Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

though some generous spirits may rise above the disappointiments, how often do we see it turned into gall and bitterness, "weighing down the heart with the double load of sorrow and ' envy! I the name of humanity, then, let us not add this * curse to the necessary discipline of youth, Let us not dash * with factitious sorrow the joyous days of boyhood, nor teach "an innocent heart to pine with envy at another's talents or

success. Nor is the moral influence of emularion more unfa'vourable than its intellectual. When made ihe great engine of education, which in our country it is, it often weakens the miod by premature exertion: naturally leads to the cultiva'tion of the memory, at the expense of the judgment, and inva‘riably tends to enfeeble the character by building it upon the 'stimulus of external and temporary excitement. Hence the *anomalous fact that we are so often called upon to wonder at

and explain, viz. that the praised and honoured youth turus .out a feeble and nerveless man. The explanation is easy. *He lived so long upon the sweets of praise and honour, that he can find vo sufficient stimulus in the quiet motives of doiy and conscience. He has been trained to action by stimulants 'wbich have no place in the sober duties of life; and, when left 'to himself, this factious nursling of education pines into feeble

ness and inaction. Like a boy taught to swim on bladders, 'he goes smoothly on, so long as he is buoyed up by praise; 'but, when called upon to act unnoticed and alone, to walki

unmoved through good report and evil report, he feels as the • same artificial swimmer would do, without his aids, in a rough ' and stormy ocean." .

These very just sentiments will be echoed by many a teacher and many a learner in all the schools and colleges of the United States, We earnestly hope that the authority of one so justly eminent as Dr. McVickar may have its effect, supported as it is by the still higher authority of Southey, and by the practice of the great schools of England, where, if a school exercise happens to exhibit extraordinary mierit, it is rewarded by a holiday to the whole school, granted to the request of the meritorious boy-and, thus, poison and antidote are administered together. At Westminster, a silver penay is awarded, commutable into a half crown piece when presented to the boarding dame; after which, nothing is heard of the matter, unless, in a more advanced period of life, the exercise should be found among those Muse Elonenses, or Lusus Westmonasterienses, or Wyckhamical Chaplets, which are occasionally offered to the public oye, rather in honour of the schools than of those who were educated in them. Under such circumstances, neither vanity

nor envy can produce the odious effects which Dr. McVickar has so justly and feelingly described.*

We are here naturally led to the poetical exercises, Latin and English, that make a part of the first volume of these < Remains," and we cannot help expressing a candid wish that they had been suffered to remain where the author left themin his own desk. We allude, chiefly, to the Latin verses : the English may be allowed to speak for themselves, with a slight allusion to Horace's hint (however repeated ad nauseam) that

"Mediocribus esse poetis,
“Non dü, non homines, non concessere columnæ."

Praise, however, being far more grateful to us, in this instance, than censure, we shall first proceed to notice, more hastily, indeed, than we could wish, the other ingredients of the volumes before us.

When the usual school and college course was ended, Mr. Griffin's judiciously indulgent parents very properly desired to procure for him that enlargement of mind which nothing so effectually secures, as foreign travel. At the age of nineteen, he had obtained a bachelor's degree, and, in 1828, received his first order from the late Bishop Hobart. This latter circumstance, indeed, might have prevented his going abroad, if a very delicate state of health, the usual result of severe study, operating upon the naturally liberal character and friendly apprehensions of his diocesan, had not overcome professional difficulties that weighed heavily upon the mind of Mr. Griffin, as well as of the Bishop. These were, however, removed,

# We are so entirely of opinion with Dr. McVickar upon the points submitted in this extract from his Memoir, that we cannot avoid supporting our common sentinents by a quotation, the good sense and eloquence of which need not our recommendation.

* In schools and in all fashionable Systems of Education,' emulation is made the niain spring; as if there were not enough of the leaven o disquietude in our nature, without inocculating it with the virus of envy. True it is that we need en'couragement in youth; that though our vices, like poisonous fungi, spring up and • thrive in shade and darkness, yet that praise is the sunshine without which genius · will fade and die, or rather, in search of it, will, like a plant that is debarred of • light, put forth in contortion and deformity. But such practices as that of writ. .ing for public prizes-of publicly declaiming-and of enacting plays before the • neighbouring gentry--teach boys to look for applause, instead of being satisfied • with approbation, and foster that vanity which stands in need of no such cherish"ing. Ibis is to administer stimulants to the heart, instead of feeding it with food • convenient for it;' and the effect of such stimulants is to dwarf the human mind, • as lap-dogs are said to be stopped in their growth by being dosed with gin. Thus

forced, the mind becomes like the sapling, which shoots up, when it should be • striking its roots far and deep; and which, therefore, never attains to raore than a * saplings size."--Southey's Life of Kirke While. VOL. vul.-NO. 16.

42

and, in October, 1828, Mr. Griffin, then twenty-two years old, sailed from New-York in a vessel bound to Havre, where he arrived after a stormy passage of thirty days, and immediately hastened to Paris.

Let us now hear his biographer :

“Two months glided quickly away in Paris, for they were diligently as well as pleasantly occupied. His journal bears full evidence of both, and contains many picturesque descriptions of what he saw and heard ; especially, of the appearance, manners, and character of the Savans and popular lecturers of that metropolis. Out of Paris, France offers little that can interest the traveller: Edmund, therefore, passed on rapidly to the Alps, by way of Lyons-crossed Mount Cenis, and, realizing one of the happy visions of his youth, stood on the classic soil of Italy. The ardour with which he greeted its names of glory and scenes of interest, none can fully appreciate but the youthful scholar of the new-world. Those of England, or the Continent, may visit the monuments of Italy, better qualified to examine and to judge : but to feel their power belongs peculiarly to the American students. He, to whom yesterday is antiquity, stands in speechless admiration on a spot where a Roman trod, or before works which a Grecian chisel traced; these are feelings which an European can hardly estimate, but which our young traveller seems to have experienced in their full force; for, he lingered amid them, especially at Rome, after all other American travellers bad quitted it, and to the utmost limits of his time. After a rapid visit to Naples, he returned northward, by way of Ancona and Bologna, to Venice. Through Padua, Vicenza, and Parma, he reached Milan, and, crossing the Simplon towards the end of June, bade to Italy an unwilling adieu. Switzerland now received him—the only country which can excite interest immediately after Italy, as the majesty of antiquity yields only to that of nature. After a few weeks, spent in such wanderings as its lakes and mountains and primitive manners alone admit of, Mr. Griffin quitted Switzerland by Schaffhausen and the Rhine, and, passing through the Netherlands, by the usual route of Aix la Chapelle and Brussels, reached England on the 5th of August, landing at Dover, whence he proceeded immediately to London."

The reader will perceive, from this outline, what he may expect from a perusal of Mr. Griffin's European tour, which occupies the greater part of these two volumes. This ground has been so often passed over and so minutely described by travellers of various nations, that neither our inclination nor our limits will allow us to do more than submit the above sketch; leaving it to the reader to fill it up at his pleasure from the journal itself, as far as the compiler has given it to us. A letter written by the tourist to his mother, dated London. August, 13, 1829, partakes largely of that feeling of solitude in the midst of society which is no where more felt than in the great English metropolis, and which leads to an expression of preference for some other parts that Mr. Griffin had visited. On this point we shall again borrow an extract from the “Memoir," because we think, with Dr. McVickar, that it may be beneficial to others of our young countrymen who inay visit the European world.

“The preference Mr. Griffin here so decidedly expresses for the continent over England, was the natural result of the order in which he visited them, and may suggest to subsequent young American travellers the advantage of reversing that order, on the score both of pleagure and improvement. To a native of the New World, no portion of Europe is without interest: he finds every where the stimulus of both novelty and antiquity, and should, therefore begin with the one nearest home, that by so doing every step may rise in its power over his imagination. Thus, England, though first in the scale of improvement, is unquestionably, to Americans at least, the lowest for excitement. With this, therefore, we should begin, and then France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy will be found to ascend successively in the scale of interest. The reversed order spoils the whole. After Italy, short of Greece, there is no antiquity; after Switzerland, there is no scenery: consequently, all that follows is dull, tame, and modern. From this cause, Mr. Griffin failed to derive the pleasure he would otherwise have received from English scenery. Thus, the lauguage of his journal, after describing the ascent of Skiddaw, is, 'but what is Skiddaw to the Rhigi ?' And again: one glance at the Terni is worth a whole day's contemplation of the Falls in Cumberland.' This is true; but it is unwise and unnecessary : and, from personal experience, the author would recommend to his countrymen that order in visiting them which makes each a subject of enjoyment, and not of criticism-or, if it induces comparison, brings it always in aid of adıniration."

The good sense and just temper of these remarks may have a moral extension. The prejudice and aversion very naturally springing out of our severe contest for Independence, are now much worn away. The American character and institutions are daily gaining ground in England, and whatever tends to promote so desirable a state of things should certainly be recommended by all who, like Dr. McVickar, have an undisputed influence on the American mind. It is true that Mr. Griffin met with some persons in England by whom his feelings had, occasionally, been wounded.

“ He was so unfortunate, says the biographer, as to find some whose patriotism went beyond their politeness, and probably beyond their knowledge and judgment-unfortunate, since, judging from the biog

rapher's own experience, such language is as rare in England, as it is misapplied-bis recollections of a recent visit not furnishing him with a single instance of an educated inan who was not also liberal in his feelings towards America; and though often ignorant of the detail of her institutions, yet appreciating justly their nature and influence, and reciprocating. with brotherly frankness, those sentiments of respect and amity which unquestionably belong to the better part of the American community. These are sentiments not only just, but mutually becoming. They spring naturally from the sympathy of a common language, literature, and faith, and no feeling or considerate mind would willingly wound them. Woe, then, to that pen, or that policy, by which such bonds are severed, and which seeks to sow discord where nature has planted peace. Treated as a brother, the writer would now fain perform a brother's part, and add his mite lowards healing those wounds of petty jealousy, which are as unwise in policy as in domestic life, and are certainly unworthy of great and kindred nations.”

The sterner features of Mr. Griffin's journal appear to have been purposely suppressed from motives corresponding with those of the preceding extract, and, indeed, to render him consistent with himself; for, in recording a visit to Mr. Southey, he evidently desires to remove a prejudice very naturally attaching to that distinguished person, as Editor of the Quarterly Review.

" I was delighted, says the Tourist, to hear him (Mr. Southey) speak in terms of enthusiastic applause of an American production. He had lately received from the United States, a book containing the Life and Remains of Miss Davidson. He remarked that he had never read a more interesting story, and that the young authoress, who died like Kirke White from over excitement, exhibited in her poems proof of uncommon early talent. I am persuaded that the idea, too prevalent in our country, that Mr. Southey is disposed to undervalue American genius, is incorrect. He evinces, it is true, a glowing attachment to his own country, but displays also, in his countenance, manners, and conversation, the liberal views and feelings of a general philanthropist."

If we make no further extracts from this Journal, it is not because we read it without interest, but because we think enough has been said to recommend a perusal of it, by which every reader may best gratify his own curiosity. We cannot, however, avoid an expression of surprise at finding the University of Oxford barely noticed; though in such glowing language as induces us to believe, that the manuscript contains a minute description of its manifold objects of attention, which, for some plausible reason, has been suppressed.

In April, 1830, Mr. Griffin arrived in New York, after a passage of sixteen days-one of the shortest ever made across

« ZurückWeiter »