Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

the angels sung in Bethlehem, "Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, and good will among men.” There is the traveller, ready to transport her to any quarter of the globe which she chooses to visit. With him she may traverse the sandy deserts of Africa, or plunge with the adventurous ship among the eternal ice of either pole. With him she

upon
the

snowy top of Chimborazo or Mont Blanc, or explore the flaming mines of Poland or Peru. With him she may sit and muse among the ruins of Petra, or frighten the bittern from the marshy streets of Babylon the Great.

By his assistance she may gain almost as clear an idea of the Holy Land, as if she had actually visited that consecrated soil,

may stand

“O'er whose acres walked those blessed feet, Which eighteen hundred years ago were nailed For our advantage to the bitter cross.”

The poet is there to wrap her in visions of still greater beauty and splendor. It is his to create a world such as meets the longings of the immortal mind, out of whatever is most perfect in this, and people it with beings of more than mortal loveliness and virtue. No

sooner does she open the page of Milton, than she glides through the mystic lapse of ages, like Uriel upon the sun beam, and alights amid the silver streams, the cooling shades, the ambrosial airs of Paradise. In its sunny skies, its perpetual bloom, its undisturbed repose, she sees what this world might be, were it not marred, and clouded, and blighted by sin.

Shakspeare, if possible, touches her with a wand of still more potent enchantment. He has but to speak, and spirits hover round, filling the air with spicy odors and melting melodies. He stamps, and the yawning earth pours forth her withered witches and her gibbering ghosts. He smites upon the tomb of ages, and buried monarchs start to life, and followed by their trains, come forth to show us what they were, and tell us how they lived. By his master key are laid open one after another, the most secret recesses of the human heart, and she sees the very springs which set in motion the vast machinery of human affairs. She sees in their elementary workings those grand passions which have filled the world with action, and history with the brightest virtues and the blackest crimes.

A woman, whom a good education has provided with such resources, can never feel the oppression of an idle or a solitary hour. Her house will probably be the resort of the cultivated and refined, and she will thus have all that is most valuable in society, without its vanities and its toils. In such a home, so fitted and formed to develope mind, she needs have no anxiety for the education of her children. Her conversation, and that of the friends whose intimacy she cultivates, will do more to educate them, to give them intellectual tastes and habits than a thousand schools and colleges. For after all, the best part of education is not the dry knowledge obtained from books, and maps, and diagrams, but is imparted when teaching and being taught is farthest from our minds. It is breathed into us by the subtile infection of pure aims and lofty aspirations. It is imparted by the electric communication of right feelings and noble sentiments. No where can the mind gain knowledge so rapidly and so well, as in listening to the conversation of the accomplished and well informed. In no way can its powers be disciplined to strength

and acuteness so well as by discussion of the most interesting subjects of human enquiry with a strong and clear intellect, which has already given them a thorough investigation.

The best part of education must be received at home, the education of the heart, by the influence of a sympathy with those we love, too delicate to be analyzed or defined. There we daily look into the souls of those whom nature has taught us most to reverence and imitate. If there we see, as in a pure mirror the images of the noblest virtues, integrity, truth, honor, justice, piety to God and kindness to men, we are more likely to be transformed into the same likeness than by any amount of eloquence or ingenuity.

The best part of education is that which forms the character and gives us just views of human life,—that we are not sent here eagerly to grasp at and tenaciously to retain all the advantages over our fellow beings that we can gain, to take our ease while others toil, to seek our own selfish ends regardless of the rights and feelings of others; but with disinterestedness, firmness, patience,

and humanity to take our share in the good or ill of all. It should ever be our motto,

“Trust no future howe'er pleasant,
Let the dead past bury its dead,
Act, act in the living present,
Heart within and God o'er head."

« НазадПродовжити »