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The value of education depends far less upon varied and exten. sive acquirements than upon the cultivation of just powers of thought, and the general regulation of the faculties of the understanding. That it is not the amount of knowledge, but the capacity to apply it, which promises success and usefulness in life, is a truth that cannot be too often inculcated by instructors and recollected by pupils.
If youth are taught how to think, they will soon learn what to think. Exercise is not more necessary to a healthful state of the body than is the employment of the various faculties of the mind to mental efficiency. The practical sciences are as barren of useful products as the speculative, where facus only are the objects of knowledge, unless the understanding is habituated to a continued process of examination and reflection.
No precocity of intellect, no promise of genius, no extent of knowledge, can be weighed in the scale with those acquisitions. But he who has been the object of such sedulous attention, and the subject of such a course of instruction, may enter upon the great duties of life with every prospect of an honorable and a useful career. His armor is girded on for battle. However difficult the conjuncture in which he may be called on to act, he is prepared for whatever may betide him.
THE ORATOR'S ART.-J. Q. Adams. The eloquence of the college is like the discipline of a review. The art of war, we are all sensible, does not consist in manæuvres on a training-day; nor the steadfastness of the soldier in the hour of battle, in the drilling of his orderly sergeant. Yet the superior excellence of the veteran army is exemplified in nothing more forcibly than in the perfection of its discipline. It is in the heat of action, upon the field of blood, that the fortune of the day may be decided by the exactness of manual exercise; and the art of displaying a column or directing a charge may turn the balance of victory, and change the history of the world.
The application of these observations is as direct to the art of oratory as to that of war. The exercises to which you are here accustomed are not intended merely for the display of the talents you have acquired. They are instruments put into your hands for future use. Their object is not barely to prepare you for the composition and delivery of an oration to amuse an idle hour on some public anniversary. It is to give you a clue for the labyrinth of legislation in the public councils; a spear for the conflict of judicial war in the public tribunals; a sword for the field of religious and moral victory in the pulpit.
THE ORATOR'S GIFT.-ABBÉ Bautain. Art may develop and perfect the talent of a speaker, but cannot produce it. The exercises of grammar and of rhetoric will teach a person how to speak correctly and elegantly; but nothing can teach him to be eloquent, or give that eloquence which comes from the heart and goes to the heart. All the precepts and artifices on earth can but form the appearances or semblance of it. Now this true and natural eloquence which moves, persuades, and transports, consists of a soul and a body, like man, whose image, glory, and word it is.
The soul of eloquence is the centre of the human soul itself, which, enlightened by the rays of an idea, or warmed and stirred by an impression, flashes or bursts forth to manifest, by some sign or other, what it feels or sees. This it is which gives movement and life to a discourse; it is like a kindled torch, or a shuddering and vibrating nerve.
The body of eloquence is the language which it requires in order to speak, and which must harmoniously clothe what it thinks or feels, as a fine shape harmonizes with the spirit which it contains. The material part of language is learnt instinctively, and practice makes us feel and seize its delicacies and shades. The understanding, then, which sees rightly and conceives clearly, and the heart which feels keeply, find na
turally and without effort, the words and the arrangement of words most analogous to what is to be expressed. Hence the innate talent of eloquence, which results alike from certain intellectual and moral aptitudes, and from the physical constitution, especially from that of the senses and of the organs of the voice.
THE WONDERS OF THE DAWN.-EVERETT. Much as we are indebted to our observatories for elevating our conceptions of the heavenly bodies, they present even to the unaided sight scenes of glory which words are too feeble to describe. I had occasion, a few weeks since, to take the early train from Providence to Boston; and for this purpose rose at two o'clock in the morning. Everything around was wrapt in darkness and hushed in silence, broken only by what seemed at that hour the unearthly clank and rush of the train. It was a mild, serene, midsummer's night,—the sky was without a cloud,—the winds were whist. The moon, then in the last quarter, had just risen, and the stars shone with a spectral lustre but little affected by her presence. Jupiter, two hours high, was the herald of the day; tbe Pleiades just above the horizon shed their sweet influence in the east; Lyra sparkled near the zenith ; Andromeda veiled her newly-discovered glories from the naked eye in the south; the steady Pointers, far beneath the pole, looked meekly up from the depths of the north to their sovereign.
Such was the glorious spectacle as I entered the train. As we proceeded, the timid approach of twilight became more perceptible; the intense blue of the sky began to soften; the smaller stars, like little children, went first to rest; the sisterbeams of the Pleiades soon melted together; but the bright constellations of the west and north remained unchanged. Steadily the wondrous transfiguration went on. Hands of angels hidden from mortal eyes shifted the scenery of the heavens; the glories of night dissolved into the glories of the dawn. The blue sky now turned more softly gray; the great watch-stars shut up their holy eyes; the east began to kindle. Faint streaks of purple soon blushed along the sky; the whole celestial concave was filled with the inflowing tides of the morning light, which came pouring down from above in one great ocean of radia-ice ; till at length, as we reached the Blue Hills, a flash of purple fire blazed out from above the horizon, and urned the dewy tear-drops of flower and leaf into rubies and diamonds. In a few seconds, the everlasting gates of the morning were thrown wide open, and the lord of day, arrayed in glories too severe for the gaze of man, began his state.
CULTURE THE RESULT OF LABOR.-WIRT. The education, gentlemen, moral and intellectual, of every individual must be chiefly his own work. How else could it happen that young men, who have had precisely the same opportunities, should be continually presenting us with such different results, and rushing to such opposite destinies ? Difference of talent will not solve it, because that difference is very often in favor of the disappointed candidate.
You will see issuing from the walls of the same college—nay, sometimes from the bosom of the same family, two young men, of whom the one shall be admitted to be a genius of high order, the other scarcely above the point of mediocrity; yet you shall see the genius sinking and perishing in poverty, obscurity, and wretchedness; while, on the other hand, you shall observe the mediocre plodding his slow but sure way up the hill of life, gaining steadfast footing at every step, and mounting, at length, to eminence and distinction, an ornament to his family, a blessing to his country.
Now, whose work is this? Manifestly their own. Men are the architects of their respective fortunes. It is the fiat of fate from which no power of genius can absolve you. Genius, unexerted, is like the poor moth that flutters around a candle till it scorches itself to death. If genius be desirable at all, it is only of that great and magnanimous kind which, like the condor of South America, pitches from the summit of Chimborazo, above the clouds, and sustains itself at pleasure in that empyreal region, with an energy rather invigorated than weakened by the effort.
It is this capacity for high and long-continued exertion, this vigorous power of profound and searching investigation, this careering and wide-spreading comprehension of mind, and those long reaches of thought, that
“ Pluck bright honor from the pale-faced moon,
Or dive into the bottom of the deep,
This is the prowess, and these the hardy achievements, which are to enroll your names among the great men of the earth.
STUDIES. LORD Bacon. STUDIES serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability. Their chief use for delight is in privateness and retiring; for ornament, is in discourse ; and for ability, is in the judgment and disposition of business; for expert men can execute and perhaps judge of particulars, one by one; but the general counsels, and the plots and marshalling of affairs, come best from those that are learned. To spend too much time in studies, is sloth; to use them too much for ornament, is affectation; to make judgment wholly by their rules, is the humor of a scholar; they perfect nature, and are perfected by experience --for natural abilities are like natural plants that need pruning by study; and studies themselves do give forth directions too much at large, except they be bounded in by experience. Crafty men contemn studies, simple men admire them, and wise men use them, for they teach not their own use; but that is a wisdom vithout them and above them, won by observation.