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which, where they first started, they turned round and went back again. I inquired of one, who was in a great perspiration with his exertions, what he was doing. "What am I doing?" answered he, in high dudgeon, "don't you see I am making Progress ?" and away he went, whirling around like a dervise, or a lady waltzing.
In this city was a famous University, reckoned to be the most erudite in the Moon, because, though all the students carried a little learning with them there, few of them brought any away. Though no great scholar myself, I am a devoted admirer of learning, and having procured a letter of introduction to the Professor of Transcendentalism, paid him a visit. He was very polite, and gave me a particular account of the system of education and discipline practised in the University. He informed me the basis of the system was utility, and that nothing was taught but what tended towards that primary object.
The first class consisted of little children, of from five to seven years old, whom the teachers were stuffing with knowledge as we do turkeys, by thrusting it down their throats. I asked the Professor if they were not sometimes troubled with indigestion, and he told me, that, whenever this was the case, they stuffed them a little more, on the principle that the hair of a dog is good for his bite. They were taught geology, chemistry, astronomy, geography, and various other sciences, all at the same time, by questions and answers; and I noticed that though the organ of memory was prodigiously developed, those of the other faculties had become almost invisible. They were not allowed to play at all, the professors being of opinion that it produced dissipation of mind, and drew their attention from their studies. Most of them looked rather pale and sickly, but the Professor observed, that, as knowledge was power, physical weakness was of little consequence. He requested me to experiment on them, and I found they could meet almost every question, the answer to which they had learned from books. I remember I asked one about the river Mississippi, and he told me it was a river in North America, which rose in the Gulf of Mexico, and discharged its waters into Cedar Lake. I undertook to put him right, but the Professor interposed, and informed me that, according to the theory of the Moonites, all rivers began where they ended, and ended where they began.
From this class we proceeded to others, until we came to that consisting of those who were preparing to take their degrees. I found them engaged in various occupations, calculated, as the Professor said, to make them useful citizens.
Some of these appeared to me to be rather strangely employed. I remember there was one who was washing a blackamoor white, by rubbing him with an abolition lecture. Another was planting potatoes in dry straw, and the Professor assured me, that he would not only have a great crop, but could at the same time roast his potatoes by setting fire to the straw. Another was catching beetles, and suffocating them in a little tin box, which, he said, was a great step in philanthropy, as this was a much easier mode of killing them than sticking pins. Another was extracting water from pumice-stones; another, milking goats in a sieve; another, shearing donkeys, and converting their hair into fine fleeces of wool; another, ploughing with a compass, in order to make straight furrows; and another, measuring how far a flea could jump. There were many others very busily occupied in various useful pursuits, but I omit them for fear of being tedious.
We next visited the library, which, the Professor assured me, contained a vast many books to be found in no other collection. There were certainly many that I never heard of before, and I took a memorandum of a few of them, with the hope that they may be one day republished by some of our enterprising booksellers, especially as they will pay no copyright. The following list contains only a few samples: The World of Spirits, by A Teetotaller.
Speculations on Indivisible Atoms, by a Purblind Philosopher.
Nebulæana; or the Planets in Embryo.
The Philosophy of Bacon, exemplified in Smoking Hams. The Transmigration of Souls proved by the Change of Tadpoles into Bull-Frogs.
How Oysters may be made to climb up to the Tops of Moun
Dissertation on Chaos, showing how the World was made by Coral Insects, and rose from the Bottom of the Sea. The Bottle Conjurer, or Chemist's Manual.
Pathology of Sneezing.
Trip to Parnassus, or Rules for Criticising Poetry on Mechanical Principles.
The Scrub-Race of Politicians.
The Art of Progressing Backwards.
Gooseology, or the Art of Standing on One Leg.
On the Feasibility of establishing a Universal Language of Signs, whereby Dumb Men would be on a Par with the Rest of their Fellow-Creatures.
Dissertation, proving that all Men's Virtues proceed from their Faults, and all their Faults from their Virtues.
The Cobweb of Metaphysicians.
Ichthyophagy, or The Mysteries of the Loaves and Fishes. Plan for supplying Rivers with Water, by Means of Hydraulic Rams.
Plan for reforming Scolding Wives, by making all Married Men deaf.
A Dissertation on the Causes why Old Men lose the Hair of their Heads, while their Beards continue to grow and flourish. Remarkable Case of Professor Windygust, who, having all his Life been accustomed to swallowing Wind-mills, was at length choked by a Lump of Soft Butter he found at the Mouth of a Hot Oven.
This is only a small item of the scarce and valuable books and manuscripts, contained in this unique library. Many of the latter, as the Professor assured me, were rescued from the moths, during the wanton destruction of the Alexandrian Library.
The Professor then took me to the Hall of Disputation, where the faculty were discussing interesting questions of science and philosophy. Among the rest, I remember one that was very learnedly discussed. It was, whether goat's hair was wool or not; and I was astonished to find what interesting results were involved in the question. Another was, which of the legs of a goose was his right one? The great difficulty in deciding the point, was, that one of the dispu tants placed himself at the head, the other at the tail of the goose. Hence, what appeared to one the right leg seemed to the other the left. I know not to what length the argument would have been carried, for both parties were getting rather warm, had not the moderator suggested that the disputants should each one imagine himself a goose, and then there would be no difficulty in ascertaining which was his right leg. This simple expedient settled the point to the satisfaction of all parties, and it was decided that the debate should be published in the Transactions of the Philosophical Society.
I was about to bid farewell to my friend the Professor, and return thanks for his attentions, when I received a telegraphic despatch, informing me that I had been "cornered" in a speculation in Canton stock, entered into previous to the commencement of my tour. This rendered my immediate presence necessary below stairs, and I accordingly made tracks towards home, leaving a great part of the moon unexplored. But I faithfully promise the reader, that, if I once get out of this "corner," without being a lame duck, he shall one day see the remainder of my travels.
A MORSEL OF CRITICISM.
BY AN AMATEUR.
THE writers of the present day are an unhappy race. Every subject has been exhausted in prose, and every corner in the regions of imagination so often explored in poetry, that it is next to impossible to glean a new idea, a new association, or the smallest scrap of originality, except by becoming extravagant, inflated, grotesque, or absurd. They have nothing left but to pick up the crumbs. In this predicament, many of our poets especially have been reduced to the necessity of resorting to the inflation of old ideas instead of the production of new ones, and depending in a great measure on a mincing, fastidious choice of words, accompanied by a smoothness of versification, which, together, supply the place of new ideas and new combinations. Another great inconvenience they labor under, is that of reading too much poetry, by which means, their brain becomes so stuffed with the ideas of others, that they have no room for any of their own. Hence, when they wish to indulge in a fit of inspiration, they are apt to draw on their memory instead of their imagination, and perpetrate a cento composed of lines borrowed, perhaps unconsciously, from the farrago of odds and ends stowed away in the lumber-garret of memory, rather than an original composition of their own. To remedy this, we would advise them to study books less, and nature more.
There is one subject, however, which can never be exhausted-videlicet, Love; and we have undoubtedly among us some of the most intense inamoratos, as well as inamoratas, that ever climbed up to the bottom of Parnassus. So excruciatingly do they suffer, under their paroxysms, that they remind us of the Cheyenne chief, who, after giving one of our officers an emphatic Indian hug, exclaimed, "I love you so much, that it breaks my heart." Language is exhausted in painting their transports and their agonies, and when everything else is "used up," they resort to fustian, hyperbole, and nonsense. These reflections occurred to us the other day, in looking over various periodicals and new publications, accompanied by editorial testimonials to their extraordinary merits. We will take this occasion to specify a few of these, accompanying each with some brief remarks.
The first is a collection of poems by a young lady of Kentucky, published in this city, and the following lines will suffice for an exemplification of some of our previous observations:
"And he on whom
Her glance of love fell piercing his deep soul,
Around her slender form was wildly flung,
This is sailing in a pretty high southern latitude, but we now come to the burning sands of Africa:
"With lip, to lip,
And heart quick throbbing to its throbbing mate
All that they knew of heaven on earth," &c.
O, naughty, naughty little spinster! Aint you ashamed of yourself to indulge in such distracting abstractions? Why, neither Sappho, Johannes Secundus, L. E. L., or Ovid himself, come up to this. Of a truth, the young lady must have been very near a state of spontaneous combustion on this critical occasion. The passage realizes the perfect beau ideal of the great poet, "thoughts that breathe and words that burn." Though rather in the down-hill of life, we were reminded of the Prairie Indian who said, "The white man made his fire so hot, he could not come near enough to warm himself without singing his whiskers.”
But let us do justice to the young Sappho. There are passages in this little volume, of most exquisite and touching tenderness and beauty, which would do credit to any living poet; and we do not hesitate to say, that if she will only love a little more discreetly, we ourself will make a pilgrimage to "Old Kentuck," on purpose to crown her with laurels.
The next specimen is from a lover who is actually "haunted" by his mistress with whom he communicates through the "Celestial Telegraph." This spirit is a perfect chameleon, and takes as many hues:
"Sometimes it is sad and lonely-
A sacred solemn joy-this only
*Quere? "The Old Hundred "!