Page images
PDF
EPUB

taste and raising beautiful buildings at many of their seats of learning. Of these, the most beautiful-one wing of which is not yet finished—is the Smithsonian Institution at Washington. It has been erected by the bequeathed wealth of Mr Smithson, an Englishman, whose generous wish was to place a magnificent library, museum, gallery of paintings, geographical and chemical apparatus, together with a noble lecture-room within reach of the statesmen of the great Republic. The gold of the edifice is English, but the art American. Two chambers, which are finished and occupied, are said to be in the style of the Escurial, and are handsome and perfect in their beauty. Mr James Renwick, the rising architect, calls the order pure Norman-it does certainly not come within any of the old Greek orders of architecture, and if Norman be its name, it is very fine; the rich mellow lilac-brown of the stone, contrasting finely with the noble gray base and white superstructure of the Capitol, and the rather weather-stained marble of the Post-Office and the White House.

The professors in all Colleges are appointed by trustees, whether they be endowed by their States or by private benevolence, and scholarships are frequent as they are at Oxford or Cambridge, and as bursaries are in Scotland. They are usually the result of private and Christian munificence.

It would seem that all the world over, study and learning do not form the path to wealth, and those

who wish to encourage learning and literature must give of their abundance to fill the student's lamp, and to cheer him in his pursuit, which, while it possesses hidden delights, scarcely furnishes the necessaries of life.

CHAPTER VIII.

THE CHURCHES.

AMONGST the many errors which are corrected by closer intercourse with the citizens of the United States, one of the most prominent is the general impression received in England of their tendency to boasting. Their high animal spirits which induce them to express the very same self-approving sentiments which we may entertain, although we prudently keep them secret — their lively emotions, whether of patriotism, friendship, or domestic affection, which are played on as the bosom of a lake is played on by the zephyr, while ours are deep and still, except when moved to strong and resolute expression — their sanguine temperament, so buoyant and hopeful ;—these give birth to utterances which may occasionally wear the air of boasting ; but examine them narrowly, and you will find it is not so. The gasconading, which derives its name from Gascony, is the true bragging. It tells grand tales of what it has done, and, to magnify itself, paints, magnifies, or makes the self-glorifying story rather than do without it. The American so-called boasting arises from a natural sensibility to successes. It is the joy of victory, the triumph of achieved independence. It has warmed the heart before it flowed out from the tongue.

When a sprightly, polite, benevolent young guide, to whose courtesies we owed much in exploring the city of Boston and its beautiful environs, rushed forth in a tide of exultation as he pointed out the fine monument to those patriots who perished in the battle of Bunker's Hill — when he related how the English army had made the song and air of “ Yankee Doodle,” and were used to cast it forth, in scorn against the unregimentalled patriots who fought not for pay but for independence—when he cracked his whip in triumph, as he told that, when the invaders were routed, the American band took up the strain and marched to possess themselves of the enemy's forsaken posts, to the mocking tune of Yankee Doodle, and concluded with, “That is how the tune has been adopted as our national quick step ever since,”—could any one that had a heart see and hear him, and apply to his emotions such a term as boasting ? Nay, it was impossible even to remind him that we belonged to the discomfited side, or to feel anything but sympathy with his gladness.

Yet it is not joy in the past—it is expectation for the future, to which the accusation of boasting is chiefly applied. Their position is progressive, their circumstances are encouraging, and Hope is the master passion of the whole nation. They seem incapable of entertaining a desponding or alarmed view of any circumstance. When the fate of the fine “ Atlantic” steamer was for so many anxious weeks veiled from the deeply interested multitude, it was amazing to hear people, in the face of all manner of probable misfortunes, express conviction that the good ship and her people, and even her cargo, were all safe. If some of those who profess faith in clairvoyanceconsulted a modern Witch of Endor on the subject, and the oracle was favourable, it was handed about with great cheerfulness. If, however, she saw a wreck on the African coast, or a ship burned to the water's edge, and three forlorn men, one of them of huge proportions, and still undaunted bearing, preparing a slip of paper to be sealed up in a bottle, the consulters turned off in disdain, denying the witch's skill. They hoped then, hoped on, hope always. And thus, when they speak of their country, the mind rushes on to distant lakes and populations, and prairies, and future ages, and instead of being bounded by the great things already achieved, they tell of what they shall achieve. We say they prophesy—we ought to say, they hope. We say they boast !—we ought still to say, they hope. It seems easier to extingush in them the torch of life than that of hope.

To this great principle in the Christian community does the Church owe much of its vigorous

« PreviousContinue »