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not think of sitting down to such a labor. He would often discover the deepest sensibility when any allusion was made to the deeds or fame of Washington, and his own contemplations on the wishes of his heart seemed to break down all the energies of his mind, and unfit him for the common duties of life. Every
day his misfortunes were making inroads upon his slender form, and hurrying him to the grave. He viewed his situation without dismay, only fearing that he should die before he had written the Life of Washington. The winter had now drawn nearly to a close; still nothing had been definitely arranged in reference to the subject. He renewed it again and again. From the moment he learned my determination to meet his requirements in the prosecution of his work, his gloom and low spirits forsook
him, and he appeared like a new being. "I now visited his house for the first time. I shall not attempt a description, nor do I exaggerate when I say, that his worldly goods and chattels of all descrip
tions could not have been sold for the sum
of thirty dollars. Clothing for himself and family was now ordered, and at the end of his term, arrangements were made for the removal of himself and family to Dayton, on the Miami, sixty miles from Cincinnati, where he immediately set about his work; and ere the close of the following winter the whole was completed. At this period I paid him a visit, and received from him the manuscript. His request was most earnest
that the result of his labors might be published. I promised him it should, and have never seen him since; and though years have rolled around, I have never, until the present moment, had leisure to attend to its publication or to redeem the promise I had made to its author."
be better if all their resources should be concentred on a few renowned seats of learning, which are all the country requires. Honors and degrees would then cease to be "as plenty as blackberries," instead of being given at the mere asking to men notoriously unworthy of them. Even those who are trained for the learned professions are urged on by a precipitate haste very consistent with the genius of the people, but incompatible with a finished education. A year or two at the grammar-school prepares them for the college, from which they are discharged, in three or four years at the most, with its highest honors, although many are unable to read their own diplomas. Whatever courses of study yet remain, are disposed of in the same summary way. How can it be wondered at, then, that when the foundations are so slightly laid, a structure should fail to be raised which is either durable or imposing? Our primary schools are numerous, each professing to have its own system, but we have no uniformity, no one standard, no aim in our education. A system of drilling, such as prevails at Harrow, in England, is not practised in this country. How many of our graduated youths could compose Latin verses such as are found in the "Arundines ?" On the score of quantity of words, we imagine that work will bear a pretty rigid scrutiny. Yet this particular, to transgress in which is considered a grievous sin among English scholars, is almost wholly disregarded among us. There are scarcely any scholars at our universities, who, as regards quantity, could read a single passage in an ancient author without outrage to the most unscrupulous ears.* We believe that we are stating nothing more than the truth on this subject. We know it from personal observation, and regret that it is so, only hoping that the time may not be far distant when candor may be enabled to render a better verdict. There are too few among us who pursue learning for its own sake. But perhaps the cause for this is to be sought in the peculiar stage of advancement to which we are arrived. The nation, as such, is poor, and the whole energy of the people is natu
We think that the heart of the editor who writes thus must visit him with some reproaches, for when he had tardily fulfilled his word to the poor scholar, it was but raising a monument to the dead. We have in our mind several examples equally sad, and could record some hard-won, noble triumphs in the same field; but individual cases of good scholarship and zeal in the pursuit of learning stand only in stronger relief amid the general deficiency. We have many colleges, but they fail to keep up a succession of ripe scholars. It would
* Columbia College, in New York, forms, as we believe, a solitary exception to be above remarks.
rally bent on the development of the great resources of the country, and, true to their English origin, on the promotion of individual weal. Arts and the refinement of letters are secondary, and riches and all luxury but the representatives of so much mortal toil. Wealth is accumulated first, and then, overflowing, it summons to its aid the resources of genius, and delights in the treasures of art. But until it waves its magical wand, the Muses are found in a sacred privacy. Men live in their unadorned dwellings. There are few among them to give the language of Fancy utterance, to embody in enduring forms the delicate creations of an old mythology, whose essence was a passion for the Beautiful, the very religion of the Greeks. Where shall we look for the three forms of Art, which are, in fact, one, and may be comprised under the name of Poet? For the marble and the canvass are creative, and eloquent as "thoughts that breathe," or "words that burn." But as yet few worship art. There is no Claude to diffuse his delicious tints over the canvass, no artist to sculpture the lovely Venus from the stone, no genius to upheave the dome which makes infinity comprehensible, no Angelo to hang the Pantheon in air. A few ages pass away, and sordid gain has amassed its treasures, where, sinking into its
despised grave, it leaves the legacy of tears and toil to others. But a new race has arisen, not born to labor. Witness then the transfusion of the gold. Wealth speaks the word, and whatever we choose to imagine is accomplished. Nature and Art submit to the allegiance of taste. The very fields are regulated in their wild luxuriance, and the landscape is neat with culture. Painting, sculpture, architec ture, embellish the splendid cities. Music breathes voluptuously. The Theatre reflects the manners of the age, which a higher education polishes. The lofty mansion bespeaks pride. Lines of ancestors are on the walls. It may be a very museum, where Art has collected her most precious gems; every nook contains some triumph, and every niche a masterpiece. The humane letters indeed may flourish under every discouragement. Penury and cold neglect cannot make the genius dim which struggles to shine. But every congenial element must be brought to bear to raise up a body of learned men, and to make the seats of learning rival those of old renown. In the meantime let us as far as possible correct what is deficient, and plant the seeds at least of good systems, in hopes that time shall develope their fruits, and that the treasures which are now attainable by a few, may be diffused among the many.
MR. EDITOR:- In the search after Truth, in the general struggle to enlarge the boundaries of human knowledge, the effective agents are divided, doubtless providentially, into two distinct and dissimilar, but eventually coöperating parties. One set of men are essentially innovators, another essentially conservatives. One set are for proving all things, another only for holding fast that which is good. One party bring in the harvest, by the other it is winnowed and the chaff is driven off and rejected. One party are eager but undiscriminating caterers; they bring into the family mess, all sorts of suitable and unsuitable material, fish, flesh and fowl, wood, hay and stubble, tough sea-weed and fungus, and ocean foam and unsubstantial bub bles. The others arrange and assort all this, prepare the good for use, and unrelentingly kick the rubbish out of
This latter task, though by no means the least necessary, is decidedly the least popular of the two. For there is something in positive assertion, which interests the feelings of men in favor of the assertor; there is an impetuosity, a life, a movement about it, which is naturally more agreeable to us all than resistance and doubt, whose slow analytic processes seem to have no object but to deprive our excited
"Quæque ipse miserrima vidi."'
curiosity of its food. There is a medium between too much of this feeling, and too much of its opposite; the truest friend of knowledge is he who is willing to believe, but who desires also to establish his belief by a sifting of facts and investigation of evidence. Allow me a few pages for an essay in this vein, as nearly as I can hit it, which I am led to offer, from a strong feeling of dissent from the general tone of the Article in your last on Neurology.
The world has been strangely pestered of late, with imaginary new sciences and great discoveries; and with the reputations of imaginary great men their authors, fog built, on fog foundations. None of the men who have gained notoriety in this way, have shown themselves capable of doing it in any other; none of them have been remarkable at all for anything, but each for his one contrivance. Lavater, Mesmer, Gall, Spurzheim, Combe, et hoc genus omne, what were they when dismounted from their particular broomsticks?
"Ambubaiarum collegia, pharmacopolæ, Mendici, mimi, balatrones."
Men of lively imaginations, and that is all. None of them have left, or given, any proofs of great learning or genius; none of them have done any
thing that the world has heard of, but the following out of their own daydreams with ingenious talk and charlatan experiments. All of them have done an injury to the inquiring world, by giving such specious names to airy nothing, as to induce the unwary often to waste their time in studying it; and all of them by the acquisition of reputation, or at least of notoriety, at little cost of study, have set a bad example to the rising generation, and suggested to many aspiring minds, that the forging of counterfeit sciences may be an easier path to distinction, than the mastering and advancing the true.
But it is not only true, that these apostles of quackery have none of them taught us anything else; it is true, too, that among those who have added something to our knowledge, they have made no converts; at least they have gained no advocates. What thought Franklin? What thought Sir Humphrey Davy? What thinks Arago? of any of these inventions? When Daguerre had made a great discovery, Arago announced it to the Institute, and the men of the highest distinction in France contended for the honor of being present at the early experiments, and for the pleasure of seeing the earliest proofs. It was a thing that could be proved; and a thing which being proved once, requires no farther argument; it could then be laid down as a truth, and made a stepping-stone to further discoveries. It was TRUE, and not FALSE; it was the result of years of study—
"Of length of watching, strength of toil theory makes an onslaught on the lim
In knowledge of the fathers."
its which keep falsehood back from the fields of truth, and on the wholesome rational spirit which distinguishes between possible and impossible:
It was not the cobweb construction of a day-dream, spun out by some fool into apparent symmetry, and plausibly attached here and there, and made to correspond to some points in external nature; not because the man who did it, had any mission to enlighten or instruct us, but solely because he had the time upon his hands, being really fit for nothing better.
say it in one word, the whole medical world? Who hears of these things in Bedlam, or the hospitals? or anywhere where practical use might be made of them, if they were real; or anywhere at all, but in books and lectures, or now and then in a newspaper; where some one case, said to be authentic, but by no means authenticated, is vamped up for the day instead of a dreadful accident. Science spreads; its usefulness when once proved becomes general; but quackery remains in the hands of its professors. They prove it over and over; every day the proofs evanesce, and must be reinforced in fresh lectures, and paid for with additional half-dollars. But how do the men treat this, who really have a mission and a destiny? They who have driven ignorance and darkness some steps backward, and have added some territory permanently to the realm of knowledge and light. They think of it, as the commander of a steam-frigate may be supposed to think of the automaton chess-player; a clever plaything, doubtless; but he does not wish to apply the principle, to make himself a helmsman or engineer. The great men I have named above, and others I might name, Malthus, Senior, Babbage, Faraday, Geoffroy de St. Hilaire, and all this class, stand apart like Cæsar and Napoleon, compared with whom the others are at best but as Kean, Macready, and Gabriel Ravel. Observe, however, in this comparison, that the actor instructs and amuses, and may improve and refine us; but the herald of a false
Would Alibert and Majendie have let phrenology lie idle in all their vast and curious investigations, if it had been an instrument fit for use? Would they have neglected Animal Magnetism? they, or Sir Astley Cooper, or to