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النشر الإلكتروني


BEING now fifty-one years old, and little likely to change may mind hereafter on any important subject of thought (unless through weakness of age), I wish to publish a connected series of such parts of my works as now seem to me right, and likely to be of permanent use. In doing so I shall omit much, but not attempt to mend what I think worth reprinting. A young man necessarily writes otherwise than an old one, and it would be worse than wasted time to try to recast the juvenile language : nor is it to be thought that I am ashamed even of what I cancel ; for great part of my earlier work was rapidly written for temporary purposes, and is now unnecessary, though true, even to truism. What I wrote about religion, was, on the contrary, painstaking, and, I think, forcible, as compared with most religious writing ; especially in its frankness and fear. lessness : but it was wholly mistaken ; for I had been edu

2 cated in the doctrines of a narrow sect, and had read history as obliquely as sectarians necessarily must.

Mingled among these either unnecessary or erroneous statements, I find, indeed, some that might be still of value ; but these, in my earlier books, disfigured by affected language, partly through the desire to be thought a fine writer, and partly, as in the second volume of Modern Painters, in the notion of returning as far as I could to what I thought the better style of old English literature, especially to that of my then favourite, in prose, Richard Hooker.

For these reasons, though, as respects either art, policy, or morality as distinct from religion, I not only still hold, but would even wish strongly to re-affirm the substance of what I said in my earliest books, I shall reprint scarcely anything of the life into which they are entering, and the nature of the world they have to conquer.

These two lectures are fragmentary and ill-arranged, but not, I think, diffuse or much compressible. The entire gist and conclusion of them, however, is in the last six paragraphs, 135 to the end, of the third lecture, which I would beg the reader to look over not once nor twice (rather than any other part of the book), for they contain the best expression I have yet been able to put in words of what, so far as is within my power, I mean henceforward both to do myself, and to plead with all over whom I have any influence, to do also according to their means: the letters begun on the first day of this year, to the workmen of England, having the object of originating, if possible, this movement among them, in true alliance with whatever trustworthy element of help they can find in the higher classes. After these paragraphs, let me ask you to read, by the fiery light of recent events, the fable at p. 116 (8 117), and then SS 129—131 ; and observe, my statement respecting the famine at Orissa is not rhetorical, but certified by official documents as within the truth. Five hundred thou. sand persons, at least, died by starvation in our British dominions, wholly in consequence of carelessness and want of forethought. Keep that well in your memory; and note it as the best possible illustration of modern political economy in true practice, and of the relations it has accomplished between Supply and Demand. Then begin the second lecture, and all will read clear enough, I think, to the end; only, since that second lecture was written, questions have arisen respecting the education and claims of women which have greatly troubled simple minds and excited restless ones. I am sometimes asked my thoughts on this matter, and I suppose that some girl readers of the second lecture may at the end of it desire to be told summarily what I would have them do and desire in the present state of things. This, then, is what I would say to any girl who had confidence enough in me to believe what I told her, or do what I ask her.

First, be quite sure of one thing, that, however much you may know, and whatever advantages you may possess, and however good you may be, you have not been singled out, by the God who made you, from all the other girls in the world, to be especially informed respecting His own nature and character. You have not been born in a luminous point upon the surface of the globe, where a perfect theology might be expounded to you from your youth up, and where everything you were taught would be true, and everything that was enforced upon you, right. Of all the insolent, all the foolish persuasions that by any chance could enter and hold your empty little heart, this is the proudest and foolishest,—that you have been so much the darling of the Heavens, and favourite of the Fates, as to be born in the very nick of time, and in the punctual place, when and where pure Divine truth had been sifted from the errors of the Nations; and that your papa had been providentially disposed to buy a house in the convenient neighbourhood of the steeple under which that Immaculate and final verity would be beautifully proclaimed. Do not think it, child; it is not so. This, on the contrary, is the fact,-unpleasant you may think it; pleasant, it seems to me,—that you, with all your pretty dresses, and dainty looks,

, and kindly thoughts, and saintly aspirations, are not one whit more thought of or loved by the great Maker and Master than any poor little red, black, or blue savage, running wild in the pestilent woods, or naked on the hot sands of the earth : and that, of the two, you probably know less about God than she does; the only difference being that she thinks little of Him that is right, and you, much that is wrong.

That, then, is the first thing to make sure of ;-that you are not yet perfectly well informed on the most abstruse of all possible subjects, and that, if you care to behave with modesty or propriety, you had better be silent about it.

The second thing which you may make sure of is, that however good you may be, you have faults; that however dull you may be, you can find out what some of them are ; and that however slight they may be, you had better make some—not too painful, but patient--effort to get quit of them. And so far as you have confidence in me at all, trust me for this, that how many soever you may find or fancy your faults to be,

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there are only two that are of real consequence,-Idleness and Cruelty. Perhaps you may be proud. Well, we can get much good out of pride, if only it be not religious. Perhaps you may be vain : it is highly probable; and very pleasant for the people who like to praise you. Perhaps you are a little en vious: that is really very shocking ; but then-so is everybody else. Perhaps, also, you are a little malicious, which I am truly concerned to hear, but should probably only the more, if I knew you, enjoy your conversation. But whatever else

you may be, you must not be useless, and you must not be cruel. If there is any one point which, in six thousand years of thinking about right and wrong, wise and good men have agreed upon, or successively by experience discovered, it is that God dislikes idle and cruel people more than any other ;—that His first order is, “Work while you have light;" and His second, "Be merciful while you have mercy."

“Work while you have light,” especially while you have the light of morning. There are few things more wonderful to me than that old people never tell young ones how precious their youth is. They sometimes sentimentally regret their own earlier days; sometimes prudently forget them ; often foolishly rebuke the young, often more foolishly indulge, often most foolishly thwart and restrain ; but scarcely ever warn or watch them. Remember, then, that I, at least, have warned you, that the happiness of your life, and its power, and its part and rank in earth or in heaven, depend on the way you pass your days now. They are not to be sad days; far from that, the first duty of young people is to be delighted and delightful; but they are to be in the deepest sense solemn days. There is no solemnity so deep, to a rightly-thinking creature, as that of dawn. But not only in that beautiful sense, but in all their character and method, they are to be solemn days. Take your Latin dictionary, and look out “sollennis," and fix the sense of the word well in your mind, and remember that every day of your early life is ordaining irrev. ocably, for good or evil, the custom and practice of your soul : ; ordaining either sacred customs of dear and lovely recurrence or trenching deeper and deeper the furrows for seed of sor

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row. Now, therefore, see that no day passes in which you not make yourself a somewhat better creature; and in order to do that, find out, first, what you are now. Do not think vaguely about it; take pen and paper, and write down as accurate a description of yourself as you can, with the date to it. If you dare not do so, find out why you dare not, and try to get strength of heart enough to look yourself fairly in the face, in mind as well as body. I do not doubt but that the mind is a less pleasant thing to look at than the face, and for that very reason it needs more looking at; so always have two mirrors on your toilet table, and see that with proper care you dress body and mind before them daily. After the dressing is once over for the day, think no more about it: as your hair will blow about your ears, so your temper and thoughts will get ruffled with the day's work, and may need, sometimes, twice dressing ; but I don't want you to carry about a mental pocket-comb; only to be smooth braided at ways in the morning.

Write down then, frankly, what you are, or, at least, what you think yourself, not dwelling upon those inevitable faults which I have just told you are of little consequence, and which the action of a right life will shake or smooth away; but that you may determine to the best of your intelligence what you are good for, and can be made into. You will find that the mere resolve not to be useless, and the honest desire to help other people, will, in the quickest and delicatest ways, improve yourself. Thus, from the beginning, consider all your accomplishments as means of assistance to others; read attentively, in this volume, paragraphs 74, 75, 19, and 79, and you will understand what I mean, with respect to languages and music. In music especially you will soon find what personal benefit there is in being serviceable : it is probable that, however limited your powers, you have voice and ear enough to sustain a note of moderate compass in a concerted piece ;that, then, is the first thing to make sure you can do. Get your voice disciplined and clear, and think only of accuracy; never of effect or expression : if you have any soul worth ex. pressing it will show itself in your singing; but most likely

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