Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub
[merged small][graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed]
[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed]
[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

Here and Hereafter. I CAN write no essay. Thirty years hence, perhaps, but not today. To all my follies let not this be added. Several simple, valuable thoughts on a subject quite complex and important; thoughts, perchance, getting their worth from very commonness.

Entered at the academy, a student sincerely feels and says “Here," and from that very instant, even before his first recitation, thinks of Yale or Harvard under the dim guise of his “Hereafter.” Graduated from the academy, we find him in the cars for New Haven or Cambridge, and now upon a scale, smaller but no less perfect, the same fact is true. At every mediate town, he inwardly remarks “Here,and thinks several hours ahead of his “ Hereafter,” the place of destination. Entered at College, he experiences the same feeling, and through a vista of seven years, looks into the window of a lawyer's office, at the bedside of some weak one, or over the heads of a crowded auditory, at himself in Pulpit. This his next “ Hereafter."

To wbat principle, now, shall we refer these visual lines of Hope, emanating from every college window, before, bebind, from South to Divinity-reaching villages and cities in every State-intersecting almost everywhere, at almost every angle, and with almost every VOL. XXVIII.

36

a

[ocr errors]

velocity—the tangled network of Ambition in six hundred warm, young souls—covering the continent more completely than railway or electric line ?

They are the manifestations and proofs of an universal principle within the soul; a principle both destructive and formative, both help and clog, success and failure. In the matter of mere worldly success, I believe it leads to the latter rather than the former. It most certainly does, if by failure we may understand our lack of realizing the fullest and most legitimate results of our ability. Thought, purpose, desire, are always ahead of genuine labor. The former calls for only so much exertion as a sluggard can easily put forth, in the interval of noon naps, without moving an inch, The latter is the energetic avowal of that man who sees Life and Eternity one and the same.

Workers are the only individuals who may reasonably hope, and rarely are their aspirations over-heated. They work patiently and intelligently. Bye and bye they learn the true guage of their strength and its largest possible rate of increase, and even then, if, in an enthusiastic moment, they exaggerate it a little, they yet will never distort their expectancy into superhuman and abnormal proportion. They paint a life-picture which would form but shading to our glaring portraiture. In every department of industry this may be predicated with surety, as a comprehensive rule, that the more we labor, the more rational and relative become our expectations. Mental and physical development necessarily reveal, in clear and well-defined light, the respective degrees of their power. The methodic gymnast will tell you, with considerable accuracy, how much he may expect to gain in physical power, within a certain period. He has faithful data, drawn from close observation upon past endeavor. Yet will he never overleap in hope the fixed limit of bodily tension. Though with a Winship he may press hard upon a ton, he will not picture bimself dragging along an iron church by the steeple thereof. Men of toil, then, constitute the only class who have a right to look forward to a fair, and perhaps extracrdinary future. They alone will form a rational and legitimate estimate of their “Hereafter.”

In college, however, the case is quite reversed. The majority of us are unwarranted in anticipating a very powerful or peculiar life. For the proof of this fact, we are referred to the lives of alumni; lives of great respectability and influence, it is granted, but yet quite meagre and disproportionate when compared with what they ought to have been, and most of all so, when contrasted with that ideal which they had formed for themselves during their college course. Here

Exchange
Yale University

Library 1863.] JAN 2 '40

HERE AND HEREAFTER.

273

a

a

most surely the exception proves the rule. But not to call in external evidence, what is the complexion of our general college life? Judging from that rightful principle alone, present deportment, what conclusion shall we, or rather must we draw? If the sum total of our future, be like that of our past career, the world need not look to us as the originators and guards of any popular reform. They need not expect other than that, in the quietude of a moderate life, we shall all be gathered to our graves.

At this point I would not be misunderstood. The fault rests only in a lack of application. Brain enough there is. Head-works capable and furnished. Only no foreman. It is generally understood among the uneducated, and not perhaps without considerable good sense, that every one who enters upon a collegiate course, comes at the instance of discriminating friends, who see in him an ability which is at least slightly more than ordinary. “Scholarship and a cultured literary taste," say they, “may be a pleasurable accompaniment of tailoring or boot-making, but little do we urge these graces as necessary qualifications. To college for a profession not for a trade. To college those, who, of a superior order of mind, are meant for a higher employment, and this not to the disparagement of us tradesmen and merchants. Fools would we be to calumniate ourselves.” The vnanimous averment of the world, and those who, by our lack of twentyone, have the right to send us here, is that we are qualified by our intrinsic endowment, after seven years' drill, to be of great blessing to the communities in which we shall reside.

Three causes of this inactivity press upon our attention. The first, our excessive contemplation of others. Not that we can help looking at them. The mind must be conscious of some kind of excellence, external to itself, and wonderful wisdom is displayed in this aptitude. The best and quickest way of belittling a man is to keep his mind turned inward upon himself. Flatterers are more dangerous than assassins. Comparatively few men will have their lives endangered by the latter class. Nearly every man, by the honied poison of the former. It is a common fact, that whenever a truly great man is thrown into their company, as soon as he perceives his neighborhood, he either quits or removes it. It is absolutely necessary, then, that we should direct our attention, to a certain extent, upon others. The only fear we may have, is that we shall be unable to determine the exact degree and manner of such regard. If we look not at all, we are self-swallowed. If we attend to them exclusively, we are absorbed wholly in them, and losing our own individuality, become the mere instrument

« IndietroContinua »