The College Echo. (Austin, Tex.), Vol. 1, No. 1, Ed. 1, July 1888 Page: 3 of 16
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THE COLLEGE ECHO.
Temporal and Eternal.
BY DAVID J. SHALL.
Life ! What is it? Whence comes it? What is its nature
and its object? What is the meaning, the aim, the destiny of
Whence came we ? whither are we going ? These are simple
questions, but volumes have been written, and volumes will
probably continue to be written upon them %till the end of
time. “Either man’s life,” says an agnostic writer, “is a
mystery to be solved by no scientific method, a mystery
which no scientific method so much as sheds a glimmer of
light on ; —either there is an order of things which the proofs
and verifications of the physicist cannot touch, or even
.—'go near to,—things supernatural, supersensual and essentially
immaterial, whose ways are not the ways of matter, nor the
laws of matter its laws ;—and if this be so, in this region is to
be sought, by faith, a reconciliation of all the contradictions
that torment us ; or else, if all this be untrue, then there are
really in things no contradictions at all, except those of our
Agnostic as he is, Mr. Mallock guesses rightly. There are
o contradictions in life except those of man’s own making.
^Jylan, abusing free will, is such a querulous, contradictory
being that it need not be wondered that God almost repented
of having created him. And yet there are no two men alike.
There are good men and bad men, and men that are neither
ygood nor bad; there are noble, amiable men, who bring sun-
■ ~ shine and joy with them; and there are crab'Ded, cantank>~
erous men, who like the storm-cloud cast a gloom around and
about them; miserable men, who are satisfied with nothing—
not even with themselves,—not to speak of Him who made
them. I am sure it was not for these, but for the great num-
ber of amiable, sunshiny and contented souls that God en-
dowed man with the glorious gift of free will, which so many
abuse. Yet there was to be no exception to the gift itself.
All were to have it, and thus man became a responsible
being. As Dante says, in his vision of Paradise:
‘ ‘ The greatest gift which God, by His largesses,
Gave in creation, which to His goo'dnes is
The most conformed, and what He prizes most,
Is of our will the liberty, with which
All these His creatures who have intellect,
And those alone, are dowered.”
Man was created to the image and likeness of God ; he
was made to be happy, measurably happy in this life, eternally
happy in the next—and it must be his own fault, if he is
Created to be happy'! What is happiness ? Where is it to be
found ? Some place it entirely in wealth and worldly distinc-
tion, some in the pursuit of knowledge, some in the gratifica-
tion of their sensual appetites, others in a rational enjoyment
of the gifts of God, while seeking the end of their creation
and trying to fulfill them. With them
“ Scenes of Earth
And Heaven are mixed, as flesh and soul in man.”
It should be needless to add that the latter alone find true
happiness. Nothing created can entirely satisfy the aspira-
tions of the soul. Every school-boy has heard the story of
Midas, King of Crete, who asked and obtained the favor of
turning all that he touched into gold. But Midas was far
from being happy. He had overreached himself. By virtue
of his gift, everything, even the food that he touched, was im-
mediately turned into gold, and Midas died of starvation in
the midst of his wealth. All, too, are familiar with the legend
or history—it may be either—of Dr Faustus, who af-
ter exhausting every branch of learning was still un-
satisfied, and bartered his soul to the devil for the gift of
necromancy. But with both learning and wealth, Faustus
was not happy. The dreaded compact signed with his blood
was continually before his eyes, and, like the sword of Da-
mocles, it spoiled his enjoyment. Whether the story be true
or not—and learned and trustworty men have produced evi-
dence of its foundation in fact—we can assure ourselves that
wealth alone, or learning alone, or both combined, do not
Can honors and distinctions confer happiness ? Ask those,
who have reached the most exalted positions, and they will
tell you that what seemed so fair to the imagination of youth
in the pursuit, was but Dead Sea fruit when secured. The
poet has truly said that
‘‘To be in heaven sure is a blessed thing,
But, Atlas-like, to prop heaven on one’s back,
Cannot but be more labor than delight.
Such is the state of men in honor placed ;
They are gold vessels made for servile uses,
High trees that keep the weather from low houses,
______But cannot shield the tempest, from themselves.
I love to dwell betwixt the hills and dales,
Neither to be so great as to be envied,
Nor yet so poor the world should pity me.”
Man is a dual being, composed of body and soul. Of
these, the soul is by far the higher and nobler, the inbreath-
ing of divinity, which closely connects us with God, and
makes us, so to speak, a part of Himself; which makes us
higher than angels, a little less than God. How many, alas,
try to forget their glorious origin and their high destiny in
the pursuit of grovelling pleasures which are unworthy of man-
hood—which debase manhood, and bring it almost to the
level of the brute ! Can such misguided mortals succeed
in smothering the voice of conscience ? No, until that “ vital
spark of heavenly flame” leaves its tenement of earthy clay
cold and lifeless, it will not cease to upbraid them with their
perfidy. What happiness can tvealth or honors or earthly
pleasures confer when the stings of outraged conscience are
forever present in our thoughts by day, in our dreams by
night? If perchance youth was virtuous, but had yielded to
the allurements of vice, what must be the thought of old age,
or of a prematurely wasted manhood ? Anything bqt happy.
“ ’Tis a time
For memory and for tears. Within the deep,
Still chambers of the heart, a spectre dim,
Whose tones are like the wizard voice of Time,
Heard from the tomb of ages, points its cold
And solemn finger to the beautiful
x\nd holy visions that have passed away.
And left no shadow of their loveliness
On the dead waste of life.”
Mankind was Qreat?d t° be happy, bijt happiness is incorq-
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The College Echo. (Austin, Tex.), Vol. 1, No. 1, Ed. 1, July 1888, newspaper, July 1888; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth1004894/m1/3/: accessed October 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting St. Edward’s University.