Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

influence of companions, whose own career of sin was so much the less easy while a solitary obstacle could be found to withstand it.

Lost as to every high and honourable principle themselves, they sought the gratification of the dark passions of their hearts in the ruin of their brother.

It becomes, therefore, not more the duty than the interest of every one who values a good name among mankind, deliberately and determinately, to shun that society of which he can have any cause to be ashamed.

Let him beware then, in the first place, of any familiar intercourse with those who endeavour, in the slightest degree, to destroy the principles of Christianitywho treat with levity the scriptures of inspiration—who speak without reverence of spiritual and eternal realities, or regard religion with indifference or contempt. There are many of this class of every age, and in every station of life-shallow and conceited persons-affecting a high spirit, and a superiority to what they are pleased to call the prejudices of others, while, in reality, they are themselves the prey of ignorance and the dupes of folly, deserving only the detestation and scorn of every honest and enlightened mind. The most abject superstition is more rational than unbelief, and the poor benighted child of sorrow, who thinks he sees his god in a stone, may be a far more exalted character than “the fool who says in his heart there is none.”

A second class of those whom it becomes us to avoid, consists of all who have a tendency to destroy in us the true principles of honesty. Under this head we may rank the low and infamous of every profession, and especially gamblers of every denomination.

Such characters are justly described as “knaves whose practice it is to invite the unwary to game, and to cheat them," and despicable indeed must be the man who would not burn with indignant shame at such a charge.

But the class that commonly proves the most dangerous, es pecially to the young, is formed of those who make sensual pleasure the chief object of pursuit. For however much the various degrees of it may be deserving of corresponding degrees of condemnation, yet its invariable tendency is to corrupt the purity of the mind, to enervate those energies by which alone

ever advance ourselves to a position of eminence, or

we

can

are ra

honour among our fellows, and to destroy, at length, every vestage of that moral feeling which distinguishes man from the brutes, and makes him fit for rational and civilized society. Besides these three classes,

whose

communications dically “evil,” there are others who come under the denomination of trifling and worthless those who follow no useful occupation—who are led by no ideas of improvement—who spend their time in dissipation and folly, and whose highest praise is that they are not openly immoral. “Let no such men be trusted.” They are utterly useless as members of the community; and, but for the influence of an all-controling energy from above, they will sink from one degree of senselessness to another, till overtaken by that imbecility of mind, if not by that depravity of the affections, which will render them a burden and a pest to all around.

Resist, therefore, the first encroachments of evil. If you desire to occupy a station that becomes an immortal being, fly from the society of the sensual, the profligate, and the profane. In the eyes of the wise, they can only render you obnoxious to contempt; while the good will regard you as objects of pity in this world, and as hastening to ruin in the next.

THE SLIDE OF ALPNACH.
Those enormous pine trees with which the masts and spars

of ships of the line and merchantmen are formed, it is well known, are not among the natural productions of this country. Large quantities of them are procured from the forests of Switzerland, where they grow with luxuriance upon the sides of the rugged Alps. The difficulty of conveying them from the distant spots where they are found, which are often quite unapproachable except on foot, has occasioned the invention of many singular contrivances. Among the most wonderfnl was the slide of Alpnach, which was a huge trough six feet broad, from three to six feet deep, and eight miles and a half in length, constructed of pine trees with the bark removed. This singular wooden road was carried along the sides of hills, and over vallies and defiles at a height of one hundred and twenty feet from the ground by means of scaffolding, while in several places it passed through the mountains by tunnels; and

in others, was hung to the perpendicular face of granite cliffs at a giddy elevation above the torrent that rushed through the dark ravine below. Down this viaduct pine trees were impelled with such excessive velocity as to appear, in their passage, only a foot or two long, while, in reality, they were perhaps upwards of a hundred. Along this slide workmen were placed at convenient intervals to carry on the communication from one end to the other. When those at the bottom were ready, the words “let go” were passed from man to man and reached the top, under ordinary circumstances, in about three minutes. The tree, which had been previously placed in the slide, was then let go, the persons releasing it crying out previously “it comes,” when the enormous mass, frequently a hundred feet long, with a proportionable diameter, shot past with the rapidity of lightning, sometimes traversing the whole distance in two minutes and a half, and plunged into the lake of Lucerne, Some trees were once turned off this slide, by way of experiment, and buried themselves from eighteen to twenty feet in the earth, and one of them having, by accident, struck another in its descent, cleft it through its whole length, as if it had been smitten by a thunder-bolt.

SHIPWRECK AT ALDBORO'. A few years ago, during a very heavy gale off the Coast of Suffolk, among the many vessels that were standing out to sea to avoid the dangers of a lee shore, one was observed which seemed to have become unmanageable, and which, after buffeting the waves for a considerable time, was gradually drifting towards the Town of Aldboro'. The moment it became evident that she was in danger, the beach, notwithstandiug the extreme violence of the gale, was crowded with spectators, evincing by their gesticulations and countenances the agony of suspense and excitement within. The certainty of the destruction of the ship became, every moment, more apparent, because she was close upon the outermost of the two steep ridges, or banks, that lie a mile or two to sea, over which it seemed impossible for her to ride. Suddenly, however, she righted herself for an instant as if by some skilful maneuvre of the crew, and to the intense delight of all on shore, especially of the seamen, she took advantage of a mountain wave and, with one long lurch, heaved over into deep water. But there was still another danger to be encountered equally formidable with the first, and she was now rushing upon the crest of a foaming wave upon the hidden, and too often fatal sand. “She mnst have the best pilot in the world aboard”—cried a weather-beaten Tar,—“if she does not go to the bottom,”—but he had scarcely uttered the words, when, as if in proud defiance of the tempest, she lifted her bows upon the billows, and was once more saved from instantaneous and total ruin. All hands were now hastening to the spot where it was supposed she would take the ground, prepared to peril their lives amid the breakers to save so gallant a crew when the timbers of their vessel should be scattered on the foam. One huge wave after another overtook the trembling bark, tossing her as if she were a feather in their gigantic arms, till, at last, the whole fury of the storm seemed let loose upon its victim, and one long rush of the maddened waters threw her with a fearful crash upon the shore. As the mountain wave subsided, leaving her so high upon the beach as to be almost in contact with the houses, a number of sailors leaped upon her deck, to lend a hand in any way they could, but, to their utter astonishment, they found not a human being there as her guide. On going below they discovered the whole of her crew in the cabin, petrified with dismay. They were foreigners, who knew nothing of the coast; and having given themselves up for lost, had abandoned the helm, and determined to perish in each others arms.

But who was it that directed that frail vessel through dangers where no mortal arm could steer? It was He whose “wonders are seen in the deep”;without whose permission “not a sparrow falleth to the ground”;-and, while by His hand the glittering orbs are launched through the vault of heaven, the humblest of his creatures is sustained from day to day !

MORAL REFLECTIONS.

Continued from Page 10. The somewhat abrupt manner in which these observations were brought to a pause in the last No. of the Magazine, renders it necessary to supply a link to connect the contribution in that, with what is to follow in this. Let this, then, be the link.

The natural resemblance between the several forms and varieties of evil in some of their most essential features, already slightly glanced at, suggests another obvious reflection, viz., that there must be a resemblance, also, in the modes of getting quit of them. One of the most discouraging circumstances, to the Christian Philanthropist, connected with the numerous forms of social evil by which all communities, down to the smallest village, are afflicted, is, that they have acquired a sort of licence to grow and luxuriate without molestation, whilst the inhabitants seem determined, under an amazing infatuation, that they shall exhibit the property of an immortal existence. At the same time that they are suffering severely from their natural effects, and even bitterly lamenting those effects and complaining of them, they persist, in spite of remonstrance and of example, in contributing to perpetuate and swell the causes. In how many instances, in the course of a life-time, will a serious person be astounded and appalled, by the spectacle of a young man in promising circumstances, and (with different dispositions and habits) the subject of a cheering prospect of respectability, comfort and usefulness, pursuing a course which has led thousands to ruin, without appearing in the least degree apprehensive that it will lead him also to ruin, even when there are instances of what it has done, staring him full in the face? He cultivates the same habits and becomes, in an equal ratio, the slave of those habits; he visits the same haunts, for similar purposes and with similar results; and addicts himself to the same vicious practices, with the same degree of rapidity and success, in the formation of an abandoned character. The necessary consequences—in the entailment of wordly difficulties and the loss of capacity to command and surmount them ; in the falling to pieces of a bodily constitution, naturally strong and durable; in the prostration of self-respect and the abandonment of all virtuous principle; and (what is far from being the least distressing circumstance, or the least censurable, in the estimate formed of his conduct by an upright mind) in a total recklessness of the claims of a dependent, but ruined family—thicken around him; yet he puts off the evil day, and with it all serious thoughts of amendment, for still the infatuation clings to him which befools him into scepticism, at the least, as to the issue of all this in his case, until, with a full consciousness of the fearful reality when it is too late to be of service to him, he finds himself irretrievably lost. But communities, too frequently, display a similar infatuation. True it is, that there are individuals in the social body, and in all its minor divisions, (otherwise society must soon become extinct) whose influence in preserving it from decay and ruin, is similar to what, it might be supposed, would have been the effect, in the individual case, of a sufficient number and force of virtuous principles, to counteract the vicious process and to prevent the final catastrophe. And it would be an infinite mercy, if the number of such persons were indefinitely increased. But let them, in imagination, be abstracted-transferred, say, to happier economy-and what then? Who would venture to predict for the remaining portion, a less disastrous result, than that they would speedily bring down upon themselves wrath to the uttermost?

There is little or no hope of social improvement, but in proportion as society becomes sensible of its own account in the evils which afflict it, and of the connexion between its own agency and their removal; in other words the evils which, like ulcers in its side, or demons in its path, fret and balk and curse a population, large or small, will shew signs of mortality, when that very population shall set its face, as a flint, against them; instead of supplying them with the nutriment which perpetuates their existence and swells their proportions. It is undeniable that a fearfully large proportion of the inhabitants of most places, are, directly or indirectly, the abettors and nursers of the very evils which torment them; and a general awakening to the true posture of affairs will be the omen, so devoutly to be wished, and earnestly to be sought by every lover of his species, of the approach of a happier state of things.

The inhabitants of towns and villages, are, for the most part, prompt and eager enough, in employing the measures requisite to increase their property; and either singly, or, when necessary, in combination to resist the aggression of whatever threatens to deprive them of it: it were a great happiness, if they should be as prompt and diligent in enlarging their store of that property which springs from virtue; and in defending it against those vulture-like despoilers of it,—their own vices.

It is deeply interesting to observe, with what skill and activity, the resources of nature and the discoveries of science are brought to bear, in securing the necessaries of life and in multiplying its comforts ; and with what an instantaneous excitement and an immense power of congenial feeling, a beseiged people will throw themselves into the attitude of mutual defence, from

the assaults of the invading foe. The reflections suggested by these impressive features of the human character, in the mind of a true Philanthropist, would inevitably converge in some such question as the following :-By what fatality have these people, so easily wrought upon by every other kind of concernment; so actively alive to their social welfare in its subordinate forms—by what fatality have they been beguiled, into so total an indifference, to what is confessedly their supreme interest; in so much that at the same time that they are labouring with untiring diligence, to secure their prosperity in those forms of it which are merely secular and external; and would, to a man, stand up to defend it in those forms, with the utmost readiness and vigour, they yet suffer the little that remains of it, in its true spiritual essence, to be consumed by an internal process, as insidious it may be, but also as certain as that by which the fatal worm at the root of a plant destroys the vital principle, or the dry-rot in a piece of timber, transforms it into dust.

S. Soham.

To be continued.

FESTIVALS, when duly observed, attach men to the civil and religious institutions of their country; it is an evil, therefore, when they fall into disuse. Who is there that does not recollect their effect upon himself in early life ?-Southey.

« PreviousContinue »