Page images

teach them to read and write English. The idea of such a course of proceeding is borrowed from home. But the least advantageous way of teaching a child a language is to put him down to a book; and considering the manners and habits of our Indians, their inaptitude to book-learning must be peculiarly great. So too, we should judge, would be confinement within four walls and the restraint of a Lancaster school. M. Von Fellenberg, at Hofwyl, teaches his poor children in the fields, in the woods, in the workshops, at meals; and so, in the last address of Dr Worcester to the Choctaw mission, it is exhorted to do. The school room is but one among many places of instruction. The principle of imitation, the power of the natural speaking voice, the delight of personal agency, and that intenseness and heartiness, with which the youthful hands take hold of the implement, which it is made a mark of confidence to be allowed to handle, unite to give efficacy to this out-door method; and establish its preference for such subjects as these, over the dull and constrained discipline of a school. Wę hasten, however, to drop this topic, feeling somewhat ashamed to surprize ourselves here, from our snug closet, dictating to men, who have subjected themselves to voluntary banishment from the world, and gone among the savages, which we only write about.

We cannot forbear, in closing, to say a word of the foreign mission school at Cornwall, in Connecticut, an institution, in our judgment, admirably devised, and capable of becoming highly useful. Its object is :-The education in our country of heathen youths, in such manner, as with subsequent professional instruction, will qualify them to become useful missionaries, physicians, surgeons, schoolmasters, or interpreters; and to communicate to the heathen nations such knowledge in agriculture and the arts, as may prove the means of promoting christianity and civilization.' A detailed account of this school is given p. 264 of this work and it appears to be highly deserving of the liberal patronage, which the government of the United States has extended to it. The opinion is expressed by Mr Daggett, the principal of the school,* that the climate of New England is too unfriendly to the constitution of the islanders of the South Sea, to encourage the prospect that the school can be extensively resorted to, by them :-and that it * See his letter, Appendix, p. 273.

is, in consequence, likely to be principally useful to the aborigines of this country. Considering how wide a field is open in our vast western country, and how immediate is the utility of what is there done, perhaps it would not be matter of regret should this be considered the main-not to say exclusiveobject of the institution. We feel no hesitation in the opinion, that the Sandwich islands are a less prominent object of this species of charity, than the savage parts of our own continent.

Several very interesting specimens of the composition of natives, who have been educated either at Cornwall or at the missions of the south, have been inserted by Dr Morse in his appendix. Those written at Cornwall are said to be given, with a very few corrections and additions by the Rev. principal. We mean not to express the least doubt of their substantial authenticity ; but would observe, that all such corrections and additions detract essentially from the interest, which is taken in the performances. They are made, we presume, with an idea that the pieces are somehow better for having them. We regard such pieces as injured in just proportion as they are altered from the orthography, grammar, and composition of the authors.

Since committing to writing the foregoing remarks, we are sorry to perceive, by the newspapers, that the flourishing establishment supported by the United Foreign Mission Society of New York, at Harmony, among the Osages, has been interrupted and threatened at least with the suspension of its operations. In the treaty of Fort Clark, concluded with the Osages, November 10, 1818, by which the Indian title was extinguished to a tract of land estimated at more than fifty millions of acres, it was stipulated that the United States should support a trading house, in the neighborhood of the Osages, in perpetuity. In pursuance of this stipulation, a trading house had been erected on the Marias de Cein, and near it was the flourishing missionary establishment in question. An article in a Washington paper informs us, that the Osage Indians have consented to relinquish this stipulated trading house, in consideration of a quantity of merchandise. The result has been a determination on their part to destroy their village, and thus bury all traces of it, and of other things.' 'This is a blow,' continues the article we quote, 'at the missionary establishment, which has just been organized on the

Cein, and near the factory, the effects of which were soon visible. About fifteen children, boys and girls, had entered this asylum of benevolence, and were making very rapid improvement in learning and promised in every respect to do well." This prospect," says our correspondent, (who happens not to be a missionary,) "is nearly blasted for the present. Within the last four days they have lost the greater part of their children; the parents going off, were unwilling to leave them at so great a distance from them, and for this reason have taken them away." There remained at the date of our correspondent's letter (26th of Aug.) four boys and three girls, but it was expected these, too, would soon be called to follow in the track of their wandering parents.'

ART. III.-Essays on various subjects of Taste, Morals, and National Policy. By a citizen of Virginia. Georgetown,

1822. 8vo.

THE greater part of these Essays were originally written for the Port Folio, and are now, with the exception of three or four, republished from that journal. Without intending to depart from our practice of not entering into an examination of the contents of contemporary journals, we feel unwilling to pass in silence a sightly volume, filled with matter highly entitled to respectable notice, and coming from a portion of our country, where we are not often invited to a purely literary banquet. The state of Virginia, in many respects one of the most remarkable members of the national confederacy, furnishes a striking example of the truth of a maxim, as applied to the different parts of our own country, which is often made, with respect to America at large, when compared with Europe, in the article of literary cultivation. For various reasons, which are now well understood, some of which we have on former occasions submitted to the consideration of our readers, the reading and reflecting portion, in America, outweighs the writing and book-making. Mind is active, curiosity alive, and the demand for a considerable degree of intellectual power and cultivation, great in America; but paper is dear, the capitals invested in the manufacture and

sale of books small; that precise sort of patronage demanded for authorship not abundant; our large cities too numerous and distant; and for these reasons the writing and printing of books do not keep full pace with the progress of reading and thinking. They would advance unquestionably much faster, did not the regular production of good books in England put it into the power of the trade here, by cheap reprints, to supply the appetite for reading so abundantly, that the community is not forced to provide the means of greater encouragement at home. On the other hand, the density of the British population, the facilities for inland trade, the patronage of the government, of the universities, and of other public establishments, which by procuring the publication of many works of immense expense greatly increase the bookselling capital, with other causes which we need not enumerate, have pushed the book-making business to the other extreme; and it affords as much too exaggerated an index of the state of intellectual cultivation in England, as it does in this country, the reverse. True scholarship here appears but rarely before the public, in the form of a book. In England, every gentleman who has travelled can publish his journal; every curate and fellow of an university can cause the text of an oration of Demosthenes, or a play of Euripides to be printed, and if he has taught them to a few private students, can subjoin the notes, quas partim huc undique collegit partim scripsit; every professor in an university can mould his lectures into a treatise; and every man of leisure write something or other, and send it to the press and it must be a poor book indeed, if hot-pressed paper, and perhaps engravings and maps, backed with the circulative power of the wealthy booksellers, cannot get enough copies sold to pay the printing. Now something of this comparative process obtains, in the different sections of this country. The portion of it to the north of the Potomac bears much the same relation, in this respect, to the southern portion, which England does to America. The four large towns, (much less efficient indeed than one great capital), the greater density of population, and various causes, which lie deep in the national character of the respective sections of the country, have produced a much greater external literary activity to the north than the south of the Potomac. Almost all the books printed in America are


printed in the former portion of the country, and by natural consequence a considerable part of those written are here produced. Still we are far from inferring from these facts, a proportionable literary inferiority on the part of the southern states. We presume most of the good books printed either in England or America find their way to the most solitary plantation of the Blue ridge. We have even been inclined to think that the planter's life, crowding his occupation into one part of the year, and leaving him the rest to an honorable leisure, would be more favorable to habits of reading and study, than the more uniformly laborious and professional life of our northern citizens.

The volume before us is no ordinary specimen of the literature of Virginia, and a good sample, we should think, of the studies and meditations of her well educated citizens. It contains a series of essays, on the following subjects; the future destiny of the United States, on simplicity in ornament, on American literature, on density of population, on classical education, on architecture, on national debts, on style, on beauty, on banks of circulation, on rhyme, on duelling, on instructions to representatives, on scientific pursuits, on the theory of Malthus. The miscellaneous nature of these topics naturally leads us to expect upon them all, rather the views of a general inquirer, than the fruit of profound speculation on a few favorite or professional subjects. The characteristics of the essays throughout are good sense, clear perception, absence of all dogmatism, and freedom from passion and a polemical spirit. There is no effort to astonish with brilliant paradoxes or overwhelm with arrogant declamation; and though many of the subjects of the essays have elsewhere led to angry controversies, our author has treated them throughout with the urbanity of a gentleman. This feature of his manner is distinctly visible in the following passage in the preface.

'As the author's objects were to investigate truth where it was intricate and perplexed, and to speak fearlessly and impartially what he had deliberately investigated, he has not allowed his respect for names to give a sanction to error, whenever he thought he could detect it. He has yielded to no opinion because it was fashionable, and has flattered no prejudice, either popular or local. Thus in his argument in vindication of the practice of duelling, or on the binding force of instructions to

« PreviousContinue »