« AnteriorContinuar »
himself went to the house of lords, and spoke for some time in his defence ; but the spirit of vengeance, which had been chained for eleven years, was now roused ; and nothing but his blood could give the people satisfaction. He was condemned by both houses of parliament ; and nothing remained but for the king to give his consent to the bill of attainder. But, in the present commotions, the consent of the king would very easily be dispensed with ; and imminent danger might attend his refusal. Charles, however, who loved Strafford tenderly, hesitated, and seemed reluctant ; trying every expedient to put oft so dreadful an office as that of signing the warrant for his execution. While he continued in this agitation of mind, and state of suspense, his doubts were at last silenced by an act of great magnanimity in the condemned lord. He received a letter from that unfortunate nobleman, desiring that his life might be made a sacrifice to obtain reconciliation between the king and his people : adding, that he was prepared to die ; and that to a willing mind there could be no injury. This instance of noble generosity was but ill repaid by his master, who complied with his request. He konsented to sign the fatal bill by commission : and Strafford was beheaded on Tower hill; behaving with that composed dignity of resolution, which was expected from his character.
Founder of Christianity. 1. Never was there on earth any other person of so extraordinary a character as the founder of our religion. In him we uniformly see a mildness, dignity, and composure, and a per: fection of wisdom and of goodness, that plainly point him out as 2 superiour being. But his superiority was all in his own divine mind. He had none of those outward advantages that have distinguished all other lawgivers. He had no influence in the state ; he had no wealth ; he aimed at no wordly power. He was the son of a carpenter's wife, and he was himself a carpenter. So poor were his reputed parents, that at the time of his birth, his mother could obtain no better lodging than a stable ; and so poor was he himself, that he often had no lodging at all.
2. That he had no advantages of education, we may infer from the surprise expressed by his neighbours on hearing bim speak in the synagogue :
"Whence hath this man these things ? What wisdom is this which is given him ? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary? Are not his brethrer and sisters with us? This point, however, we need not insist on; as from no education, that his own or any other country could have afforded, was it 'possible for him to derive that supernatural wisdom and power, that sanctity of life, and that purity of doctrine, which so eminently distinguish him. His first adherents were a few fishermen; for whom he was so far from making any provision, that when he sent them out to preach repentance and heal diseases, they were, by his desire, furnished with nothing but one coat, a pair of sandals, and a staff.
3. He went about, in great humility and meekness, doing good, teaching wisdom, and glorifying God, for the space of about three years, after the commencement of his ministry ; and then, as he himself had forescen and foretold, he was publicly crucified. This is the great personage, who at this day gives law to the world. This is he, who has been the author of vir tue and happiness to millions and millions of the human race. And this is he, whom the wisest and best men that ever lived, have reverenced as a Divine Person, and gloried in, as the Deliverer and Saviour of manşind.
The Balance of appress. An extensive contemplation of human affairs, will lead us to this conclusion, that among the different conditions and ranks of men, the balance of happiness is preserved, in a great measure, equal ; and that the luigh and the low, the rich and the poor, approach, in point of real enjoyment, much nearer to each other, than is commonly imagined.
2. In the lot of man, mutual compensations, both of pleasure and of pain, universally take place. Providence never intended, that any state here should be either completely happy, or entirely miserable. If the feelings of pleasure are more numerous, and more lively, in the higher departments of life, such also are those of pain. If greatness flatters our vanity, it multiplies our dangers. If opulence increases our gratifications, it increases, in the same proportion, our desires and demands. If the poor are confined to a more narrow circle, yet within that circle lie most of those natural satisfactions, which, after all the refipements of art, are found to be the most genuine and true.
3. In a state, therefore, where there is neither so much to be coveted on the one hand, nor to be dreaded on the other, as at first appears, how submissive ought we to be to the disposal of Providence ! How temperate in our desires and pursuits ! How much more attentive to preserve our virtue, and to inprove our minds, than to gain the doubtful and equivocal advantages of worldly prosperity!
The Interview of Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia, his sister Nekayah
and Imlac, with the Hermit. 1. They came on the third day, by the direction of the peasants, to the hermit's cell : it was a cavern in the side of a mountain, overshadowed with palm-trees. The hermit sat on a bench at the door, to enjoy the coolness of the evening. On one side lay a book with pens and papers, on the other mechanical instruments of various kinds.
2. They saluted him with great respect, which he returned like a man not unaccustomed to the forms of courts. children,' said he, “if you have lost your way, you shall be willingly supplied with such conveniences for the night as this cavern will afford. I have all that nature requires, and you will not expect delicacies in a hermit's cell. They thanked him; and entering, were pleased with the neatness and regu"larity of the place. His discourse was cheerfal without levity, and pious without enthusiasm.
3. At last Imlac began thus: 'I do not now wonder that your reputation is so far extended ; we have heard at Cairo of your wisdom, and came hither to implore your direction for this young man and maiden in the choice of life.'
4. - To him that lives well,' answered the hermit, every form of life is good ; nor can I give any other rule for choice, than to remove from all apparent evil.' • He will remove most certainly from evil,' said the prince, “who shall devote himself to that solitude which you have recommended by your example.
5. “I have indeed lived fifteen years in solitude,” said the hermit, ' but have no desire that my example should gain any imitators. In my youth I professed arms, and was raised by degrees to the highest military rank. I have traversed wide countries at the head of my troops, and seen many battles and sieges. At last, being disgusted by the preferment of a younger officer, and feeling that my vigour was beginning to decay, I resolved to close my life in peace, having found the world full of snares, discord, and misery. I had once escaped from the pur suit of the enemy by the shelter of this cayern, and therefore chose it for my final residence. I employed artificers to form it into chambers, and stored it with all that I was likely to want.
6. For some time after my retreat, I rejoiced like a tempest-beaten sailor at his entrance into the harbour, being delighted with the sudden change of the noise and hurry of war to stillness and repose. When the pleasure of novelty went away, ) employed my hours in examining the plants which grow in the
valley, and the minerals which I collected from the rocks. But that inquiry is now grown tasteless and irksome. I have been for some time unsettled and distracted: my mind is disturbed with a thousand perplexities of doubt and vanities of imagination, which hourly prevail upon me, because I have no opportunities of relaxation or diversion. I am sometimes ashamed to think that I could not secure myself from vice, but by retiring from the exercise of virtue, and begin to suspect that I was rather impelled by resentment, than led by devotion, into solitude. My fancy riots in scenes of folly, and I lament that I nave lost so much, and have gained so little. In solitude, if I escape the example of bad men, I want, likewise, the counsel and conversation of the good. I have been long comparing the evils with the advantages of society, and resolve to return into the world to-morrow. The life of a solitary man will be certainly miserable, but not certainly devout.'
7. They heard his resolution with surprise, but, after a short pause, offered to conduct him to Cairo. He dug up a considerable treasure which he had hid among the rocks, and accompanied them to the city, on which, as he approached it, he gazed with rapture.
Improvement of Time. 1. To make a proper use of that short and uncertain portion of time allotted us for our mortal pilgrimage, is a proof of wisdcm; to use it with economy, and dispose of it with care, discovers prudence and discretion. Let, therefore, no part of your time escape without making it subservient to the wise
purposes for which it was given you : 'tis the most inestimable of treasures.
2 You will find a constant employment of your time conducive to health and happiness ; and not only a sure guard against the encroachments of vice, but the best recipe for contentment. Seek employment; langour and ennui shall be unknown ; avoid idleness, banish sloth ; vigour and cheerfulness will be your enlivening companions : admit not guilt to your hearts, and terrour shall not interrupt your slumbers. Follow the footsteps of virtue ; walk steadily in her paths : she will conduct you through pleasant and flowery paths to the temple of peace; she will guard you from the wily snares of vice, and heal the wounds of sorrow and disappointment which time may inflict.
3. By being constantly and usefully employed, the destroyer of mortal happiness will have but few opportunities of making his attacks; and by regularly filling up your precious moments,
you will be less exposed to dangers : venture not then to waste an hour, lest the next should not be yours to squander; hazard not a single day in guilty or improper pursuits, lest the day which follows should be ordained to bring you an awful summons to the tomb; a summons to which youth and age are equally liable.
4. • Reading improves the mind;' and you cannot better employ a portion of your leisure time than in the pursuit of knowledge." By observing a regular habit of reading, a love of it will soon be acquired. It will prove an unceasing amusement, and a pleasant resource in the hours of sorrow and discontent; an unfailing antidote against languor and indolence. Much caution is, however, necessary in the choice of books; it is among them, as among human characters ; many would prove dangerous and pernicious advisers ; they tend to mislead the imagination, and give rise to a thousand erroneous opinions, and ridic-" ulous expectations.
5. I would not, however, wish to deprive you of the pleasures of society, or of rational amusement; but let your companions be select; let them be such as you can love for their good qualities; and whose virtues you are desirous to emulate : let your amusements be such as will tend not to corrupt and vitiate, but to correct and amend the heart.
6. Finally, I would carnestly request you never to neglect employing a portion of your time in addressing your heavenly Father; in paying him that tribute of prayer and praise which is so justly his due, as the Author of every good and perfect gift; as our Creator, Preserver, and Redeemer, in whom we live, and move, and have our being ;' and without whose blessing none of our undertakings will prosper.
7. Thus, by employing the time given you in the service of virtue, you will pass your days with comfort to yourself and those around you ; and by persevering to the end, shall at length obtain a crown of glory, which fadeth not away."
The Hill of Science. 1. In that season of the year, when the serenity of the sky, the various fruits which cover the ground, the discoloured foliage of the trees, and all the sweet, but fading, graces of inspiring autumn, open the mind to benevolence, and dispose it for contemplation, I was wandering in a beautiful and romantic country, till curiosity began to give way to weariness ; and I sat me down on the fragment of a rock overgrown with moss, where the rustling of the falling leaves, the dasbing of waters,