Imagini ale paginilor


[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

2. Of all that live, and move, and breathe, Man only rises o'er his birth;

He looks above, around, beneath,

Reigns through the deep with quenchless rage; Parent and young, unweaned from blood,

Are still the same from age to age.

At once the heir of heaven and earth;
Force, cunning, speed, which Nature gave
The various tribes throughout her plan,
Life to enjoy, from death to save,
These are the lowest powers of man.

3. From strength to strength he travels on,
He leaves the lingering brute behind,
And when a few short years are gone,
He soars, a disembodied mind;
Beyond the
grave, his course sublime,
Destined through nobler paths to run,
In his career the end of Time
Is but Eternity begun.

4. What guides him in his high pursuit, Opens, illumines, cheers his way, Discerns the immortal from the brute,

God's image from the mold of clay?
"T is knowledge; knowledge to the soul
Is power, and liberty, and peace;

[ocr errors]

And while celestial ages roll,

The joys of knowledge shall increase.

5. Hail to the glorious plan, that spread
The light with universal beams,
And through the human desert led
Truth's living, pure, perpetual streams.
Behold a new creation rise,

New spirit breathed into the clod,
Where'er the voice of wisdom cries,
"Man, know thyself, and fear thy God.”

[blocks in formation]


[The reader may note the inflections for emphatic succession of particulars, in the following piece.* See Rule 10, p. 34.]

1. POETRY seems to us the divinest of all arts; for it is the breathing or expression of that principle or sentiment, which is deepest and sublimest in human nature; we mean, of that thirst or aspiration, to which no mind is wholly a stranger, for something purer and lovelier, something more powerful, lofty and thrilling, than ordinary and real life affords.

2. In an intellectual nature, framed for progress and for higher modes of being, there must be creative energies, power of original and ever-growing thought; and poetry is the form in which these energies are chiefly manifested.

3. It is the glorious prerogative of this art, that it "makes all things new," for the gratification of a divine instinct. It indeed finds its elements in what it actually sees and experiences in the worlds of matter and mind; but it combines and blends these into new forms, according to new affinities, and

*It is believed to be important in securing a correct application of the principles of reading, for the learner to mark lightly, with a pencil, such words, pauses, inflections, &c., as are illustrative of the rules to which reference is made in the subsequent les.


a The most ancient poetry which has come down to us, is that of the Hebrews.

breaks down, if we may so say, the distinctions and bounds of nature.

4. It imparts to material objects, life, and sentiment, and emotion, and invests the mind with the powers and splendors of the outward creation; describes the surrounding universe in the colors which the passions throw over it, and depicts the mind in those modes of repose or agitation, of tenderness or sublime emotion, which manifest its thirst for a more powerful and joyful existence.

5. We, accordingly, believe that poetry, far from injuring society, is one of the great instruments of its refinement and exaltation. It lifts the mind above ordinary life, gives it a respite from depressing cares, and awakens the consciousness of its affinity with what is pure and noble.

6. In its legitimate and highest efforts, it has the same tendency and aim with Christianity; that is, to spiritualize our nature. True, poetry has been made the instrument of vice, the pander of bad passions; but when genius thus stoops, it dims its fires, and parts with much of its power; and, even when poetry is enslaved to licentiousness and misanthropy, she cannot wholly forget her true vocation.

7. Strains of pure feeling, touches of tenderness, images of innocent happiness, sympathies with what is good in our nature, bursts of scorn or indignation at the hollowness of the world, passages true to our moral nature, often escape in an immoral work, and show how hard it is for a gifted spirit to divorce itself wholly from what is good. Poetry has a natural alliance with our best affections. It delights in the beauty and sublimity of outward nature and of the soul.

8. It indeed portrays, with terrible energy, the excesses of the passions, but they are passions which show a mighty nature, which are full of power, which command awe, and excite a deep though shuddering sympathy. Its great tendency and purpose is, to carry the mind beyond and above the beaten, dusty, weary walks of ordinary life; to lift it into a purer element, and to breathe into it more profound and generous emotion.

9. It reveals to us the loveliness of nature; brings back the freshness of youthful feeling; revives the relish of simple pleasures; keeps unquenched the enthusiasm which warmed the spring-time of our being; refines youthful love; strengthens our interest in human nature by vivid delineations of its tenderest and loftiest feelings; spreads our sympathies over all classes of society; knits us, by new ties, with universal being; and, through the brightness of its prophetic visions, helps faith to lay hold on the future life.




1. It is often said that the arts cannot flourish in a republic; and this is said in the face of such examples as Athens and republican Rome. But why can they not? I ask. Want of patronage is the reason usually assigned; but let there be intelligence and refinement among any people, and the patronage of the arts must follow. And is it not safer thus to trust the encouragement of the arts to the intelligence and free competition of a whole people, than to a few individuals, kings or princes?

2. Would not a generous artist rather take an intelligent people for his patron, than a king? May not the fine arts, in this respect, be safely and advantageously subjected to the same ordeal as literature? We have wealth enough, we have intelligence in America, and I am willing to rely upon these for the inevitable consequence.

3. It would be sad, indeed, if the allegation were true, that the arts could not flourish in a republic. For it is precisely in a republic that they are wanted, to complete the system of social influences. It is a mistake into which novices fall, to suppose that the arts are unfavorable to morality. In fact,

a Fine arts; such as painting, sculpture, &c. b Ath'ens; the capital of Greece, and the ancient residence of many of the Greek classical writers and philosophers. c Rome the capital of Italy, and modern parent of the fine arts.

the fine arts have usually been the handmaids of virtue and religion. More than half of the great paintings in the world are illustrative of religious subjects; and, embracing mythol ogy a a in this account, more than half of the statues are of the same character.

4. And, to refer to kindred arts, architecture, too, has built its noblest structures for religion, and music has composed its sublimest strains for the sanctuary. Genius, indeed, that inspiration from heaven, has always shown its descent from above by this direction of its labors. The introduction of the arts into our country, then, is not to be dreaded on the score of morality. Is it not on every account greatly to be desired? The most material deficiency among us, perhaps, next to the want of virtue, is likely to be the want of refine


5. There is need among us of objects that kindle up admiration and enthusiasm, that awaken the sense of delight and wonder, that break up the habits of petty calculation and sordid interest, and breathe a liberal and generous soul into the people; and this need the arts would supply. The Author of nature has shown that it was not beneath his care to provide for the gratification of sentiments precisely similar to those which are addressed by the arts.

6. The world, composed of hill and dale, mountain and valley, not one boundless plowed field to yield food; dressed in gay and bright liveries, not in one somber-suited color; filled with the music of its streams and groves, not doomed to endless monotony or everlasting silence; - such a world, the dwelling-place of nations, the school of their discipline, the temple of their worship, plainly shows that they were not destined to be pupils of cold and stern utility alone, but of many and diversified influences; of gracefulness, of elegance, of beneficence, beauty, and sublimity.

a Mythology; traditions respecting heathen gods and fabulous heroes.

« ÎnapoiContinuă »