Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

production of the greatest sum of being and enjoyment. That motion in the earth, and change of place in the sun, which cause one region of the globe to be consigned to cold, decay, and barrenness, impart to another heat and life, fertility and beauty. While in our climate the earth is bound with frost, and the “ chilly smothering snows” are falling, the inhabitants of another behold the earth planted with vegetation and appareled in verdure, and those of a third are rejoicing in the appointed weeks of harvest.

5. Each season comes, attended with its benefits and pleasures. All are sensible of the charms of spring. Then the senses are delighted with the feast that is furnished on every field, and on every hill. The eye is sweetly delayed on every object to which it turns. It is grateful to perceive how widely, yet chastely, nature has mixed her colors and painted her robe, -how bountifully she has scattered her blossoms and flung her odors. We listen with joy to the melody she has awakened in the groves, and catch health from the pure and tepida gales that blow from the mountains.

6. When the summer exhibits the whole force of active nature, and shines in full beauty and splendor,—when the '! succeeding season offers its “purple stores and golden grain," } or displays its blended and softened tints,-when the winter puts on its sullen aspect, and brings stillness and repose, af- ? fording a respit from the labors which have occupied the preceding months, inviting us to reflection, and compensating for the want of attractions abroad, by fireside delights and loome-felt joys,-in all this interchange and variety, we find reason to acknowledge the wise and benevolent care of the 3 God of seasons.

7. We are passing from the finer to the ruder portions of 2 the year. The sun emits' a fainter beam, and the sky is frequently overcast. The gardens and fields have become a 5 waste, and the forests have shed their verdant honors. The 15 hills are no more enlivened with the bleating of flocks, and the woodland no longer resounds with the song of birds. 4 In these changes we see evidences of our own instability, and images of our transitoryo state.

8. Our life is compared to a falling leaf. When we are disposed to count on protracted years,—to defer any serious Thoughts of futurity, and to extend our plans through a long succession of seasons,—the spectacle of the “fading many- 1 colored woods," and the naked trees, affords a salutary admonition of our frailty. It should teach us to fill the short year of our life, or that portion of it which may be allotted a Tep'-id, molerately warm.

c Trans'-1-20-ry, fleeting. E-mit to send out

to us, with useful employments and harmless pleasures,-to practice that industry, activity, and order, which the course of the natural world is constantly preaching.

9. Let not the passions blight the intellect in the spring of its advancement; nor indolence nor vice canker the promise of the heart in the blossom. Then shall the summer of life be adorned with moral beauty,—the autumn yield a harvest of wis lom and virtue,—and the winter of age be cheered with pleasing reflections on the past, and bright hopes of the future.

Monthly Anthology.

SECTION VI.

On the Swiftness of Time. 1. The natural advantages which arise from the position 1 of the earth we inhabit, with respect to the other planets,

afford much employment to mathematical speculation,-by which it has been discovered, that no other conformation of the system could have given such commodious distributions of light and heat, or have imparted fertility and pleasure to 80 great a part of a revolving sphere.

2. It may perhaps be observed by the moralist, with equal reason, that our globe seems particularly fitted for the residence of a being, placed here only for a short time, whose task is to advance himself to a higher and happier state of existence, by unremitted vigilance of caution, and activity of virtue.

3. The duties required of man, are such as human nature does not willingly perform, and such as those are inclined to delay, who yet intend, at some time, to fulfill them. It was therefore necessary, that this universal reluctance should be counteracted, and the drowsiness of hesitation wakened into resolve,-that the danger of procrastination should be always in view, and the fallacies of security be hourly detected.

4. To this end all the appearances of nature uniformly conspire. Whatever we see, on every side, reminds us of the lapse of time and the flux of life. The day and night succeed each other; the rotation of seasons diversifies the year; the sun rises, attains the meridian, declines and sets; and the moon, every night, changes its form.

5. The day has been considered as an image of the year, and a year as the representation of life. The morning answers to the spring, and the spring to childhood and youth. The noon corresponds to the summer, and the summer to & Coun ter-act'eil, acted in opposition. c Fal'-la-cies, false anpearances, decelta *Pro cras-ti-na-tion, delay.

the strength of manhood. The evening is an emblema of autunin, and autumn of declining life. The night, with its silence and darkness, shows the winter, in which all the powers of vegetation are benumbed; and the winter points out the time when life shall cease, with its hopes and pleasures.

6. He that is carried forward, however swiftly, by a motion equable and easy, perceives not the change of place but it by the variation of objects. If the wheel of life which rolls * thus silently along, passed on with undistinguishable uni- 1 formity, we should never mark its approaches to the end of the course. If one hour were like another, if the passage : of the sun did not show that the day is wasting,-if the change of seasons did not impress upon us the flight of the year, -quantities of duration, equal to days and years, would glide unobserved.

7. If the parts of time were not variously colored, we should never discern their departure or succession; but should live, thoughtless of the past, and careless of the future,—without will, and perhaps without power to compute the periods of life, or to compare the time which is already lost with that which may probably remain.

8. But the course of time is so visibly marked, that it is even observed by the passage,-and by nations who have raised their minds very little above animal instinct: there are human beings, whose language does not supply them with words by which they can number five; but I have read of none that have not names for day and night, for summer and winter.

9. Yet it is certain that these adinonitions of nature, however importunate, are too often vain ; and that many, who mark with such accuracy the course of time, appear to have little sensibility of the decline of life. Every man has something to do which he neglects; every man has faults to con- ." quer which he delays to combat.

10. So little do we accustom ourselves to consider the effects of time, that things necessary and certain, often surprise us like unexpected contingencies. We leave the beauty in 1) her bloom, and, after an absence of twenty years, wonder at our return to find her faded. We meet those whom we left children, and can scarcely persuade ourselves to treat them u as men. The traveler visits, in age, those countries through which he rambled in his youth, and hopes for merriment at ! the old place. The man of business, wearied with unsatisfactory prosperity, retires to the town of his nativity, and ex

a Ern'-blem, a representation of some. thing.

Im-por'-tu-nate, pressing with solicita c Con-tin-gen-cies, casual events. [tion

la c In-cum'-hent, imposed as a du'y. b In-or-di-nate, immorerate, excessive. d Ma-lig'-nant, malicious, virulent,

pects to play away his last years with the companions of his childhood, and recover youth in the fields where he once was young.

11. From this inattention-so general and so mischievouslet it be every man's study to exempt himself. Let him that desires to see others happy, make haste to give while his gift can be enjoyed; and remember, that every moment of delay takes away something from the value of his benefaction ;a and let him who proposes his own happiness, reflect, that while he forms his purpose the day rolls on, and the night cometh when no man can work."

Dr. Johnson.

SECTION VII.

The unhappiness resulting from unrestrained passions. 3 1. The passions are those strong emotions of the mind,

which impel it to desire and to act with vehemence. When directed toward proper objects, and kept within just bounds, they possess a useful place in our frame,--they add vigor and

energy to the mind, and enable it, on great occasions, to act s with uncommon force and success; but they always require the government and restraint of reason.

2. It is in the mind just as it is in the body. Every member of the body is useful, and serves some good purpose. Put if any one swell to an enormous size, it presently becomes a disease. Thus, when a man's passions go on in a calm and moderate train, and no object takes an inordinateb hold of | any of them, his spirit is in this part sound, and his life pro

ceeds with tranquillity. But if any of them be so far indul

ged and left without restraint as to run into excess, a dangerTous blow will then be given to the heart.

3. Supposing, for instance, that some passion, even of the nature of those which are reckoned innocent, shall so far seize a man, as to conquer and overpower him ;--his tranquillity will be destroyed. The balance of his soul is lost; he is no longer his own master, nor is capable of attending properly to the offices of life which are incumbent on him, or of turning his thoughts into any other direction than what passion points out. He may be sensible of the wound,-may feel the dart that is fixed in his breast, but is unable to extract it.

4. But the case becomes infinitely worse, if the passion 1 which has seized a man be of the vicious and malignant' kind.

Let him be placed in the most prosperous situation of life,

give him external ease and affluence to the full, and let his 3 Bene faction, charitable gift.

character be high and applauded by the world, -yet, if into the heart of this man there has stolen some dark, jealous suspicion,--some rankling envy, some pining discontent,-that instant his temper is soured, and poison is scattered over all his joys. He dwells in secret upon his vexations and cares; and while the crowd admire his prosperity, he envies the more peaceful condition of the peasant and the hind.

5. If his passions chance to be of the more fierce and out : rageous nature, the painful feelings they produce will be still more intense and acute. By violent passions the heart is not only wounded, but torn and rent. As long as a man is under the workings of raging ambition, disappointed pride, and keen thirst for revenge, he remains under immediate torment. Over his dark and scowling mind, gloomy ideas continually brood. His transient fits of merriment and joy, are like beams of light, breaking occasionally from the black cloud, that carries the thunder.

6. What greatly aggravates the misery of such persons, is, that they dare make no complaints. When the body is diseased or wounded, to our friends we naturally fly; and from ; their sympathy or assistance expect relief. But the wounds given to the heart by ill-governed passions, are of an oppro- . brious nature, and must be stifled in secret. The slave of passion can unbosom himself to no friend; and, instead of sympathy, dreads meeting with ridicule or contempt.

Blair. SECTION VII. Of Curiosity concerning the affairs of others. 1. That idle curiosity,—that inquisitived and meddling spirit, which leads men to pry into the affairs of their neighbors,—is reprehensible on three accounts. It interrupts the good order, and breaks the peace of society. It brings for- to ward and nourishes several bad passions. Ii draws men aside from a proper attention to the discharge of their own duty.

2. It interrupts, I say, the order, and breaks the peace of society. In this world we are linked together by many ties. l We are bound by duty, and we are prompted by interest, to i give mutual' assistance, and to perform friendly offices to each other. But those friendly offices are performed to the most advantage, when we avoid to interfere, unnecessarily, in the concerns of our neighbor. Every man has his own part a Tran'-sient, passing, hasty.

d In-quis'-i-tive, given to inqury. Op-pro'-bri-ous, reproachful, disgrace. e Rep-re-hen'-si-ble, censurable. ful.

s Mu'-tu-al, acting in return. cSym'-pa-thy, a fellow feeling

« AnteriorContinuar »