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becomes subsidiary to the aims of him who thus wields our minds by the powers of his own. Perhaps no more perfect illustration of this influence can be found, than in the finished orator, whose clear philosophy sheds light upon the understandings of his hearers, whose sincere and deep conviction of the truth and importance of what he advances, gains over their sympathies and confidence to his side; and who unites with all the rest the real spirit of impassioned poetry, and into the creations of his fancy knows how to infuse so much of seeming truth, as for the time to make us forget that they are ideal. To all these requisites, we have only to add, that he should be of sound integrity, having principles too stern to yield to any flattering temptations which might prompt him to make the worse appear the better side ; and then, if no unfriendly prejudices exist in those who listen to him, his triumph will be complete. With what an exulting consciousness of power may such a man rise up, knowing that the eyes of thousands are eagerly turned upon him, and feeling in himself the full assurance, that the high-wrought expectation which causes every heart to beat with impatience, and every ear of the mute throng to be turned to catch each accent from his lips, he can more than realize. Such examples of mental power we are sometimes permitted to see, in our halls of legislation, and in our courts of justice, and more rarely, perhaps, ministering at the altars of religion. If there be any where a more noble illustration of the power of mind than this, it is only where, with all this consciousness of the strength that can be put forth, at will, upon extraneous objects, the possessor nobly chooses to direct those energies inward, and gain a moral triumph more truly noble, because less pompously dazzling, by self-control, than which nothing seems to the inconsiderate more easy, or is found practically more difficult; which is despised by those who never practice it, and neglected by those who need it most; which increases in difficulty as we increase our power over others, and the want of which is seldom suspected, until that very want has insured the destruction of our best interests. How many, alas ! by its habitual neglect, have blasted the hopes of their friends and their country, and when too late to repair the mischief, have sat down to brood in sullen despondency over the perversion of those powers, which, if more discreetly directed, would have secured their own happiness, and sensibly augmented that of their fellow creatures. Had that peerless man of modern times, whose sun of glory went down in clouds and blood at Waterloo, remembered that there was a nobler and more difficult victory to achieve, than those he won over the beleaguering hosts of enemies which he led, in successive triumph, through almost every nation in Europe; had he turned that power inward upon himself, which in its goings forth seemed to set the world on fire, then would not his closing scenes have formed so melancholy, and humbling, and even pitiful a contrast with that splendid pageantry in which he had moved before. Then, too, would not France, beautiful and chivalrous France, after having waded through an ocean of blood in the accomplishment of one revolution, have been forced to sit down for almost a score of years, under the rule of monarchs imposed on her by foreign armies; and when submission to their senseless and unblushing attempts at lawless tyranny had ceased to be a virtue, she would not have been constrained to come forth again and put her all at bazard, as we recently beheld it, between the clamors of anarchy on the one hand, and a more grievous despotism on the other.
In considering some of the means by which the power of mind may be increased, it cannot be too constantly remembered, that the laws of matter, and many of the principles and rules applicable to its control, are here entirely irrelevant. "To withdraw the attention from the various and enchanting phenomena without, to the more wonderful but generally unnoticed process continually advancing within, is not, to the great mass, found an easy task.
But though difficult at the commencement, it is indispensable to our success in self-improvement, and is rendered by repeated efforts, not only less irksome, but even welcome and delightful.
The very first of the means I mention for increasing the power of mind, is possessing ourselves of a deep and permanent conviction of the superior value of mental over other acquisitions. He will never probably make any considerable advances in the cultivation and improvement of a mind, of the possession of which he remains, willingly, alınost unconscious. Nor will he greatly profit by any suggestions for its elevation and efficiency, if he is continually disposed to place sensual gratifications, or even the accumulation of wealth, and the dazzling array of equipage and show, in the first rank of desirable acquisitions. The mind and the heart will feel the power of their own natural associations attracting them irresistibly to the objects of their preference. He cannot, with a becoming relish, use the means of mental discipline and improvement, whose face is always mantled with blushes when he meets one who possesses a few hundreds or thousands more of this world's pelf than himself; who, however degraded may be his intellect, is an object of envy for his pecuniary possessions. But to pour forth the most bitter invectives against this absurd but too common preference, would accomplish very little toward its removal. Still, we may be permitted, with deference, to suggest, that in a country proverbially characterized for the eager prosecution of gain, where no object of emulation is more generally cherished than mammon, which, whether obtained or not, has in so many instances proved the object of a most unholy and debasing idolatry, there may be cause to fear lest the contagious influence of example should supplant whatever of preference we may have felt disposed to award to mental culture, and thus carry us away in the surrounding dense crowd of the votaries of wealth. These considerations suggest the propriety of mentioning, as the first means for increasing the power of mind, this necessary conviction of its superior importance. Now, by whatever process this conviction can be most easily and firmly produced, let it be prëeminently and broadly laid, at the very threshhold.
Another most essential means of increasing mental power, is to have great objects in view. Superior power of mind is the effect, as much as it is the cause, of aiming at elevated attainments. To fix the mind upon trifling objects will produce a trifling mind; and it is not easy to say how much of what is called genius, is the effect
of steadily contemplating and ardently pursuing degrees of excellence worthy of the human understanding.
The object thus selected, may not, in every instance, be such as would commend the wisdom of its choice to universal approbation. It is sufficient that he who chooses it finds a full justification for his present preference, in the peculiar circumstances which surround him, or the specific purpose which he has in view. The eloquent and philosophical John Foster, in his essay on decision of character, defends the philanthropist Howard from the censure of the mere votaries of taste, who have ventured to complain that, on one of his errands of mercy, he could visit Rome, and, impelled by the consciousness of urgent duty, actually refuse himself time to survey the magnificence of its ruins. He closes the paragraph by remarking of this conduct, that it implied an inconceivable severity of con. viction, that he had one thing to do; and that he who would do some great thing in this short life, must apply himself to the work with such a concentration of his forces, as to idle spectators, who live only to amuse themselves, may look like insanity.
It was not without a knowledge of the nature of man, that the astronomer in Rasselas, who imagined that he governed the winds and presided over the powers of nature, is made to be so profound in his science. Even this partial derangement might, and probably would, conduce to a vigorous acquisition of knowledge, by confining his attention to the subject in which he supposed himself to have so important a part, and so great responsibility. It is the ambitious purpose of high attainment in every thing at once, which has frittered away the force of many minds nobly endowed, and which, if judiciously controlled and directed to the attainment of almost any single object, might not only have reached that goal with comparative ease, but would also have acquired a power or a momentum in that progress, which would afterward have enabled them to enter new fields, and attempt new enterprises, with success.
And here let us suggest, whether the lyceums and various literary and scientific associations, which have been so rapidly multiplied of late, can be reasonably expected to accomplish all the benign results for which they have been instituted, and which seem to lie fairly within their sphere, unless such subordinate divisions of labor and of object be marked out by their members for themselves, as their peculiar taste, capacity, necessity, or any other circumstance, seem to indicate as their appropriate pursuit. That the general institution is, in each case, easily susceptible of such a modification as should allow and facilitate the subordinate organization of classes, for the prosecution of any specific branch of natural or moral science -of forensic exercise, or of combined wisdom and discussion in the great and toolong neglected science of instruction - cannot admit of doubt. The results of these investigations would, in many instances, furnish the most appropriate and interesting exercises of the whole association. While the general combination would facilitate and not retard, the several subordinate classes, the parent stock would thus engraft these thrifty branches upon itself, not only for their support, but would also, by their agency, secure its own vigor, and greatly extend its usefulness.
If to have noble and definite objects in view, be an important means of improving and strengthening the mind, then obviously it is an advantage where these objects are proposed in early life. Then the mind will feed upon its most nourishing aliment, and grow great and powerful by the animation, the industry, the fortitude, and hope, which its object produces. Were we furnished with a biography sufficiently minute of those whose intellectual achievements have made their names immortal, we should probably discover, that their minds were early filled with such objects as best fitted them for that specific success which has given them celebrity. Newton, at the age of twenty-two, had sketched the plan of his greatest productions, his Optics and Principia, and the Roman conqueror, who destroyed the liberties of his country, determined, at the age of sixteen, to be made perpetual dictator. We know, too, at what an early age our own Franklin fixed in his mind the honorable purpose of reaching an elevation to which the thoughts and aspirations of those around him seem never to have been directed. Facts, therefore, confirm the position, that an early proposal of great objects is an effectual aid to the attainment of mental power.
Another means of great importance, is exercise; such as is best adapted to give exact, various, and thorough discipline to the mind. Any one who has not subjected his mental powers to such discipline, though he may have what is called great native strength of mind, will not be able to bring it to bear upon any proposed object, in such a manner as to insure his success. His efforts, when compared with one who had profited by previous discipline, would be like the untrained elephant in battle, equally perilous to friends and foes, rather than like the same noble animal, when properly prepared by preceding exercise, the great means of terror and triumph in ancient war. It would lead us too far into detail, to consider minutely the best plans of mental discipline. The exercise of the different powers of the human mind, with direct reference to some definite object, will undoubtedly secure this discipline most effectually. Whether in so short a life, and with such a variety of objects for our pursuit, which may directly minister to pleasure and utility, it be worth while to spend either time or energy on any which cannot promote these, but are only useful indirectly, by the discipline which they induce, may certainly be questioned, though we by no means hazard an absolute decision. It should not be forgotten, that the best exercise of the judgment is found in those studies which, while they afford sufficient action for the mind, are divested of those considerations which may bias us against, or in favor of, the truths they convey. Such are the mathematics, and several branches of philosophy, and indeed almost all the natural sciences. They are waters deep, clear, and invigorating to the mind. While successfully exploring them, it gains that consciousness of its powers which is indispensable to any noble attempts. It is a mistake which has often proved fatal to such as have enjoyed and profited by the means of early improvement, that the discipline of the mind by those studies which are employed in the first stages of mental culture, may be laid aside when the period has arrived that knowledge is to be applied to use, and the talents exercised in the active pursuits of life. It seems strange, when the
Complaint of the Violets. – By E. L. Bulwer, Esq. (April,
principle is so well established, that the mind must be disciplined by the study of polite literature to cultivate the taste, and by application to mathematics, to strengthen the reasoning powers, and to form habits of close attention, that it should be concluded these studies have no farther use when a collegiate or academic course is finished, and they are no longer forced upon us by the authority of a master. In military life, the success of an actual engagement is deemed dependant on the continuance of frequent discipline in the camp; and for a similar reason, the mind requires the frequent application to its early pursuits. It was the discernment of this which led Tully to exercise himself by declamation after he had become the first orator of Rome, and a former distinguished Chief Justice, of Massachusetts, to begin the day with a diagram, and frequently to preside on the bench, it is said, with Homer by his side. It is a neglect of such auxiliary studies as should sustain and give a persevering tone of high exertion to their minds, which had caused many who were scholars of high promise, and reckoned giants of intellect, to prove mere pigmies in their professions. One who had well considered this perversion, thus exclaims : 'No wonder that lawyers, laying aside their rhetoric, become loquacious; or clergymen, forgetting their logic, turn enthusiasts.'
We shall consider, among other things, in another and concluding number, how far the increase of mental power is favored by attempts at originality; the beneficial influence of religion upon the mind; how its capabilities are strengthened by impediments; why we should desire an increase of its power, and to what end direct it.
BY THE AUTHOR OF
'EUG ENE A RAM,' 'ERNEST MALTRAVERS,'
By the silent foot of the shadowy hill,
We slept in our green retreats,
Our hearts with sweets :
And though we lay in a lowly bower,
Yet all things loved us well,
With us to dwell.
But the warm May came in his pride, to woo
The wealth of our virgin store,
Their sweets no more!
And the summer reigns on the quiet spot
Where we dwell; and its suns and showers
Oh, not to ours !