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CXI. - THE MINSTREL BOY.
In the ranks of Death you'll find him.
And his wild harp slung behind him.
“ Though all the world betrays thee, One sword, at least, thy rights shall guard,
One faithful harp shall praise thee.”
2. The minstrel fell: but the foeman's chain
Could not bring his proud soul under.
For he tore its chords asunder,
Thou soul of love and bravery;
They never shall sound in slavery,”
CXII. - THE GREEKS AT THERMOPYLÆ.
[George Gordon Noel Byron, Lord Byron, was born in London in 1788, and died in Greece in 1824. Lord Byron has written much poetry of singular power and fascination, and much which is unworthy of his great genius.]
They fell devoted, but undying;
Their spirits wrapped the dusky mountain;
CXIII. - LABOR AND GENIUS.
SYDNEY SMITI. [Sydney Smith, a clergyman of the Church of England, was born in 1771, and died in 1815. His miscellaneous writings, comprising essays, reviews, and occasional pieces, are characterized by a happy combination of strong sense and brilliant wit. He also wrote two volumes of sermons, and, since his death, a volume of “ Lectures on Moral Philosophy" has been published by his family.]
1. The prevailing idea with young people has been, the incompatibility' of labor and genius; and, therefore, from the fear of being thought dull, they have thought it necessary to remain ignorant. I have seen, at school and at college, a great many young men completely destroyed by having been so unfortunate as to produce an excellent copy of verses. Their genius being now established, all that remained for them to do, was to act up to the dignity of the character; and as this dignity consisted in reading nothing new, in forgetting what they had already read, and in pretending to be acquainted with all subjects by a sort of off-hand exertion of talents, they soon collapsed into the most frivolous and insignificant of men.
2. It would be an extremely profitable thing to draw up a short and well-authenticated account of the habits of study of the most celebrated writers with whose style of literary industry we happen to be most acquainted. It would go very far to destroy the absurd and pernicious: association of genius and idleness, by showing that the greatest poets, orators, statesmen, and historians — men of the most brilliant and imposing talents — have actually labored as hard as the makers of dictionaries and the arrangers of indexes; and that the most obvious reason why they have been superior to other men is, that they have taken more pains than other men.
3. Gibbon was in his study every morning, winter and summer, at six o'clock: Burke was the most laborious and indefatigable“ of human beings: Leibnitz* was never out of his library: Pascal killed himself by study: Cicero narrowly escaped death from the same cause : Milton was at his books with as much regularity as a merchant or an attorney; he had mastered all the knowledge of his time : so had Homer. Raphael lived but thirty-seven years; and in that short space carried the art of painting so far beyond what it had before reached, that he appears to stand alone as a model to his successors.
4. There are instances to the contrary; but, generally speaking, the life of all truly great men has been a life of intense and incessantó labor. They have commonly passed the first half of life in the gross darkness of indigent humility — overlooked, mistaken, contemned by weaker men, — thinking while others slept, reading while others rioted, feeling something within them that told them they should not always be kept down among the dregs of the world; and then, when their time has come, and some little accident has given them their first occasion, they bave burst out into the light and glory of public life, rich
* Pronounced Līb'nitz.
with the spoils of time, and mighty in all the labors and struggles of the mind.
5. Then do the multitude cry out, “ A miracle of genius!” Yes, he is a miracle of genius, because he is a miracle of labor; because, instead of trusting to the resources of his own single mind, he has ransacked a thousand minds; because he makes use of the accumulated wisdom of ages, and takes, as his point of departure, the very last line and boundary to which science has advanced ; because it has ever been the object of his life to assist every intellectual gift of nature, however munificent, and however splendid, with every resource that art could suggest, and every attention diligence could bestow.
6. But, while I am descanting upon the conduct of the understanding, and the best mode of acquiring knowledge, some men may be disposed to ask, “Why conduct my understanding with such endless care ? and what is the use of so much knowledge ?” What is the use of so much knowledge? What is the use of so much life? What are we to do with the seventy years of existence allotted to us? and how are we to live them out to the last ?
7. I solemnly declare that, but for the love of knowledge, I should consider the life of the meanest hedger and ditcher as preferable to that of the greatest and richest man in existence; for the fire of our minds is like the fire which the Persians burn on the mountains: it flames night and day, and is immortal, and not to be quenched! Upon something it must act and feed - upon the pure spirit of knowledge, or upon the foul dregs of polluting passions.
8. Therefore, when I say, in conducting your understanding, love knowledge with a great love, with a vehement love, with a love coeval with life, what do I say but Love innocence, love virtue, love purity of conduct, love that which, if you are rich and great, will vindicate the blind fortune which has made you so, and make men call it justice; love that which, if you are poor, will render your poverty respectable, and make the proudest feel it unjust to laugh at the meanness of your fortunes; love that which will comfort you, adorn you, and never quit you, — which will open to you the kingdom of thought, and all the boundless regions of conception, as an asylum against the cruelty, the injustice, and the pain that may be your lot in the outer world, — that which will make your motives habitually great and honorable, and light up in an instant a thousand noble disdains at the very thought of meanness and of fraud.
9. Therefore, if any young man have embarked his life in pursuit of knowledge, let him go on without doubting or fearing the event; let him not be intimidated by the cheerless beginnings of knowledge, by the darkness from which she springs, by the difficulties which hover around her, by the wretched habitations in which she dwells, by the want and sorrow which sometimes journey in her train; but let him ever follow her as the Angel that guards him, and as the Genius of his life. She will bring him out at last into the light of day, and exhibit him to the world comprehensive in acquirements, fertile in resources, rich in imagination, strong in reasoning, prudent and powerful above his fellows in all the relations and in all the offices of life.
1 ÎN-COM-PĂT-I-BÝL'I-TY. State or 4 IN-DE-FÅT'I-GA-BLE. Incapable of
quality of a thing which prevents | being exhausted or wearied; perit from harmonizing with some- severing. thing else; inconsistency; disa- 5 ÎN-CĚS'SẠNT. Unceasing; continual, greement.
| 6 MY-NÝP'I-CENT, Bountiful ; liberal; *COL-LĂPSED'. Fell together, as the generous.
sides of a hollow vessel : shrunk | 7 DĘS-CĂNT'ING, Discoursing; makup; dwindled.
L ing remarks; commenting. • PER-NI''CIOys. Mischievous, hurt- 8 Co-Ē'vẠl, or the same age; con ful, or evil, in a high degree.