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the English capital contains at present specimens of Grecian sculpture, which more than divide admiration with the noblest statues at Rome. Besides this, on a large portion of the continent of Europe, the rights of persons are guarantied to the nations, which have no constitutions, solely by the existence of the Roman jurisprudence, of which the elements were, it is true, collected and arranged under an emperor, but were originally created in an age of liberty. And in the southern countries, the Italians, reposing like foreign pilgrims near the ruins' of their predecessors, are constantly admonished of their degeneracy by the still existing monuments of ancient independence and industry; the few herdsmen, to whom the plains round the Eternal City are abandoned, gather from the wrecks which surround them sufficient proof, that the land was once occupied by a nation that indulged in vast conceptions, which it possessed the energy to execute. And the modern Greek sees on all sides objects, which indicate that the former occupants of the soil were the high minded advocates of liberty. But we possess none of the works, with which the ancient cities were embellished. We cannot acquire their statues nor their works of art; we cannot learn from the remains of their labors, how persevering they were in all enterprises connected with public utility; we cannot believe in their devotion, their consummate skill, their sublime conceptions, from observing the stately symmetry of their temples. Our hills, our mountainous passes, our towns, our bays, have no associations, which lead the thoughts back to the times, when poetry breathed her earliest accents, and freedom won her first battles. Of Grecian or Roman genius there is no production, which we can directly contemplate but their literature.
And what more could we desire? What better inheritance can our country receive from the ancient republics than the writings, which contain the thoughts and sentiments of their finest minds? We say again, those writings deserve especially to be studied by us; because their tendency is favorable to free institutions. The Athenians, though they sometimes flattered kings, never eulogised the regal form of government. They cherished the love of freedom to the last, and their regrets at its loss are almost as instructive as their pride in its possession. Nor should we forget, to what class of so
VOL. XIX. NO. 44.
ciety the Grecian writers belonged. They were men, who, having enriched their minds by travel and intercourse with the learned of other countries, returned, like Plato, to ripen their powers and their knowledge by reflection. Or they were men, who wrote, after retiring from political or military life, in which they had vigorously defended the rights and liberties of the state. Eschylus fought in the great battles against the Persians; Sophocles, who led the chorus in celebrating the victory of Salamis, was afterwards distinguished as a soldier and a statesman; Thucydides did not become a writer, till his country had refused the farther use of his sword; and Herodotus paused amidst his literary career, to take the lead in a successful revolution against the tyrant of his native city.
The best works of the Grecians were produced during their independence; and in the later writers the spirit of a better age than their own is reflected. In Roman literature we have sometimes cause to be disgusted with servile adulation; we could wish that Horace had not employed his genius in celebrating the victories of Augustus; and should cherish Virgil the more, if something of the rustic republicanism of the elder days were discoverable in his verse; but these are the poets, whose works are to be studied, that the principles of good taste may be observed in their practical application, and the imagination become familiar with beautiful conceptions; the understanding is stored rather from the thoughts of Cicero and of Tacitus. Moreover, the ancients prized personal independence and freedom of public debate. Everything of general interest was regularly communicated in the market places; and the comic theatre was the tribunal before which, as in modern newspapers, the characters of public men were scrutinised with unrestrained boldness. In their works of an elevated tone, in the orations of Demosthenes, for instance, the doctrine of liberty is taught on the principles, which make it of universal value, and is supported, not merely because it makes a nation more prosperous, but because it is essential to the moral dignity and intellectual freedom of individuals, and equally essential to the honor of the state. We can but desire, that such views should be encouraged by all possible means; we need not fear, though the study of Homer should teach other lessons than those of passive obedience; we should
find pleasure in being instructed, by the rules of ancient liberty,' how a people may provide for its prosperity and glory.
We may add, that ancient literature has become the common property of mankind. Some foreign assistance is needed in the great concern of national education. But if we make use of none but English books, or if we do not go beyond the literature of living nations, there is danger of being affected with some foreign taint; of supporting our intellectual existence by aliment not perfectly suited to our condition. The study of the classics deserves, therefore, to be encouraged as a means of preserving national literary independence.
A much stronger argument lies in the probable influence, which they would exert on national character. The Greeks preferred beauty to utility, glory to prosperity. Vast sums, employed for works of art, formed a large, and as it seemed to them, a necessary part of the annual expenditure of their states. If the tendency of our age were to ruinous extravagance, in all matters connected with public property, if one state were contending with another in the architectural perfection of its edifices, if the first settlers of the fertile banks of our western rivers had thought of nothing but cultivating the elegant arts, if the same spirit, which raised St Peter's, or the York cathedral, were at work among our countrymen to the injury of good thrift, and in contempt of rational calculation, it would be the duty of every patriotic citizen to repress even the sublimity of enthusiasm, and to counteract the immoderate love of display, by sober and practical views of utility. But we are in no danger of being carried too far by our zeal for objects, not directly necessary to our welfare. Our fathers have given us excellent political and civil institutions established on a solid foundation; commerce has enriched our cities; internal navigation is promoted by the grandest efforts of public and private enterprise; the springs of the Mississippi have already been turned into the Hudson and the chain of the Alleghanies is to offer, it would seem, but a temporary barrier to the union of the Ohio and the Potomac. We have done, or are doing, everything to further objects of public and private advantage. It becomes, therefore, the duty of the patriotic statesman to provide for the other sources of national glory and happiness; to cherish a disinterested passion for the elegant and ornamental arts,
till our country shall surpass every other, not only in the value of its political privileges, and the prosperity of its citizens, but also in the perfection of its monuments. At this epoch, therefore, while the nation is so rapidly forming its character, and while it is still possible to introduce new elements, the study of classic letters deserves to be encouraged, because it tends to awaken and cherish a love for the arts, by which society is adorned and refined.
In a free country, moreover, there should be no limits to inquiry. It is desirable, that the condition of man in every age should be known; that human nature should be studied under all her aspects; that every form of society and every revolution in governments should be understood.
And the last reason, why we would defend the study of classic literature is, that it is the best. The Greek poets, orators, and philosophers, still remain unrivalled. We look backwards along the wastes of time, and behold them eminent above all others, shining through the gloom of ages, as stars of changeless and unequalled brilliancy. The languages, which were in use before the time of Homer, so far as modern culture is concerned, have wholly perished; they may have been harmonious and expressive; but the poet did not bestow on them immortality by breathing into them thought and passion. The Greek was the mother tongue of the Muses,' the first language, in which the life blood of master spirits was embalmed and treasured up to a life beyond life.' The ancient literature of Greece has been the fosterer of genius in other countries and ages. The more elevated minds among the Romans comprehended its excellence, and delighted to transfuse its beauties into their native dialect. And from that time to the present, its influence has been directly or immediately exerted on the literature of every European nation, and always with benefit. And what a source of delight, no less than instruction, may be found in its writers. 'Keep your books,' says Cicero to Atticus, alluding to the Greek library of the latter; 'I do not despair, but I can one day make them mine; which if I obtain, I shall surpass Crassus in opulence.' Cicero wrote in the ripeness of manhood, and the Attic tongue was as familiar to him as his own. 'I have seated Homer,' says Petrarca, when he was no proficient in Greek, by the side of Plato, the prince of poets by
the prince of philosophers; and I glory in the sight of my illustrious guests.' And then he breaks out into lamentations, that his ignorance of the language made him deaf to the voice of Mæonides. We know not whether a more honorable testimony be borne to the excellence of the Grecian literature, by the hopes of Cicero, or the regrets of Petrarca.
But on this topic we will enlarge no farther, and will only add, that we are gratified to find our views supported, in another part of the Union, by a writer so judicious and well informed as Mr Watterston. Throughout the whole of his little volume, we recognise a man zealous for freedom of thought and speech, and for the diffusion of knowledge; careful to inculcate good morals, and a respect for the Scriptures. Though some parts of his work are hardly practical, and his advice is sometimes indefinite, he shows a uniform desire of promoting the true discipline of the mind and sound learning.
The first object, to which he adverts, is the study of the ancient languages and literature. We quote his remarks at large, as a specimen of his manner, and as containing correct observations on an important subject.
'The study of languages is usually and properly the first step in a liberal and enlarged system of education. The youthful mind is peculiarly fitted for the acquirement and retention of words; but not sufficiently expanded and vigorous to comprehend the nature, principles, and objects, of positive science. Memory is the first faculty that unfolds itself, and perhaps the most susceptible of improvement. Languages, therefore, as a branch of elementary knowledge, should be early attended to. They are emphatically the key to science, and the spring of life cannot be more judiciously or advantageously employed than in acquiring them. A knowledge of what are termed the dead, and some of the living languages, I conceive to be absolutely indispensable to the character of a fine scholar, and an able and distinguished civilian and statesman; and it is exceedingly to be regretted that these, especially the learned languages, are so much neglected in our country. This has arisen from a mistaken idea, that their attainment takes up too much time, and that the period usually devoted to their acquisition might be better employed in acquiring more solid and useful information. No error can be more glaring than this; every day's experience demonstrates its fallacy.
"The acquirement of the dead languages will be found to be attended with great and permanent advantages; among which, it will be sufficient barely to mention its tendency to improve the princi