Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

Then heap up the hearth-stone with dry forest branches,
And gather about me, my children, in glee;
For cold on the upland the stormy wind launches,
· And dear is the home of my loved ones to me.

LESSON XLIX.

LAKES AND THE OCEAN.

THERE is ever a contrast between the lesser lakes and the great ocean. You can rarely, if ever, look upon the sea, when it is not heaving with the coming

, on, the height, or the dying of the tempest. There is always agitation within its mighty bosom. You see something at work there that tells of perpetual unrest ; of a power within that cannot be still. The subsiding thunder of the storm that has passed away, is but the deep prelusive music of another.

But go in midsummer to the lake, embosomed among the hills, and gaze upon it when all the elements are in slumber, and I know not that you will find in nature a more beautiful picture of repose. There is no heaving billow there - no crested wave breaking in foam upon the shore - no sound of departed storm, murmuring like some vast imprisoned spirit at its temporary subjection.

But you see there a surface, silent as death -- and as placid. The water lies spread before you, a perfect mirror -- and you see wooded summit and lofty vale

forest and field-tree and tower - cloud and sky, all gazing into its profound, as though enchanted with the loveliness of their own reflection. You see the beautiful and the grand mingling their wonders in solitude, and you feel how much more exquisite is the display, when it is perfected in the hour and home of Nature's quietness.

Then, if you stand upon bank or shore at sunset, when its hundred hues are playing on the sky, and see the new heaven created in the depths below you, and witness its mockery of splendor, its fading colors and dying beams, till star begins to answer star in the dark water, surely you are beholding something that Nature presents only in such hallowed spots in her empiresomething of beauty and grandeur that she can never offer by the “ vasty deep," --something - be it developed where it may, far beyond the witchery of the gifted pencil ---something to rejoice in-something to be thankful for.

LESSON L.

THE FINE ARTS.

a

It is often said that the arts cannot flourish in a republic; and this is said, in the face of such examples as Athens and republican Rome. But why can they not? I ask. Want of patronage is the reason usually

I assigned; but let there be intelligence and refinement among any people, and the patronage of the arts must follow. And is it not safer thus to trust the encouragement of the arts to the intelligence and free competition of a whole people, than to a few individuals, kings or princes.

Would not a generous artist rather take an intelligent people for his patron, than a king? May not the fine arts, in this respect, be safely and advantageously subjected to the same ordeal as literature. We have wealth enough, we have intelligence in America, and I am willing to rely upon these for the inevitable consequence.

It would be sad, indeed, if the allegation were true, that the arts could not flourish in a republic. For it is precisely in a republic that they are wanted to complete the system of social influences. It is a mistake into which novices fall, to suppose that the arts are unfavorable to morality.

In fact, the fine arts have usually been the handmaids of virtue and religion. More than half of the great paintings in the world are illustrative of religious subjects; and embracing mythology in this account, more than half of the statues are of the same character.

Q

[ocr errors]

And to refer to kindred arts- architecture, too, has built its noblest structures for religion, and music has composed its sublimest strains for the sanctuary. Genius, indeed - that inspiration from Heaven - has

— always shown its descent from above, by this direction of its labors.

The introduction of the arts into our countrry, then, is not to be dreaded on the score of morality. Is it not on every account greatly to be desired? The most material deficiency among us, perhaps -next to the want of virtue—is likely to be the want of refinement. There is need among us of objects that kindle up admiration and enthusiasm, that awaken the sense of delight and wonder, that break up the habits of petty calculation and sordid interest, and breathe a liberal and generous soul into the people, and this need the arts would supply.

The Author of nature has shown that it was not beneath his care to provide for the gratification of sentiments, precisely similar to those which are addressed by the arts. The world, composed of hill and dale, mountain and valley; not one boundless ploughed field. to yield food; dressed in gay and bright liveries, not in one sober-suited color; filled with the music of its streams and groves, not doomed to endless monotony or everlasting silence: such a world, the dwelling place of nations, the school of their discipline, the temple of their worship, plainly shows that they were not destined to be pupils of cold and stern utility alone, but of many and diversified influences; of gracefulness, of elegance, of beneficence, beauty, and sublimity.

1

LESSON LI.

HAFED'S DREAM.

Ar the foot of one of those gigantic mountains in Asia, which lift up their heads so far above the clouds that the eye of man never saw their summits, stood a beautiful cottage, facing the east. The mountain stream leaped and murmured on the north; the verdant plain, where the bright-eyed gazelle sported, lay spread out in front; the garden and the olive-yard, filled with every flower and every fruit which an oriental Aun could pencil and ripen, lay on the south; while back, on the west, rose the everlasting mountain.

Here were walks, and shades, and fruits, such as were found no where else. The sun shone upon no spot more luxuriant; the moonbeams struggled to enter no place more delightful; and the soft wings of the breezes of evening fanned no such abode in all the east.

The howl of the wolf was never heard here; the sly fox never came here to destroy; and here the serpent's hiss was never heard. This cottage was the home of HAFED, the aged and the prosperous. He reared this cottage; he adorned this spot; and here, for more than fourscore years, he had lived and studied.

During all this time, the sun had never forgotten to visit him daily: the harvest had never failed, the pestilênce had never destroyed, and the mountain stream had never dried up. The wife of his youth still lived

« ÎnapoiContinuați »