Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

ready made, without any trouble or expense; now can you think of any thing in which you are better off than the rabbit?"

6. Charles was such a very little boy that he could not think of any thing; but his brother Edward soon answered for him, saying, “Why, we are better off than rabbits, almost in every thing; we can talk and laugh, and read, and write, and learn geography."

7. "It is true," said Mr. Foster, "the rabbit cannot do these things; but then she is quite independent of them, for she answers all the purposes of her existence perfectly well without their assistance. Richard can you give us a more accurate account of the difference between Man and Animals?"

66

S. "I suppose, father the chief difference is our having reason, and they only instinct." But," said his father, "in order to understand what we mean by the terms reason and instinct, I think three things may be mentioned, in which the difference very distinctly appears." "What are they father," said Edward.

9. "Let us first," said his father, "(to bring the parties as nearly on a level as possible,) consider man in a savage state, wholly occupied like the beasts of the field, in providing for the wants of his animal nature; and here the first distinction, that appears between him and the creatures around him is, the use of implements." "Ah I should never have thought of that," said Richard.

10. "When the savage," continued his father, "provides himself with a hut or a wigwam, for shelter, or that he may store up his provision, he does no more ⚫ than is done by the rabbit, the beaver, the bee, and birds of every species. But the man cannot make any progress in his work without something like tools, however rude and simple in their form; he must provide himself with an axe, even before he can lop down a tree for its timber; whereas these animals form their burrows, their cells, or their nests, with the most mathematical nicety, with no other implements than those with which nature has provided them."

11. "In cultivating the ground also," said Mr. Foster, “man can do nothing without a hoe or a plough; nor can he reap what he has sown, till he has shaped an instrument, with which to cut down his harvests. But the animals provide for themselves and their young, without any of these things." Then, here again," said Edward, "the animals are the best off." "That is not our present inquiry," replied his father; "now for the second distinction; Man, in all his operations makes mistakes, animals make none."

66

12. "What! do animals never make mistakes?" said Edward. "Why Edward," said his father, "did you ever see such a thing, or hear such a thing, as a little bird sitting disconsolate on a twig, lamenting over her half finished nest, and puzzling her little head to know how to complete it; did you ever see the cells of a beehive in clumsy irregular shapes, or observe any thing like a discussion in the little community, as if there was a difference of opinion among the architects?"

13. The boys laughed, and owned they had never heard of such a thing. "Animals," continued Mr. Foster, "are even better physicians than we are, for when they are ill, many of them will seek out some particular herb, which they do not use as food, and which possesses a medicinal quality exactly suited to the complaint. Whereas, physicians will dispute for a century, and not at last agree upon the virtues of a single drug."

14. "Man undertakes nothing in which he is not more or less puzzled; he must try numberless experiments before he can bring his undertakings to any thing like perfection; and these experiments imply a succession of mistakes. Even the simplest operations of domestic life are not well performed without some experience; and the term of man's life is half wasted, before he has done with his mistakes, and begins to profit by his lessons."

15. "Then, how is it, father?" said Edward, "for after all we are better than animals." "Observe, then," said his father, (6 our third distinction, which is, that an.

imals make no improvements; while the knowledge, and the skill, and the success of man are perpetually on the increase."

16. "The inventions and discoveries of one generation," continued his father, "are, through the medium of literature, handed down to succeeding ones; so that the accumulated experience of all former ages and nations is ready for our use, before we begin to think and act for ourselves. The result of which is, that the most learned and ingenious amongst the ancient philosophers might learn in an hour, from a modern school boy, more than the laborious study of their lives could enable them to discover."

66

17. "Well," said Richard, "I am glad we have thought of something at last, to prove that men are wiser than rabbits." Herein appears the difference," said his father, "between what we call instinct and reason. Animals, in all their operations, follow the first impulse of nature, or that invariable law, which God has implanted in them. In all they do undertake, therefore, their works are more perfect and regular than those of men."

18. "But man," continued his father, "having been endowed with the faculty of thinking or reasoning about what he does, although, (being an imperfect and fallible creature,) this liberty exposes him to mistake, and is perpetually leading him into error; yet by patience, perseverance, and industry, and by long experience, he at last achieves what angels may perhaps behold with admiration."

19. "A bird's nest, is indeed, a perfect and beautiful structure, yet the nest of a swallow of the present century, is not at all more commodious, or elegant, than those that were built amid the rafters of Noah's Ark. But if we compare the wigwam of the North American Indian, with the temples and palaces of ancient Greece and Rome, we then shall see to what man's mistakes, rectified and improved upon, conduct him."

LESSON 66.

DEFINITIONS.

Pá-gan-ism, the worship of false gods, as idols.
Stát-ue, an image, a carved likeness.
Shield, a broad piece of defensive armor.
In-scribed, written, engraved.

Knight, a warrior, a soldier, a champion.
Dru-id, a priest among the ancient Britons, Gauls, &c.
Bal-sam, a medicine, a kind of gum.
Stanched, stopped, restrained from flowing.

Importance of considering both sides of a Question.

1. In ancient times,-in days of paganism, one of the old British princes set up a statue to the goddess of Victory, in a point where four roads met together. In her right hand she held a spear, and her left hand rested upon a shield;-the outside of this shield, was of gold, and the inside of silver.

2. On one side of the shield, was inscribed, in the old British language,-" To the goddess ever favorable;"-and on the other,-"For four victories obtained suc-céss-íve-ly over the Picts, and other inhabitants of the northern islands.”

3. It happened one day, that two knights completely armed,-one in black armor, the other in white,—arrived from opposite parts of the country, at this statue, just about the same time,-and as neither of them had seen it before, they stopped to read the inscription, and observe the beauty of its workmanship.

4. After contemplating it for some time,-"This golden shield," says the black knight,-"Golden shield!" cried the white knight, who was strictly observing the opposite side," why, if I have my eyes it is silver." "I know nothing of your eyes," replied the black knight,-"but, if ever I saw a golden shield in my life, this is one."

[ocr errors]

5. "Yes," returned the white knight, smiling,-"it is very probable, indeed, that they should expose a shield of gold in so public a place as this! For my part, I wonder even a silver one is not too strong a temptation for the devotion of some people who pass this way, and it appears, by the date, that this has been here above three years."

6. The black knight could not bear the smile with which this was delivered, and grew so warm in the dispute, that it soon ended in a challenge. They both, therefore, turned their horses, and rode back so far as to have sufficient space for their career; then, fixing their spears in their rests, they flew at each other with the greatest fury and impetuosity.

7. Their shock was so violent, and the blow on each side so effectual, that they both fell to the ground,— much wounded and bruised,-and lay there for some time, in a state of insensibility. A good Drú-id, who was travelling that way, found them in this condition. The Druids were the physicians of those times, as well as the priests.

8. He had a sovereign balsam about him, which he had composed himself; for he was very skilful in all the plants that grew in the fields, or in the forests. He stanched their blood, applied his balsam to their wounds, and brought them as it were, from death to life again.

9. As soon as they were sufficiently recovered, he began to inquire into the occasion of their quarrel. "Why, this man,' " cried the black knight, "will have it, that yonder shield is silver." "And he will have it," replied the white knight, "that it is gold." And then they told him all the particulars of the affair.

10. "Ah!" said the Druid with a sigh, “you are both of you, my brethren, in the right,-and both of you in the wrong. Had either of you given yourself time to look at the opposite side of the shield, as well as that which first presented itself to your view, all this passion and bloodshed might have been avoided."

« AnteriorContinua »