« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
would be difficult to devise one more visionary, and, at the same time, more destructive of the best interests of humanity. Mr. B.'s avowed object is the destruction of the whole present social and religious organization of society; and the proposed means to effect this are, physical force, a war of those who have nothing, against those who have something. Let it not be imagined that this plan is rendered harmless by its very extravagance. It is not addressed to the intelligent part of society, but to the passions and prejudices of that portion of the community, whose intellectual powers have been less developed, and which is therefore more liable to be misled. Those who have studied the history of the French revolution, with the attention which it so richly deserves,* must have observed that all the excesses in that great drama, were committed by bodies of misguided men, apparently not formidable by their numbers, but rendered truly so by the energy of excited passions. If a Marat, of not half Mr. B.'s talents or popular eloquence, could, by a pretended zeal for the interests of the lower classes, and by appeals to their prejudices and passions, acquire such a dreadful ascendancy over them, who will deny that Mr. B. may, by the same means, acquire a similar influence over the same order of society? Let it be remembered that I do not judge Mr. B.'s motives: God alone can judge the heart. I merely judge of his plans, and of their natural, their necessary results.
[NOTE. We insert the above article, not because we agree altogether with its sentiments and arguments, but because we deeply respect its author, and consider the subject it discusses of the first importance. Our pages are open to any views on the opposite side.]
The "Song of Solomon," throwing aside the heading of the chapters, which is the work of the English translators, contains nothing which relates to the Saviour or the Church. It does not, like every other sacred book, contain the name of the Deity.
*The history of the French revolution is not studied in this country as much as it deserves to be. It is replete with valuable instruction. If, instead of bewildering ourselves with idle speculations, bottomed on imaginary first principles, we would learn to study politics in the great drama of life, we should arrive at much safer and more satisfactory results, and be plagued with fewer wild and dangerous theories. This would also assist us to distinguish the real patriot from the mere demagogue and pretended friend of the people. I would, for this purpose, recommend to the reader Thiers' History of the French Revolution. Scott's Napoleon, to which the reputation of its author has given a wide circulation among us, is not worth the time bestowed on its perusal.
THOUGHTS ON THE STUDY OF LITERATURE.
By the study of literature I do not mean reading without regard to aim or intent: I do not mean the devouring of books: I do not mean knowing every thing that every body has written. Though a man or woman were to be for ever poring over printed pages, so as to be able to recal at a moment's warning any author's story, or any writer's opinion, this would not not necessarily imply a study of literature in the sense in which I here employ the term. I mean by the study of literature, the study of that truth which is embodied in literature, for the sake of its own beauty: I mean a love of the truth, and a desire to find it. Now consider how many other motives than this may and do lead us to seek an acquaintance with literature. I need hardly ask or pretend to say what amount of reading is done by way of killing time-yes, murdering our best friend, time, and his children, those precious opportunities. I would not presume to say how much mind is wasted in the gratification of that morbid curiosity which can drink in greedily, day after day, stories of a sort of life that never was and never can be, and never ought to be realized. Perhaps those whom such a ravenous curiosity impels to read, or who read merely to wile away empty hours, are few. It is to be hoped they are. But how many other, better indeed, but still poor motives, induce multitudes to read. It is fashionable to be literary. Any one who would take any sort of a stand in society, must keep up with the literature of the day. Any one who would not be thought rude and barbarous, must at least know the titles and stories of the last imported novelsmust be able to criticise this personage's dress and that one's style of conversation, and express an opinion upon the important question, whether this hero ought not in propriety to have been married to that heroine. I do not call this gossiping perusal of the romance of the day, studying literature. Again, many persons, without that vain and frivolous notion of keeping up a fashionable acquaintance with the light works of the day, still seem to think it is proper to have read something to have some knowledge of literature; and they fancy that the more one has read, the more literary one is. These are they who stint themselves-reading their fifty or a hundred pages of the world's history a day, throwing in perhaps now and then one of Bulwer's novels, not to be be ind the age. Such are some of the motives which make readers; and I would sum them up in the words of a sound old English writer. "Not
to mention," says he, "the multitudes who read merely for the sake of talking, or to qualify themselves for the world, or some such kind of reason, there are, even of the few who read for their own entertainment, and have a real curiosity to see what is said, several,-which is astonishing-who have no sort of curiosity to see what is true: I say curiosity, because it is too obvious to be mentioned, how much that religious and sacred attention which is due to truth, is lost out of the world." And these last words bring us back to our definition of study. In dwelling upon the advantage and importance of studying literature, I mean as I said before, really studying it, and studying it not merely as an amusement, but as a dignified occupation of the mind, with an earnest desire to see what is true and grand and beautiful in the world of thought and sentiment and action. I would substitute in our literary pursuits, for the love of novelty, the love of truth. With this love of truth, one will not be anxious to read just so fast and just so much. In reading a play or a novel, the object will be not merely to be surprised and delighted by the unravelling of an exquisite plot, but to study the characters and descriptions, and judge how far they are true to nature and life and virtueto relieve and refresh the mind in the serene atmosphere of an ideal or past world, to escape for a while from the cold and dull formality of the present, only to return however to life's plain duties and simple enjoyments, with a new sense of the beauty and greatness of virtue, and a fresh enthusiasm for the practice of what is just and noble. If the reading of one work of imagination could be made to produce such an influence upon us, it would be worth more than a whole library, or a whole literature, devoured as books too often are. Shakspeare and Scott, thus studied, will become teachers of pure and sacred wisdom. While we are in the midst of the actual world and its deceptions and bewildering appearances, and carried away too by its tempestuous passions, we cannot truly and calmly judge of men and motives; but, when we see the world perfectly reflected in the mirror of the faithful dramatist or novelist-I mean such a one as writes dispassionatelydoes not intrude his own private partialities and prejudices, but lets nature and human life speak from his transparent pages then looking calmly down on the picture, as if we were looking at reality from a distance, we can exercise our judgments, can see falsehood through its mask, and humble truth and virtue in all their beauty and majesty. The writer who enables us to do this, deserves a better fate than to be devoured-he deserves to be studied. And how shall biogra
phy and history be studied? I answer, "in spirit and in truth." By the study of biography I do not understand mere search into the details of men's outward lives, but the study of their inward lives and characters-a study of what their age made them and what they made their age. The right reading of biography requires something more than a familiarity with all the little details of a man's birth and parentage and marriage and death: it demands an insight into the soul of the personage and a sympathy with his spirit-the study not of what is accidental merely, but of that which is unseen and everlasting. Thus studied, biography will not only entertain, but refresh and stimulate. No other kind of reading is better fitted to instruct and improve. And how and why shall we study history? A too common way is to study it chronologically, beginning either before or after the flood, and reading at a certain rate-laboring to fix in the reluctant memory unmeaning dates and events, called great merely because they took place on a great scale and made a great noise. Now how few there are, who, even if they have the patience or the power to pick up the dry bones of chronology and general history, and put them together so as to form a perfect skeleton, can clothe it in flesh, warm with the blood of life! But what a work it is even to form such a skeleton of the history of one country or period! And when we consider that in order to make the dry bones live, we must be acquainted with the lives of multitudes of men, who were concerned in building up or pulling down thrones and dominionsa life ought to be devoted to the study, if one would gain any thing like complete satisfaction. But there are few men who can spare the better part of the day for study; and, of those who could spare the time, few have any talent or taste for systematic research into the pages of history. There is another way, however, in which history may and should be read by every one. Without being over-anxious to know every thing that others know, let him be sure that what he does read, he studies. Let him strive to realize as he reads-to have a clear idea of the causes and the consequences of the events which pass over the field of vision. How limited or how large that may be, is a question of comparatively small importance. Let him form definite pictures in his mind's eye. Especially let the personages who are brought before him, live and breathe as they once lived and breathed, and let him understand and appreciate the workings of their souls. I think most here must have felt something of that impatience and distraction of mind. which is felt, when in reading general history, we are met by
side references to the cotemporary history of other countries than those with which we are occupied. In order to understand the connexion of things fully, we want to turn at once to that other history, and read that-not to mention that the mind actually craves such variety too. So also, when in the course of a history, we meet with a general, yet tantalizing notice of some interesting or important personage, we are violently tempted to leave the history, and take up his biography; for we feel that without that, the history is not complete. Now I consider such things as hints that we should not expect or undertake to get a complete and systematic knowledge of all history. We should be satisfied with studying and realizing that portion of history which we can read, and which is most important to us. Is not the history of our own country and of our fathers, of the first importance to us? Is the history of the Revolution an old story? But how many are there that understand its causes and the minds of the men that achieved it?
C. T. B.
MASON'S SACRED HARP.
THE second volume of this work has just been published in this city in a style of execution that would do credit to any of the Eastern publishing houses. The first volume has been before the public for three or four years, and has sustained a high character with the best judges of good stock music. This second volume contains several famous old tunes, and arrangements from the old masters, which call up delightful associations. A variety of subjects have been taken from eminent German and Italian composers, as Haydn, Beethoven, Rossini, Pergolesi, and others. This volume contains nearly three hundred Psalm and Hymn tunes, adapted to every variety of metre, and between forty and fifty Anthems, Chants, Sentences, and other peculiar pieces; and, taken altogether, it is certainly a very elaborate production, collected from a wide field of sacred melody; not music that will "please the ear to day, and die to-morrow," of which there is already too much, but such as is of a solid and pure style, uniting beauty of melody with richness of harmony and facility of execution; and its frequent performance affords increasing delight to both hearer and performer.