صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

etical. This is readily accounted for. We have been accustomed from childhood, and still continue, to regard chiefly what is necessary in life. Interest and thrift are graven on every thing in America; the waves and the winds are unwelcome without the expected gain; and the cliff and stream, however beautiful, are unconnected with superstitious legends Do not the words of one of our poets apply to many of his countrymen ?

"The churl who holds it heresy to think,

Who loves no music but the dollar's clínk,
Who laughs to scorn the wisdom of the schools,
And deems the first of poets first of fools,
Who never found what good from science grew,
Save the grand truth that one and one are two,
And marvels Bowditch o'er a book should pore,
Unless to make those two turn into four:
Who, placed where Catskill's foreheaa greets the sky,
Grieves that such quarries all unhewn should lie,
Or, gazing where Niagara's torrents thrill,
Exclaims, "A monstrous stream to turn a mill!'"

Yes, even at this moment is the demon of utilitarianism throwing his bonds around the cataract of Niagara, — to scoop with a clam-shell the wicked, waste water, and substitute for the torrent's roar, the soul thrilJing music of the clapper to a grist-mill! If this is plain common-sense it is not poetry. True, a few of the red man's race remain to wonder at the taste which can so misuse their country; but their spirit has been broken, and they are strangers in the land.

What, then, is the use of popular superstition ? Not to bind man to a reverence of folly, nor to exact undeserved admiration, but to soften his nature, by exercising some of his higher powers and sensibilities, and thus make mind minister to happiness.



[One side only is presented.]

Whether Intellectual Improvement be favorable to the Productions of

Imagination. Every age and every nation has its distinguished men. It has had its heroes, poets, orators, philosophers, and statesmen. Whether we go to

the abodes of civilization, or to the haunts of savages, we shall find men - who are properly the master spirits of their age, and who are destined to

give direction to the opinions and actions of their fellow men. This arises from the very constitution of society, and each of the several classes of which it is composed are in some degree dependent on each other The fame of the hero depends on the historian and poet, and, in return, the achievements of the former afford the most fertile themes for the atter. Some periods, however, are more favorable t:an others for the developement of a particular kind of talent. The ancients recognized an iron, a bronze, and a golden age, and no impartial reader of history can doubt the justness of such a classification. The golden age was the age when literature and the arts flourished, wher civilization had gained the ascendency over barbarism, and when the rights of the individual had begun to be respectea.


There is, undoubtedly, an opinion prevalent, that intellectual improve ment is unfavorable to the imagination, that the reasoning power cannot be cultivated without impairing it. But such an opinion has no foundation in fact, and is entitled to no more respect than a thousand other notions that are handed down from age to age, and are regarded as

The enemies of free government tell us, that learning cannot Bourish where all are acknowledged free and eq'ial; that learned men cannot grow up except in the sunshine of royal favor; and that religion cannot work its benign effects except on an ignorant community, and under the guidance of an established church. The different relative pro gress of the sciences and works of imagination can be accounted for with. out having recourse to the theory above mentioned. A science is nothing more than the combined experiments and discoveries of men in all ages, while a work of imagination is, to a certain extent, the work of a single person. The philosopher can begin where Bacon and Newton left off but the poet must begin where Homer began.

There is another cause for the prevalence of this opinion, in the erroneous view taken of the works of an uncultivated people. That wild, figurative language, which arises froin its barrenness, is often thought to be conclusive evidence of a lively imagination. As civilization advances, that wildness and extravagance disappear; as language becomes more copious and fixed, those bold figures are no longer used. But does it follow, that the imagination is less lively? That that faculty, on which our happiness so essentially depends, is thus impaired by the very means by which our good is promoted ? It cannot be. The God of nature, who made “wisdon.'s ways ways of pleasantness.” did never decree that the improvement of the intellectual should darken that facı:lty which is truly the mind's eye, and through which the past as well as the future, and the absent as well as the present can be scanned. Imagination does not con fine itself to earth, but

" Tired of it
And this diurnal scene, she springs aloft
Through fields of air, piirsues the flying storm,
Rides on the volleyed lightning through the heavens,
Or, yoked with whirlwinds and the northern blast,
Sweeps the long track of day."

Should we grant that intellectual improvement was unfavorable to productions of the imagination, then we should no longer look for the best works of that character among a civilized people, but should seek them among our native Indians, or the Tartars of Siberia. We should apply the same rules to individuals as to nations. The least cultivated minds would be the most imaginative. We should look to them for bolder flights than to Milton, Pope, or Byron ; the absurdity of which is seen by the mere statement of it, and the principle is unworthy of serious argument. History as well as common sense refutes it. Who of those bards whose works are as immortal as the spirits which produced them had not a cultivated mind? Which of them did not find their imaginative powers increased by intellectual improvement ? Though the age of Homer was an age of comparative darkness, yet the sun of literature must have shone on Greece, or the inspired fountains of poetry would have been frozen up. He never would have sung of the heroism of his countrymen had not their feelings responded to his. He never would have written with that correct taste which all succeeding poets have do

tighted to imitate, had not reason already under her control the wildness and extravagance of the untutored mind.

Our own age bears ample testimony that intellectual improvement loes not destroy genius to produce, nor diminish desire to read works of imagination;

for there never was a time when so much fiction is written and read as at the present. Poetry is no longer the language of history and oratory, but it is what it ought to be, the language of imagination, clothing in its various dress human passions and affections. In proof of this we need only refer to that giant mind whose powers have been so successfully employed in the world of fiction, making an almost entire revolution in that department of literature. He has shown that the boldest flights of the imagination are not in the darkness of night, but in the clear sunshine of day; that as civilization advances, and the human mind makes progress, so will all its powers be strengthened, and all its faculties be enlarged. Science offers to us new realms, and the astronomer, as well as the poet, may picture to himself worlds moving round in one harmonious whole far beyond the reach of mortal view.

The obscure and the uncertain may be necessary for a full exercise of the imaginative powers, but of this there will always be enough until the whole field knowledge is explored. In truth, with the advance of knowledge and science, mystery does not diminish. New wonders are continually unfolding themselves, and as the field of vision is enlarged, other views are presented; there still remains beyond the visible and the certain, the invisible and mysterious



An Oration is a speech or discourse composed according to the rules of oratory, and spoken in public; or, it may be defined a popular address on some interesting and important subject. The term is now applied chiefly to speeches or discourses pronounced on special occasions, as a funeral oration, an oration on some anniversary, &c., and to academic declamations.

The term oration is derived from the Latin oro, to heg or entreat, and properly signifies that which is said by way of entreaty.

A speech is in general that which is addressed in a formal manner to one person or more. A harangue is a noisy, umultuous speech, addressed to many; an oration is a sol

emn speech for any purpose. An address is any+hing spoken or written from one person or party to another.

A regular oration consists of six parts, namely:

1. The exordium or introduction, which is designed to gain the atten tion and good will of the hearers, and render them open o persuasion.

2. The stating or division of the subject, in which is expressed what he object of the speaker is, or what he designs to prove or to refute, what doctrine he intends to inculcate, &c.

3. The narration or explication of facts or opinions connected with the subject.

4. The reasoning or arguments.

5. The pathetic part in which an attempt is made to interest the feel inors of the hearers.

6. The conclusion, in which a general review may be made of what has been previously said; and the inferences drawn from the arguments may be distinctly stated.

It is by no means necessary that all of these parts should be included in an oration. Much depends on the nature of the subject, and what the speaker has in view. But in listening to a performan

ance of this kind, it is expected that the mind will be informed, the reasoning powers exercised, the imagination excited, and the taste improved. The subject should be one which requires a statement and elucidation of interesting facts and principles; a course of calm, dignified, and persuasive reasoning. At the same time, it should allow of fine writing. There should be opportunity for description and pathos, for historical and classical allusions and illustrations, and for comprehensive and ennobling views. It should admit also of unity of plan. The style should be elevated and elegant, the form of expression manly and dignified, and at the same time char acterized by force and vivacity. The ornament should be of a high kind - such as ennobles and exalts the subject. Diffuseness is likewise desirable.

Ecample 1st.



Public Station.

One of the happiest, as well as most useful, improvements which the social system has received, since the earliest congregation of savage life, is the division of labor. While it insures to us the greatest profit at the least cost, and enables the labor of each to contribute most effectually to the advantage of the whole, it introduces among men such-a variety of classes and conditions it parts out the business of life into so many and various lots, as may satisfy each peculiar bias, imprinted by nature on the minds of individuals. The great world has many mansions. In one, there are the tools of industry and the bread of care; in another the insignia of power - the diadem, the mitre, and all the aching luxury

* On taking the First Degree.

mf thrones, in a third, is hung up the unfading laurel of the Mise, which as “it plucks all gaze its way," lets us not behold the cold neglect and starving penury which too often await it;- one looketh out upon the green fields, with their blossoms, their full ears, their bending branches ; and another looketh out upon the broad sea, with its tall ships and its cunning merchandise ; — all these, and many more, are wide open before us, and it requires but our own volition, to decide where we will enter in and abide.

Among the manifold professions and employments of life, however there is much else, beside natural bias, to influence a man's choice. The unyielding necessity of gaining a livelihood, binding upon most of us, is ample security that no one of them will be left vacant. Industry, like wealth, will find its own level. A deficiency in any of its channels will create a demand; and self-interest will ever be at hand, to supply it. But this is not all. We are all, more or less, the slaves of passion. The cold and calculating dictates of prudence are often overruled by the more specious and flattering whispers of pride. The path of reason is too straight-forward and dull for our eager ambition. We cannot bide to toil slowly up her steep and thorny way, for the quiet possession of scanty bread. The echoes of the silver trumpet have reached our ear, and we sigh that it may sound out our own name. The imperial purple has caught our eye, and the plain vestments of an honorable sufficiency seem too mean and common for our wear!

Perhaps there is no prospect, which the imagination can present, so alluring to the mind of a young man as that of public life. The mere fact of being a theme of public interest, and of being exalted by the voice of popular favor to a station above one's fellows, - is of itself a boon, than which, it would seem, the most ardent ambition could desire nono greater. But this is but the beginning of good things, -- but the portal to the high places of fame. It is in the exercise of this trust, that the full harvest of glory is to be reaped. Our mind is to counsel, - our voice to direct,-our arm to govern all;—the sceptre of power is to be handled, - her royal robes put on — and we are to be the gaze of every eye

These are the rich privileges which our eager fancy holds out to us as the rewards of office; and it is not to be wondered at, that the coldest ambi tion should kindle at the view. It is no longer a strange thing, that pop ular favor should be courted and public station sought diligently after It is man's nature to look upward - ut aquila, coelum versus," — how then can he but long for this highest heaven of human glory?

But let us strip off the gilded veil of fancy, and look in upon the con dition of office when the pomp and parade are over, and the robes are thrown aside. And here, it were a superfluous task_to inquire into the comparative happiness and ease of public station. It needs not the eloquent philosophy of the wronged Duke, to tell us, that a life of even undeserved exile is sweeter far than that of painted pomp, -"the inhospi table woods more free from peril than the enviou court,” — “the icy fang and churlish chiding of the winter's wind,” more trusty counsellors than the fawning flattery of court-sycophants. Nor need we the touching examples of Wolsey, of Buckingham, of Mary, and all that host of splen did misery which history supplies, to warn us how sore and galling burden is “ too much honor. We have heard with our ears — our ia thers have told us — many of us are in the immediate, sad experience that place and greatness, though fair without, and full of temptation. -

[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »