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half of himself and his rivals; he introduces the muses exclaiming, however malice, or ignorance, or vileness may conceal it,
“La vera madre nostra è libertade.” Every thing in our country is of favourable promise for letters. An active and thrifty people is rapidly collecting the means of executing any vast designs; and those who are proud of intellectual exertions, cannot but feel the same general impulse imparted by the public prosperity. Our history is full of the noblest models of every human virtue; nature has crowded her marvels within our territory; waterfalls, compared with which the boasted cascade of Terni is but a plaything; rivers, encompassing almost a hemisphere in their course ; cities, at the mouth of streams busy with the commerce of the world ; towns, springing up in the wilderness as by the voice of enchantment; and every where the hum of successful enterprise ; personal security and independence, and the spirit of liberty pervading all things, blessing and cheering every exertion, and fostering the love of action. And are men of letters the class in society who are to remain dead to all this? Have they no pride in their country, and no sympathy with their fellow citizens ? No: the love of intelligence is a kindred sentiment with the love of liberty, and none can feel more earnestly excited to zeal in their vocation by the happy circumstances surrounding us, than men of letters and science. Nor is the public indifferent to the efforts of our scholars. Every literary talent is sure of being cherished by general favour, and in no instance remains unacknowledged or unrewarded. Every new author of any merit, is greeted as he enters on the literary career, and a full measure of praise and good will is bestowed upon his efforts. It is remembered, what passionate curiosity was excited a few years ago to witness a horse-race, which seemed to interest men on either side of the Potomac, and divide them for a season, at least, into parties. But the horses which were then run against each other, were among the fleetest of their kind, and the race itself almost without a parallel for its speed. Let but a native poet rise up among us, and write what shall be the best of its kind, and see how such a poem will be received. There will not be a village from one end of the union to the other, but will ring with the writer's name. While a century was needed, under a despotic government, for Milton to gain the glory due to his inventions, the fame and productions of such a poet would spread among us with all the speed of our most rapid means of communication; and the newspapers in
every place would repeat the good report, till it should be known to every American in the land. Let us hear no more, that our republic holds out no inducement for the exertion of literary talent. It offers fair opportunity, and the reward, incalculable in its value, of the praise and good will of the people.
It is the nature of free governments to give a political ten. dency to the exertions of intellect. While this supports democratic institutions in their integrity, and fills the road to public honour with aspirants of commanding minds, it sometimes returns to the literary treasures of a country more than it wins from them. The original tendencies of men's minds, not less than their acquired habits, are essentially different. There is an amiable class of men, who are led by their natural predilections to prefer contemplative pursuits. They mix in the busy world, not to take part in its transactions, nor to join in scrambling for common distinctions, but to watch the passions and principles by which the world is moved, to gain by observation the power of delineating the outlines of moral character, and of describing the exercise of the affections. It is their delight and occupation to woo the muses. Whether in the country or amidst men, in active scenes or among groves and brooks, they listen to the voice of their celestial visitant, the harmony of better hopes, and unearthly aspirations. The promise of gain can never teach them thrift, nor the prospect of success encourage them to engage in political emulation; for to them, neither public distinction, nor the accumulation of wealth, is the leading object of life. Their minds, not framed for submitting to the forms and details of business, or encountering the clash of arguments and passions, were designed by nature to remain aloof from the public arena, and to bless mankind by increasing the sources of intellectual enjoyment. But others who are conscious of sufficient strength to uphold them in the collision of mind with mind, are urged no less by a necessity existing within themselves to enter the career of action, to do good and great things, not to admire virtue in studious tranquillity, but to imitate the generous deeds of others.
The highest honours belong to those men, who have united active talents to the power of fine writing-who have joined contemplative ability to practical skill. The air of Parnassus, when once inhaled, may become the vital principle, so that they who have breathed it can live on no other; but many departments of literature can be best pursued by men who have mixed with the world on even terms, and filled stations of active responsibility. The lessons which teach the wisest
conduct of life, come with best effect from those who have passed through its busy scenes ; and the revolutions of empires should be related, not by men who have lived all their days among books, but by those who, having long been engaged in the public service, at length retire to contemplate the pictures of history and describe its events. How many books have we, to teach morality to the rising generation. And yet, are these professed treatises on virtue, equal in their effects to the short, eloquent, and unexpected mora) truths, which, coming from the mouths of men experienced in the world, carry conviction directly to the mind ?' Demosthenes lived in the confusion of a turbulent democracy, and his orations sparkle with moral truths, and lessons of pure wisdom applied to the government of life. Almost all the great writers of antiquity, from the fabled Orpheus, the ruler of the Thracians, to Boëthius, the last philosopher of the Romans, were public characters. Who needs to have recalled to his mind, Æschylus, Tyrtaeus, Sophocles? or above all, the four great lights of ancient history, Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, and Polybius, all of whom were familiar with public service and with danger? Or among the Romans, Cicero, the senator Sallust, Cesar, and the consul Tacitus? If we glance for a moment at the literary men of modern Italy, when it first rose from its torpor, we find again Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio, and in later days, Machiavelli, and Filicaja, high in place and influence as statesmen. We could carry these illustrations much further. We will but recur to England. The great guide of modern philosophy is the Chancellor Bacon; Paradise Lost would probably never have been written, had not the genius of its author been elevated and expanded by taking an active part in the attempt to liberate mankind. Why need we allude to Sheridan and Burke; or to Byron, who, but for his vices, would have been still more renowned as a statesman than as a poet ? No man, who loves fine reasoning, and eloquent expressions of feeling, can wish that Burke had remained a man of letters, or weigh for one moment, the whole worth of his severe literary efforts against his single speech for conciliation with America, or his justificatory “ Letter to a noble Lord.”
We infer from these facts, that literature will not suffer, even though men's minds should be strongly interested in politics. A new and all important subject of thought, unknown to despotic governments, the science of civil polity, is presented to the understanding; men learn to grow warm with true philanthropy; the voluntary contributions of our towns and villages to send a knowledge of the gospel to the furthest isles, prove the affections to have become exalted and enlarged ; and knowledge, and religion, and liberty, are considered in their influences on society, and their tendency to improve the whole family of man. The power of genius, still continues to preserve the best thoughts and hopes of one age, for the use of coming generations. The general spirit of free inquiry and action calls into notice and ripens minds, which might otherwise have lain dormant.
We will venture to draw one other inference from the reflections into which we have been led. Our statesmen owe to their country something more than their counsels. It is their duty not only to guide us by their wisdom, while they are entrusted with power, but, if they can, to embody in language the best lessons of their experience, to leave written memorials of their genius, to deliver to their contemporaries and to posterity instruction of patriotism and national honour. At present, public opinion is one; we are swayed by one pure spirit, (we would say the spirit of the age, but that we hope the spirit of which we speak may be, not of the age, but eternal,) one general impulse in favour of liberty and virtue. This invisible power is of constant agency, though concentrated in no place, dwelling in every part of the union, and extending its influence throughout the world. How can the general mind be preserved in this elevation, unless the master spirits of each age diffuse their generous conceptions through the public? We will respect the politician who serves the purposes of the moment with fidelity; but deeper gratitude is due to him, who, besides labouring faithfully for the national prosperity, extends this influence beyond limits by committing just thoughts to eloquent langriage. The former serves his country for a short period; the latter for ever. The one is as a refreshing shower to the parched earth; the other as a living fountain that pours out a perennial stream. The former is a cheering light, that sheds a useful and valued but transitory brightness, and, being soon consumed, leaves no traces of its vanished splendour; the latter kindles a light which never dies, a beacon for all generations, which may aspire after liberty and glory.
Let us be permitted then to recommend liberal pursuits to any who aspire to serve their country. It will confer a new and a high claim to honour, if they add the science of the scholar to the clear judgment of the statesman, the earnestness of enthusiasm to the keen eye acquired in the world. There is no more admirable sight than to behold good actions united to good words; it is a shame for a man to profess a morality which he refuses to practice; and while the independence of genius would spurn the vain honours conferred by royal patronage, stars, crosses, titles, garters, or a diplomatic station of doubtful morality, every man in a free country owes his best services to the state, and may feel honoured on being called to public employments by the will of an intelligent people. Among us, the good example has already been given. Many of the names which are mentioned with most esteem in our literature, are those of men who were distinguished in public life. No one has written better advice for the nation than the nation's father, our own beloved Washington; and Franklin, and Jefferson, and Marshall, and Hamilton, and Ames, and Wirt, and Webster, and Clinton, and the elder and the younger Adams, have not only achieved and defended and administered our constitution, but have explained the principles of government and the operation of laws, committed to writing our history and the lives of our illustrious men, and inculcated lessons of practical prudence and love of whatever is exalted in human nature.
We cannot but rejoice that Mr. Everett has been given to the national councils. These orations are a proof, that he will bring to them extensive knowledge, a superiority over local prejudices, and a spirit determined to serve his whole country. But when we read his productions, and are willingly detained by his pure language and varied eloquence, we must add that he cannot be spared from its literature, and it may be claimed of him as a duty still to repel the attacks of foreign jealousy, and to add to our literary monument productions of lasting value. These orations are but the first fruits of a mind which has yet before itself a long course of improvement and exertion.
Art. XXIX.-The Novice, or the Man of Integrity. From the
French of L. B. PICARD, author of the Gil Blas of the Redolution, fc. &c.-New-York, Geo. & Chas. Carvill. 1825.
Mons. Picard has acquired a considerable degree of popularity in Paris, by his Gil Blas of the Revolution and his other novels, of which the one before us has been translated for the amusement of the English public, and the translation is now reprinted in this country. It is not often that the expedients usually employed by novelists to fasten the attention and relieve the weariness of the reader are so entirely neglected as in the present work. Few productions of the kind afford so little exercise for the imagination, or contain so few appeals to the deeper and stronger passions. There are no attempts to thrill us with horror or to melt us with pity; no "moving accidents