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COLLEGE EXERCISES. *
The preceding lessons, it is thought, contain most, if not all, of the principles necesaary to be understood by the student to prepare him for the performance of such exercises as are "enerally prescribed in an academic course. The following specimens of the exercises of those to whom academic honors have been awarded, are presented, with the hope that they may be useful to those who may hereafter have similar exer cises to perform.
CONFERENCE, COLLOQUY, AND DIALOGUE. A Conference is a discoursing between two or more, for the purpose of instruction, consultation, or deliberation; or, it may, in a technical sense be defined, an examination of a subject by comparison. It is a species of conversation, and is generally contined to particular subjects and des criptions of persons.
A Dialogue signifies a speech between two persons. It is mostly ficti. tious, and is written as if it were spoken. It is always formal and contains an assertion or question with a reply and a rejoinder.
A Colloquy is a species of dialogue. It literally signifies, the act of talking together and is not confined to any particular number of persona nor subjects.
Example of a Theme.
* Est Deus in nobis.” OVID, Lib. I. Metaphysical speculations are, of all others, the most wild and most exposed to error. The relation between volition and action, mind and body,
* The specimens and models here presented, are taken, by the consent of the respective authors, from the files of one of our most respectable uñi versities. To the highly respected President of that university, the author is greatly indebted for the kind facilities rendered, by which he was enabled to examine the files of that institution, and to select such as he had been permitted to copy. He does not, however, consider himself authorized more particularly to name the institution nor its presiding officer. It is due, also, to the gentlemen whose juvenile exercises he has been permitted here to present, to state, that their reluctant permission has been given with the understanding that their names will not be mentioned in connexion with the exercises. The question may, perhaps, be asked, why exercises of this kind are presented at all. To this the author replies, that a knowledge of what has been done on any given occasion cannot be without its use to those who are called upon to exert their talents on any similar occa sion; and if any of the following exercises should be considered as speci mens, rather than models, the author can only say, that he deems examples of this kind, which can be emulated by the student, more encouraging thar faultless models. It is the business of the teacher to infuse that-spirit which hall adopt as its motto -" Excelsior "
the decisive influence of the former on the motions of the latter, and how this intercourse obtains, are subtleties, the investigation of which has ever baffled the ingenuity of philosophers. Nor is reasoning on this subject in any respect conclusive. It sets out from hypothethis, and, instead of leading to any just conclusions, usually leaves the inquirer in a labyrinth of doubt.
In spite of these obstacles, however, there is something in the mind of man that takes a delight in diving into these mysteries ; a curiosity which is always alive and restless, grasping at some hidden truth; a fancy that is prone to explore an unknown path, - that loves to float in whimsical reveries. “Est Deus in nobis."
On our first introduction to this world, whether our minds are free from ideas and vacant,“ like a piece of white paper," as Mr. Locke quaintly phrases it; and, if this be the fact, whether, as originally cast by the creator; they differ as widely in quality, as the various kinds of white paper from the mill; - are questions which have not yet been determined. When we contemplate society, we are struck with the diversities of char. acter which it discloses. We ask ourselves, how it happens, that such varieties of genius exist; how it is, that one person has a mathematical. another a poetical turn of mind; that one has an imagination, that “ bounds from earth to heaven, and sports in the clouds,” and another possesses a mind that gropes in the deepest recesses of philosophy, and learns to conceive the most abstruse truth. We wonder for a while, and presently conclude, that all the peculiarities of each mind are coeval with its existence, and impressed by the Deity:
For my own part, although I consider these speculations to be as unin portant, as they are doubtful, they frequently find an indulgence in my mind. Nor are they altogether fruitless. They answer the purpose of a romance. They amuse the imagination, and occupy the vacant thought of a leisure hour. I am inclined to the belief, that, as our minds may be considered to emanate from the same creative spirit, they bear a nearer resemblance to each other than we are apt to imagine. It is probable that our minds are all equally endowed, and, at first, are precisely the same. That they are susceptible of like impressions. And if a case be supposed, where two persons could be brought up in such a manner, that every external circumstance, having the least effect on the senses, could be precisely the same to each, that their dispositions would be in all res pects similar; indeed, the men would be perfectly alike. This hypothesis is reconcilable with the maxim (under existing circumstances) that no two persons were ever in every respect alike. For, in the earliest state of the mind, it is so susceptible of impressions, that the slightest circumstances vary its direction and character. Frivolous causes produce the most important and lasting effects. Whence, we may readily account for the numberless shades of character, as resulting, not from an original difference in minds, but from the secret operation of physical causes.
It is curious to observe the relation between the senses of seeing and hearing, and the mind, and how sensibly the imperfections of the former tend to sharpen the faculties of the latter. So uniform has this rule held within the circle of my own acquaintance, that I am apt to conceive one's intellectual powers merely from a knowledge of his faculties of sight. One who is near-sighted, for example, usually possesses mental powers that are clear and nervous. In him, on the contrary, whose vision is bounded only by the horizon, we should look for a mind capable of pleas
ing in the urts of poetry and fiction; for he embraces at a glance all the beauties of nature. A retentive memory is also naturally associated with one who hears and sees with difficulty. Thus, by a little refinement, (I think reasonably,, we may refer the different faculties of the mind to the construction of the senses. The different bearings of these causes are obvious. They prove the importance of acquiring a habit of close thinking. He who hears and sees with difficulty, treasures up what he learns with care.
A partial blindness invites contemplation. A man is not liable to have his attention distracted by frivolous events. They are in some measure shut out. He finds a study everywhere.
Example of a Conference.* Public Amusements, Splendid Religious Ceremonies, Warlike Preparations
and Display, and a Rigid Police, as means of Despotic Power.
Various as are the means by which an individual may acquire despotic power over a nation; none are more easy in their application, or more effectual in their results, than the mere act of providing and supporting what, in such cases, are most erroneously called public amusements. Public amusements ! yes, — let but your tyrant, who would lord it with impunity, open his theatres, provide his shows, and procure every thing that can please the fancy, and delight the eyes and ears of the people, then he may rest in security, for those whom he would make slaves are placed upon the broad road that leadeth båckward to darkness, but never onwards to light. They may pause at first, but the fatal charm soon overcomes their strength, and, blind to all evil consequences, they plunge madly on in pursuit of present pleasure.
It is easy to show how the people are so readily ar so fatally de ceived, -it requires few examples and little reasoning to prove that temptations are strong, indulgence ruinous, the truth is written within, egibly upon our hearts.
I cannot, however, pass over this subject without calling your attention to one of the most instructive, the most splendid, and, at the same time, most appalling portions of history, the latter days of the Roman Empire. We have before us a nation that has raised itself from obscurity to gran deur. — that has exchanged the name of exiles and vagabonds for the proud title of conquerors and sovereigns of the world; yet, in this very people, in their proudest day, we can trace the seeds of corruption.
They had early acquired a taste for public amusements, that had ever been gaining strength, and that was soon to be employed as the certain means of working their destruction.
The Roman frame retained as yet too much of its former strength and vigor to be roughly handled. An attempt to force chains upon it would aave called forth a third Brutus full of the fire and patriotism of his anrestors. They who aimed at the imperial purple, knew this, and, avoiding all violence, sought to accomplish their designs by craft and subtlety Roman citizens, in their amusements, had already reached the limits, which cannot be passed with impunity; the only work that remained for
* One part only of this Conferenois presented.
cyranny was to lead them beyond these limits, and to foster their growing carelessness and inattention to their dearest interests. This step was soon taken. Theatres were opened in all quarters of the city, loaded with every embellishment that the imagination could suggest, or that unbounded wealth could procure. We need not enter into a detail of these amusements; it sufficeth our purpose to point out how readily the people fell into the snare, and how speedily and entire was the ruin that followed. As had been rightly conjectured, the people soon gathered in crowds to these exhibitions, — they passed almost their whole lives within the walls of the circus, utterly regardless of all that was transacted in the world without.
Those who had made this deadly preparation, whr had tempted a nation to its ruin, now hastened to improve the opportunities they had acquired. Not in secresy and fear, but openly, and with full confidence they proceeded to fasten their chains upon a slumbering people. And history informs us how complete was their success, Rome, Rome im. perial, bows her to the shock,". -the work of her slavery was finished, the entrance of the Goth into her gates was a mere change of masters, for she long before had fallen and was conquered.
The case we have just cited is a remarkable one, — few ever:ts in his. tory can compare with it, — yet, for all that, it is not to be rejected as an unfair and too highly colored illustration of the truth of our positions. There is nothing in it unnatural, there is nothing improbable, and should she like circumstances at any time occur, I had almost said a child might predict the ruin that would ensue.
When it can be shown how business and pleasure, attention and remiss ness, can go hand in hand together; in short, when we shall see a nation atterly devoted to amusements, and, at the same time, awake to all its interests, then we may be ready to give our example and positions to the wind.
Difference of Manners in Ancient Rome and Modern Civilized States
To a careful and attentive observer of human nature, the history of mankind presents an interesting and instructive but mournful picture. It teaches him that man is everywhere the same; but however the picture may be varied by circumstances, however different the light in which it is viewed, the leading features remain ever the same. In no portion of an cient history are we more struck with this important fact than in that of Rome. In considering the manners of that people, great care should be taken that we do not permit the classical associations of our boyhood to give us a too favorable opinion of their character; and again, that we do not run into the opposite, but less probable error, of depreciating their real worth. Cold, indeed, must be the heart, and dull the understanding, that can contemplate unmoved the history of the Eternal City, which, after all, has done its part towards communicating to the world civilization and philosophy. It requires no extraordinary stretch of the imagination to marshal before us, in patriotic array, those venerable magistrates, who, ranquilly seated in their curule chairs defied the fary of Brennus and
* One part only of this Colloquy is presented
his barbarian hordes; or to hear Cicero declaiming with honest indigna tion against the vices and insolence of Anthony and Verres. Yet, our admiration must gradually subside, when we reflect, that the glory with which they were surrounded, was purchased by the misery and degradation of millions. Did we see the Romans in their true colors, we should perceive that they were in reality a selfish, perfidious, cruel, and superstitious race of barbarians, endued with the scanty and doubtful virtues of savage life, but deformed by more than its ordinary excesses, and whose 'original purity of manners and good faith among themselves did not en. dure a moment longer than it enabled them to subdue the rest of mar kind. Of the many mistakes which our classical fondness for the Romans have led us into respecting them, there is not a greater or more unfounded one than the high opinion
we are apt to entertain of their domestic habits. The Queen of Cities, throned upon her seven hills, in marble majesty, the mistress of a world conquered by the valor of her sons, is a picture of our imagination, which we are unwilling to spoil by filling up all its parts with too curious accuracy. Certain it is that information enough is to be obtained from Roman authors to prepare us for a scene of much more moderate splendor in the capital of Italy. From them we may learn that all the points upon which the imagination reposes with so much complacency and delight, are perfectly consistent with misery, disorder, and filth. We may learn, that though their Venus never attracted public notice in a hooped petticoat, and though their Apollo never dashed in a blue swallow-tailed coat with brass buttors, yet, that the costume of the day, whatever it might be, was pretty generally bestowed upon their deities. We may learn, that the Romans, with all their wealth and power, and ingenious luxury, enjoyed but little real cleanliness and comfort. More of that most desirable and excellent article, comfort, may be had by any one among us, than could have been enjoyed by a Roman noble, who rode in carriages without springs, or on saddles without stirrups, or dined without knives and forks, or lived in rooms without chimneys. And, having duly weighed these and similar points of minute history, we may bring ourselves to adopt more sober views of the magnificence of ancient Rome, and of an ancient Roman. . In spite of their admiration for Grecian manners, the Romans were ill-calculated for every elegant pursuit. After abandoning the rigid virtues by which Cincinnatus reached the summit of glory, they gave way to a corruption of manners, and an insatiable rapacity, which would have remained a solitary example of hu man depravity, had not revolutionary France exhibited scenes still more horrid and revolting. The tyranny of the Romans, and of the French under Bonaparte, is stamped with the same horrid features, the same unbounded and unprincipled lust of dominion rendered both the disturberg of human repose. By the pride and avidity of the descendants of Romulus, Greece was stripped of her pictures and statues; by the rapacity and avidity of the Directorial Government, and that Jacobin General, Italy was robbed of these identical statues, and of paintings more exquisitely beautiful even than those of Zeuxis or Apelles. If to plunder the van. quished of every thing that can contribute to the comfort, instruction, or the ornament of society be an object of merited censure, both nations are equally eulpable, both equally tyrants and robbers. The ravager the exterminator, Verres, was not worse than many others of the Roman Proconsuls. Who can read the Verrine orations and nct curse from his heart this cruel and rapacious people? The morey of the unhappy Si