Page images

principles which in these fictions are unnoticed. He should, in short, be reminded that all these things that are lovely and of good report,” which have been placed before him, are the genuine fruits of the Holy Land ; though the spies who have brought them bring also an evil report of that land, and would persuade us to remain yandering in the wilderness.

The student of history, also, should be on his guard against the indirect influence likely to be exercised on his opinions. On this point I take the liberty of quoting a passage from my Lectures on Political Economy :

“An injudicious reader of history is liable to be misled by the circumstance, that historians and travelers occupy themselves principally (as is natural) with the relation of whatever is remarkable, and different from what commonly takes place in their own time or country. They do not dwell on the ordinary transactions of human life, (which are precisely what furnish the data on which political economy proceeds,) but on every thing that appears an exception to general rules, and in any way such as could not have been anticipated. The sort of information which the political economist wants is introduced, for the most part, only incidentally and obliquely ; and is to be collected, imperfectly, from scattered allusions. So that if you will give a rapid glance, for instance, at the history of these islands, from the time of the Norman conquest to the present day, you will find that the differences between the two states of the country, in most of the points with which our science is conversant, are but very imperfectly accounted for in the main outline of the narrative.

“If it were possible that we could have a full report of the common business and common conversation, in the markets, the shops, and the wharfs of Athens and Piræus, for a single day, it would probable throw more light on the state of things in Greece at that time, in all that political economy is most concerned with, than all the histories that are extant put together.

“There is a danger, therefore, that the mind of the student, who proceeds in the manner I have described, may have been even drawn off from the class of facts which are, for the purpose in question, most important to be attended to.

" For, it should be observed that in all studies there is a danger to be guarded against, which Bacon, with his usual acuteness, has pointed out: that most men are so anxious to make or seek for some application of what they have been learning, as not unfrequently to apply it improperly, by endeavoring, lest their knowledge should lie by them idle, to bring it to bear on soine question to which it is irrelevant; like Horace's painter, who, being skillful in drawing a cypress, was for introducing one into the picture of a shipwreck. Bacon complains of this tendency among the logicians and metaphysicians of his day, who introduced an absurd and pernicious application of the studies in which they had been conversant, into natural philosophy : Artis "sæpe ineptus fit usus, ne sit nullus. But the same danger besets those conversant in every other study likewise, (political economy of course not excepted,) that may from time to time have occupied a large share of each man's attention. He is tempted to seek for a solution of every question on every subject, by a reference to his own favorite science or branch of knowledge; like a schoolboy when first intrusted with a knife, who is for trying its edge on every thing that comes in his way.

“Now in reference to the point immediately before us, he who is well read in history and in travels should be warned of the danger (the more on account of the real high importance of such knowledge) of misapplying it,--of supposing that because political economy is conversant with human transactions, and he is acquainted with so much greater an amount of human transactions than the generality of men, he must have an advantage over them in precisely the same degree, in discussing questions of political economy. Undoubtedly he has a great advantage, if he is careful to keep in view the true principles of the science; but otherwise he may even labor under a dis-advantage, by forgetting that (as I just now observed) the kind of transactions which are made most prominent and occupy the chief space, in the works of historians and travelers, are usually not those of every-day life, with which political economy is conversant. It is in the same way that an accurate military survey of any district, or a series of sketches accompanying a picturesque tour through it, may even serve to mislead one who is seeking for a knowledge of its agricultural condition, if he does not keep in. mind the different objects which different kinds of survey have in view.

“Geologists, when commissioning their friends to procure them from any foreign country such specimens as may convey an idea of its geological character, are accustomed to warn them against sending over collections of curiosities—i. e. specimens of spars, stalactites, &c., which are accounted, in that country, curious, from being rarities, and which consequently convey no correct notion of its general features. What they want is, specimens of the commonest strata,—the stones with which the roads are mended, and the houses built, &c. And some fragments of these, which in that country are accounted mere rubbish, they sometimes, with much satisfaction, find casually adhering to the specimens sent them as curiosities, and constituting, for their object, the most important part of the collection. Histories are in general, to the political economist, what such collections are to the geologist. The casual allusions to common, and what are considered insignificant matters, conveying to him the most valuable information.

"An injudicious study of history, then, may even prove a hindrance instead of a help to the forming of right views of political economy. For not only are many of the transactions which are, in the historian's view, the most important, such as are the least important to the political economist, but also a great proportion of them consists of what are in reality the greatest impediments to the progress of a society in wealth : viz., wars, revolutions, and disturbances of every kind. It is not in consequence of these, but in spite of them, that society has made the progress which in fact it has made. So that in taking such a survey as history furnishes of the course of events, for instance, for the last eight bundred years, (the period I just now alluded to,) not only do we find little mention of the causes which have so greatly increased national wealth during that period, but what we chiefly do read of is, the counteracting causes ; especially the wars which have been raging from time to time, to the destruction of capital, and the hindrance of improvement. Now, if a ship had performed a voyage of eight hundred leagues, and the register of it contained an account chiefly of the contrary winds and currents, and made little mention of favorable gales, we might well be at a loss to understand how she reached her destination ; and might even be led into the mistake of supposing that the contrary winds had forwarded her in her course. Yet such is history !"

In reference to the study of history, I have elsewhere remarked upon the im portance, among the intellectual qualifications for such a study, of a vivid imagination,-a faculty which, consequently, a skillful narrator must bimself possess, and to which he must be able to furnish excitement in others. Some may, per haps, be startled at this remark, who have been accustomed to consider imagination as having no other office than to feign and to falsify. Every faculty is liable to abuse and misdirection, and imagination among the rest; but it is a mistake to suppose that it necessarily tends to pervert the truth of history, and to mislead the judgment. On the contrary, our view of any transaction, especially one that is remote in time or place, will necessarily be imperfect, generally incorrect, unless it embrace something more than the bare outline of the occurrences,-unless we have before the mind a lively idea of the scenes in which the events took place, the habits of thought and of feeling of the actors, and all the circumstances connected with the transaction ; unless, in short, we can in a considerable degree transport ourselves out of our own age, and country, and persons, and imagine ourselves the agents or spectators. It is from consideration of all these circumstances that we are enabled to form a right judgment as to the facts which history records, and to derive instruction from it. What we imagine may indeed be merely imaginary, that is, unreal; but it may again be what actually does or did exist. To say that imagination, if not regulated by sound judgment and sufficient knowledge, may chance to convey to us false impressions of past events, is only to say that man is fallible. But such false impressions are even much the more likely to take possession of those whose imagination is feeble or uncultivated. They are apt to imagine the things, persons, times, countries, &c., which they read of, as much less different from what they see around them than is really the


The practical importance of such an exercise of imagination to a full, and clear, and consequently profitable view of the transactions related in history, can hardly be over-estimated. In respect of the very earliest of all buman transactions, it is matter of common remark how prone many are to regard with mingled wonder, contempt, and indignation, the transgression of our first parents ; as if they were not a fair sample of the human race; as if any of us would not, if he had been placed in precisely the same circumstances, have acted as they did. The Corinthians, probably, had perused with the same barren wonder the history of the backslidings of the Israelites; and needed that Paul should remind tbem, that these things were written for their example and admonition. And all, in almost every portion of history they read, have need of a corresponding warning, to endeavor to fancy themselves the persons they read of, that they may recognize in the accounts of past times the portraiture of our own. From not putting ourselves in the place of the persons living in past times, and entering fully into all their feelings, we are apt to forget how probable many things might appear, which we know did not take place; and to regard as perfectly chimerical, expectations which we know were not realized, but which, had we lived in those times, we should doubtless have entertained; and to imagine that there was no danger of those evils which, were, in fact, escaped. We are apt also to make too little allowances for prejudices and associations of ideas, which no longer exist precisely in the same form among ourselves, but which, perhaps, are not more at variance with right reason than others with which ourselves are infected.

Studies serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability." We should, then, cultivate, not only the cornfields of our minds, but the pleasure-grounds also. Every faculty and every study, however worthless they may be, when not employed in the service of God, -however debased and pol. luted when devoted to the service of sin,-become ennobled and sanctified when directed, by one whose constraining motive is the love of Christ, towards a good object. Let not the Christian, then, think “ scorn of the pleasant land." That land is the field of ancient and modern literature of philosophy, in almost all its departments—of the arts of reasoning and persuasion. Every part of it may be cultivated with advantage, as the Land of Canaan when bestowed upon God's peculiar people. They were not commanded to let it lie waste, as incurably polluted by the abominations of its first inhabitants ; but to cultivate it, and dwell in it, living in obedience to the divine laws, and dedicating its choicest fruits to the Lord their God.


[Compiled from Creasey's “Eminent Etonians.")

Eron has never seen within her walls a more accomplished gentleman, in the best sense of the word, or a more judicious ruler, than she received in 1624, when Sir Henry Wotton became her Provost. He was born in 1568, at Bocton Hall in Kent, the family mansion of his father, Sir Robert Wotton. He was the youngest of four sons, and as such was destined to receive but a moderate income from his father; but he also received from him, what is far more valuable than all pecuniary endowments, an excellent education, worthy of the talents on which it was bestowed. His boyhood was passed at Winchester, and thence he removed, first, to New College, and subsequently to Queen's College, Oxford. He was highly distinguished at Oxford for his proficiency in all academical studies ; while be at the same time made himself a master of modern lan-. guages; and be also displayed, on several occasions, the elegance of his genius in the lighter departments of literature. On his father's death, in 1589, he left England, and made the tour of France, Italy, Germany, and the Low Countries; and on his return, in 1596, he was chosen as Secretary to Queen Elizabeth's favorite, the Earl of Essex. On the fall of Essex, Wotton fearing to be implicated in the ruin of his patron, fled into France, whence he again went to Italy, and took


his abode at Florence. Soon after his arrival there, the Grand Duke of Tuscany having discovered, from some intercepted letters, a plot to poison James, King of Scotland, employed Wotton to go to Scotland secretly, and apprise that prince of his danger. Wotton assumed the name and guise of an Italian ; executed his commission with great skill, and returned to Florence after having left a strong impression on the Scottish King of his learning, zeal, and diplomatic ability. On James' accession to the English throne, he sent for Wotton to court, gave him the honor of knighthood, and after pronouncing a high eulogium on him, declared his intention thenceforth to employ him as an ambassador.

Accordingly, during the greater part of James' reign, Sir Henry

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »