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LESSON CI.

Prospects of the United States.-JAMES GOULD.

Our present condition, as a people, is a subject of just congratulation; and our future destiny is committed, under Providence, to our own care.

We have advantages, possessed, to an equal extent, by no other people on the globe, for a high career in intellectual improvement. Our unlimited freedom of inquiry, of opinion and of enterprise ; our free and frequent intercourse with every region of the earth ; a language more widely extended and known, throughout the world, than any other living tongue; a freedom of competition which enables the humblest citizen to aspire to the highest distinctions; and the general prosperity and increasing resources of our country; all these, combined, present peculiar facilities and scope for exertion and emulation in every useful pursuit.

But, above all, the age in which we live, and the existing state of the world, bring with them irresistible motives to exertion in the cause of liberal and useful knowledge. There are certain periods, in which the human mind is excited, by an almost simultaneous and universal impulse, to unusual activity; and such is the period which we, this day, witness. The present is, preëminently, an age of inquiry and enterprise, of discovery, of invention and of universal improvement. It is an age full of destiny; and, if we are just to ourselves, of most auspicious omen to our country.

The present generation has introduced a new era in science and productive industry. Liberal knowledge and the useful arts are now pursued to an extent far surpassing all former example; the general scale of learning is enlarged; and, even in these latter days, sciences unknown to our fathers have sprung into life. Mineralogy, geology, galvanism, statistics, political economy, and the modern system of chemistry, may all be regarded as new, or recent, sciences. That great desideratum, the longitude, has, virtually, and to most practical purposes, been discovered, by the invention of the chronometer : the physical and abstract sciences and general literature are steadily advancing ; geographical discovery is prosecuted with a zeal and perseverance which yield neither to the rigors of an arctic climate, nor to the terrors of an African desert; every mountain and •valley, in both hemispheres, is a scene of scientific research ; and universal learning, in its numerous departments, is rapidly extending its limits and augmenting its stores.

To the honor of our country, she has, thus far, partaken largely of the spirit of the age. And what a noble field for exertion and improvement now lies before her! In commerce she is second only to a single nation. Her internal resources are inexhaustible ; and in native enterprise she yields to no nation on the globe.

With a population doubling in the lapse of a single generation ; and almost boundless territory, of which the shores are washed by two oceans, and compreherding nearly every variety of soil and climate; with the freest civil institutions existing, and a people intelligent and addicted to inquiry; it may, surely, be said of her, if of any nation visited by the sun, that the means of achieving greatness and glory are at her own command. While her external commerce visits every shore, a spirit of internal improvement has gone forth which nothing can resist. In the mean time, her frontier settlements are rapidly advancing their limits; her population is pressing to the farthest barrier of the west; and the silent and desolate shores of the Pacific will soon resound with the cheering voice of industry, and beam with the light of science. Those neglected regions, hitherto the wastes of nature, are shortly to become the abodes of knowledge, and wealth, and civilized life. The faculties of the human mind are, at the present

new

time, in a state of strenuous and emulous activity; and the circumstances of the world afford the amplest scope and highest encouragement to intellectual exertion. An unexampled spirit of enterprise is continually opening

sources of improvement in every department of knowledge and every useful pursuit. By the enlarged and still extending intercourse of mankind, every valuable invention and discovery is speedily transmitted “ from sea to sea, and from shore to shore ;” and the present generation may gratefully hail the arrival of that auspicious period of which it was predicted, of old, that “many should run to and fro, and knowledge should be increased."

LESSON CII.

Conversation in a Library.—JANE TAYLOR.

A FATHER and his son, having passed some hours very agreeably in surveying the various magnificent apartments of a nobleman's seat, sat down to rest awhile in the spacious and well-furnished library, which was celebrated as containing as complete a collection of ancient and modern literature as any private one in the country. As their eyes wandered leisurely over this curious congregated mass of human thought, reflections natural on such an occasion passed silently in the mind of each, and at length gave rise to the following conversation, which, should it prove somewhat desultory, the candid reader will please to remember that the speakers were fatigued.

Father. What think you, Arthur-should such a sight as this impress us most forcibly with the greatness or the littleness of the mind of man?

Arthur. With its greatness, surely, should it not? for what an immense number of clever men must have lived in the world to write such a number of books! and how very clever some of them were !

Father. They were so, indeed, compared with other men ; but the question is, whether the united ingenuity and cleverness of all mankind does not rather tend to expose the narrow bounds of human knowledge, and the feeble

powers of the human intellect, than to exalt them. It is, indeed, the conclusion which the wisest of men,

and the most profound philosophers have come to, as the result of their most laborious researches in the pursuit of truth and knowledge, that the more they know, the more they discover how little can be known.

Arthur. But still, what very useful and ingenious discoveries have been made in science and philosophy !

Father. That is true; and it is one proof of the good sense and superior light of modern times, that the researches of science are now confined to practical purposes, and such as

are of real utility; while vague hypothesis and barren speculation are abandoned. But then this very circumstance shows that the limited extent of man's powers and operations is acknowledged by common consent.

Arthur. What an immense sum all these books must have cost! It is at least one advantage of being richhaving it in one's power to possess such a capital library.

Father. Indeed it is : however, it is gratifying to reflect that the choicest productions of literature are by no means confined to the opulent; for, although persons in moderate circumstances cannot enjoy the indulgence and luxury of possessing such a complete collection, yet the few works of the few great geniuses that have appeared in the world are so easily procured, as to be within the reach of most persons who are capable of appreciating them. There is no monopoly or aristocracy in literature. Its richest treasures are generally and easily accessible. It is really a curious, and certainly a gratifying thought, that the sublime imaginings of our greatest poet—those

If

thoughts which were produced at such an incalculable
expense of mental labor—are contained in so small a com-
pass (as, indeed, all sublime imaginings must be) that they
may be procured for a sum that any decent lad may soon
save from his weekly allowance. Thus it is, by the kind
and wise arrangements of Providence, that, while great
riches and worldly honor are the portion only of a few,
and unattainable, generally speaking, by those who have
them not; yet that all that is of intrinsic worth in this
world—knowledge and virtue—are placed within the reach
of every one who diligently seeks them. For with regard
to the most important and interesting discoveries of
science, the grand results are known even to the vulgar;
and the most material facts are of no difficult access.
it were necessary to possess all these books, and in their
splendid bindings too, in order to know what Newton
discovered, or to enjoy what Milton thought, gold would,
indeed, attain a value and a dignity which no image or
superscription whatever has yet stamped upon it.

Arthur. When one is looking at such a number of books, it is amusing to observe what very different subjects different writers have chosen.

Father. Yes, and it is well they have. We are apt to feel discontent, and sometimes contempt, when we meet with people whose tastes, pursuits and opinions differ widely from our own; yet to this circumstance (the vast variety of tastes, pursuits and opinions that exists amongst men) is chiefly to be attributed the progress that has been made in useful knowledge. Only suppose that all thinking men had been of one opinion on every point of philosophy, and exactly agreed on all matters of taste, how little stimulus would there have been to thought and invention ! and what a dull uniformity in the few writings that would have been produced! Nothing, therefore, is more narrow or illiberal, than to regret the diversity of opinion and taste that exists; since it is the grand means which Providence has appointed for

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