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quiry, whether, among the graces of polite literature, he had included a slight tincture of metaphysics. He smiled and told me he had not.
On the whole, when, as usual, that night, I summed up the day's observations on my pillow, I was not altogether dissatisfied. “Miss Mackenzie,” said I, “ loves poetry, and I like her the better for it. She has the advantage of me in Italian : agreed ; what is it to know a variety of languages, but merely to have a variety of sounds to express the same idea ? Original thought is the ore of the mind; language is but the acci. dental stamp and coinage, by which it is put in circulation. If I can furnish an original idea, what care I how many languages she can translate it into ? She may be able, also, to quote names, and dates, and latitudes, better than I ; but that is a mere effort of the memory. I admit she is more accurate in history and geography than I ; but then she knows nothing of metaphysics."
I had now sufficiently recovered to return home; yet I could not think of leaving Mr. Mackenzie without having a little farther conversation with him on the subject of his daughter's education.
“ This Mr. Mackenzie,” thought I, “is a very accomplished, elegant man; he has seen a good deal of the world, and, upon the whole has profited by what he has seen. He is not without information, and, as far as he thinks, appears to think correctly; but after all he is rather superficial, and does not think profoundly. He seems to take no delight in those metaphysical abstractions, that are the proper aliment of masculine minds. I called to mind various occasions in which I had indulged largely in metaphysical discussions, but could recollect no instance where I had been able to draw him out. He had listened, it is true, with attention, and smiled as if in acquiescence, but had always appeared to avoid reply. Beside, I had made several sad blunders in the glow of eloquent declamation; but he had never interrupted me, to notice and correct them, as he would have done had he been versed in the theme.
“Now it is really a great pity,” resumed I, “ that he should have the entire management of Miss Mackenzie's education. What a vast advantage it would be, if she could be put for a little time under the superintendence of Glencoe. He would throw some deeper shades of thought into her mind, which at present is all sunshine ; not but that Mr. Mackenzie has done very well, as far as he has gone ; but then he has merely pre
pared the soil for the strong plants of useful knowledge. She is well versed in the leading facts of history, and the general course of belles lettres,” said I; "a little more philosophy would do wonders."
I accordingly took occasion to ask Mr. Mackenzie for a few moments' conversation in his study, the morning I was to depart. When we were alone, I opened the matter fully to him. I commenced with the warmest eulogium of Glencoe's powers of mind, and vast acquirements, and ascribed to him all my proficiency in the higher branches of knowledge. I begged, therefore, to recommend him as a friend calculated to direct the studies of Miss Mackenzie : to lead her mind, by degrees, to the contemplation of abstract principles, and to produce habits of philosophical analysis ; - which," added I, gently smiling, are not often cultivated by young ladies." I ventured to hint, in addition, that he would find Mr. Glencoe a most valuable and interesting acquaintance for himself; one who would stimulate and evolve the powers of his mind; and who might open to him tracts of inquiry and speculation, to which perhaps he had hitherto been a stranger.
Mr. Mackenzie listened with grave attention. When I had finished, he thanked me in the politest manner for the interest I took in the welfare of his daughter and himself. He ob. served that, as it regarded himself, he was afraid he was too old to benefit by the instruction of Mr. Glencoe, and that as to his daughter, he was afraid her mind was but little fitted for the study of metaphysics. “I do not wish,” continued he, “to strain her intellects with subjects they cannot grasp, but to make her familiarly acquainted with those that are within the limits of her capacity. I do not pretend to prescribe the boundaries of female genius, and am far from indulging the vulgar opinion, that women are unfitted by nature for the highest intellectual pursuits. I speak only with reference to my daughter's taste and talents. She will never make a learned woman; nor in truth do I desire it; for such is the jealousy of our sex, as to mental as well as physical ascendancy, that a learned woman is not always the happiest. I do not wish my daughter to excite envy, or to battle with the prejudices of the world; but to glide peaceably through life, on the good will and kind opinions of her friends. She has ample employment for her little head, in the course I have marked out for her; and is busy at present with some branches of natural history, calculated to awaken her perceptions to the beauties and wonders of nature, and to the inexhaustible volume tion;
of wisdom constantly spread open before her eyes. I consider that woman most likely to make an agreeable companion, who can draw topics of pleasing remark upon every natural object; and most likely to be cheerful and contented, who is continually sensible of the order, the harmony, and the invariable benefi. cence, that reign throughout the beautiful world we inhabit.”
“But,” added he, smiling, “I am betraying myself into a lecture, instead of giving a reply to your kind offer. Permit me to take the liberty, in return, of inquiring a little about your own pursuits. You speak of having finished your educa
but of course you have a line of private study and mental occupation marked out; for you must know the importance, both in point of interest and happiness, of keeping the mind employed. May I ask what system you observe in your intellectual exercises ?"
“Oh, as to the system,” I observed, “I could never bring myself into anything of the kind. I thought it best to let my genius take its own course, as it always acted the most vigorously when stimulated by inclination.”'
Mr. Mackenzie shook his head. “This same genius,” said he, “is a wild quality, that runs away with our most promising young men.
It has become so much the fashion, too, to give it the reins, that it is now thought an animal of too noble and generous a nature to be brought to the harness. But it is all a mistake. Nature never designed these high endowments to run riot through society, and throw the whole system into confusion. No, my dear Sir; genius, unless it acts upon system, is very apt to be a useless quality to society; sometimes an injurious, and certainly a very uncomfortable one, to its posess
I have had many opportunities of seeing the progress through life of young men who were accounted geniuses, and have found it too often end in early exhaustion and bitter disappointment; and have as often noticed that these effects might be traced to a total want of system. There were no habits of business, of steady purpose, and regular application, superinduced upon the mind : everything was left to chance and impulse, and native luxuriance, and everything ran to waste and wild entanglement. Excuse me, if I am tedious on this point, for I feel solicitous to impress it upon you, being an error extremely prevalent, and one into which too many of our youth have fallen. I am happy, however, to observe the zeal which still appears to actuate you for the acquisition of knowledge, and augur every good from the elevated bent of
your ambition. May I ask what has been your course of study for the last six months ?"
Never was question more unluckily timed. For the last six months I had been absolutely buried in novels and romances.
Mr. Mackenzie perceived that the question was embarrassing, and with his invariable good breeding, immediately resumed the conversation, without waiting for a reply. He took care, however, to turn it in such a way as to draw from me an account of the whole manner in which I had been edu. cated, and the various currents of reading into which my mind
He then went on to discuss briefly, but impressively, the different branches of knowledge most important to a young man in my situation ; and to my surprise I found him a complete master of those studies on which I had supposed him ignorant, and on which I had been descanting so confidently.
He complimented me, however, very graciously, upon the progress I made, but advised me for the present to turn my attention to the physical rather than the moral sciences. “These studies," said he, “ store a man's mind with valuable facts, and at the same time repress self-confidence, by letting him know how boundless are the realms of knowledge, and how little we can possibly know. Whereas metaphysical studies, though of an ingenious order of intellectual employment, are apt to bewilder some minds with vague speculations. They never know how far they have advanced, or what may be the correctness of their favourite theory. They render many of our young men verbose and declamatory, and prone to mistake the aberrations of their fancy for the inspiration of divine philosophy."
I could not but interrupt him, to assent to the truth of these remarks, and to say that it had been my lot, in the course of my limited experience, to encounter young men of the kind, who had overwhelmed me by their verbosity.
Mr. Mackenzie smiled. “I trust,” said he, kindly, “ that you will guard against these errors. Avoid the eagerness with which a young man is apt to hurry into conversation, and to utter the crude and ill-digested notions which he has picked up in his recent studies. Be assured that extensive and accurate knowledge is the slow acquisition of a studious life time; that a young man, however pregnant his wit, and prompt his talent, can have mastered but the rudiments of learning, and, in a manner, attained the implements of study. Whatever may have been your past assiduity you must be sensible that as yet
you have but reached the threshold of true knowledge; but at the same time, you have the advantage that you are still very young, and have ample time to learn."
Here our conference ended. I walked out of the study, a very different being from what I was on entering it. I had gone in with the air of a professor about to deliver a lecture ; I came out like a student, who had failed in his examination, and been degraded in his class.
Very young,” and “on the threshold of knowledge !" This was extremely flattering, to one who had considered himself an accomplished scholar, and profound philosopher !
“It is singular,' thought I; "there seems to have been a spell upon my faculties, ever since I have been in this house. I certainly have not been able to do myself justice. Whenever I have undertaken to advise, I have had the tables turned upon me.
It must be that I am strange and diffident among people I am not accustomed to. I wish they could hear me talk at home!”
“ After all,” added I, on farther reflection, " after all, there is a great deal of force in what Mr. Mackenzie has said. Some how or other, these men of the world do now and then hit upon remarks that would do credit to a philosopher. Some of his general observations came so home, that I almost thought they were meant for myself. His advice about adopting a system of study, is very judicious. I will immediately put it in practice. My mind shall operate henceforward with the regularity of clock-work.''
How far I succeeded in adopting this plan, how I fared in the farther pursuit of knowledge, and how I succeeded in my suit to Julia Mackenzie, may afford matter for a further communication to the public, if this simple record of my early life is fortunate enough to excite any curiosity.
I saw a maiden carrying a flower
’T was bright and lovely iu its virgin bloom,
That filled the air with a most rich perfume.
Did the sweet maiden, bearing it along :
I knew that to one race they must belong :
In woman's angel purity enshrined,
Sweetness of heart with purity of mind :