Графични страници
PDF файл

feat your object. Perhaps even a hörse might be objectionable. A philosopher on foot (or we will ennoble him with the name of a peripatetic) finds out most of life. For this purpose, indeed, a stage-coach is not despicable, but a private carriage will tell you nothing. A pedestrian expedition, however, is the thing. This I should have found out of myself (for I have often practised it) even without the glowing panegyric upon it by Rousseau, which, with a view to my proposal, I have looked out for

you.” So saying, he put the volume into my hands, and I read, with much interest, the following passages :

“Jamais je n'ai tant pensé, tant existé, tant vécu, tant été moi, si j'ose ainsi dire, que dans ces voyages que j'ai faits seul et à pied. La marche a quelque chose qui anime mes idées; je ne puis presque penser quand je reste en place ; il faut que mon corps soit en branle pour y mettre mon esprit. La vue de la campagne, la succession des aspects agréables, le grand air, le grand appétit, la bonne santé que je gagne en marchant; la liberté du cabaret, l'éloignement de tout ce qui me fait sentir mon dépendance, de tout ce qui me rappelle à ma situation, tout cela dégage mon âme, me donne une plus grande audace de penser, me jette en quelque sorte dans l'immensité des êtres, pour les combiner, les choisir, me les approprier sans gêne et sans crainte; je dispose en maître de la nature entière ; mon caur errant d'objet en objet, s'unit, s'identifie à ceux qui le flattent, s'entoure d'images charmantes, s'enivre de sentiments délicieux. Si pour les fixer je m'amuse à les décrire en moi-même,

quelle vigueur de pinceau, quelle fraîcheur de coloris, quelle énergie d'expression je leur donne !”

I was so warmed with this description, that it was like a match to a train, and I was impatient to begin the tour.

“I thought it would excite you, as it did me at your age,” said Fothergill.

66 But recollect all you have to expect and encounter. At the same time, though there may be apparent difficulties (chiefly from false pride), common sense, and that spice of romance which you have in your composition, will bring you through.”

[blocks in formation]

But what said Jaques ?
Did he not moralize this spectacle ?
Oh! yes ; into a thousand similes.

SHAKSPEARE.- As You Like It.

UNDER such a master, no wonder if my own similar disposition to observe, and to reason upon what he called the moral phenomena of our species, as well as upon things of a higher character, was cultivated and improved. In fact, I never knew a man so formed to conduct a youthful mind in all that was most precious to its welfare, whether worldly or religious. He drew lessons from every thing he saw or heard, of the most common, as well as of the rarest occurrence. In short, the world was his study, and all things that filled it, whether animate or inanimate, material or spiritual, were made subservient to this great end ; and this disposition he did his utmost to encourage and cherish in me.

Such a preceptor was of inestimable value to me, and his mode of conveying instruction by familiar

colloquy was more lastingly impressive, as well as more pleasant, from its very familiarity, than a formal lecture ex cathedra. The lecture might be forgotten; the friendly conversation never.

Upon this principle, and inculcating a habit of keen observation as the best road to knowledge, he would ask frequently, at the close of the day, what I had been doing? what I had seen, and what remarked, particularly as to men's motives of actionwhether by examining my own, or those of others ?

When I have been surprised at this, and at being told I could know other men's motives by my own, he has cut me short by asking if I had never heard the searching phrase, “ You judge of others by yourself.” For he held, that a man well acquainted with his own heart might, from its workings alone (nay, its very weaknesses), get a fair acquaintance with that of another.

“ Your own heart,” he would say, “ is so far like that of others, as to have passions and springs common to the rest of your kind. Whatever, therefore, is found there, may be found elsewhere; and though others may have what you have not, yet at least what you have must belong to human nature at large, though perhaps not to every individual who com

poses it.

Observing that I had grown more and more fond of walking without companions, except my own thoughts, he said, “ If this proceed from your still cherishing what you ought to drive from your memory, you are perverse as well as imprudent.”

When I assured him it arose chiefly from my fondness for walking unrestrained by company, he once asked

me, “ And do you know how to take a walk ?"

I thought this an odd question, and told him so; when he replied, that he agreed with a foreign philosophical writer, who said, few men knew how to do this. To prove it, he asked me what I examined in

my walks ?

“ Do you inspect men and things ?” asked he; “ animate and inanimate? And does the inspection lead you to principles? to causes and effects? and, above all, to trace them to the great First Cause of all ? In short, does the earth take you to heaven ? Without this, you do not know how to take a walk.”

Seeing me rather ponder upon this, and expressing still more wonder, he one day said—“ If you

do not know how to gather knowledge from the smallest object or occurrence in the ever varying scene that opens upon you when abroad, you might as well never stir from home, particularly if you have company, who may instruct if they do not amuse you. But a contemplative man will gather instruction and pleasure (the pleasure of adding to his stores) from every thing he sees or hears. If his walk be in the country, not a tree, or leaf, or tuft of grass (coursed by the fairies), not a sound of a bird-particularly of the stockdove, or thrush, most of all, of the nightingale— but whispers pleasure to his heart. The bleat of the lamb; the lowing of herds ; the murmurs of water

« ПредишнаНапред »