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way. It is well known, that our mental and moral habits are intimately connected with our style of thinking and of speaking. Thus our sense of rectitude is very much dependent on the accuracy of the language which we employ. Confusion in speech leads to confusion in morals. Perspicuity in diction is often the parent of clear mental and moral conceptions. Hence, scarcely any thing is more important in the culture of the young, than exact attention to the nicer shades of thought; than the ability to discriminate in respect to all terms, (those relating to moral subjects particularly,) which are, in general, regarded as synonymous. One of the chief benefits of classical study goes to this very point. It is itself a process of accurate comparison. It is taking the valuation, as it were, of the whole stock of two most copious languages. Some of the principal authors use words with wonderful precision. Plato, for instance, defines with microscopic acuteness. His power of analysis was, perhaps, never equalled. His ear seemed to be so trained as to detect the slightest differences both in the sense and in the sound of words. This is one reason why no translation can do justice either to his poetic cadences or to his thoughts. No one can be familiar with such an author, and really perceive the fitness of his words, and the truth of the distinctions which they imply, without becoming himself a more exact reasoner and a nicer judge of moral truth. Language, when thus employed, is not a dead thing. It reacts, with quickening power, on our minds and hearts. When we use words of definite import, our intellectual and moral judgments will become definite. A hazy dialect is the parent of a hazy style of thinking, if it is not of doubtful actions. The dishonest man, and the dishonest state, often allow themselves to be imposed upon by a loose mode of 13


reasoning, and a looser use of language. Here, then, may be drawn an argument, not unimportant, in favor of continued attention to those finished models of style and of thought, which are found in the studies in question. They nourish a delicacy of perception, and the sentiments and feelings gradually gain that crystal clearness which belongs to the visible symbols.

Once more, it is to be feared that a degenerating process has been long going on in our vernacular tongue. There is danger that it will become the dialect of conceits, of prettinesses, of dashing coxcombry, or of affected strength, and of extravagant metaphor. Preachers, as well as writers, appear to regard convulsive force as the only quality of a good style. They seem to imagine that the human heart is, in all its modes, to be carried by storm. Their aim is the production of immediate practical effect. Hence there is a struggle for the boldest figures and the most passionate oratory. The same tendency is seen in the hall of legislation, and preeminently in much of our popular literature. Passion, over-statement, ridiculous conceits, the introduction of terms that have no citizenship in any language on earth, a disregard of grammar, an affected smartness, characterize, to a very melancholy degree, our recent literature. To be natural, is to be antiquated. To use correct and elegant English, is to plod. Hesitancy in respect to the adoption of some new-fangled word, is the sure sign of a purist. Such writers as Addison and Swift are not to be mentioned in the ears of our 66 enterprising" age. The man, or the woman, who should be caught reading the Spectator, would be looked upon as smitten with lunacy. In short, there is reason to fear that our noble old tongue is changing into a dialect for traffickers, magazine-writers, and bedlamites.

One way, by which this acknowledged evil may be stayed, is a return to such books as Milton, Dryden, and Cowper loved; to such as breathed their spirit into the best literature of England; to the old historians and poets, that were pondered over, from youth to hoary years, by her noblest divines, philosophers, and statesmen. Eloquence, both secular and sacred, such as the English world has never listened to elsewhere, has flowed from minds that were imbued with classical learning.


On the 25th of November, 1838, a young lady died at Ballston, in the State of New York, in the sixteenth year of her age. She seemed hardly to be a creature of earth, but to have wandered hither by accident from some more blessed region than ours. There were about her a grace, a strange purity, a sunny brightness, which were not so much genius, as mind in its freed state. We have never heard or read of one of human mould, who was more perfectly divested of the grossness which appertains to our condition here. Yet she possessed all the innocent feelings of humanity. Never did one pass a blither childhood. She had not a particle of that acid melancholy which is sometimes allied to genius.

The first sentence which breaks from the lips of the unreflecting reader, on rising from the contemplation of her brief career, is, that such a gift is not to be coveted. We should shrink from having aught to do with one so ethereal. We look with fear and trembling on a flower which shows its delicate petal in February. Give us the hardy plant that

* An Address at the Fourth Anniversary of the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, South Hadley, Mass., July 29th, 1841.

can endure the early frost and later heat. Intrust us with the intellect which has some alliance with earth, some fitness to its stern necessities.

Others, on perusing this volume, will give us a homily on the imprudence of parents and teachers. Her premature death, they say, is a warning which should not be neglected. It shows the imminent hazard of stimulating the susceptible faculties to an intemperate and fatal growth.

"But we are glad she has lived thus long,
And glad that she has gone to her reward."

Her course was ordered in perfect wisdom. May she not have done that which the longest career of usefulness, as it is commonly termed, fails to do? May she not have had a sublimer errand than others have? May not her brief sojourn here throw some light on the mystery of our nature? We gain a vivid idea of a human soul. The thick veil is for a moment lifted up. She had the light and airy movement of a winged spirit. We seem to be gazing on the delicate structure of a seraph; and yet she had the yearning sympathies of a child of earth.

If such is the nature of mind, would be our reflection, it is worth while to educate it. If it be capable, through the goodness of Providence and the grace of the Redeemer, of being clothed upon with such attractiveness, then the selectest human agency should be employed in aiding its development, and fitting it for its destiny. Education cannot, indeed, create talent or genius; but it can teach one to sympathize with genius. It can elevate the mind into communion with those to whom God has imparted his rarest gifts. It can raise all the faculties into that condition of healthful excitement or serene repose, which will enable it to appreciate,

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