« 前へ次へ »
as he can for his country, regardless of the injuries he may commit Such a man acts for a nation as he does for himself; he carries into prac tice the precept, “ Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Many writers have touched upon war, and much has been said, both for and against it; those of the present day are, however, generally opposed; and the Congress of Nations, which, but a few years since, was ridiculed as an emanation from the brains of hot-headed fanatics, is already occupying the attention of the wisest legislators throughout the world.
What a blissful state of things, when all nations shall be at peace! when we shall see each pursuing its own interest with benefit to the rest! This shall be the consequence, and not the cause of the universal spread of Christianity. The situation of our own country is particularly favorable for the application of its rules. It may, indeed, be urged, that they would not yet be appreciated; let us then hasten the period, and not rest in the work of well-doing, till all tribes and nations shall be brought to know their God, and his law. Onward ! should then be the cry of every 'moral man; our time of action here is but short at the most, yet much may be done, and is there one, who, with an immortal's happiness within his grasp, is too indolent to put forth his hand for it? No! that man is unworthy the name of republican, whose sole aim is self, who regards not his country, and his fellow-men throughout the world.
Let us, then, as a nation, stand forward for the introduction of moral precepts to direct our relations with foreign countries. The experiment is new, but does not the interest at stake warrant us in the risk, if there can be danger, in preferring the dictates of conscience and our God, to the precepts of short-sighted man.
'A Discussion is the treating of a subject by argument, to clear it of difficulties, and to separate truth from falsehood. It is generally carried on between two or more persons, who take contrary sides, and defend them by arguments and illustrations.
Discussions are of several kinds, such as philosophical, literary, political, or moral, according to the subjects of which they treat; or colloquial and deliberative, according to the style in which they are written, or the occasion for which they are prepared.
Discussions serve for amusement, rather than for any solid purpose; the cause of truth seldom derives any immediate benefit from them, although the minds of men may become invigorated by a collision of sen: timent.
On the Expediency of making Authorship a Profession.
In modera civilized communities, a certain opinion or maxim is often prevalent, which, would we strip it of the shroud of conceit and the glit. ter of cant, would appear unwarrantable prejudice. Of this description is the objection so constantly urged against the profession of the author a man whom few will call their brother, the laughing-stock of the mer. chant's clerk, and a laborer poorly paid in the world's coin. The broker seldom meets him on the exchange; the usurer never chaffers with him on the mart; the old man clinks his bags and shrugs his shoulders at his prospects ; the schoolmaster takes to trade, and presently rolls by him in his coach, and, perhaps, worst of all, the bright eye is turned away, and the fair hand withheld by one who can never be the wife of an author! This prejudice which I describe, was once common throughout the old world ; now it is particularly confined to America. Still everywhere the man whose pen is to be his support is thought a visionary, or an idler. The author's garret has long since passed into a by-word, and the gaping elbow has become the escutcheon of his family. "His poverty is a kind of general butt, and his sensitiveness a fair subject of caricature. I am aware, that I shall not speak agreeably to the judgment of most who hear me; let us, however, examine fairly some of the errors which have led people to think authorship unprofitable and inexpedient.
There are many persons, who, having neither the vigor nor refinement of mind to distinguish between what is material and intellectaal, would measure poetry by the yard, or fill a library by the bushel! To such, whatever yields the greatest amount of tangible, improvable product is the best producer; unless mind acts openly, as a machine, they suppose it to be dormant. Let such persons first comprehend the purpose of the author whom they censure ; let them learn, that there possibly may be higher motives of action than gold or silver, - loftier contemplations than those of the counting-house or factory! And, although this is working-day world, and man must labor for hire, let them thank God, that there are men, who find times of communion with better thoughts; and, but for whose speculations, and grasps at the infinite, these shortsighted cavillers would be as lifeless as the clods on which they tread! Coleridge says, with the enthusiasm of a genius, –“I expect neither profit cor general fame by my writings, and I consider myself as having been amply repaid without either. Poetry has been to me its own exceeding great reward; it has soothed my afflictions; it has multiplied and refined my enjoyments; it has endeared solitude, and it has given me the habit of wishing to discover the good and the beautiful in all that meets and sur. rounds me.” Urge such a man, if you can, to convert his “ Christa del " into an interest-table, and limit his peace of mind by the rise and fall of stocks!
We of America colaplain, that we have no established literature; and nntil more among us are willing to devote themselves to the cause of lit erature, we must be content to reflect the literary splendor of England Some of the brightest creations, indeed, of modern days, some of the fairest creatures of love, and poetry, and romance, belong to America, but they are not very numerous, and, ten to one, our poet or novelist, like the poor author's garment, which was, a cap by night, a stocking all the day," pours forth his strain after completing the routine of a pleader at the bar, a bank officer, or political editor! Among the respectable and vitally important cares of professional life, literature has a poor chanca of encouragement; the philosopher's speculations, or the poet's theory, having nothing to do with the brief or the dissecting knife.
“ This is the language,” says the objector, “of romantic folly; we must live, so let us labor for the readiest recompense; intellect will not support life, nor secure comfort." Such an one, be it observed, mistakes the ambition of the literary man. Without altogether neglecting, he seeks something infinitely better, than pecuniary ease. True, Goldsmith was needy, and Chatterton was driven to despair, and Otway died of starvation. But I do not believe that either would have foregone one sublime conception, or erased from his writings one maxim of sound morality, to gain the wealth of the princes who neglected him! A lying tombstone tells the story of many a rich patron of their time, their memorials are, " The Deserted Village," and " Venice Preserved."
I ain not advocating that sickly, sentimental, "love-in-a-cottage” kind of doctrine, which teaches, that mind is above ordinary necessities, and that the wants of life are not our common inheritance. But I do contend, that the time is coming, and that it should speedily come, in America, when a class of men whose wants are not extravagant, but attainable and refined, will meet with support. The human powers are unfairly and unprofitably employed, if turned to many different subjects; and this truth should be better known in America. The lawyer has an end before him, which only a life can attain; so has the physician, the clergymari, and the author. Unite the duties of either two, and you injure both.
Assuming, what we need not enlarge upon, the importance of a high national literature, let any one observe, who are the supporters of that which adorns England. “Not those, he will find, who united two or three occupations! Goldsmith was a professional man at first, but his patients were few, and he soon became what he was born to be, an au thor! Scott never figured at the bar, and Shakspeare was an indifferent actor. The problem may be easily solved. Some minds are fitted to investigate by help of the data of others, and apply to God's work their conclusions, and others are designed more exclusively to create; a distinction rarely sufficiently observed. The author has no common. work to perform; he who would instruct others, must untiringly improve himself; presenting no theories undigested, and familiar with the wildest speculations. In America, and everywhere else, we want a race of thinkers; men who will keep aloof from the eddy, which draws in politician and merchant, and even the professional man, and give us the results of long meditation. The mere words are no part of an author's labor; they but represent long previous mental action. The silence of the study is to mature the observations of the world.
Professional men generally appeal to their race only in one capacity; the author. by enlarged views of life, and illustrations of moral truth, may
de & great reformer. Vice has long enough run riot; let the author, by moulding passion to his will, make it of service to his race! Is he a phí. losopher, the wonders of the past, and the mysteries of the future, are his province. Is he a poet, - the freshness of nature, the fair holiness of woman, and the purity of truth, urge him to a life of thought and meditation. His influence spreads light about him; his pursuits soften his nature; he loves more heartily what is lovely, and is more ready to pity what is frail. The world says truly, he is poor; but what is that poverty which gives wealth to one's contemporaries, and bequeaths an inheritance to posterity!
The Expediency of making Authorship a Profession
Almost universal experience proves the pecuniary reward of literary labor to be but trifling. In the throng of authors and nien of genius, we find only here and there a solitary instance of well-requited endeavors; and if, at the present day, it is not as formerly quite true, that the idea of an author must be associated with a narrow lane and an obscure garret, it is not because his reward is liberal, or in any degree proportioned to nis merits. Individual instances may, indeed, be brought up, to prove the success which sometimes attends literary pursuits ; but for every one that could be cited, who had basked in the sunshine of prosperity, and enjoyed the smiles of the great and good among his contemporaries, we could marshal a hundred of equal power and genius, depressed by pov. erty, and treated with indifference and neglect; whose only recompense has been the tribute paid to their memory and writings in after times.
If we judge, then, from the remuneration that has generally attended the labors of the author, we are justified in forming presages little flattering to his future success. And, since fortune and genius are seldom found in companionship, what must be the consequence of making authorship a profession, of individuals devoting themselves to the cause of truth and literature, and relying on the gratitude and favor of the public for support? It is useless to say what should be the reward of the author, and to speak of the dignity and importance of the part which he sustain: in the public drama, so long as we witness what is, and what has been the requital of his labors. It is upon facts alone, that we must ground our decision. And with these before our eyes, must we not fear the consequences to literature, if its existence and progress depend upon the exertions of disappointed and ill-requited genius? Consider the situation of that man, who, conscious of his own power, resolves to devote himself to the pursuit of letters, to become an author. Supposing, as has been the case with thousands who have preceded him, that his first attempts ar authorship are unsuccessful. His expectations are disappointed; the promise of fame and of support is withered and blighted; the world looks upon him with indifference; a rival regards him with contempt; and the sharp and cold words of the critic ring in his ear the knell of his first lit yrary offspring. If he acquiesces in the decision of his judges, it is only confessing his poor claims to distinction. If not, if he feels that time alone can pronounce the true decision upon his writings, there is yet ng
resort for him, if he would obtain support from the profession which he has chosen, but to conform his writings to the popular taste. Follow that man to his closet, and witness the struggles of his mind, the contest be tween inclination and interest. The one prompts him to follow his own genius; to utter the dictates of his own feelings, to be true to his own nature. The other sternly requires him to bow to the critics, to yield to the decision of the public, and in future to lower his aspirations. It is here that we would most deprecate the evils of making authorship a profession; that we would warn the young aspirant for literary distinction, with means inadequate to his support
, against trusting to the ancertain reward of his exertions, unless he is willing to degrade his genius, and substitute for his own taste and inclinations, those of the capricious and unthinking multitude. If, instead or relying upon the avails of author ship, he looks to another profession for the means of subsistence, the thoughts of his leisure moments may be given to the world, without be ing fashioned and moulded by the opinions of other men. How can we expect one to preserve his individuality as a writer, if it must be at the expense of his interests, his only means of support. He that does right only from interested motives, cannot rank among men of the highest moral excellence; nor can the author, who writes mainly with a view to his own support, be considered the most vigilant guardian of the cause of truth and letters.
Nor is this all. When an author has resigned his right of self-guidance, and has taken up the trade of writing to suit the public taste; whose desire is to write what may be popular; the kindred desire soon manifests itself of increasing, as fast as possible, the number of his works. Namies are not wanting to prove, that this has often been the case, and that, too, with some of the most distinguished authors. We witness it in the thousand ephemeral productions, that appear but to attract the public curiosity for a moment, and then give way to works as worthless and short-lived as themselves; justifying the remark," that authorship immoderately employed makes the head waste and the heart empty, even were there no other and worse consequences; and that a person who sends away through the pen and the press every thought, the moment it occurs to him, will, in a short time, have sent all away, and will become a mere journeyman of the printing office, a compositor !” The cause of literature is the cause of truth, and it would be as unnecessary as unwise to trust it in the hands of those, who would support its interest, only so far as they coincided with their own.
We would willingly join in the sentiment of Professor Henry, that "we need an order of men of lofty intellectual enduwment, an intellectual high priesthood standing within the inner veil of the temple of truth, reverently watching before the holy of holies for its divine revelations, and giving them out to the lower ministers at the altar;" but if this priesthood and their inferior ministers must become the ser. vants and dependents of the multitude, whom it is their great office to guide and direct, their power and their usefulness are at an end. The shrine of truth had better be intrusted to inferior hands, or at once be desecrated and overthrown, than become the sanctuary of hypocrisy and error.