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always enervating to the intellect, as that of alcohol is to the physical system. It operates to gradually contract the mental powers within a certain field of exercise, and divest them of that vigor and strength, which are requisite for the acquisition and enjoyment of valuable knowledge. A propensity to novel reading is a state of intellectual debility and megrim. It is dissipating, also, to the moral principles and character, introducing confusion into any system of ethics, and discrepancies into any course of conduct. It blunts the sensibilities, and deceives the votary with the substitution of a false edge, which will endure no service. We have heard even Christian men account for the influence of the novel by the dreamy theory that fiction is a reaching forth unto the first estate from which man has fallen-an effort of the soul to picture to itself the purity and happiness which once attended our first parents in paradise. Nothing so effectually blinds the moral vision, as a contemplation of the original dignity of human nature. We are His offspring,” sang one of the poets, and Paul confirmed the truth of the saying. But our Saviour also said of others, “ Ye are of your father the devil.” If, then, the theory must stand, that fiction is a foretaste of eternity, the question still recurs-of what eternity? And if the tree shall be known by its fruit, we shall have no difficulty in determining the parentage of modern fiction.
In addition, however, to all these natural infirmities of fictitious composition, others of a darker and a deadlier character have, of late years, been introduced, to poison the streams of moral life; we allude, of course, to the garbage of French novels, which is exhaling its pestiferous odors over the fair and fruitful fields of our land. The literary character of these productions, like the moral character of their authors,
may be unimpeachable in a court of criticism or justice; but there is an air of the careless voluptuary attending both, which renders their society and communion repulsive. We are in the presence of finis' ed villany, wh ch circumstances alone restrain from the crimes on which its fancy dwells; which can reap a richer reward by describing than by playing the brigand; which can cater to every vicious passion in others, and thus secure the means of cultivating its own base appetites. Being in such soc ety, we find debauchery deilied, and crime portrayed as a species of school for the education of beauty and virtue. We have passion held up as the crowning charm of an angel ; riot, as the condition of social happiness ; sin, as a misfortune
which never entails its ills upon its offspring; monsters, as the universal specimens of the human species; intrigue, violence, and wantonness, as the sole employments of human activity. A drama of crime, in which the actors are never villains enough to excite our disgust, and only virtuous when they are fools. We have the most degrading circumstances of life collected into a solid mass, and fused in the crucible of a lascivious infidelity; we have these materials arranged and adorned by a genius, tossing under the feverish spasms of its diseased fancy, till the putrifying collection has been surcharged with suitable medicaments, and the fetid odor of vice drowned by the fumes of incense. Moulded into organic shape, it appears a stripling cheruh, with a coronet surmounting his flowing locks, borne aloft upon the party-colored wings of fancy, and waving a silver wand to guide its magic steps. It is sin clothed in the white robes of virtue, deism consecrated as our holy faith, and the spasmodic palpitations of lust adored as the end and aim of our being.
Strange to record, while there are none so poor as to do reverence to this living monster, there are thousands who are standing on tiptoe to commune with him under the concealment of his mask; while few would, in real life, either associate with, orgive countenance to such patchworks of crime, there are multitudes seeking such scenes under the disguise of literary condiments. Eugene Sue's most impure conceptions are laid upon the drawing-room table, where Sue, in his cleanliest attire and most sober mood, would be turned from the door; and Christian men and Christian presses have entered into a oompetition who shall scatter the most of those principles, which they prosess to abhor, and give the widest popularity to those mysteries of iniquity, which they have pledged their highest hopes and their sacred honor to oppose with all the weapons which God may place in their hands. The ingenuity of man can find apologies for almost every degree of crime, and can even metamorphose idolatry into religion, intoxication into temperance, and blasphemy into prayer. But if anything deserves the highest reprebation of a moral community, it is the pliancy of that principle, which will not only allow evil to be called good, but which, in the ardor of gaingetting and rivalry, practically confounds right and wrong, and teaches others, by the irresistible eloquence of example, to go and do likewise. Our presses have reached a fearful crisis in this high career of contributing to the diffusion of covert debauchery and infidelity; the very ink
One of the most interesting objects in the whole range of Natural History, is that which forms the subject of the present brief sketch. The principal characteristic of its structure, the delicate sails with which it ploughs the surface of the deep, and its habit of thus navigating the sea, have long been known, but for centuries, from the days of Pliny and Aristotle, the specific character of the animal inhabiting the beautifu' shell which bears its name, has been the subject of speculation and uncertain theory. It has been linked with the superstitious honors of mytholngy, has called forth the admiration ani curiosity of every age, and has been made the model of the mariner, and the theme of the poet. As teaching one of the beautiful lessons to be learned by every one who breathes the spirit inspired by Nature's loveliness, it has thus been referred to by Pope :
“Thus then to man the voice of Nature spake-
Spread the thin oar, a id catch the driving gale !"" The genus Nautilus comprises many species, of which the Nautilus Pompilius is the prominent representative, but of which, however, until 1829, no living specimen had ever been captured and described. The shells which beautify the sea-shore, and fill the ocean-caves with their infinite and often
and magnificent hues and varying forms, are all tenanted by some one individual of the great creation of sentient existences, by some one link in that chain of animated nature, which rises from materiality through a constant succession of innumerable formsand gradations, to the ideal and the spiritual.
Perhaps a more appropriate description of the Nautilus cannot be given than in the words of Pliny, who thus speaks :
“One of the greatest wonders in creation is a certain shell-fish, called by some the Nautilus, and by others Pompilius. When this extraordinary creature wishes to rise above the water, he turns upon his back, raises himself by little and little, and in order to swim with greater facility, throws out all the water contained in his shell. His body being thus lightened, he lifts up his two foremost claws, or arms, and stretches out between them a fine membrane. This serves him for a sail above water, and with his other he works his way beneath it, directing his course with his tail, which serves the purpose of a helm. Thus he traverses the ocean like a ship in full sail; and if anything occurs to frigh'en him, he immediately fills his little shell with water in order to increase his weight, and betakes himself to his dwelling in the fathomless abyss.”
The shell is divided by transverse plates, concave to the mouth of the shell, into a number of chambers through which, from the outerone, where the animal finally takes up his abcde, a syphuncle or tube passes to the innermost and most minute. These chambers were formerly supposed, as is above stated by Pliny, to have been filled alternately with water and air, but Dr. Buckland, in his Bridgewater Treatise on Geology and Mineralogy, satisfactorily shows from the structure of the fossil Nautili, as well as from the known history and physiology of the living species, that it is filled with air alone. He gives it as his own opinion, that the cells are filled with air, and that the animal is furnished with a sac surrounding the heart which is filled with a pericardial fluid, the latter being alternately discharged into, or withdrawn from, the syphuncle or tube. When the arms are expanded the fluid remains in the pericardium or sac, and the pressure from the air in the chambers being thus removed, the specific gravity of the body and shell is diminished and it rises; but when the body and arins are contracted, and drawn within the shell, the pericardium being compressed the fluid is again forced into the tube, the air is condensed, and the specific gravity or weight of the whole mass being increased, it rapidly sinks to the depths beneath.
This view of the uses of the tube and the general structure of the Nautilus, is perfectly consistent with the hydraulic principles involved in its physiological characteristics, and is familiarly illustrated by the philosophical toy which most, perhaps, are acquainted with, by which small water balloons and images are made to ascend and descend in a closely covered glass
jar, by pressing the elastic seal—the air in the image is compressed and it descends; on the pressure being removed the image follows the upward tendency of the diminished specific gravity.
We are chiefly indebted to Prof. Owen, of England, for a full and definite description of the anatomy and physiology of this interesting animal. He was presented with a specimen captured by Mr. George Bennett, on the 24th of August, 1829, off the island of Erromanga, one of the New Hebrides' group. This being preserved in spirits, was made the subject of a minute account by Prof. Owen, published in 1832, and has left nothing more to be desired than, as one author has observed, “ that some fortunate collector may speedily capture a male specimen, and put it into his skilful hands."
Without dwelling too long on the natural history of the Nautilus, the closing remarks of Dr. Buckland, on the Cephalopods, to which family this animal belongs, contain some beautiful thoughts, and forcibly present the great argument of design in the works of the Creator. • These beautiful arrangements are, and ever have been, subservient to a common object, viz., the construction of hydraulic instruments of essential importance in the economy of creatures destined to move sometimes at the bottom, and at other times upon or near the surface of the
The delicate adjustments whereby the same principle is extended through so many grades and modifications of a single type, show the uniform and constant agency of some controlling intelligence; and in searching for the origin of so much method and regularity amidst variety, the mind can only rest when it has passed back through the subordinate series of second causes, to that great First Cause, which is found in the will and power of a common Creator."
The cut at the head of this article represents the Argonauta, which has been separated from the chambered genus, and is so called from ihe Argonautæ, who accompanied Jason in the voyage of the Argo to Colchis, to recover the golden fleece. It is much more delicate than the Nautilus Pompilius, and from its remarkable thinness and brittleness, is called the Paper Nautilus. The safety with which these frail tenements of the insignificant, but expert, mariner ride the sea, and the facility with which he escapes to his dwelling in the unfathomed deep, are beautifully set forth in the lines
The tender Nautilus, who steers bis prow, The sea-bom sailor of this shell canoe;
MORAL ASPECTS OF THE WORLD.
How oft the prosperous breeze we gladly keep,
And broken, wounded, leave us sinking there, Down to the dark wild ocean caves of deep despair.
The ocean Mab, the fairy of the sea.
The history of the Nautilus suggested the thoughts which have found utterance in the following lines, and which differ from the olliers in their having reference to the moral of the lesson to be drawn from the peculiar habits of the Nautilus :
The tiny sailor on the watery deep
And yet the Nantilus, which seeks in time
Pure, perfect, full of God, beneath the skies, Where everlasting bliss shall roll its syinphonies.
THE MORAL ASPECTS OF THE WORLD.
seems but a petrification of living actors. Again the beacon-fires of intellect are lighted up, and the horizon reflects far onward their brightness. And yet again we see these fires dying away, till scarcely a living warmth remains in their embers, and not a gleam relieves the thick dark
Our periolical commences its existence near the middle of the nineteenth century. Our earth has measured its circuit some four hundred times since types and presses have become the copyists of authors. The world is filled with books, and yet craving appetite continually cries, give, give.
It is well in launching our bark on the wide sea, anl in spreading our sails to catch the breeze of popular favor, to cast our eye over the earth and see where is the wide waste of waters, and where the shores, and what their moral products.
In tracing back the history of the world, we seem to see the stream of time moving so placidly, that to the observer it appears to stand motionless within its banks, and again, rushing forwar), foaming and fretting and roaring, as if impatient to dash headlong into the distant
But to leave this figure, which already threatens us with shipwreck, we look upon the world in its past history, and find it sometimes, with its nations and kingdoms, standing almost motionless for ages, as if advance and retreat were both cut off, and change or modification unknown. One king succeels another, children their fathers, and yet the history of one generation needs scarce more than a change of dates to make it fit the succee ling. Again there is a movement-kingdom dashes against kingdomnations are swept away as by a whirlwindnew cities erect their spires, and new empires spring up as by enchantinent. At times mind un noved in its even tenor stamps no impress on successive ages—for generations the world
But these were not days of types and magazines.
We cannot call tack the ages which have swallowed up
the successive inhabitants of our earth, or make light to shine on intellects long since quenched in death. We deal, therefore, with the present and not with the past. And we purpose to hold converse with those who would prefer, if choice were theirs, to live in the present age, whatever its imperfections, to having stood by the side of Alexander, when the world was a bauble too small for his ambition, or to have listened to Homer when his song enlivened the feast, and waked the loud plaudit.
The Londoner and the Parisian are each sure that their respective cities are the centres of the world, or at least of all that is desirable on its surface. We Americans are not reputed to be behind our neighbors across the ocean in that pleasing quality, vanity; why may not we then, in this American metropolis, put in its claim to be regarded as the centre ? Our sister cities, one some hundred miles south-west, and another something more than twice as far in a contrary direction, are brought so near our doors by the help of steam, that if we were to claim them as suburbs, no great harm would be done, if we could but persuade them to look on themselves
in this light.
But we choose to awaken no every year extending. A guilty ambition and jealousies, and therefore give them leave to jog a mercenary spirit have been the incitements to on in their own way, while we sit down here, many and wanton aggressions on the rights of to gather up monthly such ideas as shall help independent nations there; but yet both the nathe thoughts of the thinking world into right tural consequence of throwing on those nations channels. And from this point we look out to the light of modern civilisation—the opening a discover what are
highway for Christianity and knowledge, and an
overruling Providence which causes even the THE MORAL ASPECTS OF THE WORLD.
wickedness of men to work out its great and No age has gone before us more pregnant beneficent purposes, and will make this overwith changeful events. It is true that no sud
turning of ancient dynasties a rich blessing of den moral revolution has in our time broken up, as by an electric shock, long settled habits of
We look again at Western Asia, and missionthought and action. The wars that for a quar- aries from our own shores are silently diffusing ter of a century made Europe a battle-field, and the light of the gospel on regions long darkened crowns and sceptres but ordinary playthings, by Mahomedan superstition. The steamer with have now for another quarter of a century its rapid movement breaks up the torpor of the hushed their clangor. But the energy infused
Niussulman, and the habits on which ages
had into the public mind by these conflicts, has fixed their seal. found other objects on which to expend itself. Throughout Asia the inhabitants are awakIn former ages, wars might be succeeded by }ing from the sleep of centuries. The first apathy, but the power of the press, the multi- symptom of consciousness—the half-opened plication of new inventions, and the increased eye catches a glimpse of a new day, and, howmeans of intercommunication, bringing the in- ever the dreamer may turn from side to side and habitants of the world into compact proximity, court a drowsy insensibility, the time has past have kept every nerve of body and mind in when sleep, can close the eyelids. A new activity. The increased attention to education youth must succeed to dotard age; the birthand the diffusion of intelligence in a greater or place of our fathers will be modernized ; less degree throughout Christendom, has given our cousins of the family of Noah, despite to popular opinion, even under the most despotic themselves, from the effect of constant intercomgovernments, a power which it has not had munication, will find themselves insensibly asbefore. It is an experimental age—the leading similating in thought, feeling and action with tendency is to change. Antiquity is fast losing their distant relatives. The old stereotype its power to command reverence, and both truth plates, which, generation after generation, have and error are subjected to the crucible of unre- fixed their impress on character, will be broken stricted discussion.
up. New thoughts, new impulses, the enerChina, so long shut out from the rest of the gizing power of the Christian religion and the world by her own exclusiveness, has had her potency of European civilisation, will, in less barriers thrown down and the light of a differ- than a century, work a total transformation of ent civilisation, and the improvements of modern moral and physical character throughout the times—the arts and manners of Europe and wide realms of Asia. America ,are breaking into her fastnesses, with In Africa there are changes, but yet a deep all their vivifying and renovating influences. darkness broods over her arid plains. The While we reprobate the war made on this missionary here and there has erected his tent, ancient empire by Great Britain to force on her but the slaver yet frequents her shores, and will a trade in a vile and stupifying drug, we can have continue to do so, so long as a mart is found for but one opinion as to the beneficial moral effect human sinews. that will be the result. Nor are we prepared We cast our eyes over Europe, thickly studto say that it would have been either unjust or ded with cities, and planted with empires. The unwise for the nations of Europe to demand of busy mart meeting the traveller's gaze wherever her, a discharge of the social duties of neigh- he wanders ; the hum of business, untiring inborhood, to ask an abandonment of herisolation, dustry, active enterprise, the haughtiness of and to require her to take her proper station in wealth, the pride of birth, unrestricted power, the community of nations.
the depths of poverty, the lowness of degraThe British power over wide and populous dation ; universities, and schools, and lyceums, regions of India is firmly established and is and learning, and debasement, and ignorance;