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THE FRIENDS OR QUAKERS.
lowed, and the light of heaven retains its sanctity, on the Sabbath, while that blessed sunshine lives within me, never can my soul have lost the instinct of its faith. If it have gone astray, it will return again.
LESSON CXIV. The Friends or Quakers.
1. LET it not be supposed, that the life of a Friend has no charms. It is the circle contracted, yet full of quiet comforts. It is the paradise of the peaceful and domestic, -of those who shrink from the vanities and the stir of the world, and who love to go through the earth in a plentiful tranquillity. The Indian, the prisoner, the penitent sinner, and the unhappy and sinned against, children and adults, who need instruction and reformation, who need food or clothing, employment in health, medicine in sickness, comfort in distress, all these are the objects of their care, and the subject of their conversation.
2. It is curious to go into some of their families and see the articles of dress that are making, the books that are piled up for distribution, the tracts and pamphlets that young women are stitching, or folding for the same purpose. There are no people who are oppressed in any part of the world, the Africans, the Indians, the Caffres, the Poles, but they are their friends; there is no national scheme in operation for the relief of misery, the dissipation of ignorance, the destruction of the grand fallacies of war and political expediency, but they are engaged in it; it is their business and their topic. If we except missionary projects, from which their peculiar religious views have in a great degree restrained them, there are scarcely any societies, -Bible, Tract, Peace, Temperance Societies, that they are not active members and supporters of.
3. From the very origin of this society, this has been a feature of it, which has never, for a moment, become less prominent. It is of these things that they converse, and it is on these, and such as these, that they spend that money which is saved from theatres and operas, - from the clubs and gaming-tables; and it must be confessed, that there is something beautiful in the appropriation of that expense to the
soothing of human ills, and the raising of the human character, which they deny to fashion, splendor, and dissipation.
4. When I have been, on some occasions, induced to accuse them of unnecessary scrupulosity, of undue crushing down of the imagination, of injurious taming and contracting of the feelings, here is the part of their character, the breaking forth of their feelings again, in a noble, and perpetual stream, the evidence of the clinging of their imaginations to the struggles and cries of humanity, in all its trials and its abodes, however distant,-which has induced me to give full testimony to these, as highly redeeming qualities; for they are full of the poetry of Christianity.
5. For this generous and unwearied philanthropy, they deserve the highest honor; and I am inclined to believe, after all, notwithstanding the apparent insipidity of their mode of life, notwithstanding the energies they subdue, and the excitements they avoid, · that the purity and benevolence of their spirits bring them far nearer to happiness, than all the fascinations they renounce do those who embrace them.
LESSON CXV. Adherence to Old Customs.
1. THERE is more or less reverence for the past in all countries. It is the tendency of human nature, wherever it may be found, to fall into the beaten path, and follow it out. "Custom," says Lord Bacon, "is the principal magistrate of man's life." But there is something in the tenacity with which the Irish hold on to the thoughts, opinions, and usa-ges of past ages, which appears to surpass anything of the kind to be found among other European nations.
2. This is strikingly illustrated by an adherence to their political system, for more than a thousand years, although experience had demonstrated that system to be destructive of the peace, happiness, and prosperity of the nation. This national trait is also displayed in the numerous relics of an cient superstitions which are still preserved by the people, although the systems upon which they were founded have been swept away for almost fifteen hundred years.
ADHERENCE TO OLD CUSTOMS.
3. Many of the prevalent customs of Ireland, at the present day, many of the thoughts, feelings, and observances of the people are evidently the cherished fragments of paganism, saved from the wreck of Persian fire-worship, Carthaginian idolatry, or Druidical superstition. It would excced my present limits to go into a detailed examination of these; it is, perhaps, only necessary to remark, that the perpetuation of the ancient Celtic tongue among the Irish, is not more plain and palpable, than the preservation of ideas and sentiments as ancient as that language itself.
4. It is easy to perceive the conservative tendency of this natural characteristic in the Irish; and we may readily believe, that this has had its share of influence in saving the people from that waste and disintegration which the shock of ages brings upon mankind. The direct operation of this adherence to old customs is to unite the people by a strong bond of common sympathy. Such a community will rally as one man to drive out any foreign people who come with new customs to overturn the old ones.
5. A slight examination of Irish history will show that facts have abundantly proved the truth of this theory. No foreign people have ever been able to sustain themselves in Ireland. The Carthaginian colonists were successively melted down and mingled in the mass of the nation.
6. The Danes, though they occupied certain portions of the country for more than two hundred years, being of too stubborn a stock to become assimilated with those among whom they dwelt, and over whom they exercised at least partial dominion, were the unceasing objects of hostility, and, at last, were expelled from a country which they could not subdue. England bowed to the iron sway of the Danes, and was only delivered from it by calling in foreign aid; but Ireland never yielded to their dominion, and, by her own arm, at last, freed herself from these ruthless oppressors.
7. It is now almost seven hundred years since Ireland was conquered by an English King; but for at least five centuries after that conquest, the dominion of England over Ireland was little more than nominal. From the time of -Strongbow's invasion in the reign of Henry the Second, to the period of Elizabeth, though Ireland was regarded as an appendage to the British crown, two thirds of the Irish peo
ple held themselves, at least in practice, almost wholly independent of foreign control.
8. And even down to the present day, though there be an stensible submission to England, there is a perpetual struggie on the part of the nation to heave off the giant that has thrown her down. After seven hundred years of either nominal or real dominion, England has been unable to anglicize Ireland. Not only is the government still resisted by the Irish people, but the religion, the customs, the opinions, and feelings of England are obstinately kept at bay by a large part of the nation.
9. Among the many instances furnished by Miss Edgeworth in illustration of the adherence of the Irish to old customs, she tells us of a wealthy young nobleman, who built a neat cottage, with all the modern comforts and conveniences, for an old Irish woman. On going to the place a few weeks after she had taken possession, he found that she had converted it, as far as possible, into an Irish cabin. Even the fire-place was disregarded, and a fire was built in the middle of the brick floor, the smoke, of course, filling the room. The woman explained this by insisting, that she was so accustomed to smoke, she could not live without it!
10. It may be said, and with much justice, that this sturdy adherence to old customs partakes of obstinacy and prejudice, and it may be among the causes of that tardy march of improvement, which may be remarked in Ireland.
11. But, if the Irish people miss the true end of existence by adhering to old customs, permit me to suggest the caution, that we do not rashly run into the opposite extreme. In a country like ours, having no antiquity, and opening boundless fields of enterprise to all, we are apt to think only of the future, and, in our eagerness to lead in the race, to forget those more than golden treasures which consist of memories, and sentiments, and usages.
12. The truth is, man is not made wholly for action, but partly for contemplation. He is placed between two glorious mirrors, anticipation and retrospection; the one beckoning him forward, the other reflecting light upon the path he should follow, and breathing a cool and wholesome atmosphere over his passions. It is a departure from the just balance of his nature to dash either of these in pieces.
13. Whoever limits his existence to "that fleeting strip
THE WILD VIOLET.
of sunlight, which we call now," reduces himself like the ticking clock, to a mere measure of passing seconds. He who lives only in the future, never pausing to look back and take counsel of the past, never bending his gaze over the world of retrospection, softened with the mist and moonlight of memory, lives the life of the restless settler of the far West, who never stops to secure or enjoy what has been won from the wilderness, but still pushes on and on, for scenes of new excitement and new adventure.
14. A wise man and a wise people will use the past as the prophet of the future, and make both of these subservient to the interests of each passing moment. The children of Israel would not stay in Egypt, but, in going to the land of Promise, they took the bones of their father Jacob with them. In pressing forward in the march of improvement, let us, in like manner, bear along with us the experience, the wisdom, the virtue, and the religion, of our fathers.
LESSON CXVI. The Wild Violet.
1. "VIOLET, violet, sparkling with dew,
Down in the meadow-land, wild where you grew,
With which your soft petals unfold?
And how do you hold up your tender young head,
"No one has nursed you, or watched you an hour,