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turn. It is favorable to many virtues. Whereas, to be entirely devoid of relish for eloquence, poetry, or any of the fine arts, is justly construed to be an unpromising symptom of youth, and raises suspicions of their being prone to low gratifications, or destined to drudge in the more vulgar and illiberal pursuits of life.
There are, indeed, few good dispositions of any kind with which the improvement of taste is not more or less connected. A cultivated taste increases sensibility to all the tender and humane passions, by giving them frequent exercise; while it tends to weaken the more violent and fierce emotions.
"These polished arts have humanized mankind, ́
The elevated sentiments and high examples which poetry, eloquence, and history are often bringing under our view, naturally tend to nourish in our minds public spirit, the love of glory, contempt of external fortune, and the admiration of what is truly illustrious and great.
I will not go so far as to say that the improvement of taste and that of virtue are the same, or that they may always be expected to coëxist in an equal degree. More powerful correctives than taste can apply, are necessary for reforming the corrupt propensities which too frequently prevail among mankind. Elegant speculations are sometimes found to float on the surface of the mind, while bad passions possess the interior regions of the heart.
At the same time, this cannot but be admitted, that the exercise of taste is, in its native tendency, moral and purifying. From reading the most admired productions of genius, whether in poetry or prose, almost every one rises with some good impressions left on his mind; and though these may not always be durable, they are at least to be ranked among the means of disposing the heart to virtue.
One thing is certain that without possessing the virtuous affections in a strong degree, no man can attain eminence in the sublime parts of eloquence. He must feel what a good
man feels, if he expects greatly to move or to interest man-
The language and sentiments of the above extract cannot be too highly commended. It suggests that it should be a leading object with the teacher, to cultivate a taste for polite literature. A good knowledge of language, an extensive acquaintance with the writers on criticism, will create a just relish for whatever is beautiful, proper, elegant, and ornamental in writing; for all that is lofty in sentiment, sublime in poetry, and admirable in eloquence. A delicate taste for these will give a certain elegance of sentiment to which the ignorant are strangers. The feelings which they create, and the emotions which they excite, are always the most tender, and lead us, almost imperceptibly, to admire whatever is refined in the character and behavior of others, and to abhor whatever is vulgar and selfish. Literature, and a taste for the fine arts, fit us for acting in the social state with dignity and propriety, and furnish so much mental enjoyment, that, in order to avoid ennui, no one need give up his youth to dissipation, or his subsequent life to ambition and sordid avarice.
33. Elegy written in a Country Churchyard.
THE Curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight
Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tower,
The moping owl does to the moon complain Of such as, wandering near her secret bower, . Molest her ancient solitary reign.
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade, Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap, Each in his narrow cell forever laid,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
The breezy call of incense-breathing morn,
The swallow twittering from the straw-built shed, The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.
For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Or climb his knee the envied kiss to share.
Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield;
Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke; How jocund did they drive their team a-field!
How bowed the woods beneath their sturdy stroxe
Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault,
Where through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.
Can storied urn or animated bust
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire; Hands that the rod of empire might have swayed, Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre.
But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page,
And froze the genial current of the soul.
Full many a gem, of purest ray serene,
The dark, unfathomed caves of ocean bear; Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
Some village Hampden, that with dauntless breast
The applause of listening senates to command,
And read their history in a nation's eyes,
Their lot forbade; nor circumscribed alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined; Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne, And shut the gates of mercy on mankind;
The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
With incense kindled at the Muse's flame
Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.
Yet even these bones from insult to protect,
With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture decked,
Their name, their years, spelt by the unlettered Muse,
And many a holy text around she strews,
For who, to dumb forgetfulness a prey,
This pleasing, anxious being e'er resigned,
Nor cast one longing, lingering look behind?
On some fond breast the parting soul relies;
Some pious drops the closing eye requires;
For thee, who, mindful of the unhonored dead,
Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate,—
Haply some hoary-headed swain may say,