Page images
PDF
EPUB

solitary hours with blessed and peaceful thoughts; and like

“ the Scraph Abdiel, faithful found

Among the faithless, faithful only they." the settnity they bring along with them to our troubled spirits, is next only to that which is imparted by “a conscience void of offence.” They are a fresh and ever salient spring of pure and unalloyed pleasure; and they are ever in the power of a gentle ånd a thoughtful mind.

One thing yet remains. The elder essayists have felt, and have confessed, that, when they began a periodical essay,

a periodical essay, “10 give the thing a name were wise"--but that it was difficult, Every successive writer perhaps has labored under the same difficulty, which at last has been overcome rather by accident than design. When Dr. Johuson had actually begun his first paper, he knew not, as he confessed to Sir Joshua Reynolds, how to name it. He sat down on his bed-side, and resolved that he would not go to sleep till he had fixed its title. The Rambler seemed the best that occurred, and he took it. He expresses the same difficulty in the very first number of the Idler, a paper in many respects more interesting than his Rambler. “Those," he says, “who attempt periodical essays, seem to be often stopped in the beginning fby the difficulty of finding a proper title."

To assume any of the names, hallowed by genius and by times every one of which “stands the sbadow of some mighty name"stat magni nominis umbra,- -were less an instance of presumption than a kind of fatuity. In accordance with the humble design of the present paper, it was hoped that The Reader would have been a new name. But the indefatigable Sir Richard Stecle, the father of the English essayists, once began a paper, as Mi. Chalmers informs us, entitled “the Reader.” Whether it was literary or political we are not told ; but it was most probably political. This paper, however, seems to have shared the fate of things which, as Lord Bacon wittily expresses it, are sunken by time. “Time” says that great man, “is like a river which carrieth down things which are light, and blown up, and sinketh and drowneth that which is sad and weighty.” As, therefore, this paper, which I suppose to be a "sad and weighty" political one, loaded with lead, instead of being winged with the genius of its lively writer,

1

has not been borne down to posterity on the river of time, I think myself justified in retaining the title of The Reader.

There is another disadvantage, under which “ the Reader" comes before the public. The Tatlers and Spectators, the Ramblers, the Ad. venturers, and the Idlers, appeared so frequently,--some every day, except Sunday, and others twice, or thrice a week,-that they lạid fast hold of the affections of their readers. They were bạilęd as old and familiar friends; and as such they were loved perhaps for their very weaknesses and faults, when deficient in their wanted solidity and virtue. I appear but once a month. Instead of my appearances being hailed as “angel visits," it is to be feared that I shall be coldly welcomed even in a tropical climate, I shall have the cold constraint of a monitor to fetter me, instead of the genial warmth of frequent communication 10 set me at my ease.

“Gyves shall I wear, and cold shall be my comfort." With the best grace, however, that I can assume, and with the unfeigned disposition to make myself agreeable, I appear. I make no specific promises, I bind myself to, no positive engagements, I promise only to do my best to please my friends, that is, all my readers: and ļ will endeavour to instruct them when opportunity offers; for I shall sometimes be serious. I invite all lovers of books and of knowledge to aid me by their correspondepçe. My speculations will be on books and men, for they are inseparable. Books are the spirits of dead men which survive their authors, and the essence of the quickening intellects of those who yet live and breathe the upper air. Į exclude only all personal themes which smack of ill nature. I would be at peace, and keep my readers, and myself from all “wars, and rumours of vars,"--public or private, political or personal. I would rather throw oil upon the of the tempest

of life, and conclude with our inmortal Bard, the swan of Avon, at the close of his Tempest:

waters

“I'll promise you calm seas, auspicious gales."

And thus, trying to please and to be pleased, will

“ My little Boat
Rock in its' barbour, lodging peaceably."

THE TWILIGHT OF LIFE,

BY THE EDITOR

seo

Tis a beautiful thing to see the data
Of reason in childhood's early morn,
And to watch it's growth, as each cheering ray
Bursts on the mind, and chases away
The mists and clouds which have long hang o'er
The infant soul that must sleep no more.
There's not in this world more beautiful sight
Than to see Youth walking by Virtue's light,
With an honest-step having care to shun
The tempting voice of the evil one:
Thirsting for knowledge and eager to learn
Those heavenly things, which so sweetly turn,
The heart and the soul to the temple of Truth
Oh! this is the holiest work of Youth.
But it is a pitiful thing
Fair childhood steeped in iniquity :.
To see human nature so soon begin,
It's downward course in the path of sin ;
To behold how the early hours of life,
When the mind with health and vigour is rifos.
Are spent by our fellows, who reckless sow
O'er the fields of the future the seeds of woe.
Yet, say, should we not our voices raise
To tell them how dark are their evil ways ?
Oh! yes, for it were not well that all
The weak, without aid from the strong, should fall.
And though their hearts may be harden'd with pride,
Though they hoed us not, but our words deride,
We will breathe a prayer that in after years
They'll efface their sins with repentant tears

'Tis a fearful thing to see an old man
Mete out the last of his mortal span,
With a sinning hand, and a hardened heart,
Clinging to earth though he soon must part

From life and its pomps, while his fleeting breath
Is not spent in prayer, but in scoffs at death,
Pity is felt for a young beginner,
But done for the aged, hoary sinner;
For it sickens the beart to hear the tonguo
of old age with caths and blasphemies strung.
To behold wan thus is an awful sight,
When the brow is wrinkled the hair is white;
When the blood is chilled, the eye grown din,
With gasping breath and tottering limb.
And why does the old man's locks tiim white ?
And why does a film obscure his sighi?
Why totter his limbs from spot to spot ?
Ignorant mortals and know ye not,
They are solemn warnings in mercy sent,
The handwriting of Death,-it says, repents
Thrice happy is he who the warning notes
With a contrite heart, and in peace derotes
The twilight minutes of life's brief day
To his God and soul,—to hope and pray:
To direct the wandering steps of youth,
From the paths of error to those of truth.
To tell the sinner of mercy and love,
And to shew the weary their home above
'Tis good to see an old man abide
Th’ appointed bour, without fear or pride.
For we know that Death is the lot of all;
We know that the grass and the tree must fall
We know that tbe garden-blossoms decay:
And we know that the wild flowers pass away.

BRIEF NOTICE OF THE PHILOSOPHERS, POETS, ETC.

BOTH ANCIENT

AND MODERS, WHO HAVE FLOURISHED AMONGST THE TAMILS II

TUB SOUTH OF INDIA AND CEYLON.

By SINON CASIE CHITTY, Ebe.

It is much to be regretted, that no records of the lives of the Philoso. phers and Poets of antiquity iv India have been left to posterity either by them, or their contemporaries, and hence we are much at a loss for correct information respecting their birth, country and the age they lived in. Somo of the Puranas indeed profess to give an account of a few of them, but it is so replete with fables that it scarcely deserves even a perusal. The brief notice which is here offered of Agastya, and his contemporaries has been framed chiefly from the traditions current in the South of India, and it is hoped that it may prore acceptable to the public.

1. Agastya. This eminent Philosopher was born in the South of Jndia, of Brahman parents. Nothing certain is known of the time he flourished. According to some traditions he lived only 500 years ago when the Kings of the Pandiga race were masters of Madura; while others make him a contemporary with Rana, and the heroes of the Ramayanam. He claims precedence of all the literati amongst the Tamils, as he was the first who laid down rules concerning the grammar of their language, and is also, liko Hippocrates, considered “the father of physic and prince of physicians." It appears that in his time the people in the souch of the Peninsula were sunk into a state of barbarism, and the fable which is related of his haring made the southern part of the earth lerel with the northern, perhaps alludes to their civilization by him. Agastya spent the greater part of bis life on the mount Podiya, near Courtallicon, and composed an iufinite number of works on various subjects; but in the lapse of ages many of them have perished and we have only twenty-five remaining. On Theism..... 1 On various deseases

7 On Enchantments & Medicine. 1 On Occult science On Metaphysics...

1 On Chemistry and Alchemy. On the Materia Medica 7 On the pulse

1 On the parification of Minerals.. l On Incantations and religious rites 2

2. Téreiyen. A pupil of Agastya, who having attempted to overreach him in the art is said to have been discarded by him with a malediction. Ho has left several treatises on medicine ; but his prescriptions are on the whole considered empirical.

3. Tirumooler. Little is known of this sage, eren of the place of his nati. vity. He is numbered amongst the eighteen celebrated ascetics of India, and there is a work of his remaining, called Vytiya Vågadam, which treats of the symptoms of deceases, and of the diet" that ought to be observed during the administration of medicine, and consists of 2,000 stanzas.

(To be Continued.)

« PreviousContinue »