« AnteriorContinuar »
A princay of literaryThe active and the
way more actual force of mind than in any other. In a word, he uniformly displayed the outward forms of greatness and goodness, which to a certain extent suppose the substance, and which also to a certain extent take its place when it is wanting. If we compare him with his contemporary, Charles II. of England, who, though not a great monarch, had perhaps more real ability than Lewis, we see distinctly the immense value of mere decorum and self-respect, in the absence of the higher and more striking qualities of the mind and heart. Charles II., who never said a foolish thing, is also reported, with some truth, to have never done a wise one. Lewis XIV., whose sayings were much less brilliant, and whose stock of real wisdom was not much greater, obtained, by the aid of some superficial talents which the other wanted, the success and reputation of one of the greatest sovereigns of modern times.
A prince of this description could not well overlook the brilliant display of literary talent, that was just taking place at his court and capital. The active encouragement of Richelieu had done much in producing it, and the inere restoration of the internal tranquillity of the kingdom would have greatly aided its progress, but the marked attentions which were shown by the king to men of genius and letters, and the vogue and popularity thus conferred upon them, produced its effect in animating their zeal. Lewis XIV., though he had no literary talent himself, had intelligence and sensibility enough to feel the effect of good sense and good poetry. He also delighted in public exhibitions and entertainments of all kinds, and consequently valued very highly the dramatic talent which gave so much attraction to his theatres. The most distinguished poets of his time were admitted to his personal and familiar society, and were rewarded with honorable places and pensions. Racine, for example, was historiographer, treasurer of France, and the king's private secretary and chamberlain. Molière, who in his capacity of actor could not claim so high a social position, had the title of valet de chambre to the King, an office of great consideration and handsome profit. Lafontaine alone, of the eminent poets of the time, for reasons not distinctly known, does not appear to have shared the monarch's favor. At the same time, the highest dignities of the Church were laid open to the claims of eloquence and literary talent, instead of being, according to the wretched system of
Wand evenhort, affectbe clergie defence were ,
some countries, restricted to individuals of high birth. Bossuet, Fénélon, and Fléchier illuminated with the splendor of their genius the principal episcopal and archiepiscopal sees. An obscure adversary would not have brought down the eagle of Meaux so easily as Rousseau afterwards subdued the Archbishop of Paris ; nor, if a similar process were now adopted in England, should we see the defence of Religion in that country given over by the clergy to the attorney general. Lewis XIV., in short, affected the reputation of a patron of learning, and even conferred pensions on various foreign writers. Without attaching too much importance to this circumstance, since no artificial encouragement can ever create genius, we may safely say, that it bad a considerable effect in producing the French school of literature. On the other hand, the same circumstance connected the name of Lewis XIV. much more directly and intimately than it otherwise would have been connected, with the brilliant constellation of poets and orators that adorned the period of his reign, and gave him a place in history, which might well satisfy a prince of higher pretension, by the side of Augustus and Pericles.
Having thus briefly stated the principal steps in the progress of French literature up to the time of this eminent-monarch, and the circumstances which then produced its sudden and rapid development, we propose, on a future occasion, to notice the general characteristics that distinguish their school of learning, and to examine, in greater detail, the merits of some of its principal ornaments.
Art. IV -Peirce's History of Harvard University.
A History of Harvard University, from its Foundation, on in the Year 1636, to the Period of the American Revoh lution. By the late BENJAMIN PEIRCE, A. M., LibrariRatuan of the University. Cambridge. 1833. lo i
The work now before us will be read with the most lively interest, not only by every son of Harvard University, but by all who feel a regard for this ancient Seminary of learning, both on account of its own intrinsic merits as a place of VOL. XXXVIII.—NO. 83.
esim bile it is made ; and by the Inseparably his work, that
education, and its importance as a component member of the admirable fabric of our New England institutions.
It was justly observed in the prospectus of this work, that the interests of the University are inseparably blended with the welfare of the state ; and by the direction in our Constitution, while it is made the duty' of legislatures and magistrates, in all future periods of this Commonwealth, to foster our seminaries of education, it is emphatically enjoined upon them to cherish especially the University at Cambridge.' This injunction of the sagacious statesmen to whom we are indebted for our State Constitution, is in the same spirit with the liberality and enlarged views of the founders and benefactors of the institution ; the most eminent of whom in the last century, Thomas Hollis, enriched the University with the rarest treasures of knowledge from the old world, in hopes, -as he earnestly expresses himself,— of forming by that means, assisted by the energy of the leaders, always beneficent, a few prime scholars, honors to their country, and lights to mankind.
If that excellent man and friend of liberty could now revisit the earth, and be a witness of those effects upon our favored country, which may be traced more or less directly to his noble exertions in the cause of his fellow-men, how would his patriotic bosom throb with delight at beholding the eminent individuals on this side of the Atlantic, who have been in a greater or less degree indebted to his generosity for the means of making themselves, as he had fervently hoped, ' honors to their country and lights to mankind !! How many of those eminent and patriotic statesmen, who became our leaders in that greatest of all modern events,-the American Revolution, were nurtured in that school of liberty, which had been richly supplied by Hollis with the works of those illustrious dead, as well as of the living, who are justly regarded as our masters in thinking and writing, and, above all, in the principles of civil liberty! What a body of men could we exhibit to him in every profession--divines, lawyers, physicians, merchants, artists, scholars, and every other description of persons of cultivated minds, who have been educated at this distinguished seat of learning! Justly, therefore, -as the editor informs us was the fact,- did the author of the present history, who was accustomed to reflect much and to weigh with exactness the current doctrines of the age, form a high opinion of the importance of the University,-much higher than is entertained by those casual observers, who too generally estimate the value of public institutions and public measures by their momentary and palpable effects, and not by those of a more lasting but less obvious character;' and most earnestly do we hope, that the reflections excited by the reading of the present work, may have the effect to draw the attention of our thinking men to this all-important subject.
The present volume comprises the history of the University from its foundation, in the year 1636, to the period of the American Revolution ; a period which, as the editor observes, ' from its antiquity and other causes, affords more materials than any other to gratify the natural desire felt by all men to look back to the illustrious deeds of their fathers. Of these
materials' we are glad to find, that the author has been able to collect many from original sources,—such as manuscript notices, memorandums, diaries of deceased individuals who were educated at the University, and personal information from aged graduates, recently or still living. Among these graduates was the late Dr. Holyoke, in the class of 1746, and the Hon. Paine Wingate, of Stratham in New Hampshire, a member of the class of 1759; to the latter of whom, as the eldest surviving graduate,' and ' to the other sons of Harvard University,' the work is with great propriety dedicated, by request of the author's family. Several letters from Mr. Wingate to the author, written at the age of ninety-two years, form a most interesting portion of the materials preserved in the work. The editor justly observes, that these letters have a peculiar interest, as the productions of one, who, at the great age of ninety-two years, writes a firm hand, and has a freshness of recollection and a vigor of intellect, which fall to the lot of few men. We shall have occasion to make some extracts from them.
The motives, which impelled our forefathers to establish this seminary of learning at so early a period of the colony, and under such great difficulties as they experienced, are well stated by Mr. Peirce in his introductory paragraphs :
"The first settlers of New England were men who understood and felt the importance of education. While as a body they were well instructed, many individuals among them came stored with the various learning of the English Universities. From those renowned institutions, even if nonconformity to the established church would not have been an exclusion, their distance
would, generally speaking, have formed an insuperable bar to the enjoyment of any direct benefit. Scarcely, therefore, had the Pilgrim fathers of New England subdued a few spots in the wilderness, where they had sought shelter from persecution, when their solicitude to transmit to future generations the benefits of learning, impelled them, while yet struggling with many and great difficulties, to enter upon the work of providing here for such an education in the liberal arts and sciences, as was to be obtained in Europe ; justly regarding an establishment for that purpose as an essential part of the fabric of civil and religious order, which they were employed in constructing, and which, with some modification, now happily stands so noble a monument of their energy of character, of their love of well-regulated liberty, of their wisdom, virtue, and piety.
"To minds less enlightened, less impresssd with the value of liberal studies, and less resolved on achieving whatever duty commanded, such a project would have presented itself in vain ; but from the fathers of New England it was precisely the measure which was to have been expected; it flowed from their principles and character, as an effect from its legitimate cause ; and while the qualities of a stream are a test of the nature of its source, this venerable institution must be regarded as a memorial of the wisdom and virtue of its pious founders.'
It is impossible for us to give a regular analysis of the contents of this valuable work; it contains such a mass of facts that we should be compelled to transcribe a great portion of it, in order to give a complete view of its several parts. We shall, therefore, content ourselves with selecting a few of the most interesting particulars.
While we admire the large donation made by the everhonored John Harvard, at the foundation of our University, we are not less gratified, perbaps amused, at the trifling articles which benevolent individuals thought worthy of presenting to it. Mr. Peirce makes an enumeration of several of them, accompanied with the just reflections contained in the following extract :
'In looking over the list of early benefactions to the College, we are amused, when we read of a number of sheep bequeathed by one man, a quantity of cotton cloth worth nine shillings presented by another, a pewter flagon worth ten shillings by a third, a fruit-dish, a sugar spoon, a silver tipt jug, one great salt, one small trencher-salt, by others; and of presents or legacies amounting severally to five shillings, nine shillings, one pound, two