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But we look round again and behold another wide breach has been made within this short period, in which all of us have a common interest. The 7enerable head of our institution, *- the guardian, instructor, friend, the father of his pupils, - he under whose benignant auspices we commenced and completed our collegiate career, and who dismissed us from these hos pitable walls with a parental blessing, no longer occupies that seat which he filled so long, so honorably, and so usefully. We would mingle our regret with the general feeling that has gone with him to his retirement. We would send to him the grateful remembrance and filial affection of those who will ever be proud to remember their connexion with him. We would bid him farewell on this spot, consecrated by associations which will ever bring him to our remembrance. In the name of that education which he advanced, of that literature which he encouraged, of that religion which he adorned, we would bid him an affectionate farewell. We pray that the old age of that man may be serene and cheerful, whose youth has been so briltiant, and whose manhood so useful. The smiles of a kind Providence be ever with him. The conscience of a faithful steward is his reward here, his reward hereafter he has learned from higher authority.
With these feelings of regret to sadden this otherwise joyous occasion, may it not have been well for us to have occupied it in dwelling upon the spirit that should accompany those institutions, into the midst of which we are hastening. It is to the young men of our times that the call of our in stitutions on this subject is the loudest. Be it theirs, then, to cultivate and diffuse this spirit. And then, what if no trumpet-tongued orator shall rise up to proclaim their praises, what if eloquence be dumb, – the tongue of man silent? They have a heaven-born eloquence, sweeter than music, yet houder than thunder, - the eloquence of truth. They have an argument, which, though it speak not, is heard through the universe, the argument of a good cause, on a sound bottom. Let the spirit that should accompany them be abroad, - let national modesty, moderation, charity, independence, and, above all, the spirit of Christianity, be their guard, and then, like Christianity, the powers of nature may strive against them, but they will stand, for they are founded upon a rock. Man cannot overthrow them, and the Almighty will not.
OF A VALEDICTORY ORATION IN LATIN.
Omnibus nunc rite et feliciter peractis, restat, auditores spectatissimi, ut robis pro hac benevolentia gratias agamus, omnia faustà precemur, et pace decedere et valere vos jubeamus. Si spectandi et audiendi vos tædet, ut citissime abeatis præstabimus.
Sed primum, omnibus qui adestis, quod tam frequentes convenistis, tam attente audistis, tam benigne plausistis, gratias bene meritas agimus ; vobis præcipue, virgines dilectæ, matronesque honoratæ, juvenibus virisque spes et solatium. Quid nostra comitia sine vobis ? Quid nos disertos, eloquentes denique efficeret, si non ut aribus oculisque vestris nos commenderemus? Etsi nonnullæ
“Spectatum veniunt, veniunt spectentur ut ipsæ," —
et ignoscimus et probamus. Cur venimus nos javenes, nos viri, nisi ut spectemur, audiamur et ipsi ? Sed plures, nimirum, ut audiatis, ut oculis, inguis, votis faveatis. Igitur grates, sed
Grates persolveres dignas
* Rev. John Thornton Kirkland.
Vir excellentissime, nostræ reipublicæ princeps, te ex animo salutamug ac virum tantum, bonisque omnibus tam probatum, nostris adesse comitiis gaudemus.
Virum tibi conjunctissimum, patriæque et virtutis fautoribus carissimun, ac, dum vixerit, integritatis, prudentiæ, omnisque virtutis exemplum, in sedes altiores arcessitum, tecum lugemus. Sed bonorum animis, omnium desiderio, “Manet mansurumque est quidquid in eo amavimus, quidquid admirati sumus. Placide quiescat."
Præclara quidem nostræ reipublicæ felicitas videtur, quum inter tam multos virtute eximios nemo ob amorem erga illam insignem se reddere potest; quum omnia prospere pulchreque eveniunt. Florentibus rebus, summâ hu jus reipublicæ tranquilitate, summâ concordiâ, respublica mihi quidem et aliis multis ut confido carissima tuis auspiciis evasit nova ; * olim quidem terris nunc re et legibus a vobis disjuncta; ut aliam sese libertatis vindicem exhibeat, alium amicitiæ vinculum adjiciat. Perduret atque valeat. Vale, vir excellentissime.
Et tu, honoratissime, cui virticem ætate provecto albentem civiles usque ambiunt honores ; et vos, Conciliarii, Curatoresque honorandi, quibus faven tibus et adjuvantibus, vigent res summa nostraque Academia, valete.
Vale et tu, Preses reverende et, si mihi liceat, carissime, cujus præsidic lumen veritatis, patrum auspiciis in nostræ Academiæ penetralibus olim ac censum, fulsit fulgetque novo semper purioreque splendore. Esto sempiter
Valete Professores eruditissimi ac præstantissimi! Quibus eloquemur verbis quantâ observantiâ vos habemus, quam gratis animis vestrûm in nos assiduorum laborum, curæque vigilantis recordamur ? Sit vobis hoc excel sum et pene divinum munus et præmium. Omnibus qui merentur certissime eveniet.
Amici sodalesque carissimi, iterum denique, post aliquod temporis inter vallum, convenimus, ut his sedibus amatis, quas veluti beatorum insulas doientes reliquimus, nostræ custodibus juventutis merito honoratis, nobis invicem et illis valedicemus. Quis enim, quum temporis inter camænas et cum amicis acti reminiscitur, dolorem non sentiat quod his omnibus nimium cito šese eripere, marique incerto ac tumultuoso se committere oporteat, nunquam rediturum, nunquam sodalium ora jucunda aspecturum! Inter jecto jam nunc brevi tantum triennio, multos optime dilectos oculis animoque frustra requirimus.
Quid ego non audio tantum ? Eorum quos inter-lectissimos habuimus, alter morti occubuit, alter in terris externis abest. Quid illos aut alios quos amavimus a me nominari necesse sit ? Quisque vestrum eos requirit, quisque desiderat. Valeant omnes qui absunt, et vos, amici fratresque valete!
Vos quoque valete, omnes qui adestis, - senes atque juvenes, quibus for una fida et quibus perfida, - matronæ virginesque, quibus sit decor quibus fue desit; - vobis adsint ante omnia virtus,
“Lis nunquam, toga rara, mens quieta,
* Anno 1820, resp. Maine a rep. Mass. se separerit.
A BOWDOIN PRIZE DISSERTATION.
Essay on the Literary Character of Dr. Samuel Johnson.
While an author is living, it is not extraordinary that mankind should form an erroneous estimate of his works. The influence which prejudice and partiality often possess over the minds of his contemporaries, is incom patible with a correct decision of his merits. It is not until time has effaced the recollection of party feelings, when the virtues and foibles of the man are forgotten, and the warm emotions of friendship or resentment are no longer felt, that the merit of an author can be fairly ascertained. So variable is public opinion, which is often formed without examination, and liable to be warped by caprice, that works of real merit are frequently left for posterity to discover and admire, while the pompous efforts of im pertinence and folly are the wonders of the age. The gigantic genius of Shakspeare so far surpassed the learning and penetration of his times, that his productions were then little read and less admired. There were few who could understand, and still fewer who could relish the beauties of a writer whose style was as various as his talents were surprising. The im mortal Milton suffered the mortification of public neglect, after having enriched the literature of his country with a poem, which has since been esteemed the most beautiful composition in his language; and his poetical talents, which entitled him to a reputation the most extensive anil gratify ing, could scarcely procure for him, in his own times, a distinction above contemporary authors who are now forgotten. Ignorance and interest, envy and political ranoor, have concealed from public notice works, which she enlightened in gence of after ages have delighted to rescue from oblivion; and it is no less common for posterity to forget ephemeral productions, which were the admiration of the day in which they were produced.
In a retrospect of the literature of any age, the mind views the respec tive authors as a group of statues, which a cusory glance of the eye discovers at a distance ; and although, on a nearer examination, it could admire the features and beauties discoverable in those of a diminutive appearance, "yet the energetic expression and lofty attitude of some who overtop the rest, exclusively attract our notice and command attention. Perhaps there has been no age concerning which this remark is more justly applicable, than the eighteenth century. In that period, a most numerous army of authors took the field, greater perhaps in number, but not exceeding in height of stature, excellence of skill, or brilliance of achievement, the great men of the three preceding centuries.
In contemplating this collection of writers, the attention is necessarily withdrawn from those over whom the towering genius of Dr. Johnson seems to bend, and is attracted by the colossal statue which represents the gigantic powers of his mind. Whether we regard the variety of his talents, the soundness of his judgment, the depth of his penetration, the acuteness of his sagacity, the subtleness of his reasoning faculty, or the extent of his knowledge, he is equally the subject of astonishment and admiration.
It will not, perhaps, be hazardous to affir:n, that within the range of an
cient and modern history, it is difficult, if not impossible, lo point out a single individual, in whom was discoverable so various a combiriation of literary accomplishments. It may also be safely affirmed, that he seemed to possess a mind which actually contained a greater and more variegated mass of knowledge than any other person has been known to possess. It will not, however, be surprising, that his productions excited the wonder and astonishment of mankind, when we reflect, that he had a memory which at any moment could furnish him with all that he had ever read, and a judg ment which could exactly combine and compare, analyze and aggregate, the most subtle reasoning, and a love of learning never satiated by indul gence. A clear head and nice discrimination, a logical method and mathe matical precision, rendered him one of the most powerful reasoners of his age. A character so eminent, it is not likely coulde pass his own times without much animadversion and much praise. As he was the most conspicuous literary man of his nation, it is not matter of suprise, that we find written of him more thån it wculd be safe implicitly to credit, and presump tion universally to disbelieve. Soon after his death, he was very justly compared to the sick lion in the fable, whom, while living, few had the temerity to attack, but against whom, when in the defenceless state of a corse, all in whom the malignancy of envy, or the voice of prejudice, or the excitement of resentment existed, united their assaults with rancor and bitterness. In many, the gratification of these feelings was like the fury of canine madness. They bit with the mordacity of the viper; but the impassive metal rendered retributive justice to their efforts, and the good sense of mankind reprobated their folly.
It is a delightful employment to trace through the stages of infantine im becility, the growth of a genius, which, in the progressive gradations of its maturity, expands like the majestic branches of the Pride of the Forest," by slow degrees, and native hardihood, acquiring strength and enlargement, and becoming at last a sublime emblem of independence, of fortitude, and durability. The development of Dr. Johnson's mind, is a subject, from the contemplation of which, we may derive much pleasure and improve
It was not like a sickly and tender plant, to be nursed with the most anxious solicitude. It possessed a native vigor and energy, which neither the disadvantages of an unpropitious culture could retard, nor the blasts of adverse fortune could depress. The tempestuous storms, to which a nature es3 hardy would have yielded, it bore with inflexible immness; and, like a rock in the midst of the ocean, just protending above the waves, by which it is sometimes overflowed, and at the refluence of the billows, with haughty pride becomes again visible, it withstood the conflict of contending elements. . Undaunted by difficulties, from which a mind not underserving of respect would involuntarily have recoiled, we observe it, in the progress of his life, stemming the current of adversity, rather in the pride of triumph, than in the humiliation of despondence. In following him through the dangers and hardships which he too frequently had to encounter, we may observe how wonderfully his mind gained efficiency by resistance; and, like an impetuous torrent, overleaping the barriers of its course, with renovated strength he overwhelmed opposition.
The ninth year of the eighteenth century gave birth to the man, who was afterwards to become the glory of his country, the champion of his language, and the honor and ornament of the literature of his age. Among some of the biographers of Dr. Johnson, we discover a disposition to inJulge in tales of absurdity; ascribing to him a jingle of boyish rhymes at the
age of three years, and leading readers to suppose him to have mounted his Pegasus before he was entirely out of the cradle. Little appears to have been known respecting his early childhood, and much less with re gard to the progress he made in learning under his earliest teachers, both of which were perhaps of no consequence; stories of such strange precocity usually carry with themselves their own refutation. The earliest intelli
gence apon which we may rely, informs us, that Johnson, while at the Litchfield school, had a standing scarcely respectable. The only talent by which he was then in any wise distinguished, was a remarkable tenacity of memory. This, it will be seen, was of the utmost importance to him. Af ter a preparatory course in classical literature, we find him, at the age of nineteen, entered as a commoner in Pembroke College, Oxford, assisting the studies of a young gentleman, by whose aid he was maintained. The performance which first brought him into notice, was the translation of Pope's “Messiah ” into Latin, which possessed no other poetical merit than purity of diction. Circumstances occurred, which deprived him of the only support upon which he relied; the gentleman under his charge changing his plan of education. After various discouragements, and embarrassments in his pecuniary resources, he was compelled to quit the university, where his residence, with little interruption, had been continued nearly three years. Having endeavored to obtain the means of living by assisting at a public school, in a short time he relinquished an employment, which yield ed him little pleasure, and which became the more irksome from a disgust he had taken with the person by whom it was patronized. It was at this period, that a resort to his pen became necessary for the support of his life. A translation of a voyage to Abyssinia, by Jerome Lobo, a Portuguese missionary, it is believed, was the first literary effort by which he attempted to raise a revenue. In this production, Johnson discovers much of that purity and energy of diction, by which he was afterwards distinguished. An easy flow of language, with a strength of expression, gave a dignity to the translated author he did not naturally possess. The flexibility and harmony of the English tongue added an importance and interest to the performance, to which, for its subsequent reputation, it was much indebted.
In March, 1737, Johnson, in company with David Garrick, made his entry into London, each to try his fortune on the extensive theatre of the me tropolis. The former, hitherto the child of disaster and disappontment, determined to enlarge the sphere in which to crowd his way; and both were equally undaunted by the failure of their schemes.
The biographers of Johnson are unable to fix with certainty the period at which the Tragedy of “ Irene” was finished. Though there appears some evidence of its completion prior to his arrival in London, it was doomed, if written at that time, to slumber in obscurity, until the fortune and friend ship of Garrick, who, in 1747, became one of the managers of Drury Lane Theatre, enabled him to produce it on the stage. With respect to the merits of this production, an observation which was judiciously applied to Addison's "Cato,” may, with equal justice, be made: “It wants much of that contrivance and effect, which is best understood by those who are skilled in writing for the stage." It is, in a great measure, destitute of that style, and those incidents, which would render it interesting to an audience; and will much better delight a reader in the retirement of the closet, than the confused assemblage of the theatre. The language, is dignified and forci ble, and the sentiments worthy of its author. Literary men, who are pleased with chill philosophy," and "unaffecting elegance,” will admire it; readers of taste will be delighted with the beauty of some of its sentiments, and many elegant passages which it contains, which will long preserve it from oblivion. Garrick, upon being asked why he did not produce another tragedy from his Litchfield friend, replied, " when Johnson writes tragedy, passion sleeps, and declamation roars. Johnson himself appears to have been in some degree sensible of the truth of such a remark, as this was his first and only attenspt. Having had a run of thirteen nights, Irene was never after revived.
About the year 1738, we find him again invoking his muse, in an imita cion of Juvenal's Third Satire, to which he gave the name of “ London.” It has been thought; that, under the name of Thales, he addresses his friend Savage, whose life he subseqently wrote, and with whom he had previously