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ornament. It weaves a graceful chaplet for the brow of a loved Alma Mater, and with gentle persuasion invites her sons, admiring her unfaded beauty, to come home on her birth-days and pay her the homage of reverent and grateful hearts. The Address is conservative and yet liberal in its general views of collegiate education. It is interesting and valuable for the strong filial attachment to the University which it breathes; for its timely hints on the duties of the alumni to that venerable institution ; for its judicious and weighty remarks on “the free University system,” as exhibited abroad, the introduction of which amongst us it earnestly deprecates; and above all, for the admirable suggestions it contains touching the mutual relations and reciprocal duties of teachers and pupils in our Colleges. On this last point Judge White has spoken not only like a religious philosopher, but like a Christian parent, and we heartily commend what he has said to the grave consideration of all who are interested in the subject.
Mr. Putnam's Oration is an able and eloquent production; clear, vigorous, and animated in style; in thought, independent and bold, without being extravagant; in spirit, warm with the love and the inspiration of truth ; and in its moral tone, quite above the vulgar — we fear also the polite — standard of present opinion and feeling. We are at no loss to understand how, with the earnest and persuasive manner of the orator, its delivery should have had, as we are told it did, a thrilling effect on the hearers. And yet we are not surprised, notwithstanding its merit and the encomiums it has elicited, that some upon sober consideration have been led to dissent from the leading position of the author, and to differ from him in his estimate of the remarkable men by reference to whose character and influence he seeks to justify that position. We, however, in the main agree with him. The general views set forth by him with such force and brilliancy, we have long entertained ; and we thank him for putting upon them the stamp of his name and sending them abroad.
No one can reasonably doubt that there is some nection between Intellectual and Moral Culture, between scholarship and character, literature and life.” Is it said, that literature is the product of intellectual culture ? But in every literary production there are certain moral
characteristics which are the fruit of moral culture, or which indicate the want of it; and these characteristics constitute one of the principal elements to be taken into account in estimating the value of the work. Moreover, it will be found on examination, that the approved works of any given period of literary history indicate and represent the degree of moral culture belonging to that period. There are some exceptions, we know, to this rule. There have been epochs of deep and wide-spread moral destitution in which a single living genius has arisen, who by the energy of a heaven-born soul has redeemed it from the infamy of total barrenness; as we sometimes see a solitary star shining out through the thin haze that overspreads it, whilst all the rest of the firmament is dark with clouds. And again, one epoch sometimes seems to overlap that which follows it, and thus he who has his birth and does his work on the border of one, lives in reality — is recognized, is felt
- only in the circle of the other. Such men are in a high sense, if not the highest, prophets. They belong not to the class of common gifted mortals. They are 66 not of their own age.”
Like Milton, they must wait for another generation to read them, for other ages to do them full justice. But, in general, authors are the exponents and representatives both of the intellectual culture and of the moral principle and sentiment of their time. They are the amanuenses which their age employs to write, in such fashion as they may, its own outward and inward life. The sale-books of publishers disclose with sufficient accuracy the state of the popular heart.
But while this general correspondence between the literature and the heart of an age or a people is admitted, it is sometimes denied that there is a similar connection between the intellect and the character of the individual author. It is maintained, that in doing its own work the intellect has no need of the conscience; that it can and does succeed succeed in acquiring unfading laurels — alone; that its highest achievements may be effected by one whose soul is dark, troubled, diseased, without hope, without God ! Now we do not hesitate to affirm the contrary. It is time the question were settled. Is there a law, holy and divine, which genius and talent must obey, or fail? It is time, we say, that this question were settled. For the sake of that talent
and genius which are ever coming forth into life, descended from the Father of lights, and shaping the destinies of the world, if there be such a law, it is time it were generally understood.
We proceed to make a few observations on this point. Truth is the object of all worthy pursuit in study. A love of truth is essential to the author's permanent success. This is well illustrated in the Oration before us. But, besides a love of truth, there are certain intellectual conditions equally essential. He must have, for instance, an eye for seeing the truth, and also the power of presenting it clearly, faithfully, livingly, in all its bearings, as well in regard to the finer sentiments of the soul as to the faculties which take the name and do the work of the intellect.
To bring these requisitions into a more precise form ; in order to attain the best success, the scholar who thinks and writes for others should have, in addition to his learning, and the love of truth, freedom of mind, good taste, and intellectual activity and energy. These three qualifications are primary and fundamental. Now each of these has a necessary connection with the moral part of our nature, and neither of them can exist, in any degree of perfection, independently of that moral culture which is the basis of all true life. Let us see if it be not so.
Freedom of mind, — what is it? It is, negatively, the absence of all unnatural restraints on the mind's best action, exemption from the burning and torture of the passions, from the teasing and goading of the appetites, and from the whips and stings of the conscience ; — from these as well as from prejudice, fear, favor, and the hope of sordid rewards. It is, positively, power to rise in thought and imagination into regions of perfect light and purity, to hold communion with the intelligence of other ages and other worlds, to explore the boundless field in which the highest sentiments have their corresponding objects, to know the Source of all knowledge, and to tread with humble but unfaltering step the track of eternal Wisdom, as it goes forth in the earth and round the universe, establishing and executing its unchangeable laws. Now, this freedom, we affirm, has no security, no protection, if indeed it can be said to have any existence, except in the moral nature — in the conscience and the soul. It does not exist, it cannot, where
the moral nature is wholly neglected. The ignorant foreigner, is he rendered a freeman merely by being landed on our shores, naturalized, taxed, and made a voter ? Does he, then, appreciate and enjoy civil liberty? Does he then, on the instant, become an American in principle and feeling, in attachments and hopes, in every thing but his birth and name? By no means. He must make himself acquainted with our political history, learn the principles of our Constitution, understand the plan of our government, and, above all, be imbued with the spirit of our institutions, before he can be called in any proper sense a free citizen. Now, what these attainments are to civil liberty in this case, moral culture is, in our view, to the freedom of the scholar, - its vitality, its dignity, its worth, its glory.
Taste is another essential qualification. And what is taste? In a writer, it is the ability, with all the materials for his work before him, to select the most suitable, and to dispose them into an order the most appropriate and beautiful. It implies therefore discrimination, choice, a sense of proportion and fitness, appreciation of what is just and true, not only in thought and language, but in principle and sentiment. Madame de Stäel, we remember, somewhere says, “ taste consists in the perfect knowledge of all true and beautiful relations." We accept this definition, as discriminating as it is comprehensive. And then we say, that no man possesses this knowledge who does not know himself, who has not read the hand-writing of God on his soul, or who is acquainted with no higher laws than those which regulate the succession of ideas or the combination of images in his mind: for the most beautiful and true of all relations are those which connect the heart of man with his Heaven-appointed duties, and unite him in will and affection with the Author of his being. There is, besides, a degree of moral sensibility, which is as essential an element of good taste as accuracy of judgment and self-knowledge. He who does not possess it, and is accustomed to treat with indifference the demands of virtue and religion, is in danger continually of offending those sentiments in others of which he knows nothing, and which are, in the end, to pronounce an irreversible judgment on his efforts. Let him abandon at once and forever the hope of producing any thing that will live. He lacks one thing; and that VOL. XXXVII. - 4th S. VOL. III. NO. I.
thing - unfortunately for him — contains the principle of permanence, the life-element.
Again, a certain amount of intellectual energy is indispensable to literary success. Energy implies activity and strength. It is this which gives force to language. It is the pith and nerve of eloquence. It imparts to the written and spoken word its spirit and interest. We love to perceive it, we love to feel it awaking our sympathies, kindling our enthusiasm, and making us strong in the cause for which it is exerted. And the literary productions, particularly the orations, which are most admired, both ancient and modern, are distinguished by this quality. Every word strikes. Every sentence has its meaning. Every line is a line of life. When the “golden flood of their divine rhetoric” is poured forth, it flows like a torrent. Strong thought seeks a strong expression ; burning thoughts, words that burn. Now it will not be denied that moral purity has a tendency to preserve intellectual energy. We believe more than this ; namely, that in connection with active moral sentiments it creates intellectual power; but it is sufficient
for our present purpose to maintain that it preserves it. NoI thing is more true, — the proof is seen in a thousand mel
ancholy and lamented examples of “genius baffled, blasted and discrowned,” – than that moral degeneracy induces dimness of the intellectual vision, and in many cases a perfect atrophy of the powers of the mind. The moral degeneracy which tends to such a result, it should be observed, does not consist solely in the habitual indulgence of the animal appetites. There is a profligacy of the thoughts, a drunkenness of the imagination, a prostitution of the faculties to base ends, which is not less surely fatal. He who thus offends, “ braves a law that is higher and stronger than he, and he must take the retribution.”
Thus it appears, we think, and by no strained and unnatural inferences, that those qualities of the mind which, upon a fair view of the subject, must be deemed essential to the best success in study and literature, derive their chief support and nourishment from the moral nature, and cannot exist except in harmony with its laws.
There is still another view of this subject on which we beg leave to offer a few suggestions. Suggestions, we say, for our limits forbid a full discussion.