Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

$icted light which discovers moral evil, will also, if attended to, point out the thorny mazes of error: it will not only sbine on our path, but discover the hidden snares on the right hand and on the left: thus we are constituted the guardians of our own minds; a trast bow sacred! That spark of the Divinity, which it is the business of e lucation to cultivate and restrain, becomes our ovn in attaining to manhood, and it is our imperious duty to aim at progressive improvement. There is no point at which we can stop: I have often compared education to a mathematical line, of wbich we see the beginning, but which is produced onwards to eternity.

“W.T.” To R. O. .

. “ August 16th, 1815. “...ooThe ardent lover of mankind will not desire an extension of the science of geography for the mere gratification of curiosity; he will perceive that in the grand scheme of Providence, the remotest things may be connected with the eternal interests of man, and be made subservient to the advancement of his felicity. To England we owe the exulting idea, that the double blessing of natural and religious knowledge is making its way into the but of the remotest savage, and that the precise site of a mountain, or the course of a river, is ascertained for the purpose of furthering the spread of evangelical truth.

"...-- If the different powers in Europe had been as eager for the last twenty years to promote peace on earth and good-will to men, as they have to encourage the reign of universal discord, the most astonishing results might have

been expected. But whilst we have to lament that the last of ambition and desire of conquest are the predominating passions, it is grateful to observe the silent progress of civil and religious light, leading, as we are taught to anticipate, to a two-fold emancipation of the human race. * "----- But, oh! I feel desirous that our increase in virtue may keep pace with our other attainments, and that those talents wbich are given us for a wise purpose, may not once be debased by an employment on unprofitable subjects, I have wished that our friendship might tend to accelerate our progress in the best of things, and that this will finally be its result I have no doubt so long as we dwell under the guidance of the Almighty.

“W. T." To his young Sister.

6 Oct. 3, 1815. “ I often feel anxious on thy account, when I see any one improving rapidly in learning: but I hope thou strivest to be contented in thy present situation. If Providence should see meet to afford thee a better opportunity of attaining those accomplishments due to thy native good sense, it will ever be one of my chief pleasures to afford thee assistance. Some qualifications are even now in thy power to cultivate; piety, filial affection, modesty, and industry. Need I enlarge on their value, or recommend them to thy serious consideration and practice? These are not professedly taught in schools, though their importance far exceeds all other learning. We should be better able to dispense with writing, arithmetic, or any other branch of science, than with these amiable qualities of the heart,

which form the cementing bond of society, whether savage or refined.

“W, T.: To J. A. B. “I desire to return thanks to the Divine Being, that He has preserved in my mind to this, day a relish for the pleasures of the understanding. Whilst so much pains is taken in this dissolute age, to glut the senses with enjoyment, I do often feel it matter of gratitude, that my aims were early directed to a higher source, and that at the period of life when the avenues to vice are most numerous, Religion, with her handmaid Science, allured me to their peaceful abodes. Here I have been favoured, not indeed with an undisturbed tranquillity, but with such a portion of quiet as might be expected from the trials incident to humanity, and that strict vigilance necessary to keep in order passions not wholly subdued.

Uninterrupted happiness in this life seems to have formed no part of the plan of Providence; and that man who fancies it attainable, experience will soon convince of his error; yet it is obvious, that most of our regrets and sorrows are of our own making; and it is probable, that if we were to labour as assiduously to overcome moral evil, as we do in the accumulation of know ledge, an improvement would be witnessed, and its concomitant peace would be the inmate of our bosoms. Far, however, as the intellectual treasures amassed by some, are from adorning our holy religion, it was evidently meant, that our minds should be informed as well as regu. la'ed. ** The acquisition of knowledge is in itself an

imperious duty; yet the Almighty graciously confers on the performer of this duty, so many innocent gratifications, that eventually, wbạt was a forced, becomes a voluntary act, and duty and inclination go band in hand. Many and fragrant are the flowers strewn in this path; but unless the mind be delicately alive to virtuous emotions, the flowers will be passed unheeded, and their fragrance be unperceived. For want of this sharpened perception, how small is the improvement, though the number of readers is great. Indeed, whether we read books, or men, or the great volume of nature, the same results follow from a negligent or an indolent perusal.

* In the visible creation of God, it is strikingly obvious, how few suffer the most sublime phenomena to arrest their notice. The most signal displays of divine power and skill, are seen by many with listless apathy; even the harmony of a system is considered by their grovelling minds with no more attention than they would bestow on the commonest piece of mechanism. : “It is but of late that I have sensibly felt the want of a classical education. The motley volumes which chance threw in my way, have indeed been read with avidity, but the harvest I fear is barren and fruitless. That illogical and desultory course of reading which too many adopt, and with which I am afraid I stand ? chargeable, answers no other end than to rob us of our precious time, for which it confers no equivalent. It is taking a circular instead of a direct road to knowledge. Extensive tracts seem to be traversed, when in fact no progress is made. In the course of the journey, too, such a variety of objects present themselves, that they enter the mind in utter confusion,

“ Taste is seldom found wholly inherent; at least, without proper and timely cultivation, it lies latent and unseen, like the statue in a block of marble.'

“ The most perfect models of excellence ought to be incessantly held up to youth. The memory of the ingenious youth is retentive, and his curiosity ardent; it is therefore the most proper season for acquiring languages. If the opportunity be suffered to escape, he will have entered on the great stage of life, and will seldom have leisure to pursue studies foreign to the performance of his part. But should he possess both leisure and inclination, how hardly will he be induced to pass the vestibule of learning, when he ought to be reposing in its sanctuary. It is the suminit of the hill of science, to which his ambitious views are directed, while before the gate of languages, the only safe and sure passage, he sits down in a despair, which terminates in disgust. That literary enthusiast J. J. Rousseau, amongst other erroneous schemes, proposes not to meddle with scholastic acquirement till the age of ten or twelve years; but the Spartan king would have told him, boys ought to be learning “such things as they were to know and practise when they became men. Time is too valuable, and life too short, to waste in generalities: the mind is to be early inured to labour, and taught by short and vigorous sallies, to make those copquests, which are to form the crown of its maturer years. · “ The important business of education ought to commence with the first dawn of reason. Not that I would recommend too premature an initiation into the tedious branches of learning'; but it would at least be desirable, that on the first intro

« AnteriorContinuar »