« AnteriorContinuar »
many in that. And they tell me that, in Westminster, there is never a physician, and but one apothecary left, all being dead; but that there are great hopes of a great decrease this week: God send it !
29th. In the streets did overtake and almost run upon two women crying and carrying a man's coffin between them; I
the husband of one of them, which, methinks, is a sad thing.
November 27th. I into London, it being dark night, by a hackneycoach ; the first I have durst to go in many a day, and with great pain now for fear. But it being unsafe to go by water in the dark and frosty cold, and unable, being weary with my morning walk, to go on foot, this was my only way. Few people yet in the streets, nor shops open, here and there twenty in a place almost; though not above five or six o'clock at night.
30th. Great joy we have this week in the weekly bill, it being come to 544 in all, and but 333 of the plague, so that we are encouraged to get to London as soon as we can.
January 5. I with my Lord Brouncker and Mrs. Williams, by coach with four horses to London, to my Lord's house in Covent Garden. But, Lord! what staring to see a nobleman's coach come to town; and porters every where bow to us; and such begging of beggars ! And delightful it is to see the town full of people again ; and shops begin to open, though in many places seven or eight together, and more, all shut; but yet the town is full, compared with what it used to be ; I mean the city end; for Covent Garden and Westminster are yet very empty of people, no court nor gentry being there.
13th. Home with his Lordship to Mrs. Williams's, in Covent Garden, to dinner, (the first time I ever was there,) and there met Captain Cocke; and pretty merry, though not perfectly so, because of the fear that there is of a great increase again of the plague this week.
22nd. The first meeting of Gresham College since the plague. Dr. Goddard did fill us with talk, in defence of his and his fellowphysicians going out of town in the plague time ; saying, that their particular patients were most gone out of town, and they left at liberty; and a great deal more, &c.
30th. This.is the first time that I have been in the church since I left London for the plague, and it frighted me indeed to go through the church more than I thought it could have done, to see so many graves lie so high upon the churchyards, where people have been buried of the plague. I was much troubled at it, and do not think to go through it again a good while.
February 4th (Lord's Day). And my wife and I the first time together at church since the plague, and now only because of Mr. Mills his coming home to preach his first sermon, expecting a great excuse for his leaving the parish before any body went, and now staying till all are come home; but he made but a very poor and short excuse, and a bad sermon. It was a frost, and had snowed last night, which covered the graves in the churchyard, so as I was the less afraid for going through.
67.—THE INSECT OF A DAY.
TRANSLATED FROM AN ANONYMOUS FRENCH WRITER.
upon the river Hypanis there exist little animals who live only one day. Those who die at eight o'clock in the morning, die in their youth; those who die at five o'clock in the evening, die in a state of decrepitude.
Suppose one of the most robust of these Hypanians as old, according to these nations, as time itself; he would have begun to exist at the break of day, and through the strength of his constitution, would have been enabled to support an active life during the infinite number of seconds contained in ten or twelve hours. During so long a succession of instants, by his own experience and by his reflections on all he had seen, he must have acquired great wisdom ; he looks upon his fellows who have died at noon as creatures happily delivered from the great number of infirmities to which old age is subject. He may have to relate to his grandsons an astonishing tradition of facts anterior to all the memories of the nation. The young swarm, composed of beings who have lived but an hour, approach the venerable patriarch with respect, and listen with admiration to his instructive discourse. Every thing he relates to them, appears a prodigy to this generation whose life has been so short. A day appears to them the entire duration of time, and the dawn of day would be called, in their chronology, the great era of their creation.
Suppose now that the venerable insect, this Nestor of the Hypanis, a short time before his death, about the hour of sunset, assembles all
his descendants, his friends and acquaintances, to give them, with his dying breath, his last advice. They gather from all parts under the vast shelter of a mushroom, and the dying sage addresses them in the following manner :
Friends and compatriots, I feel that the longest life must have an end. The term of mine has arrived, and I do not regret my fate, since my great age has become a burden to me, and there is nothing new under the sun for me. The revolutions and calamities that have desolated my country, the great number of particular accidents to which we are all subject, the infirmities that afflict our species, and the misfortunes which have happened in my own family, all that I have seen in the course of a long life, has only too well taught me this great truth, that happiness, placed in things which do not depend upon ourselves, can never be certain and lasting. An entire generation has perished by a violent wind; a multitude of our imprudent youth has been swept into the water by a brisk and unexpected breeze. What terrible floods a sudden rain has caused! Our firmest shelters even are not proof against a hail storm. A dark cloud causes the most courageous hearts to tremble.
I lived in the early ages, and conversed with insects of larger growth, of stronger constitutions, and I may say of greater wisdom than any of the present generation. I conjure you to give credit to my last words, when I assure you that the sun which now appears beyond the water, and which seems not far from the earth, I have seen in times past fixed in the middle of the heavens, its
rays darting directly upon us. The earth was much lighter in past ages, the air was much warmer, and our ancestors were more sober and more virtuous.
Although my senses are enfeebled, my memory is not; I can assure you that this glorious luminary moves. I have seen it rising over the summit of that mountain, and I began my life about the time that it commenced its immense career. It has, during several centuries, advanced in the heavens with an astonishing heat and brilliancy, of which you can have no idea, and which assuredly you could not have supported; but now, by its decline, and the sensible diminution of its vigour, I foresee that all nature must shortly terminate, and that this world will be buried in darkness in less than a hundred minutes.
Alas! my friends, how I flattered myself at one time with the deceitful hope of always living on this earth! how magnificent were the cells I had hollowed out for myself! what confidence did I put in the firmness of my limbs, and in the elasticity of their joints, and in the strength of my wings ! But I have lived long enough for nature and for glory, and none of those I leave bebind me will have that same satisfaction in the century of darkness and decay that I see about to begin.
VERPLANCK. [MR. VERPLANCK is a living American writer, who, like many of the most distinguished authors and scholars of the United States, has filled situations of political responsibility.]
It has been to me a source of pleasure, though a melancholy one, that in rendering this public tribute to the worth of our departed friend, the respectable members of two bodies, one of them the most devoted and efficient in its scientific enquiries, the other comprising so many names eminent for philanthropy and learning, have met to do honour to the memory of a Schoolmaster.
There are prouder themes for the eulogist than this. The praise of the statesman, the warrior, or the orator, furnish more splendid topics for ambitious eloquence; but no theme can be more rich in desert, or more fruitful in public advantage.
The enlightened liberality of many of our state governments (amongst which we may claim a proud distinction for our own) by extending the common school system over their whole population, has brought elementary education to the door of every family. In this State, it appears from the Annual Reports of the Secretary of the State, there are, besides the fifty incorporated academies and numerous private schools, about nine thousand school districts, in each of which instruction is regularly given. These contain at present half a million of children taught in the single State of New York. To these may be added nine or ten thousand more youth in the higher seminaries of learning, exclusive of the colleges.
Of what incalculable influence, then, for good or for evil, upon the dearest interests of society, must be the estimate entertained for the character of this great body of teachers, and the consequent respectability of the individuals who compose it?
At the recent general election in this State, the votes of above three hundred thousand persons were taken. In thirty years the great majority of these will have passed away ; their rights will be exercised, and their duties assumed by those very children, whose minds are now open to receive their earliest and most durable impres. sions from the ten thousand schoolmasters of this State.
What else is there in the whole of our social system of such extensive and powerful operation on the national character ? There is one other influence more powerful, and but one. It is that of the
The forms of a free government, the provisions of wise legislation, the schemes of the statesman, the sacrifices of the patriot, are as nothing compared with these. If the future citizens of our republic are to be worthy of their rich inheritance, they must be made so principally through the virtue and intelligence of their mothers, It is in the school of maternal tenderness that the kind affections must be first roused and made habitual—the early sentiment of piety awakened and rightly directed—the sense of duty and moral responsibility unfolded and enlightened. But next in rank and in efficacy to that pure and holy source of moral influence is thất of the schoolmaster. It is powerful already. What would it be if in every one of those school districts which we now count by annually increasing thousands, there were to be found one teacher well-informed without pedantry, religious without bigotry or fanaticism, proud and fond of his profession, and honoured in the discharge of its duties! How wide would be the intellectual, the moral influence of such a body of men! Many such we have already amongst us--men humbly wise and obscurely useful, whom poverty cannot depress, nor neglect degrade. But to raise up a body of such men, as numerous as the wants and the dignity of the country demand, their labours must be fitly remunerated, and themselves and their calling cherished and honoured.
The schoolmaster's occupation is laborious and ungrateful; its rewards are scanty and precarious. He may indeed be, and he ought to be, animated by the consciousness of doing good, that best of all