« VorigeDoorgaan »
EXERCISES IN ARTICULATION.
f:- deaf, off, if, muf, ruf, chafe, laugh, tough, fry,
freeze, from, frown, fast.
Importance of Knowledge to the Mechanic.
GEORGE B. EMERSON. Let us imagine for a moment the condition of an individual, who has not advanced beyond the merest elements of knowledge, who understands nothing of the principles even of his own art, and inquire what change will be wrought in his feelings, his hopes, and happiness, in all that makes up the character, by the gradual inpouring of knowledge. He has now the capacity of thought, but it is a barren faculty, never nourished by the food of the mind, and never rising above the poor objects of sense. Labor and rest, the hope of mere animal enjoyment, or the fear of want, the care of providing covering and food, make up the whole sum of his existence.
Such a man may be industrious, but he cannot love labor; for it is not relieved by the excitement of improving or changing the processes of his art, nor cheered by the hope of a better condition.
When released from labor, he does not rejoice; for mere idleness is not enjoyment, and he has no book, no lesson of science, no play of the mind, no interesting pursuit, to give a zest to the hour of leisure. Home has few charms for him. He has little taste for the quiet, the social converse, and the exchange of feeling and thought, the innocent enjoyments, that ought to dwell there. Society has little to interest him ; for he has no sympathy for the pleasures or pursuits, the cares or troubles of others, to whom he cannot feel or perceive his bonds of relationship. All of life is but a poor boon for such a man; and happy for himself and for mankind, if the few ties that hold him to this negative existence be not broken. Happy for him if that best and surest friend of man, that messenger of good news from Heaven to the poorest wretch on earth, Religion, bringing the fear of God, appear to save him. Without her to support, should temptation assail him, what an easy victim would he fall to vice or crime! How little would be necessary to overturn his ill-balanced principles, and throw him grovelling in intemperance, or send him abroad on the ocean or the highway, an enemy to himself and his kind !
But let the light of science fall upon that man; open to him the fountain of knowledge; a few principles of philosophy enter his mind, and awaken the dormant power of thought; he begins to look upon his art with an altered eye. It ceases to be a dark, mechanical process, which he cannot understand. He regards it as an object of inquiry, and begins to penetrate the reasons, and acquire a new mastery over his own instruments. He finds other and better modes of doing what he had done before, blindly and without interest, a thousand times. He learns to profit by the experience of others, and ventures upon untried paths.
Difficulties, which before would have stopped him at the outset, receive a ready solution from some luminous principle of science. He gains new knowledge and new skill, and can improve the quality of his manufacture, while he shortens the process, and diminishes his own labor. Then labor becomes sweet to him; it is accompanied by the consciousness of increasing power; it is leading him forward to a higher place among his fellow-men. Relaxation, too, is sweet to hiin, as it enables him to add to his intellectual stores, and to mature, by undisturbed meditation, the plans and conceptions of the hour of labor. His home has acquired a new charm; for he is become a man of thought, and feels and enjoys the peace and seclusion of that sacred retreat; and he carries thither the honest complacency which is the companion of well-earned success. There, too, bright visions of the future sphere open upon him, and excite a kindly feeling towards those who are to share in his prosperity.
Thus his mind and heart expand together. He has become an intelligent being, and, while he has learned to esteem himself, he has also learned to live no longer for himself alone. Society opens, like a new world, to him. He looks upon
his fellow-creatures with interest and sympathy, and feels that he has a place in their affections and respect. Temptations assail him in vain. He is armed by high and pure thoughts. He takes a wider view of his relations with the beings about and above him. He welcomes every generous virtue that adorns and dignifies the human character. He delights in the exercise of reason - he glories in the consciousness and the hope of immortality.
h :- hail, hate, hold, home, hope, hew, huge, herein, hereon,
hothouse, hartshorn, behind, perhaps, inhale, abhor. all, hall; - aunt, haunt;— air, hair ; - art, heart;- at, hat.
Effects of the Modern Diffusion of Knowledge.
In consequence of the general diffusion of intelligence, nations are becoming vastly better acquainted with the physical, moral, and political conditions of each other. Whatever of any moment is transacted in the legislative assemblies of one country is now very soon known, not merely to the rulers, but also to the people, of every other countıy. Nay, an interesting occurrence of any nature cannot transpire, in an insignificant town of Europe or America, without finding its way, through the medium of the national journals, to the eyes and ears of all Christendom. Every man must now be, in a considerable degree, a spectator of the doings of the world, or he is soon very far in the rear of the intelligence of the day. Indeed, he has only to read a respectable newspaper, and he may be informed of the discoveries in the arts, the discussions in the senates, and the bearings of public opinion all over the world.
The reasons of all this may chiefly be found in that increased desire of information which characterizes the mass of society in the present age. Intelligence of every kind, and especially political information, has become an article of profit; and when once this is the case, there can be no doubt that it will be abundantly supplied. Besides this, it is important to remark, that the art of navigation has been within a few years materially improved, and commercial relations have become vastly more extensive. The establishment of packet-ships between the two continents has brought London and Paris as near to us as Pittsburg and New Orleans. There is every reason to believe that, within the next half century, steam navigation will render communication between the ports of Europe and America as frequent, and almost as regular, as that by ordinary mails. The commercial houses of every nation are establishing their agencies in the principal cities of every other nation, and thus binding together the people by every tie of interest; while, at the same time, they are furnishing innumerable channels by which information may be circulated among every class of the community.
Hence it is that the moral influence which nations are exerting upon each other is greater than it has been at any antecedent period in the history of the world. The institutions of one country are becoming known, almost of necessity, to every other country. Knowledge provokes to comparison, and comparison leads to reflection. The fact that others are happier than themselves prompts men to inquire whence this difference proceeds, and how their own melioration may be accomplished. By simply looking upon a free people, an oppressed people instinctively feel that they have inalienable rights; and they will never afterwards be at rest until the enjoyment of these rights is guarantied to them. Thus one form of government, which in any preëminent degree promotes the happiness of man, is gradually but irresistibly disseminating the principles of its constitution, and, from the very fact of its existence, calling into being those trains of thought, which must in the end revolutionize every government within the sphere of its influence, under which the people are oppressed.
And thus is it that the field in which mind may labor, has now become wide as the limits of civilization. A doctrine advanced by one man, if it have any claim to interest, is soon known to every other man. The movement of one intellect now sets in motion the intellects of millions. We may now calculate upon effects, not upon a state or a people, but
upon the melting, amalgamating mass of human nature. Man is now the instrument which genius wields at its will ; it touches a chord of the human heart, and nations vibrate in unison. And thus he who can rivet the attention of a community upon an elementary principle hitherto neglected in politics or morals, or who can bring an acknowledged principle to bear upon an existing abuse, may, by his own intellectual might, with only the assistance of the press, transform the institutions of an empire or a world.
In many respects, the nations of Christendom collectively are becoming somewhat analogous to our own federal republic. Antiquated distinctions are breaking away, and local animosities are subsiding. The common people of different countries are knowing each other better, esteeming each other more, and attaching themselves to each other by various manifestations of reciprocal good-will.
It is true, every nation has still its separate boundaries, and its individual interest; but the freedom of commercial intercourse