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Apollonius, indeed, carried the positive science of mathematics to great height, but physical science is the growth of comparative to-day; with habits of thought hampered by priesthoods and systems, the efforts of antiquity were like abortive shoots,—it is within the last four centuries that the strong stem has sprung up, and the plant has flowered. Neither do our youth study the classics for their science; and yet is not the pursuit of science nobler than all other pursuits, since it leads its followers into the mysteries of the creation and into the purposes of God? Small is the profit to be found in recital of the fancies of heathen ages or the warfares of savage tribes. But so far is the mere breath of the ancients exalted above this sacred search, that a university will turn out proficients who write Greek verses by the ream, but cannot spell their own speech; who can name you the winning athletes of the first Olympiad, but are unable to state the constituents of the gas that lights their page, and never dream, as the chemist does, that these "sunbeams absorbed by vegetation in the primordial ages of the earth, and buried in its depths as vegetable fossils through immeasurable eras of time, until system upon system of slowly formed rocks has been piled above, come forth at last, at the disenchanting touch of science, and turn the night of civilized man into day." They can paint to you the blush of Rhodope or Phryne, till you see the delicious color blend and mingle on the ivory of their tablets; but until, like Agassiz, we can all of us deduce the fish from the scale, and from that blush alone deduce the human race, we are no nearer the Divine intentions in the creation of man, for all such lore as that. An author has somewhere asked, What signify our telegraphs, our anæsthetics, our railways? What signifies our knowledge of the earth's structure, of the stars' courses? Are we any the more or less men? But certainly, he is the more a man, he comes nearer to God's meaning in a man, who conquers matter, circumstance, time,
and space. That one who sees the universe move round him understandingly, and fathoms in some degree the wonder and the beauty of the eternal laws, must be a pleasanter object to his Creator than any other who, merely employing pleasure, makes a fetich of his luxuries, his Aldines and Elzevirs, and, dying, goes into the unknown world no wiser concerning the ends and aims of this one than when he entered it. Rather than periods that decay and sin might bring again, should one remember the wonderful history of the natural world when the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. Rather should one read the record of the rain, it seems, the story of the weather some morning, cycles since, with the way the wind was blowing written in the slanting drip of the rain-drops caught and petrified on the old red sandstone, marks of the Maker as he passed, one day, a million years ago, - than decipher on the scroll of any palimpsest, under the light-headed visions of an anchorite, some half-erased ode of Anac
But, after all, this veneration for the ancients - who personally might be forgiven for their misfortune in having lived when the world was young, were not one so slavish before them is only because again one looks at the ideal, looks through that magical Claude Lorraine glass which makes even the commonest landscape picturesque. We forget the dirty days of straw-strewn floors, and see the leather hangings stamped with gold; we forget the fearful feet of sandal shoon, but see the dust of a Triumph rising in clouds of glory. We look at that past, feeling something like gods, too.
"The gods are happy :
They turn on all sides
Their shining eyes,
We cannot consider those things happening remotely from us on the earth's surface, eyen now, without suffering them to partake somewhat of the property of by-gone days. It makes little dif
ference whether the distance be that of meridians or of eras. When at sunrise we fancy some foreign friend beholding dawn upon the silver summits of the Alps, we are forced directly to remember that with him day is at the noon, and his sunrise has vanished with those of all the yesterdays, so that even our friend becomes a being of the past; or when, bathed in the mellow air of an autumn afternoon, the sunshine falling on us like the light of a happy smile, and all the vaporous vistas melting in clouded sapphire, it occurs to us that possibly it is snowing on the Mackenzie River, and night has already darkened down over the wide and awful icefields, then distance seems a paradox, and time and occasion mere phantasmagoria; there are no beings but ourselves, there is no moment but the present; all circumstance of the world becomes apparent to us only like pictures thrown into the perspective of the past. It requires the comprehensive vision of the poet to catch the light of existing scenes as they shift along the globe, and harmonize them with the instant;-whether he view
the gods and the poets. But, except to these blest beholders, the inhabitants of the dead centuries are mere spectral shades; for it takes a poet's fancy to vitalize with warmth and breath again those things that, having apparently left no impress on their own generation, seem to have no more signification for this than the persons of the drama or the heroes of romance.
Yet, in a far inferior way, every man is a poet to himself. In the microcosm of his own small round, every one has the power to vivify old incident, every one raises bawbles of the desk and drawer, not only into life, but into life they never had. With the flower whose leaves are shed about the box, we can bring back the brilliant morning of its blossoming, desire and hope and joyous youth once more; with the letter laid away beside it rises the dear hand that rested on the sheet, and moved along the leaf with every line it penned: each trinket has its pretty past, pleasant or painful to recall as it may be. There is no trifle, however vulgar, but, looking at its previous page, it has a side in the ideal. When one at the theatre saw so many ringlets arranged as waterfalls," he laughed and said, they undoubtedly belonged to the 66 dead-heads." But Belinda, who wears a waterfall, and at night puts it into a box, considers the remark a profanity, and confesses that she never adorns
or whether, far across the continent, herself with this addition but she he chance to see
On the broad, clay-laden
Lone Chorasmian stream: thereon,
With snort and strain,
Two horses, strongly swimming, tow
To either bow
Firm harnessed by the mane :-a chief
Stands at the prow, and guides them; but astern,
Of silk-bales and of balsam-drops,
Of gold and ivory,
Of turquoise-earth and amethyst,
Jasper and chalcedony,
And milk-barred onyx-stones.
thinks of that girl in France who cherished her long locks, and combed them out with care until her marriage-day, when she put on a fair white cap, and sold them for her dowry. There are more poetic locks of hair, it must be said; the keepsake of two lovers; the lock of Keats's hair, too sacred to touch, lying in its precious salvatory. But that is the ideal of the past belonging to Belinda's waterfall, a trivial, common thing enough, yet one that has a right to its ideal, nevertheless, if we accept the ecstasies of a noted writer upon its
magic material. "In spinning and weaving," says he, “the ideal that we pursue is the hair of a woman. How far are the softest wools, the finest cottons, from reaching it! At what an enormous distance from this hair all our progress leaves us, and will forever leave us! We drag behind and watch with envy this supreme perfection that every day Nature realizes in her play. This hair, fine, strong, resistant, vibrant in light sonority, and, with all that, soft, warm, luminous, and electric, it is the flower of the human flower. There are idle disputes concerning the merit of its color. What matter? The lustrous black contains and promises the flame. The blond displays it with the splendors of the Fleece of Gold. The brown, chatoyant in the sun, appropriates the sun itself, mingles it with its mirages, floats, undulates, varies ceaselessly in its brook-like reflections, by moments smiles in the light or glooms in the shade, deceives always, and, whatever you say of it, gives you the lie charmingly. The chief effort of human industry has combined all methods in order to exalt cotton. Rare accord of capital, machinery, arts of design, and finally chemical science, has produced those beautiful results to which England herself renders homage in buying them. Alas! all that cannot disguise the original poverty of the ungrateful tissue which has been so much adorned. If woman, who clothes herself with it in vanity, and believes herself more beautiful because of it, would but let her hair fall and unroll its waves over the indigent richness of our most brilliant cloths, what must become of them! how humiliated would the vestment be! It is necessary to confess that one thing alone sustains itself beside a woman's hair. A single fabricator can strive there. This fabricator is an insect, the modest silkworm."
"A particular charm surrounds the works in silk," our author then goes on to say. "It ennobles all about it. In traversing our rudest districts, the
valleys of the Ardèche, where all is rock, where the mulberry, the chestnut, seem to dispense with earth, to live on air and flint, where low houses of unmortared stone sadden the eyes with their gray tint, everywhere I saw at the door, under a kind of arcade, two or three charming girls, with brown skin, with white teeth, who smiled at the passer-by and spun gold. The passer-by, whirled on by the coach, said to them under his breath: 'What a pity, innocent fays, that this gold may not be for you! Instead of disguising it with a useless color, instead of disfiguring it by art, what would it not gain by remaining itself and upon these beautiful spinners! How much better than any grand dames would this royal tissue become yourselves!'"
Perhaps it was the dowry of one of these very maidens that Belinda wears; and all this would only go to show that to every meanest thing the past can lend a halo. When one person showed another the "entire costume of a Nubian woman, purchased as she wore it," a necklace of red beads, and two brass ear-rings simply, hanging on a nail, how it brought up the whole scene, the wondrous ruins, the Nile, the lotos, and the palmbranch, the splendid sky soaring over all, the bronze-skinned creature shining in the sun! What a past the little glass bits had at their command, and what a more magnificent past hung yet behind them! Who would value a diamond, the product of any laboratory, were such a possibility, so much as that one which, by its own unknown and inscrutable process, defying philosopher and jeweller, has imprisoned the sunshine that moss or leaf or flower sucked in, ages since, and set its crystals in the darkness of the earth,- a drop of dew eternalized? What tree of swift and sudden springing, that grows like a gourd in the night to never so stately a height, could equal in our eyes the gnarled and may be stunted trunk that has thrown the flickering shadows of its leaves over the dying pillows alike of
father, child, and grandchild? The ring upon the finger is crusted thick with memories, and, looking at it, far more than in the present do you live in the past.
Perhaps it is for this
that we are so jealous of events: we fear to have our memories impinged upon by pain. The woman whose lover has deserted her mourns not the man she must despise, but the love that has dropped out of her past, proving hollow and worthless. But she to whom he remains faithful borrows perpetually store of old love to enrich the daily feast; she gilds and glorifies the blest to-day with the light of that love transfigured in the past. And so, in other shapes and experiences, it is with all of us indeed; since into this fairy-land all can fly for refuge, can pick again their roses and ignore their thorns, can
Torment with ease, and soonest recompense
Nor is this living in the past entirely the voluntary affair of pleasure and of memory. In another and more spiritual way it masters us. Never quite losing the vitality that once it had, with an elastic springiness it constantly rebounds, and the deed of yesterday reacts upon the deed of today. There is something solemn in the thought that thus the blemish or the grace of a day that long ago disappeared passes on with awfully increasing undulations into the demesne of the everlasting. And though the Judge of all may not cast each deed of other days and weigh them in the balance for us or against, yet what those deeds have made us, that we shall stand before him when,
"Mid the dark, a gleam
day is but the asymptote of to-morrow, that curve perpetually drawing near, but never reaching the straight line flying into infinity. To-morrow, the great future, belongs to the heaven where it tends. Were it otherwise, seeing the indestructible elements, and the two great central forces forever at their work, we might fancy ourselves, in one form or another, continual here on the round world. For when Laplace, through the acceleration of the moon, dropping her ten seconds a hundred years towards us, discovered the change in the earth's orbit,-swinging as it does from ellipse to circle and back again to ellipse, vibrating like a mighty pendulum, the "horologe of eternity" itself, with tremendous oscillations, through the depths of space, he taught us that the earth endures; and so that the clay with which we are clothed still makes a part of the great revolution. Yet, since the future is no possession of our own, but a dole and pittance, we know that the earth does not endure for us, but that when we shall have submitted to the condi
tions of eternal spirit, yesterday, toceased to exist, must have vanished morrow, and to-day must alike have like illusions; for eternity can be no mere duration of time, but rather some state of being past all our power of cognition.
And though we are to inherit eternity, yet have authority now only over the period that we have passed, with what wealth then are the aged furnished! Sweet must it be to sit with
folded hands and dream life over once again. How rich we are, how happy!
How dear is the old hand in ours! Years have added up the sum of all the felicity that we have known together, and carried it over to to-day. Those that have left our arms and gone out into other homes are still our own; but little sunny heads besides cluster round the knees as once before they did. Not only have we age and wisdom, but youth and gayety as well. On what light and jocund scenes we look! on what deep and dearer bliss!
We see the meaning of our sorrows now, and bless them that they came. With such firm feet we have walked in the lighted way that we gaze back upon, how can we fear the Valley of the Shadow? Ah! none but they, indeed, who have threescore years and ten hived away in the past, can see the high design of Heaven in their lives, and from the wrong side of the pattern picture out the right.
"So at the last shall come old age,
Decrepit, as befits that stage.
Of the fragments of life's earlier feast,
As round Eve's shades their framework roll,
THE JOHNSON PARTY.
HE President of the United States has so singular a combination of defects for the office of a constitutional magistrate, that he could have obtained the opportunity to misrule the nation only by a visitation of Providence. Insincere as well as stubborn, cunning as well as unreasonable, vain as well as ill-tempered, greedy of popularity as well as arbitrary in disposition, veering in his mind as well as fixed in his will, he unites in his character the seemingly opposite qualities of demagogue and autocrat, and converts the Presidential chair into a stump or a throne, according as the impulse seizes him to cajole or to command. Doubtless much of the evil developed in him is due to his misfortune in having been lifted by events to a position which he lacked the elevation and breadth of intelligence adequately to fill. He was cursed with the possession of a power and authority which no man of narrow mind, bitter prejudices, and inordinate selfestimation can exercise without depraving himself as well as injuring the nation. Egotistic to the point of mental disease, he resented the direct and manly opposition of statesmen to his opinions and moods as a personal affront, and descended to the last degree of littleness in a political leader,
gratify his spite. He of course became the prey of intriguers and sycophants,of persons who understand the art of managing minds which are at once arbitrary and weak, by allowing them to retain unity of will amid the most palpable inconsistencies of opinion, so that inconstancy to principle shall not weaken force of purpose, nor the emphasis be at all abated with which they may bless to-day what yesterday they cursed. Thus the abhorrer of traitors has now become their tool. Thus the denouncer of Copperheads has now sunk into dependence on their support. Thus the imposer of conditions of reconstruction has now become the foremost friend of the unconditioned return of the Rebel States. Thus the furious Union Republican, whose harangues against his political opponents almost scared his political friends by their violence, has now become the shameless betrayer of the people who trusted him. And in all these changes of base he has appeared supremely conscious, in his own mind, of playing an independent, a consistent, and especially a conscientious part.
Indeed, Mr. Johnson's character would be imperfectly described if some attention were not paid to his conscience, the purity of which is a favorite subject of his own discourse,