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SELECTIONS IN PROSE FROM BURKE, ALISON, EUSTACE, AND MOORE.
There is nothing more memorable in history than the actions, fortunes, and character of this great man; whether we consider the grandeur of the plans he formed, the courage and wisdom with which they were executed, or the splendour of that success which, adorning his youth, continued, without the smallest reverse, to support his age, even to the last moments of his life. He lived above seventy years, and reigned, within ten years, as long as he lived; sixty over his dukedom, above twenty over England; both of which he acquired or kept by his own magnanimity, with hardly any other title than he derived from his arms; so that he might be reputed, in all respects, as happy as the highest ambition, the most fully gratified, can make a man. The silent, inward satisfactions of domestic happiness he neither had nor sought. He had a body suited to the character of his mind,— erect, firm, large, and active; whilst to be active was a praise; a countenance stern, and which became command. Magnificent in his living, reserved in his conversation, grave in his common deportment, but relaxing with a wise facetiousness, he knew how to relieve his mind and preserve his dignity; for he never forfeited, by a personal acquaintance, that esteem he had acquired by his great actions. Unlearned in books, he formed his understanding by the rigid discipline of a large and complicated experience. He knew men much, and therefore generally trusted them but little: but, when he knew any man to be good, he reposed in him an entire confidence, which prevented his prudence from degenerating into a vice. He had vices in his composition, and great ones; but they were the vices of a great mind :—ambition, the malady of every extensive genius; and avarice, the madness of the wise: one chiefly actuated his youth, the other governed his age. The vices of young and light minds,—the joys of wine, and the pleasures of love,—never reached his aspiring nature. The general run of men he looked on with contempt, and treated with cruelty when they opposed him. Nor was the rigour of his mind to be softened hut with the appearance of extraordinary fortitude in his enemies, which, by a sympathy congenial to his own virtues, always excited his admiration, and insured his mercy. So that there were often seen in this one man, at the same time, the extremes of a savage cruelty, and a generosity that does honour to human nature. Religion, too, seemed to have a great influence on his mind, from policy, or from better motives. But his religion was displayed in the regularity with which he performed its duties, not in the submission he showed to its ministers, which was never more than what good government required. Yet his choice of a counsellor was, not according to the mode of that time, out of that order, and a choice that does honour to his memory. This was Lanfranc, a man of great learning for the times, and extraordinary piety. He owed his elevation to William; but, though always inviolably faithful, he never was the tool or flatterer of the power which raised him; and, the greater freedom he showed, the higher he rose in the confidence of his master. By mixing with the concerns of state he did not lose his religion and conscience, or make them the covers or instruments of ambition; but, tempering the fierce policy of a new power by the mild lights of religion, he became a blessing to the country in which he was promoted. The English owed to the virtue of this stranger, and the influence he had on the king, the little remains of liberty they continued to enjoy; and, at last, such a degree of his confidence as in some sort counterbalanced the severities of the former part of his reign.
ON THE ADVANTAGE OF ACQUIRING KNOWLEDGE.
In every period of life the acquisition of knowledge is one of the most pleasing employments of the human mind. But in youth there are circumstances which make it productive of higher enjoyment. It is then that every thing has the charm of novelty; that curiosity and fancy are awake ; and that the heart swells with the anticipations of future eminence and utility. Even in those lower branches of instruction which we call mere accomplish
ments, there is something always pleasing to the young in their acquisition. They seem to become every welleducated person,—they adorn, if they do not dignify, humanity; and, what is far more, while they give an elegant employment to the hours of leisure and relaxation, they afford a means of contributing to the purity and innocence of domestic life. But in the acquisition of knowledge of a higher kind,—in the hours when the young gradually begin the study of the laws of nature, and of the faculties of the human mind, or of the magnificent revelations of the gospel,—there is a pleasure of a sublimer nature. The cloud which, in their infant years, seemed to cover nature from their view, begins gradually to resolve. The world in which they are placed opens with all its wonders upon their eye; their powers of attention and observation seem to expand with the scene before them; and while they see, for the first time, the immensity of the universe of God, and mark the majestic simplicity of those laws by which its operations are conducted, they feel as if they were awakened to a higher species of being, and admitted into nearer intercourse with the Author of nature. It is this period, of all others, accordingly, that must determine our hopes or fears of the future fate of the young. To feel no joy in such pursuits; to listen carelessly to the voice which brings such magnificent instruction; to see the veil raised which conceals the counsels of the Deity, and to show no emotion at the discovery; are symptoms of a weak and torpid spirit, of a mind unworthy of the advantages it possesses, and which is fitted only for the humility of sensual and ignoble pleasure. Of those, on the contrary, who distinguish themselves by the love of knowledge, who follow with ardour the career that is opened to them, we are apt to form the most honourable presages. It is the character natural to youth, and which, therefore, promises well of their maturity. We foresee for them, at least, a life of pure and virtuous enjoyment, and are willing to anticipate no common share of future usefulness and splendour.
In the second place, the pursuits of knowledge lead not only to happiness but to honour. "Length of days," in the words of the text, "is in her right hand, and in her left are riches and honour." It is honourable to excel even in the most trifling species of knowledge, in those which can amuse only the passing hour. It is more honourable to excel in those different branches of science which are connected with the liberal professions of life, and which tend so much to the dignity and well-being of humanity. It is the means of raising the most obscure to esteem and attention; it opens to the just ambition of youth some of the most distinguished and respected situations in society; and it places them there with the consoling reflection, that it is to their own industry and labour, in the providence of God, that they are alone indebted for them. But to excel in the higher attainments of knowledge; to be distinguished in those greater pursuits which have commanded the attention, and exhausted the abilities, of the wise in every former age; is, perhaps, of all the distinctions of human understanding, the most honourable and grateful. When we look back upon the great men who have gone before us in every path of glory, we feel our eye turn from the career of war and of ambition, and involuntarily rest upon those who have displayed the great truths of. religion, who have investigated the laws of social welfare, or extended the sphere of useful knowledge. These are honours, we feel, which have been gained without a crime, and which can be enjoyed without remorse; they are honours also which can never die,—which can shed lustre even upon the humblest head,—and to which the young of every succeeding age will look up as their brightest incentives to the pursuit of virtuous fame.
THE PROPER USE OF KNOWLEDGE.
The first end to which all wisdom or knowledge ought to be employed, is to illustrate the wisdom or goodness of the Father of nature. Every science that is cultivated by man leads naturally to religious thought, from the study of the plant that grows beneath our feet, to that of the host of heaven above us, who perform their stated revolutions in majestic silence amid the expanse of infinity. When, in the youth of Moses, " the Lord appeared to him in Horeb," a voice was heard, saying, " Draw not nigh hither, and put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." It is with such a reverential awe that every great or elevated mind will approach the study of nature, and with such feelings of adoration and gratitude that he will receive the illumination that gradually opens upon his soul. It is not the lifeless mass of matter, he will then feel, that he is examining,—it is the mighty machine of eternal wisdom: the workmanship of Him "in whom every thing lives, and moves, and has its being." Under an aspect of this kind, it is impossible to pursue knowledge without mingling with it the most elevated sentiments of devotion;—it is impossible to perceive the laws of nature without perceiving, at the same time, the presence and the providence of the Lawgiver: and thus it is that, in every age, the evidences of true religion have advanced with the progress of true philosophy; and that science, in erecting a monument to herself, has, at the same time, erected an altar to the Deity. The knowledge of nature, however, is not exhausted. Here are many great discoveries yet awaiting the labours of science; and with them there are also awaiting to humanity many additional proofs of the wisdom and benevolence of " Him that made us." To the hope of these great discoveries, few, indeed, can pretend :—yet let it ever be remembered, that he who can trace any one new fact, or can exemplify any one new instance of Divine wisdom or benevolence in the system of nature, has not lived in vain; that he has added to the sum of human knowledge; and, what is far more, that lie has added to the evidence of those greater truths, upon which the happiness of time and eternity depends.
The second great end to which all knowledge ought to be employed, is to the welfare of humanity. Every science is the foundation of some art beneficial to men; and while the study of it leads us to see the beneficence of the laws of nature, it calls upon us also to follow the great end of the Father of nature in their employment and application. I need not say what a field is thus opened to the benevolence of knowledge: I need not tell you, that in every department of learning there is good to be done to mankind: I need not remind you, that the age in which we live has given us the noblest examples of this kind, and that science now finds its highest glory in improving the condition, or in allaying the miseries, of humanity. But there is one thing of which it is proper ever to remind you, because the modesty of knowledge often leads us to forget it,—and that is, that the power of scientific benevolence is far greater than that of all others, to promote the welfare of society. The benevolence of the great, or the opulent, however eminent it may be, perishes with