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rns Xditcatton or Jtcn or unscRR—From The Relations
OF LITERATURE TU A REPUBLICAN GOVERNMENT.
In costing about for the means of opposing the sensual, selfish, and mercenary tendencies of our nature (the real Hydra of free institutions), and of so elevating man, us to render it not chimerical to expect from him the safe ordering of his steps, no mere human agency can be compared with the re6-iurces laid up in the great Treasure-house Ok LiTerature.—There, is collected the accumulated experience of ages,—the volumes of the historian, like lamps, to guide our feet;—there stand the heroic patterns of courage, magnanimity, and self-denying virtue:—there are embodied the gentler attributes, which soften and purify, while they charm the heart:—there lie the charts of those who have explored the deeps and shallows of the soul:—there the dear-bought testimony, which reveids-to us the ends of the earth, and shows, that the girdle of the wot era is nothing but their Maker's will:—there stands the Poet's harp, of mighty compass, and many strings: —there hang the deep-toned instruments through which patriot eloquence has poured its inspiring echoes over oppressed nations:—there, in the sanctity of their own self-emitted light, repose the Heavenly oracles. This glorious fane, vast, and full of wonders, has been reared and store 1 by the labors of Lettered Men; and could it be destroyed, mankind might relapse to the state of savages.
A restless, discontented, aspiring, immortal principle, placed in a material form, whose clamorous appetites, bitter pains, and final languishing and decay, are perpetually at war with the pe.ioe and innocence of the sj i.itual oecupa.it: and have, moreover, power to jeopard its lasting welfare; is the mysterious combination of Human Mature! To employ the never-resting faculty; to turn o/'its desires from the dangerous illusions of the senses to the ennobling enjoyments of the mind; to place before the high-reaching principle, objects that will excite, and reward its e.torts, and, at the same time, not unfit a thing immortal for the probabilities that await it when time shall be no more ;—these are the legitimate aims of a prrfect education.
Left to the scanty round of gratifications supplied by the senses, or eked by the frivolous gaieties which wealth mistakes for pleasure, the unfurnished mind becomes weary of all things and itself. With the capacity to feel its wretchedness, but without tastes or intellectual light to guide it to any avenue of escape, it gropes round its confines of clay, with the sensations of a caged wild beast It riseth up, it moveth to and fro, it liet'i down again. In the morning it says, Would God it were evening! in the evening it cries, Would God it were morning! Driven in upon itself, with passions and desires that madden for action, it grows desperate; its vision becomes perverted: and, at last, vice and ignominy seem preferable to what the great Poet calls " the hell of the lukewarm." Such is the end of many a youth, to whom authoritative discipline and enlarged teaching might have early opened the interesting spectacle of man's past and prospective destiny. Instead of languishing,—his mind might have throbbed and burned, over the trials, the oppressions, the fortitude, the triumphs, of men and nations:—breathed upon by the life-giving lips of the Patriot, he might have discovered, that lie hud not only a country to love, but a head and a heart to serve her:—going out with Science, in her researches through the universe, he might have found, amidst the secrets of Nature, ever-growing food for reflection and delight:—ascending where the Muses sit, he might have gazed o.i transporting scenes, and transfigured beings; and
snatched, through heaven's half-unfolded portals, glimpses unutterable of things beyond.
In view of these obvious considerations, one of the strangest misconceptions is that which blinds us to the policy, as well as duty, of educating in the most finished manner our youth of large expectations, expressly to meet the dangers and fulfil the duties of men of leisure. The mischievous, and truly American notion, that, to enjoy a respectable position, every man must traffic, or preach, or practise, or hold an office, brings to beggary and infamy, many who might have lived, under a juster estimate of things, usefully and happily; and cuts us off from a needful as well as ornamental, portion of society. The necessity of laboring for sustenance is, indeed, the great safeguard of the world, the ballast, without which the wild passions of men would bring communities to speedy wreck. But man will not labor without a motive; and successful accumulation, on the part of the parent, deprives the son of this impulse. Instead, then, of vainly contending against laws, as insurmountable as those of physics, and attempting to drive their children into lucrative industry, why do not men, who have made themselves opulent, open their eyes, at once, to the glaring fact, that the cause,—the cause itself,—which braced their own nerves to the struggle for fortune, dona not exist for their offspring? The father has taken from the son his motive!—a motive confessedy important to happiness and virtue, in the present state of things. He is bound, therefore, by every consideration of prudence and humanity, neither to attempt to drag him forward without a cheering, animating principle of action,—nor recklessly to abandon him to his own guidance,—nor to poison him with the love of lucre for itself; but, under new circumstances,—with new prospects,—at a totally different starting-place from his own,—to supply other motives,—drawn from our sensibility to reputation,—from our natural desire to know,—from an enlarged view of our capacities and enjoyments,—and a more high and liberal estimate of our relations to society. Fearful, indeed, is the responsibility of leaving youth, without mental resources, to the temptations of splendid idleness I Men who have not considered this subject, while the objects of their affection yet surround their table, drop no seeds of generous sentiments, animate them with no discourse on the beauty of disinterestedness, the paramount value of the mind, and the dignity of that renown which is the echo of illustrious actions. Absorbed in one pursuit, their morning precept, their mid-day example, and their evening moral, too often CO..spire to teach a single maxim, and that in direct contradiction of the inculcation, so often and so variously repeated: "It is better to get wisdom than gold." fcight views, a careful choice of agents, and the delegation, betimes, of strict authority, would insure the < b eet Only let the parent feel, and the son be early taught, that, with the command of money and leisure, to enter on manhood without havi g mastered every attainable accomplishment, is more disgraceful than tnea<lb:ire garments, and we might have the happiness to see in the inheritors of paternal wealth, less frequently, idle, ignorant prodigals and heart-breakers, and more frequently, high-minded, highly educated young men, embellishing, if not called to public trusts, a private station.
JOHN W. FRANCIS. Dr. Joitn W. Fhancis, whose long intimacy and association with two generations of American authors constitute an additional claim, withhisown professional and literary reputation, upon honorable attention in any general memorial of American literature, was born in the city of New York, November 17, 1789. His father, Melchior Francis, was a native of Nuremberg, Germany, who came to America shortly after the establishment of American independence. He followed the business, in New York, of a grocer, and was known for his integrity and enterprise. He fell a victim to the yellow fever. Dr. Francis's mother was a lady of Philadelphia. Her maiden name was Sommers, of a family originally from Berne, in Switzerland. It is one of the favorite historical reminiscences of her son that she remembered when those spirits of the Revolution, Franklin, Rush, and Paine, passed her door in their daily associations, and the children of the neighborhood would cry out, "There go Poor Richard, Common Sense, and the Doctor." His association with Franklin is not merely a matter of fancy. In his youth Frnncis had chosen the calling of a printer, and was enlisted to the trade in the office of the strong-minded, intelligent, and everindustrious George Long, who was also a prominent bookseller and publisher of the times, and who, emigrating from England by way of the Canadas, had carved out his own fortunes by his self-denial and perseverance. We have heard Mr. Long relate the anecdote of the hours stolen by the young Francis from meal-time and recreation, as, sitting under his frame, he partook of a frugal apple and cracker, and conned eagerly the Latin grammar; and of the pleasure with which he gave up his hold on the young scholar, that he might pursue the career to which his tastes and love of letters urged him. At this early period, while engaged in the art of printing, he was one of the few American subscribers to the English edition of Rees's Cyelopa:dia, which he devoured with the taste of a literary epicure; he afterwards became a personal friend and correspondent of the learned editor, and furnished articles for the London copy of that extensive and valuable work. His mother, who had been left in easy circumstances, had provided liberally for his education: first at a school of reputation, under the charge of the Rev. George Strebeck, and afterwards securing him the instructions in his classical studies of the Rev. John Conroy, a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, lie was thus enabled to enter an advanced class of Columbia College, and he pushed his advantages still further by commencing his medical studies during his undergraduate course.
He received his degree in 1809, and adopting the pursuit of medicine, became the pupil of the celebrated Dr. Hosack, then in the prime of life and height of his metropolitan reputation.
In 1811 Francis received his degree of M.D. from the College of Physicians and Surgeons, which had been established in 1807 under the presidency of Dr. Romayne, and which had been lately reorganized, with Dr. Bard at its head. Francis's name was the first recorded on the list of graduates of the new institution. The subject of his E;say on the occasion was The Use of Mercury, a topic which he handled not only with medical ability, but with a great variety of historical research. The paper was afterwards published in the Medical and Philosophical Register, and gained the author much distinction. He
now became the medical partner of Hosack, an association which continued till 1820, and the fruits of which were not confined solely to his profession, as we find the names of the two united in many a scheme of literary and social advancement.
In compliment to his acquirements and personal accomplishments, Francis was appointed Lecturer on the Institutes of Medicine and the Materia Medica in the state college.
In 1813, when the medical faculty of Columbia College and of the "Physicians and Surgeons" were united, he received from the regents of the state the appointment of Professor of Materia Medica. With characteristic liberality he delivered his course of lectures without fees. His popularity gained him from the students the position of president of their Medico-Chirurgical Society, in which he succeeded Dr. Mitchill. At this time ho visited Great Britain and a portion of the continent. In London he attended the lectures and enjoyed a friendly intercourse with Abernethy, to whom he carried the first American reprint of his writings. On receiving the volumes from the hands of Francis, satisfied with the compliment from the distant country, and not dreaming of copyright possibilities in those days, the eccentric physician grasped the books, ran his eye hastily over them, and set them on the mantelpiece of his study, with the exclamation, "Stay here, John Abernethy, until I remove you! Egad! this from America!" In Edinburgh, his acquaintance with Jameson, Playfair, John Bell, Gregory, Brewster, and the Duncans, gave him every facility of adding to the stores of knowledge. A residence of six months in London, and attendance on Abernethy and St. Bartholomew's Hospital, with the lectures of Pearson and Brande, increased these means; and in Paris, Gall, Donon, Dupuytron, were found accessible in the promotion of his scientific designs.
He returned to New York, bringing with him the foundation of a valuable library, since grown to one of the choicest private collections of the city. There were numerous changes in the administration of the medical institution to which he was attached, but Francis, at one time Professor of the Institutes of Medicine, at another of Medical Jurisprudence, and again of Obstetrics, held position in them all till his voluntary resignation with the rest of the faculty, in 1826; when he took part in the medical school founded in New York under the auspices of the charter of Rutgers College. Legislative enactments dissolved this school, which had, while in operation, a most successful career. But its existence was in nowise compatible with the interests of the state school. For about twenty years he was the assiduous and successful professor in several departments of medical science. With his retirement from this institution ceased his professorial career, though he was lately the first president of the New York Academy of Medicine, and is at present head of the Medical Board of the Bellevue Hospital. He has since been a leading practitioner in the city of New York, frequently consulted by his brethren of the faculty, and called to solve disputed points in the courts of medical jurisprudence.
1 n 1810 he fou tided, i n conj u net iou with Hosack, the American Medical and Philosophical Register, which he continued through four annual volumes. It was a very creditable enterprise, and now remains for historical purposes one of the most valuable journals of its class. Though dealing largely in the then engrossing topic of epidemics, its pages are by no means confined to medicine. It led the way with the discussion of steam and canal navigation, with papers from Fulton, Stevens, and Morris. Wilson's Ornithology, Livingston's merino sheep-shearing at Clermont, the biography of professional and other worthies, with the universalities of MitchiU, each had a share of its attention. It also contains a number of well executed original engraving-; and for all the-e things it should not be forgotten there was, as usual in those times with such advances in the liberal arts, an unpaid expenditure of brain, and a decidedly unremnnerating investment of money. Besides his contributions to this journal, his medical publications include his enlarged edition of Denman's Midwifery, which has several times been reprinted, Cases of Morbid Anatomy, On the Value of Vitriolic Emetics in the Membranous Stage of Croup, Facts and Inferences in Medical Jurisprudence, On the Anatomy of Drunkenness, and Death by Lightning, &c, essays on the cholera of New York in 1832, on the mineral waters of Avon, two discourses before the New York Academy of Medicine, and other minor performances. He
In general literature, the productions of Francis, though the occupation of moments extorted from his overwrought profession, are numerous. He has largely added to our stock of biographical knowledge by many articles. His account of Franklin in New York has found its way into Valentine's Manual. He has delivered addresses before the New York Horticultural Society in 1829; the Philolexian Society of Columbia College in 1831, the topic of which is the biography of Chancellor Livingston; the discourse at the opening of the New Hall of the New York Lyceum of Natural History in 1830; several speeches at the Historical Society and the Typographical Society of New York, before which he read, at the anniversary in 1852, a paper of Reminiscences of Printers, Authors, and Booksellers of New York, which, as it was afterwards published at length,* constitutes an interesting addition to the literary history of the country. It is filled with vivid pictures of by-gone worthies, and might be readily enlarged from the published as well as conversational stores of the author to a large volume; for Francis has been a liberal contributor to the numerous labors of this kind of the Knapps, Dunlaps, Thachers, and others, from whose volumes he might reclaim many a fugitive page. His notices of Daniel Webster, called forth by the public proceedings after the death of that statesman, have been published by the Common Council of the city. His reminiscences of the novelist Cooper, with whom his relation had been one of long personal friendship, called forth by a similar occasion, appeared in the "Memorial" of the novelist, published in 1852. Dr. Francis is a member of many Medical and Philosophical Associations both abroad and in his native land. In 1850 he received the degree of LL.D. from Trinity College, Connecticut.
One of the latest and most characteristic of these biographical sketches is the paper on Christopher Colles, read in 1854t before the New York Historical Society, of which Dr. Francis has been, from an early date, a most efficient supporter. The subject was quaint and learned, with rare opportunities for picturesque description in the fortunes of a simple-minded, enthusiastic city reformer and philosopher, whose slender purse was out of all proportion with his enthusiasm and talent. His virtues were kindly dealt with, and his abilities intelligently set forth; while his "thin-spun life" was enriched by association with the memorable men and things of old New York in his day.
While thus inclined to dwell with the past, Dr. Francis, in his genial home, draws together the refined activities of the present. At his house in Bond street, enjoying the frankness and freedom of his warm, unobtrusive hospitality, may be met most of the literary and scientific celebrities of the time, who make their appearance in the metropolis. The humor and character of the host are universal solvents for all tastes and temperaments. Art, science, opera, politics, theology, and, above all, American history and antiquities, are handled, in that cheerful society, with zest and animation. If a dull argument or an
• In the International Mae. for Feb., 1S53.
t It ha3 been published in tho Knickerbocker Gallery, 1855.
over-tedious talc is sometimes invaded by a shock of hearty Rabelaisian effrontery—truth does not suffer in the encounter. The cares and anxieties of professional life were never more happily relieved than in these intellectual recreations.
They were shared in lately by one whose early death has been sincerely mourned by many friends. In the beginning of 1855, the eldest son of Dr. Francis, bearing his father's name, at the early age of twenty-two, on the eve of taking his medical degree with high honor, fell by an attack of typhus fever, to which he had subjected himself in the voluntary charitable exercise of his profession. A memorial, privately printed since his death, contains numerous tributes to his virtues and talents, which gave earnest promise of important services to the public in philanthropy and literature.
As Colics was an instructive representative of much of that peculiarity in the condition and affairs of New York, at the time in which he may be said to have flourished, I shall trespass a moment, by a brief exhibit of the circumstances which marked the period, in which he was, upon the whole, a prominent character. Everybody seemed to know him; no one spoke disparagingly of him. His enthusiasm, his restlessness, were familiar to the citizens at large. He, in short, was a part of our domestic history, and an extra word or two may be tolerated, the better to give him his fair proportions. Had I encountciel Colles in any land, I would have been willing to have naturalized him to our soil and institutions. He had virtues, the exercise of which must prove profitable to any people. The biographer of Chaucer lias seen fit, inasmuch as his hero was born in London, to give us a history and description of that city at the time of Chaucer's birth, as a suitable introduction to his work. I shall attempt no such task, nor elitill I endeavor to make Colles a hero, much as I de ir^ to swell his dimensions. I shall circumscribe him 10 a chap-book; he niigl t be distended to a quarto. Yet the ardent and untiring man was so connected with divers affairs, even after he had domesticated himself among us, that every movement in which he took a part must have had a salutary influence on the masses of those days. He was a lover of nature, and our village city of that time gave him a fair opportunity of recreation among the lordly plane, and elm, and catalpa trees of Wall street, Broadway, Pearl street, and the Bowery. The beautiful groves about Richmond Hill and hfspennrd Meadows, and old Vanxhall, mitigated the dulness incident to his continuous toil. A trip to the scattered residences of Brooklyn awakened rural associations; a sail to Communipaw gave him the opportunity of studying marls and the bivalves. That divine principle of celestial origin, religious toleration, seems to have had a strong hold on the people of that day; and the persecuted Priestley, shortly after he reached our shores, held forth in the old Presbyterian Church in Wall street, doubtless favored in a measure by the friendship of old Dr. Rodgers, a convert to Whitcfield. and a pupil of Witherspoon. This fact I received from John Pintard. Livingston and Rodgers, Moore and Provoost, supplied the best Christian dietetics his panting desires needed; while in the persons of Bayley and Kissam, and Hosaek and Post, he felt secure from the misery of dislocations and frac tures, and that alarming pest, the yellow fever. He saw the bar
occupied with such advocates as Hamilton ana Burr, Hoti'maii and Colden, and he dreaded neither the assaults of the lawless nor the chicanery of contractors. The old Tontine gave him more daily news than he had time to digest, and the Argus and Minerva, Frencaus Time-Piece, and Sword* New York Magazine, inspired him with increased zc.d for liberty, and a fondness for belles-lettres. The city library had, even at that early day, the same tenacity of purpose which marks its career at the present hour. There were literary warehouses in abundance. Judah had decorated his with the portrait of Paine, and here Colles might study Common Sense and the Rights of Man, or he might stroll to the store of Duyckinck, the patron of books of piety, works on education, and Noah Webster; or join tite-a-tete with old Hugh Gaine, or James Rivnigton, and Philip Freneau; now all in harmony, notwithstanding the withering satire against those accommodating old tories, by the great bard of the revolutionary crisis.
The infantile intellect of those days was enlarged with Humpty-Dumpty and Hi-did die-diddle. Shopwindows were stored with portraits of Paul Jones and Truxton, and the musical sentiment broke forth in ejaculations of Tally Ho! and old Towler in one part of the town, and, in softer accents, with Rousseau's Dream in another. Here and there, too, might be found a coterie gratified with the crescendo and dminuendo of Signor Trnzetta: nearly thirty years elapsed from this period ere the arrival of the Garcia troupe, through the efforts of our lamented Almaviva, Dominick Lynch, the nonpareil of society, when the Italian opera, with its unrivalled claims, burst forth from the enchanting voice of that marvellous company. The years 1795-1800 'were unquestionably the period in which the trea'Bures of the German mind were first developed in this city by our exotic and indigenous writers. That learned orientalist, Dr. Kunze, now commenced the translations into English of the German Hymns, and Strebeek and Millcdolor gave us the Catechism of the Lutherans. The Rev. Mr. Will, Charles Smith, ! and William Dunlap, now supplied novelties from the German dramatic school, and Kotzebue and Schiller were found on that stage where Shakespeare had made 11is first appearance in the New World in 1752. Colles had other mental resources, as the gaieties and gravities of life were dominant with him. The city was the home of many noble spirits of the Revolution; General Stevens of the Boston Tea-party was here, full of anecdote. Fish of Yorktown celebrity, and Gates of Saratoga, always accessible.
There existed in New York, about these times, a war of opinion, which seized even the medical faculty. The Bastile had been taken. French specu
; latious looked captivating, and Genet's movements won admiration, even with grave men. In common
I with others, our schoolmasters partook of the prevailing mania; the tri-colored cockade was worn by numerous schoolboys, as well as by their seniors. The yellow-fever was wasting the population; but the patriotic fervor, either for French or Ki glisli politics, glowed with ardor. With other boys I united in the enthusiasm. The Carmagnole was heard everywhere. I give n verse of a popular song echoed throughout the streets of our city, and heard at the Belvidere at that period.
America that lovely nation,
She broke her chain, for to maintain
Strains like this of the Columbian bards in those days of party-virulence emancipated the feelings of many a throbbing breast, even as now the songs, of pregnant simplicity and affluent tenderness, by Morris, afford delight to a community pervaded by a calmer spirit, and controlled by a loftier refinement. Moreover, we are to remember that in that early age of the Republic an author, and above all a poet, was not an every-day article. True, old Dr. Smith, the brother of the historian, and once a chemical professor in King's College, surcharged with learning and love, who found Delias and Daphnes everywhere, might be seen in the public ways, in his velvet dress, with his madrigals for the beautiful women of his select acquaintance; but the buds of promise of the younger Low (of a poetic family) were blighted by an ornithological error:
Tls morn, and the landscape Is lovely to view,
Weems had not yet appeared in the market with his Court of Hymen and his Nest of Love; Cliffton was pulmonary; Beach, recently betrothed to Thalia, was now dejected from dorsal deformity; Linn, enceinte with the Powers of Genius, hud not yet advanced to a parturient condition; Townsend, sequestered amidst the rivulets and groves near Oyster Bay, had with ambitious effort struck the loud harp, but the Naiads and the Dryads were heedless of his melodious undulations; Wardell's declaration
To the tuneful Apollo I now mean to hollow! was annunciatory—and nothing more ; and Searson, exotic by birth, yet domesticated with us, having made vast struggles in his perilous journey towards Mount Parnassus, had already descended, with what feelings is left to conjecture, by the poet's closing lines of his Valedictory to his muse.
Poets like grasshoppers, sing till they die,
Yet, ia this world, some laugh, some sing, some cry.
The Mohawk reviewers, as John Davis called the then critics of our city, thought, with the old saying, that " where there is so much smoke, there must be some fire." But it is no longer questionable, that our Castalian font was often dry, and when otherwise, its stream was rather a muddy rivulet than a spring of living waters. It needs our faithful Lossing to clear up the difficulties of that doubtful period of patriotism and of poetry.
ELIZA TOWNSEND. Eliza Towssend was descended from an ancient and influential family, and was born in Boston in 1789. She was a contributor of poems to the Monthly Anthology, the Unitarian Miscellany, and the Port Folio, during the publication of those magazines, and to other periodicals. Her productions were anonymous, and the secret of their authorship was for some time preserved. They are almost entirely occupied with religious or moral reflection, are elevated in tone, and written in an animated and harmonious manner. They are not numerous, are all of moderate length, and have never been collected. The verses on The Incomprehensibility of God; An Occasional Ode, written in June, 1809, and published at the time in the Monthly Authology, in which she comments with severity on the career of Napoleon, then at the summit of his greatness; Linen to Robert Southey, written in 1812; The Rainbow, published in the General Repository and Review, are her best known productions. She died at her residence in Boston, January 12, 1854.
Miss Townsend was much esteemed, not only for the high merit of her few literary productions
but for the cultivation and vigor of her mind, her conversational powers, and her many amiable qualities.*
INCOMPREHENSIBILITY OF GOD.
"I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive hitn."
Where art thou?—Thou 1 Source and Support of all That is or seen or felt; Thyself nnseen, Unfelt, unknown,—alas! unknowable! I look abroad among thy works—the sky, Vast, distant, glorious with its world of suns,— Life-giving earth,—and ever-moving main,— And speaking winds,—and ask if these are Thee! The stars that twinkle on, the eternal hills, The restless tide's outgoing and return, The omnipresent and deep-breathing air— Though hailed as gods of old, and only less— Are not the Power I seek; are thine, not Thee I I ask Thee from the past; if in the years, Since first intelligence could search its source. Or in some former unremenibered being, (If such, perchance, were mine) did they behold Thee! And next interrogate futurity— So fondly tenanted with better things Than e'er experience owned—but both are mute; And past and future, vocal on all else, So full of memories and phantasies, Are deaf and speechless here! Fatigued, I turn From all vain parley with the elements; And close mine eyes, and bid the thought turn inward. From each material thing its anxious guest, If, in the stillness of the waiting soul, He may vouchsafe himself—Spirit to spirit! O Thou, at once most dreaded and desired,
Pnvilioned still in darkness, wilt thou hide thee?
What though the rash request be fraught with fate Nor human eye may look on thine and live?Welcome the penalty ; let that come now, Which soon or late must come. For light like this Who would not dare to die?
Peace, my proud aim,
Seen through the misty southern air,
Luring the charmed eye?
And melt into the sky.
Higher and higher still it grows
* Obituary Notice by the Rev. Convers Fnncis. D.D., of the Theological School of Harvard College; published in the Bogton Daily Advertiser. Grlswold's Female Poets of America.