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ON EXPECTING TOO MUCII
My first friendly appeal to the reader will point out a very common error, and one that is the fruitful source of much dissatisfaction. Humanity in its best estate falls sadly short in its fair proportions ; and qualities the most opposed are often found in the same persons. A verdant tree with a blasted bough, a blooming peach with a worm in it, and a handsomely bound book with silly contents, are all fit illustrations of the human character.
Hardly need I mention the names of Moses, Job, Solomon, and David, to show that meek men have their passions, patient men their repinings, wise men their follies, and good men their failings; for these facts are so apparent, and so commonly set forth in those around us, that they may be taken for granted without our casting about for proofs of their correctness. Much better will it be to point out a way whereby we may be bene. fited by a knowledge of these unwelcome truths.
Ile who has ground that is not fertile, told
vines which are not fruitful, should be moderate in his expectations of a harvest and a vintage ; and they who are aware of the imperfections of human beings, should not form a high estimate of 1Łeir consistency ; and yet, where is there one who is not preparing for himself disappointment, by looking for a greater degree of consistency and excellence than he is likely to find ? The truth is, we expect too much from others, we achieve too little ourselves.
I was standing on the beach, when a stiff southwester was stirring up the billows of the mighty deep. The sea ran awfully high, and the broad sweeping waves, rushing on like a flood, fell over in a thousand plunging waterfalls, resounding like thunder. The light spray was flying in the air, and the shingly shore, as far as the eye could reach, was a sheet of snow-white foam. My mind was moved with the dread magnificence of the scene.
I felt, though the floods had “ lifted up their voice” and “their waves,” that “the Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.”
The shore was crowded with people; for though the sea was so rough, and the wind so high, the sun shone brightly, and a spectacle of an arresting kind was at hand. An announcement had been made that a trial would take place of the efficiency of various life-preservers in the forms of belts, jackets, cushions, and mattresses, to preserve from destruction the shipwrecked mariner or passenger, when tossed about on the angry ocean. Curiosity was at its height, anu enthusiasm greatly prevailed.
At the appointed hour a ferry-boat, manned by a small party of daring fishermen, pushed from the shore, and soon one of the bold fellows flung himself from the boat into the boiling flood that was raging around him. Manfully did he struggle with the foaming waves, now riding on the back of a mountainous billow and then disappearing in the trough of the sea. It was an animating sight, an exciting spectacle to witness his prolonged conflict with the waves. At last, with no small difficulty, he was pulled into the boat.
A second man now plunged into the angry ocean, and, like his hardy companion who had preceded him, borne up by his life-preserver, ho bravely combated the roaring deluge. I looked on with increasing wonder, till, apparently exhausted, he also was taken up into the wherry. Never had I witnessed such grappling with the stormy waves.
After a pause, a buoyant boat-cushion, or mattress, was pitcheu into the water, and another of the fishermen sprang after it. The bilows bore it from him, and I had my fears that ne world be lost before he could regain it; but he succeeded just as a giant wave lifted him up high and flung him forward in the direction of the shore. With great exertion he depressed one end of the mattress and placed his kness on it, afterwards crawling higher till he was enabled to lie flat upon it. Thus reclining on the mattress, he rode the roaring billows, to the admiration of all, till the flowing tide bore him to the foaming surf. The boat then shot to the shore, and the hardy crew, after pulling it high on the shingles, ran into the sea to the rescue of their companion. Again and again, after being flung nearly on the beach, was he borne back again by the receding
At length the mattress was laid hold of and dragged through the raging surf, amid the cheers of the assembled throng.
It was a spirit-stirring scene, and the beaming sun, the blustering wind, the foamy surf, the roaring sea, together with the spectacle I had witnessed, much excited me. The object of this unusual exhibition was a worthy one, that of drawing public attention to the most efficient means of saving life in cases of shipwreck or accidents at sea ; and I felt as if I could willingly