« PreviousContinue »
1641 was translated to Norwich. His earnest piety and professional zeal rendered him obnoxious to the charge of puritanism; but he was a vigorous defender of the Church in its times of tribulation and danger, and was a sufferer for his conscientious opinions. The revenues of his bishopric were sequestrated in 1642, and he spent the remainder of his life in great poverty, residing at Higham, near Norwich, where he died in 1656. His theological works are very numerous; and though many of them are controversial, others will remain as durable monuments of masterly reasoning, eloquent persuasion, and touching devotion. The piece which we first select, as an opening to the Sunday Half-Hours,' is from an Epistle to Lord Denny.] Every day is a little life: and our whole life is but a day repeated: whence it is that old Jacob numbers his life by days; and Moses desires to be taught this point of holy arithmetic, to number not his years, but his days. Those, therefore, that dare lose a day, are dangerously prodigal; those that dare mis-spend it, desperate. We can best teach others by ourselves; let me tell your lordship, how I would pass my days, whether common or sacred, that you (or whosoever others, overhearing me,) may either approve my thriftiness, or correct my errors: to whom is the account of my hours either more due, or more known. All days are His, who gave time a beginning and continuance; yet some He hath made ours, not to command, but to use.
In none may we forget Him; in some we must forget all, besides Him. First, therefore, I desire to awake at those hours, not when I will, but when I must; pleasure is not a fit rule for rest, but health; neither do I consult so much with the sun, as mine own necessity, whether of body or in that of the mind. If this vassal could well serve me waking, it should never sleep; but now it must be pleased, that it may be serviceable. Now when sleep is rather driven away than leaves me, I would ever awake with God: my first thoughts are for Him, who hath made the night for rest, and the day for travel; and as He gives, so blesses both. If my heart be early seasoned with His presence, it will savour of Him all day after. While my body is dressing, not with an effeminate curiosity, nor yet with rude neglect, my mind addresses itself to her ensuing task, bethinking what is to be done, and in what order, and marshalling (as it may) my hours with my work; that done, after some while's meditation, I walk up to my masters and companions, my books, and, sitting down amongst them with the best contentment, I dare not reach forth my hand to salute any of them, till I have first looked up to heaven, and craved favour of Him to whom all my studies are duly referred: without whom, I can neither profit nor labour. After this, out of no over great variety, I call forth those which may best fit my occasions, wherein I am not too scrupulous of age; sometimes I put myself to school to one of those ancients whom the Church hath honoured with the name of Fathers; whose volumes I confess not to open without a secret reverence of their holiness and gravity; sometimes to those later doctors, which want nothing but age to make them classical; always to God's Book. That day is lost, whereof some hours are not improved in those divine monuments: others I turn over out of choice; these out of duty. Ere I can have sat unto weariness, my family, having now overcome all household distractions, invites me to our common devotions; not without some short preparation. These, heartily performed, send me up with a more strong and cheerful appetite to my former work, which I find made easy to me by intermission and variety; now, therefore, can I deceive the hours with change of pleasures, that is, of labours. One while mine eyes are busied, another while my hand, and sometimes my mind takes the burthen from them both; wherein I would imitate the skilfullest cooks, which make the best dishes with manifold mixtures; one hour is spent in textual divinity, another in controversy; histories relieve them both. Now, when the mind is weary of others' labours, it begins to undertake her own; sometimes it meditates and winds up for future use; sometimes it lays forth her conceits into present discourse; sometimes for itself, after for others. Neither know I whether it works or plays in these thoughts; I am
sure no sport hath more pleasure, no work more use; only the decay of a weak body makes me think these delights insensibly laborious. Thus could I all day (as ringers use) make myself music with changes, and complain sooner of the day for shortness than of the business for toil, were it not that this faint monitor interrupts me still in the midst of my busy pleasures, and enforces me both to respite and repast; I must yield to both; while my body and mind are joined together in these unequal couples, the better must follow the weaker. Before my meals, therefore, and after, I let myself loose from all thoughts, and now would forget that I ever studied; a full mind takes away the body's appetite no less than a full body makes a dull and unwieldy mind': company, discourse, recreations, are now seasonable and welcome; these prepare me for a diet, not gluttonous, but medicinal; the palate may not be pleased, but the stomach, nor that for its own sake; neither would I think any of these comforts worth respect in themselves but in their use, in their end, so far as they may enable me to better things. If I see any dish to tempt my palate, I fear a serpent in that apple, and would please myself in a wilful denial; I rise capable of more, not desirous; not now immediately from my trencher to my book, but after some intermission. Moderate speed is a sure help to all proceedings; where those things which are prosecuted with violence of endeavour or desire, either succeed not, or continue not.
After my later meal, my thoughts are slight; only my memory may be charged with her task, of recalling what was committed to her custody in the day; and my heart is busy in examining my hands and mouth, and all other senses, of that day's behaviour. And now the evening is come, no tradesman doth more carefully take in his wares, clear his shopboard, and shut his window, than I would shut up my thoughts, and clear my mind. That student shall live miserably, which like a camel lies down under his burden. All this done, calling together my family, we end the day with God: Thus do we rather drive away the time before us, than follow it. I grant neither is my practice worthy to be exemplary, neither are our callings proportionable. The lives of a nobleman, of a courtier, of a scholar, of a citizen, of a countryman, differ no less than their dispositions; yet must all conspire in honest labour. Sweat is the destiny of all trades, whether of the brows, or of the mind. God never allowed any man to do nothing. How miserable is the condition of those men, which spend the time as if it were given them, and not lent; as if hours were waste creatures, and such as should never be accounted for; as if God would take this for a good bill of reckoning: Item, spent upon my pleasures forty years! These men shall once find that no blood can privilege idleness, and that nothing is more precious to God, than that which they desire to cast away-time. Such are my common days; but God's day calls for another respect. The same sun arises on this day, and enlightens it; yet because that Sun of Righteousness arose upon it, and gave a new life unto the world in it, and drew the strength of God's moral precept unto it, therefore justly do we sing with the Psalmist, "this is the day which the Lord hath made." Now I forget the world, and in a sort myself; and deal with my wonted thoughts, as great men use, who, at some times of their privacy, forbid the access of all suitors. Prayer, meditation, reading, hearing, preaching, singing, good conference, are the businesses of this day, which I dare not bestow on any work, or pleasure, but heavenly.
I hate superstition on the one side, and looseness on the other; but I find it hard to offend in too much devotion, easy in profaneness. The whole week is sanctified by this day; and according to my care of this, is my blessing on the rest. show your lordship what I would do, and what I ought; I commit my desires to the imitation of the weak, my actions to the censures of the wise and holy, my weaknesses to the pardon and redress of my merciful God.
[WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR, an eminent living writer, was born in 1775. He published a volume of poems when he was eighteen; and has at various periods of his life enriched the poetry of his country with productions of no common merit. Mr. Landor was the early friend of Southey; but, unlike his friend, his early opinions have clung to him through life. This circumstance may account for some of the asperity, and some of the neglect, which it has been Mr. Landor's fate to encounter-in many respects very undeservedly. The first series of his 'Imaginary Conversations,' from which the following dialogue is extracted, was published in 1824; a second series appeared in 1836. His complete works were, in 1846, collected in two large closely printed volumes, sold at a cheap rate; and we have no doubt that the collection will be acceptable to a great body of readers, who will thus, for the first time, make the acquaintance of an author who, although his opinions may sometimes be singular and paradoxical, has a genuine love for all that is beautiful and ennobling in human thoughts and actions, and who has rarely been excelled as a prose writer in fertility and power.
As a fit introduction to this Conversation, we subjoin a passage from Roger Ascham's celebrated "Scholemaster,' describing the character and pursuits of Lady Jane Grey:-
"And one example, whether love or fear doth work more in a child, for virtue and learning, I will gladly report, which may be heard with some pleasure, and followed with more profit. Before I went into Germany, I came to Brodegate in Leicestershire, to take my leave of that noble Lady Jane Grey, to whom I was exceedingly much beholding. Her parents, the Duke and the Duchess, with all the household, gentlemen and gentlewomen, were hunting in the park; I found her in her chamber reading Phædon Platonis in Greek, and that with as much delight, as some gentlemen would read a merry tale in Bocace. After salutation, and duty done, with some other talk, I asked her why she would lose such pastime in the park: smiling she answered me: 'I wis, all their sport in the park is but a shadow to that pleasure that I find in Plato; alas, good folk, they never felt what true pleasure meant.' 'And how came you, madam,' quoth I, to this deep knowledge of pleasure, and what did chiefly allure you unto it, seeing not many women, but very few men, have attained thereunto?' 'I will tell you,' quoth she, 'and tell you a truth, which perchance ye will marvel at. One of the greatest benefits that ever God gave me, is, that he sent me so sharp and severe parents, and so gentle a school master. For when I am in presence either of father or mother, whether I speak, keep silence, sit, stand or go, eat, drink, be merry or sad, be sewing, playing, dancing, or doing any thing else, I must do it, as it were, in such weight, measure, and number, even so perfectly as God made the world, or else I am so sharply taunted, so cruelly threatened, yea presently sometimes, with pinches, nips, and bobs, and other ways which I will not name, for the honour I bear them, so without measure misordered, that I think myself in hell, till time come that I must go to Mr. Elmer, who teacheth me, so gently, so pleasantly, with such fair allurements to learning, that I think all the time nothing, whiles I am with him. And when I am called from him, I fall on weeping, because, whatsoever I do else, but learning, is full of grief, trouble, fear, and whole misliking unto me. And thus my book hath been so much my pleasure, and bringeth daily to me more pleasure and more, that in respect of it, all other pleasures, in very deed, be but trifles and troubles unto me.' I remember this talk gladly, both because it is so worthy of memory, and because also it was the last talk that ever I had, and the last time that ever I saw that noble and worthy lady."]
Ascham. Thou art going, my dear young lady, into a most awful state; thou art passing into matrimony and great wealth. God hath willed it: submit in thankfulness.
Thy affections are rightly placed and well distributed. Love is a secondary passion in those who love most, a primary in those who love least. He who is inspired by it in a high degree, is inspired by honour in a higher: it never reaches its plenitude of growth and perfection but in the most exalted minds. Alas! alas!
Jane. What aileth my virtuous Ascham? What is amiss? Why do I tremble? Ascham. I remember a sort of prophecy, made three years ago; it is a prophecy of thy condition and of my feelings on it. Recollectest thou who wrote, sitting upon the sea-beach, the evening after an excursion to the Isle of Wight, these verses?
Invisibly bright water! so like air,
On looking down I feared thou couldst not bear
My little bark, of all light barks most light,
And look'd again, and drew me from the sight,
And, hanging back, breathed each fresh gale aghast,
And held the bench, not to go on so fast.
Jane. I was very childish when I composed them; and, if I had thought any more about the matter, I should have hoped you had been too generous to keep them in your memory as witnesses against me.
Ascham. Nay, they are not much amiss for so young a girl, and there being so few of them, I did not reprove thee. Half an hour, I thought, might have been spent more unprofitably; and I now shall believe it firmly, if thou will but be led by them to meditate a little on the similarity of situation in which thou then wert to what thou art now in.
Jane. I will do it, and whatever else you command; for I am weak by nature and very timorous, unless where a strong sense of duty holdeth and supporteth me. There God acteth, and not his creature. Those were with me at sea who would have been attentive to me if I had seemed to be afraid, even though worshipful men and women were in the company; so that something more powerful threw my fear overboard. Yet I never will go again upon the water.
Ascham. Exercise that beauteous couple, that mind and body, much and variously, but at home, at home, Jane! indoors, and about things indoors; for God is there too. We have rocks and quicksands on the banks of our Thames, O lady, such as ocean never heard of; and many (who knows how soon!) may be engulfed in the current under their garden walls.
Jane. Thoroughly do I now understand you. Yes, indeed, I have read evil things of courts; but I think nobody can go out bad who entereth good, if timely and true warning shall have been given.
Ascham. I see perils on perils which thou dost not see, albeit thou art wiser than thy poor old master. And it is not because Love hath blinded thee, for that surpasseth his supposed omnipotence; but it is because thy tender heart, having always leant affectionately upon good, hath felt and known nothing of evil,
I once persuaded thee to reflect much: let me now persuade thee to avoid the habitude of reflection, to lay aside books, and to gaze carefully and steadfastly on what is under and before thee.
Jane. I have well bethought me of my duties: O how extensive they are? what a goodly and fair inheritance! But tell me, would you command me never more to read Cicero, and Epictetus and Plutarch, and Polybius? The others I do resign: they are good for the arbour and for the gravel walk: yet leave unto me, I beseech you my friend and father, leave unto me for my fireside and for my pillow, truth, eloquence, courage, constancy.
Ascham. Read them on thy marriage-bed, on thy child-bed, on thy death-bed.
Thou spotless undrooping lily, they have fenced thee right well. These are the men for men: these are to fashion the bright and blessed creatures whom God one day shall smile upon in thy chaste bosom. Mind thou thy husband.
Jane. I sincerely love the youth who hath espoused me; I love him with the fondest, the most solicitous affection; I pray to the Almighty for his goodness and happiness, and do forget at times, unworthy supplicant! the prayers I should have offered for myself. Never fear that I will disparage my kind religious teacher, by disobedience to my husband in the most trying duties.
Ascham. Gentle is he, gentle and virtuous: but time will harden him: time must harden even thee, sweet Jane! Do thou, complacently and indirectly, lead him from ambition.
Jane. He is contented with me, and with home.
Ascham. Ah Jane! Jane! men of high estate grow tired of contentedness.
Jane. He told me he never liked books unless I read them to him: I will read them to him every evening; I will open new worlds to him richer than those discovered by the Spaniard: I will conduct him to treasures-O what treasures!-on which he may sleep in innocence and peace.
Ascham. Rather do thou walk with him, ride with him, play with him, be his faery, his page, his every thing that love and poetry have invented; but watch him well; sport with his fancies, turn them about like the ringlets round his cheek; and if he ever meditate on power, go toss up thy baby to his brow, and bring back his thoughts into his heart by the music of thy discourse.
Teach him to live unto God and unto thee; and he will discover that women, like the plants in woods, derive their softness and tenderness from the shade.
9.-DEJECTION: AN ODE.
[SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE was born on the 20th of October, 1772, at Saint Mary Ottery, Devonshire, of which parish his father was the vicar. His early education was in that noble institution, Christ's Hospital; and having there attained the scholastic rank of Grecian, he secured an exhibition to Jesus College, Cambridge, 1791. But he quitted the University without taking a degree, having adopted the democratic opinions of the day in all their extreme results. This boyish enthusiasm eventually subsided into calmer feelings. He gave himself up to what is one of the first duties of man--the formation of his own mind. His character was essentially contemplative. He wanted the energy necessary for a popular writer, and thus people came to fancy that he was an idle dreamer. What he has left behind him will live and fructify, when the flashy contributions to the literature of the day of fourfifths of his contemporaries shall have utterly perished. There is no man of our own times who has incidentally, as well as directly, contributed more to produce that revolution in opinion, which has led us from the hard and barren paths of a miscalled utility, to expatiate in the boundless luxuriance of those regions of thought which belong to the spiritual part of our nature, and have something in them higher than a money value. Since Mr. Coleridge's death in 1834, some of his works have been collected and republished in a neat form and at a moderate price :-The Poetical Works,' 3 vols. ;- The Friend, a Series of Essays,' 3 vols.; -Aids to Reflection,' 2 vols.;-On the Constitution of Church and State," 1 vol.;—' Confessions of an Inquiring Spirit,' 1 vol.;-Literary Remains,' 4 vols. To these has lately been added his Biographia Literaria,' in 2 vols. These publications were chiefly superintended by his accomplished nephew, Mr. Henry Nelson Coleridge, whose early death was a public loss. The Biographia' is edited by the widow of Mr. H. N. Coleridge, the daughter of the poet-the inheritress of the genius of her father, and of the virtues of her husband.]