« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thoughts long before. Thou art about my bed and about my path, and art acquainted with all my ways. Whither shall I go from thy spirit, or whither shall I fee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there ; if I go down to the dwell. ing of the departed, thou art there also. If I take the wings of the morning and abide in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, surely the darkness shall cover me, even the night shall be turned into day. Yea, the darkness is no darkness with thee, but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light arc both alike to thee.”
6. A similar train of lofty conception pervades the writings of the prophets. “Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out the heavens with a span, and comprenended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance ? Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance ; he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, who bringeth out their host by number; he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power ; not one faileth. Hast thou not known, hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding."
7. But it is not only in such sublimity of language and exalted im'agery that the literature of the Hebrews surpasses the writings of the most learnëd and ingenious portion of the heathen world. A distinction not less remarkable is to be found in the humane and compassionate spirit which animates even the earli. est parts of the sacred volume, composed at a time when the manners of all nations were still unrefined, and the softer emotions were not held in honor. “ Blessed is he who considereth the poor and needy; the Lord will deliver him in the time of trouble. The Lord will preserve him and keep him alive; he shall be blessëd upon earth, and thou wilt not deliver him into the will of his enemies. The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing; thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.”
8. We shall in vain seek for instances of such a benign and liberal feeling in the volumes of the most enlightened of pagan writers, whether poets or orators. How beautifully does the following observation made by Solomon contrast with the contempt expressed by Horace for the great body of his countrymen : ' He human conscience resold, philosophy proscribed, prejudices encouraged, the human mind diminished, instruction materialized and concen'trated in the pure sciences alone, schools converted into barracks, literature degraded by censorship or humbled by baseness, naticnal representation perverted, election abolished, the arts enslaved, commerce destroyed, credit annihilated, navi. gation suppressed, international hatred revived, the people op pressed, or enrolled in the army, paying, in blood or taxes, the ambition of an uncqualled soldier, but covering with the great name of France the contradictions of the age, the miseries and degradations of the country.
5. This is the founder ! This is the man !- a man, instead of a revolution ! — a man, instead of an epoch! - a man, instead of a country!--- a man, instead of a nation ! Nothing after him! nothing around him but his shadow, making stěrile the eighteenth century, absorbed and concen'trated in himself alone. Personal glory will be always spoken of as characterizing the age of Napoleon ; but it will never merit the praise bestowed upon that of Augustus, of Charlemagne, El and of Louis the Fourteenth.Eu There is no age; there is only a name; and this name signifies nothing to humanity, but himself. False in institutions, for he rětrograded ; false in policy, for he debased ; false in morals, for he corrupted ; false in civilization, for he oppressed, — he was only true in war; for he shed torrents of human blood. But what can we, then, allow him ? His individual genius was great, but it was the genius of materialism. His intelligence was vast and clear; but it was the intelligence of calculation. He counted, he weighed, he measured; but he felt not, he loved not, he sympathized with none; he was a statue rather than a man.
6. His metallic nature was felt even in his style. Much superior to Cæsar in the account of his campaigns, his style is not the written expression alone, it is the action. Every sentence in his pages is, so to speak, the counterpart and counter-impression of the fact. There is neither a letter, a sound, nor a color, wasted between the fact and the word, — and the word is himself, His phrases, concise, En but struck off without ornament, recall those times when Bajazet and Charlemagne, not knowing how to write their names at the bottom of their imperial acts, dipped their hands in ink or blood, and applied them with all their joints impressed upon the parchment. It was not the signature ; it was the hand itself of the hero, thus fixed eternally before the eyes; and such were the pages of his campaigns, dictated by Napoleon, – the very soul of movement, of action, and of combat.
7. This fame, which constituted his morality, his conscience, and his principle, he merited, by his nature and his talents, froin
war and from glory; and he has covered with it the name of France. France, obliged to accept the odium of his tyranny and bis crimes, should also accept his glory with a serious gratitude. She cannot separate her name from his without lessening it; for it is equally incrusted with his greatness as with his faults. She wished for renown; and what she principally owes to him is the celebrity she has gained in the world. This celebrity, which will descend to posterity, and which is improperly called glory, constituted his means and his end. Let him, therefore, enjoy it. The noise he has made will resound through distant ages; but let it not pervert posterity, or falsify the judgment of mankind. He is admired as a soldier ; he is measured as a sovereign ; he is judged as a founder of nations; - great in action, little in idea, nothing in virtue. Such is the man !
CLXXXIV. — NAPOLEON AS A STUDENT. 1. DILIGENCE and self-control are the crowning attributes of genius. Napoleon, however extraordinary his mental gifts, no more attained his greatness by fits and starts than he made his way over the Alps by a sudden flight. In both cases the road was opened by labor, toil, and endurance. The evidences of his arduous study and persevering industry in youth afford a useful lesson for the consideration of those who, feeling within them a certain excitement, regard it — and, it may be, justly — as the token of mental power, but forget that it is as surely an evidence of power needing the strengthening and discipline of order and systematic study.
2. Napoleon appears to have gone through a regular and systematic course of reading with a definite object : nothing was done for mere amusement. His selections of works, and his extracts from them, are alike remarkable. He occupied himself with natural history, natural philosophy, and medicine. He studied ancient geography and history;" then turned to modern, and acquainted himself well with the history of France. His object seemed rather to gain a knowledge of historical facts than to form a system from them. A thirst for general knowledge, and an indefatigable industry in attaining it, are manifested throughout his scholastic career.
3. We will not enter into the moral questions connected with Napoleon's aims and objects, with the use or misuse of his ener: gies, for we are now only dealing with the training by which he learaed to concen'trate them; and with the great lesson to be drawn from the fact that it was by strenuous perseverance and unwearied effort, under difficulties and impediments, that his mental powers were — we will not say created — but fostered and made effectual to the attainment of his aims and objects. Napoleon, as well as Michael Angelo, Et and Newton, El and all possessed of true genius, had to submit to that law of human nature, which decrees that nothing great can be done without great effort. Of all the subjects of which he afterwards showed himself master, he was first the regular and diligent student.
4. His clear ideas on legislation, on finance', and social organization, were not fruits of spontaneous growth, but the harvest reaped on the throne from the labors of the poor lieutenantel of artillery. He owed his mental development to that to which in every age every great and strong mind has owed it — industry, to solitary and patient vigil, to difficulty and misfortune. True it is that the revolution opened to him a vast field; but, had the revolution never occurred, Napoleon must have become distin guished; for characters such as his seize upon, but are never thc slaves of, circumstances. When, after seven years spent in retirement, Napoleon made his first appearance on the world's stage, he had already within him the germs of his future greatness. Nothing was fortuitous with him.
5. His was a perpetual struggle, and not always a successful one. His being at ToulonEr was owing to his never losing an opportunity of coming forward. Never did a new minister come into power without receiving a memorial from the young officer on the affairs of his native country; and never was any change in the military department of Corsica proposed, that Napoleon did not, at any risk, immediately repair thither. When unsuccessful in his object, he returned to Valencel to think and to study; and these seven years of the youthful life of Napoleon are to us the noblest and greatest in that life of prodigies, and are themselves sufficient to preclude his elevation being ascribed to fatality.
CLXXXV. - THOUGHTS ON BOOKS. 1. OBLIGATIONS TO LITERATURE. — I will here place on record my own obligations to literature: a debt so immense as not to be cancelled, like that of Nature, by death itself. I owe to it some thing more than my earthly welfare. Adrift, early in life, upon the great waters, — as pilotless as Wordsworth's blind boy, afloat in the turtle-shell, — if I did not come to shipwreck, it was that, in default of paternal or fraternal guidance, I was rescued, like
the ancient mariner,” by guardian spirits - "each one a lovely light” — who stood as bēacons to my course. Infirm health, and a natural love of reading, happily threw me, instead of worse society, into the company of poets, philosophers, and sages — to me good angels and ministers of grace. From these silent instructors — who often do more than fathers, and always more than god-fathers, for our temporal and spiritual interests -- from these mild monitors, - no importunate tutors, teasing mentors, El moral task-masters, obtrusive advisers, harsh censors, or weari. some lecturers, but delightful associates, — I learned something of the divine, and more of the human, religion.
They were my interpreters in the house beautiful of God, and my guide among the delectable mountains of Nature. They reformed my prejudices, chāstened my passions, tempered my heart, purified my tastes, elevated my mind, and directed my aspirations. I was lost in a chaos of undigested problems, false theories, crude fancies, obscure impulses, bewildering doubts, when these bright intelligences called my mental world out of darkness, like a new creation, and gave it “two great lights," Hope and Memory, -- the past for a moon, and the future for a sun.
“ Hence have I genial seasons ; hence have I
Smooth passions, smooth discourse, and joyc as thoughts ;
How gladly would I end my mortal days !” * — Thomas Hood. 2. THE WORTH OF Books. — It is chiefly through books that we enjoy intercourse with superior minds; and these invaluable means of communication are in the reach of all. In the best books, great men talk to us, give us their most precious thoughts, and pour their souls into ours. God be thanked for books. They are the voices of the distant and the dead, and make us heirs of the spiritual life of past ages. Books are the true levellers. They give to all, who will faithfully use them, the society, the spiritual presence, of the best and greatest of our race. No matter how poor I am. No matter, though the prosperous of my own time will not enter my obscure dwelling. If the Sacred Writers will enter and take up their abode under my roof, — if Milton will cross my threshold to sing to me of Paradise, and Shakspeare to open to me the worlds of imagination and the workings of the human heart, and Franklin to enrich me with his