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scanned in order to arrive at truth—but in or perhaps we should say recurring phases studying truth itself we shall find that there of fashion. Here we shall find in the sober is much truth that is strange, stranger than details of voyagers and travelers, facts as fiction-as to the marvellous, Gulliver or funny as fiction ever fancied, and truths as Munchausen never saw stranger sights thap strange as romances ever revealed. They bare found a place in sober history, and only need to be winnowed from the wheat, been deliberately detailed as matters of the crop will be found to be abundant, but
whether worth the winnowing is a question Wonderful stories of wild men and wild yet to be resolved. If men want amusewomen found in the woods of France and ment they can find it in the pasages of the Germany, have been written, and by Lin historians as well as in the pages of the novnæus gravely introduced into his work as elists, and having been presented as truthforming the connecting link between the they will lead to an exercise of the mental human race and the monkey tribe. Sir powers in canvassing their claims to be so Walter Raleigh tells us in his history of received, and hence we shall be led to anGuiana, "of men whose heads do grow be- other motive prompting to this study-which neath their shoulders,” and whose single and is this, only eye is placed, not where Virgil placed “It will call into play all our intellectual the eye of Polyphemus in the middle of the and moral powers.” foreliead--but where one among the an- !
In reading history we are to discriminate cients proposed to place in every man alha
between the false and true, the precious and vindow-in the middle of the breast. The
the vile our judgment, good sense, and penePatagonians were described by those who
tration are all to be exercised. We are first visited them as a race of giants, sustain
neither to be credulous and believe all-nor ing the relation to other men that the mas
with Voltaire exercise an “inveterate Pyrtodon does to lower animals.
rhonism" that believes nothing. Reflecting Many authors have related that the famous on what we read we shall avoid being carOtho, Archbishop of Mayence was beseiged ried away
Tried away by the artful Rhetorician in his and devoured by an army of rats. Dyoni
| play upon our passions and imagination, or sius Halicarnassus lived in an enlightened
| by his appeals to our prejudices. And as age, the Augustan age, and yet he gravely
ty with minds awake we read and reflect, we tells us that by the coinmand of the Augur
shall find memory becoming more powerful, Nevius a razor cut a whetstone, and that
| judgment more exact, the whole mind more Castor and Pollux fought in person for the
penetrating and its comprehension enlarged. Romans against the Latins—that two rivers
| Among other things in its perusal, we are tuined their course to favor the inhabitants
called upon to exercise the privileges and of Cumäe, and that a statue of Fortune
| discharge the duties of jurymen and judges; spoke certain words twice over, (vide
or we are to be self-constituted courts of Priestleys Lectures,) Credat Judæus!
Equity, for doing justice to men and nations But it is not only the marvellous that we we are to canyass the proof-question the can find there is much which tho' not ap-witnesses and give a verdict, and when inpealing to our credulity is yet amusing—as terested partisans and truckling politicians Fe regard the manners and custons, and or self-seeking eulogists or starving literati singularites and contrarieties of different attempt to gloss over the vices and exalt as people in different ages, and in different virtuous the base, or falsify in regard to facts, quarters of the globe. Here we shall often we are to tear off the flimsy covering, unbe reminded that “de gustibus non disputan-ravel the sophistical web and leave men and dum.” Here we shall have passing in re-events nakedly exposed to the eye of truth. view before us the constant and ever shifting There has been so much of this partial writing of events and character. So much serting the natural and icalienable rights of false coloring thrown over the doings and men. Who kyows not that Calumny has designs of men, that we do not much von- always been heaped upon the Hampdens der that Lord Oxford sbould exclaim to his and Sydneys, the Cromwells and Washingson, "Oh quote me not history--for that I tons, and Kossuths of our race. know to be false;" or that Horace Walpole But again in the past the most splendid should be a sceptic in regard to the truth of models of literary excellence are to be history in general—tho' we have no sympa- found. We say this without disparagement thy with him in his "Historic doubts"--for to the writers of the present day, of whom it lays the axe at the root of all faith and there are
th and there are many, worthy of great praise--but trust. It is recorded of his father, Sir Rob- it will be conceded that in the past we have ert Walpole, that in his last illness he was world renowned specimens of what mind asked if he would have some book of histo- can do, and of which the world may well ry read to him-and he replied, “It is too be proud. These products of the most gifted late to be amused with works of fiction.”- of the sons and daughters of science and of There has been too much false history wiit-song may be used by us as models, not as ten, a venal pen bas been too often employ-Icopies. We are not to be like the Chinaed at the dictation of men. Cicero employ- man who in manufacturing a new garment ed unscrupulous pens to laud his consulship, for a foreigner with an old one as a guide and falsify in regard to it, and he has not made rents and sewed them up again, and lacked those who have gone and done like-l put on patches and buttons half worn out. wise.
until it was difficult to distinguish between Besides these, there have been literary im-l the old one and the pew. We are to empostur es palmed upon the world. Writers ploy the literary gems to which we have rehave detailed as matters of fact-things ferred as wells of thougbt,sources of inspirawhich have not happened. And des- tion and suggestive influence, and as means cribed what they saw and heard of mental discipline and culture. when it was all imaginary. The pre- Here the poet may plume his wings for a tended narratives of facts of Varillas, a heavenward fight, the metaphysician sbarFrench historian--a long while enjoyed a pen his powers of mental analysis--the oragood reputation and the works of Gregorio tor fire his soul and fit himself to utter Reti, whose pen was quickened by hunger, burning words of thought that penetrate, the were often sought for, because containing historian polish his style and enlarge his anecdotes of English history not elsewhere powers of generalization and philosophical found, and for the very good reason, that he criticism andmanner of presenting truth. Let was indebted to his fancy for them. Let us it not be said that nature must do this for learn from their examples what we are to us—that genius needs not such adventitious do in studying the past and see how it may help. That this aping of the literary giants minister to intellectual improvement, if it of other days, is death to originality and prompt us to examine testimony as jury-inaprovement, and independence of thought.. men or judges-scanning what is true and all men are not born geniuses--the mass of separating it from the false. Especially men need aid—they are all the better for does it become the American citizen—not to having models. There is a literary depenassume without examination what panderers dence of age on age, and we must not unto royality or despotism have said when justly withhold the meed of praise due to with termos of reproach they have spoken of the past, nor neglect to improve by it. We men whose crime in their eyes, has been have no sympathy with a ruthless onslaught their opposing with noble ardor and patri-| against classical learning and literature. It otic zeal, the usurpatious of tyrants and as- I is a war which ignorance or affectation of superior wisdom or mistaked piety-fancy-fas an example. How extravagant have been ing it sees in classical study somethipg per- bis eulogists-seren illustrious cities, we are nicious has sometimes waged.
told disputed the right of having given birth Some of the very men who have been to this greatest of poets. He is declared to drawn into this contest are themselves illus- have been born of a prophetess, and drops of trations of its beneficent uses, and others honey are fabled to have been distilled plainly show their need. But it is pot only | his infant lips. The first sounds be uttered to the classics of Greece and Rome, th:t our "ere musical as the song of birds. Apollo sabjeet points: not merely to the repositories was his Sire, and a "wonderful genealogy of fit and wisdom that are found in langua- was contrived industriously to raise our idea gos por dead; there is also in the past of to the highest where Gods and Goddesses, Living languages, and in our own vernacular Muses, Kings and Poets link in a descent, models of literary excellence demanding our
| and Homer among them.” homage.
There have been no bounds to his praises,
and to this day they are chanted by many AgainIn the study of the past we see la
its a Professor of Grecian literature, and we deage acting on age—the preceding leaving its mark on that wbich follows and affecting it
it ny not that he deserveth much. But who for wealor for voe. This is most emphati
does not know that it is and has been con
tended plausibly if not successfully that his cally true in literature. Homer versified by
greatest work which has given him his world Pope tells us that
wide fame is after all not his entirely--but Like leaves on trees the race of man is found, the production of different authors, a comXow green in youth, now withering on the ground,
pilation and amalgamation of many minor Another race the following spring supplies;
poems, skillfully fused into one graphic They fall successive, and successive rise. So generations in their course decay;
whole. It may possibly be "the tyranny of Se Bourish these, when those are pass'd away." criticisrn”-it may be "detraction pouring
the waters of bitterness," and yet NauIn one sense this is true, but not in every
crates points out the source in the library of sense, there is a higher connection between
Memphis, in a temple of Vulcan which he age and age, from century to century
says the blind bard completely pillaged and than that which exists between the succes
D'Israeli in his curiosities of literature says: sive foliage of our forests. The bays and
Undoubtedly there were good poets before leafy crowns that have graced the temples of
Homer; how absurd to suppose that a finishthe sons of science and of song have not al
ed and elaborate poem could be the first! ways been righteously distributed. Too
We have indeed accounts of anterior poets, much honor is accorded frequently to the land apparently of Epics, before Homer; their honored few who have stood out boldly from
"names have come down to us Aelian notithe inultitude, and too little to the many whose mingled contributions have helped to
ces Syagrus who composed a poem on the
1 seige of Troy and Suidas, the poem of Corform and fashion the men of fame, and
rinnus from which it is charged that Homer given them their greatness. We may coneede to the few,distinguished talents, genius
greatly borrowed. Now if this be so,and there
are such names as Perault and Hedelin and superiority to the mass about them; but we must pot blind ourselves to the fact which
Vico, and Bently, and Wolf among the crit
ics and scholars to support it—then indeed will probably appear on investigation, that
some of his laurels should for a long time prior to their day the scintil
be distributed to
those who perished unhonored and unsung. lations have been sparkling, and the rays of
Take Virgil, the greatest of Roman poetslight streaking forth, which are finally con
tbe Mantuan bard—no one questions but centrated and made to pour a bright and dazzling radiance thro’ them. Take Homer
at he drew largely from the Illiad and Odyssey.
The immortal Shakspeare, "fancy's child, instruction so that were we but dwarfs in who warbled his native wood notes wild,” intellect-yet being furnished with the is another illustration of our posi - shoulders of the giants of other days to tion. As to Homer so to him, we accord stand upon, we tower above them and see great praise. We believe him to have been further than they could. We often hear men an intellectual giant, to have had a profound wish to live life over again, that is, they knowledge of human nature, and we can not desire to bave life prolonged so that they restrain the smile of contempt at Voltaire may profit by their experience. Let them when he says that Hamlet "appears the study history aright and they will have the work of a drunken savage,” and at Hume substance of their wish. The past was peowho represents him as "without any instruc- pled with men of like passions with us on tion, either from the world or books” —yet the page of history they pass before us as in he, genius that he was, was indebted to his a moving panorama-or the pages of autopredecessors and cotemporaries in no small biography, in their letters and diaries, and degree. His works themselves give evidence on the pages of the philosophic historian we that he must have had sume acquaintance see them in youth, in manhood and decline, with Latin and Greek, and it may be the we see them planning, prosecnting, achiermodern languages, and we are assured that ing and reaping the results. The warrior wbatever there was in English, whether or. plans his sieges, projects his modes of attack, iginal or translations which could be of use scales the fortresses of his enemies, and to him in his poetical object, he had studied. makes their Gibraltars and so called impreg. He traveled in his youth; was familiar with nable fortresses like the walks of Jericho the bards and songsters of the age before after tbe rams horn had been blown. Emhim, and they were not few-these poets of battled legions are dispersed before him and the multitude fed his fancy and inspired bis captives follow in his train. Hector is mind with passion, and fitted him for his dragged in cruel triumph round the tomb of work.
Patroclus—the determination "delenda est This truth thus illustrated in literature is Carthago" is carried out to the letter. Hapalso established by the investigations of sci- nibal crosses the Alps. Napoleon follows ence. The germ of Bacon's boasted theory in h's steps. An Augustulus succeeds in of induction may be traced in the works of the process of time to Augustus, and a would Aristotle, and the mathematical discoveries be Napoleon, in the person of Louis to the of Leabritz, particularly his differential Cal-Corsican. Here is recorded the mingled culus was cotemporaneous without collusion triumphs and defeats of the worlds ensla. with Newtou's fluxions, and long before vers. Is it worth the toil and time and either appeared in this county, an American blood? Will it pay the cost? Does it not boasted of his having discovered them--thus teach us that if the people were wise, there leading to the belief that some previous are games at which kings could not play? scholar has given some glimmering of this The student--the aspirant for literary truth, which led these three explorators to fame, in the study of the past walks befose their discovery.
us. He gets his reward; he fills a niche in The indebtedness of Columbus to the faines temple, and the world have learned Scandinavian voyagers might also be enlarg- from his works that ed upon.
There lived a man. In this way the study of the past, shows. It is perhaps said of him that his wisdom us age acting on age, the preceding leaving great, excelling the wisdom of "all the chilwpark on that which follows.
dren of the East. He was wiser than 'all Again-In the study of the past we read men, than Ethan the Ezrabite and Heman, the recorded experience of mankind, and get I and Chalcol, and Darda, and his fame in al
the nations round about." But if he has not chart. We say next to the Bible, for this starlied for a purpose—if he can not show has no rival in the true statesman's estimate, results that are treasurcs to mankind, then and this too is history-but a history of the history of his futile toils, will of itself the Theocracy. Next to God's book--the be the treasury from whence we draw les- past as exhibited in history profane, as it is sons to benefit and instruct ourselves. called to distinguish it from the sacred page
The ambitious man seeking for office is the true chart to guide amid the currents bonors, the aspirants for crowns, and cardi- and eddies, and snags and sand-bars—the nal hats, and triple tiaras, and the minor of rocks and whirlpools, where danger lurks or fices of state, pass before us. We see them openly shows herself threatening ruin. The plotting and deceiving, poisoning, and ac- Earl of Chathani made history his favorite ccomplishing their purposes, and we hear study, and so will every jurist and states. their moans, exclaiming "uneasy lies the man who would fully equip himself to legis. head that wears a crown." We hcar them late for a nation. Here will he find data for in their degradation from office bemoaning settling the most important questions that their condition, or disappointed in their pur- present themselves. Here he studies the suit and defeated, blaming all but the real progress of nations, in actual operation, and authors of their ruin - themselves - and not in theory. Here he is let behind the sometimes with rash precipitation, like that curtain and beholds the hidden springs of ardent republican, Cassius, at Phillippi, be- human affairs. But pot only in the political coming self-destroyers.
malso in the ecclesiastical and religious Here, too, the votary of sensual pleasure economy of our race shall we find it benepasses in our sight; we see him pursuing a ficial. To the Divine it is as important as shadow
to the Statesman. Indeed church and state
have in their history been intimately allied, "Fair outside,
and most disastrously too for both—an unWithin, corrupted and corrupting still; Ruined and ruinous; her sure reward,
holy alliance. Except in a Theocracy they Her total recompense was still
can not be conjoined without mutual dam. Vexation, disappointment and remorse." age. The province of the priest and king
are and must be kept distinct. Religion is Er uno discc omnes
to sway by moral means and leave the sword Thus, in this recorded experience of mankind is the wish of man to live life over a
to Cæsar. Christ only is competent to the gain, virtually enjoyed. It may be true that
possession and exercise of all power in ES no two men's faces are exactly alike, so
heaven and on earth. History shows us that the experience of no two men exactly tally,
disaster and ruin ensues when Christ's king
'dom and the kingdoms of this world are but this much is certain in the general line
made to coalesce iu the hands of men assuaments, there will be verisimilitudes, was in
ming to be Christ's vicegerents and ruling vater, face answereth to face, so the heart of
in his name. Here in this study of the man to man. God, in giving us the past, or
past we get confirmation of the truth and the means of its recall, gives us the boon we
heavenly origin of the christian religion. No crave, but alas! how true the remark of Cole-1.
where in all the history of the world can ridge, "that experience is too often like the
we find any thing to compete with it.stern lights of a ship, illuminating only the pathway gone over.” Mankind profit not
Here we learn the utter inadequacy of man
unaided to devise a morality so pure, a code by the experience of others—seldom by their
of law so just, and a system of doctrines and own. Again-This is a good school for the
duties, and hopes so admirably adapted to study of political economy. This next to
the nature and capabilities and longings of
universal man. The world at its best estate the Bible is the statesman's and the patriot's!"