Page images
PDF
EPUB

1841 was translated to Norwich. His earnest piety and professional zeal rendered him obnoxious to the charge of puritanism; but he was a vigorous defender of the Church in its times of tribulation and danger, and was a sufferer for his conscientious opinions. The revenues of his bishopric were sequestrated in 1642, and he spent the remainder of his life in great poverty, residing at Higham, near Norwich, where he died in 1656. His theological works are very numerous ; apd though many of them are controversial, others will remain as durable monu. ments of masterly reasoning, eloquent persuasion, and touching devotion. The piece which we first select, as an opening to the Sunday · Half- Hours,' is from an Epistle to Lord Denny.]

Every day is a little life : and our whole life is but a day repeated : whence it is that old Jacob numbers his life by days; and Moses desires to be taught this point of holy arithmetic, to number not his years, but his days. Those, therefore, that dare lose a day, are dangerously prodigal ; those that dare mis-spend it, desperate. We can best teach others by ourselves ; let me tell your lordship, how I would pass my days, whether common or sacred, that you (or whosoever others, overhearing me,) may either approve my thriftiness, or correct my errors: to whom is the account of my hours either more due, or more known. All days are His, who gave time a beginning and continuance ; yet some He hath made ours, not to command, but to use.

In none may we forget Him; in some we must forget all, besides Him. Tirst, therefore, I desire to awake at those hours, not when I will, but when I must,; pleasure is not a fit rule for rest, but health ; neither do I consult so much with the sun, as mine own necessity, whether of body or in that of the mind. If this vassal could well serve me waking, it should never sleep; but now it must be pleased, that it may be serviceable. Now when sleep is rather driven away than leaves me, I would ever awake with God: iny first thoughts are for Him, who hath made tho night for rest, and the day for travel ; and as He gives, so blesses both. If my heart be early seasoned with His presence, it will savour of Him all day aftcr. While my body is dressing, not with an effeminate curiosity, nor yet with rudo neglect, my mind addresses itself to her ensuing task, bethinking what is to be done, and in what order, and marshalling (as it may) my hours with my work ; that done, after some while's meditation, I walk up to my masters and companions, my books, and, sitting down amongst them with the best contentment, I dare not reach forth my hand to salute any of them, till I have first looked up to heaven, and craved favour of Him to whom all my studies are duly referred : without whom, I can veither profit nor labour. After this, out of no over great variety, I call forth those which

may best fit my occasions, wherein I am not too scrupulous of age ; sometimes I put myself to school to one of those ancients whom the Church hath honoured with the name of Fathers; whose volumes I confess not to open without a secret reverence of their holiness and gravity ; sometimes to those later doctors, which want nothing but age to make them classical ; always to God's Book. That day iş lost, whereof some hours are not improved in those divine monuments : others I turn over out of choice; these out of duty. Ere I can have sat unto weariness, my family, having now overcome all household distractions, invites me to our common devotions; not without some short preparation. These, heartily performed, send me up with a more strong and cheerful appetite to my former work, which I find made easy to me by intermission and variety ; now, therefore, can I deceive the hours with change of pleasures, that is, of labours. One while mine eyes are busied, another while my hand, and sometimes my mind takes the burthen from them both; wherein I would imitate the skilfullest cooks, which make the best dishes with manifold mixtures; one hour is spent in textual divinity, another in controversy ; histories relieve them both. Now, when the mind is weary of others' labours, it begins to undertake her own ; sometimes it meditates and winds up for future use; sometimes it lays forth her conceits into present discourse; sometimes for itself, after for others. Neither know I whether it works or plays in these thoughts ; I am sure no sport hath more pleasure, no work more use ; only the decay of a weak body makes me think these delights insensibly laborious. Thus could I all day (as ringers use) make myself music with changes, and complain sooner of the day for shortness than of the business for toil, were it not that this faint monitor interrupts me still in the midst of my busy pleasures, and enforces me both to respite and repast; I must yield to both; while my body and mind are joined together in these unequal couples, the better must follow the weaker. Before my meals, therefore, and after, I let myself loose from all thoughts, and now would forget that I ever studied; a full mind takes away the body's appetite no less than a full body makes a dull and unwieldy mind : company, discourse, recreations, are now seasonable and welcome ; these prepare me for a diet, not gluttonous, but medicinal; the palate may not be pleased, but the stomach, nor that for its own sake ; neither would I think any of these comforts worth respect in themselves but in their use, in their end, so far as they may enable me to better things. If I see any dish to tempt my palate, I fear a serpent in that apple, and would please myself in a wilful denial ; I rise capable of more, not desirous; not now immcdiately from my trencher to my book, but after some intermission. Moderate speed is a sure help to all proceedings ; where those things which are prosecuted with violence of endeavour or desire, either succeed not, or continue not.

After my later meal, my thoughts are slight ; only my memory may be charged with her task, of recalling what was committed to her custody in the day; and my heart is busy in examining my hands and mouth, and all other senses, of that day's behaviour. And now the evening is come, no tradesman doth more carefully take in his wares, clear his shopboard, and shut his window, than I would shut up my thoughts, and clear my mind. That student shall live miserably, which like a camel lics down under his burden. All this done, calling together my family, we end the day with God: Thus do we rather drive away the time before us, than follow it. I grant neither is my practice worthy to be exemplary, neither are our callings proportionable. The lives of a nobleman, of a courtier, of a scholar, of a citizen, of a countryman, differ no less than their dispositions ; yet must all conspire in honest labour.

Sweat is the destiny of all trades, whether of the brows, or of the mind. God never allowed any man to do nothing. How miserable is the condition of those

men, which spend the time as if it were given them, and not lent; as if hours were waste creatures, and such as should never be accounted for ; as if God would take this for a good bill of reckoning : Item, spent upon my pleasures ferty years! These men shall once find that no blood can privilege idleness, and that nothing is more precious to God, than that which they desire to cast away—time. Such are my common days; but God's day calls for another respect. The same sun arises on this day, and enlightens it; yet because that Sun of Righteousness arose upon it, and gave a new life unto the world in it, and drew the strength of God's moral precept unto it, therefore justly do we sing with the Psalmist, “this is the day which the Lord hath made.” Now I forget the world, and in a sort myself; and deal with my wonted thoughts, as great men use, who, at some times of their privacy, forbid the access of all suitors. Prayer, meditation, reading, hearing, preaching, singing, good conference, are the businesses of this day, which I dare not bestow on any work, or pleasure, but heavenly.

I hate superstition on the one side, and looseness on the other ; but I find it hard to offond in too much devotion, easy in profaneness. The whole week is sanctified by this day; and according to my care of this, is my blessing on the rest. I show your lordship what I would do, and what I ought ; I commit my desires to the imitation of the weak, my actions to the censures of the wise and holy, my weaknesses to the pardon and redress of my merciful God.

[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small][merged small]

[WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR, an eminent living writer, was born in 1775. He published a volume of poems when he was eighteen; and has at various periods of his life enriched the poetry of his country with productions of no common merit. Mr. Landor was the early friend of Southey ; but, unlike his friend, his early opinions have clung to him through life. This circumstance may account for some of the asperity, and some of the neglect, which it has been Mr. Landor's fate to encounter-in many respects very undeservedly. The first series of his 'Imaginary Conversations, from which the following dialogue is extracted, was published in 1824; a second series appeared in 1836. His complete works were, in 1846, collected in two large closely printed volumes, sold at a cheap rate; and we have no doubt that the collection will be acceptable to a great body of readers, who will thus, for the first time, make the acquaintance of an author

who, although his opinions may sometimes be singular and paradoxical, has a genuine love for all that is beautiful and ennobling in human thoughts and actions, and who has rarely been excelled as a prose writer in fertility and power.

As a fit introduction to this Conversation, we subjoin a passage from Roger Ascham's celebrated “Scholemaster,' describing the character and pursuits of Lady Jane Grey:

“And one example, whether love or fear doth work more in a child, for virtue and learning, I will gladly report, which may be heard with some pleasure, and followed with more profit. Before I went into Germany, I came to Brodegate in Leicestershire, to take my leave of that noble Lady Jane Grey, to whom I was exceedingly much beholding. Her parents, the Duke and the Duchess, with all the household, gentlemen and gentlewomen, were hunting in the park; I found her in her chamber reading Phædon Platonis in Greek, and that with as much delight, as some gentlemen would read a merry tale in Bocace. After salutation, and duty done, with some other talk, I asked her why she would lose such pastime in the park : smiling she answered me: “I wis, all their sport in the park is but a shadow to that pleasure that I find in Plato; alas, good folk, they never felt what true pleasure meant.' And how came you, madam,' quoth I, to this deep knowledge of pleasure, and what did chiefly allure you unto it, seeing not many women, but very few men, have attained thereunto ?' 'I will tell you,' quoth she, “and tell you a truth, which perchance ye will marvel at. One of the greatest benefits that ever God gave me, is, that he sent me so sharp and severe parents, and so gentle a school master. For when I am in presence either of father or mother, whether [ speak, keep silence, sit, stand or go, eat, drink, be merry or sad, be sewing, playing, dancing, or doing any thing else, I must do it, as it were, in such weight, measure, and number, even so perfectly as God made the world, or else I am so sharply taunted, so cruelly threatened, yea presently sometimes, with pinches, nips, and bobs, and other ways which I will not name, for the honour I bear them, so without measure misordered, that I think myself in hell, till time come that I must go to Mr. Elmer, who teacheth me, so gently, so pleasantly, with such fair allurements to learning, that I think all the time nothing, whiles I am with him. And when I am called from him, I fall on weeping, because, whatsoever I do else, but learning, is full of grief, trouble, fear, and whole misliking unto me. And thus my book hath been so much my pleasure, and bringeth daily to me more pleasure and more, that in respect of it, all other pleasures, in very deed, be but trifles and troubles unto me.' I remember this talk gladly, both because it is so worthy of memory, and because also it was the last talk that ever I had, and the last time that ever I saw that poble and worthy lady."]

IST QUARTER

Or we may

the means we can devise, secure the lower links in the chain of society from dragging
in dishonour and wretchedness : but there is a point of view in which the picture is
at least materially altered in its expression. In comparing society on its present
immense scale, with its infant or less developed state, we must at least take care to
enlarge every feature in the same proportion. If, on comparing the very lowest
states in civilised and savage life, we admit a difficulty in deciding to which the
preference is due, at least in every superior grade we cannot hesitate a moment; and
if we institute a similar comparison in every different stage of its progress, we cannot
fail to be struck with the rapid rate of dilatation which every degree upward of the
scale, so to speak, exhibits, and which, in an estimate of averages, gives an immense
preponderance to the present over every former condition of mankind, and, for aught
we can see to the contrary, will place succeeding generations in the same degree of
superior relation to the present that this holds to those passed away.
put the same proposition in other words, and, admitting the existence of every
inferior grade of advantage in a higher state of civilisation which subsisted in the
preceding, we shall find, first, that, cing state for state, the proportional numbers
of those who enjoy the higher degrees of advantage increases with a constantly
accelerated rapidity as society advances; and, secondly, that the superior extremity
of the scale is constantly enlarging by the addition of new degrees. The condition
of a European prince is now as far superior, in the command of real comforts and
conveniences, to that of one in the middle ages, as that to the condition of one of
his own dependants.

The advantages conferred by the augmentation of our physical resources through the medium of increased knowledge and improved art, have this peculiar and l'emarkable property—that they are in their nature diffusive, and cannot be enjoyed io any exclusive manner by a few. An eastern despot may extort the riches and inonopolise the art of his subjects for his own personal use ; he may spread around him an unnatural splendour and luxury, and stand in strange and preposterous contrast with the general penury and discomfort of his people; he may glitter in jewels of gold and raiment of needle-work; but the wonders of well contrived and executed manufacture which we use daily, and the comforts which have been invented, tried, and improved upon by thousands, in every form of domestic convenience, and for every ordinary purpose of life, can never be enjoyed by him. To produce a state of things in which the physical advantages of civilised life can exist in a high degree, the stimulus of increasing comforts and constantly elevated desires must have been feit by millions ; since it is not in the power of a few individuals to create that wide demand for useful and ingenious applications, which alone can lead to great and rapid improvements, unless backed by that arising from the speedy diffusion of the same advantages among the mass of mankind.

If this be true of physical advantages, it applies with still greater force to intellectual. Knowledge can neither be adequately cultivated nor adequately enjoyed by a few; and although the conditions of our existence on earth may be such as to preclude an abundant supply of the physical necessities of all who may be born, there is no such law of nature in force against that of our intellectual and moral wants. Knowledge is not, like food, destroyed by use, but rather augmented and perfected. It requires not, perhaps, a greater certainty, but at least a confirmed authority and a probable duration, by universal assent; and there is no body of knowledge so complete, but that it may acquire accession, or so free from error but that it may receive correction in passing through the minds of millions. Those who admire and love knowledge for its own sake ought to wish to see its elements made accessible to all, were it only that they may be the more thoroughly examined into, and more ettectually developed in their consequences, and receive that ductility and plastic

[ocr errors]

quality which the pressure of minds of all descriptions, constantly moulding thera to their purposes, can alone bestow. But to this end it is necessary that it should be divested, as far as possible, of artificial difficulties, and stripped of all such technicalities as tend to place it in the light of a craft and a mystery, inaccessible without à kind of apprenticeship. Science, of course, like every thing else, has its own peculiar terms, and, so to speak, its idioms of language ; and these it would be unwise, were it even possible, to relinquish : but every thing that tends to clothe it in a strange and repulsive garb, and especially every thing that, to keep up an appearance of superiority in its professors over the rest of mankind, assumes an unnecessary guise of profundity and obscurity, should be sacrificed without mercy. Not to do this is to deliberately reject the light which the natural unencumbered good sense of mankind is capable of throwing on every subject, even in the elucidation of principles : but where principles are to be applied to practical uses it becomes absolutely necessary; as all mankind have then an interest in their being so familiarly understood, that no mistakes shall arise in their application.

The same remark applies to arts. They cannot be perfected till their whole processes are laid open, and their language simplified and rendered universally intelligible. Art is the application of knowledge to a practical end. If the know. ledge be merely accumulated experience, the art is empirical ; but if it be experience reasoned upon and brought under general principles, it assumes a higher character, and becomes a scientific art. In the progress of mankind from barbarism to civilised life, the arts necessarily precede science. The wants and cravings of our animal constitution must be satisfied; the comforts and some of the luxuries of life must exist. Something must be given to the vanity of show, and more to the pride of power : the round of baser pleasures must have been tried and found insufficient before intellectual ones can gain a footing ; and when they have obtained it, the delights of poetry and its sister arts still take precedence of contemplative enjoyments, and the severer pursuits of thought; and when these in time begin to charm from their novelty, and sciences begin to arise, they will at first be those of pure speculation. The mind delights to escape from the trammels which had bound it to earth, and luxuriates in its newly found powers. Hence, the abstractions of geometry-the properties of numbers—the movements of the celestial spheres — whatever is abstruse, remote, and extramundane— become the first objects of infant science. Applications come late : the arts continue slowly progressive, but their realm remains separated from that of science by a wide gulf which can only be passed by a powerful spring. They form their own language and their own conventions, which none but artists can understand. The whole tendency of empirical art is to bury itself in technicalities, and to place its pride in particular short cuts and mysteries known only to adepts ; to surprise and astonish by results, but conceal processes. The character of science is the direct contrary. It delights to lay itself open to inquiry; and is not satisfied with its conclusions, till it can make the road to them broad and beaten : and in its applications it preserves the same character; its whole aim being to strip away all technical mystery, to illuminate every dark recess, with a view to improve them on rational principles. It would seem that a union of two qualities almost opposite to each other—a going forth of the thoughts in two directions, and a sudden transfer of ideas from a remote station in one to an equally distant one in the other—is required to start the first idea of applying science. Among the Greeks, this point was attained by Archimedes, but attained too late, on the eve of that great eclipse of science which was destined to continue for nearly eighteen centuries, till Galileo in Italy, and Bacon in England, at once dispelled the darkness : the one by his inventions and discoveries ; the other, by the irresistible force of his arguments and eloquence.

« EelmineJätka »