Imatges de pÓgina

done?" And why may not some of this assembly, by persevering mental application, rise, at some coming day, to a distinguished rank among the master spirits of the times?

Though much of what has been said is chiefly applicable to young men, yet it is hoped that the ladies will not overlook their interest in the subject. If they cannot be active politicians, they can culti vate science, literature, and the arts. Many brilliant stars of most benignant aspect have appeared in the literary heavens-constellations of female worthies who have enlightened, cheered, and blessed man. kind. The female mind has shown itself capable of mastering the most abstruse speculations and the highest order of science, as well as of adorning the instructive page with the most attractive eloquence. But woman wields a mighty power, even in the politics of a country, by the tales of the nursery, and the inculcation of patriotic sentiments in the forming state of character and of habit.

It is an interesting circumstance, that while many men have been found who united viciousness of life with high mental accomplishments, such instances are exceeding rare in the female portion of the com. munity. If you find a lady of refined and cultivated powers you are almost sure to find her an advocate and an example of high moral principle. The heart of woman seems to be nearer neighbor to the intellect than the heart of man, and the sympathy between them seems to be both readier and stronger. In cultivating, therefore, the mind of woman, we are raising the standard of virtuous influence; we are preparing her to be the guiding star of society to honor and happiness. Woman's heart seems, in general, to yield more readily and fully than man's to the influence of Christian truth and love; and hence, by bringing both religion and education to bear on female character, we are most rapidly advancing the highest interests of humanity.

Be assured, then, ladies, that the paths of learning, of influence, and of usefulness, are open and inviting. Let your hearts be moved by the high resolve to improve your powers for the benefit of mankind. There are sources of instruction and improvement within the reach of all. May some of the fair in this audience aspire to emulate the labors and to acquire the hallowed influence of a More, a Sedgwick, a Sigourney; and may all strive to promote among themselves and in this community a love and desire for high intellectual and moral attainments! E. OTHEMAN.

For the Methodist Magazine and Quarterly Review.


LITERATURE must be allowed to perform, at least, a subordinate agency in the moral government of the world. A knowledge of its influences, in its various bearings on schemes of divine Providence, leaves no doubt that it has been ordained as one of the modes of our being. In a comprehensive sense, it embraces a great compass of subjects, and almost every style of composition: but in the more restricted meaning of the term, it is merely the permanent forms in

which elevated sentiment and the most efficacious thought are embodied.

It may not be unprofitable to dwell, for a while, upon the question as to the period and the nation of the world that have furnished a literature, in this latter sense, best fitted to exert an essential and permanent influence on society; and then consider the connection of such a literature with other means which bear on Biblical science.

The limits to which we must be confined in this article will not allow us to review the successions of literature; nor scarcely to look over the vast panorama, and glance at its monuments of glory that are scattered here and there all along the line of ages, from the earliest dawn of mind to the present day. And were we, indeed, to start from a point far back, almost on the very margin of primeval time, and to pass on through the whole lapse of centuries past, there would be found in that entire range but one period, we think, in which a national literature appears of such form and influence as to have stamped its own obvious character on the development of mind in after ages. It is the age of Grecian glory. We should leave behind us, in that review, the vast, the gorgeous, and elaborate monuments of art that rose up on the plains of Chaldea and in the valley of the Nile, as utterly failing to exemplify the grand purposes of human genius. Neither India, with her cumbrous mythology; nor Egypt, proficient though she was in many sciences; nor Phoenicia, employed in the most extensive commerce of antiquity; nor Nineveh and Baby. lon, with all their vastness and splendor, can claim to have had any literature, at least, such a literature as, by its sweetness, strength, and majesty, could come down on the mind of posterity with its own power.

But among the Greeks are found intellectual peculiarities which can be affirmed of no other nation. A remarkable uncertainty hangs over their origin as a race; but we can award to them a just independence in their literary greatness, except so far as they deduced from oriental and Egyptian sources many dogmas in philosophy and religion, and some materials for thought to fashion, and imagination to embellish. Yet, with these several deductions, the world has never witnessed a nation like this-a mere speck as to territory, in com parison with the many mighty empires that have overshadowed the earth-abounding in so many independent elements, which, when embodied, have done so much to subdue deformity into elegance, and rudeness of intellect into accomplishment.

Many causes existed to render the beautiful land of the Greeks the birthplace of the fairest literature that has yet dawned on the intellectual world, the chief of which might be referred, perhaps, to the surpassing loveliness and variety which nature had lavished upon it. The picturesque view of mountain and vale; the sea, with its deeply indented coast and bold promontory; the serene sky; the genial clime; the olive clad hills; the fountains, rivulets, cascades, and the ocean wave-all these contributed to a joyous activity of intellectual power. The influence of scenery and of the early circumstances of society usually goes to the deepest elements of man's sentient nature. And scarcely more favorable, in this particular, could the condition of the Greeks have been, for the development of valuable thought and

emotion. When we add also to the happy temperament which their clime and their landscapes were so likely to impress on them, their striking flexibility of genius, which seems to have been assigned to them in distinction from almost all other people, as a special gift of nature; we can easily account for the exquisite finish and taste displayed so early in their intellectual efforts. Although a primitive production in every region, yet nowhere else, as in Greece, has poetry, so early in the progress of society, ever reached its acme of excellence; exhibiting such an inexhaustible vigor of ideal power in combining at pleasure the elements of the beautiful, the graceful, the tender, the pathetic, the grand, the terrible. The echoes of the Delphic groves continued to excite the muse, in measures either of Ionian melody, or of Doric and Attic splendor, till every chord of the human soul had responded to the spirit of genius. Whether the Grecian lyre were swept in epic song, or in the wild dithyrambic, or in the grand pean, or in mournful elegy, it rendered the national mind passionate for elegance, exuberance, and power.

Nor was it unnatural that religious emotion, one of the most vivid and universal feelings of human nature, should come in as an auxiliary to the poetic structure of the Grecian mind. Possessing the aid neither of an improved philosophy, nor of divine revelation, it is not surprising they should adore with almost a superstitious reverence every indication of Deity, whether observed in the energies of man or in the visible world. And far less wonderful is it, that they should deify both man and nature, since with them, more than with other communities usually, abounded a greater variety of agreeable, brilliant, and alarming phenomena, which could so afford vivacity and excitement to human character as to prompt it to the greatest of physical and mental achievements. Hence their manifold theogony; of which it were out of place here to affirm any thing more than that with them, both the outward and invisible worlds were not only instinct with life, but even peopled with almost innumerable divinities. Whence, then, could spring a deeper poetry than from the religion which assigned to the universe a master, and a distinct ruling spirit to every object in all animate and inanimate creation? New elements of intense feeling must have been evolved by every recurrence of the idea, that the heavens, the earth, the seas, the rivers, groves, fountains, glens, and hilltops, the zephyr and the tornado, and their own domestic altars and firesides, were each the abode of some presiding divinity.

Thus were this land and people adapted to the birth of that transcendent genius, who, if indeed he has since been equalled, has certainly never been surpassed. To Homer alone has posterity been disposed to award the honor of bringing out to permanent view a nation's highest glory-its intellect, its wisdom. For twenty-seven centuries he has stood up an intellectual beacon for the world's gaze and improvement. His age and his country furnished him with a rich profusion of appropriate and inspiring themes, on which to exercise the astonishing attributes of his mind. And remarkable must be the stupidity that checks all joyous gratitude for his success in bestowing on the world such a noble specimen of a language-all wrought

up into the most exquisite structure, and characterized by unusual copiousness and melody.

A wofold interest is added to the Homeric verse, by the striking uniformity into which the discordant elements of the early mythology are blended, and by the ambition with which it inspired genius of succeeding generations. The one established sincerity and devotion in a fabulous religion: the other introduced many provinces of thought, in which minds, whether poetically or philosophically cast, have shown surprising acuteness and versatility: and both caused the star of Greece, as to its literature, to remain in the ascendent long after its civil power was crushed. To be assured of such an effect of the early epic song, it were only necessary to observe the fresh impulse given by Homer's genius to the great religious festivals of the nation; at which mind contested most powerfully with mind before tasteful auditories that could decide unerringly on merit and demerit. In this way, chiefly, were brought out a splendid and versatile intellect that thrilled Greece, and impressed the world. Anacreon and Pindar were aroused to bursts of lyric sweetness and grandeur : Eschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, sung in notes of wo to tragic destiny: Aristophanes flashed wit and burning satire on a dissipated metropolis: Herodotus, and Thucydides, and Xenophon clothed in simple majesty and gave to posterity desultory and consecutive history. On the mind of Socrates beamed a ray of inspired truth; to embellish which, and to incorporate it into an elegant philosophy, Plato exhausted all the treasures of the Grecian tongue. Aristotle stands out as a rival yet with the world in analytic subtlety. Nor have the thunderings of the Athenian orator yet died away on the ear of posterity.

Such is a mere glance at some of the displays of Grecian intellect, unparalleled in any previous age of the world. To whatever department of a literature thus developed we attend, or whatever trait in any one of its departments we may investigate whether the grandeur and melody of song, or the wildness and stately gloom of tragedy, or the elegance, the strength, and manly tone of history, philosophy, or eloquence we are constrained to the belief that mankind through this means were advanced several degrees in the scale of intellectual elevation, from which they have never yet fallen.

We deem it now proper to ascertain, if possible, whether Grecian literature is entitled to the rank we claim for it, from examples of its actual contributions to the elevation of society. And in noticing only the more decisive cases of its influence, we should in the first place, as would seem natural, regard its bearing on the intellect of the Roman nation.

It is interesting to a mind accustomed to trace the causes of moral, political, and intellectual changes, to observe the striking revolutions of various character that occurred from the first to the last of Roman history. But claiming for themselves such an origin and such auspices as they did, it is not surprising the Romans should assiduously apply themselves to military rigor merely, during the many ages in which the Grecians were excelling all the world in intellectual splendor. The wonder is that they should become so suddenly attached to literature. This, however, was the direct result of one of those con

tingences from which, in the order of Providence, follow the greatest of intellectual and moral consequences. The Roman sword had sub. jugated Greece, whence were sent to Rome, under the Achæan league, a thousand deputies, among whom were men of profound and various erudition. A rigorous jealousy required their detention many years, during which they so applied their mental resources as to obtain a proud honor for their country-an acknowledged superiority of the conquered to the conquerors. Roman pride was in this manner stung to exertion; the emulation excited could not be satisfied till Grecian taste and learning were adopted as the standard of excellence and of attainment. Hitherto a fervid imagination had kindled the fires of genius only in a few cases so many obstacles were there to beset the full exercise of the mind's noblest powers. Plautus, Andronicus, Terence, and others had previously sung, it is true, and sung gloriously; but not on those subjects and in that spirit, certainly, for which their land, and clime, and genius afforded such various facilities. Conquest continually introduced them to whatever was useful in science, beautiful and grand in art, and elegant in literature. Every thing that could yield to their avidity was transferred to their own eternal city. Spain, and Greece, and Sicily were plundered of their richest ornaments, their public galleries, and museums, and libraries. Then commenced the glorious career of Latin letters. The liberal leisure enjoyed at Rome, from the great influx of the wealth of conquered nations, was all exacted for liberal research and application. But the spirit, the genius of literature was yet abroad. Athens was still the seat of universal learning; for, though shorn of her splendor and her greatness, she had yet to boast of her schools and her scholars. Her venerable groves, and learned shades, and winding walks; her academy, and porch, and temples-all which for ages had been consecrated to genius-were yet living lectures of elegance and erudition. She became the alma mater to the illustrious scholars at Rome the most distinguished contributors to Latin literature. Thither they repaired to study and acquire her philosophy, her arts, her poetry, and her eloquence. Her influence had subdued the fero. cious sentiment among them that military prowess alone could secure a nation's glory and power. They assiduously applied their borrowed resources to whatever changes improved intellectual habits and new modes of life demanded, till their character assumed such a modified form as to partake somewhat still of their early hardihood, of the refinement of the neighboring cities of Greece, and of the softness and luxury of oriental nations.

To some, indeed, it may seem a little preposterous to affirm that much, very much of Roman literature is mere imitation-that in its essential character it is generally devoid of originality. Local cir. cumstances, it is true, rendered it independent and original in some of those forms in which it became a medium of such strong thoughtin the strength of idiom and force of expression, which peculiarly recommend all the effort that can be directed to its thorough acquisition. But little is hazarded, we think, in saying that, though it indicated a splendid age-a richly cultivated age-it nevertheless is molded into such shape as but too obviously betrays an abundant use of materials, and, in some instances, a genius not its own. There are more traces

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