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It is a truth which comes home to every good man's heart almost every day of his life, that the world acts like a blind man in the distribution of its favors; or, in other words, that the adventitious distinctions of circumstances are by no means just standards of merit. It is discovered and that too without much effort, that the principles upon which the world mostly proceeds are at war with justice; and that it is one of the rarest things in nature, when a given course of human conduct meets with neither more nor less than its proper reward. Nothing is more common than to see splendid villiany dignified by office, while patient merit is left with no emolument, save the consciousness of a high and growing virtue. Human reason has been perverted by ages of darkness, and that nice discrimination and profound judgment which ought to sit as umpires over the actions of men, are no where to be found. In their places, we have judgments that are swayed by prepossessions, and those the most dangerous; and the mind, leading captive the moral feelings, has shot from its orbit, and wandered away almost beyond recall. There are however a very few in the world who have not this mental blindness, and who have magnanimity enough to challenge the opinions of the multitude; there are a few who still possess that freshness of feeling which is susceptible of the nicest shades in moral character, and who when once convicted of the justice or expediency of any course of conduct, have moral courage enough to carry their principles into action. They have learned that great truth in morals, that right strengthens right, and are fully possessed of such a sufficiency of knowledge, as makes them prefer a good path to an evil one. It is such men as these who can feel the truth asserted at the head of this paper; and it is to such and such only we are to look, would we want models for the daily duties of life. The world spurns them often, it is true; but it is not a truth reserved for the discovery of the nineteenth century, that the eyes of mankind are not always open to their own best advantage. We as often as any other way take a fool for a philosopher, and in the supremacy of our ignorance hold as cheap the rarest blessings of providence. Nothing is more evident to every reflecting man, than that we voluntarily choose error while truth is blazing in our faces; and that with the two paths before us we often take the bad one, though blocked up with difficulties. No higher evidence is afforded of the perverted state of the human intellect, than is deduced from considerations of the principles on which the world proceeds in judging of men's actions; and a most melancholy account of it is accumulated by the simple fact, that it bestows its rewards indiscriminately without regard to the motives which inspire our conduct. Now the true method of coming at the importance of any splendid achievement, is by weighing well the motives which led to that achievement. No act in itself considered is of any value, and no act can be properly considered apart from its relations. It is the motive alone which gives greatness to a deed, and which properly sets one man above another; and when the world comes up to this high principle, and men's actions are shaped accordingly, society will instantly be raised from its low condition, and stand upon a basis at once dignified and commanding. The splendid specimens of moral excellence which start up here and there from the dead level of society, are nothing else than the incipient struggles of some mighty spirit, which is destined to bring about this same consummation. As the eye travels back to a dim antiquity, they are scattered like lights along the path-way; they
are fire-fly lamps over a dead marsh at midnight; flashes of the native pride and power of the intellect starting up amid human corruption.
With the knowledge which such considerations as these give us, how culpable is that man who falls in with the current, and is contented with folly because the multitude are so. The whisperings of a good conscience cannot be his, nor has his heart been trained to appreciate the excellence of virtue. No man is altogether destitute of goodness, nor is there a heart on the face of the globe, but will start into heroism under certain circumstances; but it is that sensibility which apprises us of the least departures from rectitude, which makes us see in the most inconsiderable of our actions some moral relation, which makes us regard all such relations apart from extraneous circumstances, and which leads us to hold to them simply for themselves considered, that is worthy to be coveted. Most men are willing to be sometimes virtuous; there never was a heart entirely deadened to the pleasing consciousness of deeds well done. The beautiful tradition of some one's scattering flowers on the grave of Nero, is not without its moral; for it shows a corner in his heart yet open to the finer sensibilities of our nature, and that there was something redeemable in him which could make one eye moisten, when the world cursed him. But that high and persuasive principle which is sensitive to a fault, which leads a man to move right onward and cherish it for its own sake, which moves him to disdain every minor consideration—
“Th' applause of states, the mingled multitude,
and to do that which the promptings of an honest heart tells him is right; this is the heroism of virtue. A height as difficult in the attainment, as it is dignified in the possession; and he who has attained it may well be called a great man. If the definition we have thus come at of a great man be the correct one, how mortifying is the picture of human greatness! That man alone is great who dares do right, is the truth established; and of the world's great and good men, what multitudes does this definition shut out! The mighty names which have traveled down to us from other ages, and been sounded in our ears with every thing which could elevate and dignify, what are they ! Our blind idolatry to intellect—our deification ... and cut throats in purple— our pushing to the clouds those whose breath has been a blight and mildew to society—what is all this The principles on which we have proceeded are wrong—our minds have been blinded—the blackness of darkness has been over us—and we have lent our influence to strengthen a system, whose tendency is to destroy. The proper object of all exertion is the general good, and the proper stimulant to such exertion is integrity of purpose; and he alone is a vol. II. 19
great man who under every possible combination of circumstances, can preserve this integrity; who setting aside all baser considerations, makes the consciousness of well doing his glory, and not the emoluments of it; and with the firm belief that each succeeding step but makes the path of duty easier, pushes on to his purpose. This ls magnanimity. True magnanimity then has its foundation in virtue, and (we may add) once established in this, a man is great for ever.
“WELL, Mary, you are moving fast
“Yet take an old man's caution words
“And first, be sure you look at things
“And next, make up your mind to bear
“And lastly, let pure faith reveal
“With these three things, believe me, Mary,
So sang I once upon a time
MARY BARton is the daughter of the clergyman who has recently been settled in the small parish of A She has just passed seventeen, and entered upon that brightest period of woman's life which hope has strewed with the joys of anticipation; and even fruition ean afford none higher, for fancy alone has planted the impress of perfection upon all her works.
We would here, as the fashion is, present her portrait; but it exhibits nothing very remarkable; she possesses the common properties of woman, that is, she is a female possessed of body and mind, eyes, nose, &c. Yet there are peculiarities in her personal appearance, sufficient to distinguish her from the rest of her sex, among which are the following.
Her beautiful dark brown hair is very abundant, and her forehead is the highest and broadest that we have ever seen a woman wear. A stranger would almost consider its breadth a desormity, until acquaintance had developed the strength and vigor of the mind that