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Orpheus to the Argonauts, who were the first sailors.’ He then called to the boy, ‘What would you give, my had, to know about the Argonauts’ “Sir," said the boy, ‘I would give what I have.” Johnson was much pleased with this answer, and we gave him a double fare. Dr. Johnson then turning to me, ‘Sir,’ said he, ‘a desire of knowledge is the natural feeling of mankind; and every human being, whose mind is not debauched, will be willing to give all that he has to get knowledge.’” For the knowledge that comes from books I would claim no more than it is fairly entitled to. I am well aware that there is no inevitable connection between intellectual cultivation, on the one hand, and individual virtue or social well-being, on the other. “The tree of knowledge is not the tree of life.” I admit that genius and learning are sometimes found in combination with gross vices, and not unfrequently with contemptible weaknesses, and that a community at once cultivated and corrupt is no impossible monster. But it is no overstatement to say that, other things being equal, the man who has the greatest amount of intellectual resources is in the least danger from inferior temptations; if for no other reason, because he has fewer idle moments. The ruin of most men dates from some vacant hour. Occupation is the armor of the soul, and the train of Idleness is borne up by all the vices. I remember a satirical poem in which the Devil is represented as fishing for men, and adapting his baits to the taste and temperament of his prey; but the idler, he said, pleased him most, because he bit the naked hook. To a young man away from home, friendless and forlorn in a great city, the hours of peril are those between sunset and bedtime, for the moon and stars see more of evil in a single hour than the sun in his whole day's circuit. The poet's visions of evening are all compact of tender and soothing images. It brings the wanderer to his home, the child to his mother's arms, the ox to his stall, and the weary laborer to his rest. But to the gentle-hearted "youth who is thrown upon the rocks of a pitiless city, and stands “homeless amid a thousand homes,” the approach of evening brings with it an aching sense of loneliness and desolation which comes down upon the spirit like darkness upon the earth. In this mood, his best impulses become a snare to him, and he is led astray because he is social, affectionate, sympathetic, and warm-hearted. If there be a young man thus circumstanced within the sound of my voice, let me say to him that books are the friends of the friendless, and that a library is the home of the homeless. A taste for reading will always carry you into the best possible company, and enable you to converse with men who will instruct you by their wisdom and charm you by their wit, who will soothe you when fretted, refresh you when weary, counsel you when
perplexed, and ol. with you at all times. Evil spirits, in the Middle Ages, were exorcised and driven away by bell, book, and candle; you want but two of these agents, the book and the candle.
Address before the Mercantile Library Association.
LUCRETIA MARIA DAVIDSON, 1808––1825.
Lucreti A MARIA DAvidson, second daughter of Dr. Oliver Davidson, was born, September 27, 1808, at Plattsburg, on Lake Champlain. Her parents were in straitened circumstances, and her mother in feeble health, and from these causes it became necessary that she should devote most of her time to domestic duties. But for these she had no inclination; and therefore, when her work was done, she retired to enjoy those intellectual and imaginative pursuits in which her whole heart was engaged. Her thirst for knowledge was wonderful; and before she was twelve years old, she had read Shakspeare, and many of the standard English poets. Though she had no one to direct or advise her, she continued not only to read poetry, but also to write it so as to excite the astonishment and admiration of every one. When about twelve years old, a gentleman who was delighted with her verses sent her a bank-note of twenty dollars. Her first joyful thought was that she had now the means of increasing her little stock of books; but, looking towards the sick bed of her mother, who had been confined by illness for many months, tears came into her eyes, and she instantly put the note into her father's hand, saying, “Take it, father: it will buy many comforts for mother. I can do without the books.” Such an exhibition of filial love and gratitude endears her to us far more than all her poetry.
When she had just passed sixteen, a gentleman who was on a visit at Plattsburg, being made acquainted with her history, genius, and limited means, resolved to afford her the benefits of a good education. Accordingly, she was placed at the “Troy Female Seminary,” where she had all the advantages for which she had hungered and thirsted. Here her application was incessant, and its effects on her constitution—already somewhat debilitated by previous disease—soon became apparent. On her return home in vacation, she had a serious illness, which left her more feeble than ever, and she gradually declined, till death released her pure spirit from its prison-house on the 27th of August, 1825. “In our own language,” says the poet Southey, “we can call to mind no instance, except in the cases of Chatterton and Kirke White, of so early, so ardent, and so fatal a pursuit of intellectual advancement.”
“Let no parent wish for a child of precocious genius, nor rejoice over such a one, without fear and trembling ! Great endowments, whether of nature or of fortune, bring with them their full proportion of temptations and dangers; and, perhaps, in the endowments of nature the danger is greatest, because there is most at stake. It seems, in most cases, as if the seeds of moral and intellectual excellence were not designed to bring forth fruits on earth, but that they are brought into existence, and developed here, only for transportation to a world where there shall be nothing to corrupt or hurt them, nothing to impede their
In person, Miss Davidson was singularly beautiful: she had a high, open forehead, a soft black eye, perfect symmetry of features, a fair complexion, and luxuriant, dark hair. The prevailing expression of her face was melancholy.
SONG AT TWILIGHT."
When evening spreads her shades around,
When not a murmur, not a sound,
When the broad orb of heaven is bright,
When Nature, soften’d by her light,
Then, when our thoughts are raised above
Oh, sister, sing the song I love,
The song which thrills my bosom's core,
Oh, sister, sing the song once more
'Twere almost sacrilege to sing
Notes borne by angels' purest wing, -
When, sleeping in my grass-grown bed,
Wilt thou not kneel beside my head,
Til E PROPHECY.
Let me gaze a while on that marble brow,
growth in goodness, and their progress towards perfection.” Read the article in the “Quarterly Review” for November, 1829, by the poet Southey ; also “Remains,” by S. F. B. Morse.
1 Addressed to her sister, requesting her to sing Moore's “Farewell to his Harp.” 51
That, maiden, there's that within thy breast
TO MY MOTHER."
O thou whose care sustain'd my infant years,
Whose soothing voice breathed comfort to my fears,
To thee my lay is due, the simplest song
To thee these rude, these untaught strains belong,
Oh, say, amid this wilderness of life,
Who would have smiled responsive 2–who in grief
Who would have guarded, with a falcon eye,
Who would have mark'd my bosom bounding high,
Who would have hung around my sleepless couch,
Who would have fondly pressed my fever'd lip,
None but a mother, none but one like thee,
* This was written but a few months before her death.
Whose eye, for me, has lost its witchery;
Yes, thou hast lighted me to health and life,
Yes, thou hast wept so oft o'er every grief,
Oh, then, to thee, this rude and simple song,
To thee, my mother, shall this lay belong,
HANNAH FLAGG GOULD.
HANNAH FLAgg Gould was born in Lancaster, Vermont; but while yet a ehild her father removed to Newburyport, Massachusetts. She early wrote for several periodicals, and in 1832 her poetical pieces were collected in a volume. In 1835 and in 1841, a second and third volume appeared, entitled simply Poems; and in 1846 she collected a volume of her prose compositions, entitled Gathered Leaves. Of her poetry, a writer in the “Christian Examiner” remarks that it is impossible to find fault. It is so sweet and unpretending, so pure in purpose, and so gentle in expression, that criticism is disarmed of all severity, and engaged to say nothing of it but good. It is poetry for a sober, quiet, kindlyaffectioned Christian heart. It is poetry for a united family circle in their hours of peace and leisure. For such companionship it was made, and into such it will find and has found its way.