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2. A lovelier, purer light than that of day
3. The watchman on the battlements partakes
Memory. — ROGERS.
2. Lighter than air, Hope's summer visions die, If but a fleeting cloud obscure the sky;
* Born 1774 ; died 1843.
+ This word' argentry is derived from the Latin argentum, which signifies silver. The term is applied to the stars, which appear like silver.
If but a beam of sober Reason play,
3. These, when the trembling spirit wings her flight,
LESSON CXXII. Destiny of our country. - R. C. WINTHROP. 1. HERE then, sir, I bring these remarks to a close. I have explained, to the best of my ability, the views which I entertain of the great questions of the day. Those views may be misrepresented hereafter, as they have been heretofore; but they cannot be misunderstood by any one who desires, or who is even willing, to understand them.
2. Most gladly would I have found myself agreeing more entirely with some of the friends whom I see around me, and with more than one of those elsewhere, with whom I have always been proud to be associated, and whose lead, on almost all occasions, I have rejoiced to follow. 3. One tie, however, I am persuaded, still remains to
a common devotion to the Union of these States, and a common determination to sacrifice everything but principle to its preservation. Our responsibilities are indeed great. This vast republic, stretching from sea to sea, and rapidly outgrowing everything but our affections, looks anxiously to us, this day, to take care that it receives no detriment.
4. Nor is it too much to say, that the eyes and the hearts of the friends of constitutional freedom throughout the world are at this moment turned eagerly here, more eagerly than ever before, — to behold an example of successful republican institutions, and to see them come out safely and triumphantly from the fiery trial to which they are now subjected!
5. I have the firmest faith that these eyes and these hearts will not be disappointed. I have the strongest belief that the visions and phantoms of disunion which now appall us will soon be remembered only like the clouds of some April morning, or “the dissolving views” of some evening spectacle.
6. I have the fullest conviction that this glorious republic is destined to outlast all, all, at either end of the union, who may be plotting against its peace, or predicting its downfall.
* Fond, impious man ! think'st thou yon sanguine cloud,
And warms the nations with redoubled ray!” 7. Let us proceed in the settlement of the unfortunate controversies in which we find ourselves involved, in a spirit of mutual conciliation and concession :- let us invoke fervently upon our efforts the blessing of that Almighty Being who is
" the author of peace and the lover of concord : and we shall still find order springing out of confusion, harmony evoked from discord, and peace, union and liberty, once more reassured to our land !
On Reading. - GIBBON.* 1. READING is the nourishment of the mind; for, by reading, we know our Creator, his works, ourselves chiefly, and our fellow-creatures. But this nourishment is easily converted into poison. Salmasius had read as much as Grotius,t
- perhaps more; but their different modes of reading made the one an enlightened philosopher, and the other, to speak plainly, a pedant, puffed up with a useless erudition.
2. Let us read with method, and propose to ourselves an end to which all our studies may point. Through neglect of this rule, gross ignorance often disgraces great readers, who, by skipping hastily and irregularly from one subject to another, render themselves incapable of combining their ideas. So many detached parcels of knowledge cannot form a whole. 3. But what ought we to read ? Each individual must answer this question for himself, agreeably to the object of his studies. The only general precept that I would venture to give is that of Pliny, “to read much, rather than many things ;” to make a careful selection of the best works, and to render them familiar to us by attentive and repeated perusals.
* Born 1737; died 1794.
+ Grotius and Salmasius were two learned men, who flourished between the years 1583 and 1650. Grotius was born in Holland, Salma. sius in France. The former was the author of a distinguished work “On the Truth of the Christian Religion," and also a work of still greater celebrity, “On the Rights of Peace and War.” The latter also was a voluminous writer, but was more distinguished for his remarkable memory, which enabled him to retain everything which he had once read.
4. Without expatiating on the authors so generally known and approved, I would simply observe, that in matters of reasoning, the best are those who have augmented the number of useful truths; who have discovered truths, of whatever nature they may be; in one word, those bold spirits, who, quitting the beaten track, prefer being in the wrong alone, to being in the right with the multitude.
5. Such authors increase the number of our ideas, and even their mistakes are useful to their successors. With all the respect due to Mr. Locke,* I would not, however, neglect the works of those academicianst who destroy errors without hoping to substitute truth in their stead.
6. In works of fancy, invention ought to bear away the palm : chiefly that invention which creates a new kind of writing; and next, that which displays the charms of novelty in its subject, characters, situation, pictures, thoughts and sen. timents. Yet this invention will miss its effect, unless it be accompanied with a genius capable of adapting itself to every variety of the subject, — successively sublime, pathetic, flowery, majestic, and playful; and with a judgment which admits nothing indecorous, and a style which expresses well whatever ought to be said.
7. As to compilations which are intended merely to treasure up the thoughts of others, I ask whether they are written with perspicuity, whether superfluities are lopped off, and dispersed observations skillfully collected; and agreeably to my answers to those questions, I estimate the merit of such performances.
* John Locke was one of the greatest philosophers and metaphysicians that England ever produced. (Born 1632 ; died 1704.) His Essay on the Human Understanding was for a long time a text-book in our col leges. But he is perhaps entitled to greater respect for his powerful defense of civil and religious liberty.
† An Academician is a member of an association of scholars or artists. The term originated in Athens, from the place where Plato gave instructions to his followers. There were different academies in the various countries of Europe, as in France, Sweden and Russia. They who embraced the principles of these academics were called academicians.
LESSON CXXIV. Changeable Character of Man. - FOSTER.* 1. If a reflective, aged man were to find at the bottom of an old chest, where it had lain forgotten fifty years, a record which he had written of himself when he was young, simply and vividly describing his whole heart and pursuits, and reciting verbatim † many passages of the language which he sincerely uttered, would he not read it with more wonder than almost every other writing could at his age inspire ?
2. He would half lose the assurance of his identity, under the impression of this immense dissimilarity. It would seem as if it must be the tale of the juvenile days of some ancestor, with whom he had no connection but that of name.
3. He would feel the young man thus introduced to him separated by so wide a distance of character as to render all congenial sociality impossible. At every sentence he would be tempted to repeat, — Foolish youth, I have no sympathy with your feelings, I can hold no converse with your understanding.
4. Thus, you see that in the course of a long life a man may be several moral persons, so various from one another, that if you could find a real individual that should nearly exemplify the character in one of these stages, and another that should exemplify it in the next, and so on to the last, and then bring these several persons together into one society, which would thus be a representation of the successive states of one man, they would feel themselves a most heterogeneous party, would oppose and probably despise one another, and soon after separate, not caring if they were never to meet again.
5. If the dissimilarity in mind were as great as in person, there would in both respects be a most striking contrast between the extremes at least, between the youth of seventeen and the sage of seventy. The one of these contrasts an old man might contemplate, if he had a true portrait for which he sat in the bloom of his life, and should hold it beside a mirror in which he looks at his present countenance; and the other would be powerfully felt, if he had such a genuine and detailed memoir as I have supposed.
6. Might it not be worth while for a self-observant person in early life to preserve, for the inspection of the old man, if
* Born 1770; died 1843. + Verbatim, word for word.