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and Truth, when invested with her invincible armor, cannot fail to triumph over the stratagems and assaults of error. Where knowledge and sound understanding are allowed to plant their standards and shed their lights, error, ignorance, and superstition must ultimately pale their ineffectual fires.'
Much has been most laudably done, in these United States, for the promotion of science and letters, and the due encouragement of the liberal arts; but before we shall have acquitted ourselves of the duty which we owe to our admirable republic, much more, incalculably more, remains to be done. We have founded colleges and academies, in which our youth are initiated into the mysteries of science, and attain the elements of a polite education; our daughters, in female schools, are nurtured in the principles of elegant literature, and are modelled into the polished corners of our great temple of liberty; institutions are introduced among us for the promotion of learning and improvement in the arts; a thirst for reading, although too generally confined to productions of a lighter kind, is extensively excited; candidates are continually added to the list of those who are contending for distinction in prose and poetry; in every successive age, authors, orators, and artists make their appearance among us, whose efforts of genius reflect augmented lustre upon the scientific and literary characters of their country, while the press is prolific of indigenous productions of merit, and of re-publications of those which are the offspring of foreign genius. These are infallible indications that the nation is rapidly advancing in the career of scientific and literary exertion, and in the cultivation of all those arts which give aggrandizement to a state, communicate embellishment to its habits of thinking, and polish and refinement to its manners. What, then, is still wanted to elevate our republic to a perfect equality with the most exalted among civilized nations to model her into the most finished form and proportions, and crown her with the highest honors of a perfect state? We answer, that we shall deem her as having given the finishing touches to her greatness and glory, and reached the most elevated rank among the nations of the earth, as soon as she has made ample provision for her advancement toward improvement and perfection in science, literature, and the elegant and useful arts. This is the career of honor and greatness upon which it now behooves her to enter, with her characteristic activity and enterprise, if she wishes to attain the heights of genuine glory, and rival the most famous states both in ancient and modern times. It next becomes our province to unfold and illustrate the means by which this enviable distinction may be attained. Perhaps from the first formation of society, and the establishment of a regular government upon the banks of the Nile, to the present moment, no people ever advanced more rapidly than we have since our separation from England, in population, power, and opulence, as well as in all those improvements, accommodations, and refinements, which impart elegance to life, and elevate and aggrandize a community. By our vigilance and prudence, we have already provided ample means of security to our rights and liberties at home, as well as defence against aggression and invasions from abroad. Never has history recorded an example of a more intelligent, industrious, and energetic people. I must also be allowed to believe, without exposing myself to the charge of boasting and
undue partiality, that no nation was ever more productive of all kinds of genius, or capacity for excellence in every species of elegant pursuit. But while these high panegyrics are deemed but a tribute due to the undoubted merits of our countrymen, it is not to be denied, also, that we are not equally distinguished by a profound knowledge of the sciences, or by the delicacy and correctness of our taste. Sound learning, a capacity for profound investigation, and a just discrimination in the works of genius, are not the spontaneous products of nature, but the slow acquisitions of time, application, and exclusive devotion to the pursuits of study. The Americans are too active, laborious, and thrifty a people, to find time for those silent contemplations, and toilsome researches, by which alone great masters in science, profound interpreters of nature, or the finest models in prose and poetry are to be formed. Hence, although talents, and no doubt much of the highest order, we have in abundance, to a nice discrimination of the degrees of excellence in writing and eloquence, we certainly can lay no claim. No readers are more easily caught and imposed upon than ours, by counterfeit beauties. Hence the crudest productions, and most flimsy and glittering specimens of oratory, find warm encomiasts, a rapid sale, and ready circulation among us. There really seems as yet no sufficient preparation made in the public mind, which would enable us to pronounce a right decision, or promulge an authoritative sanction, by which the merits of any great and solid work would be accurately ascertained. About such performances, indeed, our readers, for the most part, appear to hold their judgment in a state of perfect supineness and indifference, contenting themselves with relishing lighter pieces, and awaiting the sentence of European critics to determine the pretensions of weightier contributions to science. And shall we long remain in this condition of dependence and intellectual vassalage to foreign critics and reviewers? Is it not high time that we should awake to a perception of our own claims? But by what process, let us ask, shall this evil be remedied? What are the expedients to be adopted, in order not only to produce good, deep, and sound authors, but also their only efficient patrons and supports, correct judges, whose approbation will stamp a high character and value upon works, and promote their circulation among intelligent readers, and secure their permanent fame? This is an interrogatory of infinite importance, at this time, to the literary reputation of our country, and of consequence demands from us a distinct, full, and adequate reply.
That deficiency in correct taste, both in the readers and writers of our country, which is perceptible to all scholars, and which has not escaped the observation and strictures of our European libellers, arises out of the operation of many conjoined causes, but first and more especially from the imperfections in that system of education which is prevalent in our colleges and schools. Parents are so excessively eager to have their sons protruded into the world in quest of fortunes, that our seminaries of learning are compelled, by public sentiment, to abridge their course of intellectual discipline, and hastening their under graduates from study to study, in order to compass the whole circle in a given time, at last
*The American people are less open to censure in this regard than formerly. They think and judge for themselves far more than they were wont to do.
let loose from their studious retirement a succession of unfledged scholars, who, becoming soon involved in a whirl of business, never afterward find time or opportunity to complete those acquirements which they had just begun, supply those vacuities of which they are sensible, or improve and perfect that taste which was left by their instructors in a state of crudity. And when our young men, thus slenderly supplied with learning, at their departure from the walls of college commence the practice of their several professions, and make their appearance before the public eye, instead of finding a corrective of their own faulty judgments in the decisions of others, they readily discover that the standard to which their efforts are referred is as defective as their own, and that their best qualifications for success, and their most available recommendations to the applause of their hearers and umpires, are those florid harangues and tinsel decorations of style, which the authors whom they studied in youth would have taught them to repudiate. Thus unskilful judges in writing and eloquence encourage and multiply imperfect writers and speakers, and these two classes of men have a reciprocal influence upon each other. In order to produce the finest specimens of composition and oratory in a country, it is indispensable that readers and auditors should have attained to the highest refinement and perfection in taste. The intercourse, in this particular, between writers and speakers, and their readers and hearers, resembles the interchange of commodities which takes place in market - able writers and speakers requiring the most intelligent and highly cultivated assemblies, in order to a just perception and correct estimation of the finished productions of their genius.
But to proceed with the subject of our present remark. The most effectual methods by which we shall refine and perfect the public taste in our country, and give rise among us to the finest productions of genius, is to raise the standard of our early education, and give adequate encouragement to men of letters. And as the next step to be taken at the present moment, in this desirable work, no more efficacious measure could be devised by human wisdom, than that which has been prepared for our republic by a liberal and enlightened foreigner, who has placed ample funds at the disposal of Congress, with the intent of 'founding a great literary institution at Washington, for the diffusion of useful knowledge among men.' Should the generous bequest of this noblespirited Englishman, which our Congress has judiciously acknowledged, and taken measures to procure, be appropriated to the purpose contemplated by the testator, and the means he has furnished be judiciously applied, the most ardent wish of our Washington will be fulfilled, and an institution founded, which will supply one of the most urgent wants of our republic at this time, raise the standard of education among us, give a new impulse to American intellect, elevate our scientific reputation at home and abroad, and finally produce a succession of American authors and philosophers, who will reflect the highest honors upon their country through all future ages. This, however, is a topic too copious and interesting to be discussed in this article, and we defer its full investigation to our next.
THE COMET'S ADDRESS TO THE EARTH.
FAIR Earth, when from the Omnipotent
Thy Eden walks were trod
By two of youthful bloom and grace,
The favorites of God.
I saw thee in an after age,
And helped the waters to assuage,
Which drowned thy guilty ones;
And sped from thee again, afar
Careering with my fiery car,
From thine to distant suns.
Cent'ries passed on: I went and came-
I passed, and saw the holy hill
Unnoticed in the olden days,
But, from my sun-lit path above,
I heard the ancient empires ring
I passed, when every breeze unfurled
And I have come again, and see
What shall I witness here?
Poet, philosopher, and sage!
Will gaze en wrapt, as you do now,
Ye of the palace and the crown,
DEAR P -:
SECRET HISTORY OF TASSO.*
In my often sad and solitary, but to me always deeply interesting, Rome, 20th April, 1836. wanderings in France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy, I have thought of you frequently, and wished to write in evidence of my recollection of old friendship and past kindness. But to what purpose should I describe that which has been described over and over again by every traveler, and of which every description can give but a most faint and imperfect idea? The Alps, the Lake of Geneva, the Simplon, the Hospice of St. Bernard, Lago Maggiore, Milan, the Certora near Pavia, Lodi, Mantua, Venice, Arqua, Ferrara, Bologna, the Appenines, Fiesole, Florence, the Galleries, the Venus, the Wrestlers, the Faun, Arezzo, Cortona, Perugia, Lake Thrasymene, Clitumnus, Terni, Rome, St. Peters, the Coliseum, the Pantheon, the Vatican, the Laocoon, and the Apollo, are things to be seen and felt, not written or spoken of. I waited, therefore, till I could find an unbeaten tracknovelty and interest-to which language, and especially the poor a subject of some words at my command, should not be utterly unequal. You will judge, when you have heard me out, how far I have been successful.
During my stay at Florence, I read an exceedingly well-written essay, by Professor Rosini, of Pisa, upon the causes of the imprisonment of Tasso. I learned that the very ingenious and almost conclusive argument it contains, supported or deduced from the published and undoubted works of the poet, received abundant and nearly incontestible
* IN presenting this letter to the public, it may be proper to state, that it was addressed to a distinguished citizen of this city, by an American gentleman now abroad, who, both as a man of letters and as a statesman, has added not a little to the reputation of his country.