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that I would confine these observations exclusively. Instances have frequently occurred of individuals, in whom the Power of Imagination has, at a more advanced period of life, been found susceptible of culture to a wonderful degree. In such men,
what an accession is gained to their most refined pleasures ! What enchantments are added to their most ordinary perceptions ! The mind awakening, as if from a trance, to a new existence, becomes habituated to the most interesting aspects of life and of nature ; the intellectual eye is ‘purged of its film ;' and things the most familiar and unnoticed, disclose charms invisible before. The same objects and events which were lately beheld with indifference, occupy now all the powers and capacities of the soul; the contrast between the present and the past serving only to enhance and to endear so unlooked-for an acquisition. What Gray has so finely said of the pleasures of vicissitude, conveys but a faint image of what is experienced by the man, who, after having lost in vulgar occupations and vulgar amusements his earliest and most precious years, is thus introduced at last to a new heaven and a new earth :
The meanest flow'ret of the vale,
To him are op’ning Paradise.' The effects of foreign travel have been often remarked, not only in rousing the curiosity of the traveller while abroad, but in correcting, after his return, whatever habits of inattention he had contracted to the institutions and manners among which he was bred. It is in a way somewhat analogous, that our occasional excursions into the regions of imagination increase our interest in those familiar realities from which the stores of imagination are borrowed. We learn insensibly to view nature with the eye of the painter and of the poet, and to seize those “happy attitudes of things'
' which their taste at first selected ; while, enriched with the accumulations of ages, and with the spoils of time,' we unconsciously combine with what we see, all that we know, and all that we feel ; and sublime the organical beauties of the material world, by blending with them the inexhaustible delights of the heart and of the fancy.
ROBERT HALL: 1764-1831.
The Rev. Robert Hall, one of the greatest of English orators, and perhaps
the most famous preacher of his time in England, was a Baptist minister at Cambridge, and afterwards at Leicester and at Bristol. The most celebrated of his writings are, An Apology for the Freedom of the Press, and his Sermons, entitled Modern Infidelity considered with respect to its Influence on Society, Reflections on War, The Sentiments proper to the Present Crisis (1803), and Sermon on the Death of the Princess Charlotte.
THE WAR WITH NAPOLEON.
From a Sermon preached before some Volunteers on The Sentiments proper
to the Present Crisis. In other wars we have been a divided people : the effect of our external operations has been in some measure weakened by intestine dissension. When peace has returned, the breach has widened, while parties have been formed on the merits of particular men, or of particular measures. These have all disappeared : we have buried our mutual animosities in a regard to the common safety. The sentiment of self-preservation, the first law which nature has impressed, has absorbed every other feeling ; and the fire of liberty has melted down the discordant sentiments and minds of the British Empire into one mass, and propelled them in one direction. Partial interests and feelings are suspended, the spirits of the body are collected at the heart, and we are awaiting with anxiety, but without dismay, the discharge of that mighty tempest which hangs upon the skirts of the horizon, and to which the eyes of Europe and of the world are turned in silent and awful expectation. While we feel solicitude, let us not betray dejection, nor be alarmed at the past successes of our enemy, which are more dangerous to himself than to us, since they have raised him from obscurity to an elevation which has made him giddy, and tempted him to suppose everything within his power. The intoxication of his success is the omen of his fall. What though he has carried the flames of war throughout Europe, and gathered as a nest the riches of the nations, while none peeped, nor muttered, nor moved the wing ; he has yet to try his fortune in another field ; he has yet to contend on a soil filled with the monuments of freedom, enriched with the blood of its defenders; with a people who, animated with one soul, and inflamed with zeal for their laws and for their prince, are armed in
defence of all that is dear or venerable—their wives, their parents, their children, the sanctuary of God, and the sepulchre of their fathers. We will not suppose there is one who will be deterred from exerting himself in such a cause, by a pusillanimous regard to his safety, when he reflects that he has already lived too long who has survived the ruin of his country; and that he who can enjoy life after such an event, deserves not to have lived at all. It will suffice us, if our mortal existence, which is at most but a span, be co-extended with that of the nation which gave us birth. We will gladly quit the scene, with all that is noble and august, innocent and holy; and instead of wishing to survive the oppression of weakness, the violation of beauty, and the extinction of everything on which the heart can repose, welcome the shades which will hide from our view such horrors. To form an adequate idea of the duties of this crisis, it will be necessary to raise your minds to a level with your station, to extend your views to a distant futurity, and to consequences the most certain, though most remote. By a series of criminal enterprises, by the successes of guilty ambition, the liberties of Europe have been gradually extinguished; the subjugation of Holland, Switzerland, and the free towns of Germany, has completed that catastrophe; and we are the only people in the eastern hemisphere who are in possession of equal laws and a free constitution. Freedom, driven from every spot on the continent, has sought an asylum in a country which she always chose for her favourite abode; but she is pursued even here, and threatened with destruction. The inundation of lawless power, after covering the whole earth, threatens to follow us here ; and we are most exactly, most critically placed, in the only aperture where it can be successfully repelled—in the Thermopylæ of the universe. As far as the interests of freedom are concerned—the most important by far of sublunary interests—you, my countrymen, stand in the capacity of the federal representatives of the human race ; for with you it is to determine (under God) in what condition the latest posterity shall be born ; their fortunes are intrusted to your care, and on your conduct at this moment depends the colour and complexion of their destiny. If liberty, after being extinguished on the continent, is suffered to expire here, whence is it ever to emerge in the midst of that thick night that will invest it? It remains with you, then, to decide whether that freedom, at whose voice the kingdoms of Europe awoke from the sleep of ages, to run a career of virtuous emulation in everything great and good ; the freedom which
dispelled the mists of superstition, and invited the nations to behold their God; whose magic touch kindled the rays of genius, the enthusiasm of poetry, and the flame of eloquence; the freedom which poured into our lap opulence and arts, and embellished life with innumerable institutions and improvements, till it became a theatre of wonders ; it is for you to decide whether this freedom shall yet survive, or be covered with a funeral pall, and wrapt in eternal gloom. It is not necessary to await your determination. In the solicitude you feel to approve yourselves worthy of such a trust, every thought of what is afflicting in warfare, every apprehension of danger must vanish, and you are impatient to mingle in the battle of the civilised world. Go then, ye defenders of your country, accompanied with every auspicious omen ; advance with alacrity into the field, where God himself musters the hosts to war. Religion is too much interested in your success not to lend you
her aid ; she will shed over this enterprise her selectest influence. While you are engaged in the field, many will repair to the closet, many to the sanctuary; the faithful of every name will employ that prayer which has power with God; the feeble hands which are unequal to any other weapon, will grasp the sword of the Spirit ; and from myriads of humble, contrite hearts, the voice of intercession, supplication, and weeping will mingle in its ascent to heaven with the shouts of battle and the shock of arms. While you have everything to fear from the success of the enemy, you have every means of preventing that success, so that it is next to impossible for victory not to crown your exertions. The extent of your resources, under God, is equal to the justice of your cause. But should Providence determine otherwise, should you fall in this struggle, should the nation fall, you will have the satisfaction (the purest allotted to man) of having performed your part; your names will be enrolled with the most illustrious dead ; while posterity, to the end of time, as often as they revolve the events of this period (and they will incessantly revolve them), will turn to you a reverential
eye, while they mourn over the freedom which is entombed in your sepulchre. I cannot but imagine the virtuous heroes, legislators, and patriots, of every age and country, are bending from their elevated seats to witness this contest, as if they were incapable, till it be brought to a favourable issue, of enjoying their eternal repose. Enjoy that repose, illustrious immortals! Your mantle fell when you ascended ; and thousands, inflamed with your spirit, and impatient to tread in your steps, are ready to swear by Him that sitteth upon the throne, and liveth for ever and ever, they will protect Freedom in her last asylum, and never desert that cause which you sustained by your labours, and cemented with your blood. And Thou, sole Ruler among the children of men, to whom the shields of the earth belong, 'gird on Thy sword, thou Most Mighty,' go forth with our hosts in the day of battle ! Impart, in addition to their hereditary valour, that confidence of success which springs from Thy presence ! Pour into their hearts the spirit of departed heroes! Inspire them with Thine own; and while led by Thine hand, and fighting under Thy banners, open Thou their eyes to behold in every valley, and in every plain, what the prophet beheld by the same illumination—chariots of fire, and horses of fire! Then shall the strong man be as tow, and the maker of it as a spark; and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them.'
SYDNEY SMITH: 1768-1845.
The Rev. Sydney Smith, one of the most witty, popular, and influential
writers of the age, after officiating for some time as curate of a small country parish in England, became tutor to a son of the squire, and spent nearly five years with his pupil in Edinburgh. Here he became acquainted with Jeffrey, Murray, and Brougham, in conjunction with whom he started The Edinburgh Review in 1802. In 1804 he settled in London, where he became a highly popular preacher. He obtained a living in Yorkshire in 1806, and was made a canon of Bristol in 1828, and of St Paul's in 1831, His works consist of his Contributions to the Edinburgh Review, Peter Plymley's Letters on the subject of the Catholics, Lectures on Moral Philosophy, and his Sermons.
EXTRACTS FROM PETER PLYMLEY'S LETTERS. You cannot imagine, you say, that England will ever be ruined and conquered ; and for no other reason that I can find, but because it seems so very odd it should be ruined and conquered. Alas! so reasoned, in their time, the Austrian, Russian, and Prussian Plymleys. But the English are brave : so were all these nations. You might get together a hundred thousand men individually brave ; but without generals capable of commanding such a machine, it would be as useless as a first-rate man-of-war manned by Oxford clergymen or Parisian shopkeepers. I do not say this to the disparagement of English officers—they have had no means of acquiring experience ; but I do say it to create alarm ; for we do