« 上一頁繼續 »
select the occupation to which he shall addict himself, or may at least starve, in part or in whole, uncontroled, and at his choice. Such is, as it were, the universal lot.
'Tis destiny unshunnable like death :
When we do quicken. I go forth in the streets, and observe the occupations of other men. I remark the shops that on every side beset my path. It is curious and striking, how vast are the ingenuity and contrivance of human beings, to wring from their fellow-creatures, “ from the hard hands of peasants” and artisans, a part of their earnings, that they also may live. We soon become feelingly convinced, that we also must enter into the vast procession of industry, upon pain that otherwise,
Like to an entered tide, they all rush by,
And trampled on. It is through the effect of this necessity, that civilised communities become what they are. We all fall into our ranks. Each one is member of a certain company or squadron. We know our respective places, and are marshaled and disciplined with an exactness scarcely less than that of the individuals of a mighty army. We are therefore little disposed to interrupt the occupations of each other. We are intent upon the peculiar employment to
which we have become devoted. We “rise up early, and lie down late," and have no leisure to trouble ourselves with the pursuits of others. Hence of necessity it happens in a civilised community, that a vast majority of the species are innocent, and have no inclination to molest or interrupt each other's avocations.
But, as this condition of human society preserves us in comparative innocence, and renders the social arrangement in the midst of which we exist, to a certain degree a soothing and agreeable spectacle, so on the other hand it is not less true that its immediate tendency is, to clip the wings of the thinking principle within us, and plunge the members of the community in which we live into a barren and ungratifying mediocrity. Hence it should be the aim of those persons, who from their situation have more or less the means of looking through the vast assemblage of their countrymen, of penetrating “ into the seeds” of character, and determining “which grain will grow, and which will not,” to apply themselves to the redeeming such as are worthy of their care from the oblivious gulph into which the mass of the species is of necessity plunged. It is therefore an ill saying, when applied in the most rigorous extent, “Let every man maintain himself, and be his own provider: why should we help him?"
The help however that we should afford to our fellow-men requires of us great discernment in its
administration. The deceitfulness of appearances is endless. And nothing can well be at the same time more lamentable and more ludicrous, than the spectacle of those persons, the weaver, the thresher, and the mechanic, who by injudicious patronage are drawn from their proper sphere, only to exhibit upon a larger stage their imbecility and inanity, to shew those moderate powers, which in their proper application would have carried their possessors through life with respect, distorted into absurdity, and used in the attempt to make us look upon a dwarf, as if he were one of the Titans who in the commencement of recorded time astonished the earth.
It is also true to a great degree, that those efforts of the human mind are most healthful and vigorous, in which the possessor of talents “administers to himself," and contends with the different obstacles that arise,
-throwing them aside, And stemming them with hearts of controversy. Many illustrious examples however may be found in the annals of literature, of patronage judiciously and generously applied, where men have been raised by the kindness of others from the obscurest situations, and placed on high, like beacons, to illuminate the world. And, independently of all examples, a sound application of the common sense of the human mind would teach us, that the worthies of the earth, though miracles, are not omnipotent, and
that a certain aid, from those who by counsel or opulence are enabled to afford it, have oft times produced the noblest effects, have carried on the generous impulse that works within
prompted us manfully to proceed, when the weakness of our nature was ready to give in from despair.
But the thing that in this place it was most appropriate to say, is, that we ought not quietly to affirm, of the man whose mind nature or education has enriched with extraordinary powers, “ Let him maintain himself, and be his own provider: why should we help him?" It is a thing deeply to be regretted, that such a man will frequently be compelled to devote himself to pursuits comparatively vulgar and inglorious, because he must live. Much of this is certainly inevitable. But what glorious things might a man with extraordinary powers effect, were he not hurried unnumbered miles
awry by the unconquerable power of circumstances ? The life of such a man is divided between the things which his internal monitor strongly prompts him to do, and those which the external power of nature and circumstances compels him to submit to. The struggle on the part of his better self is noble and admirable. The less he gives way, provided he can accomplish the purpose to which he has vowed himself, the more he is worthy of the admiration of the world. If, in consequence of listening too much to the loftier aspirations of his