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13. Aspirations of Youth.
HIGHER, higher, will we climb,
Up the mount of glory,
In our country's story;
Deeper, deeper, let us toil
In the mines of knowledge,
Win from school and college ;
Onward, onward, may we press
Through the path of duty;
Excellence true beauty.
Closer, closer, let us knit
Hearts and hands together,
In the wildest weather ;
James Montgomery, a religious poet of deservedly high reputation was born at Irvine, in Ayrshire, in 1771, and was educated at the Moravian School. A tone of generous and enlightened morality pervades all his writings. His fame was long confined to what is termed the religious world, till he showed, by his cultivation of different styles of poetry, that his depth and sincerity of feeling, the simplicity of his taste, and the pic. turesque beauty of his language, were not restricted to purely spiritual themes. His smaller poems enjoy a popularity almost equal to those of Moore, which, though differing widely in subject, they resemble in their musical flow, and their compendious, happy expression and imagery.
Cyclopædia Eng. Lit.
14. Practice and Habit.
We are born with faculties and powers capable almost of any thing — such, at least, as would carry us farther than can be easily imagined; but it is only the exercise of those powers, which gives us ability and skill in any thing, and leads us towards perfection.
A middle-aged ploughman will scarce ever be brought to the carriage and language of a gentleman, though his body be as well proportioned, and his joints as supple, and his natural parts not any way inferior. The legs of a dancingmaster, and the fingers of a musician, fall, as it were, naturally, without thought or pains, into regular and admirable motions. Bid them change their parts, and they will in vain endeavor to produce like motions in the members not used to them, and it will require length of time and long practice, to attain but some degrees of a like ability.
What incredible and astonishing actions do we find ropedancers and tumblers bring their bodies to! Not but that sundry, in almost all manual arts, are as wonderful; but I name those wbich the world takes notice of as such, because, on that very account, money is given to see them. All these admired motions, beyond the reach and almost the conception of unpractised spectators, are nothing but the mere effects of use and industry in men, whose bodies have nothing peculiar in them from those of the amazed lookers-on.
As it is in the body, so it is in the mind; practice makes it what it is; and most, even of those excellences wilich are lookea on as natural endowments, will be found, when examined into more narrowly, to be the product of exercise, and to be raised to that pitch only by repeated actions.
Some men are remarked for pleasantness in raillery, others for apologues and apposite, diverting stories. This is apt to be taken for the effect of pure nature, and that the rather, because it is not got by rules, and those who excel in either of them, never purposely set themselves to the study of it as an art to be learned. But yet it is true, that at first some lucky hit, which took with somebody, and gained him commendation, encouraged him to try again, inclined his thoughts and endeavors that way, till at last he insensibly got a facility in it without perceiving how; and that is attributed wholly to nature, which was much more the effect of use and practice.
I do not deny that natural disposition may very frequently give rise to it; but that never carries a man far without use and exercise, and it is practice alone that brings the powers of the mind, as well as those of the body, to their perfection. Many a good poetic vein is buried under a trade, and never produces any thing for want of cultivation.
To what purpose all this, but to show that the difference so observable in men's understanding and parts, does not arise so much from the natural faculties, as acquired habits ? He would be laughed at, that should go about to make a fine dancer out of a country hedger, at past fifty. And he will not have much better success, who shall endeavor at that age to make a man reason well, or speak handsomely, who has never been used to it, though you should lay before him a collection of all the best precepts of logic or oratory.
Nobody is made any thing by hearing rules, or laying them up in his memory ; practice must settle the habit of doing, without reflecting on the rule; and you may as well hope to make a good painter or musician, extempore, by merely lecturing upon the arts of music and painting, as a coherent thinker, or strict reasoner, by set of rules, showing him wherein right reason consists.
This being so, that defects and weakness in men's understandings, as well as other faculties, come from the want of a right use of their own minds, I am apt to think the fault is generally mislaid upon nature, and there is often a complaint of want of parts, when the fault lies in want of a due improvement of them. We see men frequently dexterous and sharp enough in making a bargain, who, if you reason with them about matters of religion, appear perfectly stupid.
15. Pleasures of Memory.
Sweet Memory! wafted by thy gentle gale,
When joy's bright sun has shed his evening ray,
· And who can tell the triumphs of the mind
Hail, Memory, hail! In thy exhaustless mine
Lighter than air hope's summer visions fly,
Samuel Rogers was born in London, in 1762. He is a man of liberal for tune, and is scarcely more distinguished as a poet than for the elegance and amenity of his manners, his knowledge of literature and the arts, and his brilliant conversation.
Lord Bacon describes poetry as “having something of divineness, because it doth raise and erect the mind, by submitting the shows of things to the desires of the mind; whereas reason doth buckle and bow the mind to the nature of things.” This is the most philosophical description that has been given of true poetry.
Rogers is the poet of taste, and is guided by the sense of beauty rather than by the convictions of reason. His poetry is always pleasing; its freedom and harmony, its refined sentiment, its purity, charm us before we are aware, and we involuntarily place it among our treasures.
Griswold's Poets and Poetry of England.
16. The Elder's Death-Bed.
For six years' Sabbaths, I had seen the elder in his ac customed place beneath the pulpit, and, with a sort of solemn fear, had looked on his steadfast countenance during sermon, psalm, and prayer. On returning to the scenes of my infancy, I met the pastor going to call upon the elder ; and with the privilege which nature gives us, to behold, even in their last extremity, the loving and beloved, I turned to accompany him to the house of sorrow, of resignation, and of death.