« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
1732, he sent from England a deed of his farm in Rhode Island, and, the conditions and descriptions not being satisfactory, he sent the ensuing year another deed, by which it was provided that the rents of his lands should be devoted to the education of three young men, the best classical scholars; the candidates to be examined annually, on the sixth of May; in case of disagreement among the examiners, the competitors to decide by lot; and all surplus funds to be used for the purchase of classical books. Berkeley also gave to the library a thousand volumes, which cost over four hundred pounds,— the most valuable collection of books then brought together in America. They were chiefly his own purchase, but in part contributed by his friends. One of the graduates of Yale, educated under the Berkeley scholarship, was Dr. Buckminster, of Portsmouth, N.H. Unfortunately the income of the property at Newport is rendered much less than it might be by the terms of a long lease. This liberality of the Bishop of Cloyne was enhanced by the absence of sectarian prejudice in his choice for the stewardship of his bounty of a collegiate institution where different tenets are inculcated from those he professed. That he was personally desirous of increasing his own denomination in America, is sufficiently evinced by the letter in which he directs the Secretary of the Episcopal Mission there to appropriate a balance originally contributed to the Bermuda scheme. This sum had remained at his banker's for many years unclaimed, and he suggests that part of it should be devoted to a gift of books for Harvard University, "as a proper means to inform their judgment, and dispose them to think better of our church.” His interest in classical education on this side of the water is also manifested in a letter advocating the preäminence of those studies in Columbia College. *
It is a remarkable coincidence that Berkeley should have taken up bis abode in Rhode Island, and thus completed the representative character of the most tolerant religious community in New
*“I am glad to find a spirit towards learning prevails in these parts, particularly in New York, where, you say, a college is projected, which has my best wishes. Let the Greek and Latin classics be well taught; be this the first care as to leurning.” Berkeley's Letter to Johnson. Moore's Sketch of Columbia College. New York, 1846.
England, by the presence of an eminent Episcopal dignitary. A
A principal reason of the variety, the freedom, and the peace of religious opinion there, to which he alludes, is the fact that, through the liberal wisdom and foresight of Roger Williams, that state has become an asylum for the persecuted of all denominations from the neighboring provinces; but another cause may be found in the prevalence of the Quakers, whose amiable tenets and gentle spirit subdued the rancor and bigotry of fanaticism. Several hundred Jews, still commemorated by their cemetery and synagogue, allured by the prosperous trade and the tolerant
, genius of the place, added still another feature to the varied population. The lenity of Penn towards the aborigines, and the fame of Fox, had given dignity to the denomination of Friends, and their domestic culture was refined as well as morally superior. Enterprise in the men who, in a neighboring state, originated the whale-fishery, and beauty among the women of that sect, are traditional in Rhode Island. We were reminded of Berkeley's observations, in regard to the natural productions of the country, during a recent visit to the old farm-house where he resided. An enormous wild grape-vine had completely veiled what formed the original entrance to the humble dwelling, and several ancient apple-trees in the orchard, with boughs mossy with time, and gnarled by the ocean gales, showed, in their sparse fruit and matted, twigs, the utter absence of the pruning-knife. The dwelling itself is built, after the manner common to farmhouses a century ago, entirely of wood, with low ceilings, broad fire-place, and red cornice. The only traces of the old country were a few remaining tiles, with obsolete designs, around the chimney-piece. But the deep and crystal azure of the sea gleamed beyond corn-field and sloping pasture; sheep grazed in the meadows, hoary rocks bounded the prospect, and the mellow crimson of sunset lay warm on grass slope and paddock, as when the kindly philosopher mused by the shore with Plato in hand, or noted a metaphysical dialogue in the quiet and ungarnished room which overlooks the rude garden. Though, as he declares, “ for every private reason,” he preferred “ Derry to New England,” pleasant was the abode, and grateful is the memory of Berkeley, in this rural seclusion. A succession of green breastworks along the brow of the hill beneath which his domicile nestles, by reminding the visitor of the retreat of the American forces under General Sullivan, brings vividly to his mind the Revolution and its incalculable influence upon the destinies of a land which so early won the intelligent sympathy of Berkeley; while the name of Whitehall, which he gave to this peaceful domain, commemorates that other revolution in his own country, wherein the loyalty of his grandfather drove his family into exile. But historical soon yield to personal recollections, when we consider the memorials of his sojourn. We associate this landscape with his studies and his benevolence; and, when the scene was no longer blessed with his presence, his gifts remained to consecrate his memory. In old Trinity, the organ he bestowed peals over the grave of his first-born in the adjoining burialground. A town in Massachusetts bears his name. since a presentation copy of his " Minute Philosopher" was kept on the table of an old lady of Newport, with reverential care. In one family his gift of a richly wrought silver coffee-pot, and in another that of a diamond ring, are cherished heirlooms. His rare and costly books were distributed, at his departure, among the resident clergy. His scholarship at New Haven annually furnishes recruits to our church, bar, or medical faculty. In an adjacent parish the sacramental cup was his donative. His legacy of ingenious thoughts and benign sentiment is associated with hanging rocks that are the seaward boundary of his farm; his Christian ministry with the ancient church, and his verse with the progress of America.
THE SCEPTICAL GENIUS.
PROVINCIAL life in Italy can scarcely be realized by an American except through observation. However remote from cities, or sequestered in location, a town may be in this country, if not connected with the great world by railroad and telegraph, the newspaper, the political representative, and an identity of feeling and action in some remote enterprise or interest, keep alive mutual sympathy and intelligence. But a moral and social as well as physical isolation belongs to the minor towns of the Italian peninsula. The quaint old stone houses enclose beings whose existence is essentially monastic, whose knowledge is far behind the times, and whose feelings are rigidly confined within the limits of family and neighborhood. A more complete picture of still life in the nineteenth century it is difficult to imagine, than many of these secluded towns present. The dilapidated air of the palaces, the sudden gloom of the narrow streets, as one turns into them from the square, where a group of idlers in tattered cloaks are ever engaged in a game or a gossip, the electrical effect of a travelling carriage, or a troop of soldiers invading the quiet scene, at once inform even the casual visitor of the distance he is at from the spirit of the age. With the decayed air of the private houses, their worn brick floors and primitive furniture, contrast impressively the extensive and beautiful view usually obtainable from the highest windows, and the architectural magnificence of the church. We are constantly reminded that modern ameliora
tion has not yet invaded the region ; while the petty objects to which even the better class are devoted, the importance attached to the most frivolous details of life, the confined views and microscopic jealousies or dilettante tastes that prevail, assure us that liberal curiosity and enlarged sympathy find but little scope in these haunts of a nation devoid of civil life, and thrust upon the past for mental nourishment.
It is, however, comparatively easy to imagine the influence of such an environment upon a superior intelligence. Recoiling from the attempt to find satisfaction in the external, thus repressed and deadened, the scholar would there naturally turn to written lore with a singular intensity of purpose; the aspirant would find little to tempt him from long and sustained flights into the ideal world; and the thinker would cling to abstract truth with an energy more fond and concentrated from the very absence of all motive and scope for action and utterance. It is thus that we account, in part, for the remarkable individuality and lonely career of Giacomo Leopardi, one of the greatest schol. ars and men of genius modern Italy has produced. He has left a glimpse of this monotonous and ungenial life in one of his poems — La Vita Solitaria :
“ La mattutina pioggia, allor che l'al
Battendo esulta nella chiusa stanza
Leopardi was the son of a count, whose estates are situated at Recanti, in the March of Ancona ; and here his early youth was