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The Peri sees a child at play,
As rosy and as wild as they; Chasing, with eager hands and eyes, The beautiful blue damsel-flies That fluttered round the jasmine stems, Like winged flowers or flying gems: And near the boy, who, tired with play, Now nestling 'mid the roses lay, She saw a wearied man dismount
From his hot steed, and on the brink Of a small temple's rustic fount
Impatient fling him down to drink.
Then swift his haggard brow he turned
To the fair child, who fearless sat— Though never yet hath day-beam burned
Upon a brow more fierce than that— Sullenly fierce—a mixture dire, Like thunder-clouds of gloom and fire, In which the Peri's eye could read Dark tales of many a ruthless deed.
VII. Yet tranquil now that man of crime (As if the balmy evening-time Softened his spirit) looked and lay, Watching the rosy infant's play; Though still, whene'er his eye by chance Fell on the boy's, its lurid glance
Met that unclouded, joyous gaze, As torches that have burnt all night
Encounter morning's glorious rays.
But hark! the vesper call to prayer,
As slow the orb of daylight sets, Is rising sweetly on the air
From Syria's thousand minarets!
The boy has started from the bed
Of flowers, where he had laid his head,
And down upon the fragrant sod
Kneels, with his forehead to the south,
From purity's own cherub mouth;
And how felt he, the wretched man
Reclining there—while memory ran
O'er many a year of guilt and strife
That marked the dark flood of his life,
Nor found one sunny resting-place,
Nor brought him back one branch of grace ?
"There was a time," he said, in mild,
Heart-humbled tones, "thou blessed child!
When young, and haply pure as thou,
I looked and prayed like thee; but now—"
He hung his head; each nobler aim
And hope and feeling which had slept From boyhood's hour, that instant came
Fresh o'er him, and he wept—he wept!
And now! behold him kneeling there,
Upon the tear that, warm and meek,
ZIMMERMAN asks, "Which is the real hereditary sin of humanity? Do you imagine that I shall say pride, or luxury, or ambition? No! I shall say indolence. He who conquers that, can conquer all." How perfectly true this is, we are not all ready to acknowledge; and, with due respect to a man who was a strange but deep thinker, we doubt whether the sin attaches to Nature. She is surely, in this respect, far above suspicion. "Nature,'1 says a distinguished writer, "knows no pause, and attaches a curse upon all inaction."
2. The botanist, the geologist, the chemist, alike attest this great truth. Sitting down upon the sea-shore, and watching the rise and fall, and the ebb and flow, of the waves; marking the little ripples left in the sand to be moved and washed away at the next tide; deeply regarding the water-worn rocks or the chalk cliffs, which have been driven, as it were, inland by the ceaseless work of the sea; looking at the ever-springing grass, the cirrus and cumulative clouds which pass away and "leave not a rack behind;" listening to the continual chirp of the cricket, the "thin, high-elbowed things" which thread the grass; or watching the sea-gull lifting itself above the breaking waves. and then darting on its prey,—we may well say that Nature knows no pause.
3. She builds up or she destroys, but she moves ever forward. It is with her as with her little trickling servant, the brook, of which a great poet has written, that
".Men may come, and men may go,
But when here, man does came and go; and although, in the aggregate, he is a busy creature, working forever with brain and hand, still in the individual he is much given to indolence.
4. Now-a-days many people are proud of doing nothing, and inflate themselves with the wicked vanity, holding a prescriptive right of being indolent. But of all pride—and all of it is more or less without foundation, and foolish altogether—that which builds itself upon a right to be idle and to do nothing, is the most foolish and baseless.
5. The man who is merely rich and lazy, and who has inherited sufficient money to keep him from the necessity of labor, has surely no good and sufficient reason to be proud. His position, if wisely looked at, is not a happy one. It is true that he may be said to be independent so far as a man can be. His progenitors have worked for him, and their accumulated labors, when invested in the funds or in an estate, put him out of the rank of those to whom glorious necessity forms the impetus of work. But, at the best, this state is without honor, and is somewhat contemptible.
6. The indolent man is of little use in a state. He is born to consume, and not to produce. The poorest haymaker, hedger and ditcher, or cobbler, whose labor pays for his daily existence, is a more useful, and therefore a more noble, man with regard to the commonwealth. Leisure, which is very good when indulged in after hard work, is poison to the soul and body too.
7. "I look upon indolence as a sort of suicide," said Lord Chesterfield, writing to his son: "for by it the m«i» is efficiently destroyed, although the appetite of the brute may survive. A man who has no immediate necessity for work sinks from one state of quiescence to another. From the mere custom of inactivity, all labor becomes at first distasteful, and afterwards hateful. The muscles, being unused, grow weak and flabby; the body, after some struggles, relinquishes the desire to work, and the mind shares the laziness of its lower companion."
8. Yet, if- there be one thing which can conquer the ills of life, which will make all things pleasant and all difficulties easy, it is industry, the great opponent and conqueror of that rust of mind of which we have been speaking. "There is no art or science which is too difficult for industry to attain to; it is the very gift of tongues," said Lord Clarendon, "and makes a man understood and valued in all countries. It is the philosopher's stone, and turns all metals, and even stones, into gold, and suffers no want to break into his dwelling."
9. The rough Abernethy's advice to a lazy rich man, full of gout and-idle humors, unhappy and without appetite, troubled with over-indulgence, and pampered with soft beds and rich food, was to "live upon sixpence a day and earn it,"—a golden sentence, a Spartan maxim, which would save half the ill-temper, the quarrels, the bickerings and wranglings of the poor rich people, and would rub the rust off many a fine mind, which is now ugly and disfigured from want of use.
10. There is no time to be lost. He who would make his mark in the world must be up and doing. Our younger men should look to this; luxury has produced indolence, and that in its turn has bred doubt and unhappiness. "Too many of our young men," says Channing, "grow up in a school of despair." Of despair, because of idleness and folly; they believe nothing because they do nothing.
11. A divine benediction attends on true work; its spirit is indeed the little fairy which turns everything to gold; and that man or woman who instils into his or her children