Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

the numberless flowers of the spring. It waves in the branches of the trees and green blades of grass. It haunts the depths of the earth and sea, and gleams out in the hues of the shell and the precious stone. . And not only these minute objects, but the ocean, the mountains, the clouds, the heavens, the stars, the rising and setting sun, all overflow with beauty. The universe is its temple; and those men who are alive to it cannot lift their eyes without feeling themselves encompassed with it on every side.

Now this beauty is so precious, the enjoyments it gives are so refined and pure, so congenial with our tenderest and noblest feelings, and so akin to worship, that it is painful to think of the multitude of men as living in the midst of it, and living almost as blind to it, as if, instead of this fair earth and glorious sky, they were tenants of a dungeon. An infinite joy is lost to the world by the want of culture of this spiritual endowment.

Suppose that I were to visit a cottage, and to see its walls lined with the choicest pictures of Raphael, and every spare nook filled with statues of the most exquisite workmanship, and that I were to learn, that neither man, woman nor child ever cast an eye at these miracles of art, how should I feel their privation; how should I want to open their eyes, and to help them to comprehend and feel the loveliness and grandeur which in vain courted their notice. But every husbandman is living in sight of the works of a diviner artist; and how much would his existence be elevated, could he see the glory which shines forth in their forms, hues, proportions and inoral expression!

h

I have spoken only of the beauty of nature, but how much of this mysterious charm is found in the elegant arts, and especially in literature? The best books have most beauty. The greatest truths are wronged if not linked with beauty, and they win their way most surely and deeply into the soul when arrayed in this their natural and fit attire. Now no man receives the true culture of a man, in whom the sensibility to the beautiful is not cherished; and I know of no condition in life from which it should be excluded. Of all luxuries this is the cheapest and most at band.

What beauty is, is a question which the most penetrating minds have not satisfactorily answered; nor, were I able, is this the place for discussing it. But one thing I would say; the beauty of the outward creation is intimately related to the lovely, grand, interesting attributes of the soul.

There is another power, which each man should cultivate according to his ability, but which is very much neglected in the mass of the people, and that is the power of Utterance. A man was not made to shut up his mind in itself; but to give it voice and to exchange it for other minds. Speech is one of our grand distinctions from the brute. Our power over others lies not so much in the amount of thought within us, as in the power of bringing it out. of more than ordinary intellectual vigor, may, for want of expression, be a cypher, without significance in society. And not only does a man influence others, but he greatly aids his own intellect, by giving distinct and forcible utterance to his thoughts. We understand ourselves better, our conceptions grow clearer, by the

A man

very effort to make them clear to another. Our social rank too, depends a good deal on our power of utter

ance.

The principal distinction between what are called gentlemen and the vulgar, lies in this, that the latter are awkward in manners, and are essentially wanting in propriety, clearness, grace, and force of utterance. A man who cannot open his lips without breaking a rule of grammar, without showing in his dialect, or brogue, or uncouth tones, his want of cultivation, or without darkening his meaning by a confused, unskillful mode of communication, cannot take the place to which perhaps his native good sense entitles him. To have intercourse with respectable people, we must speak their language.

LESSON XXII.

SPIRIT OF BEAUTY.

THE Spirit of Beauty unfurls her light,
And wheels her course in a joyous flight,
I know her track through the balmy air,
By the blossoms that cluster and whiten there;
She leaves the tops of the mountains green,
And gems the valley with crystal sheen.

I know where she rested at night,
For the roses are gushing with dewy delight;
Then she mounts again, and around her flings
A shower of light from her purple wings.

At morn,

a

At noon, she hies to a cool retreat,

a
Where bowering elms over waters meet;
She dimples the wave, where the green leaves dip;
That smiles, as it curls, like a maiden's lip.
At eve, she hangs o'er the western sky
Dark clouds for a glorious canopy;
And round the skirts of each sweeping fold,
She paints a border of crimson and gold,
Where the lingering sunbeams love to stay,
When their god in his glory has passed away.
She hovers around us at twilight hour,
When her presence is felt with the deepest power;
She mellows the landscape, and crowds the stream
With shadows that flit like a fairy dream :-
Still wheeling her flight through the gladsome air,
The Spirit of Beauty is every where !

LESSON XXIII.

THE BEREAVED SISTER.

In the spring of 1824, I contracted an acquaintance in one of the cities of the south, with a gentleman who had removed from England to this country with two small children, the one a boy of ten years, the other a girl of nine years of age. These children were the most lovely beings I ever saw. Their extreme beauty, their deep and artless affection, and their fre

a

quent bursts of childish and innocent mirth, made them as dear to me as if I had been the companion of their infancy.

They were happy in themselves, happy in each other, and in the whole world of life and nature around them. I had known the family but a few months, when my friend was compelled to make a sudden and unexpected voyage to South America. His feelings were imbittered by the thoughts of leaving his motherless children behind him; and as I was on the point of embarking for Liverpool, I promised to take them to their friends and relations.

My departure was delayed two weeks. During that period, I lived under the same roof with the little ones that had been consigned to my charge. For a few days they were pensive, and made frequent inquiries for their absent father; but their sorrows were easily assuaged, and regret for his absence changed into pleasant anticipation of his return. The ordinary sorrows of childhood are but dews upon the eagle's plumage, which vanish at the moment the proud bird springs upwards into the air to woo the beautiful flashes of the morning.

The day of our departure at last arrived, and we set sail on a quiet afternoon of summer. The distant hills bent their pale blue tops to the waters, and as the great sun, like the image of his Creator, sunk down in the west, successive shadows of gold, and crimson, and purple came floating over the waves, like barks from a fairy land: My young companions gazed on those scenes steadily and silently, and when the last tints of the dim shore were melting into shadow, they took

« ÎnapoiContinuați »