« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
steam power. Reflect a moment on all that has been done by the railroad. Pause to estimate, if you can, with all the help of imagination, what is to result from the agency now manifested in the operations of the telegraph. Cast a thought over the whole field of scientific mechanical improvement and its application to human wants, in the last twenty years, to go no further back, — and think what a world it has made; — how many comforts it has given to man, how many facilities; what it has done for his food and raiment, for his communication with his fellow-man in every clime, for his instruction in books, his amusements, his safety! — what new lands it has opened, what old ones made accessible ! - how it has enlarged the sphere of his knowledge and conversancy with his species ! It is all a great, astounding marvel, a miracle which it oppresses the mind to think of. It is the smallest boast which can be made for it to say that, in all desirable facilities in life, in the comfort that depends upon mechanism, and in all that is calculated to delight the senses or instruct the mind, the man of this day, who has secured himself a moderate competence, is placed far in advance of the most wealthy, powerful and princely of ancient times, — might I not say, of the times less than a century gone by?
And yet we have only begun; we are but on the threshold of this epoch. A great celebration is now drawing to a close, the celebration, by all nations, of the new era. A vast multitude of all peoples, nations and tongues, has been, but yesterday, gathered under a magnificent crystal palace, in the greatest city of the world, to illustrate and distinguish the achievements of art, no less, also, to dignify and exalt the great mechanical fraternity who have filled that palace with wonders. Is not this fact, of itself, charged with a volume of comment? What is it but the setting of the great distinctive seal upon the nineteenth century ? — an advertisment of the fact that society has risen to occupy a higher platform than ever before ? - a proclamation from the high places, announcing honor, honor immortal, to the workmen who fill this world with beauty, comfort and power; honor to be forever embalmed in history, to be perpetuated in monuments, to be written in the hearts of this and succeeding generations!
6. THE MIND OF MAN. - Mark Akenside. Born, 1721 ; died, 1770.
Say, why was man so eminently raised
To chase each partial purpose from his breast,
Look, then, abroad through Nature, to the range
7. THE TRUE TO-DAY.-H. Withington. Born, 1818 ; died, 1848. All that there is in what we call To-day is in the life of thought : thought is the spirit's breath. To think is to live ; for he who thinks not has no sense of life. Wouldst thou make the most of life, wouldst thou have the joy of the present, — let Thought's invisible shuttles weave full in the loom of Time the moment's passing threads. To think is to live; but with how many are these passing hours as so many loose filaments, never woven together, nor gathered, but scattered, ravelling, so many flying ends, confused and worthless! Time and life, unfilled with thought, are useless, unenjoyed, bringing no pleasure for the present, storing no good for future need. To-day is the golden chance, wherewith to snatch Thought's blessed fruition, the joy of the Present, the hope of the Future. Thought makes the time that is, and thought the eternity to come :
“Obright presence of To-day, let me wrestle with thee, gracious angel;
I will not let thee go except thou bless me; bless me, then, To-day !
8. THE DUELLIST'S HONOR. – Bishop England. Born, 1786; died, 1842. Honor is the acquisition and preservation of the dignity of our nature: that dignity consists in its perfection; that perfection is found in observing the laws of our Creator; the laws of the Creator are the dictates of reason and of religion : that is, the observance of what He teaches us by the natural light of our own minds, and by the special revelations of His will manifestly given. They both concur in teaching us that individuals have not the dominion of their own lives; otherwise, no suicide would be a criminal. They concur in teaching us that we ought to be amenable to the laws of the society of which we are members; otherwise, morality and honor would be consistent with the violation of law and the disturbance of the social system. They teach us that society cannot continue to exist where the public tribunals are despised or undervalued, and the redress of injuries withdrawn from the calm regulation of public justice, for the purpose of being committed to the caprice of private passion, and the execution of individual ill-will; therefore, the man of honor abides by the law of God, reveres the statutes of his country, and is respectful and amenable to its authorities. Such, my friends, is what the reflecting portion of mankind has always thought upon the subject of honor. This was the honor of the Greek ; this was the honor of the Roman; this the honor of the Jew; this the honor of the Gentile; this, too, was the honor of the Christian, until the superstition and barbarity of Northern devastators darkened his glory and degraded his character.
Man, then, has not power over his own life; much less is he justified in depriving another human being of life. Upon what ground can he who engages in a duel, through the fear of ignominy, lay claim to courage ? Unfortunate delinquent! Do you not see by how many links your victim was bound to a multitude of others ? Does his vain and idle resignation of his title to life absolve you from the enormous claims which society has upon you for his services, — his family for that support, of which you have robbed them, without your own enrichment ? Go, stand over that body; call back that soul which you have driven from its tenement; take up that hand which your pride refused to touch, not one hour ago. You have, in your pride and wrath, usurped one prerogative of God. You have inflicted death. At least, in mercy, attempt the exercise of another; breathe into those distended nostrils, — let your brother be once more a living soul! Merciful Father! how powerless are we for good, but how mighty for evil! Wretched man! he does not answer,
he cannot rise. All your efforts to make him breathe are vain. His soul is already in the
of your common Creator. Like the wretched Cain, will you answer, “ Am I my brother's keeper ?” Why do you turn away from the contemplation of your own honorable work ? Yes, go as far as you will, still the admonition will ring in your ears : It was by your hand he fell! The horrid instrument of death is still in that hand, and the stain of blood upon your soul. Fly, if you will, — go to that house which you have filled with desolation. It is the shriek of his widow, — they are the cries of his children, the broken sobs of his parent; — and, amidst the wailings, you distinctly hear the voice of imprecation on your own guilty head! Will your honorable feelings be content with this ? Have you now had abundant and gentlemanly satisfaction ?
9. DAY CONCEALS WHAT NIGIIT REVEALS.-J. P. Nichol.
Vast as our firmament may be, has it boundaries, or does it stretch away into infinitude ? Are those awful spaces, that surround it on every side, void, empty, — or are they tenanted by worlds and systems similar to our own? No wonder that a mind like Herschell's should have rushed to the conclusion that the space around our system was a vault, in whose capacious bosom myriads of mighty clusters like our own universe are placed. If it be true that this great scheme of ours is simply that which Herschell first supposed it, but still a great, separate, distinct scheme, whose nature is, perhaps, more than anything else, represented by these singular Nebula, what must we think with regard to it? Surely it is, that notwithstanding its immense diffusion, its vast confines, the great space through which its different portions range, there must lie around it, on every side, vast untenanted spaces ; and, if this be so, may it not be that amid all that space, also, there are floating great schemes of being like ours, — schemes, I say, of different shape, of different character, but lying in these vast regions of space like ours, - schemes quite as magnificent as that vast system to which we ourselves belong ? If this be so, what a conception, in regard to the material universe, must press
upon our notice! How strange that this Universe is only yet cognizable by one human sense! that the veil of the sun's light entirely conceals its wonders from our view! that, had the light of that Sun not been veiled by the curtain of night we had lived amid it and never have known of the existence of the Stellar Universe! May it not, then, be true, that during midnight, when these infinite orbs appear to us from their unmeasured depths, — may it not be true that through veils as thin, we are withheld now from the consciousness of other Universes, vast even as the world of stars? But, in reference to an idea so lofty, let me use the language of a great mind:
Thee by report divine, and heard thy name,
10. MAN'S MATERIAL TRIUMPHS. - Original Translation. WHEN we contemplate man in his relations to the rest of creation, how lofty, in the comparison, appears his lot! He subdues all the powers of nature. He combines or separates them according to his wants, -according to his caprices. Master of the earth, he covers it at will with cities, with villages, with monuments, with trees, and with harvests. He forces all the lower animals to cultivate it for him, to serve him for use or pastime, or to disappear from his domain. Master of the sea, he floats at ease over its unfathomed abysses; he places dykes to its fury, he pillages its treasures, and he makes its waves his highway of transportation from clime to clime. Master of the elements, fire, air, light, water, docile slaves of his sovereign will, are imprisoned in his laboratories and manufactories, or harnessed to his cars, which they drag, invisible couriers, swift as thought!
What grandeur and what power, in a frail being of a day, a hardly perceptible atom amid that creation, over which he acquires such empire! And yet this creature, so diminutive, so weak, has received an intelligent and reasoning soul; and, alone, among all the rest, enjoys the amazing privilege of deriving from the Fountain of life and light an intellectual radiance, in the midst of worlds whose glow is but the pale reflex of material orbs. The empire of the world has been given to him, because his spirit, greater than the world, can measure, admire, comprehend, and explain it. Nature has been subjected to him, because he can unveil the marvellous mechanism of her laws, penetrate her profoundest secrets, and wrest from her all the treasures which she holds in her bosom. Placed at such a height, man would, indeed, be perilously tempted ;-giddy and dazzled, he would forget
* J. Blanco White.