« AnteriorContinuar »
less; and refused even the money which we offered if they would remain. They carried away Messrs Dornford and Henderson; and while I was yet sounding in the snow, which had passed the hollow to a great distance, they had gone a considerable way, so that I had to descend alone with Coutet, who had not even a stick; but, absorbed in the horror of the event, I had become insensible to the sentiment of danger, and I cleared, without reflection, all the crevices. I rejoined my two companions at the Grand Mulet only, from whence we departed for the glacier of Bossons, and at half past eight P. M. we were on our return to the Union Hotel at Chamouny, without experiencing much fatigue. I was the more surprised at this, as after the accident I had, for upwards of an hour, made great exertions, at a height where the slightest movement exhausted our strength.'
Dr Hamel explains this accident very satisfactorily, by saying, that the upper bed of snow, where they were walking, lay on another bed, the surface of which was hardened and smooth; and as their track along the first bed had, in a manner, cut it across, the part above began to slide over the other. We have been thus particular in our notice of this event, as it is the only instance, we believe, of a fatal accident in ascending Mont Blanc, though the journey is so full of peril. The two English gentlemen contributed liberally, as was their duty, to the relief of the distressed families of the sufferers.
We must now hasten to a conclusion. Mr Auldjo and his company performed the remainder of their descent with melancholy feelings, and under circumstances of great bodily suffering. They encountered a tremendous thunder storm, and nearly lost themselves, amidst the darkness and tempest, among a labyrinth of chasms in which they became involved. Drenched, scorched, and half dead, they reached Chamonix at half past eight in the evening, having been absent only thirtyseven hours.
In an account, which our author gives, at the end of his volume, of the different ascents to the summit of Mont Blanc, the whole number of successful ones is reckoned at fourteen. Of the gentlemen who have accomplished these, the majority are Englishmen, ten being their number. Of the rest, two are Americans, two Swiss, one Russian, one German, one Dutchman, and one Savoyard. The two Americans were Dr Van Rensalaer and Mr Howard.* We are quite satisfied with our portion of honor thus conferred, and hope that neither brother nor friend of ours will hazard his life to increase it.
* We understand that a short account of the ascent made by these gentlemen, was published in this country; but we have not seen it.
• Mountain !—That firm and ardent Genevese, *
Art. IV.-1. Library of Useful Knowledge. Published under
the Superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. London. Baldwin, and Cradock. 1828.
8vo. 35 No's. 2. An Address delivered before the Members of the New Bed
ford Lyceum, at their first Meeting, Dec. 18, 1828. By THOMAS A. GREENE. New Bedford. Benjamin T. Congdon. 1829. pp. 19.
The hope of human nature grows strong within us, we dare to say so, though we have many misgiving fears. We fear, because the current of things has so long gone against it, and still does, in so many quarters. We fear, too, because everything is at stake. But then, we hope for the same reason, because we confide too much in the good providence of God, to believe that where everything is at stake, all will be lost. We hope, too, because the lights of promise are kindling, one after another, in our horizon, and betoken a coming day. We hope strongly, when we contemplate the noble company of men in this country, and in England, and in France, too; a company, composed of the wealthy, the wise, and the good; a class hitherto, as a class, unknown in the world, who have stepped forth from their ordinary pursuits, and are uniting their counsels and labors to raise the human mind from ignorance and debasement; who, like Nehemiah of old, cannot be content with the splendors of Babylon, who feel a public and a pitying spirit amidst the pursuits of a too often selfish ambition and prosperity, whose countenances grow sad' even when they take up the wine in the feastings of their palaces, and who ask leave of their magnificent offices and appointments and distinctions, to go forth, and build up the walls and the waste places of Jerusalem.'
* De Saussure.
We should venture too much, perhaps, if we were to ascribe so holy an impulse to the society, whose publications are named at the head of this article. We have, if it must be confessed, the old Trojan fear upon us;
-we are afraid of men even when they are 'bringing gifts,' to the altars of benevolence; we are afraid of men, even when they are doing right. But we certainly have hailed the projects of this Society, as among the great and worthy promises of the age. It is true, that the pleasure we had expected from their publications is more than slightly dashed with disappointment. They fail in their great object. They are not adapted to the diffusion of useful knowledge among the mass of the people. We speak now of the scientific tracts particularly; some of which, to be understood, must be studied, even by men of education. Of this the Society seems to have become aware; and its directors now announce, as in course of preparation, another series of tracts, of a more simple character, under the title of a ‘Library of Entertaining Knowledge.'
It seems to be difficult to obtain, from learned men, scientific treatises that are sufficiently elementary and simple. They cannot come down, or they do not comprehend how far they must come, to meet the uneducated mind. We were much struck with the anecdote of the youthful Dugald Stewart, who, having taught his father's class in mathematics with singular success, and being asked the reason of it, modestly but justly answered, that it was probably because he was only three days ahead of the class.' We do not suppose that men can be too
learned; but when they undertake to become instructers of the illiterate, they are liable to forget how many steps, on the path of their own acquisitions, they have to travel back, before they can come into contact with the minds of their pupils. We dwell upon this point a moment, for we prophesy that such labors will ere long be undertaken in this country. It would be the first and fittest work of a National Lyceum, should such an institution be formed. And we make these suggestions the rather, because there is no other way to help the difficulty which the English Society is experiencing, but to appeal to the learned themselves. It is impossible to have a committee of publication and censorship, who may return their tracts to men of distinguished learning, and say to them, 'You must give us something better.' We cannot treat such men in this way. We cannot dictate to the chief artists how they shall do their work, or how they shall explain their principles. And if they will not condescend to let themselves down to the office of instructing children, if they will not lay aside the idea of composing able and reputable
treatises on science, if they will not leave their academic halls and come into our Lyceums, to express ourselves figuratively, they might as well do nothing. It will be to no purpose, to worse than no purpose, to raise great funds and great expectations; for the one will be wasted, and the other disappointed.
It cannot be expected of us that we should go into any minute criticism on the publications of the English Society. The historical and biographical portion of its tracts leaves nothing, perhaps, to be wished for. We shall look with great interest for the new series. Of Mr Greene's Address we shall speak more particularly, when we come, as we shall naturally do, in pursuance of these remarks, to take notice of Lyceums, as one means of accomplishing the great objects to which we have referred. But before doing this, we shall take the liberty to give ourselves some range on the general subject.
We have spoken of what we trust we shall be accused of nothing fanciful for denominating, the hope of human nature; and we wish it were possible to awaken a new feeling in the world concerning it. We aver that it is the great hope and only refuge, whether for the philanthropist or the philosopher. For philosophy, the philosophy of a moral being, must be dark, as well as philanthropy sad, but for the brightening of this
VOL. VI.-N. S. VOL. I. NO. I.
hope. We will not measure our words here. We fearlessly say, that nothing on earth ought to be precious, or agitating, or delightful, or glorious, compared with the hope of raising human nature towards the virtue and nobleness and bliss, of which it is capable, and of which it has so lamentably failed. If any one should smile at our phrase, or our meaning-provided he were worth disputing with—we would say to him, "Everything centres here. The cause of human nature is the great cause, compared with which everything on earth dwindles into insignificance. Everything is suspended upon it
. Everything must rise or fall with it. Governments, institutions, laws, sceptres, dominions, are good or evil, only as they raise or depress the human soul. Freedom is but a name, wisdom is but craft, and learning is folly, if it do not help this cause.
That glory of God, of which theologians say so much, must receive its chief illustration on earth, from the advancement of human nature. The mystery of providence grows dark without this prospect. The experience of ages has been wasted, if it does not come to this result; the long series of human griefs and struggles has been wasted; and toils and labors have been spent, and holy tears and precious blood have been poured out in vain, but for this. But for this, the visions of poetry are dreams; the brightest and most soothing imaginations of genius are unproductive reveries; and the word of inspiration will not accomplish that whereto it is sent; and holy prayers of faith will have gone forth into the empty air; and the rapt soul of the seer, and the watcher, and the waiting servant of God, “rapt into future” and better “times," must have grown dark and desolate as the grave.'
The hope of human nature is the Christian's hope. The Master of Christians labored, and prayed, and suffered for it. None of all the philosophers and sages, with whom he is sometimes compared, ever took human nature by the hand, stooped to it, in its lowest forms, communed with it in its deepest miseries, saw the treasure of great price beneath the despised garb of publicans and sinners; none ever approached even so far as enthusiasm towards the all-absorbing mission and aim of him, who came to save that which was lost. And nothing but his religion, we may add, will ever make men feel as they ought towards the improvement of their kind. The world, the ambitious, covetous, voluptuous, and selfish world, will idly pass it by. The infidel philosopher will scowl with misanthropic