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advert, in connexion with our subsequent remarks, and that is our narrow interpretation of the useful. In its broad and true sense, utility must comprehend every pursuit and acquisition that can enhance human happiness, yet is it limited among us, by the prevailing sentiment, in a manner as pitiful as it is mistaken. As a nation, we pursue nothing but the palpable; believe, trust, hope in nothing that has not a plain, downright, and potent applicability to increase our strength and augment our capabilities. In this sense, utility may be an excellent touchstone to test the progress of art, but it is a very inadequate standard whereby to measure the objects of human pursuit and contemplation. It will be a bad day for moral or political amelioration, when the faculties of the soul are balanced against a certain value in counters, and when the stores of moral knowledge are rated only at their auction prices. We can conceive of no train of habitual thought and conversation, more hostile to individual elevation of mind, and more paralyzing to every thing generous and noble in national character, than the perpetual reference of every thing to its equivalent in common and ordinary estimation. The principle carried out, would reduce the earth to a hive, and every fragrant and beautiful flower upon its surface, to the mere aliment of its inhabitants. It is a coarse and selfish doctrine, worthy of man only in an early stage of his progress, and always indicative, when found in more advanced communities, of a sordid and grasping spirit. Reducing every pursuit and enterprise to a single aim, and trying it by a single test, it strikes all that is disinterested from motive, all that is lofty from society, all that is courteous from manners. It asks a certificate of character from every undertaking, pausing upon it with its chilling and sneering philosophy, till it can lay its hand upon the evidence of its practicability and profit. All high studies—all purely literary culture -all that warms the imagination, and clusters round the heart, it neglects or despises. Nay, it would almost teach its disciples to tear away those gentle affections which unite them to their kind, and those sublime emotions which lead them to their Creator-a new Iconoclast trampling upon the shattered symbols of ancient hope.
Radicalism is the child of ignorance, engendered by cunning. Still, in politics, it may be half excused, for it struggles upward from the day of its birth, though always for a selfish end. But literary radicalism has no such aspirations it is the only leveller that levels down. It is suicidal, making use of the knowledge it has acquired to destroy itself and its acquirements together. It checks the desire to learn, by proclaiming not the nothingness, but the worthlessness of its attainments, and disproves its own position by the very means it uses to establish it. Its apostles take their stand upon some thrice overthrown fallacy or misap
plied truth, and reason conclusively enough, if you will but grant their premises. Man, they insist, is a creature of simple wants and impulses, and these may be satisfied and directed without any wide or elevated knowledge. The progress of society, it is true, has created certain artificial desires which custom almost calls necessities, and these perhaps must be gratified. Their theory, therefore, fosters agriculture, commerce, and the mechanic arts, and even the pursuits of science, polite and physical, as subsidiary to the due promotion of these. So far they are borne out by their principle of utility, but further their hobby horse will not carry them. Their attraction is to the earth, and, like Sancho on the magic steed, no power of imagination, whatever they may pretend, can force them an inch upward.“ Det vitam, det opes," is their prayer to Jove, content with the ears of Midas, if they can obtain his power of touch along with them.
Until the imagination ceases to be a faculty of the human soul, all attempts to bind man down to the earth, or to contract the empire of the ideal, are indicative merely of a false perception of the nature of our species. We live but on an isthmus, looking on either side over the wide expanse of the past and the future, for the sources of our enjoyment. Our duties to ourselves and to society, too, are performed with more reference to the same faculty, than to any graduated scale of duty or utility. The sentence which condemned us to eternal toil, had been indeed severe, had it not been mitigated by this alleviation. We earnestly deprecate, therefore, the doctrines of that school which would pass over or thrust aside the knowledge or the enjoyments of the beautiful, because it is not always linked with the products of the mathematics, or capable of increasing the sum total of the wealth or strength of a political community. The ideal and imaginative are the softeners and refiners of intellectual and social ruggedness, as the useful is the subduer of material forms, and the director of brute force. Society never acquires pliancy or grace, until it feels their united influence. We do not allude to that conventional tone, arising from the adoption of a highly artificial system of manners and modes of thought-a state of things only to be found in an old community with a rich and influential metropolis, and not necessarily to be desired if attainable--but to those elevated and refined feelings, resulting from the contemplation of great models in art and literature, which dignify man's conceptions of himself, and the objects of his creation, and which chasten and neutralize his sordid and selfish propensities. We learn but half our nature, until we borrow the evidence of its greatness from the finer perceptions. “I know not,” said the enthusiastic Fuseli to a sneering antagonist, “ whether you have a soul, but, by heaven, I feel that I have one." It was the answer of spirit to sense, and the best that could have
been given. None but an idiot believes that he was born merely to consume the fruits of the earth. The brutes do that, and perish at their manger, and in their sty. The situation of the Deruvians at the Spanish invasion, may show, if proof be required, how far an unenlightened people may be elevated above mere physical appetites, by the influence of a polity which addresses the imagination, the taste, and the judgment, and leads, even in an imperfect state of society, to the contemplation of the sublime in nature and in art.
Unless we have greatly mistaken the tendencies of our time and country, these remarks are not misplaced. The impulse towards the mere practical, exhibits itself in the national legislature, in private associations, and throughout our universal economy. The power of the government to foster a valuable institution, though intimately connected with the general defence, has been seriously, and will, probably, soon be successfully denied. Associations connected with the arts, do not proceed with the progress of the country. Our largest cities cannot sustain an opera on the lowest scale of expense, nor can a theatre, conducted with taste and judgment, find that sort of patronage which is demanded to prevent its perversion to improper or vulgar entertainments. Literature of a certain kind is certainly diffused, and the progress of elementary instruction is in some degree advancing, for this is in strict consistency with the practical theory; but, as Mr. Gardiner, in one of the addresses at the head of this article, complains, we question if the cause of learning, properly so called, has not, since the commencement of the present century, rather retrograded than advanced amongst us. Indeed we believe that this is a position scarcely deemed assailable by any who have reflected much upon the subject-nay, more, that it is one in which many who admit it, will see but a natural and very desirable consequence of the state of opinion here.
The works now before us, and particularly the addresses of Mr. Gardiner and Mr. Grimké, furnish an opportunity once more to call attention to the issue presented by them--an old one, it is true, and long ago settled to the satisfaction of the enlightened of many ages and countries, but destined again and again to be re-agitated whenever theory would unlearn the lessons of experience. The subject of each of those to which we have especially alluded, may be designated as the same, for each treats of the value and influence of classical learning, with reference especially to American character and capabilities. Each was pronounced before a literary society, and each, we have no reason to doubt, with an honest view to beneficial ends. But here the parallelism ceases, and the orators walk in divergent paths. In one of them every educated American must make his mind to follow, as he values or despises the cause of liberal learning.
It is a choice between opposites, when no middle way is left for timidity and hesitation. It is a choice, too, involving consequences no less important than a change in the whole system of collegiate education, and a substitution of a course of training, untried, partial, and we must add, narrow, for the studies on which the experience of centuries has set its seal, and which the sanction of great minds has rendered venerable. It is, in short, the question of a revolution in the history of intellect, by the introduction of an "American Christian System,” as Mr. Grimké phrases it, into our schools and colleges, in lieu of the studies so long considered the basis of a polite education, and which he, by some strange confusion of ideas, seems to have brought himself to consider as hostile to the religion and republicanism of
And here let it be premised, that the present discussion has nothing to do with popular education in its extended sense. It concerns only the proper appropriation of the time and money of those who are seeking so to apply the elements of knowledge, that they may acquire ability to discharge the higher functions of their social and political relation. It deeply concerns society, it is true, since it must at last determine the relative rank of our country in intellectual accomplishment, but it is to be decided by no political regulation-no holding up of hands in the comitia. It is a question, differing from most which occur among us, when the interests of the many will be seriously affected by the decision of the few. Let the few therefore ponder it deeply.
He who takes his stand upon old and settled opinion always has a prima facie case in his favour, because he vouches the law of the past. We appeal to experience, from no servile respect to antiquity, but because we add the sanction of other men's wisdom to our own reasoning. The innovator, therefore, must always be put to his proofs. In legal phrase, the onus probandi is upon him, and the burden is the heavier the longer the prescription against which he remonstrates. In fact, this is the only check by which society in every age has been saved from anarchy, as its natural predisposition is in favour of change-a centrifugal force which, when speculation is in any degree free, can hardly be counteracted even by the agency to which we have adverted. Even where the rights of property are affected, and the selfish principle comes strongly to the assistance of established institutions, it is difficult to make the march of alteration sufficiently gradual, though we fetter it with forms and solemnities. There are always unquiet spirits, who would fain get before their age-a greater reproach by far, in this regard, than falling behind it, since, in the latter case, they alone are sufferers, whereas in the former they injure and unhinge society, But when we come to systems of education and religious creeds,
where the penalty of error is unfelt or distant, and the subject is
Tried by the test we have propounded, Mr. Grimké has failed
The fundamental error of Mr. Grimké’s doctrines, lies, as we have already hinted, in the notion, that the study of the classics has something in it adverse to our religion and institutions. We quote his words.
“ The literary institutions of our country are, as yet, but an embryo, in comparison of what they must become, to be worthy of, and suitable to the nation. We cannot but observ how the struggle to maintain, in all our seminarys, a foreign and pagan influence, against the rightful dominion of Christian and American institutions, is leading a multitude to think, who never thought before of the subject, and is gradualy producing salutary changes. This great controversy, which may be considerd as just begun, is itself a rich source of the noblest thoughts which belong to the department of duty to God, of usefulness to our country, and of benevolence to all mankind. How comprehensiv, how solemn is the position, “THE WHOLE SYSTEM OF EDUCATION IS DESTIND TO UNDERGO AN AMERICAN REVOLUTION, IN A HIGHER AND HOLIER SENSE OF THE TERM, THAN THAT OF "76, BY THE SUBSTITUTION OF A COMPLETE CHRISTIAN, AMERICAN EDUCATION, FOR THE STRANGE AND ANOMALOUS COMPOUND OF THE SPIRIT OF ANCIENT, FOREIGN, HEATHEN STATES OF SOCIETY, WITH THE GENIUS OF MODERN, AMERICAN, CHRISTIAN INSTITUTIONS.'
Supposing the period so ardently predicted in the foregoing paragraph to have arrived, let us figure to ourselves the education of an American scholar. Having adopted Mr. Grimké's new and grotesque system of orthography, (in which, by the way, he has been preceded with more or less variety, and with equal suiccess by Sir Thomas Smith, Gill, Butler, and a host of others, he will have carefully unfitted himself for the perusal of the English language as written on the other side of the Atlantic, and consequently, will be enabled to dispense with those frivolous
pp. 19, 20.