« PreviousContinue »
shall happen by any vacancies, are to be distributed in Greek and Latin books to such undergraduates as shall make the best composition or declamation in the Latin tongue, upon such a moral theme as shall be given them. In 1733, the Dean sent an additional present to the library, of about a thousand volumes, which President Clap says, was then the finest collection of books that ever came at one time to America.
The portrait of Dean Berkeley in this number is from a painting executed by Smybert, an Italian artist, who came with the Dean to America. There is a tradition, that the outline was sketched on the passage from Europe. The painting exhibits a group-the principal figure in which is the Dean, in his clerical habit, and his hand resting on a copy of Plato, his favorite author; his wife with a child ; another lady, who has been said to be her sister, but more probably is a Miss Handcock, who accompanied her to America ; Sir James Dalton, acting as the Dean's amanuensis; a Mr. James; Mr. John Moffat, a friend of the artist, and the artist, Smybert himself, complete the picture. This painting was presented to the college in the year 1808, by Isaac Lothrop, Esq. of Plymouth, Mass. It had been preserved in Boston, in a room occupied by the Smyberts ; certainly by the son, and probably by the father. It was purchased and transmitied to the college by Mr. Lothrop, through the agency of the Hon. John Davis, Col. Joseph May, and Isaac P. Davis, Esq. of Boston. Mr. Lothrop died at Plymouth, July, 1808, aged 73. He was one of the earliest members of the Massachusetts Historical Society.
While Dean Berkeley was residing at Newport, he wrote the following “ Verses, on the prospect of planting Arts and Learning in America."
The Muse disgusted at an age and clime,
Barren of every glorious theme,
Producing subjects worthy famo:
There shall be sung another golden age,
The rise of empire and of arts,
The wisest heads and noblest hearts.
young, When heavenly flame did animate her clay,
By future poets shall be sung.
In happy climes, where from the genial sun
And virgin earth such scenes ensue,
And fancied beauties by the true:
In happy climes, the seat of innocence,
Where nature guides and virtue rules, Where man shall not impose for truth and sense,
The pedantry of courts and schools :
Westward the course of empire takes its way;
The four first acts already past,
Time's noblest offspring is the last,
WHETHER that exclusive homage which is everywhere paid to science, literature, and mental discipline, is in accordance with true expediency and conducive to man's best welfare, is an inquiry of no ordinary interest, and one that may well arrest the thoughts and claim the careful consideration of every well-wisher to his race. even be questioned whether the ambition of the age is not directed so much towards these as often, in many respects, to defeat its own aim. By seeking too soon to mature the mind, we suppress the rich play of fancy, wither the early blossoms of affection and hurry the intellect itself to death like a breathless stag. True, genuine culture disappears under the mechanical process of learning by rote mere forms and grammatical niceties. The dead letter is exalted over the living intellect, and a hackneyed memory preferred to the spontaneous gush of rich, native feeling. Winged Genius is bound to books, and even in the short flights her chains permit, she is languid and weary and shows little of that elastic, energetic power, that she displays in freedom. The mind made a pack horse during the period of youth, and only valued for the burden it can bear, will seldom in aster life present worthier traits than became the drudgery of its earlier years. It is thus that natural endowments are stifled, while the frivolous attainments of education soon decay, and its deceived devotee is left too late to mourn the acquirements of such habits of mind, as altogether disqualify for vigorous, independent exertion on untrodden paths, or for struggling manfully with the difficulties of life.
But whatever may be the effect of a too ardent pursuit of intellectual culture in counteracting its own end, this is not the point of view from which we propose at present to consider it. The disposition everywhere manifested to regard it as a substitute for morality, as an instrument which of itself alone shall promote virture and suppress vice, seems to us to be a far more dangerous feature of the mistaken zeal which is expended upon it. Knowledge, not divine, but emphatically human, if we may judge from the actions of men, is considered the only thing requisite in meliorating and bettering their condition. Parents seek it as of the utmost consequence to iheir children ; philanthropists speak of it as though it alone was the source of all the humanizing results of civilization ; and governments claiming to depend for their permanency and well being upon the virtue of their people, rest satisfied with their condition and their prospects, if they are only assured that the “schoolmaster is abroad." Now so far as it is sought as a means by which to improve the outward circumstances of menas a stepping stone to individual success and prosperity, or by which to increase wealth, comforts, and luxury in the aggregate, perhaps there can be no reason for complaint. With this end in view, if kept subservient to, it may be made essentially to assist the cause of morality. But when the intellectual faculties are made synonymous with the moral ; when it is considered that mere intellectual knowledge is productive of all the humanizing influences of education upon man's natural rudeness and perversity ; when it seems to be thought that a comprehension of the order and harmony that exists throughout the universe shall open the fitness of good actions and conduct, and lead to their practice; when all these things, if not openly asserted, are at least tacitly assented to, and the whole tendency of the age based upon them ; we beg leave to dissent and express some of the reasons which have guided us, as well as some of the dangers to which such suppositions must inevitably lead.
No truth can be plainer than this—both intellectual and moral culture perform a distinct function in man's education. Each has a separate end in view, and a separate class of faculties upon which to act, but which lie nearly or quite dormant till developed by external influences. Since the moral powers are undoubtedly the direct agents in perfecting our better nature, the understanding can only tend to that result by its indirect influence upon these. But how shall they influence these, if they have not been previously excited, or itself supplied with moral precepts by which to excite them? Can it electrify them by induction ? Will the most luxuriant growth of one plant, throw life and vigor into another by its side ? or can the coin bear an impression different from its mould ? No more can mathematical discipline bring into exercise those impulses which lead men to embrace virtue and shun vice. Latent heat in ice or latent water in a rock are not seen before they encounter the chemist's skill, nor can a moral culture be produced without the precepts of morality. What kind of a moral decalogue, the most vigorous study or the most perfect comprehension of Euclid's propositions might lead one to form, we shall leave it for others to decide!
It may be supposed that this is an extreme caso. Other departments of knowledge may be thought more favorable to elucidate moral truth. Some may contend that the fiat of the intellect can deduce it from the premises of scientific facts. But comparatively few, if any, we think, will be found who can frame rules of morality by an a priori conception of reason from these. However extended its knowledge of nat
ural laws, the intellect cannot, unaided and unassisted by previously drawn moral conclusion, derive therefrom one precept of virtue. There is no analogy which would lead us to conclude that all the discoveries of science in the outer world can exorcise from man those demons, appetite and passion,
" Which impair The strength of better thoughts." It is true the mind has a more direct connection with the heart, and you suppose perhaps that an acquaintance with its powers and faculties will afford a basis on which to build. But here also we conceive you will be found in an error. Sensation may instruct us with proofs as palpable as its own impressions, in what mysterious manner it communicates itself to the mind; reason may demonstrate the modes of its operations till they are all as evident and clear as its own conclusions, and imagination may paint with its own bright beams of light, the way of its workings, without conveying to us one deduction of morality, Even our utmost study of those faculties upon which the moral feelings depend, though it forward us in learning their nature, will not in their practice. In analyzing the emotions with which mankind contemplate virtue and vice, we only find union in disunion; "the fair body is presented in dismembered conceptions; the living spirit in a mauger skeleton of words.” What wonder then, that the innate feeling does not recognize itself in such a copy, or that its utmost scrutiny fails to discover one familiar lineament ! What wonder that one may wander through the whole labarynth of thought, association, and passion, when thus expressed, without finding means by which to shoot one ray of moral light into the dark chamber of the heart; while virtue, on the other hand, tannen tree like, is often seen growing most vigorously, when rooted in intellectual barrenness!
Morality is so interwoven with those other departments of knowledge, which come under the general name of literature, that they cannot be studied without unraveling some of the moral threads.
Yet the estimation in which they are held is based upon their intellectual, not their moral excellence, and for this very reason, we believe, they are often found evincing so little of an ennobling influence. Hence that class of individuals who make this province of lear ing their especial study, are not those generally, according to all accounts, whose conduct has been most irreproachable. Whether it be owing to errors in the present system of education, or be its own inherent quality, or whatever else be the cause, the fact is undeniable, that the evil propensities of those who are, par excellence, literary men, are lessened only in deformity, and not in grossness. The suppression of the few more palpable atrocities is more than made up by the fruitful crop of smaller vices. The unfolding of the mere intellectual faculties educates new wants and renders men more fastidious. It adds a new impulse to the lightning shafts of passion which are ever operating in the mind. It gives a keener relish for those enticing pleasures which throw a splendor around the glittering summits of society, pleasures that have a fair outside, but within are filled with the most rotten selfishness; and the pursuit of which will silence the noblest dictates. While we admit then that the general influence of mere intellectual culture may polish the manners, refine the taste, and, in many respects, render the character nobler and better, we deny that the utmost of its refining process can extract from the heart truly kind affections; and though it changes the form it does not the nature of man's evil desires. All his vices appear again, modified in the severer attributes of Cynic brutality, or under the more enticing cover of Epicurean voluptuousness.
Such then we consider the general influence of those studies that appeal only to the understanding. If our inferences are correct, we think we can see in the over-refined intellectuality of our age, the source of that increasing lawlessness and profligacy, in both public and private life, which fills the breast of the philanthropist with sorrow and fear. Yet it is because it is sought as an end that we object to the morbid desire with which intellectual culture is pursued. It is the mind which, unguided by a well-directed will, seeks to search knowledge with
saucy looks that is blinded, or finds it a treacherous meteor of delusion. It is only when the springs of learning flow unblended with the waters of a pure heart, that scientific enlightenment is to be feared. The intellectual lumination that streams through the dark house
“ In which the soul is pent,”
when used as a means, both facilitates and is in some degree the indispensable accompaniment of morality. The improvement of the powers of apprehending truth, enables us the more readily and firmly to lay hold of moral truth. Under the benign influence of religion and morality, what was before a dismal waste, friged and forbidding, becomes fresh, bright, and beautiful. Science, instead of corrupting the heart, becomes a precious visitant, and whatsoever we deeply drink from the soul of things, cherishes and feeds our moral faculties and fixes in firmer seats our moral strength.
THE MELANCHOLY MAN.
It is one of the loveliest evenings that surly old Winter ever brings. Snugly ensconced in my little sanctum sanctorum, I look out at the window, and all Nature seems to invite me forth to enjoy her smiles. The stars laugh and twinkle in their deep expanse of blue. A pure virgin mantle of snow rests lightly upon the earth, and its frosty flakes, sparkling in the playful moonbeams, impart a splendor, such as would all the diamonds of Tejuco or Golconda, if strewed around with lavish hand. The sleigh-riders too are brisk and gay. Their voices