time carries onward. In fine, truth, considered in itself, and in the effects natural to it, may be conceived as a gentle spring or water-source, warm from the genial earth, and breathing up into the snowdrift that is piled over and around its outlet. It turns the obstacle into its own form and character, and, as it makes its way, increases its stream. And should it be arrested in its course by a chilling season, it suffers delay, not loss, and awaits only for a change in the wind to awaken and again roll onward.

324. ADVANTAGE OF METHOD.

What is that which first strikes us, and strikes us at once, in a man of education ; and which, among educated men, so instantly distinguishes the man of superior mind, that (as was observed with eminent propriety of the late Edmund Burke) we cannot stand under the same archway during a shower of rain without finding him out ?” Not the weight or novelty of his remarks; not any unusual interest of facts communicated by him ; for we may suppose both the one and the other precluded by the shortness of our intercourse, and the triviality of the subjects. The difference will be impressed and felt though the conversation should be confined to the state of the weather or the pavement. Still less will it arise from any peculiarity in his words and phrases; for if he be, as we now assume, a well-educated man, as well as a man of superior powers, he will not fail to follow the golden rule of Julius Cæsar, ard, unless where new things necessitate new terms, he will avoid an unusual word as a rock. It must have been among the earliest lessons of his youth that the breach of this precept, at all times hazardous, becomes ridiculous in the topics of ordinary conversation. There remains but one other point of distinction possible ; and this must be, and in fact is, the true cause of the impression made on

It is the unpremeditated and evidently habitual arrangement of his words, grounded on the habit of foreseeing, in each integral part, or (more plainly) in every sentence, the whole that he then

us.

intends to communicate. However irregular and desultory his talk, there is METHOD in the fragments.

Listen, on the other hand, to an ignorant man, though perhaps shrewd and able in his particular calling; whether he be describing or relating. We immediately perceive that his memory alone is called into action, and that the objects and events recur in the narration in the same order, and with the same accompaniments, however accidental or impertinent, as they had first occurred to the narrator. The necessity of taking breath, the efforts of recollection, and the abrupt rectification of its failures, produce all his pauses, and, with the exception of the "and then,” the “and there," and the still less significant “and so," they constitute likewise all his counections. Our discussion, however, is confined to method, as employed in the formation of the understanding and in the constructions of science and literature. It would indeed be superfluous to attempt a proof of its importance in the business and economy of active or domestic life. From the cotter's hearth, or the workshop of the artisan, to the palace, or the arsenal, the first merit, that which admits neither substitute nor equivalent, is, that everything is in its place. Where this charm is wanting, every other merit either loses its name or becomes an additional ground of accusation and regret. Of one by whom it is eminently possessed, we say proverbially he is like clock-work. The resemblance extends beyond the point of regularity, and yet falls short of the truth. Both do, indeed, at once divide and announce the silent and otherwise indistinguishable lapse of time. But the man of methodical industry and honourable pursuits does more : he realises its ideal divisions, and gives a character and individuality to its moments. If the idle are described as killing time, he may be justly said to call it into life and moral being, while he makes it the distinct object not only of the consciousness, but of the conscience. He organizes the hours, and gives them a soul; and that, the very essence of which is to fleet away, and evermore to have been, he takes up into his own permanence, and communicates to it the imperishableness of a spiritual nature. Of the good and faithful servant whose energies, thus directed, are thus methodized, it is less truly affirmed that he lives in time than that time lives in him. His days, months, and years, as the stops and punctual marks in the records of duties performed, will survive the wreck of worlds, and remain extant when time itself shall be no more.

[blocks in formation]

“My father lived at Blenheim then,

Yon little stream hard by ;
They burnt his dwelling to the ground,

And he was forced to fly;
So with his wife and child he fled,

Nor had he where to rest his head.
“ With fire and sword, the country round

Was wasted far and wide;
And many a childing mother then,

And new-born baby, died ;
But things like that, you know, must be

At every famous victory.
“ They say it was a shocking sight

After the field was won ;
For many thousand bodies here

Lay rotting in the sun ;
But things like that, you know, must be

After a famous victory.
“ Great praise the Duke of Marlbro' won,

And our good prince, Eugene.”
" Why, 'twas a very wicked thing !”

Said little Wilhelmine.
“Nay-nay-my little girl," quoth he,
“ It was a famous victory.
“ And everybody praised the duke,

Who this great fight did win.”
“ And what good came of it at last ?”

Quoth little Peterkin.
Why, that I cannot tell,” said he,
" But 'twas a famous victory.”

326. THE EVENING RAINBOW. Mild arch of promise ! on the evening sky Thou shinest fair, with many a lovely ray, Each in the other melting. Much mine eye Delights to linger on thee; for the day, Changeful and many-weather’d, seem’d to smile, Flashing brief splendour through its clouds awhile, That deepen'd dark anon, and fell in rain : But pleasant it is now to pause, and view Thy various tints of frail and wat'ry hue, And think the storm shall not return again.

327. LORD WILLIAM AND EDMUND.

No eye beheld when William plunged “I heard a child's distressful scream," Young Edmund in the stream :

The boatman cried again. No human ear but William's heard “Nay, hasten on-the night is darkYoung Edmund's drowning scream.

And we should search in vain." "I bade thee with a father's love

“Oh God I Lord William, dost thou know My orphan Edmund guard

How dreadful 'tis to die? Well, William, hast thou kept thy And canst thou, without pity, hear charge ?

A child's expiring cry? Now take thy due reward.”

“ How horrible it is to sink He started up, each limb convulsed

Beneath the chilly stream : With agonising fear

To stretch the powerless arms in vain ! He only heard the storm of night

In vain for help to scream!” 'Twas music to his ear!

The shriek again was heard : it came When lo ! the voice of loud alarm

More deep, more piercing loud. His inmost soul appals

That instant, o'er the food, the moon “ What, ho! Lord William, rise in haste! Shone through a broken cloud ; The water saps thy walls !”

And near them they beheld a child ; He rose in haste- beneath the walls

Upon a crag he stood, He saw the flood appear;

A little crag, and all around It hemmed him round—'twas midnight Was spread the rising flood, now

The boatman plied the oar, the boat No human aid was near.

Approached his resting place ; He heard the shout of joy ! for now The moonbeam shone upon the child, A boat approached the wall :

And showed how pale his face. And eager to the welcome aid

“Now reach thy hand," the boatman They crowd for safety all.

cried, “My boat is small,” the boatman cried, “Lord William, reach and save!” “ 'Twill bear but one away;

The child stretch'd forth his little hands, Come in, Lord William, and do ye

To grasp the hand he gave. In God's protection stay."

Then William shrieked ;- the hand he The boatman plied the oar, the boat

touched Went light along the stream ;

Was cold, and damp, and dead ! Sudden Lord William heard a cry, He felt young Edmund in his arms, Like Edmund's dying scream!

A heavier weight than lead ! The boatman paused—“Methought I “ Help! help! for mercy, help!” he A child's distressful cry!” [heard

cried, “'Twas but the howling winds of night," “ The waters round me flow." Lord William made reply.

“No-William-to an infant's cries “ Haste-haste-ply swift and strong

No mercy didst thou show."

The boat sunk down-the murderer sunk Haste-haste across the stream!” Beneath the avenging stream ; Again Lord William heard a cry,

He rose-he screamed-no human ear Like Edmund's dying scream!

Heard William's drowning scream.

the oar ;

328. FROM THE LIFE OF NELSON.' Nelson having despatched his business at Portsmouth, endeavoured to elude the populace by taking a by-way to the beach ; but a crowd

« ZurückWeiter »