UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA.
Pronounced on the 25th July, 1827.
By JOSEPH R. INGERSOLL.
PUBLISHED AT THE REQUEST OF THE SOCIETY.
CAREY, LEA, AND CAREY -- STREET
Philadelphia, July 26th, 1827
The Committee appointed for the purpose, have the honour of transmitting to you a Resolution, passed unanimously by the Philomathean Society:
"Resolved, That the thanks of the Society be presented to Air. INGERSOLL for his very beautiful Address and that a copy of it be requested for publication."
The Committee indulge the hope that the wishes of the society may be gratified.
They will have the honour of waiting on you to-morrow morning, to learn your wishes on the subject.
The Committee have the honour of remaining, very respectfully. &c. &c.
THOS. M. SMITH.
JNO. B. CHAPMAN.
JOSEPH R. INGERSOLL, Esq.
DI S C 0 U R S E.
It is not without diffidence that one, withdrawn in a great degree by other engagements from literary pursuits, ventures upon classic ground. But the invitation is too flattering to be declined; and the remembrances which it is calculated to awaken are too agreeable not to plead an apology for its acceptance. In the annual homage thus paid to learning, all are bound to bear a part. If the selection be sometimes more complimentary than it is deserved, it will serve at least to perpetuate a practice full of useful, purpose, and to ensure, in the satisfaction of the future, indemnity for present deficiencies. Let an ardent and sincere devotion to the cause, be accepted now of one who has but partially ascended the hill of science, and plucked a single branch from its luxuriant productions, and it will secure the more welcome appearance hereafter of those who have reached the summit, and partaken of its richest fruits.
We are assembled in a place consecrated to learning. We are surrounded by the emblems and instruments of science. We are associated with its professors. Many of those present are actively engaged in its cultivation as a duty, and all are ready to subscribe to its importance as a pursuit, and its in estimable value as a possession. It would seem to be scarcely necessary to offer arguments in behalf of so universal a favourite. The unbiassed impulse of every one is on the side of learning. The uninformed perceive and acknowledge its advantages, and unconsciously pay it the tribute of respect. Its earliest taste strengthens the impression. Each advancement towards a familiar acquaintance with its enjoyments, heightens the zest for farther acquisition, and stimulates the student onward in his career; while an intellect highly cultivated and refined, is the unfailing source of respect and honour, as well as of self-satisfaction and delight. Yet, these multiplied inducements - these obvious and acknowledged advantages, are, for the most part, beheld with distant approbation or cold neglect. Human nature is so constituted as to slumber over its richest gifts, and to decline into insensibility to the perils which surround it. The divine history which commemorates the disregard of God's chosen race towards the immediate manifestation of his favour, when it gleamed in a, flood of light, or spread a shadow of protection over their retreating host, of his vengeance, when it spoke in thunder or consuming earthquakes - is but the archetype of human conduct in every age. Science, with all its blessings, if not absolutely shunned, is still not ardently sought, and cherished and beloved. Its charms are seen, not felt; its, wonders are admired, but its treasures are rarely won.
It is in harmony with the objects of this assembly to point out some of the motives for throwing off this apathy and to bring to the heart through the medium of the judgment, claims, which I blush to say should need any vindicator in this prosperous country, and at this enlightened day. The duty is the more urgent, since the coldness of the friends of science has encouraged direct attacks upon parts of the general system, which its enemies affect to separate from the rest, without defacing its general beauty, or impairing its entire strength. Classical learning, which has been made the peculiar object of attack, lies at the root of science. Language is not merely the dress, but the organ of thought. An interchange of the fruits of knowledge is interrupted, if the means of communication are imperfect and knowledge itself languishes, when its terms are inadequate to its wants, or when they are but imperfectly understood by those who use them. If words are not literally things, they are at least the expressive representatives, which must stand for their originals. Language, being the growth of ages, traces its commencement as an art with the commencement of' science itself, to a remote antiquity, and perhaps its best condition to times which are long since past; and it brings back to our days, along with the discoveries of departed intellect, terms and phrases which are identified with the wisdom they unfold. Let the terms become obsolete or forgotten and the advantages of time and experience are lost. Each succeeding generation must sow anew the seeds of instruction, instead of gathering the harvest prepared by the labours of its predecessors. To this neglect and loss of language, which it has always been the effort of the scholar to counteract, may, in part, be ascribed the inferiority of modern times in those arts in which the ancients excelled, and the total ignorance of others which antiquity is known to have possessed.
The cultivation of classical learning is invited by so many personal self-interested motives, that it would seem to be scarcely necessary to appeal to remote and secondary considerations for its support. If intellectual gratifications are purer, more elevated, ennobling, and permanent, than the indulgence of sensual appetites, there must be a pleasure in acquiring knowledge which is at the same time its own temptation and reward. But unlike other pleasures, excess in learning neither exhausts the faculties which it exercises, nor satiates by indulgence. The food is not more abundant than the appetite is insatiable. It neither tires upon the taste, nor oppresses by its accumulation. It is adapted to every station and to every period of life. It soothes the distressed in the moments of sorrow, and relieves the prosperous from the irksomeness of satiety and repose. It has been justly termed "the aliment of youth, and the delight and consolation of declining years." The muses are said to have "stood by Boethius, in his afflictions, and contributed to the consolations of his philosophy." Mr. Gibbon, after an experience of many years, declared that be would not exchange his love of reading for the wealth of the Indies. An enlargement of the circle of innocent employments, a pever-failing source of occupation to the desultory mind, one additional object of harmless interest, (were these the only consequences of a liberal education,) are benefactions entitled to the gratitude and affection of mankind. But the pleasures of a cultivated intellect are not confined to its possessor: they widen the sphere of social intercourse, and fill tip the great intervals of life. Classical study not merely opens to the view an extensive field of information - it refines the taste, liberalizes the feelings, strengthens the memory, indulges without spoiling the fancy, renders precise and accurate the knowledge of things, by the due and constant application to them of their appropriate terms, and forms and fixes habits of industry and. application. The orator finds in the pursuit, bright and abundant illustrations for his argument - the poet gathers rich stores of luxuriant imagery, while studying the originals of his art, that in early times peculiarly abounded in figurative language - the philosopher discovers the secret and powerful springs by which human nature was moved under circumstances, widely different from those now presented to his contemplation, and confirms the certainty of his conclusions in the uniform operation of causes and effects. These advantages are not attainable through the medium of a translation. Who that can apply his own judgment, would willingly trust to the often biassed apprehension of another? And if confidence in the accuracy of the imitation were entire, still it is an imitation, and not the original. Sublime objects in nature are strangers to those who have merely read the most animated written descriptions, or studied the liveliest delineations of the pencil. Even the works of art, which speak only to the eye, are lost when exhibited in a copy. The hand may fashion the shape, and mould every proportion in exact similitude, but the mind which conceived the original, and beams only there, is insusceptible of transfer. What imagination is so fervid as to receive a cast of the Belvidere Apollo, "as an incarnation of the poet's god?" Yet none will venture to acknowledge that he has seen the original "in all his marble chisseled beauty," without sensations resembling those inspired by the "majesty of super-human manhood." The foundation of all morality, the sublime emanation of divine wisdom and truth, the everlasting Gospel, was delivered to mankind in the language of Herodotus and Pindar. Many of the controversies that divide the christian world, have originated in some slight shades of difference, in the interpretation of a term. Had the well-disposed justified their confidence by enabling themselves to draw instruction from the fountain of inspired light, they could, not have been led from verbal criticisms into the irreconcileably opposite conclusions, which have perplexed even the devout, and furnished the most plausible suggestions to infidelity. A translation in its best estate, either wanders unfettered into regions of its own in search of interest, or subsides into cold formality, by a rigid adherence to the tenor of the original. It may afford a faint gleam of the outline, but the vivid and delicate touches Which fill up the picture, are lost in passing through a different medium, as the rays of light are scattered and dispersed by the refracting density of coloured glass. It is in some respects a misfortune to the age to be possessed of the beautiful poems of Pope, which are accepted as a substitute for the Iliad and Odyssey, endowed, as they have been truly said to be, with every merit except that of likeness to the original. Yet, imperfectly as they delineate the features of the father of poetry, they are, in unborrowed beauty, universally read and admired, while the accurate translation of Cowper, shorn of all original brightness, is already forgotten. We contemplate the measured proportions of a great writer in a borrowed garb, but they are the inanimate appurtenances- of the body, without the divine corruscations of the mind. The spectator sees every limb and feature, but knows no more of the soul which animated them, than the student of Salamanca who decyphered the epitaph of the licentiate, was impressed with the golden lessons which it taught.
Turn to the Italian Poets. Is it not incomprehensible to those who are acquainted with them only in an English dress, that Dante should have dipped his pen in the living springs of Helicon," and that the strains of Petrarch are "softer than the breeze or the murmur of his fountain?" The difficulty of changing the words without losing the spirit, is not peculiar to the language of Italy. The Greek possesses peculiar advantages in structure and copiousness, which have entitled it to be called a golden key which can unlock the treasures of antiquity." It was studied by the censor Cato at an advanced period of life, that lie might have access to the literature which it concealed. A similar desire to enjoy the beauties of the Spanish romances, induced the Lord Chancellor Camden to devote the leisure of his age to the acquisition of that language. Dugald Stewart, from his familiar acquaintance both with the Latin and English, is as capable as any writer of converting the one into the other with force and elegance; yet, after various quotations from Lord Bacon in Latin, he declares that he once intended to have translated them, but found himself unable to preserve the weighty and authoritative tone of the original. "There is something," says he, "besides, in the ipsissima verba, employed by Bacon, which every person much conversant with his works regards with a sort of religious reverence, and which certainly lays hold of the imagination and the memory with peculiar facility and force." To, this great man the world is indebted for the axiom that knowledge is power; a principle now universally admitted, and one of the most active incentives to vigorous application. It is not merely the limited power over comparatively few individuals, composing a state or nation, brief in duration and circumscribed in extent; but an enlargement of dominion (to the uninformed almost miraculous,) over the material universe, and over the caprices and passions of the human race.
Classical learning aids every literary investigation, and ministers to every philosophic pursuit. It is a companion in the forum as well as the college; a friend and assistant in the tumult of political controversy, as well as "along the cool sequestered vale of life." In many a field of scientific warfare, it is the tutelar goddess that accompanied Diomed through a thousand dangers. In the dark hour of scientific mystery, it is the sybil's branch - the donum fatalis virgę - which leads its possessor through perils and difficulties to the light of day. The proper time for this invaluable acquisition is early youth. How otherwise should the young be so profitably employed? While the mind is yet immature for metaphysical refinements, or the sublime mysteries of philosophy, the acuteness of the understanding may be developed, and the habit of critical analysis and investigation be formed and fixed. Then acquirement must be made, or the opportunity is lost for ever. After enjoyments, and after cares press too closely on the attention and occupy too large a portion of the time, to permit the introduction of studies which must precede the business period of life, if here and there a distinguished and gifted individual, by the mere force of native intellect, has been able to overcome the deficiencies, of early finished education, the rare occurrence is to be admired, but not imitated or approved. Count the numbers, if it be possible, of. those, who, by the aid of early instruction, have reached the highest destinations which wealth and rank alone could neither deny nor bestow, and it will be apparent which is the exception and which the rule. The accomplished statesman who now directs the complicated machinery of the government of Great Britain, derives from his classical attainments that polished rhetoric which has especially enabled him to rise above the fortuitous disadvantages of humble birth, and to display those substantial qualities which otherwise he might have possessed in vain. A preceding statesman, not less distinguished, through a long course o f philanthropy and fame, embellished his eloquence with the same classical beauties which had been the pride and ambition of his boyhood, and his favourite study and recreation through every stage of life. The compliment paid by Paterculus to Cicero, "animo vidit, ingenio complexus est," would have been imperfect, if he had been unable emphatically to add, "eloquentia illuminavit." If the bustle of business, and the giddy round of pleasure, and the enjoyments of social intercourse, without the charm of elegant literature, can be accepted while they last as a substitute for the solace and delight of learning, there is a time which may happen to all men, when these occupations fail. It is the autumn of life, to which every one looks forward with desire or dread - the dreary or delightful interval between the active engagements of business, and the entrance into a better world. The verdant vale of years, where the lengthening shadows are contemplated without repining at the departure of well spent time - or the gloomy desert, where no plant of earlier days is found to yield its fruitfulness and shade. Then, recollection may become an empty void; and the mind, instead of turning inward for enjoyment to its own resources, and drawing upon the stores which youth had accumulated, may unhappily find itself lost in discontent and peevishness. In this interesting interval, business becomes irksome; and the growing inactivity, without even the infirmities of age, will impose restraints upon an intercourse with society. It is filled up by mingling the elegant indulgence of classic reading and recollections with a fervent piety - the one, a lamp to light the feet on earth; the other, a star that illuminates the path to immortality. One of those venerable founders of our republic, all of whom will soon live only in the affection of a grateful country, actually breathed his last in the tranquil perusal of Tully's offices, at the advanced age of more than ninety years.
The inducements to an enlarged and elegant education are not confined to either sex. Female capacity is as bright, female aversion to indolence is as sincere, female suffering from stagnant intellect is as keen, as those of their hardier companions. Knowledge is with them no less innocent, useful and dignified - ignorance and idleness, no less degrading and pernicious. The boasted superiority of civilized society, which, from the condition of slaves, elevates women into companions and friends, is illusory, if a rich source of enjoyment and cultivated taste - a familiarity with a world of fancy and information, be denied them. Men may derive from a constant intercourse with society, a sorry equivalent for education - but women, with hours in every day of affectionate and watchful retirement, are driven in search of a substitute to frivolous tastes, and undignified employments. Affection did not glow less warmly in the Roman matron's breast, because she was able to instil into the minds of her heroic sons the loftiest sentiments of virtue, and to place before their view the sublimest examples and the most animated incentives to emulate them.
"----- how divine
The union, when some ambitious maid,
To all the enchantment of the Idalian queen,
Adds sanctity and wisdom."
Language is an index which points to the literary advancement of a nation, and forms a standard of its moral rank and character. "The wisest nations," says Mr. Harris in his treatise on Universal Grammar," having the most and best ideas, will consequently have the best and most copious language." As it is thus polished and improved by an elevated tone of public feeling, it cannot fail to react upon the causes to which it owes advancement, and to exalt and dignify in its turn the national character. Monuments of glory, whether statues, or columns or medals - or above all, animated and glowing descriptions in history, oratory and poetry - shed a reflected lustre upon the actions and the persons, they are designed to commemorate. The redundance of military phrases applied by the Romans to subjects and ideas entirely distinct from war, no less emphatically marks their martial pursuits than the narratives of their historians.
The decline of Roman greatness was not more obvious than the rapidly progressive corruption of the language, when it no longer soared with the triumphant eagles over a subjugated world, but passed with the humbled spirit of the citizen under the yoke of Barbarian conquerors. In nothing is the difference more conspicuous, between the exaltation of that people in the time of the republic and their state of degradation under Vandal authority, than in the language which was respectively used. Literature neglected sunk into twilight obscurity, and in that condition languished along the vast surface of a thousand years. Theodoric, the most famous of the Ostrogoth kings and absolute sovereign of what was once the queen of nations, could not write his name. The same thing is asserted of the Bishops in the general councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon. Among the crowned heads of nations, afterwards the most enlightened, these defects ceased to be a reproach. Neither the emperor Frederick Barbarossa, nor John king of Bohemia, in the fourteenth century, nor Philip the Hardy king of France could read. With the facilities which modern times afford of multiplying literary productions the danger of this deplorable state of ignorance has passed away. "A blow of the Vandal battle-axe" may still "annihilate the most precious monument of art:" but the torch of the Barbarian can no longer leave the world in darkness by the destruction of a library, since the productions of the mind may be multiplied to infinity by the press.
Classical studies are recommended by the familiar acquaintance which they occasion with the wise and good of former times. Antiquity itself possesses a powerful charm. Perusing the very language which was uttered by Demosthenes, is next in satisfaction to the enjoyment of personal communion with the orator himself. Interest is excited and curiosity awakened towards all objects of sublimity and beauty, less by the symmetry perceptible to the eye than by the association created in the mind. We daily pass the chaste imitation of the Parthenon with scarcely an emotion: but the Parthenon itself, in ruins, recalls the wisdom and glory of the country of which it was the ornament and pride. Ancient Greece rises to the imagination - the very soil which was trodden by Plato is under the feet - the abodes of Solon and Aristides are mouldering at the side. A mass of stone piled together without elegance of design, or splendour of materials, inspires with reverence and awe the traveler over the plains of Egypt. These emotions arise not from the structures themselves, stupendous as they are - but because of the reflection suggested by the e1oquent historian - that "an hundred generations, the leaves of autumn have dropped into the grave: and after the fall of the Pharoahs and Ptolemies, the Cęsers and Caliphs, the same pyramids stand erect and unshaken above the floods of the Nile."
In contemplating the polished literature of the ancients, - their sublime poetry and splendid fictions, we are not to overlook the substantial knowledge which their beautiful language conveys. It is doubtful whether the sum of human wisdom was not as large, thousands of years ago, as it is at the present hour; and we have grave authority for the position, that the acuteness of intellect which distinguished the earlier days of literature far exceeded that of later times.(1) The mind of man, ever restless, generally inquisitive, and never precisely stationary, is destined to forget as well as to acquire. Were all its acquisitions insusceptible of loss, its approach to perfection would transcend the obvious designs of providence, which contemplate science in its best condition, still as seeing through a glass, darkly. All the natural sources of instruction have been widely scattered over the surface of the earth from the earliest days, and the faculties by which they are turned to use - with an occasional individual exception - have been the same from the commencement of the world. The channels through which intellect has flowed may have changed with the changes of time - but the sentiments of the wise are still divided, as to the period when its efforts have been most of all conspicuous. In many arts modern excellence is content to aim at a resemblance, without hoping to become a rival, of the great models which have been stamped with the approbation of more than twenty centuries. If the devotion to science may be estimated by the magnitude of a library, the ancients, with all the disadvantages arising from an ignorance of the art of printing, and with probably much greater difficulties even in preparing manuscripts, may proudly challenge any competition. That of Alexandria, the mighty work of the magnificence and care of kings,(2) contained seven hundred thousand volumes in the time of Cleopatra, a number far exceeding that of the justly celebrated collections now existing at Vienna, Paris, Munich, or even the great establishment at the Vatican, which is the largest library of modern times.
It was the peculiar talent of the ancient writers to communicate lessons of wisdom in the disguise of fiction. Poetry was not merely the gentle flowing of a stream of well disposed and harmonious words, or the dress of indulged fancy, or the embroidered veil of licentious sentiment; warriors, philosophers and statesmen found in its melodious strains, sublime incentives, profound reflections, and invaluable, instructions. Lycurgus met in Ionia with the poems of Homer, in which the mass of men saw nothing but pleasing fictions. The Spartan law-giver unlocked the casket which contained their precious gems, and applied to use the treasures which he thus disclosed. From them, Ęchylus and Sophocles, Herodotus, and Demosthenes, and even Plato, derived their chief beauties. The great master who had expanded every talent, taught poets and orators to move the passions; philosophers and historians, the art of teaching and writing in their several departments; and even legislators, the intricacies of political affairs.
Later days can afrord no parallel to the diversified talents and attainments of the first of the Caesars: of whom Quintilian remarked, that if he had attended wholly to the bar he would have disputed the palm of eloquence with Cicero. He, who wielded the political sceptre of the Roman state in its brightest days; who triumphed in many a bloody field - who in military science is still without an equal - whose literary productions at once immortalized his scholarship and his heroism - may, according to Sir William Temple, if considered in all lights, justly challenge the loftiest lace in the annals of mankind. In no department of elegant art or refined literature shall we look in vain for models among the ancients. Sculpture, architecture, ana we may fairly presume painting as a sister art, merely kept pace with moral delineation in poetry, oratory, criticism, history and philosophy: and the highest praise that can be bestowed on a modern artist or writer in some of these departments, consists in the imputation of having accurately copied the merits of the great originals.
While "the charm of wisdom" is held up, as the best inducement "by which man is to be diverted from pleasure or aroused from indolence,"(3) let it not be supposed that it is a gift attainable without richly deserving it. Knowledge, like every other enjoyment worth possessing, is the reward of toil. Brilliant and delightful as an acquisition, it is still the crown of patient industry. Were "the gorgeous east" literally to shower "Barbaric pearl and and gold," her richest gems would lose their lustre. Wealth and public honours are sometimes the result of accident, and are often disproportioned to the labour spent in their pursuit. Science is the pure distillation of industry, without the least alloy of chance. It is the fruit of many a weary day and watchful night. Quintilian, who had experienced both the effort of the pursuit and the safisfaction of the acquirement, deiiies to the student even the luxury of the contemplative grove. Nature herself must withdraw her fascinations and the disciphiied wind must be fastened to its work, in the silent night and bolted closet, with a solitary taper only, for the companion of its devoted, toil. Industry is however itself a source of extreme delight. Its incidents, are a constant development and exercise of the faculties - an absence of all the listlessness and ennui which accompany idleness, and are less tolerable than even positive pain - a perpetual influx into the mind of new streams of information, and thus, an inspiration of new motives for enjoyment - and its consequence is, an awakening of various pleasing passions, hope, and anibition, and pride, and conscious but unenvied superiority. Hence, the philosophic student derives from his supposed irksome occupations, positive satisfaction, which few of the mistermed pleasures and indulgences of the unreflecting can confer.
Whether the path be rugged or inviting, it must be trodden, by him that would attain to eminence. It is a theory which I would anxiously instil into every youthful, mind, that virtue and vice are not more irreconcileably separated, than idleness and merit; and that active and untiring industry is indispensable to the attainment of solid and lasting reputation. The intellect of man is a fertile soil, teeming, if well cultivated, with wholesome fruit - but exuberant, if neglected, with noxious productions of plants of a primeval curse. If by genius be meant anything but the power of concentrating the faculties, and of bringing them to bear with all their energy upon a particular object, it is an ignis fatuus, endowed with the destructive attributes of substantial fire. It may shine with the brilliancy, while it amuses with the eccentricity or threatens with the boundless fury of a comet; - but the beholder after gazing for a moment on its irregular and impetuous flight, turns for instruction, and permanent utility, to those steady guides, which hold with undeviating truth, their appointed place and purpose in the firmament. It were idle to suppose that nature has dealt out the same measure of intellect to all, with indiscriminate bounty; but, to believe that any force of intellect, unaided by exertion and acquirement, can produce good results, were as pernicious in practice, as it is absurd in theory. Yet industry, without the assistance of the liveliest fancy or the soundest judgement, may overcome many difficulties, and, with the happiest consequences to its possessor and mankind, render tributary to its influence the stores of nature and the productions or art. Mt to was the favorite maxim of one of the wisest of the Grecian philosophers. Genius without industry leaves its possessor, after attaining maturity of years, still unadvanced beyond the proficiency of childhood, with only a keener sense of suffering from the acuteness of his perceptions, and a mortification deep as might have been the extent of his enjoyment. In Newton, England is said "to boast the greatest and the rarest genius that ever was born for the ornament and instruction of the species." Yet the historian who records this well deserved eulogium, confirms and illustrates the assertion, by describing the care he bestowed on every subject which he professed to understand, and the caution with which he suspended every hypothesis, until it had received the sanction of repeated experiment. Were it not for such memorable exceptions, it might almost be supposed that industry was among the lost or forgotten arts of the ancients; for in nothing is their superiority more obvious or unequivocal. It was reserved for modern days to practice and to boast of idleness. Once, industry was as honourable as it always is meritorious; and it was adopted as taught by the precepts and stimulated in the examples of the wise. Even the lightnings which flashed in irresistible rapidity from Mount Olympus, were supposed to be hammered out by the patient and long continued labor of the Cyclops. Horace's lesson of persevering application is not mere theory. It is found in the practice of the scholars whom he studied, and was designed to be the guide of those who should follow him. The poet Cinna bestowed nine years upon the composition of his Smyrna; and Isocrates devoted at least ten to the writing and revisal of his panegyric.
The great model for scholars and philosophers and orators was the most industrious of men. The application of Cicero, agreeably to his admiring biographer, was "incredible, and beyond the example or even conception of our days." It was the great secret by which he reconciled, as man never did before, a discharge of every public duty, with constant cultivation and improvement of the mind; friends, with perpetual enlargement by study, of the means to confer pleasure and advantage in the association; an accurate fulfillment of the claims which each day made upon his time, with the payment of the heavy debt incurred by the very extent of his acquirements to posterity. He is the safest example for the ambitious student, for he gained his reputation by the dint of labour. He disproves the dangerous theory of modern indolence, which would rely on genius for success, and lays the broad basis of his in the position that is impossible to obtain the praise of wisdom and eloquence without unwearied study and labour and learning.(4) Setting out with this belief, he made the whole circle of science his own. His first object was a faithful study of ancient learning. He visited Athens, and by familiarizing himself with her pure language, he became the master of philosophy. He returned to his native country to practice the lessons which he had learned; the eloquent advocate, the distinguished magistrate, the discriminating critic. He rendered tributary to his skill, all the stores of ethics, history, poetry, and political science, and was himself the teacher and perhaps a model of them all. Scarcely less laborious were the ancients as artists than as scholars. Lysippus the sculptor of Sicyon, made six hundred statues, each worth its weight in gold, and among them the Apollo of Tarentum, forty cubits in height.
A mistaken pride of native talent often conceals that very effort by which great undertakings have been accomplished. Besides the unworthiness of the disguise, the attempt is for the most part abortive. Time will sooner or later dispel the illusion, and industry at last will receive as it may be appreciated, its own condemnation or reward. Sterne laboured his wittiest productions, with indefatigable assiduity. Sheridan, who during his life baffled conjecture to reconcile the strength and brilliancy of his displays with the little apparent exertion employed in preparing them, lived and died in this respect an imposter. History, which like the angel's spear gives true shape and colour to the objects which it can touch, now attests that his inspiration was not divine. The same humble efforts which were resorted to by the dullest of his contemporaries, pointed his epigrams; and polished the beautiful periods, which brought before his astonished and delighted countrymen, a second Timotheus, striking again his golden lyre.
A difference of circumstances and time renders difficult an imitation of the Sage of Tusculanum, the orator of the Roman forum, whose character is contemplated through the mists of nearly two thousand years. Later days are not without an example, scarcely less than Roman, of the majesty of genius combined with the might of indefatigable industry. A persevering devotion to all the liberal sciences, rendered the late Edmund Burke, without adventitious aid, the most accomplished individual of the age, and gave his deductions from learning and experience, the seeming and effect of miraculous predictions. For him was reserved that praise which had scarcely found an object since the days of Cicero, - of unqualified excellence in written composition, united with consummate powers of elocution. The splendour of his diction was not the delineation of empty epithet, but overflowing richness of a well-stored mind. Scarcely a source of knowledge did he leave unexplored, scarcely a subject did he develope, but for the benefit and instruction of mankind.
Still nearer to our own immediate remark and imitation, is the distinguished individual at the head of the Republic; not more distinguished in dignity of station, than the love of science, the extent of his diversified attainments, and the untiring indus......
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......the protection of its science. It is impossible, if the plant be permitted to take deep root, and be attended with the care it merits, that it should fail to produce golden fruit. Preserve it, I beseech you, not with the fabled and abortive zeal of the Dragon that watched the garden of the Hesperides, but with the sacred and successful devotion of the flaming-sworded Cherubim, that guarded the entrance into Paradise.
1. "Sanč facile quis conjiciat (utcunque nobis ipsi placea mus) ingenia priorum seculorum nostris fuisse multo acu tiora, et subtiliora." Bacon de Augm. Scient. VI.
2. "Elegantię regum curęque egregium opus." - Lav.
4. "Neminem sapientię laudem, et eloquentię sine summo studio, et labore, et doctrina, consequi posse."