Page images

and of person.


sc lence, to contribute himself, by all the aspirations of his heart and all the faculties of his soul, to their accomplishment. Tell not lim of impossibilities when human improvement is the theme. Nuthing can be impossible which may be effected by human will. See what has been effected! An attentive reader of the history of mankind, whether in the words of inspiration, or in the records of artiquity, or in the memory of his own experience, must perceive that the gradual improvement of his own condition upon earth is the inextinguishable mark of distinction between the animal man and every other animated being, with the innumerable multitudes of which every element of this sublunary globe is peopled. And yet, from the earliest records of time, this animal is the only one in the visible creation who preys upon his kind. The savage man destroys and devours his captive foe. The

partially civilized man spares his life, but makes him his slave. In the progress of civilization, both the life and liberty of the enemy vanaished or disarmed are spared ; ransoms for prisoners are giver and received. Progressing still in the paths to perpetual peace, exchanges are established, and restore the prisoner of war to his country and to the enjoyment of all his rights of property

A custom, first introduced by mutual special couvention, grows into a settled rule of the laws of nations, that persons occupied exclusively upon the arts of peace shall, with their property, remain wholly unmolested in the conflicts of nations by arms. We ourselves have been bound by solemn engagements with one of the most warlike nations of Europe, to observe this rule, even in the utmost extremes of war; and in one of the most merciless periods of modern times, I have seen, towards the close of the last century, three members of the Society of Friends, with Barc-ay's Apology and Penn's Maxims in their hands, pass, peaceful travellers, through the embattled hosts of France and Britain, unharmed and unmolested, as the three children of Israel in the furnace of Nebuchadnezzar.

War, then, by the common consent and mere will of civilized man, has not only been divested of its most atrocious cruelties, but for multitudes, growing multitudes of individuals, has already been and is abolished. Why should it not be abolished for all? Let it be impressed upon the heart of every one of you, impress it upor the minds of your children, that this total abolition of war upor. earth is an improvement in the condition of man entirely dependent on his own will. He cannot repeal or change the laws of physical nature. He cannot redeem himself from the ills that Alesh is heir to; but the ills of war and slavery are all of his own creation. He has but to will, and he effects the cessation of them altogether.

Oration at Newburyport, July 4, 1837.

The following is a portion of a letter addressed by this illustrious statesman to a literary society of young men in Baltimore, who had written to him for advice as to a course of general reading. It is dated June 22, 1838, and it thus bears ite eloquent testimony to


The first, and almost the only book, deserving universal recommendation, is the BIBLE; and, in recommending that, I fear that some of you will think I am performing a superfluous, and others a very unnecessary, office; yet such is my deliberate opinion. The Bible is the book, of all others, to be read at all ages and in all conditions of human life; not to be read once or twice or thrice through, and then to be laid aside, but to be read in small portions of one or two chapters every day, and never to be intermitted unless by some overruling necessity.

This attentive and repeated reading of the Bible, in small portions every day, leads the mind to habitual meditation upon subjects of the highest interest to the welfare of the individual in this world, as well as to prepare him for that hereafter to which we are all destined. It furnishes rules of conduct for our conduct towards others in our social relations. In the commandments delivered from Sinai, in the inimitable sublimity of the Psalms and of the Prophets, in the profound and concentrated observations upon human life and manners embodied in the Proverbs of Solomon, in the philosophical allegory so beautifully set forth in the narrative of facts, whether real or imaginary, of the Book of Job, an active mind cannot peruse a single chapter and lay the book aside to think, and take it up again to-morrow, without finding in it advice for our own conduct, which we may turn to useful account in the progress of our daily pilgrimage upon earth; and when we pass from the Old Testament to the New, we meet at once a system of universal morality founded upon one precept of universal application, pointing us to peace and good-will towards the whole race of man for this life, and to peace with God and an everblessed existence hereafter.

I speak as a man of the world to men of the world, and I say to you, Search the Scriptures! If ever you tire of them in seeking for a rule of faith and a standard of morals, search then as records of history. General and compendious history is coe of the fountains of human knowledge to which you should all resort with steady and persevering pursuit; and the Bible contains the only authentic introduction to the history of the world. Acquaint yourselves also with the chronology and geography of the Bible ; that will lead you to a general knowledge of chronology and of geography, ancient and modern, and these will open to you an in


exhaustible fountain of knowledge respecting the globe which you inhabit, and respecting the race of men (its inhabitants) to which you yourselves belong. You may pursue these inquiries just so far as your time and inclination will permit. Give one hour of mental application, (for you must not read without thinking, or you will read to little purpose,) give an hour of joint reading and thought to the chronology and one to the geography of the Bible, and if it introduces you to too hard a study, stop there. Even for those two hours you will ever after read the Bible, and any other history, with more fruit, more intelligence, more satisfaction. It is a book which neither the most ignorant and weakest, nor the most learned and intelligent mind, can read without improvement.


Mr. Adams devoted his leisure moments to literature, and occasionally courted the Muses. Dermot MMorrogh and Poems of Religion and Society were some of the fruits of his versatile mind. From the latter I select


Alas! how swift the moments fly!

How flash the years along!
Scarce here, yet gone already by,

The burden of a song.
See childhood, youth, and manhood pass,

And age, with furrow'd brow;
Time was,-Time shall be,-drain the glass, -

But where in Time is now?
Time is the measure but of change:

No present hour is found;
The past, the future, fill the range

Of Time's unceasing round.
Where, then, is now? In realms above,

With God's atoning Lamb:
In regions of eternal love,

Where sits enthroned I AM.
Then, pilgrim, let thy joys and tears

On time no longer lean;
But henceforth all thy hopes and fears

From earth's affections wean:
To God let votive accents rise;

With truth, with virtue, live:
So all the bliss that time denies

Eternity shall give.

JOSEPH DENNIE, 1768-1812.

A WORK upon American Literature professing any degree of completeness should contain a notice of the author of the “Lay Preacher,” not so much from any extraordinary merits in his writings, as from his position and influence in his day as a man of letters. He was born in Boston, on the 30th of August, 1768, and in 1775 his father, who had been a merchant, removed to Lexington. In be entered the Sophomore class in Harvard University, and soon after leaving college became a student of law in the office of Benjamin West, at Charlestown, N. H. After completing his studies, he opened an office at Walpole. But he soon became disgusted with the profession, and, resolving to devote bis time to letters, went to Boston in the spring of 1795, and established a weekly paper called “ The Tablet." But it lived scarcely three months, and Dennie then, upon invitation, returned to Walpole, and became the editor of the “Farmer's Museum.” Here he commenced the essays entitled “The Lay Preacher," which laid the foundation of his literary reputation.

In the year 1799, he removed to Philadelphia, having been appointed private secretary of Mr. Pickering, at that time Secretary State. In the latter part of the year 1800, he published a prospectus of a weekly paper, entitled The Portfolio. Drawn up in the best style of the author, indicating a familiar acquaintance with the best writers in the various departments of polite literature, and inviting the co-operation of men of letters generally, it was hailed with enthusiasm by every class of readers; and the periodical was commenced on the 3d of January, 1801, with an extensive patronage.

To Dennie the path to honorable independence was now fairly open; but, unfortunately, he had not resolution to sacrifice, to the laudable ambition to gain it, those habits which embittered the latter part of his life. This has been called “the gay period of his career.” His charms of conversation were such that he

[ocr errors]

" It was published weekly in quarto form, eight pages constituting a number. It was thus continued for 5 years, forming five volumes, to the close of the year 1805,

,-a volume cach year. It was then changed to tho octavo form, of 16 pages, and also published weekly, and thus continued for three years, to the close of 1808, forining 6 volumnes, numbered 1 to 6. At the beginning of the year 1809, it was changed to a monthly magazino of about 116 pages, and thus continued through 1812, when Dennie died, forming for the four years 8 volumes, numbered 1 to . It was published, in the same form, under the editorship of Nicholas Biddle and Paul Allen, for 1813 and 1814, and of Dr. Charles Caldwell for 1815, -three years,-forming 6 volumes, numbered 1 to 6. In 1816 it was published by Mr. Harrison Hall, being edited by his brother, Johu E. Hall, Esq., and was thus continued till 1827,—twelve years. This series formed 22 volumnes, numbered 1 to 22. The last volume, the 47th of the whole, was published in six numbers; and then this periodical, so celebrated in its day, and which exerted no small influence on our country's character, closed its varied career. The delinquency of subscribers interfered materially with the success of the work; and I have it from Mr. Harrison Hall himself that, at the time of its stoppage, TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS at least were due to it! It is much to be regretted that there should have been so much irregularity in numbering the volumes of this work. There are four * new series," and five different first, second, third, fourth, and fifth voluines ; so that if one is directed to volume second for any article, he may have to examine five different volumes before he can find it. The 20tb vol. (1825) of Hall's series contains a copious index to all the volumes of that series.


was the delight of every circle where wit and urbanity were the passports of ad mission. He counted among his warm friends a number of young aspirants fo literary fame, and his table abounded with contributions for the Portfolio. It may be easily imagined, therefore, that one of his habits would not require much persuasion to exchange the labor of composition for the easier employment of selection. Hence we find that, in the whole course of his editorship of the Portfolio, ineluding a period of twelve years, there are scarcely as many original essays from his pen. In his gayety he lost the author. His cultivated taste and various reading in polite literature enabled him to produce a miscellany which obtained a wide circulation ; and he might have lived in the placid enjoyment of fame and fortune, if the finest gifts of nature could supply the want of prudence. As it was, after editing the Portfolio for eleven years, he died in absolute poverty on the 7th of January, 1812, though enough to give him a moderate competency was owing to him from subscribers who, year after year, had perused with delight the unpaidfor volumes. He was buried in the ground of St. Peter's Church, Philadelphia, where, a few years after, a monument was placed ovor his grave.

It has been customary of late years to depreciate the Portfolio. This we deein unjust; and think it must be done by those who have not read its pages; for we have no hesitation in saying that it will bear a favorable comparison with any similar contemporaneous periodical, English or American. It had not, indeed, the learning nor the variety of the Gentleman's Magazine, but that had been published nearly half a century when the Portfolio was commenced. But, by its talent, vivacity, taste, and variety, it did more, perhaps, than any other publication of that time, on this side the Atlantic, to refine the taste of the people, and to give a relish for choice realing and for literary pursuits.


"Watchman, what of the night?"-ISAIAn xxi. 11. To this query of Isaiah, the watchman replies, “that the morning cometh, and also the night.” The brevity of this answer has left it involved in something of the obscurity of the season when it was given. I think that night, however sooty and ill-favored it may be pronounced by those who were born under a day-star, merits a more particular description. I feel peculiarly disposed to arrange some ideas in favor of this season. I know that the majority are literally blind to its merits; they must be prominent, indeed, to be discerned by the closed eyes of the snorer, who thinks that night was made for nothing but sleep. But the student and the sage are willing to believe that it was formed for higher purposes; and that it not only recruits exhausted spirits, but sometimes informs inquisitive, and amends wicked ones.

Duty, as well as inclination, urges the Lay Preacher to sermonize while others slumber. To read numerous volumes in the morning, and to observe various characters at noon, will leave but

"Life by John E. Hall, in the “Philadelphia Souvenir."

« EelmineJätka »