« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
absurdity, of our phrases and actions, shooting or drowning (it matters not which) becomes the practice of the national school.
3. It is not a trilling question that a man puts to himself when he asks, What is the amount of my contribution to this detestable practice? It is by individual contributions to the public notions respecting it that the practice is kept up. Men do not fire at one another because they are fond of risking their own lives or other men's, but because public notions are such as they are. Nor do I think any deduction can be more manifestly just than that he who contributes to the misdirection of these notions is responsible for a share of the evil and the guilt.
4. When some offence has given probability to a duel, every man acts immorally who evinces any disposition to coolness with either party until he has resolved to fight; and if, eventually, one of them falls, he is a party to his destruction. Every word of unfriendliness, every look of indifference, is positive guilt; for it is such words and such looks that drive men to their pistols. It is the same after a victim has fallen. “I pity his family, but they have the consolation of knowing that he vindicated his honor,” is equivalent to urging another and another to fight. Every heedless gossip who asks, “ Have you heard of this affair of honor ? ” and every reporter of news who relates it as a proper and necessary procedure, participates in the general crime.
CLV. - BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 1. HIS PREDOMINANT Traits. — His predominant passion seems to have been the love of the useful. The useful was to him the summum bonum, Et the supremely fair, the sublime and beautiful, which it may not, perhaps, be extravagant to believe he was in quest of every week for half a century. No department was too plain or humble for him to occupy himself in for this purpose ; and, in affairs of the most unambitious order, this was still systematically his object. Whether in the construction of chimneys or of constitutions, lecturing on the saving of candles or on the economy of national revenues, he was still intent on the same end ; the question always being how to obtain the most of solid, tangible advantage, by the plainest and easiest means.
There has rarely been a mortal of high intelligence and flattering fame on whom the pomps of life were so powerless. On him were completely thrown away the oratorical and poetical heroics about glory, of which heroics it was enough that he easily
perceived the intention or effect to be, to explode all sober truth and substantial good, and to impel men, at the very best of the matter, through some career of vanity, but commonly through mischief, slaughter, and devastation, in mad pursuit of what amounts at last, if attained, to some certain quantity of noise, and empty show, and intoxicated transient elation. He was so far an admirable spirit for acting the Mentors to a young republic.
It will not be his fault if the citizens of America shall ever become so servile to European example as to think a multitude of supernumerary places, enormous salaries, and a privileged order, a necessary security or decoration of that political liberty which they enjoy in preëminence above every other nation on earth. In the letters of their pātriarch and philosopher, they will be amply warned, by repeated and emphatic representations, of the desperate mischief of a political system in which the public resources shall be expended in a way to give the government both the interest and the means to corrupt the people. - John Foster.
2. His COLLOQUIAL POWERS. — His cheerfulness and his col. loquial powers spread around him a perpetual spring. Of Franklin no one ever became tired. There was no ambition of eloquence, no effort to shine, in anything which came from him. There was nothing which made any demand either upon your allegiance or your admiration. His manner was as unaffected as infancy. It was nature's self. He talked like an old patriarch; and his plainness and simplicity put you at once at your ease, and gave you the full and free possession and use of all your faculties. His thoughts were of a character to shine by their own light, without any adventitious aid. They required only a medium of vision like his pure and simple style to exhibit, to the highest advantage, their native radiance and beauty. His cheerfulness was unremitting. It seemed to be as much the effect of the systematic and salutary exercise of the mind as of its superior organization.
His wit was of the first order. It did not show itself merely in occasional coruscations; but, without any effort or force on his part, it shed a constant stream of the purest light over the whole of his discourse. Whether in the company of commons or nobles, he was always the same plain man; always most perfectly at his ease, his faculties in full play, and the full orbit of his genius forever clear and unclouded. And then the stores of his mind were inexhaustible. He had commenced life with an attention 80 vigilant that nothing had escaped his observation, and a judgment so solid that every incident was turned to advantage. His
youth had not been wasted in idleness, nor overcast by intemper. ance. He had been all his life a close and deep reader, as well as thinker; and, by the force of his own powers, had wrought up the raw materials, which he had gathered from books, with such exquisite skill and felicity, that he had added a hundred-fold to their original value, and justly made them his own. -- Wm. Wirt.
3. TRIBUTES TO HIS MEMORY. — Brave, benevolent, wonderful old man! Well did our Congress declare of him, in the resolu. tions adopted on his death, on motion of James Madison, that “his native genius was not more an ornament to human nature, than his various exertions of it have been precious to science, to freedom, and to his country.” Well, too, was it said by that matchless French orator, Mirabeau, in announcing the event to the National Assembly of France, which went into mourning on the occasion, that “antiquity would have raised altars to this mighty genius, who, to the advantage of mankind, compassing in his mind the heavens and the earth, was able to restrain alike thunderbolts and tyrants.” — R. C. Winthrop.
CLVI. — A STORM ON THIE MOUNTAINS.
1. The sky is changed !-and such a change! O, night,
And storm, and darkness, ye are wondrous strong,
And Jura answers, through her misty shroud,
Thou wert not sent for slumber ! let me be
Of the loud hills shakes with its mountain-mirth
With breath all incense, and with cheek all bloom
And glowing into day : we may resume
And food for meditation, nor pass by
CLVII. - A WISHED-FOR RETREAT.
1. Give me, 0, indulgent Fate,
Give me, yet before I die,
2. No intruders thither come,
Who visit but to be from home, -
3. Courteous Fate! afford me there
A table spread without my care
Through those windings and that shade! 4. Give me there (since Heaven has shown
It was not good to be alone)
FIRST-CLASS STANDARD READER,
Slighting, by my humble side,
5. Let me, then, indulgent Fate !
Let me, still in my retreat,
6. But, - as those who stars would trace
From a subterranean place,
And things unutterable taught ! 7 Give me, then, in that retreat,
Give me, 0, indulgent Fate! -
COUNTESS OF WINCHELSEA.
* This lady, whose maiden name was Anne Kingsmill, died in 1720. Sho yas the friend of Pope, who complimented her highly in some of his verses Vordsworth says of her, that she is “ one of the very few original observeri f nature who appeared in an artificial age.”