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results. We believe, as regards the working of our Constitution, with all its vast and yet minute machinery, both in the general Government and in that of the several States, that there is far more cause for wonder and gratitude, in the fact that, on the whole, hitherto, it has been so successful, so smooth in the working of the whole machinery, and so conducive to the general welfare of the country and happiness of the people, than for any enemy of free institutions to find ground for malicious carping and cavilling: at certain occasional imperfections or jars. Still, we should regard such of these as have occurred as warnings for the future, and endeavor, by all means, to prevent their rising to a height that might really prove injurious or fatal to our constitutional liberty. Here, of course, we are not alluding to the great and grievous rebellion, against which we are just now contending ; that has had its source in other causes. But the unlimited extension of the right of suffrage, unguarded and unguided by a co-ordinate extension of sound moral and mental education—the virulence and violence to which party spirit has at times arisen, sweeping before it, like a destructive flood, those barriers of principle placed by Providence for its guidance--and parallel with, or, rather, as part and parcel of this, the licentiousness of portions of the press, more especially at the time of the elections—the headlong and hungry greed which we saw, not long since, displayed on a grand scale by office-seekers—the vile selfishness which, even within the last few days, as it were, has darkened and defiled the grandest and brightest picture of national patriotism ever held up by a free people to a world's admiring gaze-by the damning daubs of avaricious pe lation, and of a worse than vulture-like preying on the vitals of the struggling nation:—These are the omens and heralds of greater evils yet to come, if we are not warned in time, if we do not in time supply the lack of all conservative elements, from which they all arise, and which is the peculiar evil of a free government. For supplying that lack, there is but one means compatible with our institutions, and that is, the cultivation of sound learning, instead of superficial, and taking care that education should not be regarded, in our schools and colleges, as a mere instructing of the intellect in certain elementary branches of knowledge, but that any true system of education, that is to benefit and bless a nation or a man, must have regard to man's whole nature—that is, must train and develop carefully and conscientiously the moral and the physical parts as well as the intellectual. Any other system is, to say the
, least, as absurd as it is abnormal, and may be compared to the folly of a teacher of gymnastics, who should devote all his care to the cultivation of the biceps muscles of his pupils' arms, without paying any regard to the strengthening and developing of other portions of the body. Any true system of education must, we repeat, train the whole man, mental, moral, and physical; any system, that aims at less than this, is false and unphilosophical, and more likely, if fully carried out, to create a monster than a man. We cannot pause, at least in this article, to suggest the means of raising the general tone of education, but that it does urgently and imperatively demand to be so raised, for the good and safety of America and American freedom, we do firmly believe ; and we know that we only share this opinion in common with many of the most thoughtful, most profound, and most patriotic men in the country. And, while refraining from a fuller discussion of the subject, it is our well-assured belief, that philological studies, properly pursued, will contribute very greatly towards this desirable object, that has been one of our chief incentives to the penning of these remarks. This, then, we regard as one of philology's highest and holiest purposes on this we rest one of its strongest claims.
But the tonic influence of this and other cognate studies is quite as much needed in other directions, as in those to which we have referred. Let us preface what we are about to say by disclaiming any intention of doing injustice to the large amount of learning and knowledge which exists in America, and still more the least intention of giving offence to any individuals or communities. But, writing as we do with a desire to effect some degree of good in a matter which we have carefully studied in all its bearings, it would be a cowardly finching from duty to abstain from expressing our candid opinions. If we look, then, at the literature of our country, whether as represented by books or men, while, on the one hand, we are able to boast of some names, and those not a few, that have gained a world-wide celebrity in various departments of Science, of History, and of other departments of sound knowledge, and while there is to be found, we are thankful to say, in every community, a considerable number of persons who study their works and strive to follow in their
steps—yet, will any one tell us that it is the works of such men that are most popular ? that even they themselves are the most popular persons in the literary circles of those cities that lay claim to being the leaders of American literature ? Assuredly, no one, who has practically studied the subject, will attempt to say so. We are not alluding here to the great mass of young and thoughtless persons, whose time is worse than wasted in the reading of light, or, rather, frothy and trashy literature. But, if we look to the highest (?) literary circles in some of those cities which rather arrogantly claim the Athenian pre-eminence in our land, we see in the works of imagination, even of their best writers-men and women whose genius and talent we ourselves hold in high esteem-constant evidences of a want of that sound and accurate scholarship, and of that wellbalanced, logically trained mind, which is essential to the clear perception and enunciation of Truth—the professed object of all the higher writers of Fiction no less than of Fact. We have, in our mind, some who are allowed, in the communities referred to, to stand at the head of their own departments of literature, and, sure we are, all qualified
, critics will assent to our assertion, that the majority of their works, while affording proofs of decided genius, and captivating the fancy of the reader by their beauty and brilliancy, are sadly marred by the blemishes to which we have referred. In some, which aspire to combine the reputation of classical scholarship with that of the artistic writer, and indeed have been especially planned so as to afford scope for the display of this combination, may readily be discovered blunders hardly to be expected of a young sophomore; and moreover, a mournful ignorance of the spirit, the life, the customs of the classic past. In others, which aim rather at a character for caustic wit, observation of character, and unfortunate addition-profound philosophy, under this lighter exterior, the two former characteristics are indeed to be found to a degree that would excite the warmest admiration, were it not too strongly alloyed by egotism and envy; but alas ! when we look for the “philosophy," we fail to find even philosophism, but simply run foul of some paradoxical theory -startling, indeed, at first by its very strangeness—but soon discovered to be adverse to every sound principle of philosophy, religion and common sense! And, if this be the case with the Gods of the modern Olympus, what must we expect of their worshippers, the literary cliques and congregations, that receive their every utterance with a deeper and devouter reverence than ever the ancient Greek paid to Apollo's oracle ;-in whose presence, to express any doubt of the genuineness of their divinities, would excite a storm of wrath that would quickly drive forth the skeptic scoffer? Of course, the same characteristics will be found, only in more frequent occurrence, and in an exaggerated degree. Sciolism claiming to be science, the o oplotńs, as in the days of Socrates, to be the copós-an immense amount of superficiality with a very small quantity of “ thoroughness” (how we love that honest English word !) in anything, and in fine, an immeasurable quantity of what we cannot better efin than in the words of the Greek satirist—" yai nevodošíav, και ερωτήσεις απόρους, και λόγους ακανθώδεις, και εννοίας πολυπλόκους, αλλά και ματαιοπονίαν μάλα πολλήν, και λήρον ουκ ολίγον, και ύ9λους, και μικρολοyiavı”—the applicability of several of these terms to the literary" contributions” and conversations of these litterateurs and literary.cliques will be at once recognized by any one well acquainted with the communities to which we refer; and the leading cause of this unhappy state of things is a want of soundness—thoroughness"-in education, combined with the impulses of an unhealthy and dishonest ambition—the ambition, in a community which has claimed and gained, by whatever means, the reputation of being par excellence " literary,” to be " literary” also. Thus, in
“ the absence of that true training and scholarship, which are so essential to the performance of good, honest work, work that shall tend to the glory of God and the good of man —in a literary career, we constantly find ladies and gentlemen seeking to acquire, in a per saltum way, without any of that steady and laborious preparation that can alone render such acquirements profitable, a knowledge of some half dozen languages and as many of the ologies in the course of a few months! Let it not be thought we are exaggerating. We write honestly and sadly what we know too well. The consequence, of course, is, a smattering of various sciences and languages, and a sound knowledge of
Our desire is to be useful, not ill-natured, therefore we abstain from giving many illustrations, that would add a rich piquancy to this paper. But such facts as these we may in a general way allude to, because we are sure they are merely representatives of large classes. We have met
ere now one lady, not undistinguished in “ literature," (?) but who more especially prided herself upon being a “really accomplished classical scholar," and was so regarded by the adoring members of the clique over which she reigned as presiding goddess. Opportunities were afforded us for forming a tolerably correct idea of the grounds of this reputation, and we discovered that she had read the whole of Virgil and greater part of Horace, with some minor works, and
knew nothing of one or the other, though she could fluently and flippantly quote a few of the more familiar passages! The secret was, she had taken a tutor for a time, to gain this much coveted knowledge, and had also taken-translations ! _"ponies," as the Sophs. would say. Again, another fair ornament of a somewhat pretentious literary coterie meets our eye, as it looks back through the vista of memory, who aspired rather to honors in science and philosophy. She had studied astronomy quite thoroughly, and" was devoted to that noble science,” yet, strange to say, she had not studied geometry, or trigonometry, or even algebra, all which most students of the “baser sort” believe to be somewhat necessary as preliminaries to the higher science. She had read and was " thoroughly acquainted" with all Sir William Hamilton's works, and, we must acknowledge, could quote from parts of them freely, but unfortunately, she often applied those very quotations in a manner that would sadly puzzle poor Sir William, could he come back from his honored grave; and most certainly she was blissfully ignorant of the first principles of Metaphysics and Ethics.
The result of all this superficiality and morbid desire of distinction is exactly what might have been anticipated. Society is agitated by an unhealthy rivalry and contest for notoriety. If no other means will secure the wished-for prize, some startling paradox is asserted and maintainedsome sensation tale, of that peculiar esthetic character, that sails far above the region of aesthetic law, is written—some wild philanthropic scheme is taken up and publicly discussed
or some new religious dogma broached, and one more breach thus made in the walls of Christ's Church. In each and all of these ways, and in others equally opposed to truth, good feeling and good sense, notoriety is daily sought by hundreds, who might, by having submitted themselves in time to the necessary mental training, have gained an honorable and an honest fame. These are all, we fear, too far