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used to prop up the tottering fabric of aristocracy, to intimidate the friends of the people, then it becomes a subject worthy the attention of every philanthropist. Let us not be charged with a want of respect for the distinguished orators and statesmen, philosophers and poets, painters and sculptors of antiquity. Their works yet exist, monuments of their taste and talent; the judgment of many ages has fixed upon them a character which will only be increased by the approval of posterity. They labored assiduously to elevate the condition of their sellow citizens, and their labor was not unrewarded, although its results were not those calculated to promote the political interests of their respective nations. In Athens, philosophy and the fine arts reached their perfection; to Athens then we may look for the most favorable literary condition of the people. It is said that its citizens “spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell or to hear some new thing.” If the people were thus devoted to the acquisition and communication of knowledge, it might be supposed that they would have posessed sufficient of it to enable them to perform the duties of freemen. But where shall we look for their instructors, those who were to teach them the principles of political science and their application ? To the dramatists of the day, the servile flatterers of the basest passions of human nature? And yet these exerted a powerful influence over the community, these were the objects of universal regard, of unbounded applause. Or shall we look to the philosophers whose frequent collisions before the people may be supposed to have elicited some truth? Information may have been gained concerning the various doctrines of the different sects of philosophers, but what great truths in morals or in politics, what that is calculated to make men wiser or better ever proceeded from them? Their public discussions partook of the nature of mere sectarian controversies, and their proudest displays of genius consisted in entangling an opponent in the mazes of their syllogisms and sophistries. These were the exhibitions of the proud sophists of Greece, which were to fit the community to be sreemen! Little as was the connection between the tenets of these philosophers, and the fundamental principles of freedom, yet if the great mass of the people had been taught even in these, no slight advantage would have resulted to the state. The human mind once excited and disciplined, can easily conform itself to the exigencies of any case, and thus the discipline caused by even the most visionary of the sophists, might have been the means of disseminating truth, and establishing liberty on a basis, which even the corrupting influence of Persian gold could not have undermined. The citizens of Greece were not favored with even this indirect safeguard of their freedom. Only a select few of their wealthiest citizens could be admitted within the enclosures of knowledge, while
the many were permitted to gather their information from the little which was scattered in the public controversies. Until the time of Alexander the great, until the glory of the republics had departed, and the despot had seized upon the government, no public provision was made for the education of the people. The Sophists were the only teachers of wisdom. How could it be possible that pure streams should flow from such fountains Who would not have expected that a people thus taught, would have one day banished a Demosthenes, and another condemned a Socrates to death. This then was the condition of the citizens of Greece; of a republic famed above all the nations of antiquity for its refinement; of Greece, at the very mention of which, a crowd of classic recollections thicken upon the mind of every scholar; of Greece, the abode of the muses, the birth-place of liberty. The earliest records of Greece inform us that the people were of a disposition and habits favorable to the cultivation of literature; the sounders of Rome were a company of banditti. The earlier Romans were warriors; to conquer the world was their ambition. Whatever tended to secure this result was noble, whatever did not was unworthy of their attention. Literature could not exist under such auspices, and we find that until near the termination of the republic, no attention was bestowed upon it. The proud spirit of a Roman could not stoop to explore the mysteries of sciences cultivated among a conquered people. Even after the philosophy of Greece had been introduced, he committed to his slaves the labor of the mind, while he reserved to himself the nobler exercise of the body. This was the prevailing spirit of the Roman people during the existence of the republic. Many of the works which are now perused with the greatest delight by every classical scholar, were the productions of those who wore the insignia of slavery. The sports of the amphitheater were supported at the public expense, while the disciples of philosophy were banished from the kingdom. Could a nation thus disposed ever become the patron of the arts and sciences It was not until the original character of the people had been changed by the destruction of rival Carthage, and by the intorduction of her wealth, not until the last vestige of a republic was lost in the rule of the Caesars, that a Virgil and a Horace arose, and by their brilliant displays of genius, attracted the attention of the Emperors. The Golden age of Roman Literature, of which mention is so frequently made, did not commence until the time of the second Punic war, and terminated in the reign of Augustus. Let no one mistake the character of this golden age, and suppose that during it, the people were basking in the meridian light of literature. The distinguished authors above named and their cotemporaries gave a character to the age, yet they shed but a pale and flickering light around their paths while living. Their immortal productions were rehearsed only in the ear of royalty, and before a few friends who
enjoyed the royal favor. The great mass of the community preserred the exhibition of gladiators, to the refined beauties of the Mantuan bard, the grovelling pleasures of sense to the high enjoyments of a cultivated intellect. Minds thus debased were ill adapted to cherish the expanded principles which lie at the foundation of true liberty—were only fitted to adorn the servile dependents of selfish tyrants. Let us turn to the consideration of the literary character of Americans. The haughty aristocrats of Europe scoff at the idea of a literature existing in the republican wilds of the west; they point to their Newton and Laplace, to their Addison and Shakspeare, and triumphantly ask for a parallel among our philosophers or writers. And is it a matter of surprise that a nation which but yesterday sprung into existence should not compete in the number, and erudition of its learned men, with those nations which have existed for centuries, and are now tottering on the last stages of their existence? It is admitted that we have but few men whose whole lives have been devoted to the prosecution of some favorite study, or the development of some cherished theory; that our poets have not equalled a Milton, or our prose writers, a Scott; but in the causes of this state of things, we find much of which we may be proud. It is not our intention to follow out this branch of our subject at the present time, since it has been seen in the examination of the literature of Greece and Rome, that the existence of a few renowned for their genius and learning could not save the state from ruin. The main feature in the contrast, and that on which the hopes for our liberties depend, is the universal dissemination of knowledge among all classes of the community. Where every man exerts a proportionate influence in the administration of the government, every man must be educated to discharge this high trust. In the press, that mighty engine of intellectual power, we discover the instrument which will effect this result. Had this existed in former times, how different would have been the history of ancient republics—how changed the condition of mankind. The thunderings of royal wrath are unheeded—the prophecies of sycophantic courtiers disregarded, when the people are shielded by this enemy of tyranmy, this champion of truth. Throughout the whole length and breadth of our continent, a thousand free presses are daily sending forth instruction. The means of education are brought to the doors of the humblest peasant, and he is urged to avail himself of their advantages. Plans for effecting a more universal dissemination of intelligence are being devised and put into operation, and all the resources of the state, aided by private zeal, must soon secure the wished-for result. The latest reports show that but comparatively few of our citizens are not acquainted with the first principles of an education. The great mass have already reached that point, where they can fully realize the superior advantages of a free government. The sentiment of the poet,
“For forms of government let fools contest,
finds no favor in their sight. Firmly attached to the forms as well as the substance of free governments, they will ever remain the firm champions of equal rights. Nor need we fear the return of mental and political darkness. The mind of man has been aroused from a state of lethargy, it has understood and appreciated the high powers with which it has been invested, the destiny which awaits it. The last expiring throes of ignorance and tyranny will soon be witnessed, and hand in hand they will leave a world which, by their united counsels, has been too long enslaved. The influence of the religious views of a people upon their political prosperity ought not to be disregarded. When the movements of fleets and armies, the consideration of the most urgent matters of state, and in short every act of individuals or of the nation depended upon the interpretation of some mysterious couplet, or the peculiar appearance of the various parts of animals, it is not surprising that the most favorable opportunities were frequently lost, important interests endangered, and liberty finally destroyed. The mythology of ancient times may have tended to beautify their poetry and elevate their graver productions, but its influence upon the hearts of its believers was deadly as the Simoom of the desert. While a Jupiter ruled over Olympus, or a Pluto in the insernal regions, where was the security against parricide? Amid the orgies of Bacchus, or the license of the Saturnalia, how could temperance or moderation find encouragement or support And yet not a divinity in the ancient mythology can be pointed out, whose character was not blackened by some odious crime, whose worship was not disgraced by some revolting ceremonies. From the natural constitution of the human mind, it is assimilated in its views and feelings to the objects which it contemplates. It might be expected, therefore, that minds debased by the frequent contemplation of heathen divinities, would not be fitted to appreciate the great and ennobling principles of liberty. Some wise men of antiquity did, indeed, discover the utter folly of the popular superstitions, but their influence upon the minds of men was so great, and so firmly established, that no one dared to expose them. It was reserved for the divine author of the Christian religion to free the minds of men from this degrading servitude to oracles and auguries, and raise them to the consideration of objects and ends worthy an immortal being. Man is no longer called upon to regard himself as the object upon which a thousand tyrants are exercising their capricious wills, but as existing under a government administered according to the strictest rules of equity. And is it to be supposed that men, taught from their infancy to reverence such a government, will long submit to the tyranny of fellow-mortals No; wherever Christianity has come, “There freedom came; where dwelt, there freedom dwelt, Ruled where she ruled, expired where she expired.”
Here, then, is the foundation of our hopes. Our government rests on the broad basis of eternal truth ; and while we adhere to the principles of our Pilgrim Fathers, we will not fear for the result. Let us not be pointed to the Christian republics of Europe as proofs that the influence of our religion cannot preserve the government. The union of church and state, alike fatal to each, has been the cause of their present moral condition. When the first principle of Christianity, that a people shall choose their own pastors, is violated; when political men, with all the corrupting influences of their station, are allowed to impose such religious teachers as they please on the community, what can be expected but a time-serving clergy, a sormal and corrupt church, a profligate and abandoned people :
Let us preserve our religious and political institutions separate from each other, and thus we shall secure their purity, and derive from them all those rich blessings which they are so well fitted to bestow.
THE SEA NYMPH'S SONG."
I stood upon the desert ocean's shore,
‘The deep, deep sea is the water-nymph's home,
• The author of this song will discover many alterations which we have deemed it necessary to make; and although they may not appear, in his estimation, as improvements upon the origimal, yet, in a word, without these alterations the piece would have been inadmissible.—Eds.