Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

To deck with flowers her half-disheveli'd hair,
And celebrate the merry morn of May.
There let the shepherd's pipe the livelong day
Fill all the grove with love's bewitching wo;
And when mild evening comes in mantle gray,

Let not the blooming band make haste to-go;
No ghost nor spell my long and last abode shall know.

THE CHARMS OF NATURE.

Oh, how canst thou renounce the boundless store Of charms which Nature to her votary yields ! The warbling woodland, the resounding shore, The pomp of groves, and garniture of fields; All that the genial ray of morning gilds, And all that echoes to the song of even, All that the mountain's fostering bosom shields, And all the dread magnificence of Heaven, Oh, how canst thou renounce, and hope to be forgiven ?'

THE HERMIT.

At the close of the day, when the hamlet is still,

And mortals the sweets of forgetfulness prove, When nought but the torrent is heard on the hill,

And nought but the nightingale's song in the grove; 'Twas thus, by the cave of the mountain afar,

While his harp rung symphonious, a hermit began; No more with himself or with nature at war,

He thought as a sage, though he felt as a man. “Ah! why, all abandon’d to darkness and wo,

Why, lone Philomela, that languishing fall? For spring shall return, and a lover bestow,

And sorrow no longer thy bosom inthral. But, if pity inspire thee, renew the sad lay,

Mourn, sweetest complainer, man calls thee to mourn; Oh soothe him, whose pleasures like thine pass away:

Full quickly they pass—but they never return. “Now gliding remote on the verge of the sky,

The moon, half extinguish’d, her crescent displays; But lately I mark’d, when majestic on high

She shone, and the planets were lost in her blaze. Roll on, thou fair orb, and with gladness pursue

The path that conducts thee to splendor again:

Nor yet for the ravage of winter I mourn;

Kind Nature the embryo blossom will save:
But when shall Spring visit the mouldering urn?

Oh when shall it dawn on the night of the grave ?"
'Twas thus, by the glare of false science betray'd-

That leads, to bewilder; and dazzles, to blind-
My thoughts wont to roam, from shade onward to shade,

Destruction before me, and sorrow behind.
• Oh pity, great Father of Light,' then I cried,

• Thy creature, who fain would not wander from thee;
Lo, humbled in dust, I relinquish my pride :

From doubt and from darkness thou only canst free!'
" And darkness and doubt are now flying away;

No longer I roam in conjecture forlorn:
So breaks on the traveller, faint and astray,

The bright and the balmy effulgence of morn.
See Truth, Love, and Mercy in triumph descending,

And Nature all glowing in Eden's first bloom!
On the cold cheek of death smiles and roses are blending,

And beauty immortal awakes from the tomb.”

WILLIAM PALEY, 1743–1805.

ease."2

“No writers are rewarded with a larger share of immediate celebrity than those who address themselves to the understandings of general readers, who investigate truths, develop principles, and convey instruction in that popular style, and that plain, expressive language which all read with pleasure, and comprehend with

Such was eminently the characteristic of Dr. William Paley. He was the son of the head-master of Giggleswick grammar-school, in Yorkshire, and was born in July, 1743. After having acquired the rudiments of learning under the tuition of his father, he was admitted, in November, 1758, a sizer of Christ's College, Cambridge. For some time he attracted notice only as an uncouth but agreeable idler. “I spent,” he says, “the first two years of my under-graduateship happily, but unprofitably. I was constantly in society, where we were not immoral, but idle and rather expensive. At the commencement of year,

my third

There is a tradition, and the internal evidence certainly confirms its truth, that Dr. Beattie wrote the Nermit to the end of the fourth verse, when under the influence of skep tical opinions. He had not then attained his majority, and he put the piece aside, never intending to publish it-ending as it would with a doubt concerning the soul's immortality:

"Oh when shall Spring dawn on the night of the grave ?** But when in a few years after he became a converted man, and embraced with his whole mind and heart the great truths of the Christian religion, he sought out his neglected piece, and finished it with that fine burst of Christian feeling and poetic splendor with which it proccods and ends :

“And beauty immortal awakes from the tomb." ? Read two articles on Dr. Paley in the “Quarterly Review,” ii. 75, and ix. 388; and another in the “Edinburgh Review,” i. 287.

ment.

however, after having left the usual party at rather a late hour in the evening, I was awakened, at fire in the morning, by one of my companions, who stood at my bedside, and said — Paley, I have been thinking what a fool you are. I could do nothing profitably were I to try, and can afford the life I lead: you could do every thing, and cannot afford it. I have bad no sleep during the whole night on account of these reflections, and I am now come solemnly to inform you, that if you persist in your indolence, I must renounce your society. I was so struck with the visit and the visitor, that I lay in bed a great part of the day and formed my plan." The result was that he changed his whole habits, became a close student, and at the close of his college course was the first in his class.

Soon after taking bis degree, he obtained the situation of usher at a private school at Greenwich; but being elected, in June, 1766, a fellow of the college to which he belonged, he fixed his residence at the university, became a tutor of bis college, and delivered lectures on metaphysics, morals, and the Greek Testa

His reputation, in this situation, rose extremely high, as he was remarkable for the happy talent of adapting his lectures singularly well to the apprehensions of his pupils. In 1775, he was presented to the rectory of Musgrove, in Westmoreland; and in the following year he vacated his fellowship by marrying. He was soon advanced by his friend Dr. Law, then Bishop of Carlisle, to various preferments, until he was finally, in 1782, made archdeacon and chancellor of that diocese. Here he digested and prepared his celebrated work, the “Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy," which appeared in 1785. His " Horæ Paulinæ" followed in 1790, and his "Evidences of Christianity" in 1794. Soon after this, he became so infirm as to be incapable of preaching, and he devoted his attention almost exclusively to the preparation of his “Natural Theology, or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of a Deity, collected from the Appearances of Nature," which was published in 1802. He died on the 25th of May, 1805, leaving a wife and eight children.

“Dr. Paley was, in private life, a cheerful, social, unassuming character, and of an equable temper. He entered with great zest into the common enjoyments of life, and was anxious to promote good humor and harmless mirth on all occasions. His conversation was free and unreserved: he had a strong relish of wit, a copious fund of anecdote, and told a story with peculiar archness and naïveté.

“As a writer, he did not possess a comprehensive and grasping genius, nor was he endowed with a rich and sparkling imagination. His mind was well informed, but not furnished with deep, extensive, ponderous erudition. His distinguishing characteristic is a penetrating understanding, and a clear, logical head : what he himself comprehends fully, that he details luminously. He takes a subject to

[ocr errors]

time of its first publication. His “Horæ Paulinæ,"1 decidedly his most ingenious and original work, was not so popular, though exceedingly valued by scholars and students of divinity. Its object is to open a new department of evidence in favor of Christianity, by comparing the Epistles of Paul with his history as recorded by Luke in the Acts, and by marking what he designates as the “undesigned coincidences” of the one with the other. In this way he shows the genuineness of both, and thus furnishes a novel and ingenious, and at the same time a very conclusive, species of testimony in behalf of revealed religion.

The most exceptionable of all Paley's works is bis “Moral Philosophy." In it he takes the ground that “whatever is expedient is right”-a doctrine true, indeed, if man could see all things, and look into futurity; but a most dangerous one to a being so short-sighted as he who “knows not what a day may bring forth.” Indeed, in many parts of this work may be found sentiments altogether too loosely expressed, and principles of action laid down of a character far too compromising; which at once remind us of his remark, when he was a fellow at Cambridge, and had been requested to sign a petition for relief in the matter of subscription to the “Thirty-nine Articles” of the Church of England, that he “was too poor to keep a conscience:"—in other words, that, where his conscience and his worldly interests came in conflict, the former must give way to the latter. So also, about the same time, he offered, as a subject which he intended to discuss, “ The Eternity of Future Punishment Contradictory to the Divine Attributes ;" but, finding that it would be very displeasing to the master of his college, he concluded to insert the word “NOT" before “contradictory.” Such facts reveal a character lacking in moral firmness, certainly, if not in moral principle.3

· Literally, “ Pauline Hours;" that is, hours spent in comparing numerous facts which the apostle Paul incidentally states of bimself in his Epistles, with what is narrated of him in the Acts of the Apostles.

; For a triumphant refutation of the dangerous dortrines of his Moral Philosophy, road the " Essays on Morality," by that clear-headed, conscientious Christian moralist, Jonathan Dymond--the best work on the subject extant. But a clergyman of the Church of England has come to the rescue of l'aley, in a work with the following title, “ A Vindication of Dr. Paley's Theory of Morals from the objections of Dugald Stewart, Mr. Gisborne. Dr. Pieren, and Dr. Thomas Brown, &c., by the Rev. Latham Wainewright, M. A.” Ilis arguments, if not conclusive, are certainly very ingenious.

3 A writer in the London Athenæum of August, 1848, has shown very conclusive'y that Dr. Paley's Natural Theology is, in the outline of its argument and in its most striking illustrate tions, (especially in the well-known story of the watch.) a stupendous plagiarism, taken from a work of Dr. Nienwentyt, of Holland, and translated into English, and published by Long man, in 1718, under the title of - The Christian Philosopher.” A writer in the "Church and State Gazette," in reviewing this article in the Athenxum, remarks_“In the annals of literary core airship we never heard of any thing equalling piracy like this; and unless the friends and relatives of Paley can submit satisfactory evidence before the tribunal of the public, that he has ha foul wrong done unto him, his reputation as an honest writer sinks fir ever beneath the sea of contemptuous oblivion. He is no more the author of the Natural Theology" than any other work which he did not write.” n a subsequent number of the Athena um, a writer comes to the vindication of Paley, and partially excuses him on the ground that his “Natural Theology" was originally lectures delivered to his students, in which he embodied all he had read, without giving credit to the sources whence he borrowed, and that when these lectures were published in the forin we now have them, he either could not, or forgot to give crolit to the original sources. On this defence, the editor of the Athe næum remarks_* We think the letter of our correspondent gives the most satisfactory solution of this matter that has yet keen offered, and the best probably that can be given. To our view, then, the most satisfactory is a most unsatisfactory one.”

HUMILITY

[ocr errors]

But the way

Humble-mindedness is a Christian duty, if there be one. It is more than a duty; it is a principle; and its influence is exceedingly great, not only upon our religious, but our social character. They who are truly humble-minded have no quarrels, give no offence, contend with no one in wrath and bitterness; still more impossible is it for them to insult any man under any circumstances. to be humble-minded is the way I am pointing out, namely, to think less of our virtues and more of our sins. In reading the parable of the Pharisee and the publican, if we could suppose them to be real characters, I should say of them, that the one had first come from ruminating upon his virtues, the other from meditating upon his sins: and mark the difference, first, in their behavior; next, in their acceptance with God. The Pharisce is all loftiness, and contemptuousness, and recital, and comparison; full of ideas of merit; views the poor publican, although withdrawn to a distance from bim, with eyes of scorn. The publican, on the contrary, enters not into competition with the Pharisee, or any one. So far from looking round, he durst not so much as lift up his

eyes,

but casts himself, hardly indeed presumes to cast himself, not upon the justice, but wholly and solely upon the mercies of his Maker-"God be merciful to me a sinner.” We know the judgment which our Lord himself pronounced upon the case : “I tell you this man went down to his house justified rather than the other.” The more, therefore, we are like the publican, and the less we are like the Pharisee, the more we come up to the genuine temper of Christ's religion.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

THE WORLD WAS MADE WITH A BENEVOLENT DESIGN."

It is a happy world after all. The air, the earth, the water, teem with delightful existence. In a spring noon or a summer evening, on whichever side I turn my eyes, myriads of happy, beings crowd upon my view. “ The insect youth are on the wing. Swarms of new-born flies are trying their pinions in the air. Their sportive motions, their wanton mazes, their gratuitous activity, their continual change of place without use or purpose, testify their joy and the exultation which they feel in their lately disco

« AnteriorContinuar »