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“ Ach, mein Lieber!” said he once, at midnight, when we had returned from the Coffee-house in rather earnest talk, “it is a true sublimity to dwell here. Oh, under that hideous coverlet of vapours, and putrefactions, and unimaginable gases, what a Fermenting-vat lies simmering and hid! The joyful and the sorrowful are there; men are dying there, men are being born; men are praying, - on the other side of a brick partition, men are cursing ; and around them all is the vast, void Night. The proud Grandee still lingers in his perfumed saloons, or reposes within damask curtains ; Wretchedness cowers into truckle-beds, or shivers hungerstricken into its lair of straw: while Councillors of State sit plotting, and playing their high chess-game, whereof the pawns are Men. The Lover whispers his mistress that the coach is ready; and she, full of hope and fear, glides down, to fly with him over the borders : the Thief, still more silently, sets-to his picklocks and crowbars, or lurks in wait till the watchmen first snore in their boxes. Gay mansions, with supper-rooms and dancing-rooms, are full of light and music and high-swelling hearts ; but, in the Condemned Cells, the pulse of life beats tremulous and faint, and bloodshot eyes look out through the darkness, which is around and within, for the light of a stern last morning. Six men are to be hanged on the morrow: comes no hammering from the Rabenstein ? — their gallows must even now be a-building. Upwards of five-hundred-thousand two-legged animals without feathers lie round us, in horizontal positions; their heads all in nightcaps, and full of the foolishest dreams. Riot cries aloud, and staggers and swaggers in his rank dens of shame; and the Mother, with streaming hair, kneels over her pallid dying infant, whose cracked lips only her tears now moisten. All these heaped and huddled together, with nothing but a little carpentry and masonry between them; crammed in, like salt fish in their barrel ; or weltering, shall I say, like an Egyptian pitcher of tamed vipers, each struggling to get its head above the others : such work goes on under that smoke-counter-pane! - But I, mein Werther, sit above it all; I am alone with the Stars."
Carlyle: Sartor Resartus, Book I, chap. III.
It is hard without long and loving study to realize the magnitude of the work done on these mountains during the last glacial period by glaciers, which are only streams of closely compacted snow-crystals. Careful study of the phenomena presented goes to show that the pre-glacial condition of the range was comparatively simple: one vast wave of stone in which a thousand mountains, domes, cañons, ridges, etc., lay concealed. And in the development of these Nature chose for a tool not the earthquake or lightning to rend and split asunder, not the stormy torrent or eroding rain, but the tender snow-flowers noiselessly falling through unnumbered centuries, the offspring of the sun and the sea. Laboring harmoniously in united strength they crushed and ground and wore away the rocks in their march, making vast beds of soil, and at the same time developed and fashioned the landscapes into the delightful variety of hill and dale and lordly mountain that mortals call beauty. Perhaps more than a mile in average depth has the range been thus degraded during the last glacial period, — a quantity of mechanical work almost inconceivably great. ... The great granite domes a mile high, the cañons as deep, the noble peaks, the Yosemite valleys, these, and indeed nearly all other features of the Sierra scenery, are glacier monuments.
Contemplating the works of these flowers of the sky, one may easily fancy them endowed with life : messengers sent down to work in the mountain mines on errands of divine love. Silently flying through the darkened air, swirling, glinting, to their appointed places, they seem to have taken counsel together, saying, “Come, we are feeble ; let us help one another. We are many, and together we will be strong. Marching in close, deep ranks, let us roll away the stones from these mountain sepulchres, and set the landscapes free. Let us uncover these clustering domes. Here let us carve a lake basin; there, a Yosemite valley ; here, a channel for a river with fluted steps and brows for the plunge of songful cataracts. Yonder let us spread broad sheets of soil, that man and beasts may be fed ; and here pile trains of boul. ders for pines and giant Sequoias. Here make ground for a meadow; there, for a garden and grove, making it smooth and fine for small daisies and violets and beds of heathy bryanthus, spicing it well with crystals, garnet, feldspar, and zircon.” Thus and so on it has oftentimes seemed to me sang and planned and labored the hearty snow-flower crusaders; and nothing I can write can possibly exaggerate the grandeur and beauty of their work. Like morning mist they have vanished in sunshine, all save the few small companies that still linger on the coolest mountain-sides, and, as residual glaciers, are still busily at work completing the last of the lake basins, the last beds of soil, and the sculp ture of some of the highest peaks.
John Muir: The Mountains of California, chap. 1.'
23. Much have I travell’d in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne ;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
When a new planet swims into his ken;
He star'd at the Pacific - and all his men
Keats : On first looking into Chapman's Homer. 24. Simple and brave, his faith awoke
Ploughmen to struggle with their fate;
Robert Bridges: Washington. 25.
Suppose it were perfectly certain that the life and fortune of every one of us would, one day or other, depend upon his 1 Copyright, 1894, by The Century Company. Used with the kind permission of the publishers.
winning or losing a game of chess. Don't you think that we should all consider it to be a primary duty to learn at least the names and the moves of the pieces? Do you not think that we should look with a disapprobation amounting to scorn, upon the father who allowed his son, or the state which allowed its members, to grow up without knowing a pawn from a knight?
Yet it is a very plain and elementary truth, that the life, the fortune, and the happiness of every one of us, and, more or less, of those who are connected with us, do depend upon our knowing something of the rules of a game infinitely more difficult and complicated than chess. It is a game which has been played for untold ages, every man and woman of us being one of the two players in a game of his or her own. The chess-board is the world, the pieces are the phenomena of the universe, the rules of the game are what we call the laws of Nature. The player on the other side is hidden from us. We know that his play is always fair, just, and patient. But also we know, to our cost, that he never overlooks a mistake, or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance. To the man who plays well, the highest stakes are paid, with that sort of overflowing generosity with which the strong shows delight in strength. And one who plays ill is checkmated without haste, but without
Well, what I mean by Education is learning the rules of this mighty game. In other words, education is the instruction of the intellect in the laws of Nature, under which name I include not merely things and their forces, but men and their ways; and the fashioning of the affections and of the will into an earnest and loving desire to move in harmony with those laws.
Huxley: A Liberal Education.
2. For general reading
Sought some new sport to banish care,
and make for us a prayer!
The jester doffed his cap and bells,
And stood the mocking court before; They could not see the bitter smile
Behind the painted grin he wore.
He bowed his head, and bent bis knee
Upon the monarch's silken stool; His pleading voice arose : “O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!
“No pity, Lord, could change the heart
From red with wrong to white as wool; The rod must heal the sin ; but, Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool !
“ 'T is not by guilt the onward sweep
Of truth and right, O Lord, we stay; 'T is by our follies that so long
We hold the earth from heaven away.
“These clumsy feet, still in the mire,
Go crushing blossoms without end; These hard, well-meaning hands we thrust
Among the heart-strings of a friend.
“ The ill-timed truth we might have kept –
Who knows how sharp it pierced and stung ? The word we had not sense to say
Who knows how grandly it had rung?
“ Our faults no tenderness should ask,
The chastening stripes must cleanse them all; But for our blunders — oh, in shame
Before the eyes of heaven we fall.
“ Earth bears no balsam for mistakes;
Men crown the knave, and scourge the tool That did his will; but Thou, O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!”