網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

Apollonius, indeed, carried the positive and space. That one who sees the uniscience of mathematics to great height, verse move round him understandingly, but physical science is the growth and fathoms in some degree the wonder of comparative to-day; with habits of and the beauty of the eternal laws, thought hampered by priesthoods and must be a pleasanter object to his Cresystems, the efforts of antiquity were ator than any other who, merely emlike abortive shoots, – it is within the ploying pleasure, makes a fetich of his last four centuries that the strong stem luxuries, his Aldines and Elzevirs, and, has sprung up, and the plant has flow- dying, goes into the unknown world no ered. Neither do our youth study the wiser concerning the ends and aims of classics for their science ; and yet is this one than when he entered it. Rathnot the pursuit of science nobler than er than periods that decay and sin all other pursuits, since it leads its fol- might bring again, should one rememlowers into the mysteries of the crea- ber the wonderful history of the natural tion and into the purposes of God ? world when the Spirit of God moved Small is the profit to be found in re- upon the face of the waters. Rather cital of the fancies of heathen ages or should one read the record of the rain, it the warfares of savage tribes. But so seems, the story of the weather some far is the mere breath of the ancients morning, cycles since, with the way the exalted above this sacred search, that wind was blowing written in the slanta university will turn out proficients ing drip of the rain-drops caught and who write Greek verses by the ream, petrified on the old red sandstone, but cannot spell their own speech ; who marks of the Maker as he passed, one can name you the winning athletes of day, a million years ago, — than decithe first Olympiad, but are unable to pher on the scroll of any palimpsest, state the constituents of the gas that under the light-headed visions of an anlights their page, and never dream, as chorite, some half-erased ode of Anacthe chemist does, that these “sunbeams absorbed by vegetation in the primor- But, after all, this veneration for the dial ages of the earth, and buried in its ancients who personally might be depths as vegetable fossils through im- forgiven for their misfortune in having measurable eras of time, until system lived when the world was young, were upon system of slowly formed rocks not one so slavish before them -- is only has been piled above, come forth at because again one looks at the ideal, last, at the disenchanting touch of sci- looks through that magical Claude ence, and turn the night of civilized Lorraine glass which makes even the man into day.” They can paint to you commonest landscape picturesque. We the blush of Rhodope or Phryne, till forget the dirty days of straw-strewn you see the delicious color blend and foors, and see the leather hangings mingle on the ivory of their tablets; stamped with gold ; we forget the fearbut until, like Agassiz, we can all of us ful feet of sandal shoon, but see the deduce the fish from the scale, and from dust of a Triumph rising in clouds of that blush alone deduce the human race, glory. We look at that past, feeling we are no nearer the Divine intentions something like gods, too. in the creation of man, for all such lore

“ The gods are happy : as that. An author has somewhere

They turn on all sides asked, What signify our telegraphs, our

Their shining eyes, anæsthetics, our railways ? What signi

And see, below them,

The earth and men." fies our knowledge of the earth's structure, of the stars' courses ? Are we We cannot consider those things hapany the more or less men ? But cer- pening remotely from us on the earth's tainly, he is the more a man, he comes surface, eyen now, without suffering nearer to God's meaning in a man, who them to partake somewhat of the properconquers matter, circumstance, time, ty of by-gone days. It makes little dif

reon.

ference whether the distance be that of The loaded boat swings groaning

In the yellow eddies. meridians or of eras. When at sunrise

The gods behold them,” — we fancy some foreign friend beholding dawn upon the silver summits of the the gods and the poets. But, except to Alps, we are forced directly to remem- these blest beholders, the inhabitants ber that with him day is at the noon, of the dead centuries are mere spectral and his sunrise has vanished with those shades; for it takes a poet's fancy to of all the yesterdays, so that even vitalize with warmth and breath again our friend becomes a being of the past; those things that, having apparently or when, bathed in the mellow air of an left no impress on their own generaautumn afternoon, the sunshine falling tion, seem to have no more significaon us like the light of a happy smile, tion for this than the persons of the and all the vaporous vistas melting in drama or the heroes of romance. clouded sapphire, it occurs to us that Yet, in a far inferior way, every man possibly it is snowing on the Macken- is a poet to himself. In the microcosm zie River, and night has already dark, of his own small round, every one has ened down over the wide and awful ice- the power to vivify old incident, every fields, – then distance seems a para

one raises bawbles of the desk and dox, and time and occasion mere phan- drawer, not only into life, but into life tasmagoria ; there are no beings but they never had. With the flower whose ourselves, there is no moment but the leaves are shed about the box, we can present; all circumstance of the world bring back the brilliant morning of its becomes apparent to us only like pic- blossoming, desire and hope and joytures thrown into the perspective of the ous youth once more; with the letter past. It requires the comprehensive laid away beside it rises the dear hand vision of the poet to catch the light of that rested on the sheet, and moved existing scenes as they shift along the along the leaf with every line it penned: globe, and harmonize them with the in- each trinket has its pretty past, pleasstant; -- whether he view

ant or painful to recall as it may be.

There is no trifle, however vulgar, but, “The Indian Drifting, knife in hand,

looking at its previous page, it has a His frail boat moored to

side in the ideal. When one at the A floating isle thick matted

theatre saw so many ringlets arranged With large-leaved, low-creeping melon-plants,

as “waterfalls," he laughed and said, And the dark cucumber. He reaps and stows them,

they undoubtedly belonged to the Drifting, - drifting. Round him,

“dead-heads.” But Belinda, who wears Round his green harvest-plot,

a waterfall, and at night puts it into a Flow the cool lake waves : The mountains ring them";

box, considers the remark a profanity,

and confesses that she never adorns or whether, far across the continent, herself with this addition but she he chance to see

thinks of that girl in France who cher“The ferry

ished her long locks, and combed them On the broad, clay-laden

out with care until her marriage-day, Lone Chorasmian stream: thereon, With snort and strain,

when she put on a fair white cap, and Two horses, strongly swimming, tow sold them for her dowry. There are The ferry-boat, with woven ropes

more poetic locks of hair, it must be To either bow Firm harnessed by the mane : - a chief

said ; — the keepsake of two lovers; the With shout and shaken spear

lock of Keats's hair, too sacred to touch, Stands at the prow, and guides them ; but astern, lying in its precious salvatory. But that

The cowering merchants, in long robes,
Sit pale beside their wealth

is the ideal of the past belonging to BeOf silk-bales and of balsam-drops,

linda's waterfall, a trivial, common thing Of gold and ivory,

enough, yet one that has a right to its Of turquoise-earth and amethyst,

ideal, nevertheless, if we accept the Jasper and chalcedony, And milk-barred onyx-stones.

ecstasies of a noted writer upon its magic material.

“In spinning and valleys of the Ardèche, where all is weaving,” says he, “the ideal that we rock, where the mulberry, the chestpursue is the hair of a woman. How nut, seem to dispense with earth, to far are the softest wools, the finest cot- live on air and flint, where low houses tons, from reaching it! At what an of unmortared stone sadden the eyes enormous distance from this hair all with their gray tint, everywhere I saw our progress leaves us, and will for at the door, under a kind of arcade, ever leave us ! We drag behind and two or three charming girls, with brown watch with envy this supreme perfec- skin, with white teeth, who smiled at tion that every day Nature realizes in the passer - by and spun gold. The her play. This hair, fine, strong, re- passer-by, whirled on by the coach, sistant, vibrant in light sonority, and, said to them under his breath : "What with all that, soft, warm, luminous, and a pity, innocent fays, that this gold electric, — it is the flower of the human may not be for you! Instead of disflower. There are idle disputes con- guising it with a useless color, instead cerning the merit of its color. What of disfiguring it by art, what would it matter? The lustrous black contains not gain by remaining itself and upon and promises the flame. The blond these beautiful spinners! How much displays it with the splendors of the better than any grand dames would Fleece of Gold. The brown, chatoy- this royal tissue become yourselves!"" ant in the sun, appropriates the sun Perhaps it was the dowry of one of itself, mingles it with its mirages, these very maidens that Belinda wears; floats, undulates, varies ceaselessly in and all this would only go to show its brook-like reflections, by moments that to every meanest thing the past smiles in the light or glooms in the can lend a halo.

When one person shade, deceives always, and, whatever showed another the “entire costume you say of it, gives you the lie charm- of a Nubian woman, purchased as she ingly. — The chief effort of human in- wore it,” – a necklace of red beads, dustry has combined all methods in and two brass ear-rings simply, hangorder to exalt cotton. Rare accord of ing on a nail, how it brought up capital, machinery, arts of design, and the whole scene, the wondrous ruins, finally chemical science, has produced the Nile, the . lotos, and the palmthose beautiful results to which Eng- branch, the splendid sky soaring over land herself renders homage in buying all, the bronze-skinned creature shinthem. Alas! all that cannot disguise ing in the sun! What a past the litthe original poverty of the ungrate- tle glass bits had at their command, ful tissue which has been so much and what a more magnificent past adorned. If woman, who clothes her- hung yet behind them ! Who would self with it in vanity, and believes her value a diamond, the product of any self more beautiful because of it, would laboratory, were such a possibility, so but let her hair fall and unroll its much as that one which, by its own waves over the indigent richness of unknown and inscrutable process, deour most brilliant cloths, what must fying philosopher and jeweller, has become of them! how humiliated would imprisoned the sunshine that moss the vestment be!- It is necessary to or leaf or flower sucked in, ages since, confess that one thing alone sustains and set its crystals in the darkness of itself beside a woman's hair. A single the earth, – a drop of dew eternalized ? fabricator can strive there. This fabri- What tree of swift and sudden springcator is an insect, — the modest silk- ing, that grows like a gourd in the

night to never so stately a height, A particular charm surrounds the could equal in our eyes the gnarled works in silk,” our author then goes and may be stunted trunk that has on to say. “It ennobles all about it. thrown the Alickering shadows of its In traversing our rudest districts, the leaves over the dying pillows alike of

worm."

[ocr errors]

father, child, and grandchild ? The day is but the asymptote of to-morrow, ring upon the finger is crusted thick that curve perpetually drawing near, but with memories, and, looking at it, far never reaching the straight line flying more than in the present do you live into infinity. To-morrow, the great in the past. Perhaps it is for this future, belongs to the heaven where that we are so jealous of events : we it tends. Were it otherwise, seeing fear to have our memories impinged the indestructible elements, and the upon by pain. The woman whose two great central forces forever at lover has deserted her mourns not their work, we might fancy ourselves, the man she must despise, but the in one form or another, continual here love that has dropped out of her on the round world. For when Lapast, proving hollow and worthless. place, through the acceleration of the But she to whom he remains faithful moon, dropping her ten seconds a borrows perpetually store of old love hundred years towards us, discovered to enrich the daily feast; she gilds and the change in the earth's orbit, -swingglorifies the blest to-day with the lighting as it does from ellipse to circle and of that love transfigured in the past. back again to ellipse, vibrating like a And so, in other shapes and experi- mighty pendulum, the “ horologe of ences, it is with all of us indeed ; since eternity” itself, with tremendous oscilinto this fairy-land all can fly for refuge, lations, through the depths of space, can pick again their roses and ignore he taught us that the earth endures ; their thorns, can

and so that the clay with which we

are clothed still makes a part of the

Change Torment with ease, and soonest recompense

great revolution. Yet, since the future Dole with delight."

is no possession of our own, but a dole

and pittance, we know that the earth Nor is this living in the past entirely does not endure for us, but that when the voluntary affair of pleasure and of

we shall have submitted to the condimemory. In another and more spirit- tions of eternal spirit, yesterday, toual way it masters us.

Never quite

morrow, and to-day must alike have losing the vitality that once it had, ceased to exist, must have vanished with, an elastic springiness it con

like illusions ; for eternity can be no stantly rebounds, and the deed of

mere duration of time, but rather some yesterday reacts upon the deed of to

state of being past all our power of day. There is something solemn in

cognition. the thought that thus the blemish or

And though we are to inherit eterthe grace of a day that long ago dis- nity, yet have authority now only over appeared passes on with awfully in- the period that we have passed, with creasing undulations into the demesne

what wealth then are the aged furof the everlasting. And though the nished ! Sweet must it be to sit with Judge of all may not cast each deed folded hands and dream life over once of other days and weigh them in the again. How rich we are, how happy! balance for us or against, yet what

How dear is the old hand in ours ! those deeds have made us, that we

Years have added up the sum of all the shall stand before him when,

felicity that we have known together, “ 'Mid the dark, a gleam

and carried it over to to-day. Those Of yet another morning breaks;

that have left our arms and gone out
And, like the hand which ends a dream, into other homes are still our own ;
Death, with the might of his sunbeam,
Touches the flesh, and the soul awakes!"

but little sunny heads besides cluster

round the knees as once before they Yesterday, in truth, — looking though did. Not only have we age and wisit may like a shadow and the phantom dom, but youth and gayety as well. of itself, -- is the only substance that we On what light and jocund scenes we possess, the one immutable fact. To- look! on what deep and dearer bliss ! We see the meaning of our sorrows now, and bless them that they came. With such firm feet we have walked in the lighted way that we gaze back upon, how can we fear the Valley of the Shadow ? Ah! none but they, indeed, who have threescore years and ten hived away in the past, can see the high design of Heaven in their lives, and from the wrong side of the pattern picture out the right.

" So at the last shall come old age,
Decrepit, as befits that stage.
How else wouldst thou retire apart
With the hoarded memories of thy heart,
And gather all to the very least
of the fragments of life's earlier feast,
Let fall through eagerness to find
The crowning dainties yet behind ?
Ponder on the entire past,
Laid together thus at last,
When the twilight helps to fuse
The first fresh with the faded hues,
And the outline of the whole,
As round Eve's shades their framework roll,
Grandly fronts for once thy soul ! ”

THE JOHNSON PARTY.

THE "HE President of the United States gratify his spite. He of course became has so singular a combination of

the prey of intriguers and sycophants,defects for the office of a constitutional of persons who understand the art of magistrate, that he could have obtained managing minds which are at once arthe opportunity to misrule the nation bitrary and weak, by allowing them to only by a visitation of Providence. In- retain unity of will amid the most palsincere as well as stubborn, cunning as pable inconsistencies of opinion, so well as unreasonable, vain as well as that inconstancy to principle shall not ill-tempered, greedy of popularity as weaken force of purpose, nor the emwell as arbitrary in disposition, veering phasis be at all abated with which they in his mind as well as fixed in his will, may bless to-day what yesterday they he unites in his character the seemingly cursed. Thus the abhorrer of traitors opposite qualities of demagogue and has now become their tool. Thus the autocrat, and converts the Presidential denouncer of Copperheads has now chair into a stump or a throne, accord- sunk into dependence on their support. ing as the impulse seizes him to cajole Thus the imposer of conditions of reor to command. Doubtless much of construction has now become the forethe evil developed in him is due to his most friend of the unconditioned return misfortune in having been lifted by of the Rebel States. Thus the furious events to a position which he lacked the Union Republican, whose harangues elevation and breadth of intelligence against his political opponents almost adequately to fill. He was cursed with scared his political friends by their viothe possession of a power and author- lence, has now become the shameless ity which no man of narrow mind, betrayer of the people who trusted him. bitter prejudices, and inordinate self- And in all these changes of base he has estimation can exercise without de- appeared supremely conscious, in his praving himself as well as injuring the own mind, of playing an independent, nation. Egotistic to the point of men- a consistent, and especially a consciental disease, he resented the direct and

tious part. manly opposition of statesmen to his Indeed, Mr. Johnson's character opinions and moods as a personal would be imperfectly described if some affront, and descended to the last de- attention were not paid to his congree of littleness in a political leader, science, the purity of which is a fa- that of betraying his party, in order to vorite subject of his own discourse,

« 上一頁繼續 »