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Hence, such books are worse than no books. What, then, is to be done, in order to avert the evil influence of bad books-an evil which has been rapidly increasing ever since Cadmus had the kindness to invent letters?-If this evil cannot be remedied, surely it may be easily retarded in its progress. Let parents, and guardians, and publick functionaries, at once set themselves at work to elevate the profession of school-keeping to the rank and dignity of the other, less important, learned professions, by increasing the salaries of instructers, so much as to enlist in this noble calling none but men of genuine talents and truly liberal acquirements, and, not only will bad books soon hide their diminished heads, but the youth of our country will receive twice as good an education as they now do, at a less expense, because, in a far shorter time.
When we reflect upon the mighty influence which early impressions have over the minds and conduct of men, the importance of putting good books into the hands of the young, as well as, of giving them proper, oral instructions, presents itself with increased magnitude. Errours imbibed in early life, are seldom rooted out in riper years. As a mere pebble may turn the course of a stream at the fountain-head, so, a virtuous hint, or a poisonous errour, instilled into the mind of a youth, may not only influence his career through this life, by directing him into the path of honour and usefulness, or by leading him into the road of infamy and disgrace, but its influence may extend to his well or ill being through the endless ages of eternity.
It may be justly said, that teachers and authors, in no small degree, preside over the destinies of a free people. According to the bias which they give to the minds of those who receive instructions from them, they either exalt or lower the dignity of a nation. How high a meed of praise, then, does he merit, whose labours are successful in im
proving our systems of learning in such a manner as to give a new impetus to the intellectual energies of the rising generation! The seeds of knowledge which he sows, will be continually springing up in a more and more genial soil, as generation succeeds generation, and will produce more and more abundantly those luxuriant germs of liberty and science which adorn, and beautify, and polish, and exalt a free people. The benefits of his labours will shine forth with increasing lustre through those brilliant geniuses who will hereafter arise and pour fresh floods of light into the moral world-streams that will blaze along the track of time, bearing light and glory down to the remotest posterity.
When we take into consideration the vast and growing resources of our country, and associate them with the intellectual advancement she has already made, it may not be altogether forlorn to hope, nor chimerical to suppose, that the day is not remote in which the attention of our statesmen, and publick functionaries generally, will be more singly directed to the all-important object of raising our literary character to a far loftier height than has hitherto been attained by any nation. In such a day of prosperity as this, when it has become a moot point of national legislation how to dispose of surplus revenue-when the highest honours and rewards await the man of genius and scientifick enterprise, what but enlightened views and liberal measures can prevent literary, and scientifick, and political, and religious knowledge, from soon flowing through our land in channels broad and deep-knowledge, pure as the mountain rill, abundant as the waters of the ocean? What but the want of such views and such measures, can prevent this republick from soon raising a literary, as well as a political, standard that shall wave as a proud beacon to all the nations of the earth? I must confess my unwillingness to abandon the hope, that, to us such a day of national prosperity and lite
rary pre-eminence is rapidly rolling on-a day in which our statesmen will become far more enlightened and liberalized; when talented authors will be more substantially encouraged; the profession of teaching, elevated; and bad books, discarded; when our national dignity, rising in its literary greatness, will shed an undying halo of glory around our political horizon; when our publick institutions will extend their civilizing, and humanizing, and christianizing influence over every island, sea, and mountain, and penetrate the remotest corners of the earth-a day in which Europe, Asia, and Africa, will thankfully look up to her for light and direction, and be proud to imitate her noble example-an era of literary redemption, and the advent of science, in which national prejudices will be overthrown, national animosities, trampled down, national restrictions, rescinded, and the sons of science rise up in every republick, and kingdom, and country, and hold communion at the fountain of Apollo-in short, a literary millennium, in which the Alps will salute the Alleganies, the Himalayas will make obeisance to the Andes, the Niger, the Volga, the Ganges, and the Nile, will claim kindred with the Columbia, the Mississippi, and the Colorado, and the waters of the Caspian and of the Superiour, will rise up and embrace each other.
Courteous reader, lest, by this time, you may think me inclined to be garrulous, if not flighty, upon topicks quite foreign to the subject before me, I will now put a bridle upon my wayward thoughts, and lead them directly into the channel marked out for preface-makers by the good old rules of criticism. Possibly the following pages will justify the conclusion, that the author of them does not possess the qualifications which he has prescribed as indispensable to the successful writer; and that, whilst he deals out his censures to others with an unsparing hand, he is himself
guilty of greater faults than those he condemns. Every one knows how much easier it is to point out faults, than to produce original excellencies. But whatever may be the defects of the work now merging into being, as author and compiler of it, I have one strong consolation, which is, that its utility will not depend alone on the efforts of my own talents. If the pages penned by myself, present little that is new and useful, a redeeming virtue may be claimed, by presenting in those which follow, much that has been long tried in the crucible of criticism, and which, like pure gold, has been found always to grow brighter by the process of refining.
It may not be altogether inappropriate, in passing, for me to explain the grounds on which is based the presumption of my coming forward to enrol my humble name upon the list of authors on Elocution. It is well known, that, but a few years ago, the tide of grammatical science, as it pertains to the English language, was at a very low ebb in our country, as well as in Great Britain. What the efforts of a few individuals have since done to swell this tide, and conduct it into the humblest walks of life, is equally known. Among those who have successfully laboured in the philological field, Mr. Lindley Murray stands forth in bold relief, undeniably at the head of the list. That the writer's own labours in the same field, have also contributed, in some degree, to effect that great revolution which has recently taken place in regard to the cultivation of grammatical science, and which so highly redounds to the honour and glory of the age in which we live, he is proud to believe. Since the days of Lowth, no other work on grammar, Murray's only excepted, has been so favourably received by the publick as his own.
As one proof of this he would mention, that within the last six years, it has passed through fifty editions. By its
unfolding, and explaining, and applying the principles of grammar, it has brought this hitherto abstruse science within the reach of the humblest capacity, and thereby encouraged thousands, and tens of thousands, to acquire a knowledge of this important branch of learning, who, otherwise, would have passed it by with neglect.
In the interiour of Pennsylvania and the State of NewYork, in the Western States, in the lower regions of the vast valley of the Mississippi, and in many other sections of our country into which the author's work has penetrated, and become the general text-book in grammar, the number of those who are now successfully cultivating a knowledge of this science, is nearly or quite twice as great as it was before his treatise was introduced; and in many neighbourhoods, it has more than quadrupled. This flattering success, then, of his first essay in authorship, has encouraged him to adventure upon another branch of science which, for some years past, has particularly engaged his attention. That he is capable of doing ample justice to his present subject, he has not the vanity to imagine; but if his knowledge drawn from observation, and experience in teaching elocution, enable him so to treat the science as to call the attention of some to its cultivation, and induce others more capable than himself to write upon it, he will thereby contribute his mite towards rescuing from neglect a branch of learning which, in its important bearings upon the prosperity of the free citizens of this great republick, stands second to none: and thus, in the consciousness of having rendered a new service to his country, he will secure the reward of his highest ambition. Should this first edition be at all greeted by the friends of science, he will endeavour to improve his work, and ultimately send it forth with less imperfections resting upon its head.
Some may think, that, in a few instances, the author has taken an undue liberty with the style of the writers whose