« ForrigeFortsett »
READINGS FOR THE YOUNG.
BY CAROLINE M. BURROUGI.
I have referred to English literature, as being identiREADINGS FOR THE YOUNG. cal with our own-indeed, at the date indicated, it was
the very same, with hardly a reprint on our side of the
water. But about that date, perhaps, technical educa
tion was commenced in our own country, which has That “the school-master is abroad,” is an observa- resulted in the means and in a literature of our own; tion which meets us on every page, which has been so at least in a current literature, addressed to the popuoften reiterated that it is now an established truism. lar patronage, if not to the popular wants of our readThough allowed by all, as regards the purpose of edu-ers. This is done mostly through the periodicals of cation, still are its methods sometimes to be questioned. the day. And shall we not out of these be able at One particular to which we would except, is the litera. least to select such reading as befits our republican ry style of the day; and especially that which is provi- youth—such as shall instruct and suffice, by informaded for the ladies. And in the books usually addressed tion contained, and at the same time that it shall be to them we find a falling off from the spirit and sense made sufficiently engaging to attract and fix their reof literature, as well as from the canons of composi- gard? I should fear that in general we could not. tion. We read that at the date of something less than Magazinists hold a responsible station—a station in half a century ago, there prevailed in England (from which the literary editorship is by no means the highest whence we then imported our readings) a style of lit-concern; and when these works are so conducted as erature, which, in the popular sense, was exceedingly to make that idea apparent, there is a betrayal of the faulty—that, in particular, which, as I have observed, trust implied—it is as much as any the young who was intended for the ladies. Poetry, so called, was read these books. Some of these may possibly be able much preferred to prose; and a school of the former, to criticise the mere style; yet would they not be able then in vogue, was styled the Della Cruscan school to detect the implicated principles and the lapsed moralof which the characteristics were an affected and over-ities which the narrative might embody. Also there is wrought sentimentality, hyperbole, panegyric, with too much aping of European writers—not by any high-flown epithets, and an inflated soaring, which means the best of their country—the magazinists. It often, like a balloon out of ballast, came down much should be remembered that every narrator of trifles has faster than it went up, and ended in a complete bathos. not the genius of a Boz to render trifles of moment. In this there was, with some vivacity, much weakness His strong sense and his just views redeem his pages and hardly any truth at all. The homeliness of plain, | from the charge of frivolity; yet surely for style we didactic truth-telling were an offering unsuited to ladies, may find many a better model than is Mr. Dickens. The unmeet for gentlemen to proffer. Such was the cur- grotesque caricatura which he affects in the showing rent literature of the day.
off of popular absurdity is a case almost specific to itThe volumes of the best British poets were lying on self—a case in which dignity is not called for-in the shelves, and also of the standard prose writers. But which grimace is recognized as a mask assumed, and is a present and forth-coming literature every age will claim, more effectual in a derisive rebuking of folly than can not as its best, but as its best suited. Its occasional al- be done by the reality, which it conceals. The Picklusion, its timely discussion, its pointed and specific re- wick school, though requiring uncommon capacity in the bukings are both more lively and more interesting than writers, is, nevertheless, the favorite vogue of the day. are the broader and loftier teachings of a past day, par-Could its spirit as well as its seemings be imitated, there tially vailed as they are, too, in the distance.
would bo no call for reprehension. But devoid of the The day of the Spectator, the Guardian, and the former, its grotesque exhibitings serve only to deform Tattlers was already past—their pages were only occa- the imagination, and to misguide the taste. Few wrisionally resorted to, and their homilies consulted in ca- ters can trifle with impunity. In many of the maudlin ses of dilemma beyond the present resource—a sort of extravagant fictions of the day, it is the sense of nov. holyday reference, much too good and too wise for com- elty alone that is addressed—that sense so prevalent in mon use. Their authors were known to be men of ex- || youth, and which it should be our effort to repress and traordinary genius—too much beyond their readers to not to foster. answer to the general want.
Which, precisely, say you, are these denounced It has been observed that the literary taste varies and books? where are they to be found? We submit a becomes changed about once in thirty years. This, I few tests by which to designate them. Turn the pages suppose, is conformed to that natural data which allows and see whether the subjects assumed are important or that space of time as a specific division of each gener- trivial. Scan them and see whether the mind and the ation of mankind. However it was, the current litera-heart, or mostly the fancy is addressed. See if the ture of that day was not as good as it had been, and ideas are just to their own purpose, or whether bombast of course it provoked comment, and worked a reform. and epithet and verbiage fill the page. These, say you, But, alas! it would seem that this reform is itself be- || are negative charges. Yes, as far as mere criticism is come almost obliterated, and that the present loose, concerned, they are so; but we would refer ourselves slip-shod, burlesque mode of writing is sweeping away to the more positive standard of that morality which adits last vestiges.
mits of no negative and of no temporizing. Why, for
READINGS FOR THE YOUNG.
one thing, is so much fiction assumed ? or why, being the arch derived its true masonry from this idea. Our fiction, can it not conform a little nearer to common story books, we have said, are too extravagant and sense and to possible life? We know that some have too romantic; and if our young lady keeps pace taught excellent moralities in this way. Gay, for one, with the forthcoming literature only, she has a slender in the introduction to his Fables, says,
chance of mental enlightenment. But if the girl shall “ Truth under fiction I impart,
find on her mother's book shelves (and why does she To weed out folly from the heart," &c. not?) all the best standard authorities, her case may be Our modern novelists intend no such thing. It has better-say the British Classics—the prose and the pobeen said that though the press teems with new pro- etry—the dignified and essential poetry of every past ductions, yet is there nothing addressed to the people. age; for, with little exception, whatever was deemed Immediately will occur to the mind the five or six ex- worthy to survive, has survived. All these volumes ceedingly clever works, of recent date, from several of she is instructed to read, and she does read. But no our country-women, which make honorable exception to very young girl will at once form a taste out of these. this observation; but the exception is too limited to be The nurture is too strong for her. At present it anof large avail. Our fiction is not only not conformed | swers for her holyday feast, not for her diet. Yet by to human nature, but in republican America it as- and by, these being auxiliary, she will arrive at a taste. sumes even the exclusiveness of “aristocratical supe- She will attain a right preference of these, by baving riority.” How absurd! If such imitation must be at-compared with them and rejected many lively, engatempted in actual life, yet is there worth enough in the ging, seasonable things, which were very inferior-for thing that it should be put upon our pages and noted | awhile she will prefer the latter, as her usual reading, to our thought? Observe the gorgeous array of this because they treat of manners and customs, and perlady’s “superb” brocaded dress—her lace of “finest sons now living, (if tolerably good in their way,) and mechlin”-or the border of her Indian shawl, “re- this is the hold which they have upon her indiscrimi. cherche" in its pattern—the style of her “Buhl ta-nating sympathy. Also, the better authors are staid bles”-or her "vases of Herculaneum.” Sad are we, and didactic, and a little unsuited to her present wants, in sooth, that “such things be" amidst us. But there as beyond her present apprehensions. She has not yet is no teaching in this detail; and if they must be in the arrived at that time when discipline of mind or of heart parlor, yet let us keep them out of the book.
seems at all necessary to her. Because these both, in Let us look at our fine heroine. What are her man- her own case, are running their outward course, with ners? Either she is supercilious and derisive, and en-not one inverted glance-not one momentary retrospectirely without the loveliness of kindness and of consid- tion, and especially without one single induction of eration, or else, perhaps, is she a sentimentalist, merely self-cognizance. No consolation is yet wanted; for the such, and without an idea of ever affording consolation world has not yet been tried. Still the amusement of to any sufferer, but only indulging in a worthless and reading is occasionally and perhaps often desired; yet barren sympathy, and aping awkwardly enough some from the current literature of the day (I may say the better amenity of nature. And the hero shall be of a fancy literature) more than of any past day-does it picce with this female ecimen; for her affectation of require of us to make a careful selection--a selection softness, give him bravado and swaggering. Extremity of limited engrossment and of large exclusion. Yet is alike the element of both. They have neither our young lady with the library fares a thousand times thought nor deliberation, but they jump at all their de- better than the hapless girl without such reference, and cisions. Declamation takes the place of feeling, and who makes her taste, such as it may be, out of the presthe more imminent the occasion the greater display of ent models only. Why, say you, with all the better fapassion shall you see. In life it is not so—even in very | cilities of knowledge, shall the writers of the present day fashionable life. Though the frivolity is enough, and the be inferior to those of an earlier period ? I can give no affectations and the lightness, yet is there not an entire good reason, truly. But I can assert that (as far as our barring out of nature. There is presented no monster | pointing goes) it is so. A certain style prevails. And of unmixed selfishness. Our figurantes, when out fashion, which ever dictated to the external head, has of the pageant and at home, are often found acces- by a sort of Symmes' philosophy penetrated to the intesible to much deeper humanities and interests—albeit|rior, and with very little advantage; for unspared is not more impassioned than are our fictitious heroines. she there. Why, seriously, should so many with betOften may we notice that when there is some importantter minds and juster judgments yet conform themselves interest at stake, the character shall draw upon its re- to a standard so deteriorating, I know not. But a large source of strength, or discretion, or judgment, or in its proportion do so. sobered mood, shall it seek the counsel and the aid of se I believe myself to be liberal in the allowance of enniority and experience—if no better. Also in nature the tertainment and of liveliness, which I would accord to very youthful are shielded by that timidity which is ever the young, should I cater for their tastes. I would the guardian of extreme sensibility; and when they get a grant a good proportion of what would suffice for the little older, they have learned to bear with life as it is. healthiness and gratification of that spirit of hilarity Even where no stronger resource is inculcated, simple which is neither an affectation nor a perversion of the endurance has strengthened them. For aught I know Il youthful character. Yet in considering this want in
READINGS FOR THE YOUNG.
youth, I would much sooner satisfy its cravings by the || royalty, to us, of the western continent-very agreeably sensible pleasures of spectacles, and attendance on pub- written, and which commences thus: “The 2d of Delic occasions than I would by the more insidious and cember is distinguished in the annals of royalty as the beguiling delights of a false literature. In the former birth-day of the first and only native sovereign (with case the reciprocities are too general to be very mischiev-comment) of the new world.” A piece on Fashion, ous, and too versatile to be very absorbing or to engen- written with the true spirit and subtle ideality which der fixed rules of liking. Their influences, like them- its subject claims, and which has given to this “airy selves, are extraneous, and are likely to pass away with nothing” a “local habitation and a name," by Q., who the hour which they have consumed, and with the pa- is indeed a very respectable Quid Nunc. Self-Cultivageant which has presented them. These, too, were to tion, by the Rev. Isaac Ebbert. This, as its name would be eschewed—but rather as idlenesses which hinder the import, is an argument by induction. Its truth is atmind than as dangerous by furnishing it with a wicked tested by its acceptance in that court of appeal from principle of engrossment. Not such is the effect of which there is no repeal, namely, in the court and by improper reading—it goes much deeper—the ideas in the evidence of internal conviction. Arguing with Feculcated are received into the mind and the heart, and males, by the Rev. C. Elliott, editor of the Western sedulously should we guard, lest they stain and attaint Christian Advocate. The candor of his argument them. Let us impart of purity and truth to the inno-shows at once the scope and the depth of mind from cent bosom.
whence the precious things of mind are to be had. Appropos of periodicals—your Ladies' Repository, Female Influence. The allowings—not concedingsMr. Editor, though generally acceptable, (and I truly of this writer, are almost identical with those of the believe not obnoxious to any one of my objections,) has last named; and the subject being similar, each has nevertheless not escaped animadversion; and this from produced, without collusion, the same result of truth. a critic, who, in noticing the first number of the work, It is from the well known name of J. S. Tomlinson, evinced a great want of candor.
President of Augusta College. Also, which we have The adage says, “new brooms sweep clean"-new not named in their order, are two lengthy articles, one pens, we think, do not; for most writers do much better on Reading, and one on The Nativity, with several by the occasional exercise than in the lapse of practice. shorter ones by the Editor, and on which we do not Your first nuinber was presented by this writer to the here comment. The book contains many other good public through the medium of a selection, purporting to pieces, all severally much shorter than those noticed. be “about a fair sample of the whole," but which, we Can we suppose the production of a girl of seventeen think was by no means average to the whole contents. to be a fair average with the compositions of such indiThis observing was untimely, unfriendly, and unfair. viduals as I have mentioned ? Your work was presentThe piece selected was written by a very young lady, i ed not to advantage in that first showing; yet it seems quite the junior amongst all your contributors; and sure- the notice was professedly eulogistic, and is now claimly it were invidious to compare her ability with that ofed to have been friendly and laudatory to the Repositopracticed writers of double or treble her years, as isry. Here, in the valley of the Mississippi, no damage mostly the case in your book. “Then why," it might has accrued in consequence. We are happy to add be said, “receive her contributions at all ?" We think what we know, that its contribution list has had several it proper that a work of this sort, read by herself and valuable accessions—occasionally of a writer whose those of her age, should, in every sense, be accessible to argument is of twenty cwt. power.* Also, the subsuch. It stimulates to literary exertion; and, whether scription list shows that its writers are properly esti. their offerings are regularly inserted or not, it is a meth- mated, where properly known. Supported by this pubod of improvement and of production. If the young lic susfrage, you may fairly claim readers of a class lady's piece had contained any feature of frivolity, it with its writers, (as named,) and also, I am happy and would have been thrown out. But this was not the confident in the assertion, that its pages afford not only case; and although her assumptions are not specific to an instructive, but also a safe and not unentertaining her subject, nor her deductions syllogistically regular, pastime to my class of youthful readers. yet as the ideas are substantially just, and the compo In observing upon the writer in question we would sition is correct, we think it a good production from a say that if we impute obliquity of judgment, then do tyro of the quill. But not so, as we have said, is it a we excuse the inadvertent error; but if sinister purpose fair sample of your work—of which let us recapitulate were the origin of this false showing, then do we conas many of the lengthy articles, as comprise three-fourthstent ourselves that the motive has fallen short of its or more of its contents, viz: A treating on Physical intended effect, and has done slight injury to the LaScience, by F. Merrick, very suitably prepared for the dies' Repository. Ladies' Repository, being introduced by a short text his
* See April No., Vol. I, p. 108. tory of each variety engrossed. A treatise on Female Education, by Caleb Atwater, a well known name, and sometime a writer for Silliman's Journal and other works
There are only two things in which the false proof note. The Emperor's Birth-day, by Rev. D. P. Kid- fessors of all religions have agreed; to prosecute all der, comprising a short narrative interesting, albeit of other sects, and to plunder their own.
BY MRS. J. A. STURTEVAXT.
The little urchin, too, is in fancy's eye, as he then stood “SWEET HOME.”
with hat in hand to make his best bow to passing stranger, well paid by being called “a good boy." I should love to look again on the old stone fence, half pulled
down by the idle truant in search of hunted squirrel. “Even so it is where'er we range, Throughout this world of care and change.
I loved at night to listen to the song of the whippowil Though Fancy every prospect gild,
as it took its stand in a porch overshadowed with honeyAnd Fortune write each wish fulfill'd,
suckle. That yard, with roses and lilacs thickly set, Still, pausing 'mid our varied track, To childhood's realm we turn us back.”
seems yet blooming in beauty. I still can know the
glad voices of those that met me in childhood's gay What magic in the word home! It is the talisman | frolics, and the faces of loved companions, clad in of thousands. The man of business, tossed about by | smiles, beam on me yet. the caprices of fortune, to-day possessed of a princely Each act of childish disobedience to her who watched estate, to-morrow a bankrupt, with character maligned, over my infantile years comes now to remembrance, accused of knavery and crimes of which he is inno- and with it comes, too, a mother's affection and untircent, turns to the gentle endearments of home to finding care. I recollect the long Sabbath day, when we repose from distracting care-it is all that a faithless might not laugh, or sing, or play, nor even lesson learn. world has left him. The traveler, far away from his Nought but the Bible was meet book for holy time. native hills, would annihilate time and distance, that he Then, too, I see the little group arranged on Sabbath might look upon his own sunny home; that he might evening to recite the Ten Commandments, or the long meet the smiling welcome of wife and children, and Catechism, each face composed and solemn. We hear the joyous laugh of the cherub group which glad thought it quite too long, and wished the wise men den his fireside. The stranger who roams a wanderer that made it had shortened it. Sweet was the hour of in a distant land, when met by cold complacency or prayer, which called down blessings on my path. All chilling neglect, stills the throbbings of his heart with is brightly visioned how I would often steal away, lest sweet thoughts of home. The laborer hies from his my more than sire should inculcate heavenly truth. work-weary indeed—but weariness vanishes when the Still he would follow me with prayers which took hold setting sun shines upon him in his own cottage door. of heaven. He forgets that his is a life of toil, and proudly asks for Few years have passed since I left my happy home. nothing but his own sweet home. The refugee from They tell me it is changed-sadly changed. I will justice, whose soul is dark with crime, pauses in his think of it as it was in early years, and then there will mad career, when home with its quiet scenes is por- be nought but pleasure in the retrospect. trayed. He recalls the time when a light-hearted boy There is a home which is not affected by the changes he rambled over his father's fields, and formed many of this sublunary sphere. It is a home far more beauplans of future usefulness-his ambitious spirit was in- tiful than any that mortal eye hath seen. Sickness and spired with high hopes of future honor. He was once sorrow can have no admission there—the withering a cherished son-a father's pride—his first-born—a do- touch of time cannot mar its loveliness, and sin can no ting mother and fond sisters weep over the loved and more defile the inhabitants of that glorious abode. lost. O, that holy thoughts of home might win back There our friends dwell, whose hearts were given to the wretched one to hope and heaven!
God, and there we shall meet them in joy to part no How prone are mankind to turn to the homes of more, if we fight the good fight of faith. their childhood, to live over each well remembered scene! Those days are dear to the man in middle life, and the old man in his dotage weeps over them. I love NATURAL good is so intimately connected with moral to think of my home as it was when my heart was good, and natural evil with moral evil, that I am as cerbuoyant with hope, before I knew that the bright vis- tain as if I heard a voice from heaven proclaim it, that ions which my fancy drew could be clouded by the dark God is on the side of virtue. He has learnt much, and realities of life. Such thoughts are cheering as “the has not lived in vain, who has practically discovered oasis to the weary traveler of the desert.” I can see, | that most strict and necessary connection, that does, on memory's landscape, the old school-house on the top and will ever exist, between vice and misery, and virtue of the high hill, beneath the shade of the wide-spread and happiness. The greatest miracle that the Almighty chesnut. There I first learned to love my book. I could perform, would be to make a bad man happy, well remember each harsh and gentle teacher-he whoeven in heaven: he must unparadise that blessed place won me with kind words, and he who dispelled each to accomplish it. In its primary signification, all vice, pleasant emotion with stern looks. There, too, is the that is all excess, brings on its punishment even here. hill, down which we used to ride. When the snow lay | By certain fixed, settled, and established laws of Him deep on our path, the school-boy, proud of his gallan- who is the God of nature, excess of every kind detry, never passed us by. Methinks the ver stones must stroys that constitution which temperance would prebe there still on which we used to walk, as homeward | serve. The intemperate offer up their bodies a “living we bent our course when the school was dismissed. Il sacrifice" to sin.
to make the seat of his affections as pure as the founPURITY OF HEART.
tain from whence its sweet waters flow. It seems to The heart may be regarded as the fountain of thought, say, Wilt thou have a clean heart and constant peace? feeling, and action-especially is it so recognized in If so, drink of the pure water of salvation. It shall Scripture. Both experience and inspiration teach, that cleanse your heart, and “be in you a well of water according as this fountain is pure or impure, the attri-springing up unto everlasting life.” butes of the soul will bear the impress of moral beauty Again, turn and view the flowers of the field, unfoldor deformity, and the result of their various exercisesing their spotless leaves to the pure light of heaven. will prove a source of happiness or misery. In view The white lily of the valley that gently kisses the boof such a result, well might the pious Psalmist exclaim, som of the passing stream, the modest, retiring wild “Create in me a clean heart, O God!” It is not my flower that blossoms upon the mossy surface of some intention to enforce the claims of purity of heart from solitary cliff, are so many tokens of a holy God, and so Scripture, but only to present a few of those claims as many burning rebukes to the wickedness and vile affecrevealed in the volume of nature.
tions of man. Each petal of the flowery race is a In this, as in every thing else, nature and revelation tongue uttering the language of chaste affections, and harmonize. Not only does the Holy Bible, in its exhi- pleading in silent eloquence the injunction of the inbitions of the spotless character of Deity as spread out spired writer, “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for for our imitation, and in its development of reciprocal out of it are the issues of life.” duties, enforce purity of heart, but the voice of univer In no character, however, does purity of heart shine sal nature, in its ten thousand soft whisperings, strug-forth with such lustre and impressive loveliness as in gles to utter its heaven-born language. Go view the that of woman. By virtue of her station in life, her star-spangled canopy of heaven, and behold its glit- mental constitution, and her relations to society, she tering diadems sparkling in the crown of night. What should enjoy its rich blessings. Let the intelligent say they? What is the meaning of those soft impres- reader, then, as she glances over these lines, stop a mosions that steal so gently over the spirit as it stops toment and hold converse with her own heart. Let not muse on the passing scene? Why turns the eye from the beautiful in nature be thy reprover, but go to that some brightly beaming star to look into the deep foun- God who is the fountain of purity, and ask for a clean tain of the heart, to see what is passing there? Purity heart and a right spirit. Then, though your life be as sits enthroned in yonder sky, and sheds its heavenly the flower of the field, yet like the same, you may be radiance down to earth. Peradventure some pure ray lovely, even in death; for death has no terrors to the has penetrated the darkness of the heart, and contrast i pure in heart, having the promise that “they shall see awakes to meditation. Yes, purity is impressively writ-God.”
LEANDER. ten in every bright luminary, which the finger of God has made to glow in the firmament. They are silver chains of light,
My mother! years—long tedious years have fled Nor has the inspired writer passed unnoticed the purity
In sadness by, of the heavens; for speaking of that attribute in God, he But still thou livest, though numbered with the dead, says, “Even the heavens are not clean in thy sight," as
In memory; if summoning, by that comparison, the least objectiona- And many years—long dreary years have passed ble thing in the universe. But why need we look to the
Their hopes and fears, far off evening sky to find out virtue's gentle monitors? | Since thy own sweet and soothing voice did last They shine forth everywhere around, wherever we
Greet thy child's ears. move-wherever we look. Why gaze we oft so But there is in my stricken bosom still, thoughtfully, when stern winter shakes his hoary locks A chord on which that name alone can thrill. over the faded earth-when
My mother! O, that unforgotten name
Hath magic power,
My sad and bursting heart's deep woes to calm
In sorrow's hour; the face of nature, so softly, so purely mantled. At For something whispers me in accents mild such a moment, how quickly swift-winged thought con- That thou art still a guardian for thy child. trasts the immaculateness of the scene with the darkness and depravity of the human heart! Yet we may And O, my mother, when I come to die, find, even then, a gentle promise stealing upon the
My escort be, memory, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall And bear my spirit to my home on high, be white as snow.” Behold the crystal stream bursting
To rest with thee! forth from the cool mountain side, and murmuring along 0, blessed home, where friends no more shall sever, the verdant landscape. Nought but purity is shadowed But live and love, and love and live for ever! forth in its pearly waters. It calls on man, noble man,
S. A. C.