Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

ety too. Is it not apparent, dear Helen, that we do not feel that interest in the object of our society which its immense importance demands? The missionaries are bearing the heat and burden of the day in a foreign land; they are suffering many hardships and privations, and shall we, who are surrounded by the conveniences and elegancics of life, think it too much to work one afternoon in a week for the object in which they are engaged? The heathen are perishing for the bread of lite; will not their blood be required at our hands ?

Helen. Well, I know I have been too remiss ; but after all it is so little that we girls can do, by making pincushions, reticules, &c.

Eliza. Don't say so; if every one who has the abili. ty would do a little, what would be the aggregate ! The ocean is made of drops, you know. The Juvenile Society in B., by manufacturing these trifling articles of which you speak so contemptuously, earned in one year forty dollars. This sum added to their assessments amounted to sixty dollars. O ! if we only felt the worth of souls, we could do even more than this, here. My Helen, tet us be more engaged in this good

Consider how short the time is ; these hands of ours will ere long forget their cunning, and be mouldering in the grave. Do you think works of this kind will be amongst the rumber of those we shall think of with pain on a dying-bed, or when we stand waiting for our sentence, at the judgment seat of Christ !

Helen. O no, no! I have been awfully guilty-how shall I then answer for so much misspent time.

I have often, from the most trivial cause, absented myself from our society meetings, and spent the afternoon in fabricating some article of finery to decorate this poor dying form, which will soon be the repåst of worms.

Eliza. The hour of meeting has now arrived, and I must bid you good afternoon, unless you accompany me.

Helen. I will go, most certainly. I could enjoy nothing at home now; and the gown appears of no consequence.

Eliza. That is right, my ever dear Helen, we will go together, and may the Lord crown our humble efforts with success.

Cause.

The following Note exhibits so much genuine modesty, we cannot deny ourselves the pleasure of printing it.

ED. MR. WILBUR, Your excellent Monitor is constantly read in a sdeiety of young ladies, of which I am a member, the utility of which is greatly impeded by the disadvantages hinted at in the above dialogue. It is written in great haste, but if any one will have the charity to correct it, or write another upon the same subject for your publication, it may do good.

[For the Monitor.]

SOLITUDE.

“ WHOSOEVER is delighted in solitude as either a wild beast or a god!" A strange sentiment, surely, thought 1, as my eye glanced rapidly over the sentence. I read it again and again, and here, my young readers, is the result of my cogitations on this “ wise saying.' Mankind, in most cases, we know, are fond of associating with their own species. The mutual change of kind offices and tender sympathies produces present enjoyment, and that of a very exquisite kind. Motives of interest too have more or less influence in cementing the bands of society. No wonder, then, since the claims of society are so various and so strong, that few are disposed voluntarily to exclude themselves from those pleasures and privileges which are never found in solitude. Nor is it strange that the few instances which occur, of entire exclusion from society, should create general excitement and lead every reflecting man to inquire into the cause of such strange conduct.

An examination of the character of these recluses will solve the whole difficulty. If practicable, men will always pursue the object of their inclination; whatever course of life affords the most enjoyment will, inrariably, meet their choice. The isolated individual, therefore, who has voluntarily deserted society, derives en

[ocr errors]

joyment from some source, and, so long as he manifests no inclination to return, it cannot be supposed that bis enjoyments are of the nature of those which are found in mingling our pleasures and interests with those of our fellow-creatures They must, then, be of a grosser or purer kind. He must be “a wild beast or a god ;' and if we have such strange human beings in our world, it would be well to stop and look at them

The savage wanderer apparently derives his highest gratification from ranging his native woods, and seems to possess a share of that wildness which characterizes the original occupants of these solitary regions. His happiness, indeed, results principally from the gratitcation of his corporeal appetites, and those fierce passions which make human beings so much resemble the wild beasts of the forest; and yet the Indian can hardly be persuaded to exchange his retreat for the pleasures of civilized life. But a character like this, we are ready to say, can never be formed in the midst of social life. The man, however, who quits society, unless his mind be elevated above the mass of human beings, derives his chief enjoyment from the gratification of passions as degrading, at least, if not as wild, as those which the savage exhibits

He has, for some reason, become disgusted with society, and prefers the low-lived pleasure of brooding over his real or imaginary sufferings, and the solitary and uninturrupted indulgence of his sloth and the malignant passions of his soured and discontented' mind, to all the luxury attending the free exercise of the generous feelings of our nature. Or bis mind may possess that cold and spiritless character, which renders him incapable of participating in social enjoyment, and better fits him for the life of a beast.

Notwithstanding, however, there is satisfactory evidence that a great majority of those instances of voluntary exile, which occur in the world, arise from the most unworthy motives; yet we hazard nothing in asserting that, occasionally, a choice spirit “is delighted in solitude," purely from the exercise of his intellectual and moral powers.

Where the course of life results from choice, in the one case as well as in the other, it

.

must lay open some source of enjoyment. The peculiar kind can only be ascertained from the character of the individual; and, surely, these choice spirits must be uncommonly elevated in their views, and occupied with subjects which afford very high gratification, or they would not be unwilling to have their solitude interrupted, occasionally at least, by the pleasures of society. There is something in their character which, in some measure, assimilates them to the Divinity.

But however vigorous the exercise of the mental faculties, and however wide the compass of thought on subjects merely intellectual, the pleasure becomes low and debasing when compared with that refined and soul-ravishing delight which contemplations purely spiritual create. Surely when the soul holds communion with Deity himself, some sacred emanations must lastingly impress the divine image. It must receive impressions which partake, in a greater or less degree, of the character of God himself. It has an unction from on high. The divine image is stamped on the very heart, and the sacred lineaments of the Divinity appear in the whole character. The Revelator, wbile on the solitary isle of Patmos, undoubtedly found enjoyments far niore exquisite than at any other period of his life; and they were certainly of the most heavenly kind, for they resulted from immediate intercourse with heaven, and discoveries of the glory of God. And here we should recollect, that, from the very constitution of the human mind, habits.of solitary devotion have a very powerful influence in bringing into exercise, and cherishing, those emotions which make man heavenly-minded and godlike. Such habits cannot be too early or too assiduously cultivated, and we should remember too, that nothing so much degrades the human character, and destroys rational enjoyment, as the indulgence of those passions which put us out of humour with the world, and prompt us to withdraw from the society of our own species. But the sentiment at the bottom of this short but pithy saying, is by no means exclusively exemplified in the character of those who shut themselves entirely from the world. The stronger the passion for solitude, the

more are its votaries assimilated to the Divinity, or the ferocious beast of the forest, but it not unfrequently happens, that those who cultivate the purer pleasures of retirement, possess a high-relish for society, and after participating in its enjoyments, can return to their beloved and chosen solitude, with a keener appetite for its appropriate pursuits and peculiar delights.

W.

THE MOON AND STARS, A FABLE.”

"On the fourth day of Creation, when the sun, after a glorious but solitary course, went down in the evening, and darkness began to gather over the face of the uninhabited globe already arrayed in exuberance of vegetation, and prepared by the diversity of land and water for the abode of uncreated animals and man,--a star, single and beautiful, 'stept forth into the firmament. Trembling with wonder and delight in newfound existence, she looked abroad, and beheld nothing in heaven'or on earth resembling herself.

But she was not long alone, now one, then another, here a third, and there a fourth, resplendent companion had joined her, till light after light stealing through the gloom, in the lapse of an hour, the whole hemisphere was brilliantly bespangled.

The planets and stars, with a superb comet flaming in the zenith, for a while contemplated themselves and each other; and every one from the largest to the least was so perfectly well pleased with himself, that he imagined the rest only partakes of his felicity,-he being the central luminary of his own universe, and all the hosts of heaven beside displayed around him in graduated splendour. Nor were any undeceived with regard to themselves, though all saw their associates in their real situations and relative proportions, selfknowledge being the last knowledge acquired either in the sky or below it, till bending over the ocean in their turns, they discovered what they imagined, at first to be a new heaven, peopled with beings of their

« VorigeDoorgaan »