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and for eternity, to the dimness of translations, which may reflect the literal import, but rarely can reflect with unbroken force the beautiful spirit of the text? Shall he, whose vocation it is to allure to brighter worlds and lead the way, "be himself the blind leader of the blind? Shall he follow the commentaries of fallible man, instead of gathering the true sense from the gospels themselves? Shall he venture upon the exposition of divine truths, whose studies have never aimed at the first principles of interpretation? Shall he proclaim the doctrines of salvation, who knows not, and cares not, whether he preaches an idle gloss or the genuine text of revelation? If a theologian may not pass his life in collating the various readings, he may, and ought to aspire to that criticism, which illustrates religion by all the resources of human learning; which studies the manners and institutions of the age and country, in which christianity was first promulgated; which kindles an enthusiasm for its precepts by familiarity with the persuasive language of Him, who poured out his blessings on the mount, and of Him, at whose impressive appeal Felix trembled.
I pass over all consideration of the written treasures of antiquity, which have survived the wreck of empires and dynasties, of monumental trophies and triumphal arches, of palaces of princes and temples of the gods. I pass over all consideration of those admired compositions, in which wisdom speaks, as with a voice from heaven; of those sublime efforts of poetical genius, which still freshen, as they pass from age to age, in undying vigour; of those finished histories, which still enlighten and instruct governments in their duty and their destiny; of those matchless orations, which roused nations to arms, and chained senates to the chariot wheels of all-conquering eloquence. These all may now be read in our vernacular tongue. Ay, as one remembers the face of a dead friend by gathering up the broken fragments of his image-as one listens to the tale of a dream twice told-as one catches the roar of the ocean in the ripple of a rivulet-as one sees the blaze of noon in the first glimmer of twilight.
There is one objection, however, on which I would for a moment dwell, because it has a commanding influence over many minds, and is clothed with a specious importance. It is often said, that there have been eminent men and eminent writers, to whom the ancient languages were unknown; men, who have risen by the force of their talents, and writers, who have written with a purity and ease, which hold them up as models for imitation. On the other hand, it is as often said, that scholars do not always compose either with elegance or chasteness;
that their diction is sometimes loose and harsh, and sometimes ponderous and affected, Be it so. I am not disposed to call in question the accuracy of either statement. But I would nevertheless say, that the presence of classical learning was not the cause of the faults of the one class, nor the absence of it the cause of the excellence of the other. And I would put this fact, as an answer to all such reasonings, that there is not a single language of modern Europe, in which literature has made any considerable advances, which is not directly of Roman origin, or has not incorporated into its very structure many, very 125 many of the idioms and peculiarities of the ancient tongues. The English language affords a strong illustration of the truth of this remark. It abounds with words and meanings drawn from classical sources. Innumerable phrases retain the symmetry of their ancient dress. Innumerable expressions have received their vivid tints from the beautiful dyes of Roman and Grecian roots. If scholars, therefore, do not write our language with 11. ease, or purity, or elegance, the cause must lie somewhat deepa er than a conjectural ignorance of its true diction.
But I am prepared to yield still more to the force of the ob jection. I do not deny, that a language may be built up with5. out the aid of any foreign materials, and be at once flexible for speech and graceful for composition. That the literature of a nation may be splendid and instructive, full of interest and beauty in thought and diction, which has no kindred with classical learning; that in the vast stream of time it may run its own current unstained by the admixture of surrounding languages; that it may realize the ancient fable, "Doris amara suam non intermisceat undam ;" that it may retain its own flayour, and its own bitter saltness too. But I do deny, that such a national literature does in fact exist in modern Europe, in that community of nations, of which we form a part, and to whose fortunes and pursuits in literature and arts we are bound by all our habits, and feelings, and interests. There is not a single nation from the North to the South of Europe, from the bleak shores of the Baltic to the bright plains of immortal Italy, whose literature is not embedded in the very elements of classical learning. The literature of England is in an emphatic sense the production of her scholars; of men, who have cultivated letters in her universities, and colleges, and grammar schools; of men, who thought any life too short, chiefly, because it left some relic of antiquity unmastered, and any other fame humble, because it faded in the presence of Roman and Grecian genius. He, who studies English literature without the lights of classical learning, loses half the charms of its sentiments and style,
of its force and feelings, of its delicate touches, of its delightful allusions, of its illustrative associations. Who, that reads the poetry of Gray, does not feel, that it is the refinement of classical taste, which gives such inexpressible vividness and transparency to his diction? Who, that reads the concentrated sense and melodious versification of Dryden and Pope, does not perceive in them the disciples of the old school, whose genius was inflamed by the heroic verse, the terse satire, and the playful wit of antiquity? Who, that meditates over the strains of Milton, does not feel, that he drank deep
that the fires of his magnificent mind were lighted by coals from ancient altars?
It is no exaggeration to declare, that he, who proposes to abolish classical studies, proposes to render in a great measure inert and unedifying the mass of English literature for three centuries; to rob us of much of the glory of the past, and much of the instruction of future ages; to blind us to excellences, which few may hope to equal, and none to surpass; to annihilate as sociations, which are interwoven with our best sentiments, and give to distant times and countries a presence and reality, as if they were in fact our own.
Extract from Mr. WHITBREAD'S Speech on the Parliamentary Investigation into the Conduct of the Duke of York.
We cannot help being forcibly reminded by the incidental circumstances of these inquiries, how deeply nations are concerned in the private conduct of those connected with the monarchs appointed to rule over them. The chancellor of the exchequer has called to our recollection that this service of plate (the joint payment of which, by Mrs. Clark and his royal highness, forms one of the incidental proofs against him,) belonged to the Duke of Berri, a branch of the house of Bourbon, once so mighty and illustrious. The last unhappy sovereigns of that family were murdered by their own subjects, and the few of its members who survived the promiscuous carnage of those bloody days, are wanderers on the face of the earth or supported by the charitable munificence of this country, affording a melancholy but instructive lesson of the near connection subsisting between the private lives of princes and the fate of na
tions. It might have been expected that the Duke of York would have started at the name of the Duke of Berri, and contemplating his sad reverse of fortune, would have resolved upon such an alteration of life and conduct as would have precluded the necessity of this painful inquiry. He might have reflected on the state to which a man of such high descent was reduced, on that surprising vicissitude of human affairs which had driven to such expedients for support, in the metropolis of the kingdom which had for centuries been contending against the ambition of his family, a near relation of the ruined throne of France. He might have accepted the warning thus offered. A man of sound understanding could hardly have overlooked it. Tracing effects to their true causes he might have seen that the revolution of which that royal house and its appendages have been the peculiar victims, and which has in its consequences convulsed the whole moral state of Europe, was brought about, not by the theories of speculative men, but by the vices of individuals and the foul corruption of the state; finally drawing down upon the innocent as well as upon the guilty, one universal ruin. Such were the real causes of the destruction of the ancient monarchy of France. It has been truly said that philosophy has no such triumphs to boast. In the national effects produced by the vices and follies of the higher orders of society, are to be found the reasons which take the matters now under our consideration out of the private transactions of the Duke of York. It is the influence which the moral behaviour of persons of exalted rank has upon the public weal which gives such vast importance to all they do, and makes it decisive of the fate of empires. Let us for the sake of example, trace back the history of France to the La Valieres, the Montespans, the bigotted Maintenon, through the profligate period of the regency down to the Pompadours and the wretched Du Barre, who lived to suffer in that revolution which was hastening to its fatal crisis with the velocity of a comet, unperceived by those who were indulging in their gorgeous crimes.
Look how the strength of France was blasted; how England flourished in her decline; when vice and corruption reigned paramount in France, was not France humbled to prostration before the power of England? To what cause but weakness, produced by her corruption, can that prostration be ascribed. Sir, I feel that I have dwelt at great length upon so painful a topic, but this instance of the instability of all human greatness is so striking, that I could not refrain from expressing my as
tonishment that it failed to make such an impression on the mind of the Duke of York, as to induce him to abandon the course of life in which he was engaged, and to trace back his steps to the paths of prudence and decorum. At the bare possibility that his name be implicated in deeds so odious, he might have shuddered.
This magnificent and awful monument of fallen pomp and greatness, might have served for the remainder of his life as a beacon to direct his course, and he might have thanked his creator for his rescue from the abyss over which he hung, with a resolution immoveably fixed, thereafter to lead a life of virtue!
Extract from Lord CHATHAM's Speech, at the opening of Parliament, November, 1777.
It is a shameful truth, that not only the power and strength of this country are wasting away and expiring, but her well earned glories, her true honour, and substantial dignity are sacrificed. France, my lords, has insulted you; she has encouraged and sustained America; and whether America be wrong or right, the dignity of this country ought to spurn at the officious insult of French interference. The ministers and ambassadors of those who are called rebels and enemies, are in Paris; in Paris they transact the reciprocal interests of America and France. Can there be a more mortifying insult? Can even our ministers sustain a more humiliating disgrace? Do they dare to resent it? Do they presume even to hint a vindication of their honour, and the dignity of the state, by requiring the dismission of the plenipotentiaries of America? Such is the degradation to which they have reduced the glories of England!
The people whom they affect to call contemptible rebels, but whose growing power has at last obtained the name of enemies ; the people with whom they have engaged this country in war, and against whom they now command our implicit support in every measure of desperate hostility: this people, despised as rebels, or acknowledged as enemies, are abetted against you, supplied with every military store, their interests consulted, and their ambassadors entertained, by your inveterate enemy! And our ministers dare not interpose with dignity or effect. Is this the honour of a great kingdom? Is this the indignant spirit of England, who, "but yesterday," gave law to the house of Bourbon? My lords, this ruinous