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does not feel and lament the superficial character of our collegiate education, and its utter incompetency to the production of accomplished scholars. After leaving our seminaries, if we desire to become thoroughly versed in any of the branches of learning, we have not only, as in other countries, to carry forward and complete the structure we had commen
enced, but to reconstruct an unfinished foundation, to recommence our labors from the outset, and rectify the erroneous taste we had contracted by a more thorough acquaintance with the most finished models. This is an evil to which no inconsiderable remedy would be applied by a great federal institution. A continued succession of finished scholars would from hence be annually supplied to their country, who would not only be more eminently qualified to fill with dignity all the offices of church and state, but would soon communicate a new tone to the public sentiment in matters of literature, elevate our style of writing and literary reputation, and check the progress of that flood of wretched productions which is now inundating our land. It would really appear, as if our presses, instead of promoting the circulation of solid and useful works, whether derived from home or abroad, and by this means forming the minds of readers to greatness and virtue, were occupied solely in catering to an already vitiated taste, and thus not only defeating the great ends for which publications are intended, instruction and rational amusement, but aggravating the diseases of which we complain. The lightest productions of genius, frivolous pieces in prose and poetry, flimsy disquisitions, whimsical attempts at philosophy, wretched specimens of gallimaufry, or hotch-potch collections, in which tit-bits of all the sciences are mingled in rank confusion, gaudy scraps of eloquence, and mawkish attempts to recommend the maxims of wisdom by sugaring the solid viands they furnish with the sweets of unnatural fiction and exciting tales, as Martinus Scriblerus was taught his Greek alphabet by eating gingerbread; these constitute the sole aliment, which is now too generally administered to satiate the appetite for reading, prevalent in our community. In devotion to the perusal of this trumpery, the greatest productions of the human mind, those which would form our understandings to close thinking, accurate investigation, and sound knowledge, and fill our hearts with the noblest sentiments of virtue, are allowed to rot in libraries, or sleep upon the shelves of booksellers. Works composed with unsurpassable excellence, and whose reputation has been consecrated by the sanction of learned and refined ages, are superseded by those in which the pertness of paradox takes place of an earnest quest of truth, tinsel elegance of style and diction makes amends for solid materials and just conceptions, and vastly exciting details and distorted representations, for the correct delineations of truth and nature. Americans, for the most part, although with honorable exceptions, display all the symptoms of having reached only their boyhood and juvenility in matters of literature; and of the propensity for its sugar-plums, whip-syllabub and nick-nacks, our printers know but too well how to avail themselves to the uttermost, Let us, for the sake of our honor and dignity, as well as our future fame, adopt the best measures to retrieve our past losses, rectify our errors, and gain a more enviable distinction in the elegant pursuits of science.
That a great institute placed at the seat of our federal government, and supplied with pupils emanating from all the different states in the Union, would tend to cement the bonds which bind the republics to each other, was maintained by the illustrious Madison in one of his messages to congress, and cannot be doubted for a moment by any one capable of comprehending the course of human events, or tracing the concatenation of causes and effects. No ties, save those which arise out of the relations of blood and marriage, are more powerful in their influence upon the human heart, than those by which collegians are connected to each other. The cause of this result, which all feel and acknowledge, arises partly out of the native ardor of youthful affections, and the humanizing operation of science upon the mind, and partly out of the intimate and undisguised intercourse which takes place among youth thus circumstanced, the kind offices naturally interchanged in such society, the acquaintance contracted with each other's virtues, which removes prejudices and conciliates esteem, and the generous competition for superiority in noble pursuits, which, while it awakes into action the liveliest sympathies, excites an attractive influence that unites mankind together. Would not the friends here formed in youth, from the North and South, East and West, be likely to retain the tenderest recollection of each other through their future lives? Would not the sacred sentiment of friendship save them from those alienations, conflicts, and animosities which are apt to be produced among statesmen and politicians by the heats and collisions of party? Would not men who had previously lived in habits of intimacy, and were softened by affection for one another, whose prejudices and antipathies had been subdued by a thorough knowledge of each other's worth, be less inclined to drive political warfare to extremities, and sever the bonds of their federal union? Would not college companions be among the most reluctant of mankind to be brought into deadly hostility?
But beside the friendships contracted in a seminary of this nature, there would be another source of concord and unity to our states, arising out of the assimilating moral force exerted by the habits and pursuits of this kind of life. Being subjected to the same discipline, nurtured in the same principles, and conducted through the same gradation of study, they would carry with them to their several states similar modes of thinking, congenial feelings and concurrent views of the national policy. No circumstance could have a more happy influence than this, in preventing those collisions of opinion and convulsions of party, that so often agitate and shake the republic, and endanger its peace and safety.
But perhaps the greatest and most inestimable of all the benefits which would redound to us from such an institution, is the security which it would communicate to our union, and the stability it would contribute to furnish to our present constitution and laws. Young men educated at our national seminary, rendered familiar with the proceedings and measures of our national legislature, deriving all their advantages from national resources, and breathing, if I may speak so, a national atmosphere, could not fail to imbibe a strong and unconquerable attachment to the federal republic, and become the
active friends of union, and implacable enemies to every attempt at a disruption of the ties that bind the states together. With minds enlightened too by the highest attainments in learning, and familiarly conversant with the history of their race, with the rise and fall of empires, the prosperity and happiness of free states, and the blighting effects of tyranny, in whatever portion of the earth it may have reared its horrid form and extended its iron sway, they would necessarily be found the decided champions of liberty, and most efficient opponents of despotic and irresponsible power. We touch upon this last point with the more solicitude, as upon a brief and superficial view of this subject, an institution such as we have before depicted, might in the imaginations of some assume an aristocratic shape, and be supposed to lead to an undue elevation of one portion of our community over the other, and give rise to those distinctions among the citizens, which might awake ambitious hopes and break in upon that admirable simplicity and perfect equality which at present so happily pervade all classes of society, and form the basis of those liberties which we enjoy. Were there any danger of consequences of this nature to our country, no one would more fervently deprecate the introduction of so baneful an establishment, than we should. Heaven protect my country from any measures which would lead to an alteration in the spirit of our present inimitable forms of government, or to the corruption of our present manners! But nothing can be more certain than that an institute of this kind would not only produce no consequences unfavorable to our free institutions and laws, and incompatible with their spirit, but would become one of their ablest supports and firmest pillars. If we review the history of man, throughout all ages, we shall invariably find, that learning and learned men have been the boldest opponents of tyrants, and most successful advocates of freedom. From the very nature of things, it must be so. The very character of their pursuits requires the exercise of freedom. Freedom is the wholesome atmosphere in which learning and philosophy live and flourish, and tyranny of all kinds is to them pestilence and death. The pursuits of science instruct men in their native rights, and enable them more keenly to descry the slightest encroachments upon them. Philosophy, too, while she invigorates the powers of the mind, and elevates the views and sentiments of men, augments their detestation of oppression, and their fortitude to resist it. Accordingly, what have been the facts presented to us in the history of the human race, and amidst the endless revolutions of government ? Have not the wisest and most learned men been uniformly the most efficient leaders in advocating the cause of freedom, and the most formidable enemies of tyrants ? What but the indulgence of free opinions filled for Socrates the poisoned bowl, and banished other philosophers from Athens ? What but resistance of military misrule brought Cicero to an untimely end, and drenched Rome with the blood of her wisest and best citizens ? Have not learned men, in modern Europe, broken the shackles of Papal despotism, scattered the shades of superstition by the lights of science, overturned the thrones of tyranny, and prescribed limits to monarchical rule both in England and France, while in
their works they unfolded to their subjects their native and unalienable rights, and established their liberties upon
immoveable foundations of natural law and immutable justice? Who but their sages and learned men excited the French revolution, rode in its storm and conducted it to wholesome issues, and have since divested the thrones of England and France of those overwhelmning terrors which once encompassed them, and freed their subjects from intolerable thraldom? It is science and its cultivators that have changed the whole face of Europe in recent times, reformed and purified the church, broken the yoke of bondage in the state, and which at this moment is advancing by a steady progress toward the universal predominance of liberal principles and the sway of truth, justice, and humanity. We cannot, therefore, raise up among us more devoted friends to our free institutions and laws, or more able defenders of our rights and liberties, than will be furnished by a seminary, which will prove the nursery to able scholars and sound philosophers. Let us, then, unite in our endeavors to accelerate the process, by which such benefactors will be supplied to the republic.
We often hear the remark repeated in conversation, that our country has not yet arrived at that state of opulence and maturity, in which she would be fitted for the advancement of science, and cultivation of letters and the arts. Lord Bacon observes, that nations are at first war-like, then literary, and finally, both literary and warlike. If the laws of nature inevitably conduct a state through these stages of existence, we trust that ours will soon reach the scientific and literary condition, without depreciating in physical strength and military power.
No opinion can be less founded than that which supposes that we have not sufficiently advanced in wealth to reach the highest distinction in the arts and sciences. New-York alone possesses ample means, did she feel the inclination, and would she but direct some of her activity and enterprise in so noble a channel, to raise the sciences and arts to as high perfection as they ever attained in any age or country. If the single family of the Medici could accomplish such wonders in Florence, what might not be effected by the united exertions of the wealthy in that large and flourishing capital ? Any of the men of wealth and influence, who shall engage in this laudable undertaking, will crown themselves with unfading honors, and confer substantial benefits
their country The property destroyed by the late desolating fire, would have filled our great emporium of commerce with all the most precious monuments of art from Europe — furnished ample encouragement to men of genius from all quarters - collected the largest library now known
upon earth — and have erected institutions which would have given an irresistible impulse to literary industry, and in time have adorned our country with her Newton, her Locke, her Milton, her Shakspeare, and her long list of those venerable names whose labors and talents are the richest treasures of a nation, and confer upon her a desirable immortality. And can it be, that with a country so rich and flourishing as ours, so distinguished by activity and intelligence, devoted to every useful pursuit, and capable of so many magnificent enterprises, we could not make adequate provision
for the progress and highest advancement of the sciences and arts ? No opinion could be less founded in truth. Give us but the zeal which is requisite in such matters, and we should soon rival the states of Europe in letters, as we now do in arms, government, political wisdom, and in agricultural and commercial property.
BY THE AUTHOR OF
GUY RIVERS,' 'THE YEMASSEE,' 'THE PARTISAN,' ETC.
It is said by Dr. O'Meara, in his • Voice from Helena,' that Napoleon conversed much upon the probability of a revolution in France. 'Ere twenty years,' said he, ‘have elapsed, when I am dead and buried, you will witness another revolution in France. It is impossible that twenty-nine millions of Frenchmen can live coutented under the yoke of sovereigns imposed upon them by foreigners, and against whom they have fought and bled for nearly thirty years. Can you blame the French for not being willing to submit to the yoke of such animals as Moncheme?' The verses which follow were written soon after the famous three days.'
And deem'st thou that France, in her free shining valleys,
And the people so gallant in peace and in war,
And waves her proud ensign of triumph afar?
Untroubled by shame, and unfit to be free,
To the tyrants they've fought with so long, bend the knee?
Believe it not, stranger, though now they diesemble,
Since weaken'd by fight and by fraud overthrown;
Who for thirty long years they have fought with alone.
When her millions of freemen in might shall advance,
To strike for the honor and freedom of France !
Believe not that long 'neath the shroud of dishonor
Her national spirit shall slumber in shame;
And guiding her feet back to freedom and fame!
No chain on her wrist, and no grief on her brow,
As if its warm lustre shone over me now.
She will blush for her shame - she will rise with the terror,
The wrath and the ardor of freedom, alike;
And firmly and fairly shall Liberty strike;
No folly mislead them, but firm as the shore,
Asserting their freedom, and taking no more!