Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

word, and every ungentle action, will come thronging back upon thy memory and knocking dolefully at thy soul; then be sure that thou wilt lie down sorrowing and repentant on the grave, and utter the unheard groan, and pour the unavailing tear, more deep, more bitter, because unheard and unavailing.

Then weave thy chaplet of flowers, and strew the beauties of nature about the grave; console thy broken spirit, if thou canst, with these tender yet futile tributes of regret; but take warning by the bitterness of this thy contrite affliction over the dead, and henceforth be more faithful and affectionate in the discharge of thy duties to the living.

Sketch-Book. PORTRAIT OF A DUTCHMAN. The renowned Wouter (or Walter) Van Twiller was descended from a long line of Dutch burgomasters, who had successively dozed away their lives, and grown fat upon the bench of magistracy in Rotterdam, and who had comported themselves with such singular wisdom and propriety that they were never either heard or talked of,—which, next to being universally applauded, should be the object of ambition of all magistrates and rulers. There are two opposite ways by which some men make a figure in the world : one by talking faster than they think; and the other by holding their tongues and not thinking at all. By the first, many a smatterer acquires the reputation of a man of quick parts; by the other, many a dunderpate, like the owl, the stupidest of birds, comes to be considered the very type of wisdom. This, by-theway, is a casual remark, which I would not for the universe have it thought I apply to Governor Van Twiller. It is true he was a man shut up within himself, like an oyster, and rarely spoke except in monosyllables; but then it was allowed he seldom said a foolish thing. So invincible was his gravity that he was never known to laugh, or even to smile, through the whole course of a long and prosperous life. Nay, if a joke were uttered in his presence that set light-minded hearers in a roar, it was observed to throw him into a state of perplexity. Sometimes he would deign to inquire into the matter; and when, after much explanation, the joke was made as plain as a pikestaff, he would continue to smoke his pipe in silence, and at length, knocking out the ashes, would exclaim, “ Well! I see nothing in all that to laugh about !"

The person of this illustrious old gentleman was formed and proportioned as though it had been moulded by the hands of some cunning Dutch statuary, as a model of majesty and lordly grandeur. He was exactly five feet six inches in height, and six feet five inches in circumference. His head was a perfect sphere, and of such stupendous dimensions, that dame Nature, with all her sex's

ingenuity, would have been puzzled to construct a neck capable of supporting it; wherefore she wisely declined the attempt, and settled it firmly on the back of his back-bone, just between the shoulders. His body was oblong, and particularly capacious at bottom; which was wisely ordered by Providence, seeing that he was a man of sedentary habits, and very averse to the idle labor of walking. His legs were short, but sturdy in proportion to the weight they had to sustain; so that when erect he had not a little the appearance of a beer-barrel on skids. His face—that infallible index of the mind—presented a vast expanse, unfurrowed by any of those lines and angles which disfigure the human countenance with what is termed expression. Two small gray eyes twinkled feebly in the midst, like two stars of lesser magnitude in a hazy firmament; and his full-fed cheeks, which seemed to have taken toll of every thing that went into his mouth, were curiously mottled and streaked with dusky red, like a spitzeuberg apple.

His habits were as regular as his person. He daily took his four stated meals, appropriating exactly an hour to each ; he smoked and doubted eight hours, and he slept the remaining twelve of the four-and-twenty. Such was the renowned Wouter Van Twiller,-a true philosopher; for his mind was either elevated above, or tranquilly settled below, the cares and perplexities of this world. He had lived in it for years, without feeling the least curiosity to know whether the sun revolved round it, or it round the sun ; and he had watched, for at least half a century, the smoke curling from his pipe to the ceiling, without once troubling his head with any of those numerous theories by which a philosopher would have perplexed his brain, in accounting for its rising above the surrounding atmosphere.

Knickerbocker.

JOSEPH S. BUCKMINSTER, 1784—1812.

Joseph Stevens BUCKMINSTEr was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, May 26, 1784. His ancestors, both by his father's and his mother's side, for several generations, were clergymen. His father, Dr. Buckminster, was for a long time a minister of Portsmouth, and was esteemed one of the most eminent clergymen of the State. His mother, the only daughter of Dr. Stevens, of Kittery, was a woman of an elegant and cultivated mind; and, though dying while the subject of this memoir was very young, she had made such impressions on his mind and heart as deeply and permanently affected his character.

Mr. Buckminster was a striking example of the early development of talents. There was no period, after his earliest infancy, when he did not impress on all who saw him a conviction of the certainty of his future eminence. He received

bis education preparatory for college at Exeter Academy, New Hampshire, under the care of the venerable Dr. Benjamin Abbot, for whom all his pupils ever entertained the bighest veneration. At the age of thirteen he entered Harvard Uni. versity, nearly a year in advance, and at once took the highest rank as a scholar, which be continued to maintain throughout his whole collegiate career.

In 1800, he received the honors of the University, and entered at once upon the study of theology, for which he had an inclination at an early age. In October, 1804, he was invited to preach before the Brattle Street Church, Boston, and he was ordained as their pastor January 30, 1805.

Bat a cloud was soon to overshadow this fair prospect; for, in October of that year, he was attacked by a fit of epilepsy, brought on by too intense application to his studies. In the spring of 1806, the increase of this fatal malady induced his friends to insist upon his taking a voyage to Europe; and, accordingly, he embarked in May for Liverpool. After travelling through Great Britain and a considerable portion of Western Europe, he returned home in September of the next year. He was welcomed by his congregation with unabated affection, and resumed the duties of his office with redoubled activity, and for a few years be continued to labor with unwearied industry, continually filling a larger space in the public eye, when, in the midst of all his usefulness, he was suddenly cut down. A violent attack of his old disorder at once made a total wreck of his intellect, and, after lingering for a few days, during which he had not even a momentary interval of reason, he sank under its force, June 9, 1812, having just completed his twenty-eighth year.

Few men ever died more lamented by the community in which they lived than Mr. Buckminster. His death was felt by all classes, and all sects of Christians, to be a great publie loss. His life was one of uniform purity and rectitude, of devotion to his Master's service, of disinterested zeal for the good of mankind. As a sebolar, Professor Norton remarks, “There is no question that he was one of the most eminent men whom our country has produced. In the time which was left bim by his many interruptions, he had acquired such a variety of knowledge, that one could hardly converse with him on any subject connected with bis profession, or with the branches of elegant literature, without having some new ideas suggested, without receiving some information, or being at least directed how to obtain it. Yet he did not labor to acquire learning merely for the sake of exhibiting it to the wonder of others; but bis studies were all for profit and usefulness. Of bis public discourses I do not fear speaking with exaggerated praise. To listen to thein was the indulgence and gratification of our best affections. It was to follow in the triumph of religion and virtue."

I Dr. Johnson bas very justly said, “Not to mention the school or master of distinguished men is a kind of historical fraud by which honest fame is inju. riously diminished."

2 Read a memoir prefixed to his works, 2 vols., Boston, 1839; also an article in the " Xorth American Review,” x. 204; but, above all, “Memoirs of the Rev. Joseph Buckminster, D.D., and of his Son, Rev. Joseph Stevens Buckmioster," by his sister, Eliza Buckninster Lee. Also a very fine article in the “Christian Examiner" fur September, 1849.

USES OF SICKNESS. Sickness teaches us not only the uncertain tenure, but the utter vanity and unsatisfactoriness, of the dearest objects of human pursuit. Introduce into the chamber of a sick and dying man the whole pantheon of idols which he has vainly worshipped,-fame, wealth, pleasure, beauty, power,—what miserable comforters are they all! Bind a wreath of laurel round his brow, and see if it will assuage his aching temples. Spread before him the deeds and instruments which prove him the lord of innumerable possessions, and see if you can beguile him of a moment's anguish; see if he will not give you up those barren parchments for one drop of cool water, one draught of pure air. Go, tell him, when a fever rages through his veins, that his table smokes with luxuries, that the wine moveth itself aright and giveth its color in the cup, and see if this will calm his throbbing pulse. Tell him, as he lies prostrate, helpless and sinking with debility, that the song and dance are ready to begin, and that all without him is life, alacrity, and joy. Nay, more, place in his motionless hand the sceptre of a mighty empire, and see if he will be eager to grasp it. This, my friends, this is the school in which our desires must be disciplined, and our judgments of ourselves and the objects of our pursuit corrected.

TEMPTATIONS OF THE YOUNG.

It is true that every age and employment has its snares; but the feet of the young are most easily entrapped. Issuing forth, as you do, in the morning of life, into the wide field of existence, where the flowers are all open, it is no wonder that you pluck some that are poisonous. Tasting every golden fruit that hangs over the garden of life, it is no wonder that you should find some of the most tempting hollow and mouldy. But the peculiar characteristic of your age, my young friends, is impetuosity and presumptuousness. You are without caution, because without experience. You are precipitate, because you have enjoyed so long the protection of others that you have yet to learn to protect your. selves. You grasp at every pleasure because it is new, and every society charms with a freshness which you will be surprised to find gradually wearing away. Young as you are upon the stage, there seems to be little for you to know of yourselves; therefore you are contented to know little, and the world will not let you know more till it has disappointed you oftener.

Entering, then, into life, you will find every rank and occupation environed with its peculiar temptations; and, without some other and higher principle than that which influences a merely worldly man, you are not a moment secure. You are poor, and you think pleasure and fashion and ambition will disdain to spread their snares for so ignoble a prey. It is true, they may. But take care that dishonesty does not dazzle you with an exhibition of sudden gains. Take care that want does not disturb your imagination by temptations to fraud. Distress may drive you to indolence and despair, and these united may drown you in intemperance. Even robbery and murder have sometimes stalked in at the breach which poverty or calamity has left unguarded. You are rich, and you think that pride and a just sense of reputation will preserve you from the vices of the vulgar. It is true, they may; and you may be ruined in the progress of luxury, and lost to society, and, at last, to God, while sleeping in the lap of the most flattering and enervating abundance.

The last resource against temptation is prayer. Escaping, then, from your tempter, fly to God. Cultivate the habit of devotion. It shall be a wall of fire around you, and your glory in the midst of you. To this practice the uncorrupted sentiments of the heart impel you, and invitations are as numerous as they are merciful to encourage you. When danger has threatened your life, you have called upon God. When disease has wasted your health, and you have felt the tomb opening under your feet, you have called upon God. When you have apprehended heavy misfortunes or engaged in hazardous enterprises, you have, perhaps, resorted to God to ask his blessing. But what are all these dangers to the danger which your virtue may be called to encounter on your first entrance into life? In habitual prayer you will find a safeguard. You will find every good resolution fortified by it, and every seduction losing its power, when seen in the new light which a short communion with Heaven affords. In prayer you will find that a state of mind is generated which will shed a holy influence over the whole character; and those temptations to which you were just yielding will vanish, with all their allurements, when the day-star of devotion rises in your hearts.

ACTIVE AND INACTIVE LEARNING. The history of letters does not, at this moment, suggest to me a more fortunate parallel between the effects of active and of inactive learning than in the well-known characters of Cicero and Atticus. Let me hold them up to your observation, not because Cicero was faultless, or Atticus always to blame, but because, like vou, they were the citizens of a republic. They lived in an age of learning and of dangers, and acted upon opposite principles when Rome was to be saved, if saved at all, by the virtuous energy of ber most accomplished minds. If we look now for

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »