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do anything of their own, find they want an eye quick enough, a hand steady enough, and colors bright enough, to trace the living forms of nature. Any one who has passed through the regular gradations of a classical education, and is not made a fool by it, may consider himself as having had a very narrow escape. It is an old remark, that boys who shine at school do not make the greatest figure when they grow up and come out into the world. The things, in fact, which a boy is set to learn at school, and on which his success depends, are things which do not require the exercise either of the highest or the most useful faculties of the mind. Memory (and that of the lowest kind) is the chief faculty called into play, in conning over and repeating lessons by rote in grammar, in languages, in geography, arithmetic, &c., so that he who has the most of this technical memory, with the least turn for other things, which have a stronger and more natural claim upon his childish attention, will make the most forward school-boy.
A mere scholar, who knows nothing but books, must be ignorant even of them.“ Books do not teach the use of books.” How should he know anything of a work, who knows nothing of the subject of it? The learned pedant is conversant with books only as they are made of other books, and those again of others, without end. He parrots those who have parroted others. He can translate the same word into ten different languages, but he knows nothing of the thing which it means in any one of them. He stuffs his head with authorities built on authorities, with quotations quoted from quotations, while he locks up his senses, his understanding, and his heart. He is unacquainted with the maxims and manners of the world ; he is to seek in the characters of individuals. He sees no beauty in the face of nature or of art. To him “the mighty world of eye and ear” is hid ; and “knowledge, except at one entrance, quite shut out.” His pride takes part with his ignorance ; and his self-importance rises with the number of things of which he does not know the value, and which he therefore despises as unworthy of his notice.
Women have often more of what is called good sense than men. They have fewer pretensions, are less implicated in theories, and judge of objects more from their immediate and involuntary impression on the mind, and, therefore, more truly and naturally. They cannot reason wrong; for they do not reason at all. They do not think or speak by rule, and they have in general more eloquence and wit, as well as sense, on that account. By their wit, sense, and eloquence together, they generally contrive to govern their husbands.
Their style, when they write to their friends (not for the booksellers)
, is better than that of most authors.
Uneducated people have most exuberance of invention, and the greatest freedom from prejudice. Shakespeare's was evidently an uneducated mind, both in the freshness of his imagination and in the variety of his views, as Milton's was scholastic in the texture both of his thoughts and feelings. Shakespeare had not been accustomed to write themes at school in favor of virtue or against vice. To this we owe the unaffected but healthy tone of his dramatic morality. If we wish to know the force of human genius, we should read Shakespeare. If we wish to see the insignificance of human learning, we may study his commentators.
(From Round Table.) A COMMONPLACE critic has something to say upon every occasion ; and he always tells you either what is not true, or what you knew before, or what is not worth knowing. He is a person who thinks by proxy, and talks by rote. He differs with you, not because he thinks you are in the wrong, but because he thinks somebody else will think so. Nay, it would be well if he stopped here ; but he will undertake to misrepresent you by anticipation, lest others should misunderstand you, and will set you right, not only in opinions which you have, but in those which you may be supposed to have. Thus, if you say that Bottom, the weaver, is a character that has not had justice done to it, he shakes his head, is afraid you will be thought extravagant, and wonders you should think the “Midsummer Night's Dream” the finest of all Shakespeare's plays. He judges of matters of taste and reasoning as he does of dress and fashion, by the prevailing tone of good company; and you would as soon persuade him to give up any sentiment that is current there, as to wear the hind part of his coat before. By the best company, of which he is perpetually talking, he means persons who live on their own estates and other people's ideas. By the opinion of the world, to which he pays and expects you to pay great deference, he means that of a little circle of his own, where he hears and is heard. In fact, he is the representative of a large part of the community, the shallow, the vain, and indolent, of those who have time to talk, and are not bound to think ; and he considers any deviation from tlie select forms of commonplace,
or the accredited language of conventional impertinence, as compromising the authority under which he acts in his diplomatic capacity. It is wonderful how this class of people agree with one another; how they herd together in all their opinions ; what a tact they have for folly ; what an instinct for absurdity ; what a sympathy in sentiment; how they find one another out by infallible signs, like Freemasons! The secret of this unanimity and strict accord is, that not any one of them ever admits any opinion that can cost the least effort of mind in arriving at, or of courage in declaring it. Folly is as consistent with itself as wisdom : there is a certain level of thought and sentiment, which the weakest minds, as well as the strongest, find out as best adapted to them; and you as regularly come to the same conclusions, by looking no farther than the surface, as if you dug to the centre of the earth. You know beforehand what a critic of this class will say, on almost every subject, the first time he sees you, the next time, the time after that, and so on to the end of the chapter. The following list of his opinions may relied on : It is pretty certain that before you have been in the room with him ten minutes, he will give you to understand that Shakespeare was a great but irregular genius. Again, he thinks it a question whether any one of his plays, if brought out now for the first time, would succeed. He thinks that Macbeth would be the most likely, from the music which has since been introduced into it. He has some doubts as to the superiority of the French school over us in tragedy, and observes, that Hume and Adam Smith were both of that opinion. He thinks Milton's pedantry a great blemish in his writings, and that Paradise Lost has many prosaic passages in it. He conceives that genius does not always imply taste, and that wit and judgment are very different faculties. He considers Dr. Johnson as a great critic and moralist, and that his Dictionary was a work of prodigious erudition and vast industry; but that some of the anecdotes of him in Boswell are trifling. He conceives that Mr. Locke was a very original and profound thinker. He thinks Gibbon's style vigorous but florid. He wonders that the author of i Junius was never found out. He thinks Pope's translation of the Iliad an improvement on the simplicity of the original, which was necessary to fit it to the taste of modern readers. He thinks there is a great deal of grossness in the old comedies; and that there has been a great improvement in the morals of the higher classes since the reign of Charles II. He thinks the reign of Queen Anne the golden period of our literature ; but that, upon the whole, we have
no English writer equal to Voltaire. He can see no reason why artists of the present day should not paint as well as Raphael or Titian. He judges of people by their pretensions, and pays attention to their opinions according to their dress and rank in life. If he meets with a fool, he does not find him out; and if he meets with any one wiser than himself, he does not know what to make of him. He thinks that manners are of great consequence to the common intercourse of life. He thinks it difficult to prove the existence of any such thing as original genius, or to fix a general standard of taste. He does not think it possible to define what wit is. In religion, his opinions are liberal. He considers all enthusiasm as a degree of madness, particularly to be guarded against by young minds; and believes that truth lies in the middle, between the extremes of right and wrong. He thinks that the object of poetry is to please ; and that astronomy is a very pleasing and useful study. He thinks all this, and a great deal more, that amounts to nothing. We wonder we have remembered one half of it.
Henry Brougham was born in Edinburgh in 1779. He was educated in the High School and University of his native city, and was early distinguished as a scholar, especially in the mathematics and optics. He studied law, and became an eminent advocate; and in šio he was elected a member of Parliament. His intellect was strong, his learning universal, his temper aggressive; and his sympathies with progress made him one of the most able and influential of modern reformers. The abolition of slavery, the reform of the Court of Chao. cery, the restrictions of borough representation in Parliament, and many oiher popular movements found in him a powerful champion; stil he frequently disappointed h's associates, and could never be counted upon as a party man. In 1830 he became Lord Chancellor, and held the office four years. His speeches rank with the ablest of the time; but their sower and effect are inseparable from the events which called them forth; they are a part of the history, rather than of the literature, of England. His other chief works are Memoirs of the Statesmen of the Reign of George III., Political Philosophy, The Eoquence of the Ancients, Discourse on Paley's Natural Philosophy, a View of Newroa's Principia, and his contributions to the Edinburgh Review. His complete works are published in an edition of eleven volumes, London 1860. During the last years of his life be resided at Cannes, in France, where he died in 1868.
(From "Historical Sketches of Statesmen."]
How much soever men may differ as to the soundness of Mr. Burke's doctrines, or the purity of his public conduct, there can be no hesitation in according to him a station among the most extraor
dinary persons that have ever appeared; nor is there now any diversity of opinion as to the place it is fit to assign him. He was a writer of the first class, and excelled in almost every kind of prose composition. Possessed of most extensive knowledge, and of the most various description; acquainted alike with what different classes of men knew, each in his own province, and with much that hardly any one ever thought of learning; he could either bring his masses of information to bear directly upon the subjects to which they severally belonged, or he could avail himself of them generally to strengthen his faculties and enlarge his views, or he could turn any portion of them to account for the purpose of illustrating his theme or enriching his diction. Hence, when he is handling any one matter, we perceive that we are conversing with a reasoner or a teacher, to whom almost every other branch of knowledge is familiar. His views range over all the cognate subjects; his reasonings are derived from principles applicable to other matters as well as the one in hand; arguments pour in from all sides, as well as those which start up under our feet, the natural growth of the path he is leading us over; while, to throw light round our steps, and either explore its darker places, or serve for our recreation, illustrations are fetched from a thousand quarters; and an imagination marvellously quick to descry unthought-of resemblances pours forth the stores which a lore yet more marvellous has gathered from all ages and nations, and arts and tongues. We are, in respect of the argument, reminded of Bacon's multifarious knowledge, and the exuberance of his learned fancy, while the many-lettered diction recalls to mind the first of English poets, and his immortal verse, rich with the spoils of all sciences and all times.
It is another characteristic of this great writer, that the unlimited abundance of his stores makes him profuse in their expenditure. Never content with one view of a subject, or one manner of handling it , he for the most part lavishes his whole resources upon the discussion of each point. In controversy, this is emphatically the case. Indeed, nothing is more remarkable than the variety of ways in which he makes his approaches to any position he would master. After reconnoitring it with skill and boldness, if not with perfect accuracy, he manæuvres with infinite address, and arrays a most imposing force of general principles mustered from all parts, and pointed, sometimes violently enough, in one direction. He now moves on with the composed air, the even, dignified pace of the his