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growth of fiction. But few remains survive, and those are not importanı enough to merit a particular notice. When wreck and ruin overwhelmed the Western Empire, the liberal arts and sciences, if they did not wholly perish, lay silent and affrighted under the tremendous avalanche of violence, rapine, and barbarism, by which they were crushed down. This was not always to continue, and fictitious literature was soon to emerge in a changed but a more gorgeous form. The spirit of chivalry, a spirit composed of martial daring, devotion to the sex, and strongly-marked religious feel. ing, gave rise to the romantic species of fiction, so termed from the language (that of the Provençal Troubadours) in which it was originally composed.
To this extravagant species succeeded the Astrea of D'Urfé, the Grand Cyrus, the Clelia and Cleopatra of Madame Scuderi, the Arcadia of Sir Philip Sidney, and others like unto them, which may be considered as forming the second stage of the ro
The heroism and gallantry, the moral and virtuous turn of the chivalrous romance, were still preserved, but the dragons, the necromancers, and the enchanted castles, were banished, and some small resemblance to human nature was introduced.
Almost immediately subsequent to this variety of prose fiction, succeeded the Fairy Tale, a vehicle so delightful for the conveyance of morality, which has ever been so fascinating to the young, and which, if appearances are to be trusted, still promises long so to continue. No apology is necessary for giving a detailed account of this particular class of narrative; a class to which attention is more especially called by the nature of the work now presented to the public.
In the earlier period of society, man, circumscribed in his views, and possessing but a limited knowledge of the operations of nature, was particularly disposed to attribute every event to the direct agency of some superior being; each incident was ascribed to some local agent — the evil to a malicious, the good to a benevolent power. The varying phenomena of the natural world were considered as the acts of various and distinct natures. Hence originated the inferior divinities of the ancients, their Genii, Nymphs, and Dryads; hence their deities of earth, air, and ocean, to each of whom was assigned a separate office in the economy of the universe. To these creations of an excited imagination and unrestrained fancy, the fairy-world owed its birth. But even these beings were of directly different characters, as they chanced to origi. nate either in the warm and glowing conceptions of the Orientals, or in the stern and gloomy imaginations of our Scandinavian ancestors. The soft and delicious climate of the East, its varieties of the richest vegetable productions, the habit of luxurious and indolent repose, and the effect of its despotic government, all aided in the production of those aërial beings termed Peris, since rendered so familiar by the beautiful poem of Moore. Beneficence and beauty were their characteristics ; they lived in the sun or the rainbow, subsisting on the odors of flowers, while their existence, though not eternal, was of undefined duration. The fairies of the North were beings of a far different nature, endowed with supernatural power and wisdom. They were malevolent and revengeful in disposition, and disagreeable in person. They inhabited the bleak regions of the North, its heath-clad mountains, chill lakes, and piny solitudes, and were long in our mother-land the objects of popular belief.
The Peris were first introduced by the Crusaders and by the Moors of Grenada, to the acquaintance of the western world. Their reception was such as was due to their gentle and graceful natures; under their mild and humanizing influence, the stern monsters of the North, their savage relatives, lost a portion of their fierceness, and became fitting subjects of poetry and fiction, where, according to the fancy of the author, they participated more or less largely of the Oriental or Gothic character.
This notion was preserved throughout the middle ages. They act a conspicuous part in the Fabliaux of the Trouveurs. The story of Melusina, written about the
close of the fourteenth century, is in all respects a complete fairy tale; and in the Nights of Straparola, translated from the Italian into the French in 1585, we find not only examples of this mode of composition, but outlines of the best-known and most popular fairy tales. This work is rather curious as illustrating the transmission or progress of fiction, than for any intrinsic merit of its own.
The immediate precursor and prototype of the French fairy tales was the Pentamerone of Signor Basile, written in the Neapolitan tongue, and published in 1672. This work contains the original of the 'Discreet Princess,' (the first fairy tale that ever appeared in France,) told with some very unimportant variations. It was succeeded by a volume written by Perrault, which appeared in 1697, containing, with other pieces, the 'Sleeping Beauty,'' Riquet with the Tuft,'' Hop-o'my-thumb,' and 'Blue Beard,' the original hero of which last was said to have been 'Giles Marquis de Laval,' a general in the reigns of Charles VI. and VII., distinguished by his military genius and intrepidity, and possessed of princely revenues, but addicted to magic, and infamous by the murder of his wives, and by his extraordinary debaucheries. The tales of Perrault,' says Dunlop,' are the best of the kind ever given to the world; they are chiefly distinguished for their simplicity, for the naïve and familiar style in which they are written, and for an appearance of implicit belief on the part of the narrator, which perhaps gives us additional pleasure from our knowledge of the profound attainments of the author, and his advanced age at the period of their composition.'
The success of Perrault and his express recommendation directed the attention of several ladies of fashion to this walk of literature, and large additions were made to the stock of fairy tales. The three most eminent in this department, were the Countess D’Aulnoy, Madame Murat, and Mademoiselle De la Force. Of the first, the wife of the Count D'Aulnoy, Gorton observes: 'She wrote with the negligent air of a woman of quality, but not without spirit or vivacity. At the same period with these ladies, who were nearly contemporary, a crowd of less celebrated authors appeared. Among these we find Madame Leveque, author of the 'Invisible Prince,' Madame Villaneuve, to whom Dunlop assigns the authorship of 'Beauty and the Beast,' and the Count de Caylus, who, leaving his antiquarian researches, has related his stories with a simplicity, naïveté, and sarcastic exposure of character, hardly to be expected from one of his grave pursuits. The most eminent men of France disdained not to contribute to these collections, as appears from the names of Fenelon, Rousseau, Duclos, and the painter Coypel.
It is thus that in France, about the conclusion of the reign of Louis XIV., we find the golden age of fairy fiction. Despotism has ever been fertile in similar works. Fables, parables, and tales, have been the instruments of conveying sentiments, the open avowal of which would be both obnoxious to punishment and unprofitable to their authors. To this circumstance, combined with the high intellectual refinement of the French at that period, are we to ascribe their success. A similar coincidence of circumstances not having occurred elsewhere, at least in modern times, other nations must be content to avail themselves of those stories in which the literature of France so abounds.
It would be an interesting inquiry to examine the various purposes to which fictitjous narrative has been applied. From the earliest periods it has been made available for moral or political purposes. The gravest statesmen, lawgivers, and philosophers, have not disdained its aid; and history, both sacred and profane, abounds in instances of its application. Jotham's 'Fable of the Trees' is the oldest extant; and Addison observes, “as beautiful as any which have been made since that time.' Nathan's ' Fable of the Poor Man and his Lamb,' and Menenius Agrippa's' Apologue of the Belly and Limbs,' are also well known and striking cases in illustration.
Subsequent writers, even to our own days, have continued to make it subservient to their designs of illustration or improvement, and if some have prostituted it to purposes of ill, or availed themselves of its aid in the dissemination of corrupt or licentious ideas, the fact affords no better argument against its proper use, than does the malpractice or ignorance of a physician, against the most valuable medicines that he so improperly administers. No doubt, works are to be found in every language, which, assuming the form of one species or another of fiction, have covertly endeavored to insinuate principles adverse to those political, moral, or religious opinions upon which our temporal or eternal welfare depends ; but they are descried from the watch-towers of criticism, and men can easily avoid the threatened danger by giving ear to their competent advisers. . It may be worth our while here to examine some of the most obvious advantages of this species of writing. First, wholesome but unpalatable truths may be given in this mode with less offence than in any other. Much of the uneasiness with which we listen to the exposure of our faults, arises from the unavoidable appearance of assumption in our advisers, and their supposed claim of exemption from the errors which they condemn in us. We are unwilling to be considered inferiors. Pride, self-love, and our feelings of personal respect, revolt against any thing calculated to diminish our esteem of ourselves; we spurn advice thus plainly given, and are ready to impute it to any cause but the true one, an interest in our welfare. The nauseous medicine must be disguised, and this is most tenderly and effectually done by means of fiction. If there we recognise our own character, portrayed under the disguise of another, conscience stands by ready to enforce the application, and without exposure, save to our own hearts, we are fitted for those resolves which a conviction of error must produce in every ingenuous mind.
In the second place, the pleasure that results from the exercise of ingenuity in the detection of the moral, is highly gratifying. Such an exercise gives the mind an idea of its own excellence and the extent of its powers. Hence the pleasure taken in charades, enigmas, or rebuses; hence the subtle art of the rhetorician, who chooses rather to suggest than to declare, and leaves something to the acuteness of his readers. Flattered with their own address and penetration, they grow pleased and attentive, and his words sink deep and are retained in their hearts. Thus is produced a state of feeling peculiarly favorable to the purposes of the writer, and the moral is accepted at the same time with the entertainment.
The third and most important advantage of fiction, is to be found in the peculiar tenacity with which the memory clings to ideas and principles that are associated with persons and events. The fictitious personages and incidents of the fairy tale are generally recollected through life. Read with undisturbed attention and eager delight, at a period when impressions are most easily made, some of the greatest men have found no slight enjoyment in recurring to these recollections; immersed in the cares of the world, in quest of its wealth or its distinctions, a backward and regretful glance is cast toward the days of youth and their innocent enjoyments. Then the pleading of a mother, the advice of a father, or perchance the moral of some dimly-remembered tale, has an effect startling even to the subject of it. That such is the case, we need not inform the student of literature or of literary history. In books, which are the hearts and intellects of great men, preserved to posterity by a magic more wonderful than the petrifying power the Italian, (Signor Segato,) we often trace the effect of this early reading. Even Locke, in his grave 'Essay on the Human Understanding,' draws many of his illustrations from this too-often despised source.
It would scarcely be candid to omit all notice of those objections which have so often been urged against this species of reading; objections which derive their
value rather from the currency they have obtained, than from any intrinsic worth of their own.
To the assertion, that the imagination in children already preponderates over the judgment, a willing assent is given; but to the conclusion most unphilosophically deduced, that the imagination is therefore to be repressed, it is as promptly denied. This error has sprung from the desire of seeing too quickly the man in the child. An uncontrolled imagination in an adult, called upon to act amid the realities of life, often proves a barrier to his advancement. But that imagination, while kept under the due restraints of reason, can be productive of the slightest detriment, remains to be proved. Who have been the great of the earth — heroes, poets, advocates of human rights, and eloquent ministers of God, but the highly imaginative? Human sciences, human arts, the great moral truths, the progress of law and government, of civilization and knowledge, all owe much to this elevated attribute of man. Cultivate then the imagination and the reason, for the well-being of one is not incompatible with the prosperity of the other. The imagination, if ever cultivated, must be so in early life: then we observe the efforts which nature makes for its improvement; all that can gratify it, all that can enlarge it, is grasped at with an avidity which God has prompted, and for the wisest purposes; then are laid up that curiosity, that enthusiasm, which are to support, to encourage, and urge us on in later life, when reason, calm and serene, would, without its animating influence, convert man into the stoic, or the mere contemplative philosopher.
To the objection, that tales of fairies, enchantments, and magical incantations, are apt to affoct the mind injuriously in after life, by introducing a host of unphilosophical associations, a short and summary answer must suffice. Those superstitions that are not supported and kept alive by popular credulity, are sure to decline with the growth of knowledge, and an intercourse with the world. The danger from stories of ghosts, and other supernatural visitations, arises from the vague sort of belief which many repose in them, and even at this day, there are some who believe in their existence. Imagination, diseased upon such a subject, requires but little food for its support; the tales of the olden time, with the still remaining faith of the vulgar, are more than enough for its sustenance. It is otherwise with exploded superstitions. They become matters of curious inquiry, philosophical analysis, or antiquarian research; they leave no other impression on the mind than wonder at their strange grotesqueness, or admiration of the poetical imagination that first conceived them. The last objection is the waste of time! This is a respectable scruple, and must be tenderly dealt with. If the young dears are bound by the week to a spinning-jenny, no one would counsel their parents, (however much he might pity the condition of these innocents,) to cancel their indentures, and set them to fairy tales as a task; but as Henry IV. kindly wished that each peasant might have a pullet in his pot of a Sunday, so it may honestly be wished that after his day's work, each wearied little child might find time and opportunity to enjoy himself over these pleasant stories. But it is not the children of the poor who are too busy to be amused; it is the chil. dren of the rich! History, geography, grammar, arithmetic, logic, metaphysics, chemistry, and mechanics, all made suitable to the meanest (the polite word now is the youngest') capacities, so entirely engross their attention, as to leave no time for the fairy tale. This is a respectable, a very respectable scruple. It is not for us to say a word against it-only we congratulate ourselves that we lived sometwenty years ago, when babes pretended no rivalship with professors.
ADDRESS ON THE SUBJECT OF A SURVEYING AND EXPLORING EXPEDITION TO THE PA
CIFIC OCEAN AND SOUTH SEAS. Delivered in the Hall of Representatives, April 3d, 1836, by J. N. REYNOLDS. With Correspondence, and Documents. pp. 300. NewYork : HARPER AND BROTHERS.
In the Address which occupies the first hundred pages of this book, the author has embodied a concise yet graphic epitome of the origin, progress, and present state of our fishery and commerce, in those immense, wealth-teeming fields of enterprise, the Pacific and South Seas. A strong array of important and interesting facts, stated to be either wholly gathered from personal observation, or transcribed from the memoranda and verbal relations of intelligent mariners, is adduced to prove the necessity for an accurate survey of the waters alluded to, and a more efficient protection of the large amount of individual capital constantly afloat there. The details of the perils amidst which the traffic of those regions has hitherto been prosecuted, are truly appalling; and when to the hazards of an almost chartless navigation, are superadded the prospective horrors of captivity or massacre at the hands of vindictive savages, it seems marvellous that men can be found daring enough to brave such complicated dangers. Surely, if indomitable courage and untiring perseverance ever deserved legislative succor, our gallant whalemen, sealers, and traders, in the Pacific Ocean and South Sea, have an emphatic claim on government. That claim has been eloquently and successfully advocated in the appeal before us; and the navigator who in future years shall traverse that mighty expanse of waters, and thread the mazy channels of its countless Archipelagos, secure in the guides with which science shall have furnished him, will owe a large debt of gratitude to Mr. Reynolds for giving to the spirit of national liberality so benevolent a direction. That gentleman could not have employed the years which he here tells us he has devoted to the subject, in a more noble pursuit; and it cannot but be a source of pride and gratification to him, that the Executive has shown its appreciation of his philanthropic exertions, by assigning him an important post in the expedition he has mainly contributed to originate. The appropriation by Congress for the undertaking is munificent; the views of the President, as regards its scope and scale, are known to be liberal, so that there is every reason to hope that this, our maiden advent in maritime discoveries, will be creditable to the nation. We have too long profited by the labors of others in this department, while we have withheld our quota of information from the general stock : let the amende honorable be made worthily and well. In a matter which involves the interests of science and the cause of humanity, let it not be said that the Republic of the United States yields the palm of superiority to any monarchy upon earth.
While upon the subject, we would express our earnest hope that party feeling may have no influence in making or marring the appointments in any department of the expedition, or in controlling or limiting its design. The field of scientific discovery is, or ought to be, neutral ground - privileged alike from the dictation of personal and political prejudice. The magnanimous conduct of France, on an occasion adverted to by Mr. Reynolds, is a fine illustration of this principle. In the midst of a fierce contest with England, her hereditary enemy, she not only abstained from injuring Captain Cook, when that illustrious discoverer was completely in her power, but even courteously tendered him her aid and assistance in the prosecution of his plans. If the sword could thus be turned aside by the majesty of science, surely party opinion should have no detrimental influence in the election of those best qualified to increase her triumphs.
In his Address, the author has presented the importance of our whale fishery in its proper and legitimate light; and has proved that it is no less called for by the interest,