صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

in the absence of right motive, is better than no action; because habits of acting right have a natural tendency to produce habits of feeling right, just as habits of feeling right produce right action. There is a reciprocal influence between feeling and action, between mind and body. A child compelled to obey, is more likely afterwards to obey from choice than if left to disobey. A man induced to worship God, in form, by the attractions of the place of worship, is more likely afterwards to worship God, in truth, than if he had neither worshipped in spirit, nor in form, before.

Yet, it is certainly reasonable to suppose, it must be admitted as a great principle, that men are to be prepared for future life, and for eternity, by keeping life and eternity before them. To assert, that such views cannot be expected to affect young minds, is to determine, a priori, a question not yet well settled by fair experiment. What seminary has duly tried it? Suppose the attempt should not, in all cases, succeed. Grant, that in a majority of cases even, it must fail. On how large a portion of young men, have the rewards, now offered to industry, any decidedly useful effect? What numbers, distinguished at college, go out, on leaving their aħna mater like a taper in bad air ! Who afterwards hears of a large part of those, who graduate with the highest honors of their class ? The love of letters never dies ; the zeal of benevolence is imperishable ; the industry of love is patient, unto death. Instead, then, of treating things which we feel to be above all important, with comparative neglect, let the experiment be made of assuming, at once, and always, that a child, or a youth will feel most what is most worthy to be felt. Let us not fear to show him what God has made him, and for what God has made him.

It seems to the writer, that even if we would, we cannot now forego the advantages of a strictly religious education. It is too late. There is nothing else left to lean upon. The old foundations are broken up. Old institutions, and customs, and prejudices, are dead. There is little reverence for authority, or age, or forms. The day has come, in which there seems to be no medium between force and persuasion. Usage, habit, once held a sort of middle place between power and conviction. It is so no longer. Constitutions and laws have no influence, now, any further than they are regarded from the force of feelings and principles of action, which may be almost said to render law unnecessary. All the devices of men have failed. It remains to make experiment of divine truth. We seem driven to rely, as our last hope, on the power of the gospel of Christ. If we find here a conservative principle, well; if not, there is none any where. The restless, licentious spirit, the spirit of selfishness and indulgence, which infects society, and burns unsmothered in the bosoms of our young men especially, in all the villages and towns of New England, and still more, in other parts of the land, threatens to involve every thing dear to us in ruin.

The nation seems to have at length arisen, and the time arrived, in which Christianity is to wage an open war with the giant power of unchained sin. She has contended with kinys, and overcome them. She has assailed the institutions of ages, and overturned them. She has fought with superstition and barbarism, and they fed before her. She has been training herself for another, and the last conflict, the conflict with unsanctified liberty. Here, in free America, is the field of this war. On the one side is divine truth, unincumbered with establishments and forms, in its intelligence and simplicity, confident in itself, and full of faith in God; on the other, the fierce democracy of mind, in its pride, scokuing alike the opinions of men and the authority of Jehovah. Terrible will be the struggle; and it may be, victory, for a long time, doubtful. But when this triumph of truth is achieved, it will be final and eternal. Liberty will then pay homage to religion, and both bow down together before God.




By Robert B. Patton, Professor of Greek Literature in the University of New York.

In the midst of wonders, above, around, and beneath us, stands the inexplicable being man, - a mystery to the past, a mystery to the present, and destined, probably, to awaken and baffle curiosity until the end of time.

His anatomy ; — what a field for research! His physiology ; - what a labyrinth! His complicated relations to his fellowcreatures and to his Creator ; what a perplexing maze! His feeble origin, his feverish existence, and his sure decay ; his lofty aspirations, and his grovelling propensities ; his fearful responsibilities and his eternal destiny; - what a theme for the grasp of a gigantic intellect !

How eloquent, then, is the exclamation of the psalmist : “I will praise thee for I am fearfully and wonderfully made ;” and the touching apostrophe which the prince of uninspired poets puts into the mouth of his contemplative and melancholy Hamlet : “What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason ! How infinite in faculties! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel! In apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals! And yet to me what is this quintessence of dust?"

Among the objects of interest furnished by the analysis of man, his capacity for language stands forth in bold relief. It is this faculty of language, whether we trace it to a mental or an organic superiority -- this power of employing articulate sounds, or their written representatives, as the vehicle of thought and emotion, - that distinguishes man from every order of the brute creation ; that gives efficient support and unbounded scope to his reasoning powers ; perpetuates from generation to generation his knowledge and intellectual culture ; and enables mind to act on mind with a reciprocal and ever augmenting energy.

Science, knowledge, and philosophy, regarded as the intellectual condition of man at any point of his existence, - the connected and digested whole, that moves onward with ever increasing momentum, from age to age, regardless of the generations of thinking beings that successively arise and flourish and decay, -could have no real existence, and would prove but “the baseless fabric of a vision," without the fostering aid of connected and imperishable discourse. Reason itself, which the discriminating Greek so beautifully identifies with discourse, by employing the same term,“ hóyos,” to designate both, bracing both the ratio and the oratio of the Latin, — is mainly indebted, for its high degree of cultivation, to the existence and use of language. But like the element that forms our daily beverage, so munificently provided; or the noiseless but invigorating influences of the atmosphere we breathe ; or the gentle and uninterrupted flow of pleasurable emotions that accom



pany a state of health, unnoticed because habitual ; so the benefits of language, and its benign influence on individual and general culture, are enjoyed by all, though appreciated by few.

Language, therefore, which has its origin in mind ; is the visible or audible representative of the hidden conceptions and emotions of mind; that bears, under all circumstances of cultivation, the impress of mind; in which the workings of our mental powers are seen as in a mirror ; those έπεα πτερόεντα or

winged words” of Homer, which convey, with the rapidity of lightning, from mind to mind, the profoundest thoughts, the boldest conceptions, the wildest imaginings, the minutest distinctions, and the most transient touches of sentiment, with a fidelity to the original archetype that justly claims our admiration,such a theme cannot be devoid of interest to thinking beings, who are so deeply indebted to this high prerogative.

In the present essay, I wish to offer some remarks on guage regarded as a Means of intellectual Culture;" and I shall proceed to the discussion, after a few preliminary observations.

1. It is not my design, to discuss the question whether language is of divine or human origin. It suffices, for my purpose, to assume, what all will admit, that whatever was communicated to man as he came, already in the full vigor of manhood, from the hands of his Creator, was simply commensurate with his wants. More than this, - language for which he had no use; expressions for mental conceptions which as yet had no existence; would have been a burden. The vast amount of language that became necessary as the relations of man were multiplied; as new objects of sense attracted his attention, and demanded a specific designation ; and as his thoughts were gradually turned inward on himself, and his newly formed mental conceptions awakened his curiosity and wonder ; — all this may reasonably be referred for its origin to the mind itself of man; for, first, his powers were fully adequate to the task after the first materials and an exemplar had been furnished; and, secondly, language universally, - in its earliest and its latest cultivation, — bears on its face the marks of this mental influence on its progressive formation ; which influence may be distinctly traced in every language, in its progress towards copiousness and refinement.

My object is specific:- to show that the study of language, as a means of intellectual culture, demands our serious attention.

2. I wish not, by any remarks elucidative of this point, to underrate the importance of the study of any other department of science or literature, - especially of the mathematics — the " science of sciences." This department of study, as a means of intellectual culture, cannot be dispensed with, by those who wish to give completeness to their mental discipline. But the same may be fearlessly asserted of the study of language. It cannot be dispensed with, in favor of any other study by those who would render the cultivation of their intellectual powers complete, harmonious, and efficient. Nay, more; I hope to show, that if, by any sad necessity, either of these means of culture must be resorted to, without the cooperation of the other, the study of language should receive the preference. Let it then be distinctly understood, that, in setting forth the claims of the study of language, as a means of intellectual culture, I freely and fully admit the reasonable claims of every department of science and literature ; and shall never cease to express my gratitude to those, who ably and judiciously place their claims in a strong and appropriate light.

3. I proceed, throughout, on the ground, that education, however variously defined, so far as it bears on the intellectual powers, does not consist in throwing into the vast reservoir of the memory a mass of positive knowledge, of insulated facts, or detached notions, while the mind itself is left unawakened, unexercised, and unconscious of its strength. On the contrary, I regard as the main design of intellectual education, the invigoration of the intellectual powers; the formation of skill in the use of them ; the generation of habits of intellectual courage, that can and will grapple with a problem, a proposition, or an argument, conscious of its own strength, and inured to toil. If this be admitted, I hope to show that the study of language is not merely an introduction to the knowledge of words, while the study of nature presents us with a store of things ; the former fleeting as the motion of the bird that greets the dawn, the latter lasting and substantial as nature herself: — but affords a noble arena for intellectual exercise ; an appropriate gymnasium, where the intellect may be trained, expanded, invigorated, and taught to appropriate its own resources.

In elucidation, then, of my subject, I remark, that I argue the importance of the study of language, as a means of intellectual culture,

1. From the acquaintance it furnishes, directly or indirectly, with the powers and faculties of the human mind. Vol. IX. No. 25.


« السابقةمتابعة »