Page images
PDF
EPUB

poor are ever coming upward and the rich are ever going downward. Such is the effect of this fermentation-such-the stimulus of free institutions, and the operation of our laws of inheritance. But then, again, we must open our eyes the wider to the disadvantages of such a state of things, so as to check and improve them.

We must forget, that it generates an inordinate thirst for office, and often a daring and reckless ambition -that it makes wealth the god of thousands engulphs them in its pursuit, and often throws into the distance the man of genius, and the achievements of Literature, Art, and Science. Thus, politics and moneymaking engross the talents of the country: and thus Literature is kept at a partial stand — when, in a free country, men of learning, and men of genius, whose efforts stamp the age, and refine its manners, ought to be, if not the first, among the first. This, we must use our efforts to counteract.

Genius' must be won from the ranks of political combatants. The sparks of poetical fire that blaze in the columns of the partisan press, must kindle up the pages of the Muse. Haughty, dictatorial, pampered Wealth, that frowns upon genius, must receive the lash of genius. Men of property must be made to see that their true glory consists in encouraging the arts, the sciences, the achievements of the pen or pencil. Above all, the schoolmaster must go abroad more and more. Education, universal education, not little, but much, free schools, popular clubs, literary newspapers, and periodicals, must be cherished. Literary men must respect themselves, and speak loud

and strong - and when they sell their labors, not sell themselves.

A vast amount of talent we have at command, if it can be united and combined. Our newspapers often show it - our periodicals show it. It is a remarkable fact that our periodical literature - the only kind which this country has really patronized — has ever been unrivaled by any nation on earth. The State Papers of the Revolution did almost if not quite as much for us as our soldiery. The best diplomatists of Europe have confessed their power, and paid us the tribute — and sure I am, that in this respect we have not degenerated.

With the same strength that we develop our national resources, we must develop the moral and intellectual energies among us.

There is great danger that such a busy, practical people, will forget that they have hearts and souls. There is danger, too, that such a moving, journeying people, will lose their attachments to home -- their love for the rocks, and hills, , and valleys, that their eyes first saw. Home, home, hone-is the sentiment that we need to cherish. Our country must be our idol, if idols we have.

Next to the preservation of liberty, is the preservation of the Union - and this, in a territory so vast, can only be effected but by an interchange of feelings, by intercommunications, by forming friends, and making visits, all over our wide domain. We must know, and understand each other, in order to love each other. We must see with our own eyes what a glorious heritage our fathers have bequeathed us, before we can appreciate its value. Dangers threaten us, above all

108

THIRD

READER.

other people—and such dangers as only high patriotism, and pure affection, can overcome.

We have not achieved our independence yet. Washington and his compatriots gave us freedom. Our own industry has liberated us from a servile dependence upon foreign skill and foreign artisans, and now we want a literary freedom — the independence to think, write, and criticise for ourselves — not driving our scholars abroad to acquire a reputation at home, and then reflecting at home the light of foreign glow-worms from abroad. We want local attachments, too — then a national pride-a just sense of our own importance.

Another duty we have laid on our hands - and that is, to elevate and refine public feeling, by associations, by lectures, by lyceums, and in every practicable manner, so as to give society a tone and a character, and so as to combat the physical and lower tendencies of the day. There is an atmosphere encompassing every circle, either light or lurid, just in proportion to the splendor of the minds that sparkle within it. There is a sympathetic link in the chain of social intercourse, that vibrates well or ill, whenever it is touched.

The tone of a whole society may be compared to the winds that float through an Æolian harp. If but a summer breeze plays upon its strings, it is like the melodious notes that sprang from Memnon's statue, when touched by the rays of the morning sun. But if the rude and gusty storm runs roughly over the cords, it flings off notes harsh and discordant. See, then, the duty of the American. But tune society, and it will pour forth melodies from a thousand strings.

LESSON X XVI.

OUR COUNTRY.

OUR COUNTRY!—'tis a glorious land!

With broad arms strech'd from shore to shore, The proud Pacific chafes her strand,

She hears the dark Atlantic roar;. And, nurtur'd on her ample breast,

How many a goodly prospect lies In Nature's wildest granduer drest,

Enameld with her loveliest dyes.

Rich prairies, deck'd with flowers of gold,

Like sunlit oceans roll afar;
Broad lakes her azure heavens behold,

Reflecting clear each trembling star,
And mighty rivers, mountain-born,

Go sweeping onward, dark and deep, Through forests where the bounding fawn

Beneath their sheltering branches leap.

And cradled mid her clustering hills,

Sweet vales in dreamlike beauty hide, Where love the air with music fills,

And calm content and peace abide; For plenty here her fullness pours

In rich profusion o'er the land, And sent to seize her generous store,

There prowls no tyrant's hireling band.

Great God! we thank thee for this home

This bounteous birth-land of the free;
Where wanderers from afar may come,

And breathe the air of liberty!-
Still may her flowers untrampled spring,

Her harvests wave, her cities rise;
And yet, till time shall fold her wing,

Remain Earth's loveliest paradise!

LESSON XXVII.

MAMMOTH CAVE IN KENTUCKY.

Now, reader, if you will take my hand and use my eyes a little while, I will render you all the aid I can in seeing such wonders as would attract millions of beholders, if they were near the banks of the Hudson or the Thames, instead of the beautiful Kentucky"Green River.” Down the main branch we go, then, for two miles-stopping by the way at “the Doctor's house." to leave our hats, wearing handkerchiefs instead-till we reach the “steamboat," an immense rock bearing that name. Just behind this is an avenue,

with a narrow mouth, which you descend, stooping for some rods, and pursue for two miles or more.

You pass, on your way, by a narrow and slippery path, “the bottomless pit," - a frightful chasm one hundred and sixty feet in deptb, down which we hurled rocks and stones, which were several seconds in reach

« PreviousContinue »