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There is no doubt great difference in the style of different authors; and, independent of the matter, we are thus able to read some with much greater ease and pleasure than others. striking, (observes the late Mr. Sharp, in his volume of letters and essays) is this short passage in a speech of Edward the IV., to his Parliament : 'The injuries that I have received are known everywhere, and the eyes of the world are fixed upon me to see with what countenance I suffer.' If actual events could often be related in this way, there would be more books in circulating libraries than Romances and Travels. This lively and graphic style is plainly the best, though now and then the historian's criticism is wanted to support a startling fact or explain a confused transaction. Thus the learned Rudbeck in his Atlantica, ascribing an ancient temple in Sweden to one of Noah's sons: warily adds ''twas probably the youngest.' You will of course, (jocosely remarks Mr. Sharp) hasten to study his book, it is only in 4 volumes folio."
For a particular instance of the dramatic in modern history, where shall we find one more striking than in the account of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee, as given in Dalrymple’s History of Scotland. Dundee wandering about Lochaber, with a few miserable followers, is roused by news of an English army in full march to the
pass of Killicrankie. His hopes revive. He collects his scattered bands, and falls upon the enemy filing out of the stern gateway into the highlands. In fourteen minutes infantry and cavalry are broken; Dundee, foremost in pursuit as in battle, outstrips his pecple: he stops and waves his hand to quicken their speed. While pointing eagerly to the pass, a musket ball pierces his armour. He rides off the field, but soon dropping from his horse, is laid under the shade of trees that stood near; when he has recovered of the faintness, he desires his attendants to lift him, and turning his eyes to the field of combat, enquires “how things went." Being told that all is well, he replies with calm satisfaction, " Then I am well,” and expires.
Very similar and scarcely less graphic, is the account of the death of General Wolfe, as given in his history by Lord Mahon, who satisfies the curiosity by many little facts. It is an event made familiar to many also by the excellent relation of it in a well known popular engraving. But, of course, no abridgment can afford space for those very details which comprise the beauty and interest of the narration. And I might observe, in passing, that it was mentioned in the account of the St. Martin's Institution for the workclasses, that there were 202 adults and children who were receiving instruction in the School of Art and Design; and I believe it is desired to have a class, or classes, of something of the same kind in connection with this Institution. Now, it is true that we are in a state of infancy in many ways, and specially all that relates to what are termed the cultivation of the fine arts. But if there be any latent talent to be called into active operation, if we ever hope to have our School of Art and Design amongst us--and why may there not be natural genius and talent in the youth of Canada as well as in the youth of old England or old France ?-it will be, at times, from reading such striking and stirring passages in history, that unconscious genius will draw its ideas, and gather the inspiration, which it will afterwards strive to embody in its works.
I need hardly now stop_indeed, time will not allow me to speak much of the charms of biography: those detailed portraitures of individuals, that make us acquainted with the private life of the great, the good and the wise of every age and nation, nor detain you to enumerate all its uses. “ The lives of men of science have one peculiar advantage, that they often show the importance of little things in producing great results. Smeaton drew his principle of constructing a light-house from noticing the trunk of a tree to be diminished from a curve to a cylinder. Rembrant’s marvellous system of splendour and shade was suggested by accidental gleams of light and shade in his father's mill. White, of Selbourne, carrying about in his rides and walks a list of birds to be investigated, and Newton turning an old box into a water clock, or the yard of a house into a sun-dial, are examples of those habits of patient observation, which scientific biography attractively recommends. Biography will also often serve to cheer merit when its hopes are drooping. It leads down a gallery of portraits, and gives the comforting or warning history of each. It shows Jackson working on his father's shop-board, and cherishing a love of art by an occasional visit to Castle Howard; Richardson, a printer's
apprentice, stealing an hour from sleep to improve his mind, and scrupulously buying his own candle, that his master might not be defrauded; or the Chinese scholar, Morrison, laboring at his trade of a last and boot maker, and keeping his lamp from blowing out with a volume of Matthew Henry's Commentary.”
It will, however, be but the rare exceptions, who will go forward under the pressure of difficulties and force their way, as it were, towards the clear light of day. And it should be the business and aim of an Institution like this, as its means will allow and its influence extend, to aid and encourage all its members in the pursuit of knowledge, and the cultivation of the mind, and the advancement of science and art. Whatever may be the case with a few earnest and ardent spirits, instruction in true and useful knowledge was never yet demanded by the many, till it was in a measure forced upon them. And here I must remind you, that the noblest stimulus to exertion, and the only true rule by which wisdom and learning can be exercised to any really good end, will still be wanting, unless the principles of all education be laid in those higher motives, which have their foundation in revealed truth. I am well aware that it is not the specific business of this Institution in any instruction which it may impart, to undertake any particular charge in connection with religion ; and that it does not assume the superintendence of the general training of its members. But while dwelling upon the advantages connected with science and literature and arts, while stating my desire to see them more duly appreciated and attentively cultivated, I wish expressly, as a minister of Christ, to guard myself against ever being supposed to imply, that any real benefit can be expected to arise to any nation or people from the pursuit or attainment of knowledge, except so far as it shall be overruled and influenced by true principles of education; those which have reference to the destiny of man, as responsible for his actions to his Maker, and to his relation to Him, as being an heir, not of a mere temporal birth-right, but of immortality. Any mere cultivation of the intellect, apart from such reference to man's responsibilities to his Maker, is but preparing more subtle and powerful agents for accomplishing the work of the Prince of this World; it is, in fact, committing over again the primal sin that lost our first parents' paradise, and entailed on all mankind the curse of God-it is approaching by forbidden ways the tree of knowledge, and seeking to enjoy the fruits thereof, before we have earned our title to them by learning obedience.
I am the more anxious to enforce this, because we are' yet a young country, our population is as yet comparatively small, and our character is yet in course of formation. And it will be our wisdom to take warning from what we see and hear elsewhere. Our neighbours in the United States are a great nation, increasing in wealth and numbers, exhibiting great activity of intellect, and with a vast array of public and private institutions for the intruction of youth, and imparting knowledge; yet, as I find it stated by themselves, there seems something deficient in their system. And it is well that they have the honesty, and boldness, and candour, amongst their own citizens, to denounce what is false or pernicious in their institutions or their effects, in order, if it may be so, to provoke a remedy. And while I could have no means myself of forming such an accurate opinion respecting them, and if I had, I might have been perhaps backward to declare it: yet, as their own testimony, it ought to be instructive. About ten years ago, in a fourth of July oration, delivered by Mr. Mann, the Secretary of the Massachusetts Education Board, I find such passages as the following:
"The great experiment of Republicanism, of the capaeity of men for self-government, is to be tried anew, which, wherever it has been tried, -in Greece, in Rome, in Italy,-has failed, through an incapacity in the people to enjoy liberty without abusing it. A vast continent is here to be filled up with innumerable beings, who may be happy through our wisdom, but must be miserable through our folly. In a Republican Government the ballot-box is the urn of fate, yet no God shakes the bowl, or presides over the lot. If the ballot-box is open to wisdom and patriotism and humanity, it is equally open to ignorance and treachery, to pride and envy, to contempt for the poor, or hostility to the rich. It is the loosest filter ever devised to strain out impurities. It gives equal ingress to whatever comes; no masses of selfishness and pride, no foul aggregation of cupidity or profligacy are so ponderous, as to meet obstruction in its capacious gorge.”—Then having spoken of the evils in the system of government, he goes on to say -"I have shown if not incurable, yet unless cured, a fatal malady in the heart. I tremble at the catalogue of national crimes, which we are exhibiting before heaven and earth.” (And having enumerated a long list, he proceeded to ask :) And are not the business relations of the community contaminated more and more with speculation and knavery? In mercantile honour and honesty, in the intercourse between buyer and seller, is there not a luxation of all the joints of the body commercial and social ?" Such was the picture ten years ago, and how has it since improved? Bishop Hopkins of Vermont, in an eloquent address delivered last year before the House of Convocation of Trinity College, Connecticut, and published by request, fills up the canvass to the present time. After paying a tribute of praise to the sages and patriots, who settled the government of the United States, about seventy years ago, he proceeds to speak of its present condition and prospects : “First, then, we hear on every side the charge of political corruption. Bribery is practised in all our elections. The spoils of office are expected, as a matter of course, by the victorious party. The President of the United States dares not to be impartial : for if he were, he would loose the confidence of his friends, without gaining the confidence of his enemies. The oldest statesmen, and the most prominent cannot follow the dictates of their own judgment and conscience, without being reproached as if they were laying traps for the Presidential chair. With the other classes in the community the same charge of venality and corruption meets us again. Our merchants are accused of all sorts of dishonest management; our brokers of stock-jobbing, our city aldermen of bribery, our lawyers of knavery, our justioes of complicity. The same worship of mammon serves to govern the whole, and the current phrase " the almighty dollar" is a sad but powerful exponent of the universal sin, which involves the mass of the population. But most of all, we see it in the awful blasphemy with which the Bible is denounced by male and female lecturers, while statesmen and politicians stoop to pander to this public outrage upon all religion and decency; totally forgetful of