Графични страници
PDF файл

who could not overcome habitual laziness, was unfit to belong to a co-operating community; and early rising was thought to be the best safeguard against dissipation and profligacy; and it was found, that mental activity was excited, and mental fatigue relieved by bodily exertion. It tended, too, to divert the thoughts from old associations, and to give a tone of manliness to the whole character, endowing the nervous with courage and moral force, and the gloomy with openness and hilarity. Our mental occupations consisted of conversations conducted with zeal and spirit, on subjects interesting to us all; the examination of Plato's or Xenophon’s principles of community—the feasibility of modern plans of union, such as those of the benevolent Owen and Miss Whitwell—and generally the constituent principles of civil society. Every effort was made to substitute oral for book information, because it was thought an infinitely more useful practice, both for the intellect and the organs, than silentious reading, particularly where the droning habit had been acquired, in schools and colleges, of slurring over words and sentences with little or no attention to their meaning.

Our voyage terminated favourably on the third day, and we landed at St. Brelade's, where our companions waited to receive us. We lost no time in gaining our new habitation, where every preparation had been made to celebrate the taking of possession. Part of our furniture was transferred thither the very day of our arrival, and before night the house was tenantable: each had his quarters assigned to him; in the fitting up of which, the zeal of our companions left us nothing to desire. Neatness and plainness had directed their efforts, and the apartments admirably tallied with the simplicity and durability of the furniture that we had imported. At evening we sat down to a symposium, and quaffed, but not to excess, the choicest wines of France, in commemoration of our occupation : wit and song went round, and we cheered each other with prospects and exhortations, till the pulse of youth was at its fullest tide, and another cup must have made it flow above reason's mark.

The succeeding morning we rose at our ordinary hour, and collected upon the arena which had been selected for athletic feats. It was an elongated plain of about two acres, kept close cropped by sheep: on one side thatched sheds had been erected. Here we pursued our usual course of active exercises, as if no alteration had occurred since our last performance of them. We thence proceeded to the bath, a large reservoir of welling water; and as each member plunged into its crystal bosom, he formed some unbidden vow, suggested by the scene, and the enthusiasm of the moment, that he would not disturb nor pollute the sanctity of his new dwelling by idleness, contention, or vice-and we called the bath“ The Fountain of the Oaths."

We adjourned then to our commons-hall, where we breakfasted; and thence to the council-room, where we entered into deliberation, and passed the resolutions which were to govern our immediate conduct. Officers were appointed to control different departments of domestic management; parties were nominated for specific purposes ; the hours for labour and study, for meals, rest, and recreation, were fixed on; and it was agreed to meet from day to day in council, until order and method were completely established, and to alter no rule without the consent of two-thirds of the members on the island. Finally, the habitation was proclaimed by the name of Newhome.

It would but show the imperfections of every human project, were I to point out the numberless alterations which we were compelled to make-the sundry little adjustments and anomalies which we were constrained to admit, before we had brought it to its present system, in which it works almost undeviatingly, by the mere force of habit and established rule. With the assistance of a few labourers of the island, we soon had our crops in the ground; and whatever strangeness we at first felt in tilling the land, custom and duty soon reconciled us to that first labour imposed upon man. But gardening in all its varieties, formed a main part of our occupation. Originally every one of us contributed a portion of his labour daily to the improvement of the grounds; but now it is found that one-third of the society is sufficient to keep them in good order: unless at seasons of hurry and difficulty, such as hay-making, harvest, and apple-gathering for the cyder-press-then all who are present lend a hand, dressed in the working uniform of the society. There are always intermittent seasons of festivity and merrymaking. On ordinary occasions, those whose turn it is to attend the out-door business of the farm, receive their directions over night, and do not join the rest in their games and diversions next morning, but proceed to their allotted task, never more than a six-hours' job, on the completion of which, they may return to their companions. If the work is reported to be unfinished or ill done, no farther penalty is imposed upon the transgressor, than an injunction to return and rectify his omission next day. This effectually guards against slovenly labour; but it has seldom been required to enforce any of the obser: vances of the institution; for each member finds his comforts dependent upon the general good, and knows very well that he enjoys infinitely more blessings. at less trouble and expense in the lap of this society, than if he were thrown an isolated struggler upon the world. As to our domestic arrangements, they are under the charge of comptroller and purveyor, elected at intervals; these, assisted by a housekeeper, cook, and a few other domestics, regulate our household.

. In the spring of the year, we enlarged our dwelling by out-houses, containing apartments for visitors, besides closets and libraries for the literary members. We added to our offices a painting and sculpture room, a laboratory and workshop, in which those who were inclined to the fine arts, chemistry, or mechanics, might pursue their studies. These and other scientific subjects were not only canvassed familiarly in our meetings, but short histories and explanations of recent discoveries were occasionally directed to be given by their respective professors among us. We were not ashamed to assist in the erection of our own buildings. Many of us were seen, girt with our aprons, on the scaffolding of the building, with plummet and trowel, aiding the hired mason in his work; some shaped coigne-stones, others adapted timbers for the roof; few were idle, ard none from a frivolous notion that it was infra dignitatem. We had abjured the silly vanity of aristocratic pride; ridicule lost its sway over us, once we had resolved to obey reason and nature, preferably to conventional modes of thinking. We had long adopted it as a maxim, that he who contributes not a share of his labour to the general good, is a freebooter upon society; and that there is a correcting dispensation in Providence that forbids him to enjoy, in its true sense, what he has not earned: in short, that he must miss happiness were the world's wealth at his feet. The notion was not admitted amongst us, that labour and thinking were two separate and incompatible offices; on the contrary, the alternation of each was thought good, both for bodily and mental vigour; and unquestionably it has proved productive of more common leisure and individual comfort, than if the community had consisted of two classes of slaves, the one overburdened with corporeal, the other with intellectual toils.

In the third year of our establishment, we constructed a theatre for our lectures; around the walls and galleries of which we formed cases and compartments for such objects of natural history as composed the museum of the society. The whole was surmounted by a dome, the chamber of which made a rude observatory for astronomical purposes.

The same year we purchased a small vessel, or corsaire, which had been used as a privateer by the hardy mariners of St. Aubin's. In this, under the command of a member who had been an officer in the navy, we all took our turns, till we became expert mariners, hardened to the sea, and acquainted with all the neighbouring coasts. It not only served us as a fishing-smack, but enabled us to take voyages of pleasure to the coasts of France, and fowling parties to some of the little rocks of the Cesarean Isles, on which woodcocks, barnacles, and other migratory fowl alight, and where no game laws impede the pleasure of the sportsman. · A few hours took us to Normandy; and St. Maloes became our market for several commodities which could be had cheaper there than in St. Helier's, or the other towns of the islands. Two of our brethren have been occasionally furnished by the society with the means of travelling into countries, the language of which they had learned from natives admitted into the institution. On such occasions, they were usually disembarked on some part of the French coast, and thence, as pedestrians, have found their way into Spain, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland, reaping information every foot of the road, and consulting the interests of the society by purchases, not only of pure wines, but of manufactures and mechanical inventions; and by transmission of specimens of botany and mineralogy to Newhome. The voyagers often send us home letters, which are read with delight by the assembled inmates; they also at times bring back estimable strangers, whose conversation and accomplishments instruct and enchant the little republic. It is thus that the poetry and music of Germany and Italy have been naturalized among us. Our walls are hung with pictures touched by foreign masters. Our porticoes abound with statues moulded in Florence and Vienna. The arts flourish here, unseared by professional devotion and taste-withering anxieties.

The use of arms is familiar to the community, who know that the arts and blessings of peace depend upon the warlike virtues; and who, as citizens of the state,

« ПредишнаНапред »