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skilful husbandman ; and there are natures composed of such coarse and common clay, that even he who stole the fabled fire of life from Heaven, however be might have given motion to the unkneaded clod, could never have vivified it with one generous or noble sentiment. But there are others who, like the author of the Essay that elicits these remarks, with glowing and philanthropic feelings for better. ing the condition of their fellows, would, in their eagerness to promote some favorite class of opinions, unhesitatingly break down whatever they consider a barrier to the advancement of their system. And these, we think, did they but look abroad upon the general surface of society, instead of confining their observation to its relations immediately beneath their eye; did they examine into the history of modern civilization, and trace that free spirit of inquiry and vigorous thinking to which their own speculations on this very subject owe their birth, we do think they would allow that to classic literature - next to those writings — we write it with reverence, next to those holy writings, whose inspired teaching has revealed to us the only true end of our being — the greatest improvements, if not the very existence of modern society is owing! For he must be but little conversant with the history of the human mind who denies the influence of Greek and Roman letters upon the present condition of mankind; or who thinks that “those luminous minds, wbich, issuing in streams of light and glory from the meridian of Greek and Roman civilization, peno trated through the night of feudal Europe, and roused Christendom from slavery and superstition,” shine with less wholesome power upon our brighter day. Do we indeed so abound in poets, statesmen, and pbilosophers? Does our age so leem with disinterested characters and ennobling actions? Are truth, and liberty, and patriotism, so well understood and so very common in the world that " we care no more for the immediate or remote influence of example, in raising the standard of character and arresting the progress of degeneracy ?”
But, if willing to surrender up all the models of human greatness, and forego for ourselves all the lessons of heroism and virtue that have come down to us from antiquity, how stand we as accounting stewards to posterity? Have we, when so ready to shut out the light that has kindled our day from those who are to come after us- have we our Socrates, Leonidas, and Aristides - our Scipios, and Catos, and Ciceros, our Phocion, Epaminondas, and Miltiades, to kindle the young hearts of ages to come as these names have kindled those of ages past ? Away with that philosophy which inculcates the doctrine that human actions, however brilliant and noble - whether of high enterprize and gallant daring, of heroic sacrifice and philosophic fortitude- must be measured in value as marketable commodities. Confounded be that system which, because the intellects of past ages cannot be reduced to the procrustean standard of ours, would not only, as an eloquent writer has said, “strip the characters hallowed in our association of all romantic beauty, of all prospective benefit from the example of human excellence they afford to posterity," but consign them to oblivion for ever.
But the effort will be vain; the same scenes and characters, the same deeds and actors, “ that beautiful history and that poetical mythology, which, not yet become trite or pedantic, but appearing amid the glow of reviving letters in Europe in all their freshness and power before the eyes of Bacon," is said* to have induced that reformation of philosophy to which all modern systems are so much indebted, will continue to warm many an humble intellect into usefulness and power. And the god. like souls of antiquity,“ those immortal benefactors of mankind, who have extended their sustaining arms beyond their own generation,” though they may meet no cordial clasp in ours, will still embrace the kindred hearts of centuries to come. There is an affinity in noble natures, which brings them together in spite of every interposing obstacle of time, or space, or prejudice. The world may again relapse * Stewart.
into worse than Gothic darkness. The bright episode of the last few hundred years (a gleam of sunshine on a waste of gloom) be almost forgotten in its history, and the omnia fluctuunter of the Poet, as we have seen it in the condition of nations, be realized again and again in that of mankind at large. But mind will call unto mind through ages of conflicting light and darkness, till their united voices are lost or answered in eternity.
But to resume a calmer vein. If so able a writer as the author of the attack upon classical studies wishes to measure the value of polite letters by their possible tendency, let him take another view of the matter,- let him look upon the subject in a political light, and see what must be the effect of English literature in forming the opinions and partialities of an American youth. Let him weigh what may be the influence of the aristocratic periods of Gibbon, the subtle monarchism of Blackstone, the feudal spirit of Scott, or of a thousand other elegant and eloquent authors, whose high Tory prejudices and patrician contempt for The People give so imposing an air to their writings! The well of Greek and Latin literature is, in fact, almost the only source from which the young American student can drink without defilement. Its wholesome and invigorating waters are the only cordial that can enable him to bear up against the besotting associations of feudal romance, that drench his fancy from almost every page of his vernacular.
We have left ourselves but little room for comment upon the publication whose title heads these observations; but as an old, though not very hopeful pupil, we may be allowed to tender to Professor Anthon our earnest admiration for the provision which his learning and talents are so continually making for the wants of those who have succeeded to his collegiate care.
Serit arbores quæ in altero sæculo prosint.
His edition of Lempriere has already superseded all others with persons of discrimination; and this new edition of Sallust-which will, we trust, be soon succeeded by others of the ancient classics-can have no rivals except the copies of his former issues of the same work, if any can yet be found upon the shelves of the booksellers.
The work is printed in a stylo bighly creditable to the publishers.
The Classical Family Library. Nos. XVIII, XIX, XX, and
XXI.—4 vols. 18mo. Harper and Brothers, New-York.
THE Satires, Odes, and Epistles of Horace, with the fables of Phædrus, fill the two first of these volumes; and the various writinys of Ovid, as translated by Dryden, Pope, Congreve, Addison, and others, are given complete in the two last. Some of these versions, we need hardly say, are nearly equal to the originals, even when the translations are not exactly faithful. Others again are so indifferent in a poetical point of view, that even their fidelity to the letter cannot excuse their violation of the spirit of the text. The Epistle of Hermione to Orestes, commencing on page 207 of No. XXI, is a case in point. The name of the translator is not given; bat if the version be really from the pen of either of the poets that are named above, it was probably written as a mere college exercise, and should never have been deemed worthy of the company in which we find it. As a whole, however, the collection is valuable. The names of the writers by whom the translations are chiefly made, stamping them with authority, convey no mean recommendation to those who would obtain some acquaintance with the masters of classic song, and have not access to the originals.
Corrected Proofs, by H. Hastings Weld.
Russel, Shattuck g Co.
1 vol. 12mo.
This is the modest title of a collection of magazine sketches and newspaper paragraphs, which the author has thought proper to transfer from the different periodicals in which they originally appeared, and throw into the shape of a book. They are generally entertaining, and almost all clever, though none rise above the dignity of mere cleverness; still we think that the author has done well to throw them into a permanent form, and we should be glad to see his example imitated by others.
The real literature of the country-we mean that which is essentially American in its character, is to be found as yet almost exclusively in periodicals. Few are so venturesorne as to think of writing a book, unless upon some accepted European model; but every one who writes for the periodical press must either address himself to, or reflect the prevailing tastes and opinions of his readers; and, if a successful writer, he must at least have the merit of being characteristic. More than one European tourist has sneeringly said the literature of our country was to be found in the newspapers. The remark, though ill-naturedly made, we adopt as an axiom, and are willing to abide by the corollary which was meant to follow. The Editorial tone of the American press, taking it in the aggregate, is indeed low; and for the best of reasons :-among the innumerable outlets for talent in the United States, there is at the same time none so accessible and none so ill paid as editorship. There is great competition for a small prize, and abilities of a high order do therefore necessarily seek sorne other field for their display. This consideration, however, does noi affect those who write merely for amusement or reputation, or for the advancement of some particular opinions of their own. The ablest minds in the country occasionally contribute to the most obscure papers; and accordingly, though no one American periodical is equal in merit and character to a European publication of the same rank and class, yet, taking all of ours in the mass, we venture to say, (excepting in the departments of science and criticism,) that they exhibit an aggregate of talent which will challenge comparison with the periodical writings of either England or France. And naturally it should be so, unless American intellect were as much bencath the European standard as Buffon and others hare taught that our degenerated bodies were. In a land where almost every native at years of puberty can read, there is every temptation to become skilful in the use of the pen, and to exercise the power which it gives ; a power as potent and far more pervading in our age than that which ennobled the sword of our Norman ancestors in the hand that knew how to wield it. A power, too, which, unless the dissemination of principle keeps pace with the growth of intelligence, may prove as fatal to virtue, if not to liberty, as did ever the enslaving weapon of the feudal mercenary.
Memoirs of an American Lady, with Sketches of Manners and
Scenery, as they existed previous to the Revolution. -1 vol. George Dearborn.
This unique book has been long out of print, and we are really rejoiced to see this new and handsome edition of a work so entirely sui generis, and whose loss could not, so far as we know, have been supplied by any records of the same period. To those who have never before met with the Memoir of her American Friend, by Mrs. Grant of Laghan, it may be well to state that the work consists of the reminiscences of a Scottish lady, who passed her youth in this country before and during the early stages of the Revolution; and that these reminiscences, written after the lapse of thirty years, though relating chiefly to a distinguished New-York family with whom Mrs. Grant resided, yet convey the most interesting and minute sketches of life and inanners as they existed at that time in the Colony. Many of the persons described in their domestic relations solely, after ward figured conspicuously upon the grand theatre whose curtain was not yet raised; and places that have since become memorable froin the events that have transpired near them, are delightfully painted with all the homefelt quiet as yet unbroken by the storm that was then only gathering in the distance. Mrs. Grant's most pleasing recollections appear to be with the rural scenes of the upper part of the Hudson, where the Schuyler family at that time exercised the princely hospitality which was still maintained until their homestead became the very seat of war, and their broad fields were wasted by its desolation. Not the least amusing parts of the work, however, are those in which she so loyally dwells upon the political orthodoxy of her Tory friends, while coinmenting with naive simplicity upon the doings of " the deistical Franklin," and other wanton disorganizers of society (!) Some of her reflections, however, though unsound in themselves, if not offensive in our day, are, like those which follow, certainly well written.
“That some of the leaders of the hostile party in America acted upon liberal and patriotic views, cannot be doubted. There were many, indeed, of whom the public good was the leading principle; and to these the cause was a noble one: yet even these little foresaw the result. Had they known what a cold selfish character, what a dereliction of religious principle, what furious factions, and wild unseliled notions of government, were to be the consequenee of this utter alienation from the parent slate, they would have shrunk back from the prospect. Those fine minds who, nurtured in the love of science and of elegance, looked back to the land of their forefathers for models of excellence, and drank inspiration from the production of the British muse, could not but feel this rupture as 'a wrench from all we love, from all we are.'' They, too, might wish, when time had ripened their growing empire, to assert that independence which, when mature in strength and knowledge, we claim even of the parents we love and honor. But to snatch it, with a rude and bloody grasp, outraged the feelings of those gentler feelings of the common parent. Mildness of manners, refinement of mind, and all the softer virtues that spring up in the cultivated paths of social life, nurtured by generous affections, were undoubtedly to be found on the side of the unbappy royalists; whatever superiority in vigor and intrepidity might be claimed by their persecutors. Certainly, however necessary the ruling powers might find it to carry their system of exile into execution, it has occasioned to the country an irreparable privation.
“When the edict of Nantz gave the scattering blow to the protestants of France, they carried with them their aris, their frugal regular habits, and that portable mino of wealth which is the portion of patient industry. The chasm produced in France, by the departure of so much humble virtue, and so many useful arts, has never been filled.
“What the loss of the Huegonots was to commerce and manufactures in France, that of the loyalists was to religion, literature, and amenity, in America. The silken threads were drawn out of the mixed web of society, which has ever since been comparatively coarse and honely. The dawning light of elegant science was quenched in universal dulness. No ray has broke through the general gloom except the phosphoric lightnings of her cold blooded philosophers, the deistical Franklin, the legitimate father of the American age of calculation.' So well have the children of his soul profited by the frugal lessons of this apostle of Plutus, that we see a new empire blest in its infancy with all the saving virtues which are the usual portion of cautious and feeble age; and we behold it with the same complacent surprise which fills our minds at the sight of a young miser.
“Forgive me, shade of the accomplished Hamilton, * while all that is lovely in virtue, all that is honorable in valor, and all that is admirable in talent, conspire to
to General Hamilton, killed in a duel, into which he was forced by Aaron Burr, Vice-President of Congress, at New-York, in 1806. VOL. VII.
lament the early setting of that western star ; and to deck the tomb of worth and genius with wreaths of immortal bloom.
“Thee Columbia long shall weep;'
fain would I add,
Long her strains in sorrows steep,
•They have no poet, and they die.'— Pope.
“ His character was a bright exception ; yet, after all, an exception that only confirms the rule. What must be the state of that country where worth, talent, and the disinterested exercise of every faculty of a vigorous and exalted mind, were in vain devoted to the public good; where, indeed, they only marked out their possessor for a victim to the shrine of faction ?"
Now, if there be one womanish or lady reader who agrees with Mrs. Grant in what she here says about the treatment of the “unhappy loyalists,” we just beg him or her to recollect what would have been the fate of the successful patriots had the result been against them. Would it have been merely banishment? certainly not! When did royalty content itself with a bloodless triumph over those who have oppressed it? The scaffolds of England in every age have reeked with the blood of her best sons for differences of political opinion, that were as nought when compared with the breach which the American tories maintained with iheir republican countrymen. Royalty, however, has this excuse for the vindictive cruelty that has marked its triumph in all risings of the people. It darę not be merciful. It fears to spare the watch-dogs of the flock upon which it preys. But Republicanism, as it can only exist upon the basis of real and not assumed power, - the will of the majority, is so strong in its very nature, that it can afford to pardon its foes. Why then, it may be asked, if not condemning them to the scaffold as traitors to their country, why not, when allowing the tories to escape, carry magnanimity a little farther, and leave them to resume their original positions in society? Because, though as an armed faction they were not at all to be feared, yet, as a plotting cabal they might still have done incalculable underhand mischief. The immense influx of emigrants from the British Isles hither, bringing with them all their national prejudices and rallying party-cries — keeping up a close connexion with the land of their birth, yet voting and legislating upon the rights of native Americans, is sufficiently threatening to liberty, even in our day, when the lapse of half a century has given a degree of permanency to our institutions. But no one can estimate bow dangerous might have been this foreign influence had the country continued to cherish in her bosom the hostile offspring of her own soil, whose wily arts might have converted the ignorant prejudices of these strangers to their own political purposes. All this, however, is weaving perhaps too grave a thread out of the gossainer tissue that now floats before us. Our fair readers need not fear being bored with much political speculation in Mrs. Grant's airy work, whose pages, to use her own happy language, will certainly “afford some hours of harmless amusement to those lovers of nalure and of truth who can patiently trace their progress through a tale devoid alike of regular arrangement, surprising variety, and artificial embellishments.”
The following extracts will generally speak for themselves.