Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

collateral instruction. They were generally heard in quarter-sections of a class, the entire class containing from fifty to sixty members. The custom was to call on every student in the section at every recitation. Each teacher was supposed to have some system, according to which he arranged the order of his daily calls. Some, like Dr. Popkin, openly adopted the direct, some the inverse, alphabetical order, some the two alternately. As for the key to the order adopted by the others respectively, there were, generally, conflicting theories, the maintenance of which brought into play a keenness of calculation and a skilful manipulation of data fully adequate to the solving of deeply involved algebraic equations. Of course, the endeavor—not always unsuccessful—-was to determine what part of a lesson it was necessary for each individual student to prepare.

The leading feature of the college at that time was the rich provision made for courses of lectures. It may be doubted whether so many lecturers of an exceptionally high order have ever, at any one time, been brought together in the service of an American college.

As regards the amount of study and of actual attainment, it was, I think, much greater with the best scholars of each class, much less with those of a lower grade, than now. I doubt whether such students as used to constitute the fourth quarter of a class could now reach the sophomore year. A youth who was regular in his habits, and who made some sort of an answer, however wide of the mark, at half of his recitations, commonly obtained his degree, though his college-life might have been interpolated by an annual three-months' suspension for negligence. But the really good scholar gave himself wholly to his work. He had no distractions, no outside society, no newspapers, no legal possibility of an evening in Boston, no probable inducement to spend an hour elsewhere than within college-walls, and not even easy access to the college library. Consequently, there remained for him nothing but hard study; and there were some in every class whose hours of study were not less than sixty a week.

The range of study was much less extensive than now. Natural history did not then even profess to be a science, and received very little attention. Chemistry, under auspices which one does not like to recall, occupied, and utterly wasted, a small portion of the senior year. French and Spanish were voluntary studies, or rather recreations; for the recitation-room of the kind-hearted septuagenarian, who had these languages in charge, was frequented more for amusement than for anything that was taught or learned. Italian and German were studied in good earnest by a very few volunteers. There was a great deal of efficient work in the department of philosophy; and the writing of English could not have been cared for more faithfully, judiciously, and fruitfully, than by

Professor Channing. But the chief labor and the crowning honor of successful scholarship were in mathematics and the classics. The mathematical course extended through the entire four years ; embracing the differential calculus, the mathematical treatment of all departments of physical science then studied, and a thoroughly mathematical treatise on astronomy. In Greek and Latin, the aim, as has been already stated, was not so much to determine grammatical inflections and construction, as to reach the actual meaning of the author in hand, and to render his thought into perspicuous and elegant English. This aim was attained, I think, to a high degree in Latin ; and with the faithful and searching study of the Latin text, there grew up inevitably the sort of instinctive knowledge of Latin grammar, which one conversant with the best Eng. lish writers acquires of English grammar, without formal study. Such grammatical tact and skill were acquired by a respectable number of Latin scholars in every class; and the number was by no means small of those who then formed a life-long taste for Latin literature, and the capacity of reading it with all desirable ease and fluency. Greek, for reasons given in my sketch of Dr. Popkin, was studied with much greater difficulty, and, when with similar, with much less satisfactory and valuable, results. The best scholars were often discouraged in the pursuit of knowledge under hindrances so grave, and had resort to contraband methods of preparation, which required little labor, and were of no permanent benefit.

Alfred Billings Street.

BORN in Poughkeepsie, N. Y., 1811. Dies at Albany, N. Y., 1881.

THE LOON.

[Forest Pictures in the Adirondacks. 1865.]

TAN
WAMELESS in his stately pride, along the lake of islands,

Tireless speeds the lonely loon upon his diving track;-
Emerald and gold emblazon, satin-like, his shoulder,

Ebony and pearl inlay, mosaic-like, his back.
Sailing, thus sailing, thus sails the brindled loon,
When the wave rolls black with storm, or sleeps in summer noon.

Sailing through the islands, oft he lifts bis loud bravura ;–

Clarion-clear it rings, and round ethereal trumpets swell;—
Upward looks the feeding deer, he sees the aiming hunter,

Up and then away, the loon bas warned his comrade well.

Sailing, thus sailing, thus sails the brindled loon,
Pealing on the solitude his sounding bugle-tune.

Sacred is the loon with eye of wild and flashing crimson;

Eye that saw the Spirit Hah-wen-ne-yo through the air
Falling, faint a star-a shaft of light-a shape of splendor-

Falling on the deep that closed that shining shape to bear.
Sailing, thus sailing, thus sailed the brindled loon
With the grand shape falling all a-glitter from the moon.

Long before the eagle furls his pinion on the pine-top,

Long before the blue-bird gleams in sapphire through the glen;
Long before the lily blots the shoal with golden apples,

Leaves the loon his southern sun to sail the lake again.
Sailing, then sailing, then sails the brindled loon,
Leading with his shouting call the Spring's awakening croon.

Long after bitter chills have pierced the windy water,

Long after Autumn dies, all dolphin-like away;
Long after coat of russet dons the deer for winter,

Plies the solitary loon his cold and curdled bay.
Sailing, there sailing, there sails the brindled loon,
Till in chains no more to him the lake yields watery boon.

Delia Bacon.

Born in Tallmadge, Ohio, 1811. Died at Hartford, Conn., 1859.

HER INITIATION OF THE SHAKESPEARE-BACON CONTROVERSY.

[ William Shakespeare and his Plays; an Inquiry concerning them.-Contributed to

Putnam's Monthly Magazine,January, 1856.]

THERE
HERE was one moment in which all the elements of the national

genius that are now separated and incorporated in institutions as wide apart, at least, as earth and heaven, were held together, and that in their first vigor, pressed from without into their old Greek conjunction. That moment there was; it is chronicled; we have one word for it; we call it—Shakespeare.

Has the time come at last, or has it not yet come, in which this message of the new time can be laid open to us? This message from the lips of one endowed so wondrously with skill to utter it; endowed, not with the speaker's melodious tones and subduing harmonies only, but with the teacher's divinely glowing heart, with the ambition that seeks its own in all, with the love that is sweeter than the tongues of men and angels. Are we, or are we not, his legatees? Surely this new summing up of all the real questions of our common life, from such an elevation in it, this new philosophy of all men's business and desires, cannot be without its perpetual vital uses. For, in all the points on which the demonstration rests, these diagrams from the dissolving views of the past are still included in the problems of the present.

And if, in this new and more earnest research into the true ends and meanings of this greatest of our teachers, the poor player who was willing enough to assume the responsibility of these works, while they were still plays—theatrical exhibitions only, and quite in his line for the time; who might, indeed, be glad enough to do it for the sake of the princely patronage that henceforth encompassed his fortunes, even to the granting of a thousand pounds at a time, if that were needed to complete his purchase—if this good man, sufficiently perplexed already with the developments which the modern criticism has by degrees already laid at bis door, does here positively refuse to go any further with us on this road, why e'en let us shake bands with him and part, be as his business and desire shall point him, “ for every man hath business and desire, such as it is," and not without a grateful recollection of the good service he has rendered us.

The publisher of these plays let his name go down still and to all posterity on the cover of it. They were his plays. He brought them out,he and his firm. They took the scholar's text, that dull black and white, that mere ink and paper, and made of it a living, speaking, many-colored, glittering reality, which even the groundlings of that time could appreciate, in some sort. What was Hamlet to them, without his "inky cloak" and his "forest of feathers" and his "razed shoes" and "the

on them ? And they came out of this man's bag--he was the owner of the “wardrobe" and of the other “stage properties." He was the owner of the manuscripts; and if be came honestly by them, whose business was it to enquire any further, then? If there was no one who chose, just then, to claim the authorship of them, whose else should they be? Was not the actor himself a poet, and a very facetious one, too? Witness the remains of him, the incontestable poetical remains of him, which have come down to us. What if his ill-natured contemporaries, whose poetic glories he was eclipsing forever with those new plays of his, did assail him on his weak points, and call him, in the face of his time, “a Johannes Factotum," and held up to public ridicule his particular style of acting, plainly intimating that it was chargeable with that very fault which the prince of Denmark directs his tragedians to omitdid not the blundering editor of that piece of offensive criticism get a decisive hint from some quarter, that he might better have withheld it; and was it not humbly retracted and bushed up directly? Some of the

[ocr errors]

roses

earlier anonymous plays, which were included in the collection published, after this player's decease, as the plays of William Shakespeare, are, indeed, known to have been produced anonymously at other theatres, and by companies with which this actor had never any connection; but the poet's company and the player's were, as it seems, two different things; and that is a fact which the criticism and history of these plays, as it stands at present, already exhibits. Several of the plays which form the nucleus of the Shakespeare drama had already been brought out, before the Stratford actor was yet in a position to assume that relation to it which proved so advantageous to his fortunes. Such a nucleus of the Shakespeare drama there was already, when the name which this actor bore, with such orthographical variations as the purpose required, began to be assumed as the name and device of that new sovereignty of genius which was then first rising and kindling behind its cloud, and dimming and overflowing with its greater glory all the less, and gilding all it shone on. The machinery of these theatrical establishments offered, indeed, the most natural and effective, as well as, at that time, on other accounts, the most convenient mode of exhibition for that particular class of subjects which the genius of this particular poet naturally inclined him to meddle with. He had the most profoundly philosophical reasons for preferring that mode of exhibiting his poems, as will be seen hereafter.

And, when we have once learned to recognize the actor's true relations to the works which have given to his name its anomalous significance, we shall be prepared, perhaps, to accept, at last, this great offer of aid in our readings of these works, which has been lying here now two hundred and thirty years, unnoticed; then, and not till then, we shall be able to avail ourselyes, at last, of the aid of those "friends of his," to whom, two hundred and thirty years ago, “knowing that his wit could no more lie hid than it could be lost,” the editors of the first printed collection of these works venture to refer us; "those other friends of his, whom, IF WE NEED, can be our guides; and, IF WE NEED THEM NOT, we are able to lead ourselves and others, and such readers they wish him.”

If we had accepted either of these two conditions—if we had found ourselves with those who need this offered guidance, or with those who need it not—if we had but gone far enough in our readings of these works to feel the want of that aid, from exterior sources, which is here proffered us—there would not have been presented to the world, at this hour, the spectacle—the stupendous spectacle—of a nation referring the origin of its drama—a drama more noble, and learned, and subtle than the Greek—to the invention—the accidental, unconscious invention-of a stupid, ignorant, illiterate, third-rate play-actor.

If we had, indeed, but applied to these works the commonest rules of

« ZurückWeiter »