Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

a

a

[ocr errors]

"Luck." Of the deified conceptions which make up Polytheism, none permeates every system more thoroughly than Fatalism. “Clotho colum retinet, Lachesis net, et Atropost occat” is a belief confined to no creed or nation. It is a conclusion at which untaught reason soonest arrives. Mystery broods over the world. As the mind reaches out on this side and on that, it finds a wall, a limit, which it cannot pass. There are heights man cannot scale, depths he cannot fathom, secrets he is unable to master. Not only does he fail to detect harmony in the forces of nature, but his own life is made up of strange contradictions. He

purposes, but unforeseen circumstances prevent their fulfillment. He reaches out for a prize, but a hidden hand snatches it away. The poor become rich, and the rich poor, as if by chance. Glory and Death are on the same battle field. The “pillar of fire" to one becomes the "pillar of cloud” to another. It is not strange then that the ignorant and unaided mind, baffled in its attempts to explain the mystery, settles back into a belief if not a worship of the Blind Deity." He who had once undertaken and succeeded, was to the ancients, Fortune's favorite. Courage was but the natural result. Success is always inspiration. The Fates had made the man invincible. This superstitious fear or

31

forms

a

VOL. XXVIII.

courage was soon nationalized and became History. But in the progress of the ages, wisdom, always fighting with mystery, traced effects to causes, and Revelation beginning where wisdom faltered, pointed out the “First Great Cause." As Galileo, with those two simple words, “It moves," revealed the order and harmony of the mysterious march of worlds, so Faith lifted man from despair and showed order where before he had seen only chaos. The promise came, "Seek and ye shall find,” and we, released from the shackles of superstition, entered upon a new life, which we control and not Fate. The glorious fact that every man is the arbiter of his own destiny, has come down to us burdened with proof, shining out in every life, and by it we are raised to a higher level. But as the moth loves the flame which scorches his wings and destroys his energies, so we often seem fascinated with that which our reason teaches us is folly. We prefer the fantastic ideal to the sober real, the strange to the true. While we ridicule ancient Fatalism, we trust many of our own interests to no surer compass.

“O wad some Power the giftie gie us

To see oursels as others see usi
It wad frae monie a blunder free us

An' foolish notion."

Luck, as a word and as a custom, is becoming more and more common in our midst, varying directly as the days of our sojourn bere, as seen not only in the increasing popularity of games of chance, but also in the propensity to risk it generally, even in the recitation room. Games of chance may be innocent pastimes, or they may do incalculable injury, undermining the character and causing a disrelish for all labor. It is not of them, however, we desire to speak particularly now. Leaving every man to judge whether they are injuring him or no, we will glance at what may be considered our specialty in this department. It is rarely the case that one enters upon student-life with the expectation of succeeding without labor. There is the same long and dusty road to all, and few are accustomed to ride in the early stages of the journey. But in the course of time, many either give up hopes of success, or seek to gain it in other ways than by earnest work. Such being the facts, there must be causes. It is said that “climate affects character.” Cause of blame then, to some extent, may be found in New Haven weather, the recipe of which is the same in principle as that on which the old lady made her “company cake.” “Také some flour, butter, eggs, a few lumps of sugar, &c., knead 'em right up together, and put in the oven,—and if you have good luck, the cake

[ocr errors]

Exchange
Yale University
Library

LUCK.

1863.]

233 JAN 2 40 needn't be sneezed at.” This might be considered a sufficient cause for the disease by scientific men, but the admirer of the ancient classic writers finds the plague-spot elsewhere. A student arraigned before the Faculty on account of his propensity to try his luck in more ways than one, plead, in excuse, that his degeneracy was owing to the present system of education. He had entered college a virtuous youth, but his morals had been corrupted by the old heathen writers made familiar to bim by Bohn during the first years of his course, and that the after study of "Moral Philosophy" had failed to eradicate those fatalistic views which had first made such an impression upon his tender mind. The young man was expelled, and we leave you as scientific and classic scholars to pass judgment upon the preceding suggestions while we advance. A few men are found in college honest enough to confess that they are too lazy to work. They receive with joy all that chance gives them, and bear flunks with a fortitude worthy of a better cause. They don't know why they are in college; most of them are sent, Arguments are wasted upon them. We recommend such to their classmates as pensioners upon their bounty. May they never become as helpless as a man out West, who carried his arm in a sling because he was too lazy to swing it. For the story runs, that this fellow depended upon his neighbors even to feed him. At length they told that they were tired of it, and had made up their minds to get rid of the difficulty by burying him. So he was placed unresisting in the bottom of the wagon, together with the tools necessary for grave digging. On the way to a place of burial, a person by the road-side accosts them with,—“What are you doing with- - ?" “Going to bury him,” was the reply. “Not quite yet,” said the kind hearted man; “I will give him a half bushel of corn.” Now for the first time a movement was perceived in the wagon, as the occupant raised his head over the side with,—"Is it shelt?” “No,” said the donor, “hut you can shell it.” The head disappeared and a voice was heard from the bottom of the wagon, “Drive on, boys.” Verily laziness is a monstrous growing evil.

There are always to be found some, who, first in the village school, or flattered by friends, come to college with the expectation of bearing off the first honors, and, because they are like to fail in this, give up in despair ; solacing their pride with the reflection, “ It is all Luck.” Such men are heard also depreciating the merits of others, and so are at the same time objects of pity and contempt. They lack that noble courage and emulation which only strives harder, as it becomes more difficult to secure the prize. But whether we succeed or not, it is the

6

66

[ocr errors]

essence of meanness to detract from praise due another. This class we may call fatalists by despondency. By far the greater part of those, however, who are accustomed to run their risks, are unwilling to class themselves with those above mentioned. They trust Luck from principle. They have somebow formed an opinion that genius is opposed to labor. Their decision may be based on some such argument as this : “I am Young America ; Young America is a genius; Young America is opposed to labor, therefore genius is opposed to labor, quod erut demonstrandum;" and having arrived at this happy conclusion, they, Macawber-like, "wait for something to turn up," speaking meanwhile in cotemptuous tones of digs and book-worms, Genius is not a thing lying around loose in every man's head. But even granting every would-be genius to be one, it proves nothing. Genius is a mine-unworked it is worthless; it is a magnet which inaction turns into old iron. A careful collection of facts must convince any one that, although genius may be fortuitous, great lives, and especially great scholars, never come by accident. The world's great men have in a majority of cases been geniuses, but if the reasons they give for their success be worth anything—nay more, if their life teaches anything—we must believe that they were men of indefatigable perseverance, surmounting difficulties and removing obstacles by simple work, which would frighten many ordinary men. Occasionally there are to be found seeming exceptions to this rule. Our acquaintance embraces such; professedly trusting to Luck, they make uniformly brilliant recitations; they are looked upon as prodigies, aud find circles of enthusiastic admirers. Figuratively or literally, however, they may be said to meet an early death. Nature has given minds which the body was unable long to hold; but it is a blunder she seldom makes. Our prodigy men are oftener found studying clandestinely, at unseasonable hours, sacrificing their health to an insane pride, like men exhibiting “ perpetual motion,” winding up the machine when no one is watching. The trick discovered, the perpetrator suddenly disappears. More frequently perhaps the marvel gradually disappears, and the comet is seen to be a very small star, with a very large tail. An old fatalist, whom no argument could drive from the belief that "human action has nothing to do with human events," being necessitated to pass through a country infested with hostile Indians, was seen loading and priming his rifle with great care. “ What is the use of taking your rifle ?" said a friend. “If you are fated to die you will die, and your rifle will not avail; otherwise you will live.” This was a poser; the old man, unwilling to give up his creed or his rifle,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

paused a moment and then replied, “Why, you see, I may meet an Indian who is fated to die, then I shall want my rifle.” So believers in Luck or Destiny, which is only a more elegant word for the same idea, are never consistent in their lives and professions. When they realize that an emergency is at hand wbich is to effect their dearest interests, they labor like other men. Few are found willing to trust their lives to chance. We only risk what we do not prize. Do we appreciate the value of our college course ? After all, the great root of college evils lies here : we look at college by itself rather than “as a stepping-stone to higher things.” We speak of the “ college world,” and forget it is only preparatory to the stern realities of after life. We despise the business man whose only trust is in blind speculation, while we are relying on no surer means of success. Both are in fearful danger of bankruptcy and ruin. To trust Luck, at any time or any where, is folly.

Luck is a word which represents nothing, and is but the merest fancy of a disordered mind. Occurrences may be unforeseen and unexpected, but never without a cause. Mind and matter acknowledge the same Creator. Growth in each is the result of culture. External circumstances may vary ; they make labor easier, but none the less necessary. They are but influences, and cannot form the character or make the man. Application in college, as elsewhere, is the key to success, and by it even the commonest kind of common sense outstrips the luck of lazy genius.

a

L. G.

The Culprit Fay. The characteristic trait of our American people finds expression even in its poetry. Most of our poets are practical men. They grapple with the knotty problems of the age, discuss principles of science, systems of theology, and all social and political questions in animated but unimaginative verse. We have few poems that can properly be termed imaginative. Of these, Drake's Culprit Fay is, perhaps, the most remarkable. Its gifted, though modest and unambitious author may not be widely known, but the rich fancy he has exhibited in the Culprit Fay warrants him a place among our coun

« IndietroContinua »