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And the Lord said unto Moses, Speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward.-Exodus xiv. 15.
HE Israelites were in a great difficulty. The Red Sea was in front of them; Pharaoh and his chariots behind them. They asked Moses whether it was because there were no graves in Egypt that he had brought them out to die in the wilderness. They made no doubt at all that certain death awaited them. They appeared to be in as evil a plight as ever men could be. What was the message from God which they received in this their hour of extremest peril? "Speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward."
This month we are anxious to speak to our children who read the "Young Scholar" in the same words. We are anxious that they should evermore be striving to "go forward." The way may appear difficult; it may seem, as it did to the Israelites, flatly impossible for them to proceed a step further; but still the wisest policy is the policy contained in these simple words, to "go forward."
our own reason.
Of course, if the path is straight and pleasant, it is easy enough to "go forward." It is only when it is dark and difficult, and dangers appear, that it puts the mettle and courage of young scholars to the test. In these and other matters we must not be led by appearances, nor trust too much to the promptings of The Book of Proverbs tells us that he who trusts in his own heart is a fool, and every young scholar knows how many sums he has been certain he should never be able to do, which yet after a little perseverance he has done easily enough. Therefore, no matter what difficulties appear in our path, if we are certain that it is the right path, we should determine to "go forward."
We may not make much progress; we may move on so slowly that it seems of little use our going on at all; but this only shows how weak and foolish we are, and how little we know of the way in which all great things are overcome. It is said that the darkest hour is always that just before the morning dawns, and so, in many cases, the period of greatest difficulty is that which occurs just before we can achieve success. Many people have given up their studies in despair, when a little more perseverance would have removed all their difficulties, and enabled them to reap the fruits of their past labour.
In human life we should be constantly "going forward." No matter how backward we may be in the morning, our plain duty is to set our wits to work to make some advance during the day. Each day should have a black mark set against it if we have not in that day gone forward to some extent. We must not become impatient and lose heart if we do not make great strides of progress every day; we must be content with the smallest advance when we can do no more. The great thing is to be constantly striving to "go forward." Many boys and girls, however, seem rather anxious "to go backward" than to "go forward." In fact, we must, all of us, do one thing or the other. We cannot stand still. If we are not going forward, we are certainly going backward. If we are not gaining knowledge, we are losing that which we have already gained. In one of the parables of the New Testament, the man who hides his talent in the groundwho does not "go forward"-has his talent taken away from him, and it is given to him who has made the greatest advance. So it
is in this life. The sluggard, the idler, the indifferent, not only gains nothing, but is losing that with which he originally started. A boy of thirteen or fourteen leaves school with a certain amount of knowledge, which he has been compelled to learn. Far from making up his mind to "go forward," he is glad that he shall never have to learn his unpleasant lessons in future. See him at sixteen, seventeen, or eighteen; he has not only not gained anything, but he has lost almost everything he had learned before. This will be the fate of all boys and girls when they leave school, unless they make up their minds, day by day, week by week, to "go forward."
"But how are we to 'go forward?"" some boy or girl may say. How? Why, by constantly having some useful interesting book to read; and if you have not got one, save up your pocket-money till you can buy one. When any passage in this book interests you, get pen and ink, and write it down in a copy-book (which you had better procure on purpose for this), and by this simple means, you will be going forward in a direct manner. It is an excellent thing, when we read a passage that interests us to write it down in a book. We then see its meaning doubly as
clear as by merely reading it.
And who knows the great progress you may in a few years make, by simply every day trying your best to "go forward." The poet Longfellow, in a poem which follows this paper, tells us that the greatest triumphs of human effort have been done "by slow degrees, by more and more."
"The heights by great men reached and kept,
But they, while their companions lept,
SIR Amias Paulet, when he saw too much haste made in any matter, was wont to say, "Stay a while, that we may make an end the sooner."
THE Lord Bacon was wont to commend the advice of the plain old man at Buxton, that sold besoms. A proud, lazy young fellow came to him for a besom on trust; to whom he said, "Friend, hast thou no money? Borrow of thy back, and borrow of thy belly; they'll never ask thee again I shall be dunning thee every day."
The Ladder of St. Augustine.
AINT Augustine! well hast thou said,
Beneath our feet each deed of shame.
All common things, each day's events,
We have not wings, we cannot soar;
The mighty pyramids of stone
That, wedge-like, cleave the desert airs,
The distant mountains that uprear
The heights by great men reached and kept,
Standing on what too long we bore
Nor deem the irrevocable Past,
H. W. LONGFELLOW.
Notes on China.
HE strangest kind of taste among the Chinese is that mutilation of the women's feet which probably arose from the same reason why they let the nails grow to such a great length—to let people see they are not obliged to labour. The women, as they grow up, hobble along on their small feet in a pitiable manner,
and this state of helplessness they admire extremely, and compare it to the waving of a willow in the breeze. Custom differs in various parts of the world. While one race of people crushes the feet of their children, another flattens their heads between two boards; and while we in Europe admire the natural whiteness of the teeth, the Malays file off the enamel and dye them black, for the wonderful reason that if they were white they would be like dog's teeth. A New Zealand chief has his coat of arms painted on the skin of his face, and an Esquimaux is nothing if he have not bits of stone stuffed through a hole in each cheek. The English and other European nations bind up the waists of females in stays, and so make them peculiarly liable to diseases of the chest and the spine.
II. Poverty is no reproach among the Chinese. The two things which they most respect are—station derived from personal merit, and the claims of venerable old age. The last was specially honoured by the Emperor Kanghi. An inferior officer of over a hundred years of age having come to an audience to do homage, the emperor rose from his seat and met him, desiring the old man to stand up without ceremony, and telling him he paid this respect to his great age. The ordinary address of civility and respect in China is "Old or venerable father," which, as a mere form of speech, is often addressed to a person half the age of the speaker.
III. The Chinese frequently get the better of Europeans in a discussion, by keeping themselves perfectly calm and unmoved. It is part of their policy to gain the advantage by letting their opponent work himself into a passion, and thus place himself in the wrong.