« AnteriorContinuar »
site extremes. He was born to all that men covet or admire. But, in every one of those eminent advantages which he possessed over others, there was mingled something of misery and debasement. He was sprung from a house, ancient, indeed, and noble, but degraded and impoverished by a series of crimes and follies, which had attained a scandalous publicity.
3. The kinsman whom he succeeded, had died poor, and, but for merciful judges, would have died upon the gallows. The young peer
powers; yet there was an unsound part in his mind. He had naturally a generous and tender heart; but his temper was wayward and irritable. He had a head which statuaries loved to copy, and a foot, the deformity of which the beggars in the streets mimicked. Distinguished, at once, by the strength and by the weakness of his intellect, affectionate, yet perverse, a poor lord, and a handsome cripple, he required, if ever man required, the firmest and the most judicious training.
4. But, capriciously as nature had dealt with him, the relative to whom the office of forming his character was intrusted, was more capricious still. She passed from paroxysms of rage, to paroxysms
of fondness. At one time she stifled him with her caresses; at another time she insulted his deformity. He came into the world, and the world treated him as his mother treated him--sometimes with kindness, sometimes with severity, never with justice. It indulged him without discrimination, and punished him without discrimination. He was truly a spoiled child, not merely the spoiled child of his parents, but the spoiled child of nature, the spoiled child of fortune, the spoiled child of fame, the spoiled child of society.
5. His first poems were received with a contempt which, feeble as they were, they did not absolutely deserve. The poem which he published on his return from his travels, was, on the other hand, extolled far above its merits. At twenty-four, he found himself on the highest pinnacle of literary fame, with Scott, Wordsworth, Southey, and a crowd of other distinguished writers beneath his feet. There is scarcely an instance in history of so sudden a rise to so dizzy an eminence.
6. Everything that could stimulate, and everything that could gratify the strongest propensities of our nature—the gaze of a hundred drawing-rooms, the acclamations of the whole nation, the applause of applauded men, the love of the loveliest women -all this world, and all the glory of it, were, at once, offered to a young man, to whom nature had given violent passions, and whom education had never taught to control them.
7. He had been guilty of the offense, which, of all offenses, , is punished most severely; he had been over-praised; he had excited too warm an interest; and the public, with its usual justice, chastised him for its own folly. The attachments of the multitude bear no small resemblance to those of the wanton enchantress in the Arabian Tales, who, when the forty days of her fondness were over, was not content with dismissing her lovers, but condemned them to expiate, in loathsome shapes, and under severe punishments, the crime of having once pleased her too well.
8. The obloquy which Byron had to endure was such as might well have shaken a more constant mind. The newspapers were filled with lampoons. The theaters shook with execrations. He was excluded from circles where he had lately been the observed of all observers. All those creeping things that riot in the decay of nobler natures, hastened to their repast; and they were right; they did after their kind. It is not every day that the savage envy of aspiring dunces is gratified by the agonies of such a spirit, and the degradation of such a name.
9. The unhappy man left his country forever. The howl of contumely followed him across the sea, up the Rhine, over the Alps; it gradually waxed fainter; it died away. Those who had raised it began to ask each other what, after all, was the matter about which they had been so clamorous; and wished to invite back the criminal whom they had just chased from them. His poetry became more popular than it had ever been; and his complaints were read with tears by thousands and tens of thousands who had never seen his face. He had fixed his home on the shores of the Adriatic. He plunged into wild and desperate
His health sunk under the effects of his intemperance
His verse lost inuch of the energy and condensation which had distinguished it. But he would not resign without a struggle. A new dream of ambition arose before him—to be the center of a literary party. The plan failed, and failed ignominiously. Angry with himself, angry with his coadjutors, he relinquished it, and turned to another project, the last and the noblest of his life.
10. A nation, once the first among the nations, pre-eminent in knowledge, pre-eminent in military glory, the cradle of phi1.sophy, of eloquence, and of the fine arts, had been for ages bowed down under a cruel yoke. All the vices which tyranny generates—the abject vices which it generates in those who submit to it—the ferocious vices which it generates in those who struggle against it—had deformed the character of that miserable race.
11. The valor which had won the great battle of human civilization, which had saved Europe, and subjugated Asia, lingered only among pirates and robbers. The ingenuity, once so conspicuously displayed in every department of physical and moral science, had been depraved into a timid and servile cunning. On a sudden this degraded people had risen on their oppressors. Discountenanced or betrayed by the surrounding potentates, they had found in themselves something of that which might well supply the place of all foreign assistancesomething of the energy of their fathers.
12. As a man of letters, Lord Byron could not but be interested in the event of this contest. His political opinions, though, like all his opinions, unsettled, leaned strongly towards the side of liberty. He had assisted the Italian insurgents with his purse; and, if their struggle against the Austrian government had been prolonged, would probably have assisted them with his sword.
13. But to Greece he was attached by peculiar ties. He had, when young, resided in that country. Much of his most splcndid and popular poetry had been inspired by its scenery and by its history. Sick of inaction, degraded in his own eyes by his private vices and by his literary failures, pining for untried
excitement and honorable distinction, he carried his exhausted body and his wounded spirit to the Grecian camp.
14. His conduct, in his new situation, showed so much vigor and good sense as to justify us in believing that, if his life had been prolonged, he might have distinguished himself as a soldier and a politician. But pleasure and sorrow had done the work of seventy years upon his delicate frame. The hand of death was on him; he knew it; and the only wish which he uttered, was that he might die sword in hand.
15. This was denied to him. Anxiety, exertion, exposure, and those fatal stimulants which had become indispensable to him, soon stretched him on a sick-bed, in a strange land, amidst strange faces, without one human being that he loved near him. There, at thirty-six, the most celebrated Englishman of the nineteenth century closed his brilliant and miserable career.
HENRY WARD BEECHER, the well known minister of Plynouth Church, Brooklyn, New York, was born in Litchfield, Connecticut, June 24th, 1813. Endowed by nature with the elements essential to the formation of a true orator, and especially quick in the perception of analogies, he sways the feelings of an audience, with wonderful facility, by vigorous appeal, vivid description, and endless variety of illustration. A volume of “Lectures to Young Men," “ The Star Papers” (so called because signed with an asterisk as they separately appeared in "The Independent” newspaper), a novel, “Nor. wood," and the “Plymouth Coilection of Hymns," and some occasional addresses, make up the sum of his published works.
HENRY WARD BEECHER.
THE OBJECT OF TRAINING.
Many children grow up like plants under bell-glasses. They are surrounded only by artificial and prepared influences. They are house-bred, room-bred, nurse-bred, mother-bred-everything
but self-bred. The object of training is to teach the child to take care of himself; but many parents use their children only as a kind of spool on which to reel off their own experience; and they are bound and corded until they perish by inanity, or break all bonds and cords, and rush to ruin by reaction.
A BLESSED BANKRUPTCY.
I heard a man who had failed in business, and whose furni ture was sold at auction, say that, when the cradle, and the crib, and the piano went, tears would come, and he had to leave the house to be a man. Now, there are thousands of men who have lost their pianos, but who have found better music in the sound of their children's voices and footsteps going cheerfully down with them to poverty, than any harmony of chorded instruments. 0, how blessed is bankruptcy when it saves a man's children! I see many men who are bringing up their children as I should bring up mine, if, when they were ten years old, I should lay them on the dissecting-table, and vut the sinews of their arms and legs, so that they could neither walk nor use their hands, but only sit still and be fed. Thus rich men put the knife of indolence and luxury to their children's energies, and they grow up fatted, lazy calves, fitted for nuthing, at twenty-five, but to drink deep and squander wide; and the father must be a slave all his life, in order to make beasts of his children. How blessed, then, is the stroke of disaster, which sets the children free, and gives them over to the hard, but kind bosom of Poverty, who says to them “Work !” and, working, makes them men !
WORK, NOT WORRY.
It is not work that kills men; it is worry. Work is healthy; you can hardly put more upon a man than he can bear. Worry is rust upon the blade. It is not the revolution that destroys the machinery, but the friction. l'ear secretes acids; but love and trust are sweet juices