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Ambition accompanies active talent, as reports. Blackstone's Commentaries, uniformly as heat does combustion, and many other of the English eleand directs its efforts to the attainment mentary treatises, have been reprinted of the most desirable honour within in the country, with notes, pointing its reach. In America, this honour is out the alterations or modifications of public office or professional distinction, the English law by their statutes. The and, therefore, all the talent of the civil law is not used at all, and not country is drawn into the current, studied but by a very small number of which sweeps in one of these direc- curious scholars; and, in general, tlie tions. To establish the truth of the English books are the only authorities opinion we have advanced, and prove, cited, except in the admiralty courts, that the low literary reputation of A- where the early Italian, Spanish, merica, and the small show she makes French, and Dutch writers upon mariin our libraries, are owing to bad edu- time law are often referred to. It is cation, want of learning, and the pe- difficult to draw a just parallel between culiar use to which talent is there ap- the American and English bars, for plied, and not to any deficiency of it, two reasons; first, because in the we must trace its display in the course, former, the various departments of which we say it takes.
legal business are united in the same The bar is the profession, which at- individual ; and, secondly, because tracts the greatest number and the their period of preparatory study is highest talents, and, notwithstanding much shorter, and their means and the wretched state of preparation, in system of education greatly inferio which most young men are when calle or; if proper allowance be made for ed to it, the country may well boast of these disadvantages, the first class of the lawyers it has produced. In this lawyers in America may be considered profession, the deficiencies of education equal to the same class in England, in must be made up by after diligence; point of legal learning, and superior in no man can attain to a high rank in it extemporaneous speaking. We need without legal learning ; in spite of all not repeat what we stated so explicitly the prejudices of the country, and the in the first division of our subject, that general disposition to reduce the sys- the well educated lawyers form but a tem of jurisprudence to a few maxims small part of the whole number; it is of common sense, the common law of of this small part that we have been England remains, for the most part, speaking, and upon them the whole the law of the land ; and a knowledge character and credit of the bar must of that, every one knows, cannot be ac- rest. quired without laborious study, by the The intimate connexion, which exists mere force of genius, however great. in America between the bar and the In all the states where this system still senate, leads us, in the next place, to continues in force, we find a learned consider the character of the latter. bar; and, although the lawyers enti. No country ever had occasion for 3 tled to this distinction are few, these greater proportion of statesmen, and in few are eminently so; and, to prove it, none was political education ever less we refer to the common law reports of attended to. Three thousand five hunthe cases adjudged in the courts of final dred legislators are constantly required jurisdiction in Massachusetts, Connec- for the general and state governments; ticut, New York, Pennsylvania, and and, in the whole country, there is not Virginia. In some of the states, the a course of lectures, either upon their issue of a suit depends chiefly upon own constitutions, the law of nations, the jury, and then the pleas of the political economy, statistics, or hise counsel are of course rather appeals to tory, and very little public instruction popular feeling, than legal arguments; of any kind in these important departe these are admirable schools, in which, ments of science and learning. The to acquire a readiness of extemporane- bar is the school in which the greatest, ous speaking, and great powers of that and almost the only requisite for a kind are often displayed in them ; but statesman is acquired, fluency in speakas courts of justice, they deserve not ing. Want of the necessary knowledge to be named. The learning of the A- is not the greatest evil arising from merican bar has been displayed prin- the want of proper political education; cipally in their courts; and the only a far greater one is, that men who written evidence of it is contained in the have been pursuing a profession for : long time, are very apt to have their original, and Homer in Pope; and minds somewhat narrowed by it, and even this is a degree of erudition far are therefore not capable of taking greater than is possessed by many of such extensive views as politicians, as the best speakers in the land. The ought to be done by those, who are occasions, which have called forth the legislating for the whole community, greatest exercise of talent, were the and not for a particular class of it. discussions in the state legislature of Notwithstanding this defect, the Con- the proposed federal constitution ; the gress of the United States has gener- debates in congress upon the treaty ally been distinguished for the wisdom made with this country by Mr Jay, of its political measures, and always in 1794; and those upon the repeal for a large proportion of powerful and of the judiciary bill, and the other eloquent speakers. It is not surpris- changes made by the friends of Mr ing that the latter characteristic should Jefferson, when they first came into mark this body; the Americans are power, in 1801. Most of the speeches eminently a speech-making people ; upon these great questions have been the practice begins in childhood; their published, and should be read by any colleges are full of clubs for exercise one, who wishes to form a just opinion in this art; the frequent recurrence of of American eloquence. Those of Mr elections, and of the caucuses which Ames, upon the two former, are conprecede them, is continually nourish- tained in his works, a book which ing this passion for haranguing; and makes every reader regret, that such it is in this way that a young man of superior talent and genius should have talent always brings himself into been wasted upon subjects of party notice. Nearly every thing is done by politics, which, from their very nature, direct appeal to the people ; a short can be but of local and momentary inspeech has more effect than ever so terest. But with him there was only many written volumes upon the same one object of ambition, and that was subject; and, therefore, the talent is to serve his country; to this he sacricultivated as the great engine of poli. ficed the more extended famne, which tical power. Thus we see how gene- he certainly must have gained, if he ral is the habit of public speaking, and had written for the world. The same we may infer from the use, which is period presents us with another strong made of it, what must be its character; testimonial in favour of American inthe genius it calls forth is as rich and tellect; it produced the federalist a luxuriant as the vegetation upon the work, which saved the constitution from great rivers of the west, and, at the being strangled in its infancy. These same time, as wild and unpruned. papers, written by Hamilton, Jay, and The speeches of the members of Con- Madison, but mostly by the former, gress might be referred to, if they had contain a remarkably clear and able ever been published collectively, as the defence of that constitution, and may best proof the country has given of the be regarded as a perfect commentary talents, which it possesses. Journals upon its principles ; could they but of both houses are regularly printed, have conferred upon it the immortality but they do not contain full reports of they have procured for the country, the debates. American eloquence has we believe none of its friends would its own peculiar character, it is not have cause to fear for its fate. British eloquence; it is neither so dig. The observations we made upon Mr nified, chaste, nor learned, but it is Ames, might be extended to the counbolder and more rapid in its flights, try in general; the writing talent is and more impassioned in style and all expended upon short desultory com
It somewhat resembles the positions ; newspaper essays, and oraIrish, but it is far less laboured and tions upon the anniversary of their naartificial. The striking defect, both in tional independence, make up the the forensic and parliamentary elo- whole body of political literature. The quence, is bad taste, a defect which evi- love of this kind of political food comdently arises from neglect of classic mences in childhood, and grows with reading. We are told in the beautiful the growth ; the extent of it may be biographical sketch of Fisher Ames, inferred from the number of different one of the finest geniuses and most ele- newspapers published in the country, quent orators which the country has which at present exceeds five hu produced, that he read Virgil in the dred.
The medical profession does not expository of Drs Mitchell and Miller, hibit such a mass of talent as the bar; and the medical register of Dr Hosack. but, trom the superior means of edu- In Boston, a fund has been placed at cation provided for it, in point of learn- the disposal of the medical society, out ing, it is by far the first. We have of which prizes are annually given for before said, and we here repeat, that the best treatises on the subject proin regard to medical schools, America posed; this has had a very beneficial cannot justly be charged with neglect; effect in directing the attention of stuthe fault now consists in not prevent- dents and young physicians to the ing, by law, ignorant quacks from most important inquiries, and has propractising the art. The colleges of duced many valuable dissertations. On physicians assume the right to give the whole then medical science may licences, but their licence is a mere be considered in a very respectable certificate of recommendation, and not state in America, and requiring only a commission, without which a man some extension of its present means, cannot enter upon the practice ; and, and a power of excluding ignorant preas ignorant people are always jealous tenders from the profession to perfect of learning, in many parts of the coun. its character. try, charlatans are much more en- Before we proceed to speak of the couraged than those whose education American clergy, we must make a few entitles them to this certificate. But observations on the state of religion. the regularly bred physicians do full There being no established church, justice to the advantages they enjoy; and, in general, no obligation to proin no country is greater practical skill vide religious instruction, a great part discovered among the faculty; and this, of the country is either entirely destiwe think, is a strong proof of the truth tute of it, or dependent upon itinerant of our opinion, that the bad system of preachers for all they receive. The early education in America is the cause whole number of religious teachers of all their supposed intellectual infe- being five thousand, as shewn by the riority. The loss is comparatively latest accounts, it appears that only little felt in this profession, and, pere about two thousand of them have rehaps, it may be even advantageous to ceived any kind of preparatory educa. neglect the cultivation of the mind, tion, all the rest being fanatics and and the acquisition of a fine taste, pretenders to immediate inspiration ; when one is destined for a pursuit in and of this two thousand one-half at life, in which these qualities are rarely least are in New England, and of the called for; but, however this may be, remaining thousand, but about two elassical learning is not an indispense hundred in the great district of counable requisite for a good physician ; for try south and west of the Chesapeak, it is quite certain, that better are to be containing a population of more than found no where than in America ; and four million souls. Thus we see, that, as certain, that very few of them could in speaking of the clerical profession, read Hippocrates and Galen, or even we are obliged to leave out of consis Celsus, in the original. Stil the me- deration very nearly one-half of the dical faculty has done more for the country, and certainly that half, which literary and scientific character of the is most distinguished for talent and country, than all the others together. genius. In fact the profession is never The college of physicians at Philadel- thought of by any of the native young phia, and the Massachusetts medical men of the South, all the supplies society at Boston, publish their trans- it receives are from the North. It actions regularly; and very respecte must not be inferred from this, that able medical journals are published in the sacred office is held in no respect; Boston and New York, under the di- that is not the case, but it is a rerection of private individuals. Several spect which ambitious men never covet. works in high esteem, have appeared If we were to proceed in this inquiry, from the professors of the Philadelphia we should find, that the clerical proschool, on anatomy, surgery, materia fession must hold out the least induce. medica, and the diseases most frequent ment to men of talent, and that, more in the United States. In New York, particularly, in those parts of the the medical writings have been more country of which the growth is the in the nature of dissertations, and are most rapid. It is the least lucrative, to be found chiefly in the medical re- most laborious, and offers no honours
in expectation. Its comparative de- more exclusively professional; and cline has been very great for the last their sermons more in the style of twenty years, and it must be still exegetical lectures.
This applies greater for the future, unless some particularly to the Unitarians; the orchange should be made to place it thodox clergy are not so learned, but more upon an equality with law and they retain more of the old stamp; medicine; and how this could be done, their tendency, however, is the same it would be difficult to say ;-there are way, as all the new theological schools no orders of clergy, and hence there now adopt this system of critical encan be no hope of preferment to act quiry. For a long time after the setupon the ambitious, and no promise tlement of America, the clergy were of leisure to tempt the scholar." Itine- the only men of letters in the country; rant preachers are continually gaining education was as wholly in their hands upon the educated clergy, even in New as it now is in the hands of the eccleEngland, where the people are the so- siastics in Italy and Spain ; literature berest, and in the other states they and science also looked to them alone have almost succeeded in extirpating for support. That period produced a them. If farther proof be necessary number of curious and important that the profession is losing its attrac- works, which are far less known in tions for young men of talent, the this country than they deserve. The fact, that the only parishes now sought most remarkable among them are, for, or accepted by such, are those of Cotton Mather's History of New Engthe cities, affords a conclusive one; land, and the writings of his father and a stronger even than this is shewn Increase Mather ; Ward's Simple Cobby the records of the annual academic bler of Agawam in America; Hubdegrees ; Harvard College first confere bard's Indian Wars ; Cotton and Nor. red degrees in 1642; for the next suc- ton's Theological Works; and Eliot's ceeding eighty-eight years, one-half of Indian Grammar; and his Translathe whole number educated there en- tion of the Bible into the language of tered the church ; but, during the the Massachusetts Indians—a work last equal period of time, the propor- which gained him the title of the Intion has been only one out of five. dian apostle. During the greater part To confirm this fact, we refer to the of the last century also, the clergy catalogue of the graduates, in which continued as before, almost the sole the clergy are printed in italics. This protectors of literature and science ; picture must be particularly pleasing but the latter received more attention to the admirers of the anti-church es- from the physicians after the establishtablishment system; and it was forment of the medical schools at Philatheir gratification that we sketched it. delphia and Cambridge in 1764 and in We now return to the subject, which 1783. Their writings in this period more properly belongs to us here to were chiefly sermons and local history, consider, and proceed to give an ac- and in neither of these departments of count of the state of learning among literature did any thing very remarkthe clergy; . Critical learning was not able appear ; but, in controversial diintroduced into the study of theology, vinity, a powerful Coryphæus stept until within a very few years. The forth; as a metaphysical theologian, old American divines, notwithstand- Edwards has never been surpassed, if ing their superiority to the modern, equalled; it is scarcely in the power as classical scholars, relied entirely ups of the mind to reason with greater on the English version of the Scrip- closeness and force, than he has done tures, and English commentators. Of throughout his works. He is the very late the German system has prevailed, Euclid of divines; and the Americans and the doctrine of inspiration, being would do well, in claiming due honour now renounced by many, the Bible is for their geniuses, to put him at the head subjected to the common rules of cri- of the list ; for the country never proticism, and hence must be studied in duced a greater. If we were to bring the original languages. The charac- the history down to the present day, ter of the leading clergy is therefore we should find many names that deessentially changed; theological con- serve to be mentioned. Within the troversy, which was heretofore purely last twenty years America has produmetaphysical, is now reduced to mere ced full as great a number of good sere Biblical criticism; their learning is mons, in proportion to her educ»
clergy, as Britain, but then the same great deal of talent has often been disa body has not produced much other li- played, and the little patronage they terature, as they are continually doing have received is a strong proof of the here; the reasons for which have be- want of literary taste in the public. fore been given. From the views we The Portfolio, formerly conducted by have now taken, it appears that the Dennie, was one of the most amusig whole number of religious teachers in and best edited journals of the kind America is but about half what is re- ever published in any country; Walsh's quisite for the population—that of American Review displayed talent e these, three-fifths are ignorant deluded nough to entitle it to the highest pafanatics, who possess almost exclusively tronage ; and the Cambridge Reposione great portion of the country—that tory was a work of learning that would the proportion of regular clergy is di- have done credit to any body of critics; minishing, and the profession daily but none of these received the supbecoming less respectable—and that port they deserved. At present this the spirit of controversy and sectarism complaint could not be made with extends to all classes, who interest equal justice ; the North American themselves at all in religion. Massa- Review, printed at Boston ; the Anachusetts and Connecticut generally, lectic Magazine at New York; and and several of the cities in the other the American Register at Philadelstates, are still favoured with a re- phia ull receive a good share of pubspectable, and, for the most part, well- lic patronage ; from these journals the instructed clergy, but the residue of best knowledge of the progress of lithe lanıl is a prey to delusion.
terature in the country is now to be Having shewn that there is no class gained. In works of imagination and of society in America devoted exclu- taste, very little has been produced. sively to letters, and that the profes- Mr Warden, in his Chapter upon the sions afford little or no leisure for other Literature of the Country, mentions a studies, it cannot be expected that li- long list of original dramatic producterature and science should be success- tions; but he is careful to express no fully cultivated there. Certain it is, opinion of their merits, and we are they have hitherto done very little for quite sure he would have omitted either. Franklin is their only philo- them altogether, if he had but have sopher whose discoveries have been of taken the pains to read them. In romuch importance to mankind ; and if mance and novel writing their success the whole stock of their literature were has been about the same; Brown's set on fire to morrow, no scholar Wieland and Arthur Mervyn are the would feel the loss. We do not mean only ones whose fame is likely to surto say, that they have produced no. vive the life of their authors. The thing worthy of being preserved; we poetic muse has been more fruitful; have already mentioned several profes- but her offspring do not indicate a sional works of high value, and we great degree of vigour in the parents. might add others to the list ; but they Barlow's Columbiad is a long heroic, are not the master productions of the and Trumbull's MacFingal, or, as it mind, in whose preservation all the was once cited in the Quarterly Reworld is interested. Mr Irving has view, “ a Poem by a Mr Fingal," is a shewn much talent and great humour Hudibrastic quite as respectable for in his Salmagundi and Knickerbocker, the number as for the excellence of its and they are exceedingly pleasant lines. There was also an Epic called books, especially to one who under the Conquest of Canaan, by Dr Dwight; stands the local allusions. Belknap, and as he is the only American, whom Minot, Ramsay, and Jefferson, have Campbell has admitted into the comwritten valuable histories of different pany of English bards, he seems enportions of the country; and Marshall titled from that honour alone to a more of the Revolutionary War, and of the particular notice than the rest ; espe. hero who commanded in it. Freeman cially as the editor complains that he Buckminster and Channing's Sermons was unable to learn one word of his are specimens of great elegance and history. This gentleman, who had fine taste in writing ; in essays and the the misfortune to be called by " the lighter kind of composition, Franklin, baptismal name of Timothy," and in Dennie, and Wirt, were uncommonly consequence thereof to have become successful; in the literary journals, à an object of derision to the Edinburgh