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He first gave the example of humanity and justice by setting free the Indian slaves whom he had inherited from his father, and then raised his voice in behalf of the oppressed, for whom he crossed the ocean several times, to plead their cause before the throne. The great Ximenes was moved by his eloquence to appoint Hieronymite monks as commissioners to repair to the spot, investigate the facts, and grant relief; and Charles the Fifth yielded much to his appeals. The lustre of his renown has been somewhat dimmed by his proposal to substitute African labor for that of the Indians, which, in the judgment of the acute regent of Spain, involved inconsistency. It was, at least, humane to subject to labor those whose constitution qualified them to bear it, rather than the weak aborigines, who were sure to sink beneath a burden beyond their natural strength. He is falsely said to have been the first to introduce African slaves into America, since from the beginning of the century they had been imported. If he appear inconsistent, let it be remembered that he was led to make the suggestion, in order to take from rapacity its plea, by showing the adventurers that they could be humane towards the Indian, without foregoing the prospects of gain from their new possessions. Besides, he had the manliness to avow and deplore the counsel. *
Baluffi draws a parallel between the Indians' advocate and Ireland's liberator. “ In this bishop, the true friend of man, the energy, dissimulation, avarice, and ferocity of the oppressors found an effectual check, whilst afflicted India venerated him as her most energetic advocate, her first writer, and her liberator. If in some points the genius of Bartholomew and O'Connell appear similar, the ancient advocate of humanity has the advantage over the modern. In intellect, eloquence, disposition, resolution, perseverance, enthusiastic devotion to the relief of the oppressed, they are equal ; but the tribune of the Irish people is favored and borne forward by the spirit of the age, whilst the advocate of America had to struggle against the ferocity of the age in which he lived. The former demands freedom for a neighbouring and powerful people, whose very silence is alarming to their oppressors; the latter sought it for degraded, inert, and distant nations, whose complaints or efforts could create no apprehension in the breast of the sovereign of Castile. The philanthropy of the one is great ; the
• Conquest of Merico, Book II., Ch. VIII., Note.
most pure charity of the Gospel, in an heroic degree, was possessed by the other. Both are indefatigable and undaunted in dangers; the labors and disasters of the Spaniard are inconparably greater.
Both won the gratitude of the oppressed ; but the ecclesiastic has no other reward than affection.”
His Eminence may indulge our partiality with leave to observe, that Ireland's advocate is not a mere philanthropist, but one who feeds his lamp with the oil of the sanctuary; and if he accept tokens of the gratitude of his country, it is because he has sacrificed great pecuniary interests to her cause, and could not, unaided, devote himself wholly to her advocacy. We have no wish, however, to raise a controversy on the comparative merits of two men so illustrious, and we heartily applaud the apostleship of Las Casas, whilst we pay the meed of praise to the labors of O'Connell.
Lest we should weary our readers, we hasten to close, for the present, our observations on this interesting work, which shows how much the newly discovered continent and its inhabitants owed to religion and her peaceful ministers. The Scottish historian had preceded his Eminence in testifying to these benefits. “From the accounts," says Robertson,
, " which I have given of the humane and persevering zeal of the Spanish missionaries in protecting the helpless flock committed to their charge, they appear in a light which reflects lustre upon their function. They were ministers of peace, who endeavoured to wrest the rod from the hands of oppres
We may hereafter call attention to some other points in which the eminent author, whose work we have perused with so much pleasure, is borne out by the acknowledgments of Protestant historians.
ART. V. - The Literary World. A Gazette for Authors,
Readers, and Publishers. CHARLES F. HOFFMAN, Editor. New York : Osgood & Co. 1847. Weekly. Nos. 1-15.
This is the title of a literary journal and advertiser recently commenced under the auspices of two or three very respectable publishing houses in New York, and which has thus far been conducted with a spirit, talent, and good-sense worthy of very general commendation. We do not always accept its literary or other doctrines, but we have found in it a much higher order of criticism, more just literary appreciation, and more freedom and independence in the expression of its judgments, than we have been accustomed to look for in journals of its class. There may possibly be some danger of its yielding too much to the tastes or interests of the houses which established it; but if it preserve the independence with regard to their publications which it has thus far shown in its reviews of those of other establishments, and if sustained in doing so, it will go far towards supplying a want many have felt, and prove itself not unserviceable to the cause of American letters.
We perceive, by the announcement in the fifteenth number, that the journal has passed into the hands of a new editor, Mr. Charles F. Hoffman, of New York. We know little ourselves of Mr. Hoffman, having never to our knowledge read any of his writings, bis works not coming particularly within our department; but he holds a very respectable rank among our popular authors, and we hear bim spoken of as a man of ability, learning, and fine literary taste. We have no reason to suppose the journal will not gain rather than lose in spirit, interest, and usefulness by its change of editors, although Mr. Hoffman's predecessor was an editor whose place is not easily made good.
The distinctive character of the Literary World is real or affected Americanism. It devotes its chief attention to American literature, and its aim seems to be to induce the public to give a decided preference to American authors, and to encourage especially the production and growth of a sound and healthy American literature. It therefore naturally suggests for our consideration the somewhat hackneyed subject of American literature, a subject on which our readers must permit us to offer a few comments of our own.
Much is said and written about American literature. Some make extravagant boasts of the excellence to which it has already attained; others make loud and long laments that it does not as yet even exist ; others again are busy in devising ways and means of creating it, forcing its growth, or bringing it to maturity ; and a very voluminous, if not a very respectable, national literature is growing up among us, about the literature we are assumed to have or not to have, and the means of obtaining or persecting national literature. All this is very well ; the American people are a very enlightened people, and their authors far in advance of those of any other nation, as it is patriotic to believe ; but it seems to us, that on this subject of national literature, as on literature in general, there is much loose thinking, if thinking it can be called, and no little want of clear and well-defined views. It is hard to say what is the precise meaning our countrymen attach to the word literature, in what they suppose its desirableness to consist, what ends it serves or ought to serve, or wherein it contributes to the glory of nations or of the race. These are important points, and on these, we are sorry to say, our authors leave us in the dark. We have consulted the best literary authorities of the country, but no light dawns to relieve our darkness, no clear, distinct, definite answers are obtained.
This is bad, and makes us suspect that with us very few who talk of literature have any real meaning. It is easy to indulge in vague and general declamation ; it is easy to seize upon a few loose and indefinite terms, and to have the appearance of talking largely, eloquently, wisely, profoundly, when in fact we are saying nothing at all. Before any thing more is said, it would be a real service to many persons, and to ourselves in particular, if our authors would define their terms, tell us precisely what they understand by literature, and for what it is necessary, useful, or desirable.
For ourselves, there are a few things we understand. We understand that human existence has a purpose, a high and solemn purpose ; that man is placed here by his Maker to gain an end, and is morally bound to seek that end at every moment, in all things, and in every act of his life, however great, however little.
We understand, also, that it is necessary that we know this end, that we be placed on our guard against every thing that would divert us from it, and exhorted, stimulated, aided to gain it; and, furthermore, that whatever serves this purpose, whether oral teachings and admonitions, or books, essays, scientific treatises, poetic chants, scenic representations, music, architecture, pictures, statues, are for that reason valuable, desirable. But beyond this we see nothing useful, nothing not undesirable, vain, or hurtful, the offspring of the world, the flesh, or the devil.
Now, we apprehend that letters, only in so far as they serve, and for the simple reason that they serve, this purpose, are not what our people generally mean, or fancy they mean, by literature. Letters in this sense are moral, religious, social, political, refer to man's duties in some one or all of the relations in which he is placed by his Maker, and tend by all their in
fluence to render all particular duties subordinate, and their discharge subservient to the one great and all-absorbing duty of loving God above all things, with the whole heart and soul, and our neighbours as ourselves, in him and for him. But, if we are not much mistaken, what the world means, or fancies it means, by literature is something which is independent of all moral, religious, or social doctrines, and may be read with equal pleasure and profit by all men, whatever their religion, their ethical code, or their political system. It is something which inculcates no doctrine, instructs man in no particular truth, and urges to the performance of no particular duty. Back and independent of all that relates to man's belief and duties as a moral, religious, and social being, it is assumed that there is a broad and rich field for the map of letters, and the culture of that broad and rich field yields literature proper. But our difficulty in understanding what is meant by this arises from the fact that this supposed field is purely imaginary, an "airy nothing,” to which even the poet, with “ his eye in a fine frenzy rolling," cannot give "a local habitation and a name.” A general literature, which teaches nothing special, is as unreal as man without men, the race without individuals. The genus, for us human beings at least, is real only in the species; what has no specific meaning has for us no meaning at all, and is as if it were not.
Books which mean nothing are nothing, and are to be treated as nothing. But books which do mean something necessarily mean something specifically related to man as a moral, religious, or social being; and to inean any thing valuable, their meaning must either throw some light on man's duties under some one or all of these relations, or exhort, stimulate, or aid him to perform them. Turn the matter over, disguise it, as you will, use all the big words in the language, be as profound, as eloquent, as poetical as you can, and this is the simple, sober truth. Man is a being whose existence has a purpose, whose life has duties, and bis whole business is to learn the former and fulfil the latter. He has no time, no strength, no right to consult any thing else, and whatever is not related to the one or the other has and can have no significance for him. Grant this,
- and we envy no man who will deny it, — and literature can be looked upon only as a subordinate affair. It is not a question of primary importance, and there may be circumstances in which it is of no importance at all. In itself considered, literature is not necessarily a good or an evil; but