« 上一頁繼續 »
young then be “the beginning of wisdom.” It should not mainly consist of dry compends, and well meant fictions, but of something that will inculcate true virtue, and commend it as the better part to be chosen and cherished.
“To know That which before us lies in daily life
Is the prime wisdom.”' Not to be left
“in things that most concern Unpractised, unprepared, and still to seek," is the greatest blessing that discipline can confer an inexperi
Fiction is not to be despised as an instrument of moral culture. It has always been employed in wise counsel from the days of Jotham and Nathan, through every kind of instruction from Æsop to Spenser and Shakspeare, under an infinity of forms, to our time in every land. But the chief use of fiction is its truth, its truth of moral principles. Adam Clarke, the Methodist divine, believed that fairy tales and ghost stories told salutary truth ; the truth of spiritual existence and agency; affirming that notions of intelligent being without corporeality, given before the gross and palpable bave blinded the mind's eye, and clogged its wings, are elements of faith in things divine and heavenly.
Stories of virtue rewarded, of vice and folly punished, and of sin forgiven, may hold out incentives to persevere in well doing, inay encourage to depart from iniquity, may contribute with higher influences to set the affections above the lowest objects of human choice. But the same lessons are more inpressively taught by truth itself, uncompounded with well meant invention. Madame de Staël says, somewhere in her writings, that the moral of a fiction may be rationally doubted, because the apportionment of consequence is as much in the inventor's power as is the whole course of action in imaginary agents. The human subjects of a fictitious tale are always regarded in some degree as unreal personages. No illusion is strong enough entirely to replace such conviction. How much then of the retribution attached to their deeds is regarded as an inevitable result; a proper illustration of God's dealings with men ?
The worst effect of reading pure fiction, to those who read nothing else, -- and of ill-educated people such is the entire reading, - is that it leaves the mind in the same empty state in which it commenced the new tale. If a young person reads the life of Sir William Jones, of Madame Roland, of Flaxman, of La Mere Angelique, he or she learns the efficacy of virtuous resolution, the success of self-discipline, the beauty of a life consecrated to pure art, the ennobling and reformatory influences of genuine piety, and heart-bred holiness. There is no escaping from the demonstration and authority of these examples. But take away their authenticity, set them forth in dramatic power, call each individual by other names, add loves and friendships they never knew to the events of their history, and trials and triumphs that belong to romance to the grave reality of their experience, would there be more or less instructiveness to the narratives that should celebrate them thus, than in those that do the plain unvarnished fact deliver? And besides when one reads the history of a man it is also the bistory of his age and country in some respects. Luther belongs to Germany, to Europe, to mankind, to bygone ages, to future time, to truth, to liberty; and so do Galileo, and Milton, and multitudes more, who have illustrated mankind, and of whom the most interesting memorials yet remain.
The light reading which School Library projectors, and Sunday-School collections, minister to the green age, and which they who are thus begun with minister to themselves in the ripe, makes no representations of events that have actually happened, nor of the proper capability and responsibility of a moral being. No real advance in knowledge, no infixing of principles is effected by such reading. The higher works of fiction, either of poetry or romance, that demand preparatory knowledge, and oftentimes erudite criticism to make them intelligible, are not the frequent and favorite reading of those just alluded to, who yet declare themselves to be “s of reading.” Some who know not a letter are better taught then they. Not to exclude rational fiction, but making use of all its safe and salutary lessons, it is important that the people should learn their own nature, man as he is, and as he has been, in savage and civilized lise ; in pagan darkness and Christian light; in his enterprises and achievements; in his temptations and trials; in his weakness and his strength ; in different
lands and different ages; and especially in this our day, when thought and action, speculation and experiment, are carrying forward the race, each individual with the whole to the high destiny of intelligent, moral, and immortal beings.
In looking over our own country, over our own growing cities, our flourishing manufacturing towns, our broad lands made fertile by the labor of a vigorous agricultural population, the most interesting idea which arises in the mind is not the physical power thus developed, or the wealth thus created. İt is the happiness of the greatest number, or the greatest happiness of the whole. Thence follows the inquiry, what is the best quality of happiness ? The rapture of the bacchanal, the self-oblivion of the sot, the “ fickle reek” of human applause, the complacency of satisfied ambition have all been extolled, even by the poet's song, as modes of enjoyment. But these are all transitory, inferior in their nature, and nothing worth compared with home-born happiness growing out of all the virtues that are cherished by the fireside, that are inculcated in God's temple, that should be taught from the dame-school to the college, and which it is the function of a popular literature to set forth so attractively, that they shall seem more estimable than all the unsatisfying things of time and sense. The man who loves bis country, in the most generous significance of patriotism, is not less concerned to provide the best instruction for all people than to bring out all their physical resources. He is as desirous that no talent be preverted, or lost to society, no honesty be corrupted, no virtuous endeavor be discouraged, no capacity of goodness be turned to vice, and no just taste or elevated standard in conduct be degraded, as he is to enlarge his possessions, to augment the wealth of the community, or to outvie the men of other countries in distinctions merely external.
When the better informed among us give countenance and encouragement to good literature, to the disparagement of that which is anything but good, and when just criticism enlightens the common mind, it may be hoped that we shall not deserve the reproach as a people, that we are given up to all sordidness; that we have fixed our preference upon the lower objects of human pursuit, and that we content ourselves with a popular literature accomodated to mean tastes rather than to the cultivation of better. Whether we shall accept the patrimony
of the past, and enrich it with creations of our own time; whether we shall go on from strength to strength in all the power of accumulated wealth of the mind, or content ourselves with what mediocrity invents and ignorance buys, remains with ourselves; and our choice in this matter will color our whole character as a people, notwithstanding the exception of a few higher natures among us, under a more enlightened culture. It our popular mind is to be recreated and satisfied by an impoverished and perishable literature, then as a people our retired hours, our daily intercourse, our social pleasures must lose all dignity and grace, and not only we, but our children, and their posterity, must deteriorate in consequence.
The Kingdom of Christ; or Hints respecting the Principles,
Constitution, and Ordinances of the Catholic Church. By FREDERICK DENISON MAURICE, M. A., Chaplain of Guy's Hospital, and Professor of English Literature and History in King's College, London. From the second London Edition. New York: D. Appleton & Co. 1843. 8vo. pp. 595.
This is not a book to be spoken of contemptuously. There is a good deal in it we like ; a good deal of discriminating thought ; but much to which we cannot assent; and there is a haziness spread over the author's leading idea, which it requires some effort to penetrate. For some of his thoughts he acknowl. edges himself indebted to Coleridge, though from several of his views, especially those relating to the Christian rites and priesthood, Coleridge would have dissented.
This “Catholic Church" (not Roman) is a spiritual and permanent institution, the “ signs
" of which are,
Baptism, the Creeds, Forms of Worship, the Eucharist, the Ministerial Orders, the Scriptures." All these signs and characters he finds in the English Church, which, besides universality, has also “nationality.” In this church, he thinks, are embraced all the elements which lie at the foundation of the several sects, Quakerism and Unitarianism not excepted.
He discusses Quakerism at some length, and has some very acute remarks
it. Quakerism, as a system, he dislikes, as every true Churchman must; yet he finds, in the great central doctrines of primitive Quakerism, “either truths or hints of truths which are most vital and important.” He considers the experiment of Quakerism, however, as unsuccessful; “ all its grand pretensions,” he says, “are at an end.” Between Evangelism on the one side, and Unitarianism on the other, it cannot long maintain itself.
The author then proceeds to consider, what he calls, the principles of “ Pure Protestantism,” the first of which is “ Justification by Faith," the representative of which is Luther, “Election," represented by Calvin, and “ Authority of the Scriptures," represented by Zuinglius. He treats of the objections to Protestant systems embodying these three principles, and of what there is good in them; the "working," of these systems, and