Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

truth of the above maxim ; since, without such conviction, the highest incentive to virtue would be wanting.

It is, then, not only the duty but the interest of every one to reflect, in a manner suitable to the importance of the subject, on the uncertainty of the present life, and on the consequent necessity of being prepared for the change which we know must take place, at some period, how near or how remote we are, by an all-wise Providence, kept ignorant. Nor can the wi

in the wisdom that dictates this concealment be impeached. Were the time at which our dissolution should occur known to us, its remoteness, if distant, would breed indolent security; or its suddenness, if near, occasion terrors, which would prevent preparation for it.

We have hitherto regarded this subject only with reference to the departure from this world; let us now view it, as relating to the transition to another. And here its consideration will appear to be of infinitely greater consequence; since, by leading the life that a calm and rational view of it will suggest, an eternity of bliss is to be purchased; and, by the contrary, an eternity of punishment is to be incurred.

He who does but slightly meditate on this most important topie, will soon be convinced of the necessity of considering it more frequently and more earnestly; he will find that it is a matter of eternal import; that as life is uncertain, it is his duty to employ it well; and that as death is unavoidable, it is incumbent on him to be prepared for it. He will perceive that the pleasures of this life are few and transient, and its sorrows many and permanent; that his most perfect happiness is interrupted by the calamities which befal his friends, or destroyed by those which occur to himself. The tempest may annihilate his fortune; the perfidy of man may expel peace from his bosom; or the unrelenting hand of death may tear from his heart those whom he values more than his existence; but a full and perfect conviction of the important truth which we have endeavoured to inculcate, will enlighten his mind; it will convince him that these are but preparatory trials, the better to fit him for that blest abode, “ where tempests never beat, nor billows roar;" where all is love, and joy, and happiness; where he shall meet the dear objects of his fondest solicitude, never again to be separated from them. How glorious a contrast does this present to even the most exalted state of sublunary bliss! The former is infinite, the latter narrow and circumscribed; the one is perfect, the other never without alloy; this is eternal, that of triAing duration. Can he hesitate in the choice? Surely not. Momentary reflection must produce unalterable decision; and that decision will lead him to a life of virtue, to a death of peace, and to an eternity of unutterable felicity.

The recommendation of this consideration may, perbaps, appear impertinent to some, and unnecessary to many. Those whom youth, health, and affluence contribute to render happy, will be offended by being reminded that youth, health, and affluence must have an end; but let them recollect, that every hour brings a diminution of their youth; that every joyous revel endangers their health; and that the day is fast approaching, which not all their wealth can retard for a single instant; the day in which death will separate them for ever from those vanities which they hold so dear: let them remember also that he does not always wait the slow advances of old age; that he frequently surprises his victim amid the bloom of youth, and in the enjoyment of pleasure: if they give this but a moment's reflection, they will find that the recommendation, however unpleasant, is useful.

There is another class of persons who may deem it unnecessary to be told what they think they are already sufficiently acquainted with, through higher channels than this essay; but they will surely pardon this humble attempt, when they recollect thăt' a truth of such universal interest cannot be too frequently reiterated ; and that, as the instruments of temptation are indefatigable in their efforts to lure from the paths of vir, tue, the defence against them cannot be rendered too strong, nor extended too widely.

Much has been already said on this subject, and great talents have been employed in its illustration: I am not vain enough to imagine that I have brought forward any new arguments, or that I have been able to clothe those already before the world, in language wbich might astonish by its sublimity, or fascinate by its elegance; I have not attempted to captivate the imagination by a false glitter of words; the subject itself is of so magnificent a nature, as neither to need, nor to be capable of receiving any additional lustre from the most resplendent mantle which human eloquence could throw over it. Stated in the plainest terms which language affords, it is still the same; incomparably splendid, inconceivably awful, universally interesting. It was a conviction of this, and a desire of presenting to the notice of the young, in a familiar way, what might be repulsive to them in a more voluminous or laboured form, that induced me to compose this little essay; in which I hope the goodness of the intention may be accepted as some apology for the defects of the execution; and should it meet the eye of one who has never seriously reflected on the important subject of which it treats ; should it not only meet his eye, but find its way to his heart; should it be the instrument, humble as it is, of turning even one from darkness unto light, of showing him how to avoid irremediable perdition, and to acquire interminable bliss; I have not striven in vain. I consider the salvation of a single soul to be an infinitely greater triumph than the boasted achievements of the most celebrated warriors; whose trophies are purchased with the blood of thousands, and with the tears of millions. Sept. 6, 1818.

J. R.

THE ROMANCE OF THE NORTH;
Or, THE HISTORY OF ODIN.

Concluded from page 129. All these conquests were made within a period of ten years. It was now more than thirty years since Odin quitted Asgard, and though neither he nor Freya 'could truly be said to be of an advanced age, and though the strength of their constitution, and the active and savage life which they had led, rendered it more than probable that they might yet enjoy many years of life and health, they deemed it advisable to terminate their career by a glorious death; and to secure, to their memory at least, that immortality which they well knew, they could not naturally possess.

Thirty years before the commencement of our era, Odin convoked a complete national assen;bly at Odinsee, a sort of city, where he held his court, in the island of Funen. There he and Freya called 'round them all their children, with the exception of Scotus, the youngest, who was then in Hibernia.

Seven of Odin's sons, aud as many of his sons-in-law, formed a circle in this barbarian but august assembly. The king and queen were raised, on a royal seat of stone, above their children; and the latter above the rest of the warriors and people. Gilded arms and long hair were the marks of the dignity of the princes; the king and queen wore golden crowns, but no other superfuous ornament. . Having commanded silence, Odin addressed to his children and people this harangue, which the poet and historian, Snorro, has preserved in the book called the Edda, written in Icelandic, a language from which are derived the greatest part of those that are spoken in the north. It has been published in Latin, by Reselius, with an ample commentary. This precious monument of the Scythian eloquence of Odin is intituled the Sublime Oration, and we are of opinion that, in reality, it will be found worthy of the epithet, as it not only displays to us a king giving fundamcutal laws to an empire which became the source of so many others, and to a people from whom arose the conquerors of all Ewrope; but also this same king dividing among his children the hope of one day ruling over the finest part of the globe. That which is the most astonishing is, that this hope was realized.

Haramaal, that is to say, The Sublime Oration of Odin, translated from the ancient icelandic language.

“ Listen, my children, and you, my people, to the last lessons which Odin gives, the last laws which he prescribes. Observe them, in wbatever country you may be; trace them on the rocks of Fionia and Scania : let them be written there in those Runic characters wlrich I have myself invented for the purpose of transmitting my words to future ages; but, if the letter of my laws should ever be forgotten, let the spirit of them be perpetuated to your latest posterity.

“At the moment when you were born you became responsible for the performance of two great duties-that of defending your conquests, and that of increasing your family and the number of your compatriots. When, like me, you have long performed those duties, you will be permitted to go and repose in those delicious realms which your father's formerly inhabited. I am on the eve of setting you the example. To-morrow, Freya and I return to Asgard. There we shall eagerly receive, in our golden palace of Valhalla, the old warriors of our nation, who, like us, have wished to return, and the young warriors who have expi with their weapons in their hands. Freya and her companions will present them with ale and hydromel, in cups of gold; and I shall supply them with good horses and excellent arms. But the spirits of those who have neither served their country themselves, nor by the means of their children, shall be doomed to remain wandering amidst the ice of this sea, or amidst the eternal snows which cover the summits of yonder distant mountains.

“At whatever time death may happen to you, receive it without weakness; and, if your death can be useful to your country, rush laughing to meet it. Transmit to your latest descendants this important maxim-the best wish that can be made for a newly-born child is, that he may one day die for his country.

“Mimerformerly told me that there are some civilized nations whose language has no words to express certain crimes which they never commit. So, let our language have none to express the feelings of weakness and of fear.

“ Injury and dishonour done to a warrior can never he effaced but by shedding the blood of the offender. This maxim, which you must carefully treasure up, far from inciting you to destroy each other, will preserve peace and mutual respect among you. He who knows that he cannot with impunity insult his fellow citizen, behaves decorously towards him, without explaining why he does so.

“Be hospitable to all those who throw themselves on your kindness without any sinister design; from the

« ElőzőTovább »