« PreviousContinue »
Even the thoughtless and the dissipated yield unconsciously to this beneficent instinct; and in the pursuit of pleasure, run, without knowing it, to the first and the noblest sentiments of their nature. They leave the society of cities, and all the artificial pleasures which they feel hare occupied, without satiating, their imagination. They hasten into those solitary and those uncultivated scenes, where they seem to breathe a purer air, and to experience some more profound delight. They leave behind them all the arts and all the labours of man, to meet Nature in her primeval magnificence and beauty. Amid the slumber of their thoughts, they love to feel themselves awakened to those deep and majestick emotions, which give a new and nobler expansion to their hearts, and, amid the tumult and astonishment of their imagination,
To see the present God in nature's wild
And savage features ;—in th' untrodden height,
It is on this account that it is of so much consequence, in the education of the young, to encourage their instinctive taste for the beauty and sublimity of nature. While it opens to the years of infancy and youth a source of pure and of permanent enjoyment, it has consequences on the character and happiness of future life, which they are unable to foresee. It is to provide them, amid all the agitations and trials of society, with one gentle and unreproaching friend, whose voice is ever in alliance with goodness and virtue, and which, when once understood, is able both to smooth misfortune and to reclaim from folly. It is to identify them with the happiness of that nature to which they belong; to give them an interest in every species of being which surrounds them; and, amid the hours of curiosity and delight, to awaken those latent feelings of benevolence and of sympathy from which all the moral or intellectual greatness of man finally arises. It is to lay the foundation of an early and of a manly piety; amid the magnificent system of material signs in which they reside, to give them the mighty key which can interpret them; and to make them look upon the universe which they inhabit, not as the abode only of human cares, or human joys, but as the temple of the LIVING GOD, in which praise is due, and where service is to be performed.