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A poet of the Shaksperean age has the same lesson, Rejoice in May:"→
Then may each heart rejoice:
Each bird strains forth his voice.
The lively sap creeps up
Into the blooming thorn:
The flowers, which cold in prison kept,
Now laugh the frost to scorn.
Whiles joyful May doth last;
May breeds and brings new blood,
May marcheth throughout every limb,
May pricketh tender hearts
Their warbling notes to tune.
Full strange it is, yet some, we see,
Do make their May in June.
Whiles joyful May doth last.
And have your May at will,
And use your May with skill.
For May hath but his time;
Is fresh whiles May doth last :
After this old English Epicurean philosophy of "Take May in time," the Transatlantic child of our native muse can scarcely be called original :
The sun is bright, the air is clear,
The darting swallows soar and sing,
It seems an outlet from the sky,
All things rejoice in youth and love,
Enjoy thy youth, it will not stay;
To some good angel leave the rest; For time will teach thee soon the truth, There are no birds in last year's nest! LONGFELLOW.
But who can be original with a theme upon which poets in all ages have written? We forgot
Between the acres of the rye,
With a hey, and a ho, and a hey, no nee no, &c.
This carol they begun that hour
Then pretty lovers take the time,
* We print this, as it is given in Mr. Chappell's excellent collection of old English Songs, from an ancient MS. The reader may compare it with the version in As You Like it.'
32.-PROGRESS OF THE MECHANICAL ARTS.
[The following is extracted from a Lecture delivered before the Boston Mechanics' Institu tion, in 1828. Mr. Webster is one of the most distinguished living orators of the United States, and, what is higher praise a man of benevolent and pacific views.]
Human sagacity, stimulated by human wants, seizes first on the nearest natural assistant. The power of his own arm is an early lesson among the studies of primitive man. This is animal strength; and from this he rises to the conception of employing, for his own use, the strength of other animals. A stone, impelled by the power of his arm, he finds will produce a greater effect than the arm itself; this is a species of mechanical power. The effect results from a combination of the moving force with the gravity of a heavy body. The limb of a tree is a rude but powerful instrument; it is a lever. And the mechanical powers being all discovered, like other natural qualities; by induction, (I use the word as Bacon used it,) or experience, and not by any reasoning à priori, their progress has kept pace with the general civilization and education of nations. The history of mechanical philosophy, while it strongly illustrates, in its general results, the force of the human mind, exhibits, in its details, most interesting pictures of ingenuity struggling with the conception of new combinations, and of deep, intense, and powerful thought, stretched to its utmost to find out, or deduce, the general principle from the indications of particular facts. We are now so far advanced beyond the age when the principal, leading, important mathematical discoveries were made, and they have become so much matter of common knowledge, that it is not easy to feel their importance, or be justly sensible what an epoch in the history of science each constituted. The half frantic exultation of Archimedes, when he had solved the problem respecting the crown of Hiero, was on an occasion and for a cause certainly well allowing very high joy. And so also was the duplication of the cube. The altar of Apollo, at Athens, was a square block or cube, and to double it required the duplication of the cube. This was a process involving an unascertained mathematical principle. It was quite natural, therefore, that it should be a traditional story, that by way of atoning for some affront to that god, the oracle commanded the Athenians to double his altar; an injunction, we know, which occupied the keen sagacity of the Greek geometricians for more than half a century before they were able to obey it. It is to the great honour, however, of this inimitable people, the Greeks, a people whose genius seems to have been equally fitted for the investigations of science and the works of imagination, that the immortal Euclid, centuries before our era, composed his Elements of Geometry; a work which, for two thousand years, has been, and still continues to be, a text book for instruction in that science.
A history of mechanical philosophy, however, would not begin with Grecce. There is a wonder beyond Greece. Higher up in the annals of mankind, nearer, far nearer, to the origin of our race, out of all reach of letters, beyond the sources of tradition, beyond all history except what remains in the monuments of her own art, stands Egypt, the mother of nations! Egypt! Thebes! the Labyrinth! the Pyramids! Who shall explain the mysteries which these names suggest? The Pyramids! Who can inform us whether it was by mere numbers, and patience, and labour, aided perhaps by the simple lever; or if not, by what forgotten combinations of power, by what now unknown machines, mass was thus aggregated to mass, and quarry piled on quarry, till solid granite seemed to cover the earth and reach the skies?
The ancients discovered many things, but they left many things also to be dis
covered; and this, as a general truth, is what our posterity, a thousand years hence, will be able to say, doubtless, when we and our generation shall be recorded also among the ancients. For, indeed, God seems to have proposed his material universe as a standing perpetual study to his intelligent creatures; where, ever learning, they can yet never learn all; and if that material universe shall last till man shall have discovered all that is unknown, but which, by the progressive improvement of his faculties, he is capable of knowing, it will remain through a duration beyond human measurement, and beyond human comprehension.
The ancients knew nothing of our present system of arithmetical notation; nothing of algebra, and, of course, nothing of the important application of algebra to geometry. They had not learned the use of logarithms, and were ignorant of fluxions. They had not attained to any just method for the mensuration of the earth, a matter of great moment to astronomy, navigation, and other branches of useful knowledge. It is scarcely necessary to add, that they were ignorant of the great results which have followed the development of the principle of gravitation.
In the useful and practical arts, many inventions and contrivances, to the production of which the degree of ancient knowledge would appear to us to have been adequate, and which seem quite obvious, are yet of late origin. The application of water, for example, to turn a mill, is a thing not known to have been accomplished at all in Greece, and is not supposed to have been attempted at Rome till in or near the age of Augustus. The production of the same effect by wind, is a still later invention. It dates only in the seventh century of our era. The propulsion of the saw by any other power than that of the arm is treated as a novelty in England so late as in the middle of the sixteenth century. The Bishop of Ely, ambassador from the Queen of England to the Pope, says he saw, "at Lyons, a sawmill driven with an upright wheel, and the water that makes it go is gathered into a narrow trough, which delivereth the same water to the wheels. This wheel hath a piece of timber put to the axletree end, like the handle of a broch (a hand organ), and fastened to the end of the saw, which being turned with the force of water, hoisteth up the saw, that it continually eateth in, and the handle of the same is kept in a rigall of wood from severing. Also the timber lieth, as it were, upon a ladder, which is brought by little and little to the saw by another vice." From this description of the primitive power-saw, it would seem that it was probably fast only at one end, and that the broch and rigall performed the part of the arm in the common use of the hand-saw.
It must always have been a very considerable object for men to possess, or obtain, the power of raising water otherwise than by mere manual labour. Yet nothing like the common suction-pump has been found among rude nations. It has arrived at its present state only by slow and doubtful steps of improvement; and, indeed, in that present state, however obvious and unattractive, it is something of an abstruse and refined invention. It was unknown in China until Europeans visited the "Celestial Empire;" and is still unknown in other parts of Asia, beyond the pale of European settlements, or the reach of European communication. The Greeks and Romans are supposed to have been ignorant of it, in the early times of their history; and it is usually said to have come from Alexandria, where physical science was much cultivated by the Greek school under the patronage of the Ptolemies.
These few and scattered historical notices of important inventions have been introduced only for the purpose of suggesting that there is much which is both curious and instructive in the history of mechanics: and that many things, which to us in our state of knowledge seem so obvious that we should think they would at once force themselves on men's adoption, have, nevertheless, been accomplished slowly and by painful efforts.
But if the history of the progress of the mechanical arts be interesting, still more so, doubtless, would be the exhibition of their present state, and a full display of the extent to which they are now carried. The slightest glance must convince us that mechanical power and mechanical skill, as they are now exhibited in Europe and America, mark an epoch in human history worthy of all admiration. Machinery is made to perform what has formerly been the toil of human hands, to an extent that astonishes the most sanguine, with a degree of power to which no number of human arms is equal, and with such precision and exactness as almost to suggest the notion of reason and intelligence in the machines themselves. Every natural agent is put unrelentingly to the task. The winds work, the waters work, the elasticity of metals work; gravity is solicited into a thousand new forms of action: levers are multiplied upon levers; wheels revolve on the peripheries of other wheels. The saw and the plane are tortured into an accommodation to new uses; and, last of all, with inimitable power, and "with whirlwind sound," comes the potent agency of steam. In comparison with the past, what centuries of improvement has this single agent comprised in the short compass of fifty years! Everywhere practicable, everywhere efficient, it has an arm a thousand times stronger than that of Hercules, and to which human ingenuity is capable of fitting a thousand times as many heads as belonged to Briareus. Steam is found in triumphant operation on the seas; and under the influence of its strong propulsion, the gallant ship,
"Against the wind, against the tide,
Still steadies with an upright keel."
It is on the rivers, and the boatman may repose on his oars; it is in highways, and exerts itself along the courses of land conveyance; it is at the bottom of mines, a thousand feet below the earth's surface; it is in the mill, and in the workshops of the trades. It rows, it pumps, it excavates, it carries, it draws, it lifts, it hammers, it spins, it weaves, it prints. It seems to say to men, at least to the class of artisans, "Leave off your manual labour, give over your bodily toil; bestow but your skill and reason to the directing of my power, and I will bear the toil,-with no muscle to grow weary, no nerve to relax, no breast to feel faintness." What further improvements may still be made in the use of this astonishing power it is impossible to know, and it were vain to conjecture. What we do know is, that it has most essentially altered the face of affairs, and that no visible limit yet appears beyond which its progress is seen to be impossible. If its power were now to be annihilated, if we were to miss it on the water and in the mills, it would seem as if we were going back to rude ages.
33.-DECISION OF CHARACTER.
[JOHN FOSTER, born in 1770, was a native of Yorkshire. He was educated for the Baptist ministry; but subsequently devoted himself to literary occupation, residing at Stapleton, near Bristol, where he died in 1843. His Essays' was first published in 1805-a remarkable book, that will live as long as the language. His other chief work is 'Essay on the Evils of Popular Ignorance.']
I have repeatedly remarked to you, in conversation, the effect of what has been called a Ruling Passion. When its object is noble, and an enlightened understanding directs its movements, it appears to me a great felicity; but whether its object be noble or not, it infallibly creates, where it exists in great force, that active ardent constancy, which I describe as a capital feature of the decisive character. The Subject of such a commanding passion wonders, if indeed he were at leisure to wonder, at the persons who pretend to attach importance to an object which they make none but
the most languid efforts to secure. The utmost powers of the man are constrained into the service of the favourite Cause by this passion, which sweeps away, as it advances, all the trivial objections and little opposing motives, and seems almost to open a way through impossibilities. This spirit comes on him in the morning as soon as he recovers his consciousness, and commands and impels him through the day with a power from which he could not emancipate himself if he would. When the force of habit is added, the determination becomes invincible, and seems to assume rank with the great laws of nature, making it nearly as certain that such a man will persist in his course as that in the morning the sun will rise.
A persisting untameable efficacy of soul gives a seductive and pernicious dignity even to a character and a course which every moral principle forbids us to approve. Often in the narrations of history and fiction, an agent of the most dreadful designs compels a sentiment of deep respect for the unconquerable mind displayed in their execution. While we shudder at his activity, we say with regret, mingled with an admiration which borders on partiality, What a noble being this would have been, if goodness had been his destiny! The partiality is evinced in the very selection of terms, by which we show that we are tempted to refer his atrocity rather to his destiny than to his choice. I wonder whether an emotion like this, has not been experienced by each reader of Paradise Lost, relative to the Leader of the infernal spirits; a proof, if such were the fact, that a very serious error has been committed by the greatest poet. In some of the high examples of ambition, we almost revere the force of mind which impelled them forward through the longest series of action, superior to doubt and fluctuation, and disdainful of ease, of pleasures, of opposition, and of hazard. We bow to the ambitious spirit which reached the true sublime, in the reply of Pompey to his friends who dissuaded him from venturing on a tempestuous sca, in order to be at Rome on an important occasion: "It is necessary for me to go, it is not necessary for me to live."
Revenge has produced wonderful examples of this unremitting constancy to a purpose. Zanga is a well-supported illustration. And you may have read a real instance of a Spaniard, who, being injured by another inhabitant of the same town, resolved to destroy him the other was apprized of this, and removed with the utmost secrecy, as he thought, to another town at a considerable distance, where however he had not been more than a day or two, before he found that his enemy was arrived there. He removed in the same manner to several parts of the kingdom, remote from each other; but in every place quickly perceived that his deadly pursuer was near him. At last he went to South America, where he had enjoyed his security but a very short time, before his unrelenting enemy came up with him and effected his purpose. You may recollect the mention, in one of our conversations, of a young man, who wasted in two or three years a large patrimony in profligate revels with a number of worthless associates who called themselves his friends, and who, when his last means were exhausted, treated him of course with neglect, or contempt. Reduced to absolute want, he one day went out of the house with an intention to put an end to his life; but wandering awhile almost unconsciously, he came to the brow of an eminence which overlooked what were lately his estates. Here he sat down, and remained fixed in thought a number of hours, at the end of which he sprang from the ground with a vehement exulting emotion. He had formed his resolution, which was, that all these estates should be his again: he had formed his plan too, which he instantly began to execute. He walked hastily forward, determined to seize the very first opportunity, of however humble a kind, to gain any money, though it were ever so despicable a trifle, and resolved absolutely not to spend, if he could help it, a farthing of whatever he might obtain. The first thing that drew his attention was a heap of coals shot out of carts on the pavement before a house. He offered himself to