« ÎnapoiContinuați »
No American, visiting the Old World as a private citizen, ever received a kinder or more discriminating welcome. The last months of his life were pure sunshine. Before he landed in England, his friends, the family of Dr. Arnold, whom he had only known by correspondence, came ou board the ship to receive him; and his earliest and latest hours of European sojourn were passed under the roof of the great poet whose memory he most revered, and whose writings had interwoven themselves with his intellectual and moral being. “I do not know," he said in one of his letters to his family, “what I have ever done to deserve all this kindness.” And so it was throughout. In England he was at home in every sense; and scenes, which to the eye were strange, secmed familiar by association and study. His letters to America were expressions of grateful delight at what he saw and heard in the land of his forefathers, and at the respectful kindness with which he was everywhere greeted; and yet of earnest and loyal yearning to the land of his birth-his home and family and friends. It is no violation of good taste here to enumerate some of the friends, for whose kind welcome Mr. Reed was so much indebted; I may mention the Wordsworths, Southeys, Coleridges, and Arnolds, Lord Mahon, Mr. Baring, Mr. Aubrey De Vere, Mr. Babbage, Mr. Henry Taylor, and Mr. Thackeray-names, one and all, associated with the highest literary or political distinction.
IIe visited the Continent, and went, by the ordinary route, through France and Switzerland, as far south as Milan and Venice, returning by the Tyrol to Inspruck and Munich, and thence down the Rhine to Holland. But his last associations were with the cloisters of Canterbury, the garden vales of Devonshire, the valley of the Wye, and the glades of Rydal. His latest memory of this earth was of beautiful England in her summer garb of verdure. The last words he ever wrote were in a letter of the 20th September, to his venerable friend, Mrs. Wordsworth, thanking her and his English friends generally for all she and they had done for him.
The rest is soon told.
On the 20th of September, 1854, Mr. Reed, with his sister, embarked at Liverpool for New York, in the United States steam-ship Arctic. Seven days afterwards, at noon, on the 27th, when almost in sight of his native land, a fatal collision occurred, and, before sun-down, every human being left upon the ship had sunk under the waves of the ocean. The only survivor who was personally acquainted with my brother, saw him about two o'clock P.M., after the collision, and not very long before the ship sank, sitting with his sister, in the small passage aft of the dining saloon. “They were tranquil and silent, though their faces wore the look of painful anxiety.” They probably afterwards left this position, and repaired to the promenade deck. For a selfish struggle for life, with a helpless companion dependent upon him, with a physical frame unsuited for such a strife, and, above all, with a sentiment of religious resignation which taught him in that hour of agony, even with the memory of his wife and children thronging in his mind, to bow his head in submission to t e will of God,--for such a struggle he was wholly unsuited; and his is the praise, that he perished with the women and children.
Nor can I conclude this brief narrative without the utterance of an opinion, expressed in no asperity, and not, I hope, improperly intruded here-my opinion, as an American citizen, that, in all the history of wanton and unnecessary shipwreck, no greater scandal to the science of navigation, or to the system of mariro disciplins, ever occurred than the loss of the Arctic and her three hundred passengers. There is but one thing worse, and that is the absence of all laws of the United States, either to prevent the recurrence of such a catastrophe; to bring to justice those, if there are any such, who are responsible ; or, at least, to secure a judicial investigation of the actual facts.
The news of Mr. Reed's death was received with deep and intense feeling in the city of his birth, his education, and active life. Phil delphia mourned sincerely for her son; and no tribute to his memory, no graceful expression or act of sympathy to his family, was withheld. For them all there are no adequate words of gratitude.
Returning with renewed health and refreshed spirits, with a capacity not only for intellectual enjoyment, but professional usefulness, enlarged by observation of other institutions and intercourse with the wise and goou of the mother country, especially those who had made education in its highest branches the study and business of their lives, Professor Reed, we may well believe, would have resumed his American duties with new zeal and efficiency. Not that I for one moment imagine he had be come infected with the folly of fancying that a system of foreign University education, in any of its forms, could or ought to be transplanted here ; but, I have no doubt, that observation of thorough training and accurate scholar. ship, the combination of moral and intellectual discipline, such as is seen abroad, and especially in Great Britain, would have raised still higher in his mind the aims at which American students and American institutions of learning should be directed.
By his early death-for he was but forty-six years of age- all theso hopes were doomed to disappointment. The most that can now be dons is to give to the world these fragmentary memorials of his stu dious life and for them I beg an indulgent and candid criticism.
WILLIAM B, REED,
Philadelphia, February 1st, 1855.
Principles of Literature.
OBJECT, TO ASSIST AND GUIDE STUDENTS-NECESSITY OF SYSTEMATIC STUDY-JUDICIOUS
CXITICISY-TRUE AIMS, AND PRINCIPLES OF LITERATURE-CHOICE OF BOOKSITS DIFICULTIES-AIM OF THIS COURSE OF LECTURES TO REMOVE THEM ALL BOOKS NOT LITERATURE - ACCURATE DEFINITION OF LITERATURE-ITS UNIVERSALITY—IZAAK WALTON-ADDISON-CHARLES LAMI-LORD BACON-CLARENDON- ARNOLD-SPENSER AND SHAKSYEARE-SOUTHEY AND WORDSWORTH-BELLES-LETTRES NOT LITERATURE -LITERATURE NOT AN EASY, PATRICIAN PLEASURE-ITS DANGER AS TO PRACTICAL LIFE-ITS INFLUENCE ON CHARACTER-DE QUINCEY'S DEFINITION-KNOWLEDGE AND POWER-INFLUENCE ON FEMALE CHARACTER-TRUE POSITION OF WOMATEXwysox's PRINCESS-NOVEL-READING-TASTE, AN INCORRECT TERN-HENRY TAYLOI-COWPES Miss WORDSWORTI-COLERIDGE'S PHILOSOPHY.
This course of lectures is prepared in the hope of doing some service in connection with the abundant and precious literature which lies about us in our English speech. The plan has been, in some measure, prompted to my thoughts by applications not unfrequently made to me for advice and guidance in English reading. There is a stage in inental culture when counsel seems to be intended to take the place of exact tuition, and when, looking altogether beyond the period and the province of what is usually called “education," hints and suggestions, criticism, literary sympathies, and even literary antagonism, become the more expanded and freer discipline, which lasts through life. We cannot tell how much of good we may thus do to one another. We cannot measure the value of unstudied and alınost casual influences. A random word of genuine admiration may prove a guide into some region of literature where the mind shall dwell with satisfaction and delight for years to coine. But there is a demand for something more systematic than such chance culture as I have alluded to; and the inind that craves such knowledge of the literature of his own language as will make it part of his thoughts and feelings, has a claim for guidance and counsel upon those whose duty it is to fit themselves to bestow it. It is a claim that well may win a quick and kindly response, for the sense of delight is deepened the wider it is spread, or when it opens the souls of others to share in its own enjoyment.
There is perhaps no one, to whom the intercourse with books has grown to be happy and habitual, who cannot recall the time when, needing other counsel than his own mind could give, he felt some guidance that was strength to him. One can recall, in after years, how it was, that an interest was first awakened in some book—how sympathy with an author's mind was earliest stirred—how sentiments of admiration and of love had their first motion in our souls towards the souls of the great poets. We may perhaps remember, too, how the chastening influence of wise and genial criticism may have won our spirits away from some malignant fascination that fastened on the unripe intellect only to abuse it. But these kindly and healthful agencies exist not alone in the memory—gratefully retained as benefits received in the period of intellectual immaturity and inexperience. Even the student of literature whose range of reading is most comprehensive—whose habit of reading is most confirmed—whose culture is most complete—will tell you that it is still in his daily experience to find his choice of books not an arbitrary, and lawless choosing, but a process open to the influences of sound and congenial criticism; he will tell how, by such influences, the activity of his thoughts is quickened—how his judgment of books is often the joint product of his own reflections, and the contact of the wisdom and experience of others. To him who wanders at will through the vast spaces of literature, with the sorry guidance of good intentions and inexperience, most needful are the helping hand and the pointing finger; to him who has travelled long in that same domain, pursuing his way with purposes better defined, and who has gained a wider prospect and farther-reaching views—even by him, guidance, if not so needful, still may be welcomed from some fellow-traveller. We marvel often at finding how, under the light of wise criticism, new powers and new beauties are made visible to our minds in books the mest familiar.
I have thus alluded, at the outset, to the importance of the guidance which we may receive in our intercourse with the world of books. assuming at the same time that there is no call upon me to dwell upon the value of that intercourse itself. I take for granted that there is no one, even among those least conversant with books, who could deny the value of an intelligent habit of reading. I need not occupy a