Графични страници
PDF файл

Man is feeble of body : his main strength lies in his mind. Apart from his superior intellectual faculties, ke would be one of the most helpless, forlorn, and wretched animals, upon the face of the earth.

The invaluable worth of knowledge, and of educa. tion by which it is acquired, has been ever, in all civ. ilized countries, the standing theme of profound discussion, or, more often, of splendid but empty declamation ; so that only scanty gleanings are left to the modern pen. There is, however, one respect in which the subject has been neither exhausted nor frequently touched : it is the intimate connection between knowledge and Productive Labour.

Productive Labour, so essential to the sustenance and support of the general community of man, is two. fold-direct, and indirect.

Direct productive labour consists of that bodily exercise, that“ sweat of the face," by means of which we are furnished with food and raiment, and with all the various necessaries and elegancies of life. By this it is that life is sustained and decorated ; and it is in this way that the great bulk of mankind is necessarily employed. Those who labour with their hands, in husbandry and in the various useful arts, are as it were the strong pillars that support the living world. But, then, they are in no wise entitled to arrogate the honour to themselves exclusively :-" The hand cannot

I have no need of thee." Indirectly, there are, in the common vineyard, productive and efficient labourers, other than those who work with their hands. They are the ones who invent, conceive, plan, guard, and regulate : so that, after all, Mind is an essential and most eminent operator throughout the whole process. I will barely suggest a few particulars ; leaving it to the reader to enlarge upon them, and to combine them with others which are alike obvious.


say to the

Very little would it signify, though we had hands to labour, if we knew not how to use them ; nor should we know how to use them skilfully, but for the inventions of those who have gone before us. Without the aid of the arts, our hands must be idle, or work to no purpose. In all the multitudinous occupations that are now going on, whether upon land or water, whether for the sustenance or the adornment of life, there is a never-ceasing dependence upon the arts. And how were the arts explored, and how brought to the wonderful state of perfection which they now are in? By intense labour of the Mind. From one generation to another, very many who laboured not at all with their hands, have laboured abundantly, and most efficiently and usefully with their intellects. Their inventions and improvements have directed and guided manual labour, and have facilitated and abridged it in a marvellous manner and degree. And assuredly, theirs is to be regarded as belonging to the highest class of productive labour ; assuredly he that contributes to the general stock of knowledge in the arts, is a benefactor of the public, and is entitled to the gratitude of all; assuredly, the labouring man is bound to encourage the arts, which so mightily aid the work of his hands. Nor ought he to think lightly of mere science ; it is the mother of the arts, and, in sundry instances, it has, undesignedly and unconsciously, led to the discovery of them. The star-gazers of ancient Chaldea never once dreamed of the vastly important practical purposes to which the world, in succeeding ages, would apply the knowledge of astronomy.

Again, it is to be considered and distinctly remembered, that the labouring class spend their strength for

nought, unless the fruits of their industry be securely guarded from plunder and robbery, and against the hand of rapaciousness, in whatever manner, or under whatever guise, it may assail them. Hence, of necessity, there must be government, laws, and courts of justice; and of necessity, also, there must be lawgivers, executive and judicial officers, advocates, &c. Now all these must be paid out of the common stock. But, provided they discharge their duties ably and faithfully, and are content with reasonable recompense, no labourer is more worthy of his hire. By no means are they to be regarded as drones in the hive. As they are the necessary guardians over the general treasure which manual labour accumulates, so they have a right to a share of it at the same time, on the part of the general community special care must be taken lest the guardians of its rights and its property, like the ravenous sons of old Eli, should make such free use of the flesh-hook, as to leave little else to the commonalty but the broth.

Moreover, since laws can afford us no effectual protection unless the morals of community be preserved from general corruption, it clearly follows that the professional men who faithfully devote their time and attention to the interests of pure morality, are really, though indirectly, productive labourers in even the secular sense of the terms. I will particularly instance the venerable Ministers of our holy religion, who-laying out of the question all considerations of the future life-do, I presume to affirm, greatly increase the amount of productive labour by the weight of their exhortations and influence against idleness and profligacy, at the same time that they no less contribute to the Becurity of the fruits of labour by the generally moral

* First book of Samuel, 2d chapter,

ising effects of their ministrations. So also, the well. qualified and faithful instructors of our children and south are to be regarded in nearly the same point of view-as among the most productive and useful of labourers.

Neither is it true, that no labour is hard, except that of the hands. So far otherwise, many an excellent man, by intense labour of mind in his profession, has worn himself out much sooner than he would have done, had he employed an equal measure of industry in the lahours of the field.


A sorrow-soothing Scottish Legend.

Old age is justly considered as situated on the confines of the grave ; and, of course, the ravages that death makes in that uttermost province of human life, excite no surprize. It is an adage nearly as ancient perhaps as time, that the old must die. Indeed the aged may be said to die while they live. By little and little they are losing, almost every day, somewhat of the very stamina of life ; and even if no mortal disease supervene, their earthly tabernacles, must, ere long, be dissolved, of mere decay. This natural process of dissolution is often so gradual as to be little perceived, and least of all by the subjects of it; but the process is constantly advancing, whether perceived or not. So far, therefore, from its being a marvel that the aged die at last, the marvel is that they live so long ; considering the extreme brittleness of the thread of life, and the many hair-breadth escapes from death which they must have had during such a great length of time

On the contrary, premature deaths occasion, not merely the bitterness of transient sorrow, but that rooted anguish which rises from disappointed hopes. And it is particulary so with regard to children, cut off in the flower of youth, or in the bud of infancy. Parental affection hopeth all things; and when the object of its fond hope is snatched away, it faints under the stroke, and is ready to say, repiningly, “ It were better not to have had the gift at all.” But when this object is an only child, the cup of anguish is not merely full, but it overflows. Bereavement of this last de scription is frequently noticed in the holy scriptures, as most deeply affecting ; and accordingly, pious writers in all ages and countries, have been assiduously anxious to pour the balm of consolation into hearts thus torn with anguish.”

With such benevolent views, no doubt, was fabricated the ancient legend, or fable, with which I shall conclude these reflections. It originated in the Scottish highlands, whose inhabitans have, in great part, borne a considerable resemblance to the patriarchal ages; having, from time immemorial, led a pastoral life, and been remarkable for frugal plainness of living, for sobriety, and for zealous attachment to the holy religion they profess. And a singular circumstance, which, to them, has given peculiar efficacy to the legend hereafter related, is, that they have been, and are, generally speaking, so tinctured with superstition, as firmly to believe in the frequency of supernatural vis. ions or apparitions. I will only remark further, for explanation, that every highland householder, agreeably to an ancient custom, makes a festival for his friends and neighbors, on the death of any one of his family ; which funeral feast is called The late Wake.

A married couple of the Scottish highlands, had thrice lost their only child, each dying at an early age.

« ПредишнаНапред »