« AnkstesnisTęsti »
purity of conduct; love that which, if you are rich and great, will sanctify the providence which has made you so, and make men call it justice; love that which, if you are poor, will render your poverty respectable, and make the proudest feel it unjust to laugh at the meanness of your fortunes; love that which will comfort you, adorn you, and never quit you-which will open to you the kingdom of thought, and all the boundless regions of conception, as an asylum against the cruelty, the injustice, and the pain that may be your lot in the outer world-that which will make your motives habitually great and honourable, and light up in an instant a thousand noble disdains at the very thought of meanness and of fraud?
Therefore, if any young man have embarked his life in the pursuit of Knowledge, let him go on without doubting or fearing the event let him not be intimidated by the cheerless beginnings of Knowledge, by the darkness from which she springs, by the difficulties which hover around her, by the wretched habitations in which she dwells, by the want and sorrow which sometimes journey in her train; but let him ever follow her as the Angel that guards him, and as the Genius of his life. She will bring him out at last into the light of day, and exhibit him to the world comprehensive in acquirements, fertile in resources, rich in imagination, strong in reasoning, prudent and powerful above his fellows in all the relations and in all the offices of life. SYDNEY SMITH.
A TIDE IN HUMAN LIFE.
THERE is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Is bound in shallows, and in miseries:
And we must take the current when it serves,
MAN AND THE INDUSTRIAL ARTS.
THE Industrial Arts are necessary arts. The most degraded savage must practise them, and the most civilized genius cannot dispense with them. Whatever be our gifts of intellect or fortune, we cannot avoid being hungry, and thirsty, and cold, and weary every day; and we must fight for our lives against the hunger, and thirst, and cold, and weariness, which wage an unceasing war against us. But we can live down the longest day without help from music, or painting, or sculpture, and it is only in certain moods of mind that we demand or can enjoy these noble arts.....
But, though the industrial arts are common, they are not ignoble arts. They minister, indeed, to those physical wants which we share with the lower animals, but we are raised above them as much by being industrial, as by being æsthetic artists. We are the former in virtue of our superior intellect, as we are the latter in virtue of our superior imagination.
Let me ask your attention to this point. It is with every-day life, and every-day cares, that the Industrial Arts have to do; with man, not as "a little lower than the angels," but " as crushed before the moth," and weaker than the weakest of the beasts that perish; with man as a hungry, thirsty, restless, quarrelsome, naked animal. But it is my province to show that man, because he is this, and just because he is this, is raised by the industrial conquests which he is compelled to achieve, to a place of power and dignity, separating him by an absolutely immeasurable interval from every other animal.
It might appear, at first sight, as if it were not so. As industrial creatures we often lock like wretched copyists of animals far beneath us in the scale of organization; and we seem to confess as much by the names which we give them. The mason-wasp, the carpenter-bee, the mining caterpillars, the quarrying sea-slugs, execute their work in a way which we cannot rival or excel. The bird is an exquisite architect; the beaver a most skilful bridge
builder; the silk-worm the most beautiful of weavers ; the spider the best of net-makers. Each is a perfect craftsman, and each has his tools always at hand. Those wise creatures, I believe, have minds like our own, to the extent that they have minds, and are not mere living machines, swayed by a blind instinct. They will to do one thing rather than another, and do that one thing in different ways at different times. A bird, for example, selects a place to build its nest upon, and accommodates its form to the particular locality it has chosen; and a bee alters the otherwise invariable shape of its cell, when the space it is working in forbids it to carry out its hexagonal plan. Yet, it is impossible to watch these, or others among the lower animals, and fail to see that, to a great extent, they are mere living machines, saved from the care and anxiety which lie so heavily upon us, by their entire contentment with the present, their oblivion of the past, and their indifference to the future. They do invent, they do design, they do exercise volition in wonderful ways; but their most wonderful works imply neither invention, contrivance, nor volition, but only a placid, pleasant, easily rendered obedience to instincts which reign without rivals, and justify their despotic rule by the infallible happiness which they secure. There is nothing, accordingly, obsolete, nothing tentative, nothing progressive, in the labours of the most wonderful mechanicians among the lower animals. It has cost none of these ingenious artists any intellectual effort to learn its craft, for God gave it to each perfect in the beginning; and within the circle to which they apply, the rules which guide their work are infallible, and know no variation.
No feathered Ruskin appears among the birds, to discuss before them whether their nests should be built on the principles of Grecian or Gothic architecture. No beaver, in advance of his age, patents a diving-bell. No glow-worm advocates, in the hearing of her conservative sisters, the merits of new vesta-lights, or improved lucifer-matches. The silk-worms entertain no propositions regarding the substitution of machinery for bodily labour. The spiders never divide the House on the question of a Ten Hours Working Bill. The ants are at one on their Corn-laws.
The wasps are content with their Game-laws. The bees never alter their tax upon sugar; nor dream of lessening the severities of their penal code-their drones are slaughtered as relentlessly as they were three thousand years ago; nor has a solitary change been permitted since first there were bees, in any of their singular domestic institutions.
To those wise creatures the Author of All has given, not only infallible rules for their work, but unfaltering faith in them. Labour is for them not a doubt, but a certainty. Duty is the same thing as happiness. They never grow weary of life; and death never surprises them. Wonderful combinations of individual volition, pursuing its own ends, and of implicit surrender to Omnipotent will, subduing all opposition, they are most wonderful in the latter respect, and are less to be likened to us than to perfect self-repairing machines, which swiftly raise our admiration from themselves, to Him who made and who sustains them.
We are industrial for other reasons, and in a different way. Our working instincts are very few; our faith in them still more feeble; and our physical wants far greater than those of any other creature. ...
The heritage of nakedness, which no animal envies us, is not more the memorial of the innocence that once was ours, than it is the omen of the labours which it compels us to undergo. With the intellects of angels, and the bodies of earth-worms, we have the power to conquer, and the need to do it. Half of the Industrial Arts are the result of our being born without clothes; the other half, of our being born without tools. I use this language deliberately. The Fine Arts may be gracefully grouped round the five senses:-the eye to the painter, the ear to the musician, the tongue to the poet, the hand to the sculptor, and the whole body, the instrument of touch, among all. The Fine Arts thus begin each with a special sense, and converge towards the body; the Industrial Arts begin with the body, and diverge towards the special senses.
I do not propose to offer you a catalogue of the arts which our unclothedness compels us to foster. The shivering savage in the
colder countries robs the seal and the bear, the buffalo and the deer, of the one mantle which nature has given them. The wild huntsman, by a swift but simple transmutation, becomes the clothier, the tailor, the tanner, the currier, the leather-dresser, the glover, the saddler, the shoemaker, the tent-maker. And the tentmaker, the arch-architect of one of the great schools of architecture, becomes quickly a house-builder, building with snow where better material is not to be had; and a ship-builder, constructing, out of a few wooden ribs and stretched animal skins, canoes which, as sad experience has too recently shown us, may survive where English ships of oak have gone to destruction, we know not where.
Again: the unchilled savage of the warmer regions seeks a covering, not from the cold, but from the sun, which smites him by day; and the moon, which smites him by night. The palm, the banana, the soft-barked trees, the broad-leaved sedges and longfibred grasses, are spoiled by him, as the beasts of the field are by his colder brother. He becomes a sower, a reaper, a spinner, a weaver, a baker, a brewer, a distiller, a dyer, a carpenter; and whilst he is these, he bends the pliant stems of his tropical forests into roof-trees and rafters, and clothes them with leaves, and makes for himself a tabernacle of boughs, and so is the archarchitect of a second great school of architecture; and, by-and-by, his twisted branches and interlaced leaves grow into Grecian columns with Corinthian acanthus capitals, and Gothic pillars with petrified plants and stony flowers gracefully curling round them.
Once more in those temperate regions, where large animals and trees do not greatly abound, turfs, or mud, or clay, or stones, or all together, can be fashioned into that outermost garment which we call a house, and most familiarly connect with the notion of architecture.
It is not, however, his cultivation of the arts which have been named, or of others, that makes man peculiar as an industrial animal;—it is the mode in which he practises them. The first step he takes towards remedying his nakedness and helplessness, is in a direction where no other creature has led the way, and none has followed his example. He lays hold of that most power