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its teeth, and the deer from its horns, and so on. But with man the case is different; some seem to reach old age sooner than others. Instances have been known where children have ceased to grow, and to exhibit signs of senile deterioration at 11 years. So much depends on constitution and temperament. Some lives burn quicker and more intense than others; they are consumed internally by their own fire. With others the lamp of life burns slowly; they are of a cold phlegmatic temperament, with, says
“ Souls that can scarce ferment their mass of clay.” How often we see upon a young face an appearance of premature decay, “like a worm in the bud”! In others, again, we see a bronze-like countenance with a hardness of texture, and an outward appearance of iron strength, and rigour of soul which time can hardly impress and death can hardly conquer. Thus we find that some are born with a greater potential longevity than others, and we think that it will be impossible for science ever to fix a criterion for the specific longevity of man.
After all, we cannot go beyond the sublime words of the Psalmist, “The days of our years are three-score years and ten, and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow, for it is soon cut off, and we flee away.” “By appointed laws,” says Goethe, "we enter into life; the days are numbered which make us ripe to see the light; but for the duration of our life there is no law. The weakest thread will spin itself to unexpected length, and the strongest is cut suddenly asunder by the scissors of the fates, delighting as it seems in contradictions." Let us, then, live to a moderate age, and be thankful, for much may be accomplished within the
allotted time of man. Some lives are more complete at 30 than others at 60. Many of the greatest names in History, Poetry and Art fulfilled their mission and finished their work when young. We might mention Alexander, Raphael, Mozart, Schiller, Burns, Keats, Byron, and a host of others. One of the great secrets of success is to know what to do, and how to do it, so as not to waste time in vain endeavours. Our life is too short to do many things well. “I once on a time,” said Dr. Johnson,
'took to fiddling ; but I found that to fiddle well I must fiddle all my life, and I thought I could do something better." Porson, with his gigantic exhaustive brain said
* Life was too short to learn German,” that is, as he would have learnt it.
It is a sad thought to most of us how small a portion of our time we have left for our mental and moral improvement. Our lives are nearly all absorbed in the pursuit of merely temporal objects. Take three-score years and ten, and analyse them: a sum total of 25,550 days. Out of this total, “sleep, the brother of death,” extracteth onethird of our lives; then deducting a large portion of our earlier life before the judgment is matured; another onethird must be extracted from most men for professional and business avocations; after making other deductions for illness, eating, and drinking, &c., how small a residue have we left before “ The night cometh when no man can work”! The hand of mercy weaveth the veil of the future. We know not our portion for the morrow, which is a day of darkness; but it is something to know that He who conceals is He who directs and assists. We have all taken of the elixir of life, and our portion is
immortality; for we shall live always, but not here. What is that awful unknown “self” or “soul” ? Is it a matter of cells and fibres, of fat and phosphorus, of many and deep cerebral convolutions, a chemical laboratory for secreting thoughts? No! The soul, secure in its existence, defies the materialist, and by its intuition laughs to scorn his induction. “I am!” is its own proof, and no syllogism can touch it.
“Where, in the plan of Nature,” says the German writer, Reimar,“ do we find instincts falsified ? Where do we see an instance of a creature instinctively craving a certain kind of food, in a place where no such food can be found ? Are the swallows deceived by their instinct when they fly away from clouds and storms to seek a warmer country? Do they not find a milder climate beyond the water? When the May-flies and other aquatic insects leave their shells, expand their wings, and soar from the water into the air, do they not find an atmosphere filled to sustain them in a new stage of life? Yes. The voice of Nature does not utter false prophecies. It is the call, the invitation, of the Creator addressed to His creatures. And if this be true with regard to the impulses of physical life, why should it not be true with regard to the superior instincts of the soul ?”
SHOWING THE AGE ATTAINED BY SOME OF THE MOST NOTABLE
LITERARY PERSONS IN ANCIENT AND MODERN TIMES.
Name. Æschylus Angelo Anacreon Archimedes Aristotle Ariosto
Camoens Camden Campbell, Thos. Cervantes Chaucer Condillac Confucius Corneille Congreave
Hamilton, Sir W. 68 Scotland
86 England Herschel