« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
PREF A СЕ.
THE first six months of our New Series have been eventful ones in the existence of the British Controversialist, entered upon with anxiety, yet without fear, as to the result. We are glad to be able to congratulate our readers on the perfect success which has been achieved by them. And we beg to tender our most cordial and heartfelt thanks to all who have so zealously cooperated with us and aided our efforts, which otherwise must have fallen to the ground. To our contributors we owe a debt of gratitude, which we can only increase, but never repay. our correspondents, for their kind letters of sympathy and advice, we would tender our acknowledgments, and confessing that limited time and limited opportunities have prevented us doing all we would; nevertheless, we can say we have done all we could, and, as far as in us lies, we will ever fulfil the part assigned to us by our fellow-labourers in the field of self-culture and mental and moral attainments.
That the British Controversialist is exerting an influence, the more powerful because an influence for good, we have abundant proofs in the cordial correspondence identifying us with those arteries which pulsate with the life-blood from the heart of our social greatness-the Mechanics' Institutes, Mutual Improvement and Debating Societies, scattered throughout the kingdom-we might say, scattered throughout the world-for from lands far distant have come the hearty recognition, and the report of kindred objects and kindred hopes. And it is our pride and rejoicing that the British Controversialist forms these scattered elements into one vast confederation, and, by enduring bonds, unites men of every rank, but brothers and equals in this, at least-the mutual desire for self-improvement.
But leaving the "dead past," save so far as it may supply motives or lessons for the future, we ask all our friends, both old and new, to ever remember that it is their own Magazine; and that if they would maintain its old character for progress, they must labour earnestly and heartily in extending its sale, its influence, and thereby its usefulness. With our increased extent, we shall be able to admit a larger number of contributions; and it has been often a source of regret having to reject papers of undoubted merit, and to curtail others, simply because we were cramped up by our limited space. The Classes, too, will be extended; and we trust that all our inquiring friends will remember the Inquirers' Columns; and those, who can do nothing else, may surely be able to speak a word for us, to invite the attention of some one to whom, perhaps, the British Controversialist has hitherto been a stranger. This timely recommendation, though indeed most precious and most priceless, is within the power of every one.
We cannot conclude this brief preface without a passing tribute to the memory of one who has fallen with his loins girded, and his staff in hand, whose worth is best known by those who knew him best; in business always the gentleman, always the sincere friend, and always-and here is the secret of the foregoing-always the Christian;-we mean Mr. John Stoneman, of the firm of Houlston and Stoneman, whose name has been associated with our Magazine from the very commencement. He died April 5, 1856.
BY SAMUEL NEIL,
Author of" The Art of Reasoning," "Elements of Rhetoric,” &c.
THE ITALIC SCHOOL-THE PHILOSOPHY OF
"WISDOM is the principal thing, therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting, get understanding." To-day-dedicated, as it should be, to memory and hope-may we not fittingly once more venture to press upon the attention of each of our muchloved readers, the importance of that discipline of life which is now called Wisdom, and repeat, with reiterative earnestness, "Get wisdom, get understanding; forget it not." The Past is no longer ours, except in its lessons and results. So far as it controls, modifies, transforms, or diversifies the Present, it is living and powerful; but to what issues, depends upon ourselves. Each thought, word, and act is a seed sown in the soil of eternity, which bears immortal fruit, blessed and blessing, or otherwise, according to its nature. Wherefore, let us each now endeavour to attain a safe light in which to trace the pathway of life, and in obedience to the divine evangel of duty
"Act-act in the living present,
Heart within, and God o'erhead."
The love of wisdom-philosophy-is surely that, above all things, which should distinguish man, whose best and chiefest
* "Vitæ rationem eam, quæ nunc appellatur Sapientia."-LUCRETIUS, v. 9. This is the primary signification of the Greek Zopía, wisdom-a compound of oóov, safe, and paos, light.
heritage is a reasonable soul. In that soul there will and must arise thoughts which involve all that is valuable in time, and that forth-stretch themselves even to eternity. In these thoughts intellectual science has its birth-germ, and the desire to know its origin. Every life requires pilotage. Who shall guide the bark of being aright, not only through the rapids of time, but also across the distance-space between the tabernacles of earthly sojourn and the abiding-places of the life beyond life-two halves of one apparently dissevered existence? Such inquiries have a never-fading interest for man; ceaselessly they appear and re-appear in every age of human life, and ever and anon some pre-eminent mortal-some great soul of souls -engages in the task of their solution, and strives to raise a beacon-house, whose radiance may
"Lie like a shaft of light across the land,
And like a lane of beams across the sea."
Such an one was Pythagoras, to whose life and its environments, as well as to the doctrine in which it resulted, we at present invite attention, in the hope that some thought, "strong in being true," may become a life-possession to our readers in the course of the study they bestow.
BIOGRAPHIC SKETCH.-Pythagoras-son of Mnesarchus, a seal-engraver and opulent jewel-merchant-was born at Samos -an island in the Grecian Archipelago, on the coast of Asia Minor, famous for its wealth, enterprise, and maritime greatness -at an uncertain date in the sixth century B.C.* As became the son of a rich and distinguished citizen, Pythagoras received every advantage in the shape of education which the time and place could yield. Music, poetry, and the gymnastic arts he undoubtedly learned, for they were the common subjects of scholarly discipline in his day. But much more than these must have formed the topics of his zealous study. The world was at this time full of wonder at the learning of Thales,† and had not yet ceased to venerate the philosophic Heptad, one of whose reputed members-Pherecydes-dwelt in Samos, and latterly received the charge of the youthful Pythagoras. That he profited by the labours of some of his instructors is clearly proven by his success in gaining the prize at a wrestling match, in his eighteenth year, at the Olympic games. There can be little doubt but that the ardent and vigorous mind of his philosophic teacher, the strange yet boldly excogitated doctrines he taught, and the glowing earnestness of the style of Greece's first prose writer
* Bentley says, 588; Larcher, 608; Dodwell, 568; Clinton, 570; Meiners, 584; and Lloyd, with predominating probability, 586. † See British Controversialist, vol. v., p. 321.
Ibid., p. 241.