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When periodical literature has taken this higher tone, and secured for itself the moral sympathies of the public, it will be one of its vocations to restore the salutary connexion which circumstances have temporarily destroyed, between the multitudes who are called to act, and the few whose peculiar duty it is to read and to reflect; in other words, between those who develope principles and unfold truths, and those who must reduce them to practice. The stability of the higher civilization depends on the maintenance of this connexion. If we are not mistaken, periodical literature is one of the instruments marked out by Providence for effecting it. It is to be lamented, that in England all the provisions for the higher learning are too much identified with our aristocratical institutions in Church and State. No rewards are offered, not even a decent maintenance exists, for the cultivation of letters and science, apart from the profession of a particular religious creed, and, what in England is the same thing, the enjoyment of a certain social position, Unhappily, therefore, the learned and the popular interests, the worlds of speculation and of action, have no direct sympathy with each other; and by a most unfortunate, but most unnecessary, connexion of ideas, every vigorous movement for the extension of popular rights and the diffusion of popular education, appears to threaten the security of institutions with which the best interests of mankind are ostensibly connected the preservation of literature and the means of high moral and intellectual culture. By a natural reaction, the seats of learning shrink from popular sympathy, look with coldness and distrust on schemes for popular improvements, and assume an air of disdain and exclusiveness. Feelings the very reverse of these, it seems to us, ought to subsist between the men of study and the men of business: both classes have their use in the general economy of social happiness; no form of civilization is complete which does not provide for both: and periodical literature, properly conducted, might act as a medium of salutary intercourse between them. We do not, of course, mean that men who are engaged in the bustle of secular pursuits can be induced to interest themselves in abstruse questions of learning and philosophy, or that such a diversion of their thoughts from their proper vocation would make them either more useful or more happy. And the fact, that such abstruser studies, the thorough prosecution of which it may be proved to every reasonable man is indispensable to obtaining successfully even the popular results of literature, can hardly be expected to excite much sympathy, except among those who are immediately devoted to them,- furnishes a powerful reason, why some provision should always be made for their
support, quite independent of the present impulses of the popular will. But if such provision be made by the more intelligent portion of the community, and a number of men are thus enabled to devote their lives to the pursuit of truth and the accumulation of knowledge, it is no unreasonable demand, that these men, in their turn, should communicate of the fruit of their researches to the public, which provides for their support, and should put it in possession, not indeed of the laborious processes by which they have obtained their results, and which can be interesting to the learned alone, but at least of the results themselves, set forth in a clear and popular style, and applied with intelligence and discrimination to the further unfolding and elucidation of the great general questions of human improvement and happiness. We believe there is no branch of study, however apparently recondite, which might not thus be redeemed from the reproach of barrenness and frivolity; we believe that the whole field of knowledge would thus acquire yalue and importance in popular estimation; that the utility of a race of studious inquirers would thus be generally acknowledged; and that the mass of intelligence, accumulated in the retreats of learning, would by this means be gradually and beneficially diffused through society. The celebrated Bailly* has beautifully described this process of gradual illumination : « La masse des lumières nationales," says he, “ est composée de toutes les connoissances particulières; chaque découverte, chaque idée nouvelle et vraie se place naturellement à ce dépôt; toutes ensemble excitent un mouvement insensible, auquel tous les esprits participent : en peu de temps les lumières se distribuent et se partagent à la nation ; ainsi les principes, que l'evaporation enlève à chaque terrain particulier, transportés et mêlés par les vents, donnent à l'air d'une province ou d'un loyaume un caractère et des propriétés générales, qu'il tient de la combinaison de ces principes.” In our view, the proper agency of periodical literature is that of the winds, dispersing the evaporations, collected in the higher regions of thought, over the wide surface of humanity. :
How can it be wondered at, that many studies, in themselves noble and instructive, such, for example, as classical literature, history and antiquities, and the science of mind, should have fallen into disrepute with the active part of mankind, when no medium existed by which they could be made to understand the moral and practical uses to which such pursuits are capable of being applied; when every glimpse they could obtain of the dull and technical mode in which such studies were taught in the schools, * Histoire de l'Astronomie. Discours Preliminaire.
only confirmed them in the impression, that they consisted in the unprofitable discussion of words and phrases, or in the arid remembrance of insulated dates and names, without developing any great principles of thought and action, or casting one ray of light on the important facts of human nature? How different would have been the conclusions of the reflecting and intelligent, if they could have seen these elevated pursuits drawn out into their practical applications in the pages which periodically met their eye, and which, instead of being devoted to the purposes of vulgar excitement, of a low partisanship, or a shallow sectarianism, addressed themselves to the higher tastes of men, and lightly and popularly wielded the instruments of learning and philosophy, to unfold the order and progress of civilization, to expound the causes of eminence in literature and the arts, to place in vivid contrast the manners and institutions of distant periods, to develope the moral influences of different religious and philosophical systems, to enlarge men's conceptions of humanity and its capabilities, and so to bring before the public a mass of results well fitted to enlighten and direct them in the application of liberal principles to the government, the legislation, the religion, and the education of their own country and their own times! Scholars have not done their duty to the public; they have been fastidious, indolent, and selfish; and it is not unnatural that the public should have been disposed to underrate the value of their labours. Already the indications of an improvement in this respect are beginning to manifest themselves. Some of the most eminent men in the country * have undertaken, without sacrificing solidity and accuracy of information to mere popular effect, to bring within reach of the general reader the last results of profoundly learned research. Periodical literature may become a valuable auxiliary in popularizing, in a good sense, the fruits of scholastic labour, and in proving to the world that scholars do not exist in vain. It may even, by judicious management, be rendered a means of correcting that false taste, that vicious love of excitement, and that indiscriminate craving after superficial information on all topics, which it must be admitted, in the first flush of its vast moral influence, to have not a little encouraged. A worthier office cannot devolve on the conductors of this branch of literature than that of raising the intellectual standard of their contemporaries, and fitting them for the calm and dispassionate consideration of great moral and social questions, by the occasional analysis and criticism of the master productions of ancient and modern, of native and foreign,
* Compare, for example, the historical labours of Mr. Thirlwall and Dr. Arnold. The recent work of Mr. Bulwer on Athens is in a more brilliant and popular style.
literature, or by the clear and succinct discussion of fundamental principles in religion, politics, and philosophy. We should indeed be sorry to see men of powerful intellect and great attainments drawn away from the prosecution of works likely to benefit posterity, by the preparation of slight and ephemeral articles for the readers of reviews; but we are inclined to believe that some exercise of this sort would be beneficial to scholars themselves, even with reference to the accomplishment of larger undertakings. The mind of the student is mellowed and liberalized by being brought, even through the medium of the silent page, into frequent contact with the living world of humanity. In the course of an extended inquiry, such as must precede the execution of every great work, a number of insulated questions present themselves, and a number of subordinate principles have to be established, each of which may furnish the subject of separate discussion, and afford the writer an opportunity, while he instructs the public and brings them up to the level of his own mind, of defining and maturing his views, and of obtaining a more distinct conception of the various elements that must be woven into his future plan. A mass of materials is thus accumulated, out of which an enlightened and instructed public opinion may be formed, able in some degree to keep pace with the progress of superior minds, and to appreciate justly, and reward liberally, when they at length appear, the completed results of the research and reflection of many years. By such occasional employment of their powers on lighter essays in a more popular form, the learned and philosophical portion of society occupy their natural position, as the guides and instructors of the public mind, and constitute an aristocracy of intellect and character, honoured with general respect, and open to every one found worthy of admission into its ranks, which shares and neutralizes the injurious influence founded on birth, or station, or wealth. Such an aristocracy ought to exist in every wellregulated society; it is the natural protector of the higher civilization; and it is only under the influence of such an aristocracy, constituted without reference to differences of opinion and social position, that the middle classes, and, through them, the broad masses which they separate from the highest ranks, will be able to use to their advantage that full measure of civil and religious freedom, which they claim as their natural right, and which cannot ultimately be withheld.
Such then appears to us some of the more important objects of periodical literature in the present constitution of society. There is, indeed, a perfectly distinct class of journals, of a more purely scientific character, to which we do not now refer, de
voted to the topics of a particular branch of learning, and addressed to the studious alone.
marks to those publications which are addressed to the general public, and intended to influence its judgments on matters of literature, morals, politics, and religion. Such publications at present are too generally the organs of party feeling, or encourage tastes and prejudices already too strong. We believe it to be their proper vocation, and one that they will ultimately recognize and carry out into practice, to diffuse correct tastes, just principles, enlightened and liberal views, a respect for virtue and religion, and the love of solid and accurate knowledge throughout the community; in fact, to create and foster a public opinion, alike hostile to despotism and licentiousness, in which free institutions may securely and quietly grow, and which will nourish in rich profusion the blossoms and the fruits of the higher civilization. The press must henceforth be the great instructor of the human intellect. To speech, which once occupied its place, has been resigned the more limited function of stirring the affections, rousing the passions, and kindling the imagination; and in the spheres to which its sway properly belongs, the senate, the platform, and the pulpit, speech will ever, we trust, continue to exercise the most powerful influence on the motives and actions of mankind; an influence not less powerful, and far more salutary, when addressed, as we believe it will hereafter be, to minds enlightened by knowledge, informed with high and generous principles, refined by taste and cultivation, and fortified against prejudice and party-spirit by the constant exercise of forbearance and charity.