ePub 版

self, my future days shall be spent in endeavouring to win the esteem of those relatives and friends, which I fear, by my conduct I have justly forfeited.” She paused, unable to speak, and ashamed of myself I withdrew. I never again visited her, and I cannot but think that I was the means of reclaiming her.

E. R.






[ocr errors]

To which is annexed, a Memoir on the Private or Domestic Lives of the Romans:

Published by Davis f. Force, Washington. p.p. 240.
The importance of employing to good purpose that period of
life which is usually devoted to education, is excedingly great. It
is then that the mind lays in those stores of knowledge that are
the principal means by which it is afterwards to procure happi-
ness and distinction in the world. From the time that the intel-
lect is sufficiently developed to be capable of receiving knowledge,
until it becomes exercised in the practical application of its
acquirement on the stage of busy life, every moment is precious;
and it is equally a loss to be unprofitably employed, as it is to be
totally idle. The man who, therefore, points out a shorter path
to knowledge than that commonly trod, and thereby contributes
to the saving of both time and labour, confers a real benefit on
society, and is entitled to its gratitude.

Every one who has succeeded during his years of pupilship, in furnishing himself with a respectable stock of information, will recollect how great a share of it was acquired without the aid of tutors or lecturers, and altogether by voluntary exertion in the perusal and study of books. Such a one will also recollect with regret, how much active and laborious time was uselessly wasted by the injudicious selection of his course of reading. Books of science, of history, of ethics, of belles-letters, &c. &c. are incalculably numerous, and some of them unmanageably

[ocr errors]

voluminous. No one mind is capable, during the ordinary period of studentship, to master even a moiety of their contents. To select judiciously from among them is, therefore, a matter of much moment, and must be attended with the happiest results. But pupils are seldom proper judges; and tutors generally confine their instructions to the particular branches incumbent on them to teach ; or, if friendship towards the pupil, or a commendable desire to do as much good as possible, induces them at any time, to transcend the limits of their peculiar duties, and give gratuitous advice, it is seldom that they are so little prejudiced in favour of particular authorities, or a particular routine of studies, as to be able to give an advice of a really judicious and beneficial description. They have themselves generally toiled through voluminous tracts in search of knowledge, and having obtained it by industrious research, amidst the rubbish of innumerable volumes, they are apt to suppose that it is no where else to be found ; and, therefore, seldom fail to recommend to others, a pursuit similarly laborious and tedious.

This being too much the case, a work that would point out & short and clear path to useful knowledge, could not but be of immense service, not only in the schools, but to youth in all situations, where a choice of books can be obtained. The work before us appears to have done this very successfully. It has done it succinctly, it is true; but we consider that circumstance one of its recommendations. Long disquisitions on elementary subjects are seldom pleasing, especially to youth, whose ardent and impatient tempers render them dissatisfied with prolixity ; and however anxious they may be to know what is best for them to do, they are desirous to be told it at once, and with as little circumlocution as possible.

Mr. Watterston seems to have written the present book from a conviction of the truth of this circumstance. He perceived the difficulties under which youth labour, from the unmanageable abundance of books presented, and often promiscuously recommended to their notice-nay, like every other man of education le must have experienced these difliculties; and he conceived that assisting to relieve the minds of yonth from them, by direct

ing their choice, would render them an essential service.-Wo have already said that we think he has succeeded in his design.

The work is written in the form of a series of letters addressed to his son, with especial view, as appears from the title, to point out to him the readiest and easiest mode of qualifying him for making a figure as a public speaker, whether at the Bar or in the Senate. In the course of these letters, the writer manifests good taste as well as judgment, in the selection of the books he recommends; and it was with much satisfaction we observed, that in respect to the English poets, he is exactly of our opinion as to those who deserve to be considered the classics of the language. Shakspeare, Spencer, Milton, Pope, Dryden, Thompson, Gray, Goldsmith, Akenside, Cowper, and Campbell, are the poets whose works he says to his son:-“ Will refine your taste and exalt your imagination. The other poets you may read, if you please, these should be studied, inasmuch as they contain the very pith and essence of poetry.” Our four favourite bards are precisely those whom he has selected from among all the rest as worthy of particular recommendation.

Of the English poets,” he writes, “you, perhaps cannot read too often or examine too critically, the works of Shakspeare, Milton, Pope and Thompson, because from these you will derive a full knowledge of the energy

and copiousness of your vernacular language, of the richness and harmony of its versification, and of the compass-variationpower and beauty of which it is susceptible. The admirable strokes of nature, every where abounding in Shakespeare, * fancy's airy child ;" the grandeur and sublimity of thought and expression of Milton ; the harmony, condensation, scrupulous accuracy and fine moral sentiment of Pope : and the minute and exquisite pencilling, the rich and beautiful colour ing of Thompson, cannot but furnish the mind with the finest sources of delicate and durable pleasure. Let the best poets

, then, I beseech you, meet with a due share of your attention at all times ; and amidst your abstru:er studies, and more ariu, ous employments, let them be your occasional companions and friends."

In thus giving the preference to these genuine masters of English song, we dare say, that Mr. Watterston no more dreamed that he was manifesting an old fashioned obselete taste in literature, which would be offensive to the admirers of the barbarous poetry now in fashion, than we ourselves did when we lately mentioned our preference of the same authors. He did not suppose that there were any men with pretensions to a cultivated taste, clear judgment, and natural feeling, who could become so besotted with the notoriety of the wearisome and reckless writers of the lullaby school of Wordsworth, or the groaning school of Byron, as to prefer their productions to those of the master-spirits whom he so warmly recommends to the favour of his son. Mr. Watterston, however, need not be ashamed of his recommendation, for we believe that the most intelligent portion of readers on either side of the ocean ; all who consult their own good sense, in

preference to the allegations of inconsiderate critics; all who bow to the dictates of everlasting nature, rather than to the mandates of temporary fashion, are of his opinion ; and we are firmly persuaded that fashion herself, will, before the lapse of a very long period, once more become ranged on the side of decency, dignity, harmony, and good sense.

The first portion of this book may be termed a Guide to Know. leilge. It consists of twelve letters, each of which embraces a short view of some branch of literature or science, beginning with that best suited to the early intellect, and rising gradually to those branches which require for their comprehension, stronger powers of mind, and a more matured judgment. This is a judicious arrangement. It simplifies the course of study which it recommends, and exemplifies the advantage and beauty of adhering to system even in giving advice.

To these monitory letters are added six others, constituting a Memoir on the Private Lives of the Romans, which although it contains nothing original, is well written, and will be found by all who are not already conversant with the subject, to be both amusing and instructive.

The following is the fifth of these letters. Wo lay it before our readers, not only because it is the shortest, but also because it displays in a very striking view the great difference in the manners of those illustrious men who in the virtuous days of Rome, laid the foundation of her subsequent grandeur, and of those sons of luxury and pride, who, enjoying the treasures of a conquered world, rioted in vice and profligacy, until they became so enervated that their career of conquest ceased, and, in process

of time, barbarians were able to snatch from them all that their heroic father's had won. My dear Son:

We have at last arrived at the supper hour of the Roman citizen, after having followed him through all the different occupations, pursuits, and pleasures in which he was engaged in the preceding hours of the day ; I will now endeavour to conduct you into his supper chamber or dining room, and to exhibit the nature of the entertainment which he there enjoyed. In the early ages of Rome, as I have already shown, frugality and temperance constituted the most prominent virtues of the Roman character. Their ordinary food consisted of milk and regetables, which they cultivated with their own hands, and which they ate in their own simple and humble habitations. Even in the year of Rome 462, no great progress had been made in the sumptuousness of their entertainments or the magnificence of their apartments ; for we find the consul Curius Dentatus, preparing his own dinner of roots on a little wooden bench, and receiving the ambassadors of the Samnites in that lowly and unostentatious condition. You, I have no doubt, recollect the answer he made to those deputies, when presuming upon his poverty, they offered him a bribe to prevail upon him to intercede in their behalf with the Senate: “ Without doubt my indigence makes you hope that you may corrupt me; but you are mistaken. I had rather be the commander of rich men, than be rich myself: go tell your nation that they will find it as difficult to bribe as to conquer me.” In these and in more remote ages, the Romans supped in an open hall, called the atrium, exposed to the eyes of the public; for how sober and frugal soever their fare might be, they had no censure to apprehend, and no ridicule to fear ; because every one observed the same simplicity of life, and made no one effort to dis

greater magnificence. Till the destruction of the city by the Gauls, their houses were but humble cottages, and their dining hall served the purposes both of a drawing room and a kitchen, and cach cottage or cabin was considered in the light of a temple; because, it was inhabited by justice, probity, and lonour,"* But wealth and luxury, the spoils of the world and the vices of the east, finally led to a new system of manners, and a subversion of what had once constituted the principal source of their power, virtue, and happiness—their cabins were converted into palaces, and their temperance and simplicity changed into

• Seneca.

« 上一頁繼續 »