The Southern Literary Messenger, Vol. I., No. 8, April, 1835
SOUTHERN LITERARY MESSENGER:
EVERY DEPARTMENT OF LITERATURE
THE FINE ARTS.
|Au grť de nos desirs bien plus qu'au grť des vents.|
|As we will, and not as the winds will.|
T. W. WHITE, PUBLISHER AND PROPRIETOR.
CONTENTS OF VOLUME I, NUMBER 8
INFLUENCE OF FREE GOVERNMENTON THE MIND: by H. J. G.
THE WHITEANTELOPE; OR, INDIANLOVER: by D. D. Mitchell, Esq.
THE LASTGIFT: by Corydon
THE LAST INDIAN:by Larry Lyle
THE BROKEN HEART:by S. W. W.
LETTERS FROM NEW ENGLAND—NO. 5:by a Virginian
THE WALTZ AND THE GALLOPADE:by Oliver Oldschool
A BASHFUL GENTLEMAN:by M. M. Noah
A SCENE IN REAL LIFE:by B. M.
NATURE AND ART:by Eliza
A TALE OF A NOSE:by Pertinax Placid
MORELLA—A TALE:by Edgar A. Poe
CONTENT'S MISHAP: AVERITABLE HISTORY:by Pertinax Placid, Esquire
ANSWER to "My Life is Like the Summer Rose":by Mrs. Buckley
TO —— ——:by T. H. T.
TO —— ——:by Siwel
AN ITALIAN EXTRAVAGANZA:translated by Ella
WHERE IS MY HEART?:by Alex. Lacey Beard
INVOCATION:by Alex. Lacey Beard
LETTER TO THE PROPRIETOR:by Udoch
THE FINE ARTS—No. II.:by G. C.
THE CRAYON MISCELLANY:by the author of the Sketch Book. No. 1
North American Review
London Quarterly Review for February
THE LIFEOF SAMUEL DREW: by his son
THE LIFE OF THE EMPORERNAPOLEON, Vol. 1: by H. Lee
CELEBRATED TRIALS OFALL COUNTRIES, AND REMARKABLECASES OF CRIMINAL JURISPRUDENCE: selected bya Member of the Philadelphia Bar
NO FICTION.A Narrative founded on recent and interesting facts: by the Rev. Andrew Reed, D.D.
MEMOIRS OF CELEBRATEDWOMEN OF ALL COUNTRIES: by Madame Junot
INFLUENCE, AMORAL TALE: by the author of Miriam
LIVES OF THE ENGLISHPIRATES, HIGHWAYMEN AND ROBBERS: by Whitehead
CONFESSIONS OF A POET
THE LANGUAGEOF FLOWERS
MR. ANDMISS EDGEWORTH'S PRACTICAL EDUCATION
THE HIGHLANDSMUGGLERS: by the author of a Kussilbush, &c.
VALERIUS: by Mr. Lockhart
AN ACCOUNT OFCOL. CROCKETT'S TOUR TO THE NORTHAND DOWN EAST: by himself
ILLORAX DE COURCY,AN AUTO-BIOGRAPHICAL NOVEL:by Josiah Templeton, Esq.
A WINTER IN THEWEST: by a New Yorker
SOUTHERN LITERARY MESSENGER.
We regret that from the late period at which the sixth number of"Sketches of the History of Tripoli" was received, it has beenimpossible to present it to our readers this month. It will appear inour next.
INFLUENCE OF FREE GOVERNMENT ON THE MIND.
Human society, from the nature of its formation, is governed in allits multifarious movements, however majestic or delicate, by mind.There are no changes, nor revolutions in society, that do notacknowledge its influence. It is the all-pervading, all-exciting causeof human action. Its power on the social system is similar to that ofgravitation in regulating the magnificent and rolling orbs of space;the great centre of attraction, holding together and preserving inharmonious order the thousand relations of life. Physical force, whichto the superficial eye appears to have swayed the destinies of mankindin all ages of the world, will be found on examination to be only amean, enabling it to wield with greater skill and force the sceptre ofits power. The conquering legions of Cśsar or Bonaparte would havebeen a useless pageant, deprived of this active, governing principle.This exciting principle of society reaches its maturity and power bygradual developement. In the first stages of civilization its strengthis that of an infant, afterwards that of a giant; and the spheres ofits action are as various as its powers. We behold it soaring on theshining wings of imagination to the fields of fiction; calm,comprehensive, searching in philosophy and science; animated andexalted on the noble theatre of eloquence; pure and humble in the holyaspirations of religion. Such being the nature of mind, we are led tothe irresistible inference, that the state of communities or nationswill be low or elevated in proportion to its neglect or cultivation.The conceptions of mind form the mirror of national character. Ifthere be a want of mental cultivation, as a consequent, the numerousattractions which hold in harmony and union the relations of societywill be destroyed; and general darkness and misery prevail. On thecontrary, if there be an expansion of mind, these ties so necessary,so sacred, will receive new strength; and a universal joy, and beauty,and brightness, pervade the whole social compact.
Many and various causes tend to the development of mind. It varies inevery nation and under every form of government. We read of themajestic melancholy, the lofty passion, the stern intellect of theNorth; of the mental effeminacy, of the exuberant fancy, beneath thesunny skies and amid the olive groves of the South. We read of theeffects, natural advantages and impediments; how inaccessible barriersmay raise their Alpine heads, and prevent the light of one nation frombeaming on another; thus destroying the interchange of kindredthoughts and obstructing the growth of mind; how nature's works, herforests, rivers, lakes, groves, and water-falls in their originalgrandeur and sublimity; how art's works, shining in their newsplendor, or fallen from their primitive state, cities and towerslying in the crumbling embrace of time, stir up the sympathies,enliven the emotions, and arouse the imagination to high exertion; howthe resources of the earth, her rich mines, her quarries of marble,stimulate the spirit of improvement in the arts and sciences. We readtoo, how the mind wastes away under the influence of despoticinstitutions, and how ignorance reigns shining in purple and gold;lastly, how the mind attains its full developement, and is ever activein its native strength, and power, and greatness, under the pacificand stirring effect of free principles. Each of these causes which mayadvance or retard the growth of mind, afford themes worthy ofinvestigation. That of the influence of free institutions, having abearing on the destinies of American mind, we have selected as thesubject of this essay.
A ceaseless activity is the original characteristic of all materialcreation. All matter, whether on the surface, or in the centre of theearth, is imperceptibly undergoing a continuous change. To-day, wegaze with delighted eye on the loveliness and grandeur of nature, litup by the smile of heaven; to-morrow, they have passed away. We onlylook upon a clear blue sky, to behold it the next moment hung withdark and angry clouds. The sun and the moon ever pursue their sameeternal tireless course. Nature has likewise created an undying activespirit in the mental world. Activity is the earliest intellectualdevelopement. The many imperious duties, connected with the stupendousrelations which the individual members of society sustain to eachother, prove that the mind was destined for action. The differentnatures, and the beautiful adaptations of the intellectual powers,prove it. Their native elasticity, their quick excitability, prove it.Curiosity, that key which unlocks the sanctuaries of knowledge, isseen from the days of childhood to silvery age. A desire of society, acommune and interchange of thought and feeling, has ever been adistinguishing characteristic of mankind in all ages and in all partsof the world. The sublime summits which the mind has reached, and theperennial glories which have crowned its efforts, are evidenceunanswerable of the vastness of its power. But there cannot be fullpowerful mental action without mental freedom. Freedom is incident toaction mental or physical. Observe the king of birds as he spreads hismajestic wings on high; mark his swift flight, his strength and vigor;then behold him shut up within a cage, how weak, how lifeless, hownerveless! The same is true of mind; unrestrained, its powerstranscend all limits, but fettered, they dwindle away—are powerless.The mind then is both naturally free and active. Such being the case,free institutions are founded in nature; and, therefore, theirinfluence on the mind arises from a natural and mutual relation: thisrelation cannot be otherwise than efficacious in its tendencies on the mind.
What is the nature of free institutions? Founded in man's free activenature, their tendency is to develope his powers and dignity. Theirpermanency, depending on the mental part of man, their chief aim andpolicy are his moral and intellectual elevation. Universal mentalcultivation is the enduring basis and majestic pillar of theirstructure. As the effulgent life-giving orb of day brings forth thehidden beauties and treasures of nature, they draw out to the lightthe powers and faculties of every member of society. They bring mindin competition with mind; thus striking out the "celestial spark,"they recognise no mental indolence; they afford means suited to thegrowth of all kinds of mind; they hold out the same common inducementsto all; they reward with immortality noble intellectual action. Theirtrue prominent feature is the collision of minds.
Let us examine their influences. All legislation, all governmentalmeasures and operations, originate in the chosen intellect of thepeople, assembled in free deliberation. No single will creates a law.Many cultivated thinking minds coming together in close discussion,strike out the great principles of political science. And the mindsthus exercised are not confined in their illuminating influence to thelegislative hall, but go abroad, brilliant and powerful, awakening tothought, and enlightening millions of minds. Whatever the legislatorsconceive and create, affords a theme on which a thousand othereloquent minds among the people concentrate their talents, and shineforth in bright display. Thus we perceive that the splendid anddazzling theatre of eloquence is opened, inviting the exertions ofbold, persuasive, original intellect. Eloquence is one of thecharacteristics of free governments. It requires free action. Itsnature is to thrill the feelings, to awaken the fancy, to exalt thethoughts of a nation. It is the mind speaking forth its nativeinspiriting thoughts. It is the rapid flow of deep excited feeling. Itis the natural influence which one mind exerts over another. It is theunbridled intellect, clothed in shining and magic forms. Can it existunder a despotism? The bird that dips its wings in the heavens doesnot require more freedom. It is opposed to tyranny of any kind. Whatis the history of eloquence? We behold it in unrivalled brilliancy andpower in the Republican of mighty Rome. Rome's eaglet of conquestcanopied the world under his expanded wings; but the genius of hereloquence, peaceful, but powerful, moulded and swayed the mind of herpeople and raised her to matchless grandeur.
In free governments, new occasions are continually arising forintellectual action. It is the inevitable result of that freedom theygive to the mind. The free mind is ever active and progressive, eversoaring to lofty heights. The free mind disdains to follow the beatentrack, and marks out an original, a more elevated path. The free mindexperiences the full efficacy of all the stimulating feelings of ournature. Can such a cast of mind do otherwise than open new fields forhigh action? or produce other than wonderful and glorious results?Animated by an unconquerable love of action, all obstacles anddifficulties vanish before it. It overthrows old systems, and erectsnew ones more dazzling in splendor. It revolutionizes all unsoundassociations, political, social, religious and literary. It fullydevelopes and explains the existing relations of life, and unfoldshitherto unfelt ones. It thinks and feels more exaltedly, more deeply,more strongly. Lethargy never steals upon such a mind. Now a mind thusexercised, thus unlimited in its action, must shine forth in itsoriginal beauty and might, must attain all that is noble or sublime inintellectual achievement. This mind does not exist under despoticinstitutions. It could not. The restrained mind is ever retrograding.The restrained mind, aimless and unambitious, pursues the old path andnever thinks of seeking a new one. The restrained mind never feels theirrepressible delight of a superior thought, never the exhilaratinginfluence of deep and lofty meditation. Is it wonderful that despoticgovernments never attain a high degree of intellectual eminence? Or isit wonderful that free governments should know no barriers too great,no limits too extensive, no summits too elevated; should send forth aliving increasing light of mental glory over the world?
In free governments "capacity and opportunity are twin sisters."Development of mind being their chief aim, they afford every propermeans to this end. The genius of learning is brought down from herhigh abodes, and caused