« PreviousContinue »
prompted him to seek it in defiance of all impediments, and in that courage and perseverance with which he encountered and overcame, in this pursuit, a succession of difficulties, which many would scarcely have had nerve enough to look in the face. Among those born in the same rank of life to which he originally belonged, there are, undoubtedly, at all times, numbers who occasionally feel something of the ambition that animated him; and would at least be very glad if, without much trouble, they could secure for themselves the profit, and power, and enjoyment, attendant upon intellectual cultivation. But the desire dies away in them, and ends in nothing, because they have not fortitude enough to set earnestly and resolvedly about combating the obstacles which oppose its gratification. These obstacles appear, to their indolence and timidity, far more formidable than they really are. There are few cases in which they can be actually combined in greater force than they were in that of him whose history we have just sketched. It may be hoped, that it does not often happen, in the present day, that a parent shall obstinately oppose his child's innocent and most praiseworthy efforts in the work of self improvement. Instruction in the elements of learning, in reading, writing, and the rudiments of arithmetic, is already, or, we trust, soon will be, in our own country, within the reach of all; so that even the son of the poorest artisan or laborer has scarcely now, in any case, to begin life unprovided with what we may call the great pass-keys to all literary and scientific knowledge. Thus furnished, his future progress depends upon himself; and any degree of proficiency is within his reach. Let those who doubt this reflect on what Thomas Simpson accomplished, in circumstances as unfavorable as can well be imagined. His first acquaintance with books was formed during moments stolen from almost incessant labor, and it cost him his domestic peace, the favor of his friends, and, finally, the shelter of his father's roof. He never had afterwards either any master
to instruct him, or any friend to assist him in providing for the necessities of the passing day; but, on the contrary, when he wished to make himself acquainted with any new subject, he could with difficulty find a book out of which to study it, and had a family to support at an age when many have scarcely begun, even to maintain themselves. Yet, with both his days and his evenings employed in toiling for a subsistence, he found time for intellectual acquisitions, such as, to a less industrious and ardent student, would have sufficed for the occupation of a whole life. This is a striking proof how independent we really are, if we choose, of those external circumstances which seem to make so vast a difference between the situation of man and man; and how possible it is for us, in any situation, at least to enrich our minds, if Providence refuse us all other riches. It is the general ignorance of this great truth, or indifference to it, that prevents it from being oftener exemplified; and it would be rendering a high service to the human species, if we could awaken men's minds to a sufficiently lively trust in it, and a steady sense of its importance.
Cemeteries and Rites of Burial in Turkey.-HARrtley.
IN Turkey, the places and rites of sepulture have an affecting prominence and solemnity connected with them, scarcely equalled in Christendom. In general, the dead are interred in very spacious cemeteries, contiguous to towns and villages. There appear to be two cities placed side by side-the city of the living, and the city of the dead; and the population of the city of the dead far exceeds that of the city of the living. The Jews have covered the face of a very large hill, rising above the city of Smyrna, with
the stones which note the place where the earthly remains of their deceased countrymen are deposited. There is a desolation and forlorn appearance presented by this spot, unsheltered as it is by a single tree, which is in striking contrast with the thick shade and beautiful order of the Turkish places of burial. It shows that, even in death, the Jew is not exempt from the contempt and oppression of which he could not divest himself whilst living.
The interment of a corpse according to the ritual of the English church had always, to my mind, a striking solemnity in Turkey. On passing through the streets to the place of burial, innumerable eyes of strangers, of a diversity of nations, gaze fixedly upon the scene. All is still. The pursuits of business are suspended; a lucid interval appears to be imparted to the delirium of folly and sin: and, when the muffled drum and martial step, which accompany to the dust the body of an English sailor, add their interest to the procession, the feelings of spectators are wrought up to no common pitch of excitement. During the reading of the burial service, more especially at Constantinople, where the English burial-ground is in a place exceedingly public, a solemn attention arrests all present, even though to few the language is intelligible. Turks, Greeks, Armenians, Jews and Christians appear to have forgotten their animosities, and, at the grave of death, to have recollected that a common fate awaits them all. However distinct they may be from each other in the enjoyments and attainments of life, and however they may differ in what is much more momentous-the prospects of immortality—still is there an awful uniformity, which unites in one inseparable communion the men of all ranks, of all ages, and of all religions:Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
Very frequently, whilst you are silently engaged in your apartment, the stillness of a Turkish town, where no rumbling of wheels is ever heard, is interrupted by the distant sound of the funeral chant of the Greek priests. As the voices grow more loud, you hasten to the window to behold
the procession. The priests move first, bearing their burning tapers, and, by their dark and flowing robes, give an idea of mourning in harmony with the occasion. The corpse is always exhibited to full view. It is placed upon a bier, which is borne aloft upon the shoulders, and is dressed in the best and gayest garments possessed by the deceased. I have sometimes seen a young female, who had departed in the bloom of life and beauty, adorned rather as a bride to meet the bridegroom, than as one who was to be the tenant of the chamber of corruption. The young man at Nain, who was restored to life by the command of our Saviour, was doubtless carried on a bier of this kind. When our Lord intimated the design of interposing in his favor, they that bare him stood still. And when the miraculous energy was exerted, he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. I believe it is unusual for any of the Orientals to be buried in coffins.
The closing part of the Greek burial service, com- . mencing with the words, "Come and impart the last embrace," is very affecting. The friends of the departed press forward from every part of the church, and kiss his cold and pallid lips, and weep over him. It is considered a very peculiar mark of disrespect to neglect this last office of affection.
Speech in the British Parliament, on the Motion for reducing the Army. 1731.-PULteney.
We have heard a great deal about parliamentary armies, and about an army continued from year to year. I have always been, and shall be, against a standing army of any kind. To me it is a terrible thing, whether under that of parliament, or any other designation: a standing army is still a standing army, whatever name it be called
by; they are a body of men distinct from the body of the people; they are governed by different laws; blind obedience; and an entire submission to the orders of their commanding officer, is their only principle. The nations around us are already enslaved, and have been enslaved by those very means: by means of their standing armies they have every one lost their liberties. It is, indeed, impossible that the liberties of the people can be preserved in any country where a numerous standing army is kept up. Shall we, then, take any of our measures from the examples of our neighbors? No. On the contrary, from their misfortunes, we ought to learn to avoid those rocks upon which they have split.
It signifies nothing to tell me that our army is commanded by such gentlemen as cannot be supposed to join in any measures for enslaving their country. It may be so; I hope it is so: I have a very good opinion of many gentlemen now in the army: I believe they would not join in any such measures: but their lives are uncertain; nor can we be sure how long they may be continued in command; that they may not be all dismissed in a moment, and proper tools of power put in their room. Besides, we know the passions of men; we know how dangerous it is to trust the best of men with too much power. Where was there a braver army than that under Julius Cæsar? where was there ever an army that had served their country more faithfully? That army was commanded generally by the best citizens of Rome; by men of great fortune and figure in their country; yet that army enslaved their country. The affections of the soldiers towards their country, the honor and integrity of the under officers are not to be depended on. By the military law, the administration of justice is so quick, and the punishment so severe, that neither officer or soldier dares to dispute the orders of his supreme commander; he must not consult his own inclinations. If an officer were commanded to pull his own father out of this house, he must