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It would be very pleasant to trace the moral improvement of English literature since the age of which we have been speaking. We think that the progress of this improvement is to be particularly remarked in our prose works of fiction. The novels of Smollet are of such a character, that if any one were to keep them on his table or in his library, and recur to them with much relish for relaxation or amusement, we might begin to fear that his taste for low humour had outgrown some other tastes much better worth cultivation. Fielding was a writer of more genius than Smollet. He has more invention, more wit, more character, and more thought. Nor does he introduce us into company quite so gross and offensive. A familiarity with his characters is not so much adapted to debase and brutalize the imagination and feelings. But the effect of his writings upon the moral principles is little less injurious than those of Smollet. Their prevailing tendency is to represent one as being better, more manly, and more pleasant, for having a few vices; and to teach us that those, who appear to be afraid of sinning, are in general little better than hypocrites and scoundrels.

We think that the best writers of prose fiction, at the present day, are hardly less superiour in genius than in morality to those whom we have mentioned. The author of Waverly and Guy Mannering might, without vanity, be little flattered by a comparison, which in all the higher intellectual endowments, should put him far above such writers as Fielding and Smollet. And though with regard to Miss Edgeworth, some of the late English reviewers appear to have a little of the feeling of the Athenian, who was tired of hearing Aristides called the Just, yet for ourselves we continuc to regard her with unabated admiration. She has faults and defects, without doubt; and the most important of them is that pointed out by the author of the address,-the infrequency with which she directly brings into view religious principles and sentiments ; though for this we think some reasons might be alleged not wholly without weight. But in truth and nature; in the correct conception and complete preservation of a great variety of characters; in her skill in adjusting together moral and intellectual qualities, as they are really found combined in nature, so that the effect of her characters upon our moral feelings is always what it ought to be; in pointing out and tracing those influences which mould the affections and the understanding; in the admirable good sense of her

remarks upon life, conduct and manners, which, from their acuteness, and from the manner of their introduction, remind us of the concentrated wisdom of Tacitus ; in wit and refined humour, which are hardly equalled by those of Addison; in fertility and happiness of allusion; in her talent for introducing all that sort of information which admits of being incorporated into such works as she composes; in the finish and brilliancy of those passages in which she gives us the conversation of polished life; in touches of exquisite pathos, though this merit has sometimes been denied her by those who have not sufficiently entered into the feelings and situation of her characters; in the purity and ease of her immaculate style ; and in that predominating spirit of perfect good taste, and of elegance and refinement of mind, which appears in all her writings, in every one of these excellencies, she has no superiour, and in their union with each other, she has no equal. There is nothing, which in the combination of these excellencies approaches to an equality with her writings; and by the uniform employment of her rare talents to afford gratification to some of our best feelings, and to recommend and strengthen some of our best habits of action, she has conferred obligations upon the world, which entitle her to a reputation as enviable perhaps, as that of any writer in English literature.

Though we have suffered ourselves to wander so far, yet we must return once more to the address of Professor Frisbie, to give another paragraph from the last head, and the very fine conclusion of the whole discourse.

"The incorporating of religion with morality, we mention in the last place, as a means of practical influence. Those, we have hitherto noticed, have a more particular reference to the higher and intellectual classes; but this extends to every order in society. It is not the fountain, which plays only in the gardens of the palace, but the rain of heaven, which descends alike upon the enclosures of the rich and the poor, and refreshes the meanest shrub, no less than the fairest flower. The sages of antiquity seem to have believed, that morality had nothing to do with religion; and christians of the middle age, that religion had nothing to do with morality; but, at the present day, we acknowledge how intimate and important is their connexion. It is not views of moral fitness, by which the minds of men are at first to be affected, but by connecting their duties with the feelings and motives, the hopes and fears of christianity. Both are necessary, the latter to prompt and invigorate virtue, the former to give it the beauty of knowl

edge and taste. It is heat, that causes the germ to spring and flourish in the heart; but it is light, that imparts verdure to its foliage, and their hues to its flowers.

• Thus I have spoken, not as I could have wished, but as I was able, of the necessity, the objects, and influence of the studies of the moralist. I am aware of objections to much that I have said, which I have omitted to notice, not because they were unimportant, but from want of time for their discussion. The idea of perfectibility has been considered as the dream of the visionary; but it does not follow, that because every thing is not to be hoped, therefore nothing is to be attempted. Man has certainly capacities of improvement, and he can feel a moral influence; his progress may be fluctuating and slow; but, from the application of judicious and unremitting efforts, will it not be certain? Commencing with those, who labour to unfold the principles and ends of moral action, may it not be expected to descend, as we have said, through the higher and more intellectual classes of society, till it reaches and purifies and ennobles the great mass of mankind in the humblest walks of life; as the blood, flowing from the heart and distributed through the larger arteries, finds its way at length into the capillary and minuter vessels, where it is incorporated with the very substance of the body, giving health and vigour and beauty. Let us then close, by accommodating to our subject the words of Quintilian concerning eloquence, Nam est certe aliquid consummata virtus ;* neque ad eam pervenire natura humani ingenii prohibet; quod si non contingat, altius tamen ibunt, qui ad summa nitentur."

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The views exhibited in the last paragraph are such as the philosopher and the christian delight to contemplate; and in this country, there is particular reason that they should engage and fix our attention. In this country, mankind seem to be subjected to an experiment to determine their power of improvement, instituted under circumstances incomparably more favourable than ever before existed. No people ever entered the high way to honour with such encouragements and advantages. We are full of youthful freshness and vigour. We are free from any of those institutions transmitted to us from past ages, by which other nations are enthralled, and held back, and allied to the ignorance and vices of their progenitors. The mind is not with us crippled and deformed by prejudices, wound round it from its birth to mould it to some established fashion. We have none of those privileged orders, which are so apt to become stagnant pools of corruption, diffusing moral infection through a Eloquentia.

people. We acknowledge no claims to superiority, but those which nature has sanctioned, or which are the necessary result of civil society. No adventitious circumstances can supply the want of those qualities that are justly entitled to respect; nor give pre-eminence and power to one, who, without them, would not be tolerated in the common intercourse of life. We have no established church to oppress and bear down the truth, to hold out a lure in its emoluments, and in the manner, in which these are disposed of, for some men to assume the character of christian ministers, who are but poorly qualified for the office; and to weaken the moral principle of its best members, by leading them to subterfuges scarcely excusable, in order to justify a profession of assent to doctrines which they do not believe. In civil liberty and privileges; and in religious liberty and privileges, so far as these depend on the laws, we have nothing more to ask or to wish for; we are favoured beyond all example; almost beyond any previous imagination of what might possibly be attained. There exists in this country a facility in acquiring the means of subsistence which is elsewhere unknown. Honest industry will secure to a man, and to his family, all the necessaries and many of the conveniences and luxuries of life. The food of the mind is procured with as much ease as that of the body. In many, we believe most of our states, all the provision which can reasonably be desired, has been made, and has been made successfully, for affording to the great body of the people the rudiments of useful learning. The prevailing humanity of our national character appears in that merciful code of penal laws, which has been adopted throughout a great part of our country; to which there is no parallel in other nations. We are in a great measure free from that corruption of manners which has spread itself over Europe. No where is there more of domestick virtue and domestick happiness. The standard of morals is very high with us; and a sense of the obligations of religion and morality is diffused among all classes. This is said generally of course; as all such assertions respecting national character must be made. We do not estimate that of England from the miners of Cornwall, or from the population of her manufacturing towns. We are, to give our general character, a religious and moral people. Such is our present state; and when we look back upon our history, there is little, comparatively speaking, at which we

need blush, and very much by which we may justly regard ourselves as honourably distinguished.

If now we are told that other nations excel us in the arts of refinement and luxury, it is not worth while for us to plead our youth or our poverty; we may answer with the feeling of the Roman poet;

• Excudent alii spirantia mollius æra,
Credo equidem.'

There is no nation which has been outraged with such profligate calumny; and there never was a people, who seemed less disposed to form a correct estimate of their pri vileges, their advantages, and their distinctions. Our hearts have been too cold, when reminded that This is our own, our native land; and the attachment of which we have defrauded our own country, we have given somewhat too lavishly to others. This is the main fault in our national character. It is time for us to be a little more remiss in our admiration of what is foreign, and to learn to respect ourselves. It is time for us to learn to think of ourselves more justly. In looking so much abroad for models and precedents, there is danger that we may receive from other nations some of the hereditary mischiefs by which they are oppressed, some of the decrepid prejudices to whose authority they still submit, and some of the corruptions of age by which they are disgraced and made miserable.

It is not here the place to speak of those means by which our moral and intellectual condition may be still further improved; but the character of the address we have been considering, and the train of thought it developes, naturally lead us to mention one of them. It is the diffusion of correct tastes, sentiments, and opinions by the writings of literary men and scholars. Hitherto the peculiar circumstances and exigencies of our country have almost imperiously directed the talents of our eminent men to other occupations, or called them off to higher duties, than those of literature. When asked, therefore, why we have hitherto done so little in the department of letters, we will answer in the first place, that we have done something, and that our just claims have not been asserted by ourselves, nor allowed by others; and we will go on to reply, that the period is not very distant,—that it is quite within the memory of no very aged individual, when we were, as Mr. Burke described us, a people but in

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