Графични страници
PDF файл
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Her race is equal with your fame,

Where'er her altars rise,
Bearing the purest, brightest flame,

E'er kindled 'neath the skies;
There shall your memories still be dear,
And there shall many gather near,

To hear the glorious tale,
How our bold fathers bravely fought,
And Virtue won the meed she soughi,

While Tyranny grew pale!
Hartford, (Conn.,) Febrnary, 1838.


[blocks in formation]

And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel,
And shining morning face, crecping liko snail,

Unwillingly to school.' When people have much to say, they say little. When men utter great truths, they use few words.

All remarkable compositions, those that have sunk deep into the common ear, and gained universal consent, have been short. The Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, the Parables of Christ, the Christian Armor, Gray's Elegy, and the Declaration of American Independence, are perhaps the most full words ever uttered; to which we beg leave to add these 'sayings' of the immortal Shakspeare. The imperative form of speech is the shortest. In the .fitness of things,' it is ordered that our necessary knowledge should be conveyed, possibly, in few terms. Our imperative duties may be summed up in a phrase, and the whole Christian religion is often embodied by the sacred writers in a single verse. The writer who is filling volumes, will often delight to condense his subject in an aphorism. The story-teller, who writes his tale to illustrate a single principle, will frequently sum up his moral in a sentence, and then spread it out over an hundred pages; as children play with sand, and cards, and putty. There is great use in this manner; because we best apprehend a part, by seeing the whole, and the whole, too, by seeing it piecemeal.

The most influential men in a town or village, are rarely great talkers; on the contrary, they are remarkable for their taciturnity and sententiousness. People mistrust both the soundness and sincerity of word-pilers. The maxim, that a barking dog will not bite, here finds a meaning. If a man have a bad cause, he generally makes a long speech, more in the hope that he may say something, than because he knows he has any thing to say, satisfactory.

This is not written to condemn all lengthiness ; but to find the philosophy of conciseness : otherwise, how could we have the face to proceed in our reading ? From the

history of infancy, our author turns gladly. He lingered an'age' with its pains, and its story being told, he refreshes his spirit with contemplations of boyhood. The muling infant' vanishes, and the boy, with his shining face, leaps out. With all his restraints, jacket covered with buttons, stiff shirt collar, and pantaloons, (unnatural ! if tight, oh! horrible !) he cannot help bearing about him the marks of joy. The blood mantles in his cheeks; and those locks which the sun curls, as it curls the tendrils of the vine, hang about his dewy forehead, and cluster on his head, with a grace that defies the skill of art.

like snail to school.' He makes little progress onward, but his sideway excursions are numerous. He stops to listen to the song of birds, or he chases the butterfly with his hat. His eyes, liquid with health and pleasure, are turned on every side. He seems to drink the morning. The flowers beckon him; the shadows court him; sunlight, air, and fragrant breeze, entice him. His boat is on the stream, or his feet are on the ice. Summer or VOL, XI.


• He creeps

winter, he is at home with his freedom under the sky. He catches the snow-flakes as they fall, or bares liis head to the warm shower. What does he care for his new jacket, and clean white trowsers, on the green grass! He hates to go to school. All nature is talking to him, with her thousand voices, and he goes' unwillingly' from such delightful conversation. See the little chip-birds cock their eyes at him froin the stone-wall, and the squirrel peep out to see who whistled. They know their man; they will not be caught, but only just keep out of his way as they run along, as if to challenge him to a frolic.' Who would love to go to school from such delightful playmates !

But go he must. He whines as he swings his green satchel over his shoulder, and thinks of the severe brow that will reprove bis tardiness; but his face shines ; he cannot help it. And here we would sympathize, retrospectively, with the poor victims of the old regimen. Oh, thou old tyrant; thou executioner; thou ear-twister till the blood ran; thou cruel-pated schoolmaster, thou —! Yes, thou wert all these, and many more hard names; and yet a tear drops for thee, too. Thy duty was to whip. It was the spirit of thy age. Kings whipped their subjects; the clergy whipped their people. Fear governed in the court, the church, and in the school. Liberty had not dawned. Man did not know his dignity.

How many gentle minds were crushed, how many bosoms torn, under that lachrymal system ! What disgust for books, what black revenge and bursting rage, did that whining school-boy with his satchel' feel ? The seed was sown. Perhaps he whipped his fag ; beat his dog; in a rage, wrung the neck of bis pet robin. Lord Byron kept a bear in college. This was a cutting satire. The conceit he got at school. Those were days when every school could boast its bully, and setfights were recreation. Young lords drove the stage-coach, and squirted tobacco-juice through their front teeth; horse-jockeys grew rich, and high example made every vice appear respectable, as the

These were the fruits of the iron age of school-masters. Then followed the age of bronze - of brass and pretension. Young masters and misses were flattered into being spoiled, and their parents cajoled into permitting it. This was the time of the French revolution; a time that turned at large into the world a set of men and women, who, having proved that they had not sense to maintain a government of their own, undertook the task of directing and governing the rising generations of other countries. Short petticoats, bare bosoms, high heels, flaring bonnets, false hair, false teeth, et id omne genus, followed, as a natural consequence. To these were added, for variety, impassioned correspondence upon blue paper; sudden marriages and births ; platonic attachments, and atheism. Still, the youth went 'unwillingly to school. There was no heart, no soul, in all this.

Now is the age of simplicity. Learning has put off its wig, and ostentation is ridiculous. All men, whether pupils or professors, acknowledge their ignorance. Humility has exalted the human mind, and a practical illustration is given to the text, that, ‘he who humbleth himself shall be exalted.' Man has, by this path, gained the height whence he may survey the wide ocean of Truth; and like the

world goes.

great Copernicus, he feels that he has, as yet, only been playing with the pebbles on its margin.

He who dwells in the valley, has a narrow scope, and all things seem near and familiar; but as he climbs the mountain, his vision widens; he sees distant and unknown objects, and is soon lost in infinity. He returns to his valley wiser and better than before. What before seemed far, is now comparatively nothing. The distance between bimself and those he thought bis inferiors is removed. And this is the philosophy of human equality and true democracy. The greatest man in a republic feels himself the friend and brother of the poorest and weakest.

The true teacher, then, is the companion, the friend, the learner, with his pupil. He impresses him with the boundlessness of knowledge, and the infinite capacities of the human soul; and not forgetting to point to the Source of all wisdom, and our dependence upon Him for this privilege of using this great power of understanding his creation, there grows in the young mind a religion of the intellect, which habit will, in time, convert into a religion of the heart. And now the boy goes not so unwillingly to school.'

Still, all children go ‘unwillingly' to the school our Shakspeare meant, though many never see the inside of a school-house. All go ' unwillingly about set tasks. Boyhood is always longing to pursue the bent of its own bright fancies. They love to clan together for excursions in the woods, where they may lay along,' and tell stories of fairies and genii; or indulge in dreams about the future, when they shall be men and women; feel natural wonder at the world they inhabit, by a mystery, or in the wild consciousness of life, play such antics before high heaven, as make the angels smile.

'Behold the child among his new-born blisses!
See where 'mid work of his own hand he lies,
With light upon him from his father's eyes!
See at his feel some little plan or chart,
Some fragment of his dream of human life,
Shaped by himself with newly-learnéd art:

And this hath now his heart,
And unto this he frames his song :

Then will he fit his tongue
To dialogues of business, love, or strife;

But it will not be long,
Ere this be thrown aside,

And, with new joy and pride,
The little actor cons another part,
Filling from time to time his 'humorous stage,'
With all the persons down to palsied age,
That life brings with her in her equipage :

As if his whole vocation
Were endless imilation.'

The boy comes, 'trailing clouds of glory. He is the bearer of a spirit newly lighted by his Maker. He is ‘nature's priest,' and he surrenders not willingly the duties of his order. The plan, the arrangement, of the social fabric is not understood by him. He is for worshipping at another shrine than the world's idols. He loves nature, not with a sickly and strained sentimentality, like a would-be poet, nor seeks her for relief from the palling sensualities of dissipa. tion. He does not bring to her a heart broken by pictures of human

wickedness and misfortune, nor a mind blunted by pursuits of gain, and selfish ambition. No; he loves her as his mother, his teacher, his play-mate ; because he feels glad in her society; nor does he ask why ? Her influences are upon him; these he never can forget nor outlive. The dross of sense, the business of a whole life, cannot obliterate these traces on his soul. He may, nay must, 'fall away' from the grace of his boyhood, but the visions splendid' that .attended' round his early years, will be remeinbered for ever.

Who has never asked himself the question, 'Why do we lose the purity, the sincerity, the generosity, of boyhood? Why do we grow hard and wicked, as we grow old ?' Or is it a mere poetic license, by which men are represented as insincere, selfish, ungrateful, irreligious ? The robber, the murderer, these are the bad. They are bad, who commit crimes from sudden temptation or passion; they who are educated in brothels, and trained to steal, by needy parents ; not the insincere, for insincerity is fashionable ; and every body is selfish ; and irreligion follows, as a matter of course. Send us not to books of theology, to quarreling sectaries, for the solution of this mystery; recommend us not to a theory that makes even the infant a sinner: there is but one solution, and that is, that man seems sent on earth to suffer the pains of sin, which we contend all do suffer, that he may be able to appreciate and enjoy heaven.

Yes, the bright fancies of boyhood will vanish! To live at all in an imperfect world, he must resort to the usual machinery. He must be harnessed into this life, and so he goes unwillingly to school. Sometimes he escapes the pain of outliving his pure happiness, and is translated, with all his heavenly beauty, to the skies. The young die often; cut off in the very bloom of existence. Inscrutable Providence! To this fate they go not unwillingly.' Before their departure, they assume an awful beauty. The skin becomes almost transparent, wax-like; the color heightens on their cheeks; and in them, death is beautiful.

A circumstance lately came to my knowledge, too impressive to allow me to omit it here. A little boy, seven years of age, and in no wise remarkable among other children, was taken suddenly ill. He grew worse fast; soon his physician gave him up, and said be must die. The child seemed aware that he was dying. This conclusion was drawn, not from any thing he said, but he began to manifest an unusual tenderness toward his parents; would often call them to his bedside, and ask them if he had been much trouble to them; if he had been a good child, and if they supposed God loved him. He wished to know of his mother, if he had told any falsehoods lately, and said he knew he had never taken God's name in vain. His parents are religious people, but they do not show their piety in that outward ceremony which is apt to strike the mind of a child, and make him think that the service of his Creator is a matter of words; which fact should be known, to put the right construction upon these remarks. The child had been educated as a Christian should be.

He asked often for music, and wished a sister, a few years his senior, to sing • The last link is broken' to him. He said the lines made him feel happy. This request he repeated several times a day, until he died. Only the day before his death, he asked to see his

« ПредишнаНапред »