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mode of writing, an apprehension in our opinion quite groundless, has sometimes led him, especially in his first chapters, to construct his sentences in rather an ambitious manner. This fault, which is the only one worth noticing, will be viewed with indulgence by those, who remember the circumstances under which the work was composed, who place a just value on its numerous and solid merits, and who consider the high credit, which the industry and research of Mr White reflect both on himself and on his country.
ART. VIII.-A Discourse concerning the Influence of Ame
rica on the Mind, being the Annual Oration delivered before the American Philosophical Society, at the University in Philadelphia, October 18, 1823. By C. J. INGERSOLL. Philadelphia. A. Small. 8vo. pp. 67. Seven or eight years ago the plan of the American Philosophical Society was enlarged, by instituting a committee of history, moral science, and literature. Its objects before that period were confined chiefly to the natural sciences, to mathematics, astronomy, physical philosophy, medicine, natural history, chemistry, trade and commerce, mechanics, architecture, and husbandry. This new arrangement has given a much wider scope to the exertions of the Society, and enabled it to enlist a greater amount of active talent in promoting its liberal purposes. Our stock of historical knowledge has already been enriched by the curious and valuable papers, which the committee has published, concerning the manners, characteristics, and languages of the Indians. We are glad to learn, that, through the zeal and vigilance of this branch of the Society, several manuscripts of early date have been brought to light, some of which are now preparing to meet the public eye.
On a former occasion we presented to our readers a notice of the eloquent and interesting anniversary discourse, delivered by the corresponding secretary of the historical and literary committee.* ' The one now before us by Mr Ingersoll was the next in succession. The subject, which the author has chosen, is deeply interesting and of broad extent, claiming the attention not more of the lovers of knowledge, than of the friends of American improvement. In tracing the influence of America on the mind, the author is led into a review of the progress and tendency of our political establishments, and the springs of our civil and social, mental, literary, and scientific advancement, from all which he is conducted to results most encouraging, in regard to the forming features of our national character, and the enduring texture and renovating spirit of our free institutions. He pursues his argument by way of a comparison between this country and the countries of Europe, pointing out as he proceeds the advantages we enjoy by having thrown off the shackles of an entailed despotism, which, in some of its forms, still oppresses and afflicts nearly all the inhabitants of the old continents.
* See a review of Mr Duponceau's Discourse in our Number for April, 1822, Art. xxm.
Mr Ingersoll approaches this subject with a mind evidently accustomed to enlarged thought and close reflection; and, by the diligence of his research, the amplitude of his knowledge, and his philosophical views of men, principles, and events, he has proved himself adequate to his difficult undertaking. He speaks of things as they are, and rests his positions on the immovable basis of reason and truth ; nor can we deem it a trifling achievement, that, in discussing a topic of so general a nature, the fruitful soil of theory and speculation, he has perseveringly avoided the path into which most persons would have been tempted. He neither starts hypotheses, nor amuses himself with conjectures, nor sees prophetic visions; but, standing on the solid ground of fact, he collects his materials from the storehouses of reality, and combines them into things, which have a shape and a being. This trait of his discourse invests it with a practical value, rarely to be met with in compositions of a similar kind, and inspires a confidence in his facts and general statements, which every one feels to be well placed. But we cannot better convey our impressions of the merits of this performance, than by drawing out some of its leading parts.
The author begins with what he justly considers the first spring of human improvement, as well as the sustaining pillar of American liberty and happiness, namely, the education of the young, and public provisions for the support of schools. He tells us, that public funds for the education of the whole community are endowments exclusively American, which have been in operation here for several ages, whilst the most improved governments of Europe are but essaying such a groundwork, which indeed some of them dread, and others dare not risk.' Well would it be for the world, if this latter clause were not too true, and the time were come, when the kings and great ones of the earth should see no frightful omens in the progress of intelligence, and feel no thrills of alarm at the natural struggles of men to become free. In this country, almost from the first arrival of the pilgrim band at Plymouth, public attention has been drawn to schools. Nearly two hundred years ago funds were appropriated for this purpose, and the paternal solicitude of our ruling powers, in the cause of education, has become a deep woven trait in our fundamental institutions.
* By the constitution of the United States,' says Mr Ingersoll, 'it is the duty of government to promote the progress of science and the useful arts. Not one of the eleven new states has been admitted into the Union without provision in its constitution for schools, academies, colleges, and universities. In most of the original states large sums in money are appropriated to education, and they claim a share in the great landed investments, which are mortgaged to it in the new states. Reckoning all those contributions federal and local, it may be asserted, that nearly as much as the whole national expenditure of the United States is set apart by laws to enlighten the people. The public patronage of learning in this country, adverting to what the value of these donations will be before the close of the present century, equals at least the ostentatious bounties conferred on it in Europe. In one state alone, with but 275 000 inhabitants, more than forty thousand pupils are instructed at the public schools. I believe we may compute the number of such pupils throughout the United States at more than half a million. In the city of Philadelphia, without counting the private or the charity schools, there are about five thousand pupils in the Commonwealth's seminaries, taught reading, writing, and arithmetic, at an expense to the public of little more than three dollars a year each one. Nearly the whole minor population of the United States are receiving school education. Besides the multitudes at school, there are considerably more than three thousand under graduates always matriculated at the various colleges and universities, authorized to grant academical degrees; not less than twelve hundred at the medical schools; several hundred at the theological seminaries ; and at least a thousand students of law.'
We apprehend that our sentiments do not fully harmonize with those of the author, concerning the value of the ancient languages, as a branch of study for American youth. Forcible reasons can no doubt be urged, why the study of these languages will for a long time be more limited in this country, than in Europe, but we would fain believe it a deceptive vision, which bodes the day, when they will perish under the mass of knowledge destined to occupy entirely the limited powers of the human understanding.' The varieties of moral and physical nature are exhaustless; they can never be explored; and as the world grows older, and one age after another brings its stock of intellect into action, multiplying discoveries and inventions, disclosing new facts in science, contriving new devices in art, and thus extending indefinitely the fields of knowledge, the period must arrive, when a long and industrious life will be too short to compass all necessary attainments. But even then, we should hope a remnant may be spared to visit the groves and cull the flowers of antiquity, to go up to the fountain and drink the pure waters, to draw something from the sources, whose treasures have enriched the empire of thought and sentiment, fancy and taste, for many hundred years.
To say nothing of the excellent discipline, which the young mind receives in studying a language so admirable in its artificial forms, as the Latin or Greek, to say nothing of its effects to sharpen his faculties by leading him to discriminate the nicer shades in the meaning of words, and to detect the bearing and force of one part of speech on another, which, in those highly polished languages, is always an exercise of skill and judgment; to say nothing of these benefits, worthy in themselves of the highest consideration, there are other reasons why the study of the ancient languages ought to be fostered in our schools. The men, who wrote in these languages, were ornaments of their species; the works they have left are the choicest models of human composition ; refined in taste, elegant in diction, rich in imagery, distinguished by a deep insight into the nature of man, the springs of passion, the impulses of feeling, and motives of action. These models are the transcripts of nature; the mind formed on them will gain the refinement bestowed by culture, without losing the native strength too apt to be diminished by a redundance of artificial applications. But they possess a still rarer virtue. Time was when the Greeks were free; they thought, and spoke, and wrote as freemen ; the poets and orators, the philosophers and historians, equally caught the spirit and assumed the tone of liberty and self government. These are the seeds, which we desire to have scattered in the minds of our youth. However fantastically they may have shot up on some occasions, however abortively they may have put forth in the German universities and secret societies of Europe, however licentiously they may have run riot in the French revolution, no such difficulties or dangers can be apprehended here. Our institutions are firm and well balanced; the impulse of Greek and Roman liberty will tend to preserve the equal action of their several parts; we have nothing to fear from excess, because we have been too long in possession of the sober reality to be made giddy with the day dreams of romance. Greater is the danger, that we shall forget our distinguished privileges, than that we shall value them too highly, or talk of them too much.
In connexion with a series of judicious remarks on the progress of literature in the United States, the author justly observes, that, notwithstanding the preeminence held over us by European countries in attainments, which time only can mature, yet in the literature of fact, of education, of politics, and perhaps even of science, they have by no means left us so far behind. Our domestic literature is adequate to our immediate wants, and the demand has never risen above the supply. The learned professions are full; schools of law, medicine, and divinity are numerous, and competent to educate as many students as are required in these departments of life. We do not abound in the luxuries of literature, and for a very good reason, we want other things more ; and it is natural that we should look to our wants, before we begin to pamper our taste. Another reason is, that we have this kind of manufacture already fabricated to our hands; the market is so well supplied from abroad, that our men of genius find their wits much more profitably employed in other pursuits. In whatever tends to diffuse useful intelligence, to elicit thought, invigorate the
New Series, No. 17. 2.1