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can say." — " Well, and what if everybody can? Is it so great
a misfortune to be understood when one speaks, and to speak like the rest of the world? J
2. I will tell you what, my friend, — you do not suspect it, and I shall astonish you, — but you, and those like you, want common sense! Nay, this is not all; it is not only in the direction of your wants that you are in fault, but of your superfluities; you have too much conceit; you possess an opinion that you have more sense than others. That is the source of all your pompous nothings, your cloudy sentences, and your big words without a meaning. Before you accost a person, or enter a room, let ma pull you by the sleeve and whisper in your ear, "Do not try to show off your sense: have none at all; that is your cne. Use plain language, if you can; just such as you find others use, who, in your idea, have no understanding; and then, perhaps, you will get credit for having some." La Rruyere.
. CCIX. — LAMENT OVER LOST OPPORTUNITIES.
1. O, For the days and years that are gone by and perished from me, as water spilt on the sea-sand, uselessly and irretrievably !" Where is the fable of my former life?" Alas! the brilliancy of my day was spent utterly in its dawning. Feeble, and abortive, and fleeting, has been the time that I have passed; but other elements than these were within it, and had I but nurtured them, to me that foolish time had been the parent of a blissful eternity. But occasions are past, the hour of their reckoning is nigh at hand, even now my twilight is coming on, and my hopes are darkening into regrets.
2. Could I once again but so much as touch the hem of " the mantling train of far departed years," surely it should be my salvation. But time, as it speeds on, gives us the pass but glancingly, like the rush of a carriage on a railway, or a rocket into the air; we take no note of it while within our reach, and not till it is far away in the distance can we settle our sight steadily upon it, and estimate it duly. Days of my youth, it is even so, — ye were sent to me on an angelic mission, your bosoms overflowing with flowers, and fruit, and all things, whatever there be, of use and loveliness; these would ye have emptied into my hands, but I would not, and so it was your law to leave me, taking with ye no token of my thankful acceptance!
3. Even now, methinks, I see ye through the far air " gliding mete'orous," sinking into the dimness of distance, yet ever and anon looking back upon me, as frustrate angels, lovingly and lamentingly, in wonder at my strange folly. It saddens me to see them, as the sight of his ancestral domains is agonizing to the beggared spendthrift. My manhood should have borne the fruits of wisdom, and behold it has crowned itself only with the gray sorrows of experience, — hard, dry, marrowless, and distasteful experience, — the energy of the muscle aged into the inertness of the bone. My life has been as the passage of a ship over the ocean, — a pilgrim across the desert, — not a token of his industry, not a trace of his footsteps, not so much as a monument of his existence, no more than if his mother had never borne him.
4. And this is my preparation for immortality! Long ere this my soul should have expanded itself beyond the limits of this world, and fitted itself for its futurity; my devotion should have made it wings, wherewith to rise upwards, and penetrate beyond the bounds of space, even to the presence and communion of God, there to be at home with its Maker. But truly here I am, grovelling on the ground, and feeding on the dust all the days of my life. Nevertheless, the account will come. If time be but a portion of eternity, and if I use that portion as one abusing it most vilely, how shall not eternity revenge itself with burning and raging bitterness? It shall bruise my head, even as I have trodden upon its heel! Anon.
CCX. THE GOOD GODDESS OF POVERTY.
1. Paths sanded with gold, verdant wastes, ravines' which the wild-goat loves, great mountains crowned with stars, tumbling torrents, impenetrable forests, — let the good goddess pass, the goddess of Poverty!"
2. Since the world has existed, since men were in it, she traverses the world, she dwells among men; singing she travels, or working she sings, — the goddess, the good goddess of Poverty!
3. Some men assembled to curse her; but they found her too beautiful and too glad, too a.g'ile and too strong. "Strip off her wings !" said they; "give her chains, give her stripes, crush her, let her perish, — the goddess of Poverty!"
4. They have chained the good goddess; they have beaten her, and persecuted; but they cannot debase her! She has taken refuge in the souls of poets, of peasants, of artists, of martyrs, and of saints, — the good goddess, the goddess of Poverty!
5. She has walked mor; than the Wandering Jew -m she has travelled more than the swallow; she is older than the cathe* dral of Prague;" she is younger than the egg of the wren she has increased more than the strawberry in Bohemian forests, — the goddess, the good goddess of Poverty!6. Many children has she had, and many a divine secret has she taught them; she knows more than all the doctors and all the lawyers, — the good goddess of Poverty!
7. She does all the greatest and mo.-t beautiful things that are done in the world: it is she who cultivates the fields and prunes the trees; it is she who drives the herds to pasture, singing the while all sweet songs; it is she who sees the day break, and catches the sun's first smile, — the good goddess of Poverty!
8. It is she who builds of green boughs the woodman's cabin, and makes the hunter's eye like that of the eagle; it is she who brings up the handsomest children, and who leaves the plough and the spade light in the hands of the old man, — the good goddess of Poverty!
9. It is she who inspires the poet, and makes eloquent the violin, the guitar, and the flute, under the fingers of the wandering artist; it is she who crowns his hair with pearls of the dew, and who makes the stars shine for him larger and more clear, — the goddess, the good goddess of Poverty!
10. It is she who instructs the dexterous artisan, and teaches him to hew stone, to carve marble, to fashion gold and silver, copper and iron; it is she who makes the flax flexible and fine as hair, under the hands of the old wife and the young girl,— the good goddess of Poverty!
11. It is she who sustains the cottage shaken by the storm; it is she who saves rosin for the torch and oil for the lamp; it is she who kneads bread for the family, and who weaves garments for them, summer and winter; it is she who maintains and feeds the world, — the good goddess of Poverty!
12. It is she who has built the great castles and the old cathe'drals; it is she who builds and navigates all the ships; it is she who carries the sabre and the musket; it is she who makes war and conquests; it is she who buries the dead, cares for the wounded, and shelters the vanquished, — the good goddess of Poverty!
13. Thou art all gentleness, all patience, all strength, and all compassion, O, good goddess! it is thou who dost reunite all thy children in a holy love, givest them charity, faith, hope, O goddess of Poverty!
14. Thy children will one day cease to bear the world on their shoulders; they will be recompensed for all their pains and labors. The time shall come when there shall be neither rich nor poor on the earth; but when all men shall partake of its fruits, and enjoy equally the bounties of Providence; but thou shalt not be forgotten in their hymns, O good goddess of Poverty!15. They will remember that thou wert their fruitful mother and their robust nurse. They will pour balm into thy wounds; and, of the fragrant and rejuvenated earth, they will make for thee a couch, where thou canst at length repose, O good goddess of Poverty!
16. Until that day of the Lord, torrents and woods, mountains and valleys, wastes swarming with little flowers and little birds, paths sanded with gold, without a master, — let pass the goddess, the good goddess of Poverty! Sand.
CCXI. — ON THE PLEASURES OF SCIENCE.
1. It is easy to show that there is a positive gratification resulting from the study of the sciences. If it be a pleasure to gratify curiosity, to know what we were ignorant of, to have our feelings of wonder called forth, how pure a delight of this very kind does natural science hold out to its students! Recollect some of the extraordinary discoveries of mechanical philosophy. Is there anything in all the idle books of tales and horrors, with which youthful readers are so much delighted, more truly astonishing than the fact, that a few pounds of water may, without any machinery, by merely being placed in a particular way, produce an irresistible force? What can be more strange, than that an ounce weight should balance hundreds of pounds, by the intervention of a few bars of thin iron? Observe the extraordinary truths which optical" science discloses! Can anything surprise us more than to find that the color of white is a mixture of all others; that red, and blue, and green, and all the rest, merely by being blended in certain proportions, form what we had fancied rather to be no color at all than all colors together?
2. Chemistry is not behind in its wonders. That the diamond" should be made of the same material with coal; that water should be chiefly composed of an inflammable substance; that acids should be almost all formed of different kinds of air; and that one of those acids, whose strength can dissolve almost any of the metals, should be made of the self-same ingredients with the common air we breathe; — these, surely, are things to excite the wonder of any reflecting mind; nay, of any one but little accustomed to reflect. And yet these are trifling when compared to the prodigies which astronomy opens to our view; the enormous masses of the heavenly bodies; their immense distances; their countless numbers, and their motions, whose swiftness mocks the uttermost efforts of the imagination.
3 Akin to this pleasure of contemplating new and extraordinary truths, is the gratification of a more learned curiosity, by tracing resemblances and relations between things which, to common apprehension, seem widely different. It is surely a satisfaction, for instance, to know that the same thing which causes the sensation of heat causes also fluidity; that electricity, the light which is seen on the back of a cat when slightly rubbed on a frosty evening, is the very same matter with the lightning of the clouds; that plants breathe like ourselves, but differently, by day and by night; that the air which burns in our lamps enables a balloon to mount.
4. Nothing can at first sight appear less like, or less likely to be caused by the same thing, than the processes of burning and of breathing; the rust of metals and burning; the influence of a plant on tV: air it grows in by night, and of an animal on the Same ai' at any time; nay, and of a body burning in that air; and yet all these operations, so unlike to common eyes, when examined by the light of science are the same. Nothing can be less like than the working of a vast steam-engine and the crawling of a fly upon the window; yet we find that these two operations are performed by the same means, — the weight of the atmosphere,— and that a seahorse climbs the ice-hills by no other power. Can anything be more strange to contem'plate? Is there, in all the fairy-tales that ever were fancied, anything more calculated to arrest the attention, and to occupy and to gratify the mind, than this most unexpected resemblance between things so unlike to the eyes of ordinary beholders?
5. Then, if we raise our views to the structure of the heavens, we are again gratified with tracing accurate but most unexpected resemblances. Is it not in the highest degree interesting to find that the power which keeps the earth in its shape and in its path, wheeling round the sun, extends over all the other worlds that compose the universe, and gives to each its proper place and motion; that the same power keeps the moon in her path round the earth; that the same power causes the tides upon our earth, and the peculiar form of the earth itself; and that, after all, it is the same power which makes a stone fall to the ground? To learn these things, and to reflect upon them, fills the mind, and produces certain as well as pure gratification.
6. The highest of all our gratifications in the study of science remains. We are raised by science to an understanding of the infinite wisdom and goodness which the Creator has displayed in