Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

deny that the design indicated a designer, we would know much ir formation may be acquired; but still it may be that he was speaking the language of folly. For example, knowledge only imposed upon the mind, not récaired within Fere you to visit any of the spinning-mills of this town, it. You may not truly have made it your own. Your you could searcely fail to be struck with the various con- minds may have continued in that state of listless inactrivances which are all subordinated to one end, and, even tivity, which leads one to receive without inquiry and with but a slender knowledge of mechanics, you would be exa: nination every thing which is presented. You may delighted to trace the method by which the machinery hare laid up a store of knowledge beside you, but you have was all adjusted and fitted to serve its purpose. But all not appropriated it to yourself. Science, to be useful, the while, there is little probability of your spending one must have the mind exercised upon it-the faculties must thought on the ingenious contriver of it all. Even so has be brought in contact with it-it must be assimilated as experience proved it to be with the student of the works part of our mental nature. The Scriptures command us of nature-the vast and complicated machine of the uni- to prove all things, by which, among other things, is cerverse. He has measured the stars and traced their courses, tainly meant that we are to test and try every opinion and or be has traced out on this earth the various marks of principle subjected to our notice, and either to substancontrivance which God has stamped upon it, and yet his tiate or reject it altogether. There is the utmost safety mind has never been engaged with the contemplation of as well as utility in this. We are enjoined to give an the great Author of all, who upholdeth all things by the implicit and easy credit to nothing-to try, to iest, to word of his power.' How different would be the result in prove all things.' We are to suffer nothing to enter into either case, had we a previous knowledge of and esteem our minds without a searching examination, and nothing for the designer! Were we to inspect a piece of mechan- to be established as a belief which we have not submitted ism invented by some person whom we knew and loved, to the severest test. The mind is moulded by the opiit would not only be examined with more attentive care, nions and principles it embraces; and it is a matter of but we would delight to trace in every department of it infinite concern to each of us, that we suffer nothing to the evidences of the contriver's skill. So is it with the have a place there which may warp it by prejudice, weaken study of nature. When we have been taught to know, its energies, and deprive it of its free action. If we would and reverence, and love God, we are then prepared to judge it necessary to take care that the furniture of our have our minds raised from the thing made to Him who houses be sound and substantial, each article fitted for made it--to adore the unseen through that which is visible. the use to which it was to be put, and solid and strong It is not, therefore, to science I would direct you to ac- enough to endure the fatigues to which it is exposed, with quire your knowledge of God. This must be obtained how much greater care ought we to investigate that which from revelation. But, having heard devoutly and be- is to constitute the furniture of our minds that precious lievingly the lessons of Scripture, I would have you able inward dwelling--the temple of the spirit-so tender and to read what God has done and is doing in creation. And so susceptible of injury, which demands from us the if there was formed within you the faith of Christ Jesus, strictest watchfulness, and on the suitable furnishing of with what delight would you contemplate the handiwork which our comfort is made almost wholly dependent. of your father, and with how much greater devotedness And yet how true is it that in the vast majority of inand earnestness would you prosecute researches in science, stances, there is not only no adequate care in this, but when in every footstep of your progress you were observ- actually no care at all! There is a slumbrous inactivity ing evidences of a Father's unsearchable wisdom and in about many, which makes them the passive instruments expressible kindness! It is thus that religion not only of circumstances. They do not exercise their judgment renders the walks of science more pleasant and profitable, on what is submitted to them, an opinion is tried by no but provides the highest stimulus to diligence and activity standard, and every thing is passively received. The It engages not only the powers of the understanding, bút mind remains inoperative, and does not grasp and embrace the affections of the heart.

that which has been presented to it. Whatever knowII. The study of science strengthens the mind, affords ledge they may possess, whatever opinions or principles a healthful and invigorating exercise to its various facul- they may seem to have formed, lie beside them as useless ties, and renders them more capable of useful and vigor- lumber.' David would not go to fight with the giant ous employment in every department of duty. Every Philistine in armour which he had not proved; he would one who has been engaged in the business of public in- have been encumbered with it, and incapable of using it. struction, must have had to encounter that most intensely And so it is with things thus presented to, and thus reprovoking of all states of mind, in which it is altogether posing upon, the mind. They have not been proved, and inert, and its faculties unmoved and unaffected by any therefore, while the; may encumter, they cannot aid it thing which can be addressed to them. In this condition in any enterprise. Do not thus use science. Make proof the mere communication of knowledge is vain. Such of all the information it offers to you. Learn to discriknowledge lies as a mere burden upon the memory, and minate, to receive what is true, and to reject what is false. is utterly useless to its possessor. *Knowledge, in order Let every thing be tested and submitted to a questionary to be available to any good purpose, must be taken into process; and while your progress in this way will not be the mind, digested, and made to constitute a part of its retarded, you will, by such a process, have made every possessor. It is not to be assumed as a dress, but to be acquisition really your own.

What deductions of science taken as food. Thus received, it strengthens the mind, you know, you will know them to be true, not because !! even as meat nourishes the body. Now, the cultivation you have been told, but because you can demonstrate

of science is one of the best and most effective instru- them. A mind habituated to this kind of exercise is in | ments for vanquishing that inertness of which I have the best condition for turning all its faculties to account. spoken, and for this reason it has special and very pecu- By constant exercise, it acquires both strength and alertliar claims upon the young. In youth, the mind is more ness, a patience under restraint, and a perseverance in capable of being roused to action, and, when active, is pos activity, which are essential to success in every entersessed of greater elasticity, enabling it to turn its powers prise. It becomes burdensome not to labour, but to be in new directions, than when a profitlessly spent youth is idle. succeeded by the indurated habits of advancing life. Now, III. Science has a powerful claim upon the attention of when I speak of the power of science to invigorate the young men, from the benefit it has conferred, and is yet mind, and to rouse it to healthful action, I trust you will capable of conferring, upon society. If the Gospel be the not misunderstand me so far as to imagine that such re- best gift of Heaven to men, signalized from all other gifts ults will follow from merely attending lectures on the by the infinite preciousness of its benefits, and the unvarious branches of science which your own taste would speakable love of which these are the proof and the fruit, lead you to cultivate, or which may fall within your science is also eminently distinguished by its character of reach. Neither is the object to be gained by the mere beneficence. It is to things of time what religion is to leiding of books. In both ways, or in either, it is true, I things of eternity. It bears pleasant fruit wherever it

come.

has taken root and grown. If it is not the prime instru- of the greatest and most powerful minds which adorn the ment of civilization (for this honour, too, must be awarded annals of philosophy. On the other hand, it is far from to the Gospel), it at least advances its character, increases desirable that science should be allowed to remain as the its resources, and confers some of the most precious bene- exclusive possession of the enemies of religion, and that fits which men possess. Science has opened up all seas the acquisitions of men in secular knowledge should be ! to our ships, and all lands to our commerce. It has pre- unsanctified. How much better were our Christian men vailed against winds and tides, and marked out for us a also our scientific men-that those who are the directors distinct pathway over the pathless ocean. It has brought of the world's mind should also be lights in the firmatogether the opposite ends of the earth, and brought to ment of religion. Nor, in the common intercourse of life, our homes all the varied products of every various clime. is it without obvious and eminent advantage that the Science spreads our tables for us, and furnishes us with Christian youth shall be in a position in which, however clothing. It has increased our capacities of motion, and much the scorner may mock his piety, he may stand forth promises to bring us yet greater benefits in the time to as his equal or superior in all intellectual acquirements.

He should not be exposed to the charge of being weakFor who will say that science has reached its limits, minded and ignorant. And the Christian youth should be that no further progress is to be made, and no better fruit stimulated to avoid the charge, not only because it is disreaped from it ? Such a conclusion would be alike un- graceful to underlie it, but because his liability to it will warranted by the experience of the past, and by the deservedly make his Christianity itself less influential and nature of science itself. The discoveries most fraught effective for good. with blessings to man are all comparatively of recent I have anticipated much of what might have been said origin, and almost every day is adding to their number. regarding the way in which the study of science should be The face of society has been almost entirely changed by regulated. I shall only now make the following brief them within the memory of an existing generation. It observations :is not long since the first steam-ship was launched, and 1. Those who are engaged in business, and have a we are every day learning more of the countless variety calling to attend to, should take care not to let their study of ways in which the power of steam may be inade avail- of science interfere with that calling. Of most of young | able to the use and the comfort of man; and even con- men it is true that their time has been lent to their templating what we have already acquired, who is there employers, and it would obviously be sinful in them to that would not account James Watt one of the most neglect the business intrusted to them, even for such a generous benefactors of our race? Who is there that praiseworthy object as the study of science. If the study would not wish to possess a fame as wide-spread and as of science be commenced and prosecuted under a violation deserved as his ? But surely such discoveries as his are of a plain moral duty, it can lead to no beneficial issue, not beyond the reach of possibility. They are not beyond and it were better to abandon it altogether. But while the reach of the humblest disciple of science; and it ought young men ought to do their employers' work, it were to give an impulse to your minds to know this fact, to well also that the employers should not be so exacting in labour in the hope that even you may be rewarded by their demands, as to prelude young men from the possisome discovery which shall not only gain for you an im- bility of prosecuting any kind of study with success. perishable renown, but which shall crown all posterity 2. Let' not science take precedence of religion. This with manifold benefits. The laurel of the conqueror is were to alter the proper relations of things. The most stained with blood, and his path marked by desolation. important should be first. Science is fitted to become the The conquests of the man of science are more honourable handmaid of religion. It is destructive to both when and more pure. His path is like the fertilizing river, science takes the place and the authority of a mistress. which covers the earth with riches, and adorns it with 3. The study of science is to be prosecuted with a beauty. Why not enter upon and prosecute this path ? humble mind. Humility is the foundation of greatness

IV. Science has its special claims upon the Christian both in science and religion. Pride is ruinous to both. youth, because of the position to which it clevates the It was the humility of Newton which constituted his possessor of it. The ignorant Christian incurs the con- greatest glory. He felt himself as a child gathering tempt of the world. He incurs such contempt, it is true, shells beside the great ocean of truth. And if, with his most unjustly, for he who knows his Bible, and is walk- mighty acquisitions, he could sincerely experience and ing in the light of its truth, is in reality in possession of give utterance to such a feeling, how much more is it be a higher philosophy than the proud infidel who despises coming in those who can scarcely yet be said to hare begun him. At the same time, it is important to take the argu- to gather the shells, but who have been merely hearing ment from the infidel, that the Christian believes his the sound of the mighty billows of the ocean ! He who Bible because he is the victim of a blind superstition, and has begun to entertain the conceit that he knows some. is ignorant of that which wise men ought to know. The thing, would do well to retrace his steps, and become per. cultivation of science would produce this result, and might suaded that he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know, operate most beneficially in securing for Christianity the respect of the world, and possibly in inducing them to SKETCHES OF PARIS AND THE PARISIANS. believe and embrace it. The Apostle Paul, when addressing the learned audience who assembled to hear him

PART IV. at Athens, did not disdain to commend himself to theni

REMARKABLE PLACES IN PARIS. by displaying his knowledge of their literature. We find him, in his brief discourse, quoting from their own poets, and showing that he was not a believer in the Gospel In our preceding number we gave a short account of because he was ignorant of every other subject. And the history of the Bastile, and a sketch of the bailddoubtless there was wisdom in seeking to commend his ing; we shall now select some of the historical anecdotes doctrine in this way to a learned and contemptuous connected with it. people, who regarded all men besides themselves as bar- The lofty circular towers of the Bastile derived their barians. And in the history of the church, Christianity respective names from the most distinguished of the has certainly lost nothing, but may have gained much, prisoners they once contained, or from soine historical through the scientific acquirements of those who have event of which they have been the scene. Thus the Tour professed it. It is a felt advantage to the cause of de la Comté is said to have been so called because the unChristianity that we have the name of Sir Isaac Newton fortunate Count of St Pol—who held at bay the united on its side. This fact helps to commend the study of it forces of the Duke of Burgundy and Louis XI. of France, to those who have become vain in their foolish philosophy, till he was entrapped in his own toils-had been confined It has put to silence many an objection, and demonstrated in it in 1475, during the short interval that intervened that our holy faith is capable of securing the cordial assent l between his arrest and his execution. The Tour de la

[ocr errors]

THE BASTILE.

Berthaudère derived its name from a like source; but it himself with the greatest ability. The king had fully is principally remarkable from having been the prison of pardoned him at Lyons, and all his misdemeanours had the mistericus Iron Mask—that enigma and disgrace of been committed before then. But the Parliament would the reign of Louis XIV. This unfortunate person, about not listen to this ;-they said the king did not then know whom so many conjectures have been advanced, seems to of his crimes, and consequently could not pardon them. hare been a brother, legitimate or illegitimate, of Louis Paris was greatly excited during the trial, and the popuXIV.; and it was within the walls of this tower that his lace were almost unanimously in favour of his acquittal; lingering existence was passed, after being transferred but he was condenined-and to death. Great intercession thither from the Isle of St Marguerite. When death was made for him, but in vain. Henry, however, was ended his sufferings, the governor of the Bastile had the deeply moved. Had he told me the truth,' said he, interior of his apartment carefully scraped, so as to pre- though I have the proofs in my hand, he would not have rent the possibility of any writing on the walls betraying been where he is. I would have given two hundred the secret of his name. In the Tour de la Coin the thousand crowns to have had the means of saving him. I Marshal Bassompierre was imprisoned for twelve long never loved any one so much as I loved him. I could have years, from 1631 to 1613; and here he wrote his cele- intrusted him with my own son-with my kingdom brated memoirs. In this tower, also, the Maître de Sacy itself!' was immured from 1066 to 1609; during which period The morning of his execution came. The fatal sentence he executed the greater part of his translation of the was read over to him, and, kneeling before the altar, he Bible.

listened to it attentively. When the registrary came to But it is chiefly in connexion with the name of the the words, "for the crime of lèze majesté,' he said brave and unfortunate Biron that we would now mention nothing; but when he heard him read on, 'for having the Bastile. His father had rendered important services compassed the king's life,' he turned round, and exclaimto Henry IV., and as a general had contributed much to ed— It's false, it's false !--take that out.' Then hearing the success of that monarch in the field; and he was con- that the Place de Grève, where malefactors were exsequently created Maréchal de Biron. His son no less ccuted, was appointed for his death— What, on the distinguished himself by his gallantry in battle; and was Grève l'he exclaimed. They told him that the king had first created Marshal and then Duke de Biron. He was remitted this part of the punishment as a special favour. as gallant a soldier as erer led the armies of France. His • What a favour!' rejoined the duke. With a slight fault

, however, appears to have been his pride and his abridgment we shall follow the account given in the ambition ; and he would frequently exclaim to his inti- chronicle. The scaffold was erected in the court of the mate friends—' Aut Cæsar, aut nullus.' When com- Bastile. Being lcd forth, the duke, having descended the manding the French forces in the Low Countries, the stairs, advanced ten paces without uttering a word, except Spanish general seeins to have discovered this failing; “Ha!' three times, and rather loud. He then came to and tampered with him, holding out to him the post of the scaffold-having marched thither, says the chronicle, generalissimo of the Spanish forces if he would change as if he were going to battle. Arrived there, he prayed sidas. He was further led to his ruin by the hope of to God in a low voice for a quarter of an hour. After this obtaining in marriage a princess of Savoy, and thereafter he mounted the scaffold and received absolution : then acquiring from his own sovereign the hereditary govern- he looked at the soldiers who were guarding the gate, and ment of the dutchy of Burgundy. Henry heard of the said — Oh, how I wish that some of you would send a enemy having tried to tamper with him, but would not bullet through me! Alas, what a pity--mercy is dead !' believe the report ; and in an interview with the Duke at When the registrary said “Sir, your sentence must be Lyons, in which Biron confessed to have acted hotly in read.' 'I have already heard it,' he replied. 'Sir,' resone matters, the king forgave him fully and freely what- joined the registrary, we must read it again.'— Read, erer offences he might have committed up to that time. read !' said the duke. Still the duke talked on all the Evil reports, however, continued to blacken his name at while--at first calmly, but when he heard the words, court; and La Fin, a real or supposed agent in his trea- ' for compassing the king's life ;' ' Gentlemen,' he exsonable correspondence, made revelations which deeply claimed, this is false ! Take that out of the sentence ! implicated him. Henry was warmly attached to Biron; I never thought of such a thing!' The sentence having but he could no longer orerlook his faults, and he sum- been read, the divines again admonished him to pray to moned the duke to attend him at Fontainbleau-resolving God, which he did, and then bandaged his eyes himself, that his clemency should be commensurate with his and knelt; but all of a sudden he tore off the handkerfavourite's candour. In spite of the opposition of his chief and looked full at the executioner. Those who friends, Biron obeyed the royal message. He was at first were present thought that he intended to seize the exekindly received; but, ignorant of the revelations of La Fin, cutioner's sword, which, however, he did not find; because he stoutly protested his innocence. Again and again the when some one said to him that he must have his hair king tried him, but still his pride would not let him con- cut off and his hands bound, he uttered an oath and exfess. Henry was very uneasy about his obstinacy; and claimed— Come not near me! I cannot bear it; if you after one of his interviews with the duke, he paced up and provoke me, I'll throttle half the people I see here!' At down bis apartment in much excitement, exclaiming, which words there might be seen some who had swords "He must bend or break. At another time, when Biron at their sides, yet looked at the ladder of the scaffold in was playing whist with the queen, Henry moved rapidly order to get out of his way. At length he called Monsieur about the room, in the greatest agitation; and at length, de Barenton, who had guarded him in prison ; and who, as the chronicle says, unable to contain himself, rushed mounting upon the scaffold, bandaged his eyes, tied up into his cabinet, and falling upon his knees, prayed long his hair, and then said to the executioner, Be quick! and earnestly that he might come to a right determina- be quick!' The executioner, to divert the duke's attention in this difficulty of mind. A final interview followed, tion, said to him, 'Sir, you must repeat your In manus; in which the king told Biron that he knew all, but pro- and then, making a sign to his attendant to hand him the mising his clemency if the duke would confess. Still the sword, cut off his head so dexterously that the stroke was duke was obstinate. His obstinacy was fatal ;-as he left hardly perceived. The head fell at a bound into the the king's chamber, he was arrested. The passage was court, but was taken up and placed on the scaffold. That lined with soldiers ; his sword was taken from him; and evening the body was buried in the church of St Paul. thinking that he was to die on the spot, he endeavoured The interment was without ceremony, and was attended to snatch a weapon from those around him, and called on by only six priests, with a few other persons. them to give him some weapon that he might at least die • Thus died, in his fortieth year, one of the most gallant with arms in his hand. He was conducted to the Bastile, commanders and must accomplished courtiers over proand shortly afterwards was tried before the Parliament of duced by France. His tragic end still remains as a Paris. They refused him an advocate, but he defended | difficulty to be solved by the panegyrists of Henry IV.,

FROM KROMMACHER.

who thereby incurred, among a large portion of his sub- \ and support of her husband under misfortune, and abidjects, the imputation of having too hastily listened to ing with unshrinking firmness the bitterest blasts ef suspicious evidence, and overlooked the great services of adversity. As the vine, which has long twined its graci". a misled but noble-bearted gentleman.' The execution i ful foliage about the oak, and has been lifted by it in the of the Duke de Biron took place on the 31st of July, 1602, sunshine, will, when the hardy plant is rifted by the and was the last of any great note that occurred within thunderbolt, cling round it with its caressing tendriis, the walls of the Bastile.

and bind up the shattered boughs; so is it beautifull; The Bastile is now gone; not a stone is left; and a ordered by Providence, that woman, who is the mere canal now flows far below where the deepest dungeons, dependant and ornament of man in his happier hours, the oubliettes, once held their forgotten captives of should be his stay and solace when sniitten with sudden misery. Its site is only marked by a vulgar and clumsy calamity-binding herself into the rugged recesses of bis pillar styled • The column of July,' covered with the nature, tenderly supporting the drooping head, and bind. gilded names of soi-disants niartyrs, and surmounted by a ing up the broken heart. I have observed that a marstatue, in commemoration of the triumph of the mob. ried man falling into misfortune is more apt to retriere

his situation in the world than a single one, partly beOUR PROGRESS IN LIFE.

cause he is more stimulated to exertion by the necessities What a blessed order of nature it is, that the footsteps of the helpless and beloved beings who depend upon him of Time are inaudible and noiseless, and that the seasons for subsistence, but chiefly because his spirits are soothed of life, like those of the year, are so indistinguishably and relieved by domestic endearments, and his selfbrought on in gentle progression, and so blended the one respect kept alive by finding that, though all abroad is with the other, that the human being scarcely knows, darkness and bumiliation, yet there is still a little sorid except from a faint and not unpleasant sensation, that he of love at home, of which he is the monarch; whereas, a is growing old. The boy looks on the youth, the youth single man is apt to run to waste and self-neglect-1) on the man, the man in his prime on his grey-headed sire, fancy himself alone and abandoned, and his heart to fall each on the other as in a separate existence-in a separate to ruin, like some deserted mansion, for the want of an world; it seems sometimes as if they had no sympathies, inhabitant.-Washington Irving. no thoughts in common; that each smiled and wept on account of things for which the other cared not, and that such smiles and tears were all foolish, idle, and most

THE MOSS ROSE. vain. But as the hours, days, weeks, months, years, go by, how changes the one into the other, till, without any

The angel that keeps watch o'er flowers, violence, lo! as if close together, at last, the cradle and

And waters them with nightly dew, the grave. In this, how nature and man agree, pacing

One spring day slept beneath the shade

A friendly rosebush threw. on and on, to the completion of a year, of a life.-Mid

Refresh'd he woke, and grateful epoke summer Day's Dream.

* Thou fairest of my children, say, GOOD TEMPER,

What gift my love may grant thee shall Good temper is like a sunny day; it sheds a brightness

Thy scent and shade repay?' over every thing. It is the sweetener of toil, and the

" Then on my rose another grace,'

The rosebush spirit said, " be fluog! soother of disquietude. Every day brings its burthen.

And round the angel of the flowers The husband goes forth in the morning to his professional

The modest moss has hung. studies; he cannot foresee what trial he may encounter,

And lovelier in that garb than all, what failure of hopes, of friendships, or of prospects may

Her sister beauties looks, I ween, meet him, before he returns to his home; but if he can

The rose that owns the angel's gift

That simple garb of green. anticipate there the beaming and hopeful smile, and the soothing attention, he feels that his cross, wbatever it

Lina! by thee the flashing gem,

By thee the flaunting robe be scorn'd; might be, will be lightened, and that his domestic happi

Hear Nature speak-- Adorn d the least, ness is still secure. It is the interest, therefore, as well

Daughter, thou'rt most adorn'd! as the duty of a woman, to cultivate good temper, and to hare crer ready some word or look of cheerfulness, of

INDUSTRY. encouragement, or at least of sympathy. A really feel- There is no art or science that is too difficult for indusing heart will dictate the conduct which will be most try to attain to; it is the gift of tongues, and makes a acceptable--will teach the delicacy which times a kind man understood and valued in all countries, and by all ness, as well as renders it, and forbears all officious atten- countries and by all nations; it is the philosopher's stone tions, whilst it ever evinces a readiness to oblige. It need that turns all metals, and even stones, into gold, and sufscarcely be said that this temper is of more value than fers not want to break into its dwelling; it is the northman; more brilliant endowments; that it is amongst the

west passage, that brings the merchants as soon to him first recommendations to a woman in every domestic rela- as he can desire-in a word, it conquers all enemies, and tion; and that especially in that tie, which, though the makes fortune itself contribution.-Clarendon. nearest on earth, is not one of kindred, it is assuredly the most effectual cement of affection. It is not, indeed, so

PERSONS UNLIKELY TO SERVE YOU. much a means of attracting or exciting love, as it is of need not expect kindness. The sordid and narrow-minded

There are several classes of persons at whose hands you securing it. In fact, it is scarcely known, until familiarity think of nobody but their noble selves. The busy hare draws aside the veil of social restraint

, and the character, not time to think of you. The overgrown rich manis wiih its real faults and virtues, is unfolded in the privacy | above minding any one who needs his assistance. The of home.- Mrs Sandford.

poor and unhappy has neither spirit nor ability. The WOMAN IN AFFLICTION. I have rery often had occasion to remark the fortitude good-natured fool, however willing, is not capable of

serving you.-Burgh. with which women sustain the most overwhelming reverses of fortune. Those disasters which break down the spirit of man and prostrate him in the dust, seem to call Printed and published by JAMES HOGG, 122 Nicolson Street, forth all the energies of the softer sex, and give such in

Edinburgh; to whoin all communications are to be addresi.

Solil also by J.JOHNSTONE, Edinburgh ; J. M.LFOD, Glasgox;" trepidity and elevation to their character, that at times

M COMB, Belfast; J. CLANCY, Dublin; G. &R. Kixo, Abenteen; it approaches to sublimity. No:hing can be more touch- R. WALKER, Dundee; G. Puilip, Liverpool; FINLAY & CHASIing than to behold a soft and tender female, who had

TON, Newcastle; WRIGHTSON & WEBU, Birmingham; Gatta been all weakness, and dependence, and alive to every

Co., Manchester; R. G ROOM BRIDGE & Sons, London ; and trivial roughness, while treading the prosperous paths of

The ‘ INSTRUCTOR' being printed from Stereotype Plates, the life, suddenly rising in mental force to be the comforter Numbers may always be had from the commencement.

Booksellers.

[graphic]

No. 25.

EDINBURGH, SATURDAY, AUGUST 16, 1845.

PRICE 1}d.

acceptance and interpretation of those which relate to CREDULITY AND INCREDULIT Y.

what is near and present, their precautions should be By Mrs CROWE, Authoress of 'Susan Hopley,' &c.

great, in proportion to the chances of being deceived. HORACE WALPOLE quaintly observed, that it is one of One of the sources of this universal tendency to exagthe disadvantages of living in our own time that we never geration, is the pleasure experienced in the excitement of know the truth of any thing;' and it is to be apprehended, what phrenologists distinguish as the organ of wonder. that amidst all the discoveries that have been made or Events, as they have actually fallen out, are not astoundperfected since his death, for the improvement of our ing enough to satisfy the appetite of this faculty-vorasocial condition, the remark still holds good. Certain it cious in most instances, inordinate in many; to which we is, that the difficulty of eliciting the truth with respect to may add, that by magnifying the event, some other passion any cotemporary event is so considerable, that it may be or sentiment is frequently called into exercise, which lends said to amount almost to an impossibility; and in contra- a zest to the gratification. If the rumour of an epidemic diction to what might have been reasonably expected, arise in a city, and one is told that the funerals amount this difficulty appears, in many instances, to be rather to twenty a-week, every candid person will admit that, in increased than diminished by proximity to the scene of conveying the report to another, he would be apt to render action. The natural tendency of mankind to exaggerate it twenty or thirty; whilst the probability is great, that the circumstances of a story, is excited by the passions the next teller drops the twenty altogether, and tacks on and interests that are fermenting within every circle, and a few to the other end of the account. Here a slight dewhich are, more or less, affected by every event which gree of apprehension, just enough (provided the evil has occurs within its limits. Each narrator adds or changes not reached one's own immediate neighbourhood or class) something, which, in his or her opinion, either increases to excite without pain, and to give a relish to the immunity the wonder and interest of the narrative; or serves to we are at the moment enjoying, is superadded to the gratibring it more into accordance with some preconceived fication of being astonished ourselves, and of having someopinion or prejudice; or causes the last new report to thing to tell that will astonish others. If we hear that tally with some former one, perhaps too monstrous and the grocer in the next street has lost two children by the disjointed to be believed ; affording them the gratifica-measles, we feel a natural desire to augment our own tion of exclaiming, 'Well, I really must say, I did not compassion, as well as the compassion of our friend, by altogether credit the thing when I heard it before ; but adding another to the number. If our acquaintance loses after this confirmation, upon my word,' &c. &c.

five thousand pounds by a fraudulent banker, we do not It must also be admitted, that our powers of observa- hesitate, under the first excitement of the intelligence, to tion differ so widely that no two persons see an event make it seven; or if Jack Harebrain is thrown from his from precisely the same point of view; neither, perhaps, horse and breaks his collar-bone, who could forbear to do any two simultaneously fix their attention on exactly superadd a broken rib or a few internal bruises to the the same part of the drama enacting before their eyes. I calamity ? Some men will perhaps hold up their hands In short, they take their observations by the aid of in- against these assertions, and disown their truth ; but if struments of different construction and different power; they are sincere in their denial, we can only say, that and the result varies accordingly. One illustration of they must either be endowed with a remarkably small this

may be found in the strange discrepancies so fre- love of the marvellous, or else have crucified their natural quently occurring in the evidence of honest witnesses in a propensities. court of justice; where, under the stringent influence of At the period of the riots in Bristol connected with an oath, their natural tendency to luxuriate and disport the passing of the Reform Bill, a friend of the writer, in variations is suppressed, and they have the strongest who had a house and some property in the immediato possible motive to confine themselves to the literal facts neighbourhood of the disturbed city, happened to be with of the case in which they are called to give testimony. his family in London ; and, on the first intelligence of the Distance of place, like distance of time, by wafting the commotion, he wrote to his butler, desiring him to forstory beyond the immediate influence of passion and pre- ward daily despatches descriptive of the state of affairs. judice, dispels some of the obstacles that impede the The very first letter, however, put an end to the corresascertainment of truths; but still so many remain, and pondence; for so terrific was honest John's report, that 50 many new ones are interposed, that even of far re- our friend instantly put four horses to his carriage, and moved events, it behoves all men to investigate reports started, without a moment's delay, doubtful whether any calmly, and believe them cautiously; whilst in their speed would enable him to arrive in time to rescue his

« AnteriorContinuar »