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The royal eagle dtfrteth on his quarry" from the heights,
The banner of the chieftain162 far, far below us waves;
For the shadow of thy presence, round our camp of rock outspread;
God! MRS. HEMANS.
CXII. — IS KNOWLEDGE POWER?
1. If I wished to prove the value of religion, would you thin* I served it much if I took as my motto "Religion is power "? Would not that be a base and sordid view of its advantages? And would you not say, he who regards religion as a power intends to abuse it as a priestcraft? If the cause be holy, do not weigh it in the scales of the market; if its objects be peaceful, do not seek to arm it with the weapons of strife ; if it is to be the ce'ment of society, do not vaunt it as the triumph of class against class.
2. Knowledge is one of the powers in the moral world, but one that, in its immediate result, is not always of the most worldly advantage to the possessor. It is one of the slowest, because one of the most durable, of agencies. It may take a thousand years for a thought to come into power, and the thinker who originated it might have died in rags or in chains. Saith an Italian proverb, "The teacher is like the candle," which lights others in consuming itself."
3. Therefore, he who has the true ambition of knowledge should entertain it for the power of his idea, not for the power it may bestow on himself. It should be lodged in the conscience, and, like the conscience, look for no certain reward on this side the grave. And, since knowledge is compatible with good and with evil, would it not be better to say, " Knowledge is a trust"? Hence, so far from considering that we do all that is needful to accomplish ourselves as men when we cultivate only the intellect, we should remember that we thereby continually increase tha range of our desires, and therefore of our temptations.
4. Wo should endeavor, simultaneously, to cultivate both those affections of the heart which prove the ignorant to be God's children no less than the wise, and those moral qualities which have made men great and good when reading and writing were scarcely known. Patience and fortitude under poverty and distress; humility" and beneficence amidst grandeur and wealthy justice, the father of all the more solid virtues, softened by charity, which is their loving mother; accompanied by these, knowledge, indeed, becomes the magnificent crown of humanity,. — not the imperious despot, but the checked and tempered sovereign of the soul. Sir E. Bulwer Lvtton.
5. It is a miserable mistake, though by no means an unfrequent one, to suppose that the value of the intellect consists mainly or principally in its sufficiency for our worldly furtherance. The man who can come to such a conclusion is in much the same degree of baseness and absurdity as those who were followers of jur Saviour only for the sake of the loaves and fishes. We value intelligence high, not because it may lead us to such things, as, indeed, it often does, but because it raises us above them. Not that I am one of those who regard the advantages of this world as things absolutely of no account. Good houses and good clothes, and a good diet, and good possessions generally, are welcome, for the most part, even to the most rational man. I would not detract from them; let them pass for their full value; only thus much would I say, that the only effect upon our welfare of these and all other external things is by their impressions upon the mind.
6. Impressions from without never fail to be dulled, and deadened by repetition. But our intellectual habits, on the contrary," are strengthened by exercise; they become quicker, moro vivid, and more agreeable, from day to day. As the mind is the man, we must address ourselves to the mind if we would procure the man's enjoyment; we must frame it to energy, and quickness, and sensibility. A person of loose, and feeble, and listless disposition, will be feeble and listless still, though he be surrounded with pleasurable resources. They will merely tantalize him; he can do nothing with great means; whereas the man of intelligence, quick, lively, and full of spirit, can make much of very little means, turn all things to account, find everywhere a soul of gladness, and "good in everything."
7. Thus am I requited. This is the service that my mind, irith all the pains that I have bestowed upon it, has rendered me; and verily, the reward is not such as to attract the worldly
eyo, or kindle the lust of covetousness. There is nothing of show or glitter in it; nothing of pomp or circumstance • neither by its means have I arrived, nor am I ever likely to arrive, at greatness. It speaks not in the trumpet-blast of fame, but in the still voice of consciousness. Nor yet am I altogether sure that my mind, as I have framed it, will insure me what is called success in life; for this depends not on one's self; occasion may be wanting to it, competition may keep it out, accident may frustrate it.
8. But, though it has given me none of these things, it has done me a far better service, inasmuch as it has enabled me tc forego them, and to live contentedly without them. It can nevet assure me the favors of fortune, but it has made me independent of her. By its aid I can find my happiness in myself, instead of looking for it anxiously, and hurriedly, and vainly, in things without me. This is my reward; and, on the whole, comparing what I have gained with what I have undergone, I am well satisfied with it, — satisfied to the very fulness of gratitude. Truly then did Solomon say unto us, "Wisdom is the principal thingtherefore get wisdom: and, with all thy getting, get understanding. Exalt her, and she shall promote thee; she shall bring thee to honor when thou dost embrace her. Forsake her not, and she i!in 11 preserve thee; love her, and she shall keep thee."
CXIV. — HISTORICAL CHARACTERS.
"Of all political characters," says the German historian, Heeren, "Demos'thenes is the most sublime; he is the purest tragic character with which history is acquainted. When, still trembling with the ve'hement force of his language, we read his life in Plutarch," when we transfer ourselves into his times and his situation, we are carried away by a deeper interest than can be excited by any hero of the epic" muse or of tragedy From his first appearance till the moment when he swallowed poison in the temple, we see him contending against destiny, which seems to mock him with malignant cruelty. It throws him to the ground, but never subdues him.
"What a crowd of emotions must have struggled through his manly breast amidst this interchange of reviving and expiring hopes! How natural was it that the lines of melancholy and of indignation, such as we yet behold in his bust, should have been imprinted on his severe countenance! It was his high calling to be the pillar of a sinking state. Thirty years he remained true to this cause, nor did he yield till he was buried beneath the ruins of his country."
It was about the middle of the fourth century" before our era when Demosthenes began to command attention in the Athenian assemblies. His first attempt, like those of Walpole and Sheridan in the British parliament," was a failure; and the derision which he received from the multitude would have discouraged an inferior spirit forever. It only nerved Demosthenes to severer study, and to a more obstinate contest with his physical disadvantages. He assiduously practised his growing powers as an advocate before the legal tribunals before he again ventured to speak on state affairs. But at length he reappeared before the people, and the dominion of his genius was supreme.
2. Cicero Ann Demosthenes Comparen. — Fenelon.
To me Demos'thenes seems superior to Cicero." I yield to no one in my admiration of the latter. He adorns whatever he touches. He lends honor to speech. He uses words as no one else can use them. His versatility is beyond description. Ho is even concise and ve'hement when disposed to be so, — as against Cit'iline, against Verres, against An'tony. But we detect the embellishments in his discourses. The art is marvellous, but it is not hidden. The orator does not, in his concern for *ha republic, fbrget himself, nor does he allow himself to be for. gotten.
Demosthenes, on the contrary, seems to lose all consciousness of himself, and to rec'ognize only his country. He does not seek the beautiful; he unconsciously creates it. He is superior to admiration. He uses language as a modest man uses his garment — for a covering. He thunders, he lightens; he is like a torrent hurrying all before it. We cannot criticize him, for we arc in the sweep of his influence. We think on what he says, not on how he says it. We lose sight of the speaker; we are occupied only with his subject.
3. Alfren The Great. — Charles Dickens.
As great and good in peace as he was great and good in war, King Alfred never rested from his labors to improve his people. He made just laws, that they might live more happily and freely; he turned away all partial judges, that no wrong might be done them; he was so careful of their property, and punished robbers so severely, that it was a common thing to say that under the great King Alfred garlands of golden chains and jewels might have hung across the streets, and no man would have touched one.
He founded schools; he patiently heard causes himself in his court of justice. Every day he divided into certain portions, and in each portion devoted himself to a certain pursuit. That he might divide his time exactly, he had wax torches or candles" made, which were all of the same size, were notched across at regular distances, and were always kept burning. Thus, as the candles burnt down, he divided the day into notches, almost as accurately as we now divide it into hours upon the clock. He had the candles put into cases formed of wood and white horn; and these were the first lanthorns ever made in England.
All this time he was afflicted with a terrible unknown disease, which caused him violent and frequent pain, that nothing could relieve. He bore it, as he had borne all the troubles of his life, like a brave good man, until he was fifty-three years old; and then, having reigned thirty years, he died. He died in the year nine hundred and one; but, long ago as that is, his fame, and the love and gratitude73 with which his subjects regarded him, are freshly remembered to the present hour.
4. Mary, Queen Of Scots. — Robertso'i
To all the charms of beauty, and the utmost elegance of external form, Mary added thosp accomplishments which render