« PreviousContinue »
Science transforms and exalts him from the slave into the master of the elements. If he does not yet harness the electric fluid to his plow, his boat, his wagon, and make the inost docile and useful of his servants, it is because he is still but little advanced from barbarism. Essentially, the lightning garnered in a summer cloud should be as much at his comm
nmand, and as subservient to his needs, as the water that refreshes his thirsty fields and starts his hitherto lifeless wheels.
Only good farming pays. He who sows or plants without reasonable assurance of good crops annually, might better earn wages of some capable neighbor than work for so poor a paymaster as he is certain to prove himself. The good farmer is proved such by the steady appreciation of his crops. Any one may reap an ample harvest from a fertile, virgin soil ; the good farmer alone grows good crops at first, and better and better ever afterward.
It is får easier to maintain the productive capacity of a farm than to restore it. To exhaust its fecundity, and then attempt its restoration by buying costly commercial fertilizers, is wasteful and irrational. The good farmer sells mainly such products as are least exhaustive. Necessity may constrain him, for the first year or two, to sell grain, or even hay; but he will soon send off his surplus mainly in the form of cotton, or wool, or meat, or butter and cheese, or something else that returns to the soil nearly all that is taken from it. A bank account daily drawn upon, while nothing is deposited to its credit, must soon respond, “ No funds”: so with a farm similarly treated.
Wisdom is never dear, provided the article be genuine. I have known farmers who toiled constantly from daybreak to dark, yet died poor, because, through ignorance, they wrought to disadvantage. If every farmer would devotę two hours of each day to reading and reflection, there would be fewer failures in farming than there are. The best investment a farmer can make for his children is that which surrounds their youth with the rational delights of a beauteous, attractive home. The dwelling may be small and rude, yet a few flowers will embellish, as choice fruit-trees will enrich and gladden it; while grass
and shade are within the reach of the humblest. Hardly any labor done on a farm is so profitable as that which makes the wife and children fond and proud of their home.
A good, practical education, including a good trade, is a better outfit for a youth than a grand estate with the draw back of an empty mind. Many parents have slaved and pinched to leave their children rich, when half the sum thus lavished would have profited them far more had it been devoted to the cultivation of their minds, the enlargement of their capacity to think, observe, and work. The one structure that no neighborhood can afford to do without is the school-house.
A small library of well-selected books in his home has saved many a youth from wandering into the baleful ways of the prodigal son. Where paternal strictness and severity would have bred nothing but dislike and a fixed resolve to abscond at the first opportunity, good books and pleasant surroundings have weaned many a youth from his first wild impulse to go to sea or cross the continent, and made him a docile, contented, obedient, happy lingerer by the parental fireside. In a family, however rich or poor, no other good is so cheap or so precious as thoughtful, watchful love.
Most men are born poor, but no man, who has average capacities and tolerable luck, need remain so. And the farmer's calling, though proffering no sudden leaps, no ready short-cuts to opulence, is the surest of all ways from poverty and want to comfort and independence. Other men must climb; the temperate, frugal, diligent, provident farmer may grow into competence and every external accessory to happiness. Each year of his devotion to his homestead may find it more valuable, more attractive than the last, and leave it better still.
There are discoveries in natural science and improvements in mechanics which conduce to the efficiency of agriculture; but the principles which underlie this first of arts are old as agriculture itself. Greek and Roman sages made observations so acute and practical that the farmers of to-day may ponder them with profit, while modern literature is padded with essays on farming not worth the paper they have spoiled. And yet the generation whereof I am part has witnessed great strides in your vocation, while the generation preparing to take our places will doubtless witness still greater. I bid you
hold fast to the good, with minds receptive of and eager for the better, and rejoice in your knowledge that there is no nobler pursuit and no more inviting soil than those which you proudly call your own.
1811 - 1863.
WILLIAM MAKEPEACE THACKERAY, one of the great writers of fiction of the nineteenth century, was born in Calcutta in 1811, but was sent to England while a child, and educated in the Charterhouse School, which he has inmortalized in The Nexconies, and at Cambridge University. On the death of his parents he found himself in possession of a handsome fortune; but it soon vanished, and he was compelled to earn a subsistence. He dallied with Law, courted Art with greater earnestness, and tinally - a resolution for which the lovers of high fiction will never cease to be grateful resolved to devote himself to Literature. His first essay in letters was in the department of journalism; he wrote for the Times, The New Monthly Magazine, and Punch, to which latter periodical he contributed the inimitable Snob Papers, Jeames's Diary, etc. His first volume, The Paris Sketch-Book, was published in 1810, and was followed during the next seven years by several collections of essays, sketches, etc. In 1818 appeared his first novel, Vanity Fair, a work that deserves rank among the masterpieces of English fictionTwo years later The History of Pendennis was given to the world, which, if it did not enliance the author's reputation, confirmed his title to a high place among English novelists. The History of Henry Esmond, The Virginiuns, The Necocomes, appeared at short intervals, the latter, which was issued in 1855, being pronounced by high literary authority his masterpiece. Lovel the Widower (1861) and The Aloentures of Philip (1862) mark the decay of the author's powers. At his death in 1863 he left unfinished a novel called Denis Dural. The Four Georges, lectures first delivered in the principal American cities, were published in book form in 1860. It is a remarkable fact that while Thackeray's writings were coniparatively neglected in England, they enjoyed an extensive popularity in the United States, where they are still read with eagerness and delight by all who look beneath the surface of novels into the soul that animates them. It is impossible to do justice to the characteristics of Thackeray as a writer in the limits of this notice; but two or three of them may be briefly mentioned. He was a cynic, though a kindly one: he was a keen student of human nature, quick to recognize and to denounce its weaknesses; yet he apparently found his deepest pleasure in depicting its lovely features and recording its noblest manifestations. The character of Colonel Newcome is, we think, unsurpassed, if equaled, as a type of true nianhood; its pathos is indescribable, and the memory of it lingers in the reader's mind, softening and refining. Thackeray's hunior was nimble rather than rich; but it is not, though conįmonly held to be, a very important component of his intellectual strength. He was a reformer, who exposed and denounced social wrongs, not with rude force, but with polished satire. His mastery of English was wonderful; in the purity and vigor of his language he was unequaled by any writer of his time. The first extract is from The Four Georges; the others are from Pendennis.
GEORGE THE THIRD.*
We have to glance over sixty years in as many minutes. To read the mere catalogue of characters who figured during that long period, would occupy our allotted time, and we should have all text and no
England has to undergo the revolt of the American colonies; to submit to defeat and separation; to shake under the volcano of the French Revolution ; to grapple and fight for the life with her gigantic enemy Napoleon ; to gasp and rally after that tremendous struggle. The old society, with its courtly splendors, has to pass away ; generations of statesmen to rise and disappear; Pitt to follow Chatham to the tomb; the memory of Rodney and Wolfe to be superseded by Nelson's and Wellington's glory; the old poets who unite us to Queen Anne's time to sink into their graves; Johnson to die, and Scott and Byron to arise, Garrick to delight the world with his dazzling dramatic genius, and Kean to leap on the stage and take possession of the astonished theater. Steam has to be invented ; kings to be beheaded, banished, deposed, restored ; Napoleon to be but an episode, and George III. is to be alive through all these varied changes, to accompany his people through all these revolutions of thought, government, society, — to survive out of the old world into
George the Third was king of England during our Revolutionary War. He was born in 1738, ascended the throne in 1760, and reigned for sixty years. He became insane in 1810, and died in 1820. His weaknesses are most mercilessly criticised by Thackeray in his Lectures on the Four Georges, as will be seen from the extract.
His mother's bigotry and hatred George inherited with the courageous obstinacy of his own race; but he was a firm believer where his fathers had been free-thinkers, and a true and fond supporter of the Church, of which he was the titular defender. Like other dull men, the king was all his life suspicious of superior people. He did not like Fox; he did not like Reynolds; he did not like Nelson, Chatham, Burke: he was testy at the idea of all innovations, and suspicious of all innovators. He loved mediocrities; Benjamin West was his favorite painter ; Beattie was his poet. The king lamented, not without pathos, in his after life, that his education had been neglected. He was a dull lad, brought up by narrow-minded people. The cleverest tutors in the world could have done little probably to expand that small intellect, though they might have improved his tastes and taught his perceptions some generosity.
George married the Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg Strelitz, and for years they led the happiest, simplest lives, sure, ever led by married couple.
It is said the king winced when he first saw his homely little bride; but, however that may be, he was a true and faithful husband to her, as she was a faithful and loving wife. They had the simplest pleasures, — the very mildest and simplest, — little country dances, to which a dozen couple were invited, and where the honest king would stand up and dance for three hours at a time to one tune; after which delicious excitement they would go to bed without any supper (the Court people grumbling sadly at that absence of
supper), and get up quite early the next morning, and perhaps the next night have another dance; or the queen would play on the spinnet, - she played pretty well, Haydn said ; or the king would read to her a paper out of the Sectator, or perhaps one of Ogden's
O Arcadia ! what a life it must have been ! The theater was always his delight. His bishops and clergy used to attend it, thinking it no shame to appear where that good man was
He is said not to have cared for Shakespeare or tragedy much; farces and pantomimes were his joy; and especially when clown swallowed a carrot or a string of sausages, he would laugh so outrageously that the lovely princess by his side would have to say, “My gracious monarch, do compose yourself.” But he continued to laugh, and at the
very smallest farces, as long as his poor wits were left him.
George, be a king ! ” were the words which his mother was forever croaking in the ears of her son; and a king the simple, stubboin, affectionate, bigoted man tried to be.
He did his best, - he worked according to his lights: what virtue he knew, he tried to practice ; what knowledge he could master, he strove to acquire. But, as one thinks of an office almost divine, performed by any mortal man, -- of any single being pretending to control the thoughts, to direct the faith, to order implicit obedience of brother millions; to compel them into war at his offense or quarrel; to command, “In this way you shall trade, in this way you
shall think; these neighbors shall be your allies, whom you shall help, — these others your enemies, whom you shall slay at my orders ; in this way you shall worship God” ; who can wonder that, when such a man as George took such an office on himself, punishment and humiliation should fall upon people and chief?
Yet there is something grand about his courage. The battle of the king with his aristocracy remains yet to be told by the historian who shall view the reign of George more justly than the trumpery panegyrists who wrote immediately after his decease. It was he, with the people to back him, that made the war with America ; it was he and the people who refused justice toothe Roman Catholics ; and on both questions he beat the patricians. He bribed, he bullied, he darkly dissembled on occasion; he exercised a slippery perseverance, and a vindictive resolution, which one almost admires as one thinks his character over.
His courage was never to be beat. It trampled North underfoot; it bent the stiff neck of the younger Pitt; even his illness