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edition in England, omitting the preface, and substituting for the present title-page, some such popular matter as, the “ Emigrant's Return from America," " Memorable Days," or the like, by Mr Mactricket, a farmer, a stocking-weaver, a pinmanufacturer, or whatever other title may best suit his ear. We have not the least doubt that half a dozen editions will be eagerly demanded by Mr Bull, who, among his other good qualities, has that of being one of the most enormous consumers of print and paper on record. We do assure the author, that the “ reading public” will swallow his inventions like sack and sugar; and, in all probability, he will have the honour of a puff from the good-natured men of the Quarterly, and perhaps the pleasure to see the great Republicomastix himself cackling with huge exultation over his little volume, and to admire with Bartoline Saddletree, “the great muckle bird that he 'll cleck out of this wee egg.
THE LAY MONASTERY.
The Literary Spirit of our Country.
Bryant. I never think of my native land without a feeling of pride in my national ancestry. Our government has passed the ordeal of time, and we have among us, neither the practical atheism of a papal hierarchy, nor that dangerous system of politics, which, in the days of Cardinal Richelieu, made France the terror of Europe. The same spirit that animated our fathers in their great struggle for freedom, still directs the popular mind to honourable enterprise, and whilst
“ Westward the star of empire takes its way,” the star of mental light still looks cheerfully upon New England. There is throughout our territories a spirit of activity, that will insure success in every honourable undertaking ; and this spirit has already directed itself to literature, with an energy that increases with the exercise. What will be done, may be predicted from what has already been done ; and as national talent is grad
ually developed in the walks of literature, and unfolds itself in greater vigor and richness day after day, a national literature will be formed. Revolutions in letters are, indeed, the most gradual of all revolutions. A single day may decide the fate of an empire, the event of an hour sweep a throne from the earth, but years must elapse, ere any sensible changes can be introduced in literature. And yet in this the mind can proceed surely with its reasonings, whilst in the science of politics it will be led into constant error, by the uncertainty of political innovations ;-for it is a principle well founded in nature, that those reasonings are most sure, whose subjects are not influenced by individual caprice, but move only with the motion of the popular mind.
Perhaps there never was a better field for the exercise of talent than our own country exhibits at the present pay. Whilst there are here but few great minds wholly devoted to letters, the exertions of genius will be far more conspicuous and effectual, than when a larger multitude has gathered around our literary altars. It is not when many have come forth into the ripened harvest, that we are to look for great individual preeminence. But it is when competition is limited to the few gifted minds, that are willing to toil in difficult and untrodden paths. Then, if ever, must appear those men, who, like Homer and Shakspeare, will have no imitators; and who, like them, will never become models, that others would think of excelling, or hope to equal. I do not say, that this would advance to any great extent our national literature, nor even so far as it would be advanced by a more moderate, but a more universal excellence in our literary men ;-for high excellence in one individual brings with it a hopelessness of success to others, and damps for a season the ardour of competition. But I venture nothing in the assertion, that the opportunity for eminent literary success, which our country now holds out to her sons, is such as never be given them again. The rapid changes, which are every where going on in our occupations and circumstances as a nation, render this impossible. And when we observe how boldly our country is pressing on in the march of intellect, it is not too much to prophesy:-nay, the conclusion seems almost irresistible, that the nation, whose commerce is overshadowing every ocean with its sails, will ere long enlighten with its own literature, at least, the most distant places of its own territory.
Jf climate and natural scenery have a powerful influence in forming the intellectual character of a nation, our country has certainly much to hope from them. And that these influences are powerful, the known principles, which regulate the phenomena of mind, render sufficiently obvious. It cannot be, that the eye should always rest upon sublime and beautiful scenery, and
thought be always familiar with the grand features of nature, and that we should not receive from such intercourse one deep and long continued impression.
So mind takes colour from the cloud, the storm,
The ocean, and the torrent: where clear skies
In the sweet dress of southern summer lies,
Man drinks the beauty with his gladdened eyes,
Sounds with the surging waves, that proudly rise
Percival. It is upon the poetic mind, where sensibility to natural beauty is more exquiste than elsewhere, that the influence of natural scenery is most evident ; since it is through the medium of fancy and feeling, that this influence is exerted and felt. Poetry has been correctly defined the language of the imagination and the passions ; and perhaps there is nothing which more awakens the former than the sublime in nature,—and nothing which more influences the latter, than the beautiful. And hence, whenever national peculiarities, and the civil and religious institutions of a people have introduced peculiar and appropriate modes of thought, and given an individual character to their poetry, the influence of climate and natural scenery become eminently obvious. Thus the sunny hills and purple vineyards of Italy and South France have given a character of delicate beauty to their poetry, and the wild scenery and severer climate of Scotland have breathed a tope of high sublimity into the writings of its bards. In our own country nature has exhibited her works upon the most beautiful and magnificent scale. And this vast theatre, where she has so finely mingled and varied her scenery, is the school in which the genius of our country is to be trained. As the eye scans the open volume of nature, the lessons that it reads there, pass into the mind; and thus we receive those gradual impressions, which go so far to form the mental character. The sentiments with which nature inspires us—those hallowed and associated feelingswe cherish and revere through life. And it is by this intercourse and long familiarity, that our native scenery comes to exert so strong an influence upon the mind, and that the features of intellect are moulded after those of nature.
It has been often urged against the advancement of a national literature in our country, that America is not classic ground; and that we are not rich in those fine classic allusions, which mould the poetic mind to its most perfect beauty, and give to genius the materials for superior exertion. But this is an objection, to
which more weight is given than in reality belongs to it. Those nations that are rich in poetic associations, are not always rich in poetic minds. The Grecian monuments, ancient as they are, whatever enthusiasm they may have awakened, have breathed inspiration over the lyres of modern Greeks. And the wandering Improvisatori of Florence and Naples have done little for modern literature in classic Italy. But if the natural scenery of our country, where nature exhibits such various beauty and sublimity, can give strength and vigor to intellect, and with them unite poetic feeling, the lapse of another century will give to us those rich associations, which it is said are now wanting, and will make America in some degree a classic land. Time, indeed, has already hallowed those places of our territory where the people of an ancient race, that has long since ccased to be, have left “ a record in the desert;" and the tumuli, that hold their mouldering bones, are mementos of those men, who once peopled our western forests. As population advances westward, the ploughshare turns up the wasted skeleton ; and happy villages arise upon the sites of unknown burial-places. And when our native Indians, who are fast perishing from the earth, shall have left forever the borders of our wide lakes and rivers, and their villages have decayed within the bosoms of our western hills, the dim light of tradition will rest upon those places, which have seen the glory of their battles, and heard the voice of their eloquence ;-and our land will become, indeed, a classic ground.
Perhaps the chief cause which has retarded the progress of poetry in America, is the want of that exclusive cultivation, which so noble a branch of literature would seem to require. Few here think of relying upon the exertion of poetic talent for a livelihood, and of making literature the profession of life. The bar or the pulpit claims the greater part of the scholar's existence, and poetry is made its pastime. This is a defect, which the hand of honourable patronage alone can remedy. I believe it is a remark of Roscoe, that there is no intellectual occupation, which requires such high, peculiar, and exclusive qualifications as the labours of the poet. But we fail in their acquisition, through the want of a rich and abundant patronage. It is the fear of poverty that deters many gifted and poetic minds from coming forward into the arena, and wiping away all reproach from our literature. When the scholar can go on his way prosperous and rejoicing, and poetry no longer holds with us a 6 bootless reed;" minds of the finest mould will be active to invigorate our literature, and to honour the country, which in its turn shall honour them. Added to this circumstance, so injurious to our literature, is the wide influence which English belles-lettres and poetry exert within our land. The delicately finished model of English taste has al
ways been the model by which we have fashioned our writings ; and perhaps it is well, that it must for a time continue to be so. But let our admiration for the excellent literary taste of England stop in the imitation ;-at least, let us not cherish it to our own injury and the neglect of our own literature. Let us not esteem our native writers the less, because they are native, nor set too high a value upon those things, whose chief value is, that they came from the classic land of England. But while we admire the exertions of foreign intellect, let us cherish more tenderly that spirit of literature, which belongs to us, and entertain a cheerful and houourable pride in having already done so much as we have done.
THE LAY MONK.
The groves were God's first temples. Ere man learned
Father, thy hand