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Perchance, among those vast, mysterious spheres,
THE STUDY OF MORAL PHILOSOPHY.
[Passages such as the following, exemplify the grave didactic style,
and require the “ moderate force” of “pure tone,” rising to “ orotund quality,” — from the dignity and force of sentiment. This piece needs attention, in reading, to a clear, distinct enunciation, firm emphasis, exact pausing, and the other characteristics of impressive manner.]
THERE is, in the study of moral philosophy, a direct tendency not merely to enlighten the conscience, but to form and cherish that moral sensibility, which is, at once, the prompt inspirer and jealous guardian of virtue. The first influence of this kind of which we shall take notice, is upon those who are engaged in such inquiries. Truths which are frequently presented to the mind, can hardly fail, imperceptibly perhaps, to produce some effect upon it. But when these truths are the subjects of personal speculation, when their character, relations, and practical consequences, are the constant topics of study and interest, this effect must be greatly increased.
A disposition to consider our own pursuits and discoveries as all-important to society, and sometimes to make the most incongruous application of them, has often given just occasion to the wit of the satirist. “The poem is well enough," said the mathematician; “but I do not see, that it proves any thing.”
The chemist and physical philosopher are deeply interested in the application of their principles to the arts; and will not the same law of our nature operate in moral speculations ? Can he rest at ease, whose conduct is constantly at variance with the principles he is labouring to establish, and the rules he is forming for others? Will he not rather, if he cannot suit his life to his theory, accommodate his theory to his life? Thus Rousseau substituted sentiment for virtue ; and the profligacy of his manners was, at once, the cause and the effect of the profligacy of his writings.
I am unwilling to think that one can have the beauty of moral order, and the indications of moral design, constantly in view, without having his feelings touched and his heart made better. Can you breathe the pure mountain air, and not be refreshed ? Can you walk forth amidst the beautiful and grand of the works of God, and feel no kindling of devotion ?
[The following extract is an eloquent example of didactic and horta
tory style: pathos and earnestness are the prevailing traits of feeling which it imbodies. The management of the voice needs, in this and similar passages, the softened utterance of tender and sympathetic emotion, producing the “subdued” form of "pure lone,” and, where the language is warm and forcible, the energy and ardour of sincere excilement of feeling, rising to the effect of “orotund," but in chastened style, tempering earnestness with solemnity. A gentle “median stress” prevails in the mode of utterance; - the movement” is “slow ;” and the pauses are long. The “ pitch” is comparatively "high,” in the pathetic, and “ low” in the solemn strains.]
Happy youth!- Thou art ever happy, in the view of age; and yet thou hast thy tears. Thou hast thy trials, too; and perhaps their acuteness renders them less bearable than the dull burden of accumulated sorrow, which hangs upon ma
turer years. Thou hast thy sorrows: and when the mother's eye is closed, that used to watch thy infarit steps so fondly ; and the father's hand is cold, that used to rest upon thy head, with gentle and impressive admonition; — whom hast thou – whom wilt thou ever have, — to supply thy parents' place on earth? Whom hast thou ? The world is poor to thee; for none will ever love thee with a love like theirs.
Thou hast thy golden and exuberant youth, thy joyous step,. thy rosy smile; — and we call thee happy. But thou hast also thy hours of loneliness, thy disappointments, thy chills, thy blights, when the hopes on which thy young spirit has soared, begin, for the first time, to droop; when the love in which thou hast so fondly trusted, begins to cool; when the flowers thou hast cherished, begin to fade; when the bird thou hast fed through the winter, in the summer flies away; when the lamb thou hast nursed in thy bosom, prefers the stranger to thee.
Thou hast thy tears; but the bitterest of thy sorrows, how soon are they assuaged! It is this, then, which constitutes thy happiness; for we all have griefs; but, long before old age, they have worn themselves channels which cannot be effaced. It is therefore that we look back to youth with envy; because the tablet of the heart is then fresh, and unimpressed; and we long to begin again with that fair surface, and to write upon it no characters but those of truth.
And will not youth accept the invitation of experience, and come before it is too late? — and come with all its health, and its bloom, and its first fruits untainted, and lay them upon the altar, — an offering which age cannot make ? Let us count the different items in the riches which belong to youth, and ask, if it is not a holy and a glorious privilege to dedicate them to the service of the Most High?
First, then, there is the freshness of unwearied nature, for which so many millions pine in vain; the glow of health, that life-spring of all the energies of thought and action ; the confidence of unbroken trust, -- the power to believe, as well as hope, – a power which the might of human intellect could never yet restore; the purity of undivided affection; the earnestness of zeal unchilled by disappointment; the first awakening of joy that has never been depressed ; high aspirations that have never stooped to earth; the clear perception of a mind unbiased in its search of truth; with the fervour of an untroubled soul.
All these, and more than pen could write, or tongue could
utter, has youth the power to dedicate to the noblest cause which ever yet engaged the attention of an intellectual and immortal being. What, then, I would ask again, is that which hinders the surrender of your heart to God, your conduct to the requirements of the religion of Christ ?
With this solemn inquiry, I would leave the young reader to pursue the train of her own reflections. All that has been . proposed to her consideration, as desirable in character and habit, — in heart and conduct, — will be without consistency, and without foundation, unless grounded upon Christian principle, and supported by Christian faith. All that has been proposed to her as most lovely, and most admirable, may be rendered more - infinitely more so, — by the refinement of feeling, the elevation of sentiment, and the purity of purpose, which those principles and that faith are calculated to impart.
VISIT TO MONT BLANC.
[The following extract furnishes an interesting and instructive ex
ample of description rising from the style of ordinary scenes, to the highest sublimity and beauty. The vocal “expression” in reading, corresponds to this progressive effect of the language of the piece. It commences with the “ moderate force” of “pure tone,” in the form adapted to “ animated” conversation, and passes gradually into the “orolund” of mingling grandeur and beauty. At the close of the second paragraph, the “ expression” changes suddenly to the familiar style of conversation ; after which it returns to sublimity and solemnity, in a style of increasing effect, to the close. The “ force," "pitch,” “ movement,” and “stress,” together with the pauses, vary as intimated in defining the “ expression.”]
We were making a long and arduous ascent towards Chamouny, when I left the horses and company resting behind, and soon found myself alone, on foot, in the most soleinn and sublime circumstances imaginable. On each side of me the mountains rose abruptly to an enormous height; at my feet rolled the rapid waters of the Arveiron; and, directly before, seen through an opening vista, the bald, hoary head of Mont Blanc towered upward to the very vault of heaven.
Where I was, the sun had long since gone down, leaving me in almost pitchy darkness, while his brilliant beams still lingered and played fantastically upon the white pinnacle of the mountain. It seemed like a huge, shining dome, suspended from the upper world. During our stay at Chainouny, the sky was perfectly clear, - a favour not often enjoyed. But upon the grand summit, while not a speck of cloud appeared elsewhere, a thin, gauze-like veil almost continually hovered, reflecting the delicate tints of vermilion, yellow, and amethyst; giving the appearance of some mysterious fairy chamber of the skies, on which nature had hung her richest drapery. I gazed and gazed on the glorious object, forgetful of my way, and almost in doubt whether I was in this world or some other, till the sharp crack of the postilion's whip, and the sound of human voices, broke the enchantment.
- We walked out to enjoy an evening view of the scenery. Not a cloud darkened a hand-breadth of the sky;— the moon was walking up the zenith, in full-orbed lustre; and every star, save those eclipsed by the moon, seemed ambitious to put forth its most brilliant rays. Beneath our feet, and directly around us, Summer had spread her green mantle, and the fields were then waving with ripe harvest; while, within a fourth of a mile from us, lay massive banks of ice and snow, projected from the mountains, which rose on each side to enormous heights.
It was strange indeed, to be walking on the verdant carpet, and through the luxuriant foliage of midsummer, surrounded by the scenery, and enveloped by the atmosphere of midwinter. When one feels the piercing chills of the night air, and beholds the wintry aspect of these regions, by moonlight, he is puzzled to conceive how the grass and grain contrive to grow. Far, far up, in the deep, clear, and, — contrasted with the snowy cliffs, — dark sky, rose the “bald, awful head” of Mont Blanc, looking down on all Europe. There it seemed to sit, silent, calm, majestic, wearing the shining and changeless crown of everlasting winter. It required little effort of imagination to conceive, with Coleridge, that it held lordly intercourse with the orbs of heaven, and had power to arrest them in their courses. Indeed, the poet's entire description came fresh to our thoughts, with all the quickening power of perceived and felt reality.
- The Mer de Glace is a solid mass of ice, two or three miles broad, extending from the source of the Ar