Page images
PDF
EPUB

“ But whither roves the Muse ?-I but design'd
To note the few, whose praise delights my mind;
But friendship's power has drawn the verse astray,
Wide from its aim, a long, but flowery way.
Yet one remains, ONE NAME, for ever dear,
With whom, conversing many a happy year,
I mark’d, with secret joy, the opening bloom
Of virtue, prescient of the fruits to come,
Truth, honour, rectitude, while thy breast,
My BELGRAVE! of its every wish possest,
Swells with its recent transports, recent fears,
And tenderest titles strike, yet charm thy ears;
Say, wilt thou from thy feelings pause a while,
To view my humble labours with a smile?
Thou wilt :-for still 'tis thy delight to praise,

And still thy fond applause has crown'd my lays." Where such patronage can be found, intellectual inen might accept of such assistance without any imputation of meanness being attached to their character, and without incurring the infamy of making genius and knowledge bow to the pitiful pageantry of mere wealth and title, unaided by any internal and solid possession, unsupported by understanding and unadorned by virtue.--It is, indeed, a humiliating spectacle to behold the learned pate duck to the golden fool.

In Britain, there are no great national, public institutions for the promotion of letters and the encouragement of the arts and sciences ; but all these, at present flourish (altho' the war as war always does, makes their flowrets droop, and all their petals fade) in Britain, chiefly, in consequence of the patronage of the people, which holds out a continued incitement to the exertions of genius, by promising them the means of existence and of independence, as the necessary and inevitable fruit of such exertions. Indeed all her institutions, which bear princely names, as the royal academy, royal society, royal institution, &c. &c. are, in fact, kept up, and supported by the patronage of the people; the King is only one out of many subscribers, and, sometimes, he does not subscribe, but only lends his name to give an institution eclat, and currency. The principal spring of incitement to the energies of genius in Britain is the wide market, which the public opens for the

productions of that genius, by creating a continual and an effectual demand for the works of literature, of science, and of art; the hot-bed, which nourishes the efforts of the artists and the men of letters is formed by the cabinets and the libraries of private individuals being filled with the labours of these men of letters and artists. Hence, the general erect aspect of independence in these orders of men, and the proportional influence, which they exercise over the community, particularly, the minds of the middle orders of the people, among whom intellect takes deeper root, and more widely spreads its branches, then among the higher and the lower ranks of society.

The rays of royal and of princely patronage, in Britain, cast, indeed, a few faint gleams of gay and glittering pomp over the productions of genius; but the patronage and the protection of the British people, at large, is the steady sun-shine, which gives life, and light, and health, and strength, and perpetuity of existence to the exertions of intellectual prowess. Literature and the arts and the sciences never flourished more in Britain, than under the reigns of George the first, and George the second ; and both those monarchs were entirely free even from the imputation of wishing to encourage or to countenance the progress of science, of literature, or of art. .

Indeed, next to the establishment of public national institutions for the promotion of the arts and sciences and letters, that government always acts the most wisely, which stands most out of the people's sunshine ; which leaves the exertions of every individual the most free and ample scope to find their level of value and of recompense; for, in proportion as the competition is left free and unshackled, in every department of human calling, is the energetic industry of each individual rouzed into the fullest exertion, to better his condition, and to augment his own power; and, as the community is made up of individuals, it is manifest, that where the greatest number of individuals are thriving and prosperous, each, in his respective employment, there that nation must enjoy the greatest quantity of happiness and of strength.

Surely, each individual must know what will conduce most to his own interest better than the government can; for the government of a country is generally composed of men, whe

are intent chiefly on their own personal aggrandizement and not particularly anxious to promote the happiness of the people. And, hence, we find invariably, that where the government intermeddles with, and presumes, either to direct the iudustry of the people, or‘to prescribe any given maximum of price for the commodities reared by that industry, much positive evil is uniformly produced, without giving birth to any good to counter-poise that evil. All that can be required of the best government is, to take as little property, as possible, from the pockets of the people ; to let the people know, exactly, the precise quantity, which they mean to take; to press as little upon the personal liberty and personal safety of the people as is consistent with the safety and good order of the community; and to give to all the people an opportunity of receive ing moral and religious instruction. Wherever this is done in a nation, artists and men of letters will soon be produced in great abundance, and contribute their share towards augmenting the strength, and increasing the permanent splendour of that nation.

I cannot close this subject, without bearing my most unequivocal testimony, that the present government of the United States, now, in the year 1807, cannot, with the least shadow of justice, be charged with even the semblance of an inclination to support, or encourage the Arts, and Sciences.

From the government of this country they expect nothing ;-and their expectations will not be disappointed. The Arts and Sciences look forward, with confidence, to the protection and the patronage of the American people ;-freedom is a soil, in which they thrive ;-and from the intellectual efforts, which we have lately witnessed in the city of New York, and in the principal towns of some of our sister-states, we have every reason to expect, that America will, at no distant day, rival the nations on the other side of the Atlantic, in those productions of genius, which strengthen, and confirm all the bands of social order, and confer a lustre, as permanent as it is splendid, upon the works of man ;-which, at once, adorn and dignify human nature.

I shall conclude this series of essays, with an earnest, an affectionate appeal to the learned, and the wise ;-for they will

understand me. I shall use the words of one of the profoundest, and the most comprehensive of the philosophers of all antiquity ;--they contain questions of the highest import, and of the greatest moment, even now, when every established institution is rocking to its very centre ;—when deep is calling upon deep ;-when, now, no balance is left among the nations of the earth ;—but all seems to be in dreadful and portentous preparation to sink under one desolating tyranny ;-when nothing but the united efforts, and the unwearied, the unremitted exertions of the bold, the determined, the opulent, the powerful, the intelligent, the dignified;-nothing but the combined forces of honour, and virtue, and religion, and affection, and erudition, and a courage, never to submit or yield, --(and what is else not to be overcome ?)—can enable us to stand in this evil and inauspicious hour; and, having done all, to stand. If all these fall, I am contented, together with them, to bow my head unto the earth, where all must rest.

« Λεγεις πορρω πε ειναι τη πολει την καλοκαγαθιαν.-Ποτε γαρ ΑΜΕΡΙΚΑNOI η πρεσβυτερους αιδεσονται, οι απο των πατερων αρχονται καταφρονειν των γεραιτερων και η σωμασκησεσιν οι ου μονον αυτοι ευεξιας αμελουσιν, αλλα και των επιμελεμενων καταγελωσι ;-Ποτε δε ετοι πεισονται τους αρχεσιν, οι και αγαλλονται επι το καταφρονείν των αρχοντων και η ποτε 8τως σιν, οιγε, αντι μεν το συνεργειν εαυτοις τα συμφεροντα, επηρεαζουσιν αλληλοις, και φθονεσιν εαυτοις μαλλον, η τοις άλλοις ανθρωπους και μάλιστα δε παντων εν τε ταις ιδιαις συνοδοις, και ταις κoιναις διαφερονται, και πλειστας δικας αλληλους δικαζονται, και προαιρgνται μαλλον ουτω ΚΕΡΔΑΙΝΕΙΝ απ’ αλληλων, η συνωφελοντες αυτους και τοις δε κοινοις, ωσπερ αλλοτριοις χρωμενοι, περι τατων αυ μαχονται, και τοις εις τα τοιαυτα δυναμισι μαλιστα χαιρεσιν ;-Εξ ων πολλη μεν απειρια και κακια τη πολει εμφυεται, πολλη δε εχθρα και μισος αλληλων τοις πολιταις εγγινεται-δια έγωγε μαλα φοβαμαι αει μη τι MEIZON, η ωστε φερειν δυνασθαι, KAKON τη πολει συμβη.

Yet, but for a moment, listen to the voice of him, who has rung the knell of alarm, and sounded the tocsin of terror through all the corners of the civilized world ;--for his are, indeed, thoughts thai breathe, and words that burn.

Philosophy has appeared, not to console, but to deject. When I have read, and thought deeply, on the accumulated horrors, and on all the gradations of wickedness and misery, through which the modern systematic philosophy has conducted her illuminated votaries to the confines of political death, and mental darkness, my mind, for a space, feels a convulsion, and suffers the nature of an insurrection.--I look around me.--I look to human actions, and to human principles. I consider, again and again, what is the na

ture and effect of learning, and instruction ; what is the doctrine of evidence, and the foundation of truth? I ask myself,—are all these changed? Have the moral, and natural laws of God to his creatures another basis ? Has the lapse of fifty years made an alteration in Him, who is declared to be The Same, to-day, yesterday, and for ever? Can the violence, the presumption, the audacity, the arrogance, the tyranny of man, drunk with self-idolatry, and temporary success, change the nature and essence of God and of his works, by calling good evil, and evil good? I am told, that human reason is nearly advanced to full perfection ; I am assured, that she is arrived at the haven, where she would be. I again look around me.

I ask, where is that haven ?-where is that steady gale,which has conducted her? I listen ; but it is to the tempest:I cast my view abroad; but the ocean is every where perturbed. I pause again. Perhaps, it is the wind and storm fulfilling His word.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »