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so inconceivably great was Mary's Surely no saying more strongly grief, chimes in another Romish descriptive of the life-long anguish saint, “ that were it divided among

of this Jewish maiden could posall men, it would suffice to cause sibly be coined, and none more extheir immediate death.”

pressive of the credulity of her *“Glories of Mary." P. 408.

clients !

BY

THE

REV.

T.

a

LITERATURE: ITS CHARACTERISTICS AND
RESPONSIBILITIES.

W00D (B). The term Literature is of very wide petual manhood the operation of signification. Literature is the whole those causes which have made Engexpression of the national mind in land what she is. writing : "Literature is man written, The channel of national thought, his thoughts, creations, discoveries, feeling and action for each geneand the varied events of his outer and ration is scoped out by the literature inner life, transcribed in legible and of the generation which precedes it. permanent forms for the study of Never was there a period in the others. A book is a second incar- history of our country when attennation of man's mental self; in it he tion to this matter was more urlives and works, centuries after his gent, and when that attention would former body has crumbled into dust. yield more speedy and abundant It is a kind of ark which bears results, as means of guiding down over the flood of centuries the and directing the sentiments and seeds of the old world in which its cultivating the habits of our youthauthor lived. It gives a kind of ful population. We are driven. ubiquity to individual minds. by the example of other nations and Through it the solitary thinker by the force of public opinion to speaks to distant nations at the attach a solemn importance to the same time, makes his lonely voice mental and moral training of the vibrate through all lands and resound young, and in that training, literathrough all times.”

ture in all its varied forms must Of the influences which contribute ever play a conspicuous part. It is to our national greatness, including humiliating that other nations, far a stable throne, the enjoyment of behind ourselves in the development. internal quiet, a population at once of certain forms of civilization, should peaceful, obedient and industrious, have outstripped us in their attenliterature* is one chief element, and tion to this particular matter. must continue to be increasingly The causes which have given potent, inasmuch as its true mission strength and stability to China, for is to enlighten and give a higher example, are both pertinent and moral tone to the national conscience; instructive. and in proportion to the creation " There can be no doubt that the and distribution of such a type of sea and the mountain barriers by literature will be our chances of which China is surrounded, the unmaintaining in the vigour of per- warlike character of her neighbours,

her isolation from the rest of the * The words culture and literature are

world, her vigilant police, the eligiused as correlative terms.

bility of all to the trust and dignities. of office and her rigid system of influence here, as elsewhere, but official responsibility, have all had their relative power is far less their share in the result. But these than in most other Governments. are insufficient to explain the pheno- As a general rule, learning, while menon. The most powerful agent it is an indispensable pre-requisite beyond all question is the education for all official stations, is sure to of her people.

command respect, influence and dis“We speak here not so much of tinction. A way is thus opened the education received in schools, whereby every gifted and ambitious as of that which consists in early, youth may rise to the highest digconstant, vigorous and efficient train- nities in the State—the throne only ing, of the disposition, manners, judg-excepted. And in point of fact the ment, and habits, both of thought most eminent statesmen (as among and action. The sentiments held to ourselves) are usually those who be appropriate to man in society are have risen by intellectual efforts. imbibed in infancy, and iterated and They are at once the philosophers, re-iterated through the whole of teachers and rulers of the land. subsequent life.

Power, high official rank, is the daz" The manners considered be- zling prize held out to intellectual coming in adults are sedulously superiority. At regularly recurring taught in childhood.

The habits periods, examinations are held, to regarded as conducing to individual which crowds flock from every quaradvancement, social happiness, and ter of the Imperial dominions, none national repose, and prosperity are being denied admission to these cultivated with the utmost diligence. literary probations, except servants, The greatest pains are taken to lictors, play-actors and priests. acquaint the people with their per- These examinations are designed to sonal and political duties.” Herein elicit and make manifest the true they set us an example worthy of talent of the people, with a view imitation.

to its ulterior application to affairs 66 The sixteen discourses of the of State.” The result is a perpetuity Imperial Moralist-Yong-tching- of national existence, unparalleled in are read twice every moon to the the world's history. The Chinese Gowhole empire." It is the testimony vernment, then, the purest despotism of competent authorities that the on earth, is upheld by education comLiterary Institutions of China are bined with her Literary Institutions. the pillars that give stability to her How forcible the argument thus Government.

derived in favour of this exalted and “Her military forces are quite exalting power! And if it has force inadequate to hold together her as applicable to such a country as numerous and extensive provinces. | China, it applies, a fortiori to civil Her soldiers, for all the purposes of institutions founded, as ours are, on defence and protection, are little the principles of freedom, and debetter than dead men, and were they pending confessedly on the intellistricken from the roll of the living, gence and virtue of the people for the strength and stability of the their security, permanence and vig. empire would not be sensibly affected. our. Germany, too, and the United The greatness and repose of China States might be mentioned as examare chiefly attributable to her pecu- ples of this wide-spread culture in its liar Literary Institutions. Wealth initial stages. But while we look and rank are not without their to other nations, and recognise the

manners

universal influence of literature and is most wholesome. The scholar culture, we must not forget that no lives among the great minds of nation has produced so many highly antiquity, shedding upon him a secultivated minds as our own, and in rene and never setting light. His no part of the world has this culture studies conduct him to the profound accomplished a more powerful effect reflections, and the unchanging apon certain strata of society. The truths embodied in the pages which misfortune is, that it has not been absorb his attention. He is refining more widely diffused. We are now his sensibilities and his taste among waking up to a sense of this omis- the wondrous creations of literature, sion. For utilitarian reasons we or disciplining his reason in the must follow suit. Self-defence de- fields of absolute truth. mands it. A graceful, bút perhaps Again, the English upper class, not less truthful compliment, was taken as a body, and many in the paid some time ago by an observant middle class, are distinguished not foreigner to the influence of culture only for an admirable culture, but for and literature upon our national

so simple and graceful, character :* "As a general proof of that they seem to be inherited, not the practical benefits which have re- acquired; attractive, because they are sulted from the English University the expression of a native courtesy system, we may point to the Eng- and real friendliness. lish character, to the world-wide This is not the growth of a day, it reputation of Englishmen for virtue, is not the patronising complaisance knowledge, practical benevolence and or intolerable assumption of a class usefulness. It would be folly in- that have just risen from obscurity. deed to attribute all this result to It is the product of ages of refinethis or any other single cause. Still ment. It is the growth of a civiliwe are entitled to name this as one zation more perfect than the world of the most powerful instrumentali- has elsewhere seen. ties which have created what we We cannot but attribute it to the mean by British character and influences of literature and culture. influence."

These influences may be indirect England is distinguished for ster- and imperceptible; but thoughts so ling integrity; she is eminent for beautiful, clothed in forms of such wisdom and practical good sense ; exquisite grace as are found in litershe has a name among the nations ature, must form no small element for the love of liberty in union with of the culture to which we refer. law. The English people of the Through a thousand avenues they apper and middle classes are char-enter, and pervade the susceptible acterised by sobriety of judgment, hearts of the young, a native common sense, and a not Furthermore, the University sysunworthy opposition to change, in tem counteracts and neutralizes, in beautifal contrast with the course a measure, the great tendency of of their restless continental neigh- the English mind to that which is bours. As a leading cause of these immediately practical and useful: characteristics we refer to the influ- Oxford and Cambridge have cast up ence of literature and culture. Amid mighty barriers against an intensely the buoyancy of youth and the ex- avaricious spirit. They are public citements of the times that influence standing monuments to the worth

of mind. They are constantly utter* Professor Edwards, Andover, U. S.

ing their silent, yet intelligent proVOL, VI. FIRST SERIES.

2 B

6

test against that exclusive spirit | the increased intelligence of the which would test all things by their young, is a growing and imperative weight and measure. England is necessity. Numerous pens are caterabsorbingly commercial and manu- ing to supply this necessity; but facturing. The acquisition of riches are not many of their productions —the eager pursuit of material ad- written, seemingly, merely to please ? vantages—is her besetting sin. But instruction is of very small account. a liberal education affords some But while we avoid one extreme, counter-weight, it induces the culti- let us not run into another. In vation of tastes, which throw a literature monotony and stagnation charm over the dealings of trade, become intolerable. Much of the lighten the heart of the banker, and religious literature of the day is too lead the mechanic and the land- conventional and stereotyped. There owner to cherish enlightened views is plenty of brain but not enough and perform philanthropic deeds. heart; sufficient logic, but not

“It is delightful,” says Mr. Tal- enough poetry; it is strong in fourd, " to see the influences of clas- argument, but lacking in imaginasical literature, not fading upwards, tion. It wants a quicker pulse, a but penetrating downwards, and warmer glow and a fuller passion, masses of people rejoicing to recog- Literature to be read by the young nise even from afar the skirts of its must be made a winsome and an glory.”

attractive thing. Ideas which have Of the value of literature the been buried in the idiom of the past Rev. Dr. Farrar writes thus,“ Books, must be moulded into new forms; a which are the true reliquaries of new life must be breathed into them, the saints, but without imposture;' and a new voice given to awaken books, which, with a potent, yet attention and win sympathy. innocent necromancy, enable us to At no period of its history had evoke from their dim tombs the Methodism, as a branch of the spirits of the dead! books, which Church of Christ, so favourable an are the best heart's blood of great opportunity of making its influence men,' embalmed for a life beyond a felt upon the young through the

medium of literature. They will If then such is the value of liter- read books of some kind, and those ature, and if such has been the books will have a marvellous power power of literature and culture, for good or evil upon their minds; especially among the upper classes and this power of the press is growof society, how important it is that ing every day, and that because the the fertilizing and elevating influ- reading power and taste of the ence should permeate and leaven as young are increasing. far as possible the whole of the Schools are everywhere being community! It is a fine expression multiplied, and the means of popuof Miss Edgeworth's, in speaking of lar education are being rapidly the mind of one of her heroines, diffused over the land. Ten years " that the stream of literature had hence and few men or women will passed over it was apparent only be found in the country who have from its fertility.” Ought we not not acquired the art of reading. to strive to make this fertility as “What the people read will be universal as possible ?

most effective in the formation of To provide a healthy and en- their character; that which breathes nobling popular literature, to meet into us the most thought and senti

life.'»

ment will exercise upon us the most | The invention of printing by a plastic power. As the soft wax humble mechanic of Strasburg, gave receives the figure of the seal, the to letters at once a new impulse heart of the young will receive the and a new epoch. It has widened impress of the literature they read.

and enriched literature a thousandAs the breath of heaven bears the fold. The first book that issued seeds of autumn to spots where they from the press was The Book. will germinate and grow, the press Literature is a natural developoften scatters pernicious ideas of ment. It starts from two of the life and duty over the masses where innate principles in man—the inthey find a genial soil, and will partive and the receptive tendencies : yield a plentiful harvest of evil for a strong disposition at once to comyears to come.”

municate thoughts and to receive Before we proceed further, per them. Who is not conscious of the haps it would not be amiss to glance constant working of these correlaat the origin of the art which has tive powers within him ? They are wielded such a mighty influence the bonds of society; they bind upon society, and the duty of all men together by the ties of mutual good men in relation to it. The obligation; they prompt and enable origin of literature is not of yester the noble and the pure to breathe day. It is no new thing in the their sentiments and spirit into the world, says Dr. Thomas.* Its history age in which they live, and thus dates almost as far back as the first lift it toward their own ideal earnest soul. When we consider These mental proclivities, deep in the susceptibilities of impression, the common heart of all, are the the powers of reflection, the social well-spring of literature; they make and religious sympathies which be the author and the reader too. The long to our common nature, in con one furnishes the producer, and the nection with circumstances which | other the consumer, in the great mark our terrestrial life,-circum mart of letters. stances ever potently tending to Again, Christianity is transstartle the thoughts, heave the mitted through literature. The comemotions and rouse the imagination, munications of Heaven to the fathers -We are disposed to give to litera and to the prophets, the biography ture a very early date, and to hold of Jesus and the thoughts of the the belief that man, at the very out Apostles—these world-renovating set of his conscious history, com and saving forces would never have menced a record of himself. "O reached us but for the pen. Hence, that my words were now written ! O no command did the world's Saviou e that they were printed in a book! in His final Apocalypse repeat witi that they were graven with an iron more frequency or earnestness then, pen and lead in the rock for ever!” | " Write,” Moreover, Christianity This impassioned utterance may be stimulates the literary propensities. fairly regarded as the irrepressible It has historically proved itself the desire of the human soul under the mental awakener—the archangel's exciting circumstances of its earthly trump to summon dead minds from life to register its history.

their graves. Most of the great

authors were trained under its in* See a very able Homily on the Influ

fluence. The choicest flowers that ence of the Ministry on Literature, part of which we incorporate, “Homilist,"

adorn, and the finest fruits that enrich, the fields of literature have

Vol. II.

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