“Alas! then, what have I gained by my laborious researches but an humbling conviction of my weakness and ignorance! Of how little has man, at his best estate, to boast! What folly in him to glory in his contracted powers, or to value himself upon his imperfect acquisitions!”
* * * * *
“Well!” exclaimed a young lady, just returned from school, “my education is at last finished: indeed, it would be strange if, after five years’ hard application, anything were left incomplete. Happily, it is all over now, and I have nothing to do but exercise my various accomplishments.
“Let me see!—as to French, I am mistress of that, and speak it, if possible, with more fluency than English. Italian I can read with ease, and pronounce very well, as well at least, and better, than any of my friends; and that is all one need wish for in Italian. Music I have learned till I am perfectly sick of it. But, now that we have a grand piano, it will be delightful to play when we have company. And then there are my Italian songs, which everybody allows I sing with taste, and as it is what so few people can pretend to, I am particularly glad that I can. My drawings are universally admired, especially the shells and flowers, which are beautiful, certainly: besides this, I have a decided taste in all kinds of fancy ornaments. And then, my dancing and waltzing, in which our master himself owned that he could take me no farther;—just the figure for it certainly! it would be unpardonable if I did not excel. As to common things, geography, and history, and poetry, and philosophy, thank my stars, I have got through them all! so that I may consider myself not only perfectly accomplished, but also thoroughly well informed.
“Well, to be sure, how much I have fagged through; the only wonder is that one head can contain it all!”
[Note: “Blackstone’s Commentaries” The great standard work on the theory and practice of the English law; written by Sir William Blackstone (1723-1780).]
* * * * *
THE VILLAGE BLACKSMITH.
Under a spreading
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.