ページの画像
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

STAGE COACH CONVERSATION. 55

everybody knows that: it is when a man dies—
ceases to live; and there is an end of him.”
“But this,” said I, “is no definition. You should
at least define what you talk about so confidently.
Else you attempt to argue from—you know not
what; to draw a certainty from an uncertainty.
Is not death,” said I, “the dissolution of the body?
Is not that what you mean by death?”
“Yes,” said he ; “that is it; it is the dissolution
of the body.”
“Well, then,” I said, “are the body and the soul
the same thing? Is the principle of thought, the
Same thing with the hand, or foot, or head 7”
“To be sure it is not; and what then 7” he re-
joined. -
“Why then,” said I, “it follows that the disso-
lution of the body has nothing to do with the soul.
The soul does not consist of materials that can be
dissolved. Therefore death, while it passes over
the body, does not, you see, as we define it—does
not touch the soul.”
He seemed something at a stand with this; but
like many others in the same circumstances, he
only began to repeat what he had already said
with more vehement assertions and a louder tone.
Meanwhile, there was a little by-play, in which he
endeavoured to reassure the Scotch girl, with

whom he had evidently ingratiated himself by very marked attention, telling her as she rather drew off from him, that it was all nothing; and that what. ever he said, it was no matter ; and that he was just like the rest ofus. I was determined that the warning which had been given in that quarter, should not want what aid I could give it; and as I saw that the metaphysical argument was thrown away, I had recourse to a more practical one.

Resuming the conversation, therefore, I said, ... you believe that there is a God: I think you have admitted this?”

“Yes—I do.”
. And you believe that God made the world, do

you not!”

“To be sure—I do.”

“And you believe that he made man?”

“Certainly—of course.”

“And you believe that he made man a social being, do you not ?—that he constituted man, and made and meant him to dwell in families and in societies?”

... It would seem so; he was willing to admit it.”

« Now, then,” said I, “answer me one question. Do you believe that men could live either safely or happily in society, without any expectation of a future life? If this life were all, do you not think

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

EDINBURGH, 57

that you, and most men around you, would give yourselves up to all the pleasures that you could find here—to pleasures that it would cost you the least of effort and self-denial to obtain 7 Is it not evident and inevitable, taking men as they are, that all virtue, all self-discipline and restraint, all domestic purity, and all correct and temperate living, would fall with the doctrine of a future life?” Somewhat to my surprise, he frankly confessed that he thought it would. “Well, then,” I said, “here is a very plain case; and I am willing to trust this boy with the argument. He can decide, and every one here can decide, between a belief that would confessedly destroy the happiness and improvement of the world, and the only belief that can sustain it. If God made society, he established the principles that are necessary to its welfare. And to assail these principles, is hostility at once to heaven and earth. It is as if a man would spread blight and mildew over these harvest fields, and starve the world to death !” EDINBURGH, JULY 14. I was never aware till I came to England, of the pre-eminence which this town is allowed to hold as a beautiful and imposing city. But on my route hither, I have been continually hearing of the glories of Edinburgh; and

[graphic]

now, instead of being disappointed, I am ready to
say that the half was not told me. You enter it
from the west, through a suburb which, it is much
to say, has nothing disagreeable in it—none of the
usual accompaniments of dirty streets, vile, miser.
able houses, and squalid and suffering poverty,
The coup d'acil, at your entrance, is on every side
the most striking imaginable. Before you stretches
Princes-street, wider than Broadway in New-York,
more than a mile long, lined on the left with noble
ranges of buildings, bordered on the right, through.
out its whole extent, with gardens, and terminated
by Calton Hill, crowned with monuments. On
the left, again, spreads the New Town, built in
stone, and thrown into every graceful variety of
forms—square, circle, and crescent. On the right
is the Old Town, which is itself, in contrast to the
other, one grand piece of antiquity. On this side
of it towers the lofty crag on which the castle is
built, and a little beyond it rise the heights of Salis-
bury Crag and Arthur's Seat.
JULY 15. Edinburgh (Old Town) has a most sin-
gular and touching air of antiquity. It is to other
cities what old ruins are to other dwellings. As
you traverse some of those streets—the High-
street, and Canongate, and the Cowgate—whose
houses rise like towers, six or seven stories high, on

:

[ocr errors][ocr errors][graphic]

EDINBURGH-OLD TOWN. 59

either side, and reflect that the stream of existence has flowed through them for centuries, the same as now—with the same elements of human weal and womingled in it as now—with the same sounds— the din of business, the words of anger, or the tones of laughter, the cries of childhood, and the deep hum of stern and intent occupation—the same sounds reverberated from those weatherbeaten walls as now: ay, and as you reflect that infuriated mobs have passed here, and the trampling

footsteps of armies, and the sad funeral trains of successive generations—and that through these

streets Queen Mary was brought after her defeat at Carberry Hill, in degradation, and disgrace, and o tears—yes, and that here, upon these very pavements, Robertson, and Hume, and Mackenzie, and Burns, and Scott have walked; a holy air of ang tiquity seems to breathe from every wynd and | close, and touching memories are inscribed upon every stone: it is difficult to preserve the decorum that belongs to a public walk, or to have patience ... with the indifference that familiarity has written upon the faces around you. Yet all multitudes of men are themselves touching spectacles. And when I have stood on Calton , Hill, and looked, as you may do, right down upon that sea of human dwellings in the New Town, I

[graphic][graphic]
[graphic]
« 前へ次へ »