« 上一頁繼續 »
it may leave some moral of wisdom upon among the remote scenes of our happiness the ear; the poem, that only blooms its and love. When Sir Joshua Reynolds and little day of domestic reputation, may breathe a reviving or a purifying fragrance upon some dejected or some corrupted heart; as the rose, when its leaves are strewed along the ground, may mingle its bloom with the exhalations of the earth, and so continue its work of refreshment and purification when it no longer possesses any color or beauty.
We all seek for friends, we find one in Literature. If we do not depart from our earthly friends, they depart from us; but Literature, though it may be forsaken, never forsakes. The poet Simonides, returning from Asia to Ceos, suffered shipwreck. His companions busied themselves in rescuing their property from the waves; Simonides remained a tranquil spectator. They inquired the cause of his inactivity and indifference. "All that is mine is with me," was the reply. In the shipwreck of our fortune, Literature takes us to its bosom with a closer and a fonder embrace; if it heightened the joys or rocked asleep the sorrows of our childhood, it watches over the troubled visions of our sickness, and pours light upon the darkening eyes of our age. In the morning of life, it comes to us arrayed in the beauty of hope; in the evening, in the beauty of recollection. The common evils of the world are dispossessed of all their injurious power by the music of literature. When Sandys and Cranmer visited Hooker at Drayton-Beauchamp, near Aylesbury, they found him with a Horace in his hand, quietly watching over a flock of sheep. The chimes of the poet still rang in his ears, when he was called away to rock the cradle of his child, and yet Hooker was happy even in his sadness; he could take his intellectual joy with him, and while he sat on one side of the cradle, he could see Horace himself sitting upon the other.
other English visitors to the opera in Venice, heard a ballad which, at the time of their departure from England, was being played in every street in London, the tears rushed to their eyes; space and time were annihilated, and the familiar faces of home smiled around them. Who has forgotten the touching incident of Sir John Moore repeating the Elegy of Gray while. floating along the waters that bathed a remote shore?
Literature has its solitary pleasures, and they are many; it has also its social pleas ures, and they are more. The Persian poet Saadi, teaches a moral in one of his pleas ing apologues. Two friends passed a summer day in a garden of roses; one satisfied himself with admiring their colors and inhaling their fragrance; the other filled his bosom with the leaves, and enjoyed at home, during several days, with his family, the deliciousness of the perfume. The first was the solitary, the second the social student. He wanders among many gardens of thought, but always brings back some flower in his hand. Who can estimate the advantages that may result from this toil and this application of it? It was said by Southey that the poetry of every nation is colored by the national character, as the wine of different soils has its own peculiar raciness and flavor. And so it is in the economy of families; the fruit upon the domestic ground tells us not only what seed was sown, but what cultivation was bestowed upon it. The father, instructing and delighting the little circle of relatives and friends round the hearth of winter, is often a missionary to prepare the way for the angelic footsteps of Piety.
The domestic life of virtuous genius has many delightful pictures to soothe and engage our eyes. We like to see Richardson reading chapters of his novels to his listenAnd if in the tranquil retirement of the ing friends in his favorite grotto; and study, and amid the recreations of home Sterne never looks so amiable and captivaand friends, the magical power of books be ting as when he appears by his own fireside felt and acknowledged, how much more with his daughter copying and his wife vivid will their influence be in the solitude knitting. His own description is a very of distant lands, in the pangs of adversity lively sketch. Writing to a friend, Sept. or in the watches of sickness? The mem-21, 1761:— ory of a book returns with redoubled charms at seasons like these; it not only pleases by its own beauties, but by the long train of endearing associations which it awakens and detains before our eyes. It has the voice of a friend, and transports us
* Azais des Compensations.
"I am scribbling away at my Tristram. These two volumes are, I think, the best I shall write as long as I live; 'tis, in fact, my hobbyhorse, and so much am I delighted with my become an enthusiast. My Lydia helps to copy uncle Toby's imaginary character, that I am for me, and my wife knits and listens as I read her chapters."
Cowper has painted his own domestic fireside with a still livelier pencil; it has all the minute touches, and finish, and warmth of an interior by a Dutch artist. The shutters closed, the curtains let down, the sofa wheeled round, the fire quickened into a blaze; then the journal of travels by land or perils by sea is opened, or the page of the historian is made vocal, while his faithful Mary Unwin, with her shining store of needles, sits quietly listening in the opposite chair.
same advice with his usual fulness of meaning: "We are capable not only of acting, and of having different momentary impressions, but of getting a new facility in any kind of action, and of settled alterations in our temper or character. The power of the two last is the power of habits."* Acts are only resolutions grown up, of which the larger number die at their birth.
Bishop Butler was unable to discover any kind or degree of enjoyment offered to man, except by means of his own actions; A very charming paper might be com- and this opinion, if carefully examined and posed out of the records of the assistance honestly interpreted, will be found to be which men of genius have received from well-founded. Exertion is essential to hap"them of their own household," in carry-piness. Even the heavenly food was to be ing on their difficult labors. Many who gathered up. In the wilderness of life, the have read with admiration and respect of food of the understanding is bestowed upon the discoveries of the late Sir William the same conditions, an appetite is alike Herschel, are ignorant that his labors were obtained and rewarded by exercise. We alleviated and assisted by the watchful affection and the unwearied enthusiasm of his sister, who has lived to see the fame of her brother equalled, if not outshone by the reputation of her nephew. Miss Caroline Herschel, as we are told by Professor Nichol, shared in all the toil by which the astronomical investigations of her brother were attended. She braved the inclemency of the weather, she passed the night by the side of the telescope. "She took the rough manuscripts to her cottage at the dawn of day and produced a fair copy of the night's work on the ensuing morning: she planned the labor of each succeeding night, she reduced every observation, made every calculation, and kept every thing in systematic order." Surely this is one of the most interesting paragraphs in the history of feminine affection and intelligence.
have a very elaborate and curious delineation of the day of a scholar of antiquity, in one of the familiar letters of Pliny, from which some interesting particulars may be selected, and bound together. He rose,t generally, with the sun; believing that darkness and silence were favorable to meditation, he always had the shutters of his chamber-windows closed. Thus abstracted from the allurement of outward objects, the eye, obedient to the direction of the mind, dwelt upon the pictures of the imagination. If he was engaged in any composition, he selected this portion of the day for its consideration; not confining himself to the construction of the plan, but selecting the expression and harmonizing the periods. Having intrusted to his memory as much as he thought it could retain, he summoned his secretary, and openXVI. The great object in literature, as ing the shutters, dictated to him what he in every other occupation in life, is to act had composed. He pursued the same upon a plan; to divide the hours of the day course until ten or eleven o'clock, when he into little plots of seed-ground, from each of walked on the terrace or in the covered which a harvest is to be reaped. To-day, portico, still meditating or dictating, as bethe proverb tells us, is yesterday's pupil. fore. He carried his studies into his chaA careful examination of a day will teach riot, finding that the change of situation us how intimately associated is each hour preserved and enlivened his attention. with its predecessor and successor; they Upon his return, he took some repose; then are children of time, and inherit the fea- walked out, and afterwards repeated some tures and the infirmities of their parent. Greek or Latin oration, not so much for One ill-spent hour gives birth to a second, the improvement of his elocution as of his that to a third. The family soon increases. digestion. In modern times, Gassendi and "If you devote this day to study," wrote Hobbes adopted the same habit. He then Johnson to Boswell,* " you will find your-walked out again, was anointed, and went self still more able to study to-morrow;" into the bath. The supper-hour was now and at an earlier period he had told Baretti at hand. If his wife or a few friends were that one week and one year are very much present, a favorite book was read to them; alike. Bishop Butler has given us the
* Dec. 8, 1763.
+ June 10, 1761.
Analogy, c. v.
† See bis Letter to Fuscus. Letter xxxvi. b. 9
and when the repast was ended, they were amused with music or an interlude. A walk in the society of his family succeeded. Thus the evening was spent in various conversation, and the longest day glided away unobserved. Visits to the surrounding villages often furnished a pleasing episode in the history of the day.
Of all the moments of our life, the spare minutes are the most fruitful in good or evil. They are gaps through which temptations find the easiest access to the garden. Now it is precisely during these little intervals of idleness or amusement, that the good angel of Literature-of Literature baptized by Religion--waits upon those whom he loves, and who welcome his visits, with some flower to charm their senses, some song to soothe their ear, or some precious stone to delight their eyes. Spare minutes occur in every portion of the day, but they never come with a sweeter influence than in the hour of twilight. The picture which Cowper has drawn of an evening at Weston, may be transferred to the firesides of our readers. The wintry winds, that rattle the bolted shutter, awake a livelier feeling of warmth and gratitude. How many thoughts
through the world, were born amid the indistinct glimmer of the parlor twilight! Ridley, gazing into the expiring embers, after the toil and disputes of the day, beheld, it may be, the English church rising in all her harmony and magnificence. Raleigh called up from those red cinders, in which Cowper created trees and churches, cities with gates of gold, and forests stretching into the remote horizon. Milton, while bending over his father's hearth at Horton, and reflecting upon the studies of the day, beheld, perhaps, the dim outline of some majestic story, over which those treasures of Greek and Latin fancy and eloquence were to diffuse so sweet a charm.
With this agreeable sketch we may contrast a picture of a learned English bishop in the sixteenth century, a man intimately associated with one of the most eventful periods of our ecclesiastical history-Bishop Jewell. The morning has been consecrated to study by the example of every Christian scholar. Hacket calls it, very prettily, and in the spirit of Cowley or Carew, the "mother of honey dews and pearls which drop upon the paper from the student's pen." The learned and excellent Bishop Jewell affords a very delightful specimen of genius and of devotion, still living of the day of an early English scholar, who not only lived among his books but among men. He commonly rose at four o'clock, had private prayers at five, and attended the public service of the church in the cathedral at six. The remainder of the morning was given to study. One of his biographers has drawn a very interesting sketch of Jewell during the day. At meals, a chapter being first read, he recreated himself with scholastic wars between young scholars whom he entertained at his table. After meals his doors and ears were open to all suits and causes; and at these times, for the most part, he despatched all those businesses which either his place or others' importunity forced upon him, making gain of the residue of this time for his study. About the hour of nine at night he called his servants to an account how they had was the pleasing line of Cowley. These spent the day, and admonished them ac. winter spare minutes are the harvest-homes cordingly. "From this examination to his of memory. Thoughts that have been study (how long it is uncertain, oftentimes gleaning in distant fields during the day, after midnight), and so to bed; wherein, now bring back their little sheaves to the after some part of an author read to him garner. The celebrated Barrow always. by the gentlemen of his bed-chamber, com- kept, during winter, a tinder-box in his mending himself to the protection of his room, frequently rising in the night to purSaviour, he took his rest.' And in the ar-sue his studies. One of his works was rangement and disposition of the day, we written in spare minutes of this descripfind all scholars, whether of ancient or mo- tion. dern days, especially watchful to gather up every spare minute. Spare minutes are the gold dust of time; and Young was writing a true, as well as a striking line, when he affirmed that,
"Sands make the mountain, moments make the year.t"
"Bright winter fires that summer's part supply,"
And the influence of spare minutes upon our lives cannot be estimated too highly. A particular feature in Livy's character of Philopamen is his constant habit of obser vation; his military knowledge was always fit for action. The cultivation of a single talent, in the spare minutes of the busy and humblest employment, may exercise
See account of his life prefixed to Century of the most important influence upon our fuSermons, 1609. ture prosperity, and happiness, and fame.
close, of the history of letters; the curtain of the drama rises instead of falling, with the Agamemnon of Eschylus; Chatham borrows from Demosthenes instead of adding to him; Robertson and Southey have not heightened the pictures of Livy; Montesquieu has not outgazed the sagacity of Tacitus. Education cannot create genius; Intellectual and natural prodigies grow of themselves.
But this talent must be ready for production at a moment's warning. The history of one of the most popular English poets of the eighteenth century will illustrate the remark. Prior, on the death of his father, was brought up by his uncle, who sent him to Westminster school, where he remained until the trade of his relative, a vintner, required some additional energy to conduct it; and young Prior was taken from the school to the tavern. He obeyed the call Literature is not inductive with relation of gratitude and affection; but amid all the to its creators; it is strictly so with relasordid duties of his situation he retained a tion to its students. The stars of heaven love of the classical pursuits which he ac- are not more remote from the understandquired at Westminster. Horace was the ing of a child, than the stars of literature companion of his leisure hours. It hap- from the comprehension of the uncultivapened that the famous Earl of Dorset fre- ted intellect. The multiplication-table and quented the tavern kept by Prior's uncle, the grammar respectively teach the first and during one of his occasional visits a steps; every new acquisition increases the dispute arose between that nobleman and number. Taste itself is only the sum of a his companions respecting a passage in the long series of processes of reflection. These Latin lyrist. A gentleman of the company chains of induction will of course be linked suggested that a young man lived in the with greater or less rapidity, according as house who might be able to decide the the faculties of the mind possess greater question. Prior was called into the room, or less quickness and tenacity of apprehenand immediately obtained the patronage of sion. Sir Isaac Newton told Coates that he Dorset by the ready accuracy and taste of had perceived a peculiar property of the his scholarship. In a short time the vint-ellipse without having gone through any ner's nephew was on his road to Cam- intermediate connexions of argument and bridge. His subsequent history is familiar to all; from academic he rose to political distinction; and the boy, who had been removed from school to serve in a tavern, became so important an actor in the scenes of history, that Swift informed a friend,* "Prior is just come over from France for a few days; stocks rise at his coming." A few hours spent over the poety of Horace were the simple instruments of his eleva
XVII. An employment of spare minutes implies the presence and the nurture of an industrious spirit. Literature is not like science, strictly inductive; its mysteries are not to be unfolded by thoughtful scholars tracing on the obscure hints dropped by the hand of naturet or of man. A basket left upon the ground, and overgrown by the acanthus, suggests the Corinthian capital; the contemplation of the sun's rays along a wall produces the achromatic telescope; the movements of a frog reveal the wonders of electricity and galvanism; and an idle boy unexpectedly shows the way to the most important improvement of the steam-engine. Nothing like this ever happened, or can happen, in literature. The Iliad stands at the beginning, not at the * October 28, 1712. Butler's Anal. p. ii. c. 3. Lord Brougham.
analysis; Pascal solved the problems of Euclid without any effort; and Mrs. Somerville unconsciously unfolded the mysteries of algebra. But these luminaries of intellect are our guides, not our models; we have not their light, because we are placed at remoter distances from the orb of Genius. But every person can practise the patient diligence, though he may want the piercing sagacity of Pascal.
Hogarth commences his delineations of sin with a sketch of a boy playing on a tombstone. The illustration may serve also for intellectual degradation. Industry should be the companion of childhood. It is especially expedient to form and culti vate a habit of attention and reflection in the dawn of our days. Gassendi informs us, in his minute and elegant life of Peirese,* that he always read with a pen by his side, and underlined every difficult passage, that he might recur to it again. The profound scholar, Ruhnken, adopted a similar practice; and Wyttenbach gives an interesting account of his method of reading a Greek book. Without these habits of attention and reflection, reading is only an occupa tion, not an employment. Reading, at most, to adopt the sentiment of an old writer,†
* De Vita Peiresa, lib. sixt. 365. Bishop Jebb praises the graceful Latinity of this volume.* ↑ Goodman.
"Facilis quærentibus herba, Namque uno ingentem tollit de cespite silvam, Aureus ipse."
can only elevate our mind to that of the ly not their only nor their most important author whom we peruse; whilst medita- use. A language is really valuable, as it tion lifts us upon his shoulders, and ena- supplies ideas; as it becomes a channel to bles us to see farther than he ever saw, or conduct a new stream of thoughts into the could see. "Salmasius," said Gibbon, memory. Italian should be acquired, not "read as much as Grotius; but the first to visit the Opera, but to read Dante; the became a pedant, and the second a philoso-ear should be familiarized with French pher." Leibnitz discovered, in the intel-idioms, not to enjoy the coteries of Paris, lectual system of Cudworth, extensive eru- but to appreciate Bossuet. When Johndition, but little reflection; and Bolinbroke son's pension was granted, he exclaimed, considered that the incessant toil of read-that if it had been bestowed twenty years ing afforded him no intervals for medita- earlier, he would have gone to Constantition. The advice of a most learned and nople to learn Arabic, as Pococke did. In eloquent scholar-of one in whom the piles this spirit, the acquisition of a language of knowledge were kindled by the fire of belongs to the Pleasures, Objects, and Adimagination cannot be too constantly vantages of Literature, but in no other. present to the memory. Proportion an And in every language thus investigated, hour's meditation to an hour's reading, and the tree of Beauty, with all its branches of thus dispirit the book into the scholar. In wisdom, and fancy, and grace, will be easithe natural world, we see the polyp takingly discovered. Under those boughs let the its color from the food that nourishes it. student sit. Nor will he be obliged to To a certain extent, the same phenomenon wander far for the sweet flower of moral will commonly occur in the operation of instruction,— the intellect. Meditation, acting as it were upon the organization of the mind, assimilates its nourishment; and this mysterious operation, in a healthy understanding, is not apparent. Winckelman* mentions, that in the statue of Hercules, the expiring ef And in speaking of the study of langua fort of antique sculpture-the veins are in ges, let me not omit to mention the delight visible. The robust frame of Genius is and the improvement which are to be denourished by channels equally secret from rived from reading at least the Greek Scripthe common eye. To this nourishment tures in their original tongue. It is one of the study of foreign languages will con- the graceful tales of classic fiction that tribute; but it is a study which must be Ulysses escaped the enchantment of the restrained within moderate limits, and di- Syrens by binding himself to the mast, but rected with caution to a particular object. that Orpheus overcame their charm by singWhen Warburton recommended a youth-ing the praises of the gods. The great art ful friend to the notice of Hurd, he request- of the Christian student will always be ap ed him to check the student's ardor in the plied to extract out of every book, instrucacquisition of languages. "Were I," wrote tion and comfort, but he will look for his Warburton, "to be the reformer of West- moral protection and consolation, only to minster school, I would order that every one. He will prepare himself for the little boy should have impressed on his Acci- voyage of the day, by searching the Scripdence, in great letters of gold, as on the tures. When we remember the illuminaback of the Horn-book, that oracle of Hobbes, "Words are the counters of wise men, and the money of fools.'" A knowledge of languages, as generally embraced in the scheme of modern education, is only a fringe upon the scholar's garment, and frequently conceals the awkward move. ments of an uncultivated mind. Living languages, as they are called, are chiefly studied with reference to society; they form the currency of fashionable life. But however agreeable, or even beneficial this employment of them may be, it is obvious-for
tion which learning has shed upon the dark places of Truth, we shall feel with Benson, that fanaticism, however ardent its endeavors, will never succeed in banishing Literature from the household of Faith. Every student cannot, of course, be familiarly acquainted with the interpretation, the illustration, or the criticism of the Scriptures; but it is in the power of a large number to acquire some knowledge of the most important works which good and learned men have devoted to that sacred subject. Take,
example, the following list. A few hours of the Sabbath day, devoted to the study of these books, will furnish the busiest man with an answer to every inquiry