« PreviousContinue »
THE EMPIRE OF THE NATURAL PHILOSOPHER.
the natural philosopher there is no natural object unimportant or trifling. From the least of nature's works he may learn the greatest lessons. The fall of an apple to the ground may raise his thoughts to the laws which govern the revolutions of the planets in their orbits; or the situation of a pebble may afford him evidence of the state of the globe he inhabits, myriads of ages ago, before his species became its denizens. And this is, in fact, one of the great sources of delight which the study of natural science imparts to its votaries. A mind which has once imbibed a taste for scientific inquiry, and has learnt the habit of applying its principles readily to the cases which occur, has within itself an inexhaustible source of pure and exciting contemplations: one would think that Shakespeare had such a mind in view when he describes a contemplative man as finding
"Tongues in trees-books in the running brooks-
Accustomed to trace the operation of general causes, and the exemplification of general laws, in circumstances where the uninformed and uninquiring eye perceives neither novelty nor beauty, he walks in the midst of wonders every object which falls in his way elucidates some principle, affords some instruction, and irapresses him with a sense of harmony and order. Nor is it a mere passive pleasure which is thus communicated. A thousand questions are continually arising in his mind, a thousand subjects of inquiry presenting themselves. which keep his faculties in constant exercise, and his thoughts perpetually on the wing, so that lassitude is excluded from his life, and that craving after artificial excitement and dissipation of mind, which leads so many into frivolous, unworthy, and destructive pursuits, is altogether eradicated from his bosom. It is not one of the least advantages of these pursuits, which, however, they possess in common with every class of intellectual pleasures, that they are altogether independent of external circumstances, and are to be enjoyed in every situation in which a man can be placed in life. The highest degrees of worldly prosperity are so far from being incomparable with them, that
they supply additional advantages for their pursuit, and that sort of fresh and renewed relish which arises partly from the sense of contrast, partly from experience of the peculiar pre-eminence they possess over the pleasures of sense in their capability of unlimited increase and continual repetition without satiety or distaste. They may be enjoyed, too, in the intervals of the most active business; and the calm and dispassionate interest with which they fill the mind renders them a most delightful retreat from the agitations and dissensions of the world, and from the conflict of passions, prejudices, and interests in which the man of business finds himself continually involved. There is something in the contemplation of general laws which powerfully persuades us to merge individual feeling, and to commit ourselves unreservedly to their disposal; while the observation of the calm, energetic regularity of nature, the immense scale of her operations, and the certainty with which her ends are attained, tends irresistibly to tranquillise and reassure the mind, and render it less accessible to repining, selfish, and turbulent emotions. And this it does, not by debasing our nature into weak compliances and abject submission to circumstances, but by filling us, as from an inward spring, with a sense of nobleness and power which enables us to rise superior to them, by showing us our strength and innate dignity, and by calling upon us for the exercise of those powers and faculties by which we are susceptible of the comprehension of so much greatness, and which form, as it were, a link between ourselves and the best and noblest benefactors of our species, with whom we hold communion in thoughts and participate in discoveries which have raised them above their fellow-mortals, and brought them nearer to their Creator. Sir John Herschel.
SONG OF THE SILENT LAND.
From the German of Salis.
INTO the Silent Land!
Ah! who shall lead us thither?
Clouds in the evening sky more darkly gather,
And shatter'd wrecks lie thicker on the strand.
Thither, oh, thither,
Into the Silent Land?
Into the Silent Land!
To you, ye boundless regions
Of all perfection! Tender morning visions
Of beauteous souls! The Future's pledge and band!
Shall bear Hope's tender blossoms
O Land O Land!
For all the broken-hearted
The mildest herald by our fate allotted
Beckons, and with inverted torch doth stand
To lead us with a gentle hand
Into the land of the great Departed,
Into the Silent Land!
THE OLD HUSBAND AND THE YOUNG WIFE.
(From "The School for Scandal.")
Lady Teazle. I'm sure I don't care how soon we leave off quarrelling, provided you'll own you were tired first.
Sir Peter. Well-then let our future contest be, who shall be most obliging.
Lady Teaz. I assure you, Sir Peter, good nature becomes you. You look now as you did before we were married, when you used to walk with me under the elms, and tell me stories of what a gallant you were in your youth, and chuck me under the chin, you would; and ask me if I thought I could love an old fellow, who would deny me nothing-didn't you?
Sir Pet. Yes, yes, and you were as kind and attentive
Lady Teaz. Ay, so I was, and would always take your part, when my acquaintance used to abuse you, and turn you into ridicule.
Sir Pet. Indeed!
Lady Teaz. Ay, and when my cousin Sophy has called you a stiff, peevish old bachelor, and laughed at me for thinking of marrying one who might be my father, I have always defended you, and said, I didn't think you so ugly by any means.
Sir Pet. Thank you.
Lady Teaz. And I dared say you'd make a very good sort of a husband. Sir Pet. And you prophesied right; and we shall now be the happiest couple
Lady Teaz. And never differ again?
Sir Pet. No, never!-though at the same time, indeed, my dear Lady Teazle, you must watch your temper very seriously; for in all our little quarrels, my dear, if you recollect, my love, you always began first.
Lady Teaz. I beg your pardon, my dear Sir Peter: indeed, you always gave the provocation.
Sir Pet. Now see, my angel! take care-contradicting isn't the way to keep friends.
Lady Teaz. Then don't you begin it, my love!
Sir Pet. There, now! you-you are going on. You don't perceive, my love, that you are just doing the very thing which you know always makes me angry.
Lady Teaz. Nay, you know if you will be angry without any reason, my
Sir Pet. There! now you want to quarrel again.
Lady Teaz. No, I'm sure I don't: but, if you will be so peevish
Sir Pet. There now! who begins first?
Lady Teaz. Why, you, to be sure. I said nothing-but there's no bearing your temper.
Sir Pet. No, no, madam: the fault's in your own temper.
Lady Teaz. Ay, you are just what my cousin Sophy said you would be. Sir Pet. Your cousin Sophy is a forward, impertinent gipsy.
Lady Teaz. You are a great bear, I'm sure, to abuse my relations. Sir Pet. Now may all the plagues of marriage be doubled on me, if ever I try to be friends with you any more!
Lady Teaz. So much the better.
Sir Pet. No, no, madam: 'tis evident you never cared a pin for me, and I was a madman to marry you-a pert, rural coquette, that had refused half the honest 'squires in the neighbourhood.
Lady Teaz. And I am sure I was a fool to marry you—an old dangling bachelor, who was single at fifty, only because he never could meet with any one who would have him.
Sir Pet. Ay, ay, madam; but you were pleased enough to listen to me : you never had such an offer before.
Lady Teaz. No! didn't I refuse Sir Tivy Terrier, who everybody said would have been a better match? for his estate is just as good as yours, and he has broke his neck since we have been married.
Sir Pet. I have done with you, madam! You are an unfeeling, ungrateful-but there's an end of everything. I believe you capable of everything that is bad. Yes, madam, I now believe the reports relative to you and Charles, madam. Yes, madam, you and Charles are, not without grounds
Lady Teaz. Take care, Sir Peter! you had better not insinuate any such thing! I'll not be suspected without cause, I promise you.
Sir Pet. Very well, madam! very well! A separate maintenance as