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Her imagination was of a high order. She brought
ing onwards to prove his pedigree, speed, and bottom.
and to describe with accuracy. It would be wrong to |
make an English education out of these novels, or to rely upon them for historical facts; but if they should be
kept out of the school-room, they may be found in the
library, and may be suffered to lie on the work table and
the toilet. There is, at present, a cormorant appetite for these works of fiction—even our own wonderful history must be illustrated by tales and stories, because the
true narrative might be dull. This is an evil. Sir
come too rapidly for the reader who had many avoca
tions, and with less finish than they would have had with more pains. But when the critic has said all he ought to say, and the reader has put aside the novel, tired and determined to turn from him for ever, for something in another path, let a month elapse, and it is taken up again with fresh delight and perused with new devotion. The influence of genius can never be destroyed, it lives and gathers new strength in every age. The gossamers of fashion pass away, but the solid gold of talents remains, like the works of God, to increase our admiration as our knowledge increases.
There is a great mass of English literature now extant, which contains immense stores of thought, and which, if read judiciously, would make a very learned man. It is every day increasing, and it will soon require large books of indexes and references for one to get fairly at it; in fact, they are numerous now. Much time is often wasted for want of proper guides in our studies. We not only should have finger-posts and mile-stones, but maps and directories constantly with us, whenever we go out to increase our knowledge, or for amusement. English literature is ours by birthright, and we have retained it uninjured by low idioms, and unprofaned by jargons, which have so often been found in colonial languages. The academic bowers, the lyceums, and the universities of the mother country have all poured their treasures into our land most readily. \
This literature of England must be forever ours. No non-intercourses or wars, can long keep the intellectual rays of that nation from us. This settled, we must respect our own literature to bring out the genius of the American people. This should not be done by a tariff on English literature, but by bounties onour own. There is mind enough and a good disposition every where seen among us for the high pursuits of learning, but our authors must shine only as scattered and flickering lights along our shores, unless these fires are cherished and new ones kindled up by the breath of public patronage.
I SHALL not enter into a discussion of the advantages of a classical education; I shall leave that question to those who are fond of controversy. This subject has occupied the minds of distinguished men for ages. For nearly four centuries classical learning held the first rank in the pursuits of knowledge. After the flood of learning had burst from Constantinople, Greek and Latin were considered the highest pursuits of man; the greatest objects of the human mind, humaniores literae, were translated—THE HUMANITIES. Until a few years since no one dared lisp a word against classical learning, but lately opposers to the study of the dead languages have been numerous and powerful; and their main argument has been, that the mind might be more profitably employed in other departments of knowledge. It must be conceded on all hands that the Greek and Roman writers contain much that is essential to be known. It may be found in translation, it is said, and mastered much sooner than in a foreign language. In every point of view the learning of the classic ages must be had, and a great portion of it, even to the professed scholar, comes through the medium of translations; but few, indeed, have spent their days in reading history, biography, and geography, in Herodotus, Tacitus, Plutarch, and Strabo, in the original, who could find a good translation at hand. In the early ages, all branches of knowledge were commingled together. History was poetry, and poetry history. And these, with eloquence, made up the amount of their literature. To understand the ancients, we must begin with the birth of letters. All before that time was tradition and fable, and if written since, it must have been from conjecture or from amusement.
—“Be famous then By wisdom; as thy empire must extend, So let extend thy mind o'er all the world In knowledge, all things in it comprehend: All knowledge is not couch'd in Moses' law, The Pentateuch, or what the prophets wrote; The Gentiles also know, and write and teach To admiration, led by Nature's light; And with the Gentiles much thou must converse, Ruling them by persuasion, as thou mean'st; Without their learning how wilt thou with them, Or they with thee, hold conversation meet? How wilt thou reason with them, how refute Their idolism, traditions, paradoxes? Error by his own arms is best evinc'd. Look once more, ere we leave this specular mount, Westward, much nearer by south-west; behold Where on th’ AEgean shore a city stands Built nobly, pure the air, and light the soil, Athens, the eye of Greece, mother of arts