« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
the force of gunpowder, and will rend the solid rock; and so it if w;th language
i. A gentle stream of persuasiveness may flow through the mmd, and leave no sediment.: let it come at a blow, as a cataract, and it sweeps all before it. It is by this maguificent com« pression that Cicero" confounds Cat'ilme", and Demos'thenes" overwhelms ^Es'chlnes"; by this that Mark Antony, as Shakspeare makes him speak, carries the heart away with a bad cause. The language of strong passion is always terse" and compressed; genuine conviction uses few words: there is something of artifice and dishonesty in a long speech.
5. No argument is worth using, because none can make a deep impression, that does not bear to be stated in a single sentence. Our marshalling of speeches, essays, and books, according to their length, deeming that a great work which covers a great space, — this "inordinate appetite for printed paper," which devours so much and so indiscriminately that it has no leisure for fairly tasting anything, — is pernicious to all kinds of literature, but fatal to oratory. The writer who aims at perfection is forced to dread popularity and steer wide of it; the orator who must court popularity is forced to renounce the pursuit of genuine and lasting excellence.
XXXIII. — TURNING THE GRINDSTONE.
1. When I was a little boy, I remember, one cold winter's morning, I was accosted by a smiling99 man with an axe on his shoulder. "My pretty boy," said he, "has your father a grindstone ?" — " Yes, sir," said I. — " You are a fine little fellow," said he; "will you let me grind my axe on it?" Pleased with the compliment91 of "fine little fellow," "O yes, sir," I answered. "It is down in the shop." — " And will you, my man," said he, patting me on the head, "get me a little hot water?" How could I refuse? I ran, and soon brought a kettle full. "How old are you? and what's your name?" continued he, without waiting for a reply; "I am sure you are one of the finest lads that ever I have seen; will you just turn a few minutes for me?"
2. Tickled with the flattery, like a little fool, I went to work, and bitterly did I rue the day. It was a new axe, and I toiled and tugged till I was almost tired to death. The school-bell rang, and I could not get away; my hands were blistered, and the axe was not half ground. At length, however, it was sharpened; and the man turned to me with, "Now, you little rascal you've played truant; scud to the school, or you '11 buy it! '* — " Alas!" thought I, "it was hard enough to turn a grind« stone, this cold day; but now to be called a little rascal, is too much."
3. It sank deep in my mind; and often have I thought of it since. When I see a merchant over polite to his customers, — begging them to take a little brandy, and throwing his goods on the counter, — thinks I, That man has an axe to grind. When I see a man flattering the people, making great professions of attachment to liberty, who is in private life a tyrant, methinks, Look out, good people! that fellow would set you turning grindstones. When I see a man hoisted96 into office by party spirit, without a single qualification to render him either respectable or useful — alas! methinks, deluded' people, you are doomed for a season to turn the grindstone for a booby. Franklin.
XXXIV.—THE PKESENT IN VIEW OF THE FUTURE.
1. The smallest thing becomes respectable when regarded as the commencement91 of what has advanced, or is advancing, into magnificence. The first rude settlement of Romulus" would have been an insignificant circumstance, and might justly have sunk into oblivion,97 if Rome had not at length commanded the world. The little rill near the source of one of the great American rivers is an in'teresting object to the traveller30 who is apprised as he steps across it, or walks a few miles along its banks, that this is the stream which runs so far, and which gradually swells into so immense a flood.
2. So, while1031 anticipate the endless progress of life, and wonder through what unknown scenes it is to take its course, its past years lose that character of vanity which would seem to belong to a train of fleeting, perishing moments, and I see them assuming95 the dignity of a commencing eternity. In them I have begun to be that conscious existence which I am to be through infinite duration; and I. feel a strange emotion of curiosity about this little life, in which I am setting out on such a progress; I cannot be content without an accurate46 sketch of the windings thus far of a stream which is to bear me on for« ever.
3. I try to imagine how it will be to recollect,100 at a far distant point, what I was when here; and wish, if it were possible, to retain, as I advance, the whole course of my existence
within the scope of clear reflection; to fix in my mind so very strong an idea of what I have been98 in this original90 period of my time, that I shall most completely possess this idea in ages too remote for calculation. John Foster
XXXV. — HYMN.
How are thy servants blest, 0 Lord! How sure is their defence!
Thy mercy sweetened every toil, made every region please;
Confusion dwelt in every face, and fear in every heart,
for, though in dreadful whirls we hung, high on the broken wave,
In midst of dangers, fears, and death, thy goodness91 I '11 adore,
XXXVI. — THE GRAVES OE A HOUSEHOLD.
They grew in beauty, side by side; they filled one house with glee
One, 'midst the forests of the West, by a dark stream is laid ; —
One sleeps where southern vines are dressed48 above the noble slain:
And, parted thus, they rest who played beneath the same green tree"
XXXVII. — FALL OF A MOUNTAIN IN SWITZERLAND.
1. The summer of 1806 had been remarkably stormy, and the copious rains had loosened the soil of the mountain of Rossberg, overlooking the valley of Goldau;" but as late as the 2d of September nothing had occurred to presage82 the danger which menaced us. About two o'clock in the afternoon of that day, I told Louisa, the eldest of my daughters, to go and draw'-'8 some water from the spring. She took a pitcher and went; but returned in a minute with the news33 that the spring had stopped flowing. As I had only to cross the garden to satisfy myself in regard to this phenomenon," I went, and found that the spring was in truth dried up.
2. I was about to give three or four thrusts with the spade into the soil, to discover the cause of this disappearance, when the earth seemed to tremble under my feet. I left the spade upright in the ground. What was my astonishment, when103 1 saw it moving off by itself! At the same time a flock of birds rose with sharp cries into the air. I looked up and saw immense rocks detaching themselves and rolling down the mountain.27 I believed that I was seized with a vertigo." I turned to retrace my steps to the house. Between me and it a fissure40 in the earth had been suddenly formed, the depth of which I could not measure. I leaped over it as if I were in a dream, and ran towards the house. It seemed as if the mountain were sliding from its base, and pursuing me.
3. Arrived before the door of my house, I met my father, who had just been filling his pipe. He had frequently predicted
* It will be remembered (see IT 32, Part I.) that the ea of hearth should be sounded like the ea of heart. To suit the rhyme, in this instance it may be sounded to correspond with the ea of earth. The last line in this poem is an instance of the inversion noticed in 1T 15G. The meaning is, — "Alas for love, if thou, 0 earth, wert all, and there were not another life beyond thee!" The line is elliptical as well as inverted. See V 1GG.
the disaster which seemed now at hand. I told him that the mountam was staggering like a drunken91 man, and that it threatened to fall on us. "It will at least give me time to light my pipe," said he, reentering1*5 the house. At this moment,91 something passed through the air, casting a huge shadow.9* I looked up. It was a rock, which, launched like a ball from a cannon, fell upon a house some four hundred paces from the village, and crushed it to pieces.
4. My wifeK now appeared, turning the corner of the street, and leading three of our children. I ran towards her, took two of the children in my arms, and told her to follow me. "But, Marianna!" exclaimed she; "Marianna, who is in the house with Francisca!" I retained her by the arm, for, the same moment,91 the house whirled round upon itself like a reel. My father, who had just set foot on the threshold, was precipitated to the other side of the street. I drew my wife towards" me, and compelled her to follow me. All at once there was a frightful noise, followed by a cloud of dust which covered the valley. My wife was torn forcibly from me. I turned — she had disappeared with the child!
5. There seemed something incomprehensible — something mfernal in it. The earth had opened and closed under her feet. I should not have known what had become of her, but that one »f her hands remained visible outside of the soil. I threw myself upon this hand, which the earth seemed to hold like a vice. £ would not quit the place. But my children30 cried for succor. [ rose like one demented from the ground, took a child under »ither arm, and fled. Three times I felt the ground moving under my feet, and fell with my burthen. Three times I rose, and struggled forward.
6. At length it seemed no longer possible for me to keep rtanding. I tried to hold on to the trees, and the trees fell. I tried to support myself against37 a rock, and the rock fled from me- as if it were alive. I placed my children on the ground, and lay down beside them. An instant after, it was as if the last lay of the creation had come. The whole mountain fell.
7. I remained thus with my poor children all the rest of the day, and a part of the night. We believed we were tie last human beings alive in the world; but all at once we heard cries at some paces from us. They were from a young man of Bu'eingen, who had been married that day. Returning from Art with the wedding party, at the moment of entering Goldau he had lingered behind to gather from a garden a bouquet" of roses for his bride. When he looked for her again, village, wedding party, bride, all had disappeared like a flash; and the vouth ran