Monday, May 18, 2009


24. Amusements.

It were unjust and ungrateful to conceive that the amusements of life are altogether forbid by its beneficent Author. They serve, on the contrary, important purposes in the economy of human life, and are destined to produce important effects, both upon our happiness and character. They are, in the first place, in the language of the Psalmist, "The wells of the desert;" the kind resting-places in which toil may relax, in which the weary spirit may recover its tone, and where the desponding mind may resume its strength and its hopes. It is not, therefore, the use of the innocent amusements of life which is dangerous, but the abuse of them; it is not when they are occasionally, but when they are constantly pursued; when the love of amusements degenerates into a passion; and when, from being an occasional indulgence, it becomes an habitual desire.

A. Alison, England, 1792-1867.

The Present Moment

23. The Present Moment.

A celebrated modern writer says, "Take care of the minutes, and the hours will take care of themselves." This is an admirable saying, and might be very seasonably recollected when we begin to be "weary in well doing," from the thought of having much to do. The present moment is all we have to do with, in any sense; the past is irrecoverable; the future is uncertain; nor is it fair to burden one moment with the weight of the next. Sufficient unto the moment is the trouble thereof. If we had to walk a hundred miles, we still should have to set but one step at a time, and this process, continued, would infallibly bring us to our journey's end. Fatigue generally begins, and is always increased, by calculating in a minute the exertion of hours.

Jane Taylor, England, 1783-1824.

Swiftness of Life

22. Swiftness of Life.

Life bears us on like the stream of a mighty river. Our boat, at first, glides down the narrow channel, through the playful murmuring of the little brook, and the winding of its grassy border. The trees shed their blossoms over our young heads, the flowers on the brink seem to offer themselves to our young hands; we are happy in hope, and we grasp eagerly at the beauties around us, but the stream hurries on, and still our hands are empty.

Bishop K. Heber, England, 1783-1826.


21. Man.

Every want, not of a low kind, physical as well as moral, which the human breast feels, and which brutes do not feel, and cannot feel, raises man by so much in the scale of existence, and is a clear proof, and a direct instance, of the favor of God toward His so much favored human offspring. If man had been so made as to have desired nothing, he would have wanted almost everything worth possessing.

Daniel Webster, N. H., 1782-1852.

The Solar System

2O. The Solar System.

If we look out upon the starry heavens by which we are surrounded, we find them diversified in every possible way. Our own mighty Stellar System takes upon itself the form of a flat disc, which may be compared to a mighty ring, breaking into two distinct branches, severed from each other, the interior with stars less densely populous than upon the exterior. But take the telescope and go beyond this, and here you find, coming out from the depths of space, uni- verses of every possible shape and fashion; some of them assuming a globular form, and when we apply the highest possible penetrating power of the telescope, breaking into ten thousand brilliant stars, all crushed and condensed into one luminous, bright, and magnificent center.

0. M. Mitchell, Kentucky, 1810-1862

Our Destiny

19. Our Destiny.

It cannot be that earth is man's only abiding place. It cannot be that our life is a bubble, cast up by the ocean of eternity, to float a moment upon its waves, and sink into nothingness. Else why is it that the high and glorious aspirations, which leap like angels from the temple of our hearts, are for ever wandering about unsatisfied? "Why is it that the stars, which hold their festival around the midnight throne, are set above the grasp of our limited faculties, for ever mocking us with their unapproachable glory ? And, finally, why is it that bright forms of human beauty are represented to our view, and then taken from us; leaving the ten thousand streams of our affection to flow back in an Alpine torrent upon our hearts ? Surely we are born for a higher destiny than that of earth. There is a realm where the rainbow never fades,—where the stars will spread out before us like islands that slumber on the ocean, and where the beautiful beings which here pass before us like shadows, will stay in our presence for ever.

Sir Lytton Bulwer, England, 1S05-1S73.

The Sea

18. The Sea.

God has given the land to man, but the sea He has reserved to Himself. "The sea is His; and He made it." He has given man "no inheritance in it;"no, not so much as to set his foot on." If he enters its domain, he enters it as a pilgrim and stranger. He may pass over it; but he can have no abiding place upon it. He cannot build his house, nor so much as pitch his tent, within it. He cannot mark it with his lines, nor subdue it to his uses, nor rear his monuments upon it. It steadfastly refuses to own him as its lord and master. It is not afraid of him, as is the land. Its depths do not tremble at his coming. Its waters do not flee when he appeareth. When it hears of him, then it laughs him to scorn.

Leonard Swain, New England, .