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قراءة كتاب Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 309 New Series, Saturday, December 8, 1849

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‏اللغة: English
Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 309
New Series, Saturday, December 8, 1849

Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 309 New Series, Saturday, December 8, 1849

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 3

enlightenment—the soul's unquestionable necessity for an intimacy with Truth, and the joy and satisfaction which it finds in its contemplation. And thus it is that all knowledge is eminently sacred, as being the stream through which a human mind draws insight from the central source of all intelligence; as being that which informs us of self-subsistent Law and Power, and consciously connects us with their reality and operations. That baneful divorce between intelligence and holiness which a sceptical and frivolous age has so disastrously effected, will need to be set aside as altogether founded on a serious mistake; and indeed men are already beginning to apprehend that no pure faith can be sustained, no sound or abiding virtue inculcated and established, which is not deeply grounded in that mental certainty and assurance which clear, indisputable knowledge alone can furnish.

Let knowledge, then, be recognised as a primary indispensability for the mind, the natural and appropriate inheritance of every human soul; and let us esteem it as a sufficient and authentic plea for its universal dissemination, that it is ever needful for the soul's health and welfare; and condescend not to demand it on any inferior pretext. If there is one right of man more essentially sacred than another, it is his right to as complete and perfect an education as his own capacity, and the attainments and adaptations of the age he lives in, are adequate to supply him with; and again, if there is one human duty more paramount and obligatory than the rest, it is that which enjoins upon a man the use of his best energies and efforts to advance himself in intellectual and moral vigour, and to turn every talent and capability most honestly to account; since upon the depth and extent of his own inward force will depend the essential worth of his subsequent performances. The rational enlargement of the individual is indeed the one great end of life. Nothing has so high a claim on us as the cultivation of ourselves. 'It is most true,' as a vigorous and thoughtful modern writer has remarked—'it is most true, and most fitting to be said to many in our day, that a man has no business to cut himself off from communion with so rich and manifold a world as ours, or arbitrarily to harden and narrow his life on any of the sides on which it is open and sensitive. But it is also no less necessary, and perhaps in this time more required to urge, that a man's first vocation is to be a man—a practical, personal being, with a reasonable and moral existence, which must be kept strong, and in working order, at all expense of pleasure, talent, brilliancy, and success. It is easy to lose one's self, or, as the Scripture has it, one's own soul, in the midst of the many and glittering forms of good which the world offers, and which our life apprehends: but to know any of these as realities, it is necessary to begin by being real in our own human ground of will, conscience, personal energy. Then will the world also begin to be real for us; and we may go on through eternity mining deeper and deeper, and in endless diversities of direction, in a region of inexhaustible realities.'[1]



Mr and Mrs Davenant especially prided themselves on their worldly wisdom and on their strong good sense—excellent qualities undoubtedly, but susceptible of being carried to an injurious excess. If it be true that in our faults lie the germ of virtues, no less true is it that almost every virtue is capable of being exaggerated into vice. Thus was it with the Davenants: in their code everything was made subservient to worldly wisdom: all their own and their friends' actions were measured by that standard; consequently every generous aspiration was checked, every noble, self-denying action decried, if it could not be reconciled to their ideas of wisdom. In course of time Mr and Mrs Davenant grew cold-hearted, calculating, and selfish; and as their fortunes flourished, more and more did they exult in their own wisdom, and condemn as foolish and Quixotic everything charitable and disinterested. To the best of their power they brought up their children in the same principles, and they succeeded to admiration with their eldest daughter, who was as shrewd and prudent as they could wish. Mrs Davenant would often express her maternal delight in her Selina: there never was a girl possessing such strong good sense—such wisdom. Some people might have thought that in Miss Selina's wisdom the line was somewhat faint that divided it from mere cunning; but mothers are rarely very quick-sighted with regard to their children's faults, and Mrs Davenant never saw the difference.

With their other daughter they were not so successful. When Lucy Davenant was but five years old, a relation of her mother's, a maiden lady residing in Wales, had, at her own earnest request, adopted the younger daughter. Miss Moore was very rich, and her fortune was entirely at her own disposal, so Mr and Mrs Davenant at once acceded to her request, never doubting that she would make Lucy her heiress. Lucy remained with Miss Moore till that lady died; but although she left her nothing in her will but a few comparatively valueless mementos, she owed more to her care and teaching than thousands could repay. Under the influence of her precepts, and the admirable example she afforded, Lucy became generous, unselfish, open-hearted, and truthful as the day. But her parents, unhappily, were blind to these virtues, or rather they deemed that, in possessing them, their child was rather unfortunate than otherwise. Lucy was utterly astonished when she came home from Wales after her kind friend's death, at the strange manner and stranger conversation of her parents and her sister. Her father had accompanied her from Pembrokeshire, and he had scarcely spoken a word to her during the whole of the journey; but, in the innocence of her heart, she attributed this to his grief at the loss of his relation. But when she arrived at her father's house in the city of B——, where he was the principal banker, she could not avoid perceiving the cause. Her mother embraced her, but did not pause to gaze on her five-years-absent child; and as she turned to her sister Selina, she heard her father say, 'Lucy hasn't a farthing in the will.'

'You don't mean it?' cried Mrs Davenant. 'Why, how in the world, child, have you managed?' turning to Lucy. 'Did you offend Miss Moore in anyway before she died?'

'Oh no, mamma,' murmured Lucy, weeping at the thought of her aunt's illness and death thus rudely conjured up.

'Then what is the reason?' began her mother again; but Mr Davenant raised a warning finger, and checked her eager inquiries. He saw that Lucy had no spirit at present to reply to their questions, so he suffered the grieved girl to retire to rest, accompanied by her sister; but with Selina, Lucy was more bewildered than ever.

'My dear Lu,' said that young lady, as she brushed her hair, 'what is the meaning of this mysterious will? We all thought you would be Miss Moore's heiress.'

'So I should have been,' sobbed Lucy; 'but'——

'But what? Don't cry so, Lucy: what's past can never be recalled,' said Selina oracularly; 'and as you're not an heiress'——

'Oh, don't think I am vexed about that,' said Lucy, indignant at the idea, and drying her eyes with a determination to weep no more. 'I have no wish to be an heiress: I am very glad, indeed, I am not; and I would rather, much rather, not be enriched by the death of any one I love.'

'Very romantic sentiments, my dear Lu, but strangely wanting in common sense. All those high-flown ideas were vastly interesting and