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a daring enterprise, which seemed as far above their strength as any recorded in the fabulous annals of knight-errantry. A handful of men, without food, without clothing, almost without arms, without knowledge of the land to which they were bound, without vessel to transport them, were here left on a lonely rock in the ocean, with the avowed purpose of carrying on a crusade against a powerful empire, staking their lives on its success. What is there in the legends of chivalry47 that surpasses it? This was the crisis of Pizarro's fate.
There are moments in the lives of men, which, as they aro seized or neglected, decide their future destiny. Had Pizarro faltered from his strong purpose, and yielded to the occasion now so temptingly presented, for extricating himself and his broken band from their desperate position, his name would have been buried with his fortunes, and the conquest of Peru would have been left for other and more successful adventurers. But his constancy was equal to the occasion, and his conduct here proved him competent to the perilous post he had assumed, and inspired others with a confidence in him which was the best assurance of success.
CXCVII. — HUMAN SCIENCE SOMETIMES AT FAULT. 1. With all due respect for the calculations of men of science, I cannot but remember that when most confident they have sometimes erred. They have too often asserted as a demonstration what was, after all, a mere fallible opinion, which time has contradicted. They sneered at Columbus, when he set forth on his expedition in search of a land beyond the unexplored ocean; at Harvey, El when he announced the circulation of the blood ; at Jenner, El when he propounded his theory of vaccination. They told us that steamboats could not cross the Atlantic. They shook the head at Buena Vista. Ei Ah! that was a battle against all rule, in violation of all the principles of military calculation, An old American general, seated on his white horse, looked forth over the field through his telescope, and said, “We will fight here.” And the result was a victory won by five thousand against twenty thousand. A most unscientific and informal victory!
2. Some years ago, a book came out in France, on the subject of a carriage, which had been contrived in England, I believe for a wager at Newmarket, to go a certain distance in a given time. The author of the book undertook to prove, very learnedly, that
the project could not po: sibly succeed. He formed a most elaborate calculation, according to the most precise rules, which gave the greatest satisfaction to all the scientific world of Paris. A was to represent the carriage; B the horses; C the driver: D the resistance of the air; E the friction of the earth, and F the utter impossibility of success. And A plus B, plus C, plus D, plus E, was equal to F, and therefore the project must fail. While the book was being published, however, the wager was won ; but the lovers of science contented themselves with affirming that, though the project did succeed, it ought not to have succeeded.
3. An instance of a graver character may be quoted. Not long since a light-house was erected on a ledge of rocks, known as Minot's Ledye, in Boston harbor. It rested on iron pillars, which rose from strong iron piles, fixed firmly in the rocks, Science, or rather professed science, was fully satisfied that the structure was secure. There was a terrible storm in the winter; but the light-house outlived it. The keeper declared, however, that it could not stand many such gales ; that the piles had started ; that in a severe easterly storm the light-house would rock like a ship afloat; and that there was great danger of its overthrow. The engineer knew better than this, and came before the public with a statement proving very conclusively that the keeper's fears were groundless, and that the light-house was so constructed as to be tempest-proof. The very next spring, an easterly storm of unusual severity set in, and the strong winds blew violently, and the tide rose, and the ocean-waves rushed in and beat upon that house, and it fell. The iron stems that sustained it were snapped like reeds; and two valuable lives were lost by the catas'trophë.
4. I mention these instances, not to undervalue science, - it would be folly to attempt that; for science, when true to its name, is true knowledge, — but to show that its name is sometimes wrongfully assumed, and that its professors, when not guided by humility, may prove but misleading counsellors. The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. After all that human wisdom can foresee, after all that human calculations can provide, something must be left to chance, something to the possibility of error, something to those contingencies which human vision may not take in. The highest science is ever the most reverent. It is in the lower ranks that we must look for those examples of dogmatism, pertinacity, and presumption, which claim to utter decisions, without appeal, which tho next hour may prove to be wrong.
CXCVIII. — CARDINAL WOLSEY AND CROMWELL.*
Wolsey. FAREWELL, a long farewell to all my greatness !
Enter CroUWELL, amazedly.
Cromwell. I have no power to speak, sir.
Wol. What! amazed
Crom. How does your grace?
Wol. Why, well;
Crom. I am glad, your grace has made that right use of it
• Thomas Cromwell, a statesman of the time of Henry the Eighth of England. † Shakspeare often puts the accent in aspect on the last syllable. An, by the old writers, is often used for if.
(Out of a fortitude of soul I feel),
Crom. The heaviest and the worst
Wol. God bless him!
Crom. The next is, that Sir Thomas Moree is chosen
Wol. That's somewhat sudden :
Crom. That Cranmer is returned with welcome,
Wol. That's news, indeed.
Crom. Last, that the Lady Anne,
Wol. There was the weight that pulled me down. O! Cromwell,
Crom. O, my lord,
Wol. Cromwell, I did not think to shed a tear
And sleep in dull cold marble, where no mention
Crom. Good sir, have patience.
Wol. So I have. Farewell
CXCIX. — THE TREASURES BY THE WAYSIDE.
1. The sky was dull, the scene was wild,
I wandered up the mountain way;
The man in thought, the child at play.
Mine eyes with former tears were dim ;
Had each its fairy wealth for him !
Ile bounded back to show the treasure ;
Nor wise enough to share, his pleasure.
2. We paused at last :— the child began
Again his sullen guide to tease :
So look, and tell me what are these?”