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design, and with our necessity for it. It would be impossible to compute the amount of happiness or bitterness, of love or hatred, of joy or sorrow, or even of life or death, that has
from the utterance of a word-like a giant tree from a comparatively insignificant germ. Few of us but have felt, when brought to a stand at some of the cross-roads in life's journey, that our déstination depended, in all probability, on the decisive tone (harmonious or discordant to our ear) of a word. Pages might be filled with examples of mental crises, wrought by the agonies of suspense in its various forms, which occur to all, and at which times the influence of words is felt to be peculiarly thrilling and powerful. A proper estimate of the capability of language will redeem words from their proverbial emptiness, and when viewed in their close and inseparable connection with results, they become things ; deeds, by which revolutions are effected in the family circle—in the widening of friendships and acquaintances-extending by gradual advances through the great circumference of the whole social system. Nor will we say their influence stops herethey are golden links in a chain which may reach to heaven, whose undulations commenced on earth, may vibrate in eternity. Would it not then be an honour and a happiness to us to try and carry out, as far as in us lies, the great and ultimate design of speech, by substituting from our own hearts (which must ever be the test of their worth), words of kindness, wisdom, truth, and significance, for those of the opposite character which too generally mark our social intercourse.
How differently we feel and appreciate the force of language in our boyhood and in our more mature years! “ He only scolded me, says a callous urchin to his fellows as he leaves his master's desk, agreeably disappointed at the non-reception of a castigation ;-" he only scolded me, I don't care for that.” See now the boy grown to man—the tenderness of his skin, over which he was so careful in days of birch and ferule, has been transferred by the invisible operations of expanding life to his feelings-and now he says:
:-" Ah, I could have borne all, forgiven all, if it had not been for that word !” Should we wish any one whom we had hurt by an unkind word to die without reparation from our lips ? : Can anything be more cutting to a heart not destitute of feeling, than the consciousness of having permitted such a wound to go to the grave upheeded ? It is true, we may infuse a sharpness or a bitterness into our words which we do not feel in our hearts ; but while this is known only to ourselves, it can be no emollient to the feelings we may have injured ; and even should we endeavour to soothe them by the admission that “we did not mean all we said,” how seldom is it attended with the desired results ! It is easy to recall the word we have spoken, but not so easy to remove the effect it has produced. We may drop a stone into the clear water, and we may take it out again immediately; but the withdrawing of the stone will not restore the brightness and serenity which before reposed on its transparent bosom. An injured heart is a keen casuist ; it knows, intuitively, that the injurious word sprang from impulse--free, spontaneous, and unchecked by caution--and that the apologetic word was the result of after-thought and calculation—the first bore the impress of truth ; the second, that of design ; and it is needless to say which of the two has gained its credence. Members of family circles who seek in each other that love, kindness, and forbearance which is not expected from the world, let no root of bitterness spring up among you, but guard your hearts and words with watchful care, that nothing may escape your lips that is likely to injure the spirit of one who loves you ; for “ there is that which speaketh like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise is health.” Our keenest sufferings spring from our deepest affections, and our worst wounds are given by the hand we love best. The world has not half such capabilities of afflicting us, and for these reasonswe do not put ourselves in its power, by reposing confidence in it, therefore, it cannot deceive us—we do not give it access to our secret treasures, consequently it cannot rob us—we do not admit it to the inner temple of the soul, therefore it cannot touch the shrine—we do not leave our vulnerable points open to its attacks ; on the contrary, our hearts instinctively put on their armour of proof at its first approach ; therefore it has little power to wound us.
Cæsar presented a steady front to his murderers till he felt the dagger of Brutus ; and we may come off unscathed from our conflicts with the world, to receive, it may be, a mortal wound by the side of our own hearth-stone. 6 Words break no bones,” says an old proverb; true, they do not it would be well if their
power were limited to such fractures ; they do infinitely worse ;-they break hopes which may have been the life and nourishment of a young heart--they throw a deadening chill over the high aspirations of many a bright and noble spirit--they sever the mysticwoven threads of affection that were fondly deemed all-enduring and immortal, and they break (perhaps, irremediably) many a tender and trusting heart, for hearts can break, yet brokenly live on ;” and thus they inflict bruises and wounds that the balm of Gilead alone can hcal.
How, sometimes, does the mere utterance of a word, like the lightning-flash, array before our minds the imagery of which it is the representative! Let us suppose, for instance, you are a lover of Nature : you have been familiar with her enchantments—you have read lessons of love and wisdom from her expressive pagesyou have laid up her beauties in your heart ; but intervening years of care and anxiety have, perhaps, somewhat dimmed, not the lustre of her charms, but your perception of them, when, all unexpectedly—your heart jaded and weary—you hear, perhaps from children's lips, the words—“Daisies and Buttercups ;"—in a moment you are a changed being! Those simple yet magic words have touched a spring which you almost thought had been broken and buried beneath the dust and rubbish of this cold and careworn world ; you are free once more; the breath, the fragrance, the music, the thrilling, refining, unutterable feelings of Spring are upon you, and delicious visions of early flowers, springing grass, deep pools, with verdant brinks, rich scents and radiant skies, prove your spirit's immortal congeniality with all things beautiful and pure. There are few things which hold the minds of men more spell-bound than the eloquence of the tongue ; those for whom the subject itself may have but little interest, and those who may be at variance with the opinions of the orator, will alike throng to listen to the voice of the charmer. The proud and the lowly, the refined and the uneducated, agree to render homage to the spirit's power.
Never was that power more sweetly eloquent, more awfully subduing, than in the words of Him who spake as never man spake. Well might those who heard them be astonished at the gracious sentences which fell from His lips ; such language was not doomed to be buried in the obscurity which in some degree shaded its Divine Author, nor its influence limited to the comparative few who heard it. The words He spake are written in an imperishable type, for all men, in all times—
“ And better had he ne'er been born,
Who reads to doubt, or reads to scorn." NO. XXVII.-VOL, V.
»* and more
As the best things when perverted, become the worst, so is the abused gift of language, in its several degrees, awful, deplorable, and pitiful. Without alluding to the expressions that come from the lips of the dregs of society, let us glance with sadness at those, who, laying claim to propriety and the respect of their fellow-men, daily clothe hypocrisy, deceit, and falsehood in the stolen garments of Truth. And why do they thus? Do they think their words will pass as current coin in that realm of mighty commerce
- Mind ? Do they hope they will be taken for pure gold by some who do not recognise the ring of the false metal? In some cases they may succeed, but not generally. Men's words are often suspected and weighed with a rapidity and accuracy they are little aware of, and when once they are found defective, they bear much about the same value as base coin. Speech,” says a Spanish proverb, “was given to man to conceal his thoughts, just satire was never levelled at a worthier object; but as long as blind man thinks he finds his account in duplicity, irony will be but a blunt weapon.
If proof were wanting to establish these cursory remarks relative to the power, beauty, and worth of words, it will be found in that book appropriately named the Word of God. The passages in that glorious volume upon this subject are most numerous, beautiful, and pointed ; nor can a better conclusion be given to this brief and humble essay, than by selecting a few gems of truth from that inexhaustible mine :
“ Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who love it, shall eat the fruit thereof."
“ The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for want of wisdom.'
“ Heaviness in the heart of a man maketh it stoop ; but a good word maketh it glad.” “ A word fitly spoken, is like apples of gold in pictures of silver."
* The original property in this apothegm has been contested from the time of Doctor Young to that of Talleyrand.
FABLES FOR FOOLISH FELLOWS.
THE HORSE WHO HAD AND THE ASS WHO HAD NOT TRAVELLED.
Dil, (a household diminutive for Diligence,) the grey old millster-horse of good old Geoffrey Grundstane, the miller ; and STUMBLE, the plodding donkey of a hard-working and harddrinking sandman, who had no other name we ever heard of than Sam, or Sandy Sam,—had stood now three hours at the door of the most popular hostelry in those parts—the Three Jolly Coopers—while Tosspot Tom (Grundstane's man) and Sandy Sam (his own man and master) were wetting their whistles within. The sun was insulting hot, the roads dusty, the water in the trough low, and the flies vexatiously troublesome, all the while these
poor beasts of burden stood whisking their tails as a warning to the horsestingers to keep off, and twinkling their ears to alarm the flies on their tips, and shivering their skins to shake them off, if only for a moment, for they only took two or three turns, when down they came again, and closed their wings, and could not or would not let them alone : the poor beasties had finished the short repast or bait set out for their luncheon-hay a little musty, old chaff anything but toothsome, and water so dusty, that they were obliged to blow the top off before they could bear to drink it—for Ned, their ostler, was the most neglectful of grooms ;—when, for want of something better to discuss, they got gradually into a gossip on those pleasing themes of all travellers-namely, the extent of their travels, and what they had seen. And these are themes upon which all travellers can dilate and enlarge, whether him who has scaled the abruptest Andes, adventurous of his neck ; and has stood solitarily,
“ Silent upon a peak in Darien;" or him the Cheapside Bruce, born under Bow Bells, wishing to see the world of which he has caught glimpses from the gallery of St. Paul's, who scales the heights of Highgate, and, staring into the distance, sees no end to it, and dares go no farther.
Stumble led off the subject, and made two or three reflections,