Page images

gymnastics. The academy and the ly-ce'um — names which among us are associated with intellectual cul. ture — were originally gymnasia, theaters of strenuous bodily discipline, as well as scenes of mental exercise.

11. In modern times, physical training has been strangely neglected. It is erroneously assumed that the natural instincts of the young will lead them to take as much exercise as they require. If they dwelt out of doors, like wild animals, this might be true; but how often do the more studious allow themselves to be detained by an entertaining book, or some other in-door attraction, from taking the proper amount of exercise in the open air!

12. Excessive exercise should always be avoided. Instances are not uncommon in which undue exertion has produced effects scarcely less injurious than those which result from inactivity. The existence of either class of evils is sufficient to prove that some general system of physical teaching and training should be established in all schools, by which one sex may be preserved from the evils of deficiency, and the other from those of excess, in exertion.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

FAINTER her slow step falls from day to day ;

Death's hand is heavy on her darkening brow; Yet doth she fondly cling to life, and say,

I am content to die, but, O! not now! Not while the blossoms of the joyous spring

Make the warm air such luxury to breathe; Not while the birds such lays of gladness sing;

Not while bright flowers around my footsteps wreathe:

Spare me, great God! lift up my drooping brow;
I am content to die, - but, O! not now !"

The spring hath ripened into summer time;

The season's viewless boundary is past;
The glorious sun hath reached his burning prime;

0! must this glimpse of beauty be the last ?Let me not perish while o'er land and sea,

With silent steps, the Lord of light moves on;
Not while the murmur of the mountain bee

Greets my dull ear with music in its tone!
Pale sickness dims my eye, and clouds my brow;
I am content to die,- but, O! not now !”

Summer is gone; and autumn's soberer hues

Tint the ripe fruits, and gild the waving corn; The huntsman swift the flying game pursues,

Shouts the halloo ! and winds the eager horn.“Spare me a while, to wander forth and gaze

On the broad meadows, and the quiet stream ; . To watch in silence while tho evening rays

Slant through the fading trees with ruddy gleam! Cooler the breezes play around my brow; I am content to die,-- but, 01 not now!The bleak wind whistles; snow.ehowers, far and 0999,

Drift without echo to the wbitening ground. Autumn hath passed away; and, cold and drear,

Winter stalks on with frozen mantle bound; Yet still that prayer ascends.—"0! laughingly

My little brothers round the warm hearth crowd; Our home-fire blazes broad, and bright, and high,

And the roof rings with voices light and loud:
Spare me a while I raise up my drooping brow !
I am content to die, but, O! not now!”.
The spring is come again — the joyful spring!

Again the banks with clustering flowers are spread: The wild bird dips upon its wanton wing;

The child of earth is numbered with the deadlam

“Thee never more the sunshine shall awake,

Beaming all redly through the lattice-pane;
The steps of friends thy slumber may not break,

Nor fond familiar voice arouse again!
Death's silent shadow veils thy darkened brow:
· Why didst thou linger ? — thou art happier now!”


[merged small][ocr errors]

1. “Go to work.” Such is the brief but significant admonition which Nature utters aloud in every human ear; an admonition, in fact, which the God of Nature has put into her mouth, and which she is ever and anon repeating to all the dwellers upon earth. She reminds us, by a thousand plain signs, that every thing within her domain is at work, and that therefore we have no right to stand still. She shows us that every atom and particle of the material world is in a state of constant activity, - that change and modification, of some sort or other, are going on unceasingly, and that nothing does or can remain at rest.

2. The ground we tread; the air we breathe; every thing we touch, taste, or handle; the very bones, mus cles, and fluids, which make up our frames, — all are passing in an unceasing progression to a new organio condition. Action, action! is the living voice of unsentient matter. There is not even a possibility of standing still: each passing moment contributes some. thing toward a new complexion to the face of the

material universe; the very processes of decay and death are but new constitutions and elements of vitality and activity. If these things be so, then what a disgraceful anomaly is laziness !

3. Having nothing to do is the very worst excuse that could be preferred for doing nothing. To have nothing to do is a disgrace to a reasonable being; to love it is a vice, and to persist in it is a crime. Whether by circumstances ad'verse to us we are deprived of employment, or are in no need of it through the possession of a competence, we are morally bound to find or to create a vocation for our activities and faculties.

4. “I have faith in labor,” says Channing; "and I see the goodness of God in placing us in a world where labor alone can keep us alive. I would not change, if I could, our subjection to physical laws, our ex. posure to hunger and cold, and the necessity of constant conflicts with the material world. I would not, if I could, so temper the elements that they should in. fuse into us only grateful sensations; that they should make vegetation so exuberant as to anticipate every want, and the minerals so ductile as to offer no resistance to our strength or skill. Such a world would make a contemptible race.

5. The lazy die and are buried, and no man misses them; the workers live on in their works, and, in a true sense, possess the earth long after the earth holds their lifeless clay. Their monuments are around us, and above us, and under us; and we honor them for their work's sake, whether we will or not. “Heaven helps those who help themselves,” is a well-worn maxim, embodying in a small compass the results of vast human experience.

.6. The spirit of self-help is the root of all genuine growth in the individual. Fortune has been often : blamed for her blindness; but fortune is not so blind

as men are. Those who look into practical life will find that fortune is almost invariably on the side of the industrious, the self-denying, and the prudent, as the winds and waves are on the side of the best navigators. Nor are the qualities necessary to insure success at all extraordinary. They may, for the most part, be summed up in these two — common sense and perseverance.

7. Some writers have even defined genius to be only common sense intensified. A distinguished teacher spoke of it as "the power of making efforts." John Foster held it to be “the power of lighting one's own fire.” Buffon said of genius, “It is patience.” Newton's was, unquestionably, a mind of the very highest order; and yet, when asked by what means he had worked out his extraordinary discoveries, he modestly said, “If I have done the public any service, it is due to nothing but industry and patient thought.”

8. “ The fact is,” says the Rev. Sydney Smith," that, in order to do any thing in this world worth doing, we must not stand shivering on the bank, and thinking of the cold and the danger, but jump in, and scramble through as well as we can. It will not do to be perpetually calculating risks, and adjusting nice chances. It did all very well before the flood, when a man could consult his friends upon an intended publication for one hundred and fifty years, and then live to see its success for six or seven centuries afterward; but at present a man waits, and doubts, and hesitates, and consults his brother, and his uncle, and his cousins, and his particular friends, till, one fine day, he finds that he is sixty-five years of age, - that he has lost so much time in consulting first cousins and particular friends, that he has no more time left to follow their advice."

9. The habit of strenuous, continued labor, will

« PreviousContinue »