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grace the muse or the page, with verse that can be characterized either as profane or licentious! No pretensions of wit, no aspirations of genius, no splendor of imagery, no power of description, can make amends for the injury done to public morals, nor for the shock given to correct feelings, by bringing verse of such a character before the public eye. But wide and long experience has shown us that it is possible for Poetry to ascend to the heights of sublimity,—to throw around the brightest flashes of wit, and the most lively sallies of fancy,—to melt the soul with the accents of pathos, to correct the judgment, and to improve the heart,-in short to delight the imagination without shocking a solitary principle. The world, in fact, is not so bad, as to debar us from entertainment without subjecting us to the danger of demoralization. Bards of chastened sentiments, as well as magnificent conceptions, are ever to be found; and will the more be found, in proportion as their lucubrations find due encouragement;—and the poetic strain, no less than the moral essay, will tend to rectify the errors of our nature, and fit us continually for higher and better aspirations. And what greater encouragement-what higher reward-would the poet or the moralist require, than to hear his sentiments uttered from every good man's mouth, and to find his principles adopted as the rule of every good man's conduct ?
But there is yet another department of periodical literature of great practical utility, and it affects every class of readers; its lessons being instructive to all mankind, -and its teaching, that of example. The department of Biography. Never does a great or distinguished man depart from his earthly labors, without creating a feeling of deep anxiety, and of strong curiosity to know more intimately the amount and nature of his public actions, the particulars of his private life and dispositions, the extent of his advantages and opportunities, the height of his fame, the number and character of his friends, as well as of his detractors, and the influence which all these have had upon the surrounding world. Biography, therefore, well selected, forms a very important part of the editorial duty, in publications of this class. If it be true, as has been often said, that "history is philosophy teaching by example,” much more truly may it be asserted of Biography. The historian relates the acts of nations, -of masses of people, or occasionally of individuals in the course of public events. It is rarely that the true springs of action can be developed by the historical writer, who is frequently placed at a distance of time, place, and circumstance, from the subject of his pen ;-who must come to his conclusions through conflicting testimony ;-and who is frequently thrown very far out of the truth in these conclusions, either from the bias of the authorities on which he most relies—for politics and state affairs are proverbially a mystery, -or else from his own political prejudices, than which nothing is more likely to warp the judgment and induce a wrong coloring. The biographer on the contrary, has no such difficulties to contend with. He works on a narrower scale, and can more directly arrive at all his principal facts. He has access probably, to the family records and traditions, -he learns the early impressions of his subject,- he traces him from infancy to manhood, -watches him through his general intercourse with society,-views him through all the actions which have rendered him celebrated, --compares him through his written documents, epistolary correspondence, and familiar converse, -studies
him through and through to the hour of his demise, and presents him a powerful lesson to survivors.
In brief, then, it may be said, that the three departments which have now been touched upon, are calculated to operate with great and salutary influence upon a well directed and reflecting mind. Moral Essays may correct the principles, good Poetry may soften the asperities of our nature, and Biography may stimulate our actions.
Accounts of enterprising travellers, in foreign and strange regions, or of intelligent residents in places remote from our own firesides, obtain as they deserve, a powerful attraction over every class of readers. The details of communications from such persons can rarely be given in a periodical work, yet it is incumbent upon the directors of such a work to give them a fair share in their pages, and to throw as much of interest, and as great a light upon the subjects, as shall induce a more intimate acquaintance with them. Such works are the foundation of many a splendid project, -many a speculation replete with advantages to science as well as to commerce, springs from casual hints undesignedly dropped in the course of general description; and accounts of this kind are sometimes doubly useful--both in what they communicate immediately, and in the further discoveries to which they lead the way. They may be termed the pioneers of science, marshalling the road, and clearing it of impediments, an office equally difficult and serviceable, whether in the path of war or of wisdom.
of the great mass of readers, there are some few who judge for themselves of the value of a publication; but by far the greater part are contented to take upon trust the opinions of others. This, though sometimes arising from indolence of application, or individual diffidence in the soundness of conclusions,-is not always so. Many have not the leisure necessary for the inspection of a variety of works, on subjects, which may yet be interesting to them, and who may also be desirous of knowing the characters of such as are presented, in order to direct choice to greater advantage. Accordingly careful criticisms, from time to time, of any works of general interest, are always found useful and acceptable. But, unfortunately, there is no species of writing which presents more or greater abuses of intellectual power than that of criticism. It is lamentably notorious, that, to serve party purposes,-to gratify party spleen,-from sheer envy and malice,--and sometimes from sheer ignorance,-a work is written up, or written down, without regard to the merits of the author, or to the interests of the community. Nay, worse, for sordid lucre, a book may be praised or condemned, entirely independent of its deserts, and solely to reap the paltry wages of a prostituted pen. Writers of this description compose the horribile genus of literature, and they tend materially to depreciate the character of honest upright criticism. The conscientious reviewer, on the other hand, is not anxious to discover faults, nor does he desire to magnify beauties. His sole object is to examine dispassionately the real merits of the work, according to the tests of usefulness and skill, and, in reporting such examination, he feels himself bound to speak agreeably to his best judgment, of its general scope, tendency and execution ; whilst, at the same time, he omits not to point out its prominent excellencies and defects. Verbal criticism is also useful, though the mere verbal critic is one of the most contemptible of carpers. Reviews, therefore, are a general
convenience ;-to the ignorant they give information ; to the diffident they impart confidence; to the indolent they afford relief; to those who want leisure they give summary accounts; and, to all, they give opportunity of comparing their own judgment with that of the critic.
The subjects of criticism and poetry would, however, be left but imperfectly considered, if one species more of each were not touched upon, which, in a work that aspires to be a standard, must form very important features. The former consists of critiques on books in the foreign modern languages, and the latter, of occasional translations from any of the most distinguished, or, from the classic authors of antiquity.
The advantages to the general reading public, from the former of these two, must be obvious; for books, in foreign languages, not being generally accessible, can be enjoyed but by comparatively few; and, therefore, an analysis of the general bearings and scope of any such works, with the heads of the arguments, strictures on the style, and extracts from parts deemed most interesting, will be likely to prove attractive to all, and stimulative to many. How delightful to imagine, that we can hold familiar converse with all the civilized of the earth ; that we can avail ourselves of their wisdom, without the cavils of argumentation; that we can acknowledge the superiority of their reasoning, without compromising the dignity on which human nature is so apt to plume itself, or, wounding the selflove, which is the most tender of feelings! That we can view the sentiments of the wisest among all nations, dictated under the influence of other media than those of our own; and, by comparison and reflection, be still making nearer and nearer advances to truth.
With respect to the latter, -Poesy,-sweet Poesy! So exquisite are her charms, that without her the world would be a desert. The enchantress that moulds and turns every heart, that excites and allays every passion, that rules and controls every feeling, that developes and acts on every principle, that incites to the noblest deeds, and wins from the direst intentions ! Can we love her too much,-can her influence be too powerful ? True, the flights of the muse, in her maturity, cannot transcend the sublime heights to which she rose, in the prime of her pristine vigor, when fancy yet was young, and when all around was new. Still she fails not! She emulates her early days, and though she exceeds not in loftiness, she has become more expansive-more comprehensive. Ages have not impaired her strength, but experience has poised her wing. Her excursions, therefore, in whatever regions they may be, arrest the regards,-her song, in whatever language it may be uttered, must be sweet to the ear, and grateful to the heart !- Esto perpetua!
From the inquirer after the practical results of science, every report of a new discovery or invention, elicits a powerful interest. The merchant and the manufacturer feel their prosperity strongly linked with the improvements in machinery, and the progress of practical philosophy. The tenacity of bodies, the friction of metals, the power of steam, inventions in mechanics-are matters to which all mankind are feelingly alive, because to all mankind they are mediately or immediately important. Hence, indeed, are all the additional comforts and conveniences enjoyed by the world at the present day, above those of our forefathers; and hence, the countries which formerly afforded a scanty subsistence to a few thousands, or perhaps hundreds, now support in affluence and ease, as many millions. Commerce, and the division of labor, have done all this; therefore, in a commercial country,--and every nation is gradually becoming so-how obviously may we remark, that inquiries after philosophical and mechanical discovery are both general and earnest. The well conducted magazine will furnish food for such an appetite, in quantity and quality calculated to please and to stimulate. A report of a superior invention, that diminishes human labor, and adds to human convenience, immediately awakens curiosity; a detail of its principle and structure excites admiration; the beneficial effect of its operations gratifies taste or harmonizes with economy; and lastly, the relation not unfrequently leads to farther improvement. Hence are important events brought about, to and by practical men, who would probably have turned away, with cold indifference, from a rigid treatise upon the theory of mechanics, or experimental philosophy. Abstract ideas have rarely charms for the busy part of mankind.
There is yet another description of general readers for whom the pages of a periodical work must be opened; a class, thought by some to be the most numerous of the reading part of society, and consisting of those who take up a book for mere amusement and relaxation. Persons who are chiefly engaged in active life, who have neither leisure nor inclination for speculation or deep research in literature, and whose object is rather to divert their ideas from too much attention to worldly affairs, and to unbend a little from the prevailing desire of worldly advancement, must have writings of a different stamp from any which have yet been described. For such readers in particular, though to all they may be occasionally welcome, works of fiction may be presented, of a nature calculated to be useful, while they aspire only to amuse. A well written tale, intended to illustrate a master-passion, the vicissitudes of human life, human faculties, follies, virtues, and excellencies, introductions of by-gone customs and habits, in short, man himself, in alto relievo, has found favorable acceptation in every class of society; and its advantages have this peculiarity, that, we commonly see in the tale, only a pleasing or interesting narrative, wrought up with skill and producing a touching catastrophe,-we imagine ourselves only gratified with the amusement, whilst unconsciously we imbibe an important lesson, not unfrequently operating, though insensibly to ourselves, upon our future conduct.
Thus then, it will probably be conceded, periodical literature is acting a prominent part in the drama of human life. In all its stages it affords relief and relaxation, in many it gives new motives to exertion, fresh zeal in action, fresh strength in principle. It is generally found, when well conducted, to exceed its pretensions; for the ostensible end of a magazine is commonly limited to the desire of contributing to rational amusement, and seldom goes farther than to hope that it may be not altogether devoid of information.
But, as yet, nothing has been said of the claims which works of this kind may have to the patronage of the learned. These form a body that must be approached with veneration, and touched with respect. To men who labor indefatigably in the intellectual vineyard, who patiently turn over every stone that lies in the path of wisdom, who, with unwearied patience,
"O'er books consume the midnight oil" VOL. I.
the sketches, or the summaries contained in the papers of a magazine cars communicate but small information. Men who are hand and glove with literature and science, from the earliest ages to their own day, might be expected to turn away with contempt from that which professes to be little more than an olla podrida. But such is not the case. The man of letters is not so apt to despise that which purposes at once to amuse and to edify. In the midst of his more profound lucubrations he is aware that, as poor
“constant dripping wears away stones,” and that the progress of refinement, and the spread of improvement, are not effected only by hard study over abstruse theories, but are greatly accelerated by the quiet influence of occasional light and elegant reading, and by the imperceptible but certain melioration of the heart and manners resulting from such employment. He is aware also, that aspiring talent can, in such an atmosphere, plume its untried wings, and can here make short excursions, preparatory to more lofty flights; and that obscure and modest merit can here mingle safely with more established reputation. From the “loopholes of retreat" he can view, through this medium, the conflicting opinions, as well as the progressive advances, of mankind; he can smile at occasional absurdities, and he can enjoy a happy point or discovery. The review or the magazine is also an index to such a man. He thus discovers how others are occupied, without being disturbed in his own speculations; he reads with satisfaction, of the approved productions of others, and applies himself to such as harmonize with his own researches, without being obliged to waste his precious hours in wading through matters which afford him neither interest nor concern. If, together with learning and judgment, he possess affluence or worldly influence,-and together with these, kind feelings and generous principles, -where shall he seek for deserving objects of his liberal patronage, more assuredly, than among the retired but enlightened writers, who occasionally delight the understanding or the taste through the pages of a periodical. It is the literary bazaar, where each brings his modicum for the public delectation, and where no one dare bring much, for fear the commodity should remain upon his hands.
The only descriptions of readers who cannot, or at least who ought not to look for the gratification of their prevailing tastes in the perusal of such works as these are, the party politician, and the polemical disputant. A publication which is put forth ostensibly for the purposes of cultivating peace, general information, and the harmonies of our nature, should never lend itself to disputations which too frequently divide man from man, which are, through all their course, replete with bickerings and animosities,—and which seldom answer any other end, than to strengthen and confirm the opinions already entertained on either side of the question. Not that we would be thought to deprecate discussion of this kind: it is the place and not the subject, which is unsuitable; for the brevity with which such matters must necessarily be handled here, would, in fact, preclude argument, and leave little room for anything but invective and vituperation—a species of language neither instructive nor entertaining. All that can here be done for the quidnunc, is to present him with a brief summary of public events in all places with which we have the relations of affinity, amity, or commerce; but we would spare ourselves the mortification of having our opinions condemned, and spare his patience the test of