« السابقةمتابعة »
nation of thunder-gusts and the northern lights on electrical principles; and in the summer of 1752, going out into the fields with no instrument but a kite, no companion but his son, established his theory, by obtaining a line of connexion with a thundercloud. Nor did he cease till he had made the lightning a household pastime, taught his family to catch the subtle fluid in its inconceivably rapid leaps between the earth and the sky, and compelled it to give warning of its passage, by the harmless ringing of bells.
With placid tranquillity, Benjamin Franklin looked quietly and deeply into the secrets of nature. His clear understanding was never perverted by passion, or corrupted by the pride of theory. The son of a rigid Calvinist, the grandson of a tolerant Quaker, he had from boyhood been familiar not only with theological subtilties, but with a catholic respect for freedom of mind. Sceptical of tradition as the bases of faith, he respected reason rather than authority; and after a momentary lapse into fatalism, escaping from the mazes of fixed decrees and free-will, he gained with increasing years an increasing trust in the overruling providence of God. Adhering to none of “all the religions” in the colonies, he yet devoutly, though without form, adhered to religion. But though famous as a disputant, and having a natural aptitude for metaphysics, he obeyed the tendency of his age, and sought, þy observation, to win an insight into the mysteries of being. Loving truth without prejudice and without bias, he discerned intuitively the identity of the laws of nature with those of which humanity is conscious ; so that his mind was like a mirror, in which the universe, as it reflected itself, revealed her laws. He was free from mysticism, even to a fault. His morality, repudiating ascetic severities, and the system which enjoins them, was indulgent to appetites of which he abhorred the sway; but his affections were of a calm intensity ; in all his career, the love of man gained the mastery over personal interest. He had not the imagination which inspires the bard, or kindles the orator; but an exquisite propriety, parsimonious of ornament, gave ease of expression and graceful simplicity even to his most careless writings. In life, also, his tastes were delicate. Indifferent to the pleasures of the table, he relished the delights of music and harmony, of which he enlarged the instruments. His blandness of temper, his modesty, the benignity of his manners, made him the favourite of intelligent society; and with healthy cheerfulness, he derived pleasure from books, from philosophy, from conversation—now calmly administering.consolation to the sorrower, now indulging in the expressions of light-hearted gaiety. In his intercourse, the universality of his perceptions bore, perhaps, the character of human; but while he clearly discerned the contrast between the grandeur of the universe and the feebleness of man, a serene benevolence saved him from contempt of his race, or disgust at its toils. To superficial observers, he might have seemed as an alien from speculative truth, limiting himself to the world of the senses ; and yet, in study and among men, his mind always sought, with unaffected simplicity, to discover and apply the general principles by which nature and affairs are controllednow deducing from the theory of caloric improvements in fireplaces and lanterns, and now advancing human freedom by firm inductions from the inalienable rights of men. Never professing enthusiasm, never making a parade of sentiment, his practical wisdom was sometimes mistaken for the offspring of selfish prudence; yet his hope was steadfast, like that hope which rests on the Rock of Ages, and his conduct was as unerring as though the light that led him was a light from heaven. He never anticipated action by theories of self-sacrificing, virtue; and yet, in the moments of intense activity, he, from the highest abodes of ideal truth, brought down and applied to the affairs of life the sublimest principles of goodness, as noiselessly and unostentatiously as became the man who, with a kite and hempen string, drew the lightning from the skies. He separated himself so little from his age, that he has been called the representative of materialism; and yet, when he thought on religion, his mind passed beyond reliance on sects to faith in God; when he wrote on politics, he founded the freedom of his country on principles that know no change; when he turned an observing eye on nature, he passed always from the effect to the cause, from individual appearances to universal laws; when he reflected on history, his philosophic mind found gladness and repose in the dear anticipation of the progress of humanity.
R. MONTGOMERY POSSESSES a world-known name, both as a preacher of the gospel, a poet, and a moralist,
A child beside a mother kneels,
With lips of holy love;
To Him enthroned above.
So exquisitely fair!
To breathe an infant's prayer i
The eye scarce knows a tear;
And grace another sphere!
Oh! manhood, could thy spirit kneel,
Beside that sunny child,
With soul as undefiled;
With light and love divine;
And heaven itself be thine!
Midnight Scene in Rome : the Coliseum.
LORD BYRON. Born in London, January 22nd, 1788, of a good, but reduced family, died at Missolonghi, in Western Greece, April 19th, 1824, universally mourned by the Greeks, whose restoration to liberty had been the darling scheme of his whole life, and the constant subject of his writings.
1. The stars are forth, the moon above the tops
2. I do remember me, that in my youth,
3. Some cypresses beyond the time-worn breach
4. And thou didst shine, thou rolling moon, upon
* The Coliseum is the most gigantic ruin in Rome. It was the largest amphitheatre ever erected by Roman magnificence, and was built by Vespasian (about A.D. 70), who completed it in one year, by the compulsory labour of twelve thousand Jews and Christians. It could contain one hundred and ten thousand spectators, of whom ninety thousand could be seated. It obtained its name of Coliseum from the colossal statue of Nero, which was placed in it. Its ruins, overgrown with trees and shrubs, have been repeatedly used as a stonequarry, which accounts for the injury sustained by so vast a pile.
1 Gladiator, one who fought with a 'sword, either in mock or real battle. Such exhibitions were very common in Rome.