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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, cverywhere 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.


JOHN FOSTER. [JOHN Fosten, 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 1803—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 (lirects 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 infemal 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 truc sublime, in the reply of Pompey to his friends who dissuaded him from venturing on a tempestuous sea, 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. Zanya 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 utinost 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 cach 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 scize the very first opportunity, of however humble a kind, to gain any money, though it were ever so despicable a triflc, 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


shovel or wheel them into the place where they were to be laid, and was employed. He received a few pence for the labour ; and then, in pursuance of the saving part of his plan, requested some small gratuity of meat and drink which was given him. He then looked out for the next thing that might chance to offer, and went, with indefatigable industry, through a succession of servile employments, in different places, of longer and shorter duration, still scrupulously avoiding, as far as possible, the expense of a penny. He promptly seized every opportunity which could advance his design, without regarding the meanness of occupation or appearance. By this method he had gained, after a considerable time, money enough to purchase, in order to sell again, a few cattle of which he had taken pains to understand the value. He speedily but cautiously turned his first gains into second advantages; retained without a single deviation his extreme parsimony; and thus advanced by degrees into larger transactions and incipient wealth. I did not hear, or have forgotten, the continued course of his life; but the final result was, that he more than recovered his lost possessions and died an inveterate miser, worth 60,000l. : I have always recollected this as a signal instance, though in an unfortunate and ignoble direction, of decisive character, and of the extraordinary effect, which, according to general laws, belongs to the strongest form of such a character.

But not less decision has been displayed by men of virtue. In this distinction no man ever exceeded, for instance, or ever will exceed, the late illustrious Howard.

The energy of his determination was so great, that if, instead of being habitual, it had been shown only for a short time on particular occasions, it would have appeared a vehement impetuosity ; but by being unintermitted, it had an equability of manner which scarcely appeared to exceed the tone of a calm constancy, it was so totally the reverse of any thing like turbulence or agitation. It was the calmness of an intensity kept uniform by the nature of the human mind forbidding it to be more, and by the character of the individual forbidding it to be less. The habitual passion of his mind was a measure of feeling almost equal to the temporary extremes and paroxysms of common minds : as a great river, in its customary state, is equal to a small or moderate one when swollen to a torrent.

The moment of finishing his plans in deliberation, and commencing them in action, was the same. I wonder what must have been the amount of that bribe in emolument or pleasure, that would have detained him a week inactive after their final adjustment. The law which carries water down a declivity, was not more unconquerable and invariable than the determination of his feelings toward the main object. The importance of this object held his faculties in a state of excitement which was too rigid to be affected by lighter interests, and on which therefore the beauties of nature and of art had no power. He had no leisure feeling which he could spare to be diverted among the innumerable varieties of the extensive scenes which he traversed ; all his subordinate feelings lost their separate existence and operation, by falling into the grand one. There have not been wanting trivial minds, to mark this as a fault in his character. But the mere men of taste ought to be silent respecting such a man as Howard; he is above their sphere of judgment. The invisible spirits, who fulfil their commission of philanthropy among mortals, do not care about pictures, statues, and sumptuous buildings ; and no more did he, when the time in which he must have inspected and admired them would have been taken from the work to which he had consecrated his life. The curiosity which he might feel was reduced to wait till the hour should arrive, when its gratification should be presented by conscience, which kept a scrupulous charge of all his time, as the most sacred duty of that hour. If he was still at every hour, when it came, fated to feel the attractions of the fine arts but the second claim, they might be sure of their revenge ; for no other map. will ever visit Rome under such a despotic consciousness of duty as to refuse himself time for surveying the magnificence of its ruins. Such a sin against taste is very far beyond the reach of common saintship to commit. It implied an inconceivable severity of conviction, that he had one thing to do, and that he who would do some great thing in this short life, must apply himself to the work with such a concentration of his forces, as, to idle spectators who live only to amuse themselves, looks like insanity.

His attention was so strongly and tenaciously fixed on his object, that even at the greatest distance, as the Egyptian pyramids to travellers, it appeared to him with a luminous distinctness as if it had been nigh, and beguiled the toilsome length of labour and enterprise by which he was to reach it. It was so conspicuous before him, that not a step deviated from the direction, and every movement and every day was an approximation. As his method referred everything he did and thought to the end, and as his exertion did not relax for a moment, he made the trial, so seldom made, what is the utmost effect which may be granted to the last possible efforts of a human agent : and therefore what he did not accomplish, he might conclude to be placed beyond the sphere of mortal activity, and calmly leave to the immediate disposal of Omnipotence.

Unless the eternal happiness of mankind be an insignificant concern, and the passion to promote it an inglorious distinction, I may cite George Whitefield, as a noble instance of this attribute of the decisive character, this intense necessity of action. The great cause which was so languid a thing in the hands of many of its advocates, assumed in his adminstrations an unmitigable urgency.

Many of the Christian missionaries among the heathens, such as Brainerd, Elliot, and Schwartz, have displayed memorable examples of this dedication of their whole being to their office, this eternal abjuration of all the quiescent feelings.

This would be the proper place for introducing (if I did not hesitate to introduce in any connection with merely human instances) the example of him who said, “I must be about my Father's business. My meat and drink is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened till it be accomplished."



[THOMAS Hood, born in London in 1798, was the son of a respectable publisher, of the firmi of Vernor, Hood, and Sharpe. He was brought up an engraver ;-he became a writer of

Whims and Oddities,'—and he grew into a poet of great and original power. The slight partition which divides humour and pathos was remarkably exemplified in Hood. Misfortune and feeble health made him doubly sensitive to the ills of his fellow-creatures. The sorrows which he has delineated are not unreal things. He died in 1845, his great merits having been previously recognised by Sir Robert Peel, who bestowed on him a pension, to be continued to his wife. That wife soon followed him to the grave. The pension has been continued to their children.]

'Twas in the prime of summer time,

An evening calm and cool, And four-and-twenty happy boys

Came bounding out of school: There were some that ran, and some

that leapt, Liko troutlets in a stream.

Away they sped with gamesome minds,

And souls untouched by sin;
To a level mead they came, and

They drave the tickets in:
Pleasantly shone the setting sun

Over the town of Lynn.

Like sportive deer they coursed about, And how the sprites of injured men And shouted as they ran

Shriek upward from the sod
Turning to mirth all things of earth, Ay, how the ghostly hand will point
As only boyhood can :

To show the burial clod;
But the usher sat remote from all, And unknown facts of guilty acts
A melancholy man !

Are seen in dreams from God!
His hat was off, his vest apart,

He told how murderers walked the earth To catch heaven's blessed breeze ;

Beneath the curse of Cain
For a burning thought was in his brow, With crimson clouds before their eyes,
And his bosom ill at ease :

And flames about their brain :
So he leaned his head on his hands, and read For blood has left upon their souls
The book between his knees !

Its everlasting stain !
Leaf after leaf he turned it o'er,

“And well,” quoth he, “I know, for truth, Nor ever glanced aside;

Their pangs must be extreme-
For the peace of his soul he read that book Wo, wo, unutterable wo-
In the golden eventide:

Who spill life's sacred stream !
Much study had made him very lean, For why ? Methought last night I wrought
And pale, and leaden-eyed.

A murder in a dream ! At last he shut the ponderous tome ;

" One that had never done me wrong With a fast and fervent grasp

A feeble man, and old ; He strained the dusky covers close, I led him to a lonely field, And fixed the brazen hasp :

The moon shone clear and cold : "O God, could I so close my mind, Now here, said I, this man shall dio, And clasp it with a clasp !"

And I will have his gold ! Then leaping on his feet upright, “ Two sudden blows with a ragged stick, Some moody turns he took ;

And one with a heavy stono, Now up the mead, then down the mead, One hurried gash with a hasty knife And past a shady nook :

And then the deed was done : And lo! he saw a little boy

The e was nothing lying at my foot, That pored upon a book !

But lifeless flesh and bone ! “My gentle lad, what is 't


read “Nothing but lifeless flesh and bone, Romance or fairy fable ?

That could not do me ill ; Or is it some historic page,

And yet I feared him all the more, Of kings and crowns unstable ?

For lying there so still : The young boy gave an upward glance. There was a manhood in his look, “It is the death of Abel."

That murder could not kill ! The ushor took six hasty strides,

“And lo! the universal air As smit with sudden pain ;

Seemed lit with ghastly flameSix hasty strides beyond the place, Ten thousand thousand dreadful eyes Then slowly back again :

Were looking down in blame : And down he sat beside the lad,

I took the dead man by the hand, And talked with him of Cain ;

And called upon his name ; And, long since then, of bloody men, "Oh, God ! it made me quake to see Whose deeds tradition saves ;

Such sense within the slain ! Of lonely folk cut off unseen,

But when I touched the lifeless clay, And hid in sudden graves ;

The blood gushed out amain ! Of horrid stabs, in groves forlorn, For every clot, a burning spot And murders done in cavęs ;

Was scorching in my brain !

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