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READINGS FOR THE YOUNG.
READINGS FOR THE YOUNG.
BY CAROLINE M. BURROUGH.
I have referred to English literature, as being identical 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 education was commenced in our own country, which has resulted in the means and in a literature of our own; at least in a current literature, addressed to the popular patronage, if not to the popular wants of our readThis is done mostly through the periodicals of
tion contained, and at the same time that it shall be made sufficiently engaging to attract and fix their regard? I should fear that in general we could not. Magazinists hold a responsible station—a station in which the literary editorship is by no means the highest
THAT "the school-master is abroad," is an observation which meets us on every page, which has been so often reiterated that it is now an established truism. Though allowed by all, as regards the purpose of edu-ers. 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 to them we find a falling off from the spirit and sense of literature, as well as from the canons of composition. We read that at the date of something less than half a century ago, there prevailed in England (from 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 high-flown epithets, and an inflated soaring, which often, like a balloon out of ballast, came down much faster than it went up, and ended in a complete bathos. In this there was, with some vivacity, much weakness and hardly any truth at all. The homeliness of plain, didactic truth-telling were an offering unsuited to ladies, unmeet for gentlemen to proffer. Such was the current literature of the day.
too much aping of European writers-not by any means the best of their country-the magazinists. It should be remembered that every narrator of trifles has not the genius of a Boz to render trifles of moment. His strong sense and his just views redeem his pages from the charge of frivolity; yet surely for style we may find many a better model than is Mr. Dickens. The grotesque caricatura which he affects in the showing 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 are the broader and loftier teachings of a past day, partially vailed as they are, too, in the distance.
writers, is, nevertheless, the favorite vogue of the day. Could its spirit as well as its seemings be imitated, there 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 novholyday 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 find on her mother's book shelves (and why does she not?) all the best standard authorities, her case may be
"Truth under fiction I impart,
To weed out folly from the heart," &c.
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 having 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 indiscrimicherche" 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 specimen; 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 of the pageant and at home, are often found accessible to much deeper humanities and interests-albeit not more impassioned than are our fictitious heroines. Often may we notice that when there is some important interest at stake, the character shall draw upon its resource of strength, or discretion, or judgment, or in its sobered mood, shall it seek the counsel and the aid of seniority and experience—if no better. Also in nature the very youthful are shielded by that timidity which is ever the guardian of extreme sensibility; and when they get a little older, they have learned to bear with life as it is. Even where no stronger resource is inculcated, simple endurance has strengthened them. For aught I know
fashion, which ever dictated to the external head, has by a sort of Symmes' philosophy penetrated to the interior, and with very little advantage; for unspared is she there. Why, seriously, should so many with better minds and juster judgments yet conform themselves to a standard so deteriorating, I know not. But a large proportion do so.
I believe myself to be liberal in the allowance of entertainment and of liveliness, which I would accord to the young, should I cater for their tastes. I would grant a good proportion of what would suffice for the healthiness and gratification of that spirit of hilarity which is neither an affectation nor a perversion of the 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 beguiling delights of a false literature. In the former case the reciprocities are too general to be very mischievous, and too versatile to be very absorbing or to engender fixed rules of liking. Their influences, like themselves, are extraneous, and are likely to pass away with the hour which they have consumed, and with the pageant which has presented them. These, too, were to be eschewed-but rather as idlenesses which hinder the mind than as dangerous by furnishing it with a wicked principle of engrossment. Not such is the effect of improper reading-it goes much deeper—the ideas in- || culcated are received into the mind and the heart, and sedulously should we guard, lest they stain and attaint them. Let us impart of purity and truth to the inno-shows at once the scope and the depth of mind from cent bosom.
Appropos of periodicals-your Ladies' Repository, Mr. Editor, though generally acceptable, (and I truly believe not obnoxious to any one of my objections,) has nevertheless not escaped animadversion; and this from a critic, who, in noticing the first number of the work, evinced a great want of candor.
cember is distinguished in the annals of royalty as the birth-day of the first and only native sovereign (with comment) of the new world." A piece on Fashion, written with the true spirit and subtle ideality which its subject claims, and which has given to this "airy nothing" a "local habitation and a name," by Q., who is indeed a very respectable Quid Nunc. Self-Cultivation, by the Rev. Isaac Ebbert. This, as its name would import, is an argument by induction. Its truth is attested by its acceptance in that court of appeal from which there is no repeal, namely, in the court and by the evidence of internal conviction. Arguing with Females, by the Rev. C. Elliott, editor of the Western Christian Advocate. The candor of his argument
whence the precious things of mind are to be had. Female Influence. The allowings-not concedingsof this writer, are almost identical with those of the last named; and the subject being similar, each has produced, without collusion, the same result of truth. It is from the well known name of J. S. Tomlinson, President of Augusta College. Also, which we have not named in their order, are two lengthy articles, one on Reading, and one on The Nativity, with several shorter ones by the Editor, and on which we do not here comment. The book contains many other good pieces, all severally much shorter than those noticed.
The adage says, "new brooms sweep clean"-new pens, we think, do not; for most writers do much better by the occasional exercise than in the lapse of practice. Your first number was presented by this writer to the public through the medium of a selection, purporting to 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, 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 of ed to have been friendly and laudatory to the Repositopracticed writers of double or treble her years, as is ry. 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 estitheir 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 suffrage, 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 composition is correct, we think it a good production from a tyro of the quill. But not so, as we have said, is it a fair sample of your work-of which let us recapitulate as many of the lengthy articles, as comprise three-fourths or more of its contents, viz: A treating on Physical Science, by F. Merrick, very suitably prepared for the Ladies' Repository, being introduced by a short text history 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 of note. The Emperor's Birth-day, by Rev. D. P. Kidder, comprising a short narrative interesting, albeit of
In observing upon the writer in question we would say that if we impute obliquity of judgment, then do we excuse the inadvertent error; but if sinister purpose were the origin of this false showing, then do we content ourselves that the motive has fallen short of its intended effect, and has done slight injury to the Ladies' Repository.
See April No., Vol. I, p. 108.
THERE are only two things in which the false professors of all religions have agreed; to prosecute all other sects, and to plunder their own.
BY MRS. J. A. STURTEVANT.
"Even so it is where'er we range,
Throughout this world of care and change.
To childhood's realm we turn us back."
The little urchin, too, is in fancy's eye, as he then stood 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. I loved at night to listen to the song of the whippowil as it took its stand in a porch overshadowed with honeysuckle. That yard, with roses and lilacs thickly set, seems yet blooming in beauty. I still can know the glad voices of those that met me in childhood's gay frolics, and the faces of loved companions, clad in smiles, beam on me yet.
evening to recite the Ten Commandments, or the long Catechism, each face composed and solemn. We thought it quite too long, and wished the wise men that made it had shortened it. Sweet was the hour of prayer, which called down blessings on my path. All is brightly visioned how I would often steal away, lest my more than sire should inculcate heavenly truth. Still he would follow me with prayers which took hold of heaven.
WHAT magic in the word home! It is the talisman of thousands. The man of business, tossed about by 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 meet the smiling welcome of wife and children, and hear the joyous laugh of the cherub group which gladden his fireside. The stranger who roams a wanderer in a distant land, when met by cold complacency or chilling neglect, stills the throbbings of his heart with sweet thoughts of home. The laborer hies from his work-weary indeed-but weariness vanishes when the setting sun shines upon him in his own cottage door. He forgets that his is a life of toil, and proudly asks for nothing but his own sweet home. The refugee from justice, whose soul is dark with crime, pauses in his mad career, when home with its quiet scenes is portrayed. He recalls the time when a light-hearted boy he rambled over his father's fields, and formed many plans of future usefulness-his ambitious spirit was inspired with high hopes of future honor. He was once a cherished son-a father's pride-his first-born-a doting mother and fond sisters weep over the loved and lost. O, that holy thoughts of home might win back the wretched one to hope and heaven!
Few years have passed since I left my happy home. They tell me it is changed-sadly changed. I will think of it as it was in early years, and then there will be nought but pleasure in the retrospect.
There is a home which is not affected by the changes of this sublunary sphere. It is a home far more beautiful than any that mortal eye hath seen. Sickness and sorrow can have no admission there-the withering touch of time cannot mar its loveliness, and sin can no more defile the inhabitants of that glorious abode. There our friends dwell, whose hearts were given to God, and there we shall meet them in joy to part no more, if we fight the good fight of faith.
NATURAL good is so intimately connected with moral good, and natural evil with moral evil, that I am as cer
How prone are mankind to turn to the homes of 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 to think of my home as it was when my heart was buoyant 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 realities of life. Such thoughts are cheering as "the oasis to the weary traveler of the desert." I can see, on memory's landscape, the old school-house on the top of the high hill, beneath the shade of the wide-spread chesnut. There I first learned to love my book. I well remember each harsh and gentle teacher-he who won me with kind words, and he who dispelled each pleasant emotion with stern looks. There, too, is the hill, down which we used to ride. When the snow lay deep on our path, the school-boy, proud of his gallantry, never passed us by. Methinks the very stones must be there still on which we used to walk, as homeward we bent our course when the school was dismissed.
God is on the side of virtue. He has learnt much, and has not lived in vain, who has practically discovered that most strict and necessary connection, that does, and will ever exist, between vice and misery, and virtue and happiness. The greatest miracle that the Almighty could perform, would be to make a bad man happy, even in heaven: he must unparadise that blessed place to accomplish it. In its primary signification, all vice, that is all excess, brings on its punishment even here. By certain fixed, settled, and established laws of Him who is the God of nature, excess of every kind destroys that constitution which temperance would preserve. The intemperate offer up their bodies a "living sacrifice" to sin.
PURITY OF HEART.
PURITY OF HEART.
THE heart may be regarded as the fountain of thought, feeling, and action-especially is it so recognized in Scripture. Both experience and inspiration teach, that according as this fountain is pure or impure, the attributes of the soul will bear the impress of moral beauty or deformity, and the result of their various exercises will prove a source of happiness or misery. In view of such a result, well might the pious Psalmist exclaim, "Create in me a clean heart, O God!" It is not my intention to enforce the claims of purity of heart from Scripture, but only to present a few of those claims as revealed in the volume of nature.
to make the seat of his affections as pure as the fountain from whence its sweet waters flow. It seems to say, Wilt thou have a clean heart and constant peace? If so, drink of the pure water of salvation. It shall cleanse your heart, and "be in you a well of water springing up unto everlasting life.”
Again, turn and view the flowers of the field, unfolding their spotless leaves to the pure light of heaven. The white lily of the valley that gently kisses the bosom of the passing stream, the modest, retiring wild flower that blossoms upon the mossy surface of some solitary cliff, are so many tokens of a holy God, and so many burning rebukes to the wickedness and vile affections of man. Each petal of the flowery race is a tongue uttering the language of chaste affections, and pleading in silent eloquence the injunction of the inspired writer, "Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life."
In this, as in every thing else, nature and revelation harmonize. Not only does the Holy Bible, in its exhibitions of the spotless character of Deity as spread out for our imitation, and in its development of reciprocal 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 to muse on the passing scene? Why turns the eye from some brightly beaming star to look into the deep fountain of the heart, to see what is passing there? Purity 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 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
ment and hold converse with her own heart. Let not the beautiful in nature be thy reprover, but go to that God who is the fountain of purity, and ask for a clean heart and a right spirit. Then, though your life be as
My mother! years-long tedious years have fled
Their hopes and fears,
Nor has the inspired writer passed unnoticed the purity 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 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 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 move-wherever we look. Why gaze we oft so thoughtfully, when stern winter shakes his hoary locks over the faded earth-when
Greet thy child's ears.
But there is in my stricken bosom still,
For something whispers me in accents mild
We see purity in the flakes of driven snow, and in the face of nature, so softly, so purely mantled. At such a moment, how quickly swift-winged thought contrasts the immaculateness of the scene with the darkness and depravity of the human heart! Yet we may find, even then, a gentle promise stealing upon the 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
And O, my mother, when I come to die,
To rest with thee!
forth from the cool mountain side, and murmuring along O, 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.