« PreviousContinue »
was fertile in geographical discoveries, and equally honourable, with those by which it had been preceded, to the sagacity, good management, and scientific skill of its unfortunate commander. The death of Captain Cook took place at Owhyhee, in a sudden tumult of the natives of that island, on the 14th of February, 1779. The news of the event was received with general lamentation, not only in our own country, but throughout Europe. Pensions were bestowed upon his widow and three sons by the Government; the Royal Society ordered a medal to be struck in commemoration of him; his eulogy was pronounced in the Florentine Academy; and various other honours were paid to his memory, both by public bodies and individuals. Thus, by his own persevering efforts, did this great man raise himself from the lowest obscurity to a reputation wide as the world itself, and certain to last as long as the age in which he flourished shall be remembered by history. But better still than even all this fame-than either the honours which he received while living, or those which, when he was no more, his country and mankind bestowed upon his memory, - he had exalted himself in the scale of moral and intellectual being ; had won for himself, by his unwearied striving, a new and nobler nature, and taken a high place among the instructors and best benefactors of mankind. This alone is true happinessthe one worthy end of human exertion or ambition
-the only satisfying reward of all labour, and study, and virtuous activity or endurance. Among the shipmates with whom Cook mixed when he first went to sea, there was, perhaps, no one who ever either raised himself above the condition to which he then belonged in point of outward circumstances, or enlarged in any considerable degree the knowledge or mental resources he then possessed. And
some will perhaps say that this was little to be re: gretted, at least, on their own account; that the many who spent their lives in their original sphere were probably as happy as the one who succeeded in rising above it: but this is, indeed, to cast a hasty glance on human life and human nature.
That man was never truly happy-happy upon reflection, and while looking to the past or the future— who could not say to himself that he had made something of the faculties God gave him, and had not lived altogether without progression, like one of the inferior animals. We do not speak of mere wealth or station; these are comparatively nothing; are as often missed as attained, even by those who best merit them; and do not of themselves constitute happiness when they are possessed. But there must be some consciousness of an intellectual or moral progress, or there can be no satisfaction-no selfcongratulation on reviewing what of life may be already gonemno hope in the prospect of what is yet to come. All men feel this, and feel it strongly ; and if they could secure for themselves the source of happiness in question by a wish, would avail themselves of the privilege with sufficient alacrity. Nobody would pass his life in ignorance, if knowledge might be had by merely looking up to the clouds for it: it is the labour necessary for its acquirement that scares them; and this labour they have not resolution to encounter. Yet it is, in truth, from the exertion by which it must be obtained, that knowledge derives at least half its value; for to this entirely we owe the sense of merit in ourselves which the acquisition brings along with it; and hence no little of the happiness of which we have just described its possession to be the source: besides that, the labour itself soon becomes an enjoyment.
To the example of Cook, if it were necessary, we
might add those of others of his countrymen, who, since his time, have shewn, in like manner, the possibility of uniting the cultivation of literature and science to the most zealous performance of the duties of the same laborious profession. For instance, VANCOUVER was a sailor formed under Cook; and to him we owe an interesting and ably written account of the voyage which he made round the world, in 1790 and the four following years. Lieutenant FLINDERS commanded the expedition sent out in 1801 to survey the coast of New Holland, and afterwards published an account of his voyage, accompanied by à volume of charts, which are considered as placing the author in the highest rank of modern hydographers. Nor ought we here to forget the late Lord COLLINGWOOD, "second in command to Nelson at
Trafalgar, and, in all respects, a man of first-rate merit, who, although he never sent any production to the press, has been proved by his correspondence, published since his death, to have been in reality one of the best of writers. Yet he was only thirteen when he first entered the navy, and during the remainder of his life he was scarcely ever ashore--circumstances which used to make his acquaintances wonder not a little where he got his style. He had always, however, been fond of reading and the study of elegant literature; and he found that even a life at sea afforded him many opportunities of indulging his taste for these enjoyments.
Lord Collingwood may be said to have been, in all respects, a perfect illustration of Wordsworth's fine lines on the character of the Happy Warrior :' " Whose powers shed round him in the common strife,
Or mild concerns of ordinary life,