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young ladies might teach the children of the poor to read, to sew, and to sing some cheerful melodies. Our young men who have received something like an education might help their brethren who have received none. Even our tailor might be taught to play “Oh Nannie” in proper time ; and the shoemaker might, at last, bring his restive clarionet to something like a tune. Our squire might superintend the healthful sports of our young men ; our rector might find benevolent occupation to dispel the six days' ennui of every week, and, in a word, Our Village might be made, without a miracle, something more like that “Auburn” of which good-hearted Goldsmith sung. Why not? Here is a question that must be answered. For every fact there is a reason -somewhere. Our Village is, without a doubt, a sad dull place ; and though several causes contribute to make its condition what it is, We believe there is one principal cause, without which the others would not be effectual. Where shall we find this cause? We have said it is not in nature; then it must be in the minds of the people : they are not prepared for a social reformation. But this is too vague an answer : we must seek further. There is one common principle of agreement in the minds of all the leading men of “ Our Village”—the rector, the squire, and the lawyer. It is the notion which they entertain of religion as a mere affair of assent to some doctrines and going to church. Here is the error which paralyses all hopes of social improvement. All great and good movements spring from religion ; but a false, narrow notion of religion is the most serious obstruction in the way of any benevolent design. Bear witness to this fact--tens of thousands of young slaves in mines and manufactories kept in the foul gloom of the most hopeless ignorance, because our present views of religion (!) will not allow us to give you the privileges of human beings ! It is not our business here to meddle with religion doctrinally; but a plain view of its practical nature is wanted. Practically, as the New Testament teaches us, it consists in the development of the good, the harmonious faculties of human nature. We can only judge by fruits ; where this development does not take place, the root of religion is not to be found. Now we must apply this rule to our rector. We have no wish to interfere with him personally, nor to call in question any of his doctrines ; we have only to consider him as a social agent, and to suggest to him a part of his duty, of which he has, perhaps, never thought. A religious teacher must be a helping, guiding power among the people over
whom he is placed. All things that are good, beautiful, and happy in their influences, should find in him their promoter. As the florist among flowers, so should he be as the cultivator of national natures : not striving to tie down all to one exact pattern, but helping all in the development of their best instincts : not merely railing against weeds, but encouraging and helping the growth of all that is good and beautiful. Now this is a view of religious duty which, unhappily, our rector never learned at Oxford, and, consequently, he has never taught our squire that there is any inconsistency between the religion of a “sound churchman” and a total neglect of all rational cultivation of the people who dwell round “ the Hall ;” nor has he ever hinted to our lawyer that the gospel would require him, instead of gathering in rents from the wretched hovels in our “ back-lane,” to pull down these dens of discomfort and disease, and build up dwellings suitable for human beings. All truths of this nature are fast asleep in “ Our Village ;” and if we wait for our rector to waken them and put them into motion, we shall never see a glimpse of “ Our Village as it ought to be.” The plain fact must be spoken (without any personal ill-will) : our rector, with his present views and habits, is an incubus upon all hopes of social or intellectual improvement.
Here we may just put in a word in reply to a charge which we have heard preferred against our modern philanthropic literaturethat it would make social improvements a substitute for religion. This is not true ; but we would measure the depth of religion by the extent of its benevolent operation ; we would conceive of it as not merely a shut-up doctrine, but as a spirit, with life and love, raising and refining all life and practice. We propose social improvements as instruments to be swayed by such a spirit, and, with regard to that form of religion which refuses to employ them, we say it may be very comfortable for an individual who is satisfied with it; but it is not the religion required in order to realise even “ Our Village as it ought to be.”
· JOSEPH Gostick.
This is a comprehensive category, and the items are as various as the contents of an old clothes shop. Everybody in the world has his “things of importance ;' but he finds it hard to persuade his neighbours that they are not trifles, about which no wise man would ever trouble himself. And yet, from the everlasting bustle that goes on, one might fancy that nothing was ever transacted on the surface of the earth but things of importance !
Geographers tell us that the heights of the highest mountains in the world are in proportion to their size, not more than the inequalities on the rind of an orange ; and the affairs of life keep the mountains in countenance : the important things that fill the whole field of vision to-day with their imposing bulk, dwindle down from the colossal to the merely mortal, when to-day becomes yesterday, and on the morrow they become absolutely invisible to the strictest investigations of history or scandal.
In the experience of every man, the important things of to-day are degraded into the trifles of to-morrow ; nearly every occurrence of life is more indebted to the momentum of falling from the passing moment than for any specific gravity of its own. If it did not make one smile it might well make one laugh, to look back on all the things of importance that have agitated us in their time. Where are they now? Their joy and sorrow have perished with them, they have vanished even from our memory, and are now no more to us than the scenes of a well-written novel or play : indeed, we come to regard them with precisely the same sort of feeling.
It is the same with our wishes. A man may possibly desire no more refined vengeance on his enemy, than to grant him the wish that lay nearest his heart five years previously. So long as life remains, men will put forth fresh desires every day, as trees put forth fresh leaves every spring ; but the same destiny is laid on each, that the old in both cases must fall off and die ; men must moult their feelings and desires in the course of nature, and very miserable and good for nothing they feel at such seasons ; but vitality is strong, and so long as life remains men must go on
wishing and hoping, and transacting their "things of importance” till death comes to place them under other conditions of being of which we know nothing. Perhaps whilst it is going on, the most important thing in the eyes of all concerned, man, woman, or confidante, is a love affair—a real fit of desperation, be it understood ; not the tepid sentiment of preference, such as well-broughtup young ladies are instructed is all they ought to indulge in if they wish to continue respectable. Decidedly there is nothing in life worthy to be compared to a strong passion that calls into activity every faculty of body and soul : it is like the bursting forth of a volcano, showing all the strength and fire that lay hidden below the surface. It is not a thing that can last long, (the whole world must infallibly go to the deuce if it did); it dies away, leaving at first the appearance of desolate barrenness, but after a while there springs up a richness and fertility of soul that was not so before. By those very individuals the passion of love comes to be regarded as a mere dream, or as a milliner once phrased a dress cap, “a charming delusion, with beautiful blue.”—They retain of their former fires only a comfortable warmth fit for domestic purposes.
If it were possible to place in array all the men and women on whom a grande passion had been lavished-all the objects of an unfortunate attachment - the amazement of everybody would be extreme, when they beheld the show of very ordinary mortals which would appear to their disenchanted view! In love, it is an emphatic truth, “ that nothing is, but all things seem.” When the heat of passion has passed away, the objects, when beheld in the cool light of reflection, generally seem greater bores than the average run of the sons and daughters of Adam. Few who have been the object of passionate love ever turn into sterling friends. The things we most eagerly grasp at, are like the pebbles in a sparkling brook ; so long as the sun shines on them, and they glitter with moisture, they look to be very precious things: but in a little while they become dry and dim; one finds them good for nothing but to make roads withal to tread under our feet every day.
History is nothing but a museum for the fossil remains of things that were of importance in their day and generation; but we can seldom realise the tranquil assurance it gives, that the most important of important things will petrify into matters of fact, only interesting as they in their turn are types of similar griefs or interests that will touch those who come after us to the end of time: for no emotion of either joy or sorrow is a private property ; there is no monopoly in nature ; we are all one family, though, to be sure, we occasionally meet with those whom we do not feel any pride in claiming for relations. Hence it is that men are libellously said, “to hate their own likeness in a brother's face"- but it is no such thing ; it is not the likeness they object to but the very little justice that is done to it. Who is there who does not from his soul protest against a caricature, or even a photographic portrait ?-Nurses tell little children that “ beauty is but skindeep ;” and we may rest assured that the importance of the most important people in the world is of even greater tenuity-a very little goes a great way, and a square inch of the reality may be beaten out to an extent exceeding that of gold-leaf. The people and things of the most Augustan ages are not gold,-only gilded with importance ; the staple material of which they are made up is the same in all times. People have such a mania for fancying themselves and their concerns exceptions to the general rule, whereas every man is an average specimen brick, of the individual amount of real importance invested in the sons of men. To be sure, the inheritance of each is infinitesimal--but what of that? Each man has the gift to see himself with microscopic eyes which magnify a thousandfold. This is a wise provision of nature ; for nobody would have the heart to transact his own affairs if he only saw them as they appear to other people. No wonder, then, our affairs are mismanaged when we turn them over to somebody else to do for us !
“ When we take our walk abroad," and see all the labour that is done under the sun, what is the impression that it makes upon us? We wonder that people can be found to take interest in such things, and we criticise unmercifully the smallest discrepancy between the programme and the performance of our neighbours.
When one reflects on the amount of labour and pains that have been expended on what have eventually proved failures, it almost makes one tremble. A very tragical history might be written on unsuccessful men, if the world could be made to feel any interest in those who fail; and yet it requires an amount of actual talent even to achieve a failure.
How many people are there who trouble their heads about the list of patents that are regularly declared ? Not one in a thousand, And yet if we could realise the amount of patience and labour, and time and money, and hope and fear, and sickness of heart,