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'LET the floods elap their hands; let the hills be joyful together.
GOD! the eternal torrents shout thy name,
And the hoarse thunders, smothered in the cells
Of the huge mountains; there thy presence dwells
That soar up through the cold blue atmosphere,
To thee, their fashioner; earth, air and sea,
The piping winds, which through the sky do speed,
Rears in his heart false shrines, and makes his homage there.
Utica, (N.Y.,) July, 1838.
SHAKSPEARE'S SEVEN AGES.
H. W. R.
'Last scene of all
That ends this strange, eventful history,
Is second childishness, and mere oblivion;
Sans eyes, sans teeth, sans taste, sans every thing.'
How poor and abject a creature man would be, were he not immortal! How aimless and futile all his wants, and struggles, and sufferings; all his joys, and hopes, and aspirations! Deprive us of our claim to another life, and we sink beneath the worm, in the scale of creation and this is a claim founded no less upon a promise, than the nature of the soul itself. The bird, the fish, the very toad, have a duty, an office, an end, to answer, commensurate to the scope of their powers. All animated things, (and inanimate, too, but this does not belong to our argument,) minister, directly or indirectly, to the comfort and convenience of man; either forming links in the chain of existences that ends in his person, or immediately united to him by service of food, carriage, or clothing. They do not live to no purpose. Natural history is daily unfolding their purpose. Every day and year adds new proofs of the design and plan of the Almighty in his creation. From what we already know, it is fair to infer as much design in the forming of the minutest mote that quivers in the sun-beam, as in the universal principle of gravitation. Why should we pretend to divide the operations of God into important and unimportant? A world is to him the production of a will; and so is the smallest insect in creation. Who will pretend to say that things would go on as they now do, if the common house-fly were exterminated? Who knows how necessary to our health this troublesome little buzzer may be? Did you ever watch one? It wheels about in the upper air of our rooms, unless tempted by larger
booty upon the table, in interminable circles, like the swallow out of doors; tacks like the hound; evinces order, passion, and perseverance. What battles have we fought, when half asleep, with some old fly, who insisted upon feeding upon our nose!
The fly may seek the upper air of apartments because it is lighter, and is filled with impurities. The air above doors and windows is rarely removed by the common methods of ventillation; this is the fly's business. Do not kill flies!
It is said that during the first season of the cholera, in one of our western cities, not a fly was to be seen. It is possible that they saw the evil was too great for their scavenger carts, and so departed to better-rewarded labors.
Some of our readers may not know, that there are animalculæ so small, that four millions of them make a mass no larger than a grain of sand: and yet these have all the machinery of life, digestive organs, and all the powers of locomotion, appetites, and passions, of larger creatures. Very small animalculæ, if kept in distilled water, grow lean and fierce; and, when changed into water not distilled, devour the prey there found with great eagerness, swallowing it whole and alive, for the latter have been seen to move in the intestines of their destroyers.*
The mechanic shows his skill and nicety, by forming little watches, or a steam-engine in a nut-shell; we look at these facts in creation, as specially wonderful, not recollecting that to God there is no great, no small, no difficult, no easy. They are here adduced to show, that there is a system, commencing with very minute living things, by which animals feed each other, up to man, who, in his better parts, feeds nothing. And allowing that man does feed the worm, and reptile, we are led in a circle. Now there is a connection in all things, but it is the union of a straight line, and not of a circle. We are nearer to God in our nature than the worm, or the 'lily of the field.' He clothes the lily, and feeds the worm, as he clothes and feeds us, but he has given us other desires than theirs, which he will equally satisfy.
If the life of some animals is short, so is their office small. The frame of a living thing seems proportional in duration, elegance, and strength, to the object of its life. The more perfect, according to our notions, the mechanism of a creature, the more important seems its operations. Some live but one summer; some only a day; many are born, grow old, and die, all in the space of an hour. Still how important, in the whole, may these brevitic existences be!
As far as our knowledge of nature extends, then, we say, that nothing is made in vain, or without an object adequate to its formation; that all things tend to some higher service than that of self. Man is the ultimum of this lower world, the link that binds the temporal to the eternal, as the vegetable unites the animal and mineral kingdoms. From man is made the angel, as the worm becomes the butterfly. Creation is a chain, unbroken, not disunited; a long
† For a more full view of this idea, we refer our readers to BARNES' Essay, prefixed to BUTLER'S Analogy; an essay rendered almost useless, by straining a noble thought,
succession of causes and effects; each cause being in its turn both an effect and a cause.
And does man alone tend to nothing? Shall every thing else have a satisfactory end, and man alone end the drama of life, by lying down in the cold ground, and being resolved to earth again? Is it for this, he has suffered and toiled through life? Is he endowed with acute sensitiveness to pain, and a susceptibility of deep joy, for this? The better part of him finds no home here, in this life. How large are his powers! How terrific his settled passion; how devilish his hate; how angelic his generosity! What noble ambitions possess him! What sacrifices will he not make for his friend, his country, his religion! How gentle and divine his pity; how deep his tears; how despairing his sorrow and grief! Why does he know the pleasures of friendship- the solace of Christ, when on earth the excitement of intellectual intercourse, the refined enjoyments of society, the reciprocation of love, the sympathy of divine worship? Are these the attributes of a temporal being? If they are, then the better part of man has no object,
'Know ye not,' says the Apostle, 'that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you,' which cannot die. And hear Cicero: Nam corpus quidem quasi vas est, aut aliquod animi receptaculum.' Avert not your eyes, kind reader, as I point you to new proofs. See the disappointed man, the ruined spendthrift, the murderer, the drunkard, the thief, the liar, the traitor. Imagine their feelings. They are men. You have your faults you know you have. You cannot despise them. The very feeling that tells you you are their superior, in all points, convicts you of inferiority. Oh, pity not the poor, for labor sweetens rest; pity not the sick, the lame, the blind, the mourning mother, the orphan child-pity not these, as you pity the wicked! Vice is the accident of early education. Men are scattered like the seeds in the field of the world; some fall in good ground, some in stony places, some in rank, weedy spots. Oh, pity the wicked! They have still the power of reason, know what virtue is, and remember their early years, and the peace that goodness breathes around the heart; peace like the serenity of early morning in the country. They stand with their immortal natures all soiled and polluted. The bitter taunt and neglect of the world keeps them in mind of what they are, and the soul talks to itself in language bitterer than human fiend can utter to another, Language,' says a benevolent and eloquent clergyman, implying scorn of our fellow beings, should not be used without extreme caution and discrimination, and without a feeling of evident pity and regret, that a being so nobly gifted, should so degrade himself. The meanest knave, the basest profligate, the reeling drunkard - what a picture does he present of a glorious nature in ruins! Let a tear fall, as he passes. Let us blame and abhor, if we must, but let us reverence and pity still. What hopes are cast down! what powers are wasted! what means, what indefinite possibilities of improvement, are turned into gloomy
true, upon the whole, into the paltry object of accounting for a scheme of human theology, but which, nevertheless, contains valuable thoughts, ingenious reasonings, and rich language,
disappointment! What is the man, and what might he be! The very body, with its fine organization, with its wonderful workmanship, groans and sickens, when it is made the instrument of base indulgence! The spirit sighs, in its secret places, over its meanness, its treachery, and dishonor! There is a nobler mind, in the degraded body, that retires within itself, and will not look through the dimmed eye, and will not shine in the bloated and stolid countenance; there is a holier conscience, that will not strengthen the arm that is stretched out to defraud; but sometimes makes that arm tremble with its paralyzing touch, and sometimes shakes, as with thunder, the whole soul of the guilty transgressor.'*
Take heart, poor sinner! thou weak brother of humanity! Be up and be a man; let not thy despair drive thee deeper still in guilt! Thou hast been sorely tried, but not for nothing. Not always shall it be so; not always shall thy body weigh down thy mind. Thou hast a soul, I know thou hast; I see it by thy tears; I hear it in thy groans. Suffer thou must. Thou hast voluntary sins to atone for, perhaps, by ages of repentence. Thou must climb to heaven, ever more hard to attain than any human eminence. Believe not thou shalt always sleep in death!
With these views and this belief, we read the history of the seventh and final age without disgust. This wasting and wearing out of the body seems the natural way of passing from this world to the next. It seems a beneficent order of Providence, to rob death of its terrors. Were our lives better, our passions and appetites under better control, there is little doubt but that men generally would die in this way. They would pass as the flowers fade, leaf by leaf; as the stars go out. This gradual decay is the course of all nature. There is nothing harsh and abrupt in the workings of God. If we outrage his rules, we suffer the penalty. The careless and too indulgent mother robs her child of life, and cuts her own heart; the sensualist, the inordinately ambitious, the schemer in diets and medicines, all pay the forfeit of their folly.†
We are losing the moral influences of the 'seventh age.' We ra ly see it. Most corpses have teeth. Rare is the sight of a venerable old man. So obsolete has he become, that the dress peculiar to him is out of date, too. It is out of fashion, because there is nobody to
* Rev. ORVILLE DEWEY.
+ 'His et talibus rationibus adductus, Socrates nec patronum quæsivit ad judicium capitis, nec judicibus supplex fuit; adhibuitque liberam contumaciam, a magnitudine animi ductam, non a superbia. Et supremo vitæ die, de hoc ipso multa disseruit, et paucis ante diebus, cuni facile posset educi e custodia, noluit; et cum pæne in manu jam mortiferum illud teneret poculum, locutus ita est, ut non ad mortem trudi, verum in cælum videretur ascendere.
'Ita enim censebat itaque disseruit: 'Duas esse vias duplicesque cursus animorum a corpore excedentium. Nam qui se humanis vitiis contaminavissent, et se totos libidinibus dedidissent, quibus cæcati; vel domesticis vitiis atque flagitiis se inquinavissent; vel republica violanda fraudes inexpiabiles concepissent; iis devium quoddam iter esse, seclusum a concilio deorum. Qui autem se integros castosque servavissent; quibusque fuisset minima cum corporibus contagio, seseque ab his semper sevocassent; essentque in corporibus humanis vitam imitati deorum; his ad illos a quibus essent profecli, reditum facilem patere.' Itaque commemorat, ut cygni (qui non sine causa Apolloni dicati sint, sed quod ab eo divinationem habere videantur quâ providentes quid in morte boni sit,) cum cantu et voluptate moriantur ; sic omnibus et bonis et doctis esse faciendum.' CICERONIS TUSCULANE QUES.
wear it. Oh, for the age of old men! How few know they had grand-fathers, except by reading tomb-stones! Along with the infant in his nurse's arms,' and 'the school boy with his satchel,' along with the 'lover,' the 'soldier,' the 'justice,' and the age of retrospection, we would see the 'seventh age,' that 'second childishness,' in which nature prepares the body for dissolution a passing without pain or regret. We should love to minister to its wants, to alleviate its pains; to smooth the pillow of the white-haired old man, and to dress those silver locks, which have an infant delicacy and softness; to place his chair in the comfortable nook, and adjust the footstool for his feeble limbs. It is when our fathers have passed into the seventh age, that we can repay them, in kind, for their care of our infancy. And it is a remarkable fact in natural history, that, by the course of nature, the parent never grows helpless, until the offspring has acquired strength sufficient to support its feebleness; a fact which teaches us our obligation to the old.
How well the old and young look, side by side! But the most pleasing picture of our relations, is to see an aged and infirm parent, once the strength and vigor of his fellows, leaning on the arm of his son, now in the prime of life, the full promise of his manhood, relying on the strength, confiding in the virtue, and trusting to the_character, he himself helped to form, by instruction, counsel, and reproof; looking and feeling happy, and proud of his faithful parentage, and so rewarded for his stewardship. There are gratitude, good sense, good taste, and religion, in such a sight.
This chapter of Shakspeare's history is short; and, indeed, little but the bare fact ought to be stated. The life of the mind, for this world, was finished in the sixth age.' We close our readings, for the book is ended. Let our reader read and comment for himself. He will find much written in this history,' which we have not noticed. People must read the Bible and Shakspeare for themselves. They can no more read for each other, than they can walk, and sleep, and eat for each other. The same book may be a nourishment to one mind, and a poison to another. The game sentence may draw tears from the boxes, and buzzas from the pit. But all may store their minds from Shakspeare. He is a well from which all may fill their buckets, hold they more or less.
Preachers tell us we must read the Bible in a prayerful spirit; no more, say we, than any book. All must be read, not for pleasure only, but for profit. From the history' we have attempted to extract the moral, the serious, and the useful; and we shall be glad if we have been the means of eliciting a single good thought, of unfolding a single truth, or banishing a single error.
J. N. B.
OLD father Time stands still for none;
If then with Time good friends you'd be,