صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

these pursuits, his constant and congenial companion was Lord Grenville, who has often declared to me that İ[r. Pitt was the best Greek scholar he ever conversed with. I have dwelt on this branch of Mr. Pitt's accomplishments, because I know not any source from which more salutary assistance can be derired, to chase from the spirits those clouds and vapours which infest vacant minds, and, by self-weariness, render retirement melancholy and intolerable.” How striking is the contrast between the retirement of these men and that of others, scarcely less eminent in public life, who had not congenial tastes for literary and classical studies. “ Though he had not forgotten his classical attainments," says the biographer of Walpole," he had little taste for literary occupations. He once expressed his regret on this subject to a friend who was reading in the library at Houghton. 'I wish,' he said, that I took as much delight in reading as you do; it would be the means of alleviating many tedious hours in my present retirement; but, to my misfortune, I derive no pleasure from such pursuits.'' Surely these testimonies and these contrasts are pregnant with lessons of instruction. Surely they encourage us to acquire those habits, and cultivate those studies, which, at the same time that they are the highest solace and the most grateful relaxation from the cares of business and the world, are furnish. ing to him who takes delight in them, new capacity for intellectual exertion, new stores of precious knowledge. “ Dost thou believe,” said the kindred spirit of antiquity," dost thou think that, amidst such a variety of circumstances, aught can supply us with matter for conversation, unless we cultivate our minds; or that our minds can bear such a constant stretch, unless we relax them by the pursuit of learning?" Noble relaxation! which, while it unbends, invigorates the mind—while it is relieving and refreshing it from the exhaustion of present contention, is bracing and fortifying it for that which is to come.

Education based on Christian Knowledge. Hitherto I have referred exclusively to the considerations of worldly advantage and worldly fame, as encouragements to early and continued exertion. We have seen how powerful they were in animating the ambitious spirit of the Roman orator. And yet not one of the motives by which he was stimulated is wanting to you. His field for competition was not more ample, his reward of success was not more splendid. You have a country as much endeared to you by proud recollections-you have institutions, civil and religious, standing in equal need of your solicitude, and infinitely more worthy of your defence. But for you there are incitements to labour, to zeal in the cause of knowledge and of virtue, infinitely beyond any which could have animated the exertions of Cicero. The love of praise, the ho of posthumous glory, were with him the chief springs of action-the great, the only reward of anxiety and labour.“ Virtue," says he, "requires no

a

other reward of its toils or risks, beyond this sole one of praise and glory; and this being removed, what is there, judges, what motive is there in this small and brief career of life, why we should give way to toils so great and so oppressing P”. You can give an answer to that appeal, which he could not anticipate. To you there will remain encouragements to exertion-compensations for toil and danger-should the hope of worldly praise and glory be obscured. You have the express command of God to improve the faculties which distinguish you from the beasts that perish. You have the awful knowledge, that of the use or neglect of those faculties a solemn account must be rendered. You have the assurance of an immortality far different from that of worldly fame. By every motive which can influence a reflecting and responsible beingbeing of a large discourse, looking before and after”—by the memory of the distinguished men who have shed a lustre on these walls—by regard for your own success and happiness in this life -by the fear of future discredit-by the hope of lasting fame-by all these considerations do I conjure you, while you have yet time, while your minds are yet flexible, to form them on models which approach the nearest to perfection. Sursum corda ! * By motives yet more urgent—by higher and purer aspirations-by the duty of obedience to the will of God-by the awful account you will have to render, not merely of moral actions, but of faculties entrusted to you for improvement-by these high arguments do I conjure you, so "to number your days, that you may apply your hearts unto wisdom”–unto that wisdom which, directing your ambition to the noble end of benefiting mankind, and teaching you humble reliance on the merits and on the mercy of your Redeemer, may support you “in the time of your tribulation,” may admonish

you in the time of your wealth,” and “in the hour of death and in the day of judgment” may comfort you with the hope of deliver

ance.

The Youtly and the Philosopher.

WHITEHEAD. BORN 1715, died 1785. Originally the son of a baker, he rose to high distinction at Cambridge, and eventually became Poet-laureate, after the office had been refused by Gray.

A Grecian youth of talents rare,
Whom Plato's philosophic care
Had form’d for Virtue's nobler view,
By precepts and example too,
Would often boast his matchless skill,
To curb the steed, and guide the wheel;

* Let your hearts be above !

[graphic]

VIEW OF ATHENS, THE UNIVERSITY OF THE ANCIENT WORLD.

And as he pass'd the gazing throng,
With graceful ease, and smack'd the thong,
The idiot wonder they express'd
Was praise and transport to his breast.

At length quite vain, he needs would show
His master what his art could do ;
And bade his slaves the chariot lead
To Academus' sacred shade.
The trembling grove confess'd its fright;
The wood-nymphs started at the sight;
The muses drop the learned lyre,
And to their inmost shades retire.

Howe'er the youth, with forward air, Bows to the sage, and mounts the car : The lash resounds, the coursers spring, The chariot marks the rolling ring ; And gath'ring crowds with eager eyes And shouts pursue him as he flies.

Triumphant to the goal return’d, With nobler thirst his bosom burn'd.; And now along th' indented plain, The selfsame track he marks again, Pursues with care the nice design, Nor ever deviates from the line.

Amazement seized the circling crowd; The youth with emulation glow'd; Ev'n bearded sages hail'd the boy, And all, but Plato, gazed with joy; For be, deep-judging sage, beheld With pain the triumphs of the field. And when the charioteer drew nigh, And, flushed with hope, had caught his eye,

Alas! unhappy youth,” he cried,

Expect no praise from me,” and sigh’d:
“With indignation I survey
Such skill and judgment thrown away;
The time profusely squander'd there,
On vulgar arts beneath thy care,
If well employ'd, at less expense,
Had taught thee honour, virtue, sense,
And raised thee from a coachman's fate,
To govern men, and guide the state.”

Death of Pliny the Elder.

PLINY THE YOUNGER. BORN A.D. 23, perished A.D. 79. He is renowned as the author of a voluminous and interesting, though often inaccurate, work on Natural History. This epistle is from a collection of letters by his nephew, Pliny the Younger, the intimate friend and correspondent of the Emperor Trajan.

Your request that I would send you an account of my uncle's death, in order to transmit a more exact relation of it to posterity, deserves my acknowledgments; for, if this accident shall be celebrated by your pen, the glory of it, I am well assured, will be rendered for ever illustrious. And notwithstanding he perished by a misfortune, which, as it involved at the same time a most beautiful country in ruins, and destroyed so many populous cities, seems to promise him an everlasting remembrance; notwithstanding he has himself composed many and lasting works, yet I am persuaded the mentioning of him in your immortal writings will greatly contribute to eternalize his name. Happy I esteem those to be whom Providence has distinguished with the abilities either of doing such actions as are worthy of being related, or of relating them in a manner worthy of being read; but doubly happy are they who are blessed with both these uncommon talents; in the number of which my uncle, as his own writings and your history will evidently prove, may justly be ranked. It is with extreme willingness, therefore, I execute your commands, and should indeed have claimed the task if you had not enjoined it. He was at that time with the fleet under his command at Misenum.* On the 23rd of August, about one in the afternoon, my mother desired him to observe a cloud which appeared of a very unusual size and shape. He had just returned from taking the benefit of the sun, and after bathing himself in cold water, and taking a slight repast, was retired to his study: he immediately rose, and went out upon an eminence from whence he might more distinctly view this very uncommon appearance. It was not at that distance discernible from what mountain this cloud issued, but it was found afterwards to ascend from Mount Vesuvius. I cannot give a more exact description of its figure than by resembling it to a pine-tree, for it shot up to a great height in the form of a trunk, which extended itself at the top into a sort of branches ; occasioned, I imagine, either by a sudden gust of air that impelled it, the force of which decreased as it advanced upwards, or the cloud itself, being pressed back again by its own weight, expanded in this summer; it appeared sometimes bright and sometimes dark and spotted, as it was either more

* A promontory of Sicily, so called from Misenus, a faithful companion of Æneas,

« السابقةمتابعة »