ePub 版

And yet the compensations of calamity are made apparent to the understanding also, after long intervals of time. A fever, a mutilation, a cruel disappointment, a loss of wealth, a loss of friends, seems at the moment unpaid loss, and unpayable. But the sure years reveal the deep remedial force that underlies all facts. The death of a dear friend, wife, brother, lover, which seemed nothing but privation, somewhat later assumes the aspect of a guide or genius; for it commonly operates revolutions in our way of life, terminates an epoch of infancy or of youth which was waiting to be closed; breaks up a wonted occupation, or a household, or style of living, and allows the formation of new ones more friendly to the growth of character. It permits or constrains the formation of new acquaintances, and the reception of new influences that prove of the first importance to the next years; and the man or woman who would have remained a sunny garden-flower, with no room for its roots and too much sunshine for its head, by the falling of the walls and the neglect of the gardener, is made the banian of the forest, yielding shade and fruit to wide neighborhoods of men.

[blocks in formation]

I have no churlish objection to the circumnavigation of the globe, for the purposes of art, of study, and benevolence, so that the man is first domesticated, or does not go abroad with the hope of finding somewhat greater than he knows. He who travels to be amused, or to get somewhat which he does not carry, travels away from himself, and grows old even in youth among old things. In Thebes, in Palmyra, his will and mind have become old and dilapidated as they. He carries ruins to ruins.

Travelling is a fool's paradise. . We owe to our first journeys the discovery that place is nothing. At home I dream that at Naples, at Rome, I can be intoxicated with beauty, and lose my sadness. I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea, and at last wake up at Naples, and there beside me is the stern fact, the sad self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from. I seek the Vatican and the palaces. I affect to be intoxicated with sights and suggestions; but I am not intoxicated. My giant goes with me wherever I go.

But the rage of travelling is itself only a symptom of a deeper unsoundness affecting the whole intellectual action. The intellect is vagabond, and the universal system of education fosters restlessness. Our minds travel when our bodies are forced to stay at home. We imitate; and what is imitation but the travelling of the mind? Our houses are built with foreign taste; our shelves are garnished with foreign ornaments; our opinions, our tastes, our whole minds, lean to, and follow the past and the distant as the eyes of a maid follow her mistress. The soul created the arts wherever they have flourished. It was in his own mind that the artist sought his model. It was an application of his own thought to the thing to be done and the conditions to be observed. And why need we copy the Doric or the Gothic model? Beauty, convenience, grandeur of thought, and quaint expression are as near to us as to any, and if the American artist will study with hope and love the precise thing to be done by him, considering the climate, the soil, the length of the day, the wants of the people, the habit and form of the government, he will create a house in which all these will find themselves fitted, and taste and sentiment will be satisfied also.


Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life's cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another you have only an extemporaneous, half possession. That which each can do best, none but his Maker can teach him. No man yet knows what it is, nor can, till that person has exhibited it. Where is the master who could have taught Shakspeare? Where is the master who could have instructed Franklin, or Washington, or Bacon, or Newton? Every great man is a unique. The Scipionism of Scipio is precisely that part he could not borrow. If anybody will tell me whom the great man imitates in the original crisis when he performs a great act, I will tell him who else than himself can teach him. Shakspeare will never be made by the study of Shakspeare. Do that which is assigned thee, and thou canst not hope too much or dare too much.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

I am going to my own hearth-stone,
Bosom'd in yon green hills alone—
A secret nook in a pleasant land,
Whose groves the frolic fairies plann’d;
Where arches green, the livelong day,
Echo the blackbird's roundelay,
And vulgar feet have never trod
A spot that is sacred to thought and God.
Oh, when I am safe in my sylvan home,
I tread on the pride of Greece and Rome;
And when I am stretch'd beneath the pines,
Where the evening star so holy shines,
I laugh at the lore and the pride of man,
At the sophist schools, and the learned clan;
For what are they all in their high conceit,
When man in the bush with God may meet !


JAcob Abbott was born in Hallowell, Maine, in 1803, and, at the age of twelve, entered Bowdoin College. After graduating, he studied theology at Andover, and, on completing his three years' course there, was appointed tutor, and afterwards Professor of Mathematics, in Amherst College, which station he filled with great success. Thence he was called to the pastoral charge of the Elliot Street Congregational Church, Boston.

His first important literary work—The Young Christian—appeared in Boston in 1825; since which time he has written many works, mostly intended for the instruction of the young, in which branch of literature he has been remarkably successful. The Young Christian series (comprising The Young Christian, CornerStone, Way to do Good, Hoary Head, and Me Donner) has enjoyed not only a wide circulation in this country, but numerous editions have been issued in England, Scotland, France, and Germany.

Desides his literary works, Mr. Abbott was very successful as a teacher in his well-known Mount Vernon School for Young Ladies, in Boston; and at a later period, when associated with his brother, John S. C. Abbott, in the Houston and Bleecker Street schools, in New York. During the last eight or ten years he has devoted his time entirely to writing,' and now resides in New York City.


The great mass of mankind consider the intellectual powers as susceptible of a certain degree of development in childhood, to

His works have been very numerous, more than sixty volumes in all.—including a series of biographies of distinguished characters; and the Rozło Book". More interesting and instructive works, especially for the young, can hardly elsewhere be found.

prepare the individual for the active duties of life. This degree of progress they suppose to be made before the age of twenty is attained, and hence they talk of an education being finished . Now, if a parent wishes to convey the idea that his daughter has closed her studies at school, or that his son has finished his preparatory professional course and is ready to commence practice, there is perhaps no strong objection to his using the common phrase that the education is finished; but in any general or proper use of language, there is no such thing as a finished education. The most successful student that ever left a school, or took his degree at college, never arrived at a good place to stop in his intellectual course. In fact, the farther he goes the more desirous will he feel to go on; and if you wish to find an instance of the greatest eagerness and interest with which the pursuit of knowledge is prosecuted, you will find it undoubtedly in the case of the most accomplished and thorough scholar which the country can furnish, who has spent a long life in study, and who finds that the farther he goes the more and more widely does the boundless field of intelligence open before him. Give up, then, at once, all idea of finishing your education. The sole object of the course of discipline at any literary institution in our land is not to finish, but just to show you how to begin ; to give you an impulse and a direction upon that course which you ought to pursue with unabated and uninterrupted ardor as long as you have being. * * * The objects of study are of several kinds: one is, to increase our intellectual powers. Every one knows that there is a difference of ability in different minds; but it is not so distinctly understood that every one's abilities may be increased or strengthened by a kind of culture adapted expressly to this purpose, Ll mean a culture which is intended not to add to the stock of knowledge, but only to increase intellectual power. Scholars very often ask, when pursuing some difficult study, “What good will it do me to know this?” But that is not the question. They ought to ask, “What good will it do me to learn it? What effect upon my habits of thinking, and upon my intellectual powers, will be produced by the efforts to examine and to conquer these difficulties?” Do not shrink, then, from difficult work in your efforts at intellectual improvement. You ought, if you wish to secure the greatest advantage, to have some difficult work, that you may acquire habits of patient research, and increase and strengthen your intellectual powers. Another object of study is, the acquisition of knowledge; and a moment's reflection will convince any one that the acquisition of knowledge is the duty of all. If there is any thing clearly manifest of God's intentions in regard to employment for man, it is that he should spend a very considerable portion of his time upon earth in acquiring knowledge, knowledge, in all the extent and variety in which it is offered to human powers. The whole economy of nature is such as to allure man to the investigation of it, and the whole structure of his mind is so framed as to qualify him exactly for the work. If now a person begins in early life, and even as late as twenty, and makes it a part of his constant aim to acquire knowledge,_endeavoring every day to learn something which he did not know before, or to fix something in the mind which was before not familiar, he will make an almost insensible but a most rapid and important progress. The field of his intellectual vision will widen and extend every year. His powers of mind as well as his attainments will be increased; and as he can see more extensively, so he can act more effectually every month than he could in the preceding. He thus goes on through life, growing in knowledge and in intellectual and moral power; and if his spiritual progress keeps pace, as it ought to, with his intellectual advancement, he is, with the divine assistance and blessing, exalting himself higher and higher in the scale of being, and preparing himself for a loftier and wider field of service in the world to come. Young Christian.


There is one point in connection with the subject of the manage. ment of worldly affairs which ought not to be passed by, and which is yet an indispensable condition of human happiness. I mean the duty of every man to bring his expenses and his pecuniary liabilities fairly within his control. There are some cases of a peculiar character, and some occasional emergencies, perhaps, in the life of every man, which constitute exceptions; but this is the general rule.

The plentifulness of money depends upon its relation to our expenditures. An English nobleman, with an annual income of fifty thousand pounds sterling, may be pressed for money, and be harassed by it to such a degree as to make life a burden; while an Irish laborer on a railroad in New England, with eighty cents a day, in the dead of winter, may have a plentiful supply. Reduce, then, your expenditures, and your style of living, and your business too, so far below your pecuniary means, that you may have money in plenty. There is, perhaps, nothing which so grinds the human soul, and produces such an insupportable burden of wretchedness and despondency, as pecuniary pressure. Nothing more frequently drives men to suicide. And there is, perhaps, no danger to which men in an active and enterprising community are more exposed. Almost all are eagerly reaching

« 上一頁繼續 »