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YOUNG MEN'S ADVOCATE.
INCORPORATION WITH “THE STUDENT” OF “THE
YOUNG MEN’S MAGAZINE.” It is with great pleasure that we announce to our Subscribers that, through arrangements recently made, The Young Men's Magazine will, from the 1st of July next, be incorporated with The Student. The distinctive feature of The Young Men's Magazine, viz., its connexion with Young Men's Societies, will, with the assistance of its Editor, whose services we have still retained, be carried out with spirit in the pages of The Student. We have already, in this respect, made a commencement, and as the value of this department will greatly depend upon the assistance we recoive from the Secretaries of Young Men's Societies, we trust that they will lend us all the aid in their power. We shall be obliged to them if they will immediately forward to us the plans on which the proceedings of their respective Societies are conducted, as well as the subjects for study and lectures for the current month or quarter.
THE PAST AND PRESENT. “The age of chivalry is gone,” said Edmund Burke; and young England with a sigh repcats the ejaculation. For ourselves, with Lord Byron, we donbt much whether old England has not been a gainer by this event. The time for childish tournament has passed away : the time for manly conflict has arrived : we need not the exercise of a gala-day to prepare us for this. Even in its own time, chivalry was but a figment, for any moral effects that it produced ; and as a figment, it is equally serviceable to us still. Its apparitions of tawdry pagentry are all that have disappeared; its spirit of poetry and high-flown aspiration still survive to animate the present with the vitality of the past, and infuse the breath of life into more glorious shapes than the prototypes of old.
The extreme licentiousness and brutality that prevailed almost universally during the middle ages, even among the hierophants of chivalry themselves, who nevertheless professed and inculcated the utmost purity and delicacy of “sentiment,” while they prove how utterly inefficient any mere system of symbolism must become when erected into a positive institution, show at the same time how easily we may err in underrating the
poetic character of the present day, if we take as the standard our impressions of ordinary life, or any preconceived notion respecting its more obvious resemblances. Familiar from our childhood with its more prominent features, and reconciled by habits of daily intercourse to the changes later time has introduced, we see little if anything either new or wonderful in the various appearances it assumes ; but seen through the vista of receding years," all wears the look of beauty, and even the commonest incidents have power to please. Yet, in point of real interest and importance, the events of our own day far surpass those of any former period : and what should forbid our seeking poetry from them? Is it that a nobler spirit fired the breast of the ancient chevalier, when he took the field to maintain the honour of his lady-love or baron-lord, than warms the modern patriot who binds every tie of home and country closely around his heart? Is it that a holier zeal led the old crusaders to bear the banner of the cross against the infidel usurper, than now constrains the fervid missionary to proclaim the milder messages of mercy to the heathen that are afar off, perishing for the lack of knowledge ? Is there no chivalry in this-10 poetry in this ?
Or if these examples are considered insufficient to give to the present age a rank beside the piping days of romance, let us pass on to notice other points of comparison. Not the least poetic feature in the aspect of the past, as pictured to us in the page of history, is the sweet expression of novelty and surprise that ever and anon breaks forth as discovery adds some infant kingdom to the family of the olden world. The facts of discovery indeed have always formed, if not the most numerous, yet by far the most interesting class of subjects that employ the historic pen. The superior endowments necessary to constitute a great and successful commander-the romantic incidents that occur to an exploring expeditionand the unequalled effects of colonization on the subsequent progress and fate of nations, give to these inquiries a most powerful hold on the imagination. But are the men and events of our own day less capable of yielding materials for pleasant thought or noble conception ? Are our captains-Cook, and Parry, and Wakefield-less worthy of admiration than the voyagers and colonizers of any period past? Is there less of the cheering and romantic in the first struggles of a new-born nation just emerging from the bed of ocean, or growing up beneath the shade of the eternal forest now than then? Or does the mind with less true poetry of heart survey the mighty spirit of commerce now moving over the waters of the whole inhabitable globe, diffusing the blessings of peace and plenty over every land, and distributing the fruits of the earth to every man in his season, than she does the old spirit of warfare, inflaming the whole silly world with only the balefires of immitigable destructiveness, and devoting one whole nation to the work of carnage and soldiery from its very infancy till the time when it perished amid the flames that had been kindled by its own devastations ?
Or, to pass on from maritime discovery and commerce to the means by which these are effected, let us ask again, Can antiquity show us any thing more beautiful than the thousand useful inventions of science that have, within these few years past, been made conducive to our comforts and convenience? She may deck herself in the purple of Tyre, and vaunt of the ships of Tarshish ; but where were her cotton-mills and steam-shipsher paper-mills, printing-presses, and engines of mightiness? Is there no beauty in these —no poetry in these? And was it a spirit unworthy of chivalric breasts gave birth to such glorious conceptions as these? And, again, is there no poetry in their souls whose hands are daily hardening at the task of working and superintending these vast machines ? Let us beware lest we come to look upon them as mere machines. There is no materialism so bad as this of an insensibility to the claims of our common humanity. And there is a danger lest, in endeavouring to form an estimate concerning these miracles of the day, and contrasting their immensity with the comparative insignificance of our individual attempts, we exclude man too much from our thoughts, and attribute too much to “ the power of machinery,” forgetting that the one is to the other what providence is to the world and God to both. There is an unfathomed mine of thought in the vast masses of humanity accumulated within the factory walls; and we never pass one of those leviathan structures without thinking that beneath so much slate and timber is pent enough of mind, if properly trained and directed, to accomplish almost anything that mortal heart could wish or immortal spirit could conceive. Let but imagination once attempt to fathom that profound of human life,—the birth--life-death-of every bosom's swell in that throng of a thousand-a thousand in which every unit is an in finite-A SOUL, and how unequal to the comprehension of even that single unit are her highest powers! If one incomprehensible—a thousand, how surpassing thought !-how endless a theme for fancy's musings here!
The early dawn of spirit on the world of life and its ripening glow; the busy mind and the decaying sense; and last, the gathering of the evening clouds and the fall of nature's tears, where lingered the parting beams of the light of day!
Yes—if there be indeed such a thing as poetry, it is here. A river of feeling and perennial spring of thought: bubbles for the day of mirth, and diamond-drops to gem the eye of beauty in the pensive hour. We err who deem that the art of man has banished poetry from this earth. It is not so. He must needs have first exiled himself and his kind ; for poetry is of his nature an integral part, and where he is there must it ever be. Even art itself is but another development of the nature of man; and though material in its forms, is nevertheless spiritual in its essence, and “ beautiful exceedingly" in its use. For utility—what is it but the embodiment of thought that was the poetry of a by-gone day?
We grant, indeed, that the world does not now exhibit just the same developments of beauty that it did of yore; that the spirit of poesy has quitted some of its older tenements and entered into new ; that there is at least the semblance of diversity between the poetry we find in the past and that we think to discover beneath the surface of the present; that the building of towns and the digging of railways, the smoke of furnaces and din of factories, have sadly disfigured the vernal meads and obscured the arcadian skies of the olden time, if they have not yet driven the winged minstrely of nature from the scanty retreats which the scattered hedge-row and far-off forests still afford. But what we have lost in uncultivated, we have gained in cultivated beauty ; and what at first seemed dissolution, will, in the end, be seen to be only a life-giving change. In all these, as we may deem them, encroachments of art on the just dominions of nature, we shall find, if we attentively observe, the supremacy of nature still. In all this bustle and turmoil, there is still of the new and striking and wonderful enough, and more to meet imagination's utmost stretch. And
in the human part—the busy coining brain, contriving and executing all these hopeful plans—and the unfathomable, ever-restless heart, with its fluctuating sea of passion and of circumstance, beating hither and thither, we have still the purest and the deepest source of song. The poetry of life can never die.
Nor is there wanting still for those who worship beauty best “ in temples not made with hands,” in the rural landscape or the forest glade, the lonely vale, with its wild-flowers and placidly rippling stream, or the stately mountain grove, with its song of many birds and the holy hymn of trees, many a spot of loveliness in our railroad-ridden isle, where they may securely pay their sweet idolatry at nature's shrine. “ And the deep blue laughing sky” of summer, and winter's hoary locks, and the opening bud of spring, and the autumn's falling leaf,
“ All these are beauteous still, and still for man
Adorn the varid cycle of the year." And the ever-rolling sea, with its soul-heaving surge, its craggy cliffs and pebbled-sounding shore, with its sunny calms and blackening storms, is still as fresh and green, as mighty and changeless still, as when its Maker's spirit first flashed upon its face. The poetry of nature is little impaired by the progress of art. It is the romance of barbarism alone that suffers diminution from the march of civilization or the innovations of time. And even this is essentially preserved to us in the poems and legends of our early national manners-obscured perhaps a little by the medium of tradition, but at the same time greatly purified from that offensive grossness which is the invariable characteristic of a rude, illiterate, and superstitious people. Let us not, then, living in an age so rich in its historical associations, its accumulated stores of the wisdom and experience of preceding times, and its yet exhaustless treasures of mental and moral wealth,-in an age so prodigal of industrious, enterprising, and benevolent effort, and so prolific in events, that for the intensity of their immediate interest, and the significance of their prophetic import, surpass those of any former period in the history of the world, let us not in such circumstances exclaim that the age of chivalry is gone, or that the reign of poetry is at an end. Rather, while disposed to cherish a natural affection for the imaginative features of the past, let us show an equal willingness to recognise the grand and the beautiful in the occurrences of the present, and the new world of promise that is even now before our eyes.
" The following ludicrous circumstance once happened, and was related to the writer by a native in graphic style. Two men had succeeded in stealing an iron pot. Haring just taken it from the fire, it was rather warm for handling conveniently over a fence, and by doing so, it fell on a stone, and was cracked. It is iron,' said they; and off they went with their booty, resolving to make the best of it, that is, if it would not serve for cooking, they would transform it into knives and spears. After some time had elapsed, and the hue and cry about the missing pot had nearly died away, it was brought forth to a native smith, who had laid in a stock of charcoal for the occasion. The pot was farther broken to make it more convenient to lay hold of with the tongs, which are generally of the bark of a tree. The native Vulcan, inacquainted with cast-iron, having with his small bellows, one in each hand, produced a good heat, drew a piece from the fire. To his utter amazement it flew into pieces at the first stroke of his little hammer. Another and another piece was brought under the action of the fire, and then under the ham mer with no better success. Both the thief and the smith, gazing with eyes and mouth dilated on the fragments of iron scattered round the stone anvil, declared their belief that the pot was bewitched, and concluded pot-stealing to be a bad speculation."--Moffat's Missionary Labours.
A STUDENT'S THOUGHTS ON SOME ABSTRUSE QUESTIONS.
ON THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL.-No. I.
TO THE READERS OF “ THE STUDENT."
DEAR FRIENDS, -It is not my purpose to occupy your time by giving expression to any high-sounding remarks on the importance of the subject we are about to contemplate. The interest that attaches itself to the soul's immortality could be heightened by no eloquence that I am competent to adduce. The longings and intense desires of your own minds, with their affections, their hopes, and their fears, the desire inherent in each intelligent creature for the prolongation of existence,—the lofty faculties of man, which yearn for full and complete development, and seek a higher range, and a wider scope, that his present humble position can afford,—and, above all, the positive horror which he seems naturally to experience when contemplating the gloom and ghastliness of death,--all conspire to render the subject of a future existence one of deep and absorbing import.
The soul's immortality as a fact is placed beyond doubt by the revelation of God's purposes respecting it: so that our present object is not to institute an inquiry as though the demonstration of a fact depended upon its result, but rather to ascertain how far our mental faculties by the light of pure reason are adequate to the discovery of this truth-how they thus exhibit its philosophy: and it is also our purpose to point out the fallacy of many objections that have been urged against it.
Vitality, or the power by which the proximate principles composing our various organs are held together, and through which those organs, individually differing though they do, are sustained and formed by the same original elements, seems rather to entrench on the present subject, inasmuch as an opinion is and has been very commonly held, that the soul, or thinking principle in man, imparts also life to the body, and, after employing its energies in animating lifeless clay, at last wings its flight to the regions of light and life. If, however, we consider for a moment that consciousness is an essential quality of the human soul, which of course implies its perfect cognizance of its own actions whilst a perception of that consciousness exists, we must conclude that, if the soul were the mere animal life of man, we should be aware how incessantly it was engaged in maintaining the functions, and in fashioning the organs of our wonderful mechanism ; moreover, as Dr. Wright, in his Lectures on Physical and Intellectual Life, truly remarks, “ We should, in the case we suppose, be enabled to will the Cessation of one process, or the reparation and revival of another;” but it would be idle to remind you how totally independent are our physical capacities to the operations and faculties of our spiritual life.
To bestow, however, a passing thought on this intricate question, though in some respects foreign to our subject, we cannot agree with those who would assert that life is the sum-total of our functions, which functions depend simply upon the arrangement and form of the organs of the body. To suppose that mere form and arrangement would produce all the various functions and movements of the human body, without the intervention of some extrinsic force, I humbly submit, is an absurdity. Equally reason