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that a wise doubt of his own infallibility will make him tolerant of dissent from his opinions: that he will be prepared at all times to extend his acquisitions easily aDd judiciously, and to connect them well with previous acquisitions—proving how truly Blackslone lias said, in paraphrase of Cicero,* "the sciences are social, and flourish best in the neighborhood of each other:" in short, that he wiH approach most nearly to that "healthful, well proportioned" expansion of intellect and liberality of character, which Locket terms a large, sound, roundabout sense. In this point of view, it will be found that "a little learning is" not " a dangerous thing."
I am deeply sensible, that I have left untouched many topics, even more important and more pertinent to the main theme of my remarks, than some which I have discussed. Indeed, so wide and so varied is that main theme, that I have found myself greatly embarrassed in selecting from the numerous particulars which solicited my regard on every hand. I have not presumed to offer any fully rounded plan, of that legislative action which is so imperiously demanded by the public weal, and soon will be, I trust, by the public voice. A few hints, are all that seemed to become me, or indeed that could well be crowded into my brief share of this day's time. For a plan, both in outline and in detail, I point to our sister stales and to the European countries, that have taken the lead of us: and to the virtues and wisdom, by which our statesmen will be able to supply the defects, avoid the errors, and even, I trust, surpass the excellences, of those states and countries. That the Legislature may be wrought up to act, individual influence, and [he more powerful influence of associations for the purpose—of whom I deem you, gentlemen, the chief, because the first—must be exerted. You must draw the minds of the constituent body forcibly to the subject. It must be held up in every light; supported by every argument; until the people shall be persuaded but to consider it. Then, half the work will have been done. And in its further progress towards consummation—when the illuminating process shall have fairly begun—still it will be for you, gentlemen, and for those whom your example shall call into this field of usefulness with and after you, to exert, with no slumbering energy, the endowments wherewith you and they, are entrusted. You, and they, must become authors, and the prompters of authors. Books, for use in the schools, and cheap, simplifying tracts as well as books for circulation among the people, must be composed, compiled, and selected. Lectures, plain and cheap, and suitably illustrated, must be delivered through town and country. After the example of the good Watts, and of our own many illustrious contemporaries in Britain and America, learned men must oblige Science to lay aside the starched dignity and grand attire, by which hitherto she has awed away the vulgar; and to render herself universally amiable, by being humbly useful: as the wisest * of heathens is said to have " brought Philosophy down from the skies, placed her in human haunts, and
* "omnes sites, quae ad humanftatem pertinent, habent
qooddam commune vinculum, et quasi cognatione quadam inter sew continentur." Oral, pro Jirch. Poet.
t Conduct of the Understanding.
t Socrates. "Primus iile Philosophiam devocavit e ccelo, et in urbibus collocavit, et in dotnus introduxit; et coegit de vita et moribus, rebusque bonis el malis quterere." Cic. Tuscul. 5.
made her discourse on the daily concerns of human life."
In this whole enterprise, its undertakers should resolve to be convinced by no sneers, daunled by no difficulties, arrested by no obstacles. Difficulties and obstacles enough, indeed, will present themselves to the timid or superficial glance; but they will vanish, before calm scrutiny and bravo determination. Even where the means of solving or removing them may not occur before hand to the mind, what was lately said in a worse cause, will prove to be true: "Where there is a Will, there is a Wat." In such a cause as ours, and in reference to the epithets of " visionary," "impracticable," "chimerical," " Quixotic," and all the other imaginary lions which will be discovered in our path, well may we say, with the generous confidence of Lord Chatham, that we "trample upon impossibilities."
Has not our success, indeed, been already demonstrated? Demonstrated, in the first place, by unnumbered instances of parallel, and more stupendous enterprises, accomplished under circumstances less favorable than those which attend our undertaking? Such enterprises as the Reformation of Luther—the settlement of America—her deliverance from a foreign yoke—the teaching of the blind and the dumb* to read and to write? Demonstrated, again, by actual experiment, that sovereign test of practicability—experiment, seven times repeated, with extensive, if not complete success—in New York, in Connecticut, in Massachusetts, in Austria, in Germany, in Prussia, in Scotland? Yes—it is no untried path we are called to tread: scarcely a step of the way, but has been explored and smoothed before us. All that we have to do, is to look around—see what others have done—correct our own procedure by what we perceive defective in theirs—and forthwith open the floodgates of light, and bid the torrent pour.
Young gentlemen, foster-sons of the venerable institution near us! Some, if not all of you, are destined by your opportunities, and by bosoms glowing with honorable ambition, and beating high with the consciousness of talent, for a conspicuous part in the drama of life. Your eyes, doubtless, have already often glanced around, to see in what field you shall reap the harvest of wealth, respect, and fame, which hope represents as awaiting you. The buzz of notoriety, the palm of eloquence, the gorgeousness of office—those glittering bribes, which have lured onward their tens of thousands to mere splendid misery or to a shameful end after nil—have, no doubt, displayed their attractions to you: but permit me to suggest, that if you will devote the powers wilh which nature and education have gifted you, to the patriot task of purifying and expanding the minds of your countrymen—besides enjoying in your latter days that sweetest of earthly thoughts, the thought of n life spent in usefulness—you mny have gathered laurels of glory, compared with which, nil the chaplets ever won in the tilt-yard of vulgar ambition are paltry weeds.
My wealthy fellow citizens! remember, that where
+ Dr. Johnson, after having witnessed the surprising perform, ances of the pupils in a College for the deaf and dumb at K.linburgh in 1773, concluded that such a triumph over an infirmity apparently irremediable, left nothing hopeless to human resolution. "After having seen the deaf taught arithmetic," says he, 11 who would be afraid to cultivate the Hebrides?" Journey to the Western Islands.
suffrage is nearly universal and the majority rules, if the great body of the people be ignorant or immoral, property is never secure from assaults, under the disguise of law: either agrarian schemes, or oppressive protecting systems, or advantages to certain classes, or some form of unequal taxation; all, the result of illinformed minds, or of depraved dispositions. And if lawlessness assume not the garb of legislation, still it is always banded with ignorance in the firing of barns, the destruction of labor-saving machinery,* conspiracies to raise wages, and all the terrific outrages that spring from the fury of mobs. Thus, by a wise Providence, are you, who are the most able to promote the education of the people, also by far the most interested in doing so. If there can be a case, in which a judicious liberality is the truest economy, that case is now yours: and never may the ill husbandry of niggardliness be more awfully exemplified, than by your grudging a small particle of your wealth, to place the remainder beyond the reach of this peril.
My fellow citizens (if any such are before me) who do not possess wealth, and who have scarcely tasted of the cup of knowledge! You surely need no exhortation to quaff freely of that cup, when it shall come within your grasp: but I do exhort you to employ your infiuence as men, and your constitutional power as voters, in persuading your fellow citizens, and in prompting your public agents, to adopt the requisite measures for dispelling, now and forever, the clouds and darkness in which republican freedom can never long live.
And if, at the remotest point of future time, to which we may look forward as witnessing the existence of human government any where, our democratic forms shall still retain, unimpaired, even their present purity, and present fertility of substantial freedom and happiness; much more, if they shall have waxed purer, and stronger, and more fruitful of good, with each revolving century,— defying the power or conciliating the love of foreign states—maintaining domestic harmony—oppressing none, protecting all—and so fully realizing the fondest hopes of the most sanguine statesman, that no "despair of the republic" can trouble the faintest heart:—all will be owing (under Providence,) to the hearkening of this generation and the succeeding ones, to that voice—not loud, but solemn and earnest—which, from the shrine of Reason and the tombs of buried commonwealths, reiterates and enforces the momentous precept—" ENLIGHTEN THE PEOPLE!"
Its bounding crystal frolicked in the ray,
And gushed from clefl to crag with sallless spray. Byron.
It is probable there are but few individuals residing in the vicinity of Philadelphia, who have not heard, during some interval of business engagements, of Wissahiccon creek, a beautiful and romantic stream that falls into the no less romantic Schuylkill, about five miles above the city. The stream is visited, statedly,
* No one can have forgotten the ravages committed, a year or two since, by the ignorant poor of Kent, and some others of the southern and middle counties of England, chiefly under the delu. aive idea, that their sufferings were caused by labor-saving machinery.
by but a small number of persons, but as it is neither found on any map, nor marked in any gazetteer that I have ever examined, there may be some apology afforded for the indifference to magnificent scenery, manifested by hundreds and thousands of our citizens, who, though domiciled in its immediate vicinity, have never deemed it worthy of a visit. So true it is, that there is a proneness in human nature to undervalue the gifts of Providence which are placed within our reach, and to admire and covet those which are located at a distance. Were a fatiguing journey of several hundred miles necessary, in order to enjoy a ramble along the banks of the Wissahiccon, we should then, without doubt, view its placid waters, its sluggish, meandering course, its richly covered banks, and its imposing precipices, with the admiration and enthusiasm which scenes of this character never fail to inspire in the minds of those who passionately love the untouched works of the hand of nature. But the delightful little stream courses along within a few miles of our doors, and a ride to its most picturesque views, is but an hour's excursion; hence, except to a few, whose researches have discovered, and whose good taste enabled them to appreciate, the beauty, sublimity and majesty of this stream, it is almost unknown.
But there are persons who have not been thus negligent of nature's treasures in this vicinity, and to these a visit to the fascinating Wissahiccon, calls up remembrances and associations of the most delightful character. To those who enjoy Nature in her majesty—free, uncontrolled, undcspoiled of her beauty by the effacing efforts of human skill—there is no spot, within a circle of many miles, so rich in imagery, so imposing in appearance, so fascinating in attraction, as the banks of the Wissahiccon. The stream takes its rise from several springs in the upper part of Montgomery county, and flows, for a short distance, through a limestone country, remarkable for fertility and a high state of cultivation. Thence it passes, south-westernly, "a sweet smiling stream sleeping on the green sward," into more undulating land, until it reaches the Chesnut ridge, from which it progresses, at times indolently, and at times with an impetuous current, through a narrow valley, hedged in on either side by high hills, steep and craggy cliffs and precipitous mountains, until it strikes the Schuylkill, about a mile above the falls. Along its whole course the scenery of the Wissahiccon is beautiful, but it is the portion lying within six or eight miles of its mouth, that is generally regarded as the most attractive, as it exhibits, in bolder relief than any other portion, the peculiar sublimity and grandeur of the stream, and the imposing and majestic ledge of rock work through which it passes. It is along this distance that I have been accustomed to ramble during leisure moments, for years, and it is under the shade of the forests of brilliant hue that line its banks, that I have often reclined, and enjoyed, undisturbed, the sweet melody of nature, issuing from the bursting green foliage around me. I love nature with enthusiasm, and whether standing on the bank of a running stream and listening to the sweet gushing sound of its waters, or seated on an eminence overlooking the waving fields of golden fruit that bless the labor of the husbandman; whether enchanted by the Siren song of nature's minstrels in the spring, or watching the many-colored leaves of the forest, as they are borne through the air by the whistling winds of autumn—there is, in the scene before me, absorbing attraction, calling forth reflections which never fail to mellow down the selfish and unkind feelings of the heart, and to shed a peaceful, consoling, and happy influence—all-pervading and lasting in its impressions— over the heart.
The wild and majestic are, however, the scenes to which I am most strongly attached, and which invariably elicit, to a greater extent than those of a softer character, passionate emotions of wonder and admiration. I love to stand at the base of a mountain whose summit reaches the clouds, and to clamber among rocks and under precipices whose projecting cliffs threaten destruction to the hardy adventurer—I love to explore the dense forests of our bold and beautiful hills, and to bury myself in the hidden recesses of nature, where the foot of man has never trod, where the sound of civilization has never been heard—I love to stand at the foot of Niagara, and watch the mighty torrent of a mighty inland sea hurling its concentrated power into the gulph below, and to gaze deep, deep, into that awful abyss—unfathomable, destructive, appalling—I love to see the elements at war, to hear the rush of the tornado and whirlwind, laying prostrate in their furious course every impediment to their destructive-progress, and to witness the fall of the powerful oak and the whirlings of its cleft branches in the sea of matter above, crushing and overwhelming the most formidable obstacles of art. These are scenes in which the spirit of the enthusiast revels, and they are scenes which strike the soul with awe, speaking trumpet-tongued of the presence of an Almighty power, of the omnipotence of his authority, of the insignificance of human effort, and the frailty of human life.
The scenery near the mouth of the Wissahiccon is of a wild, romantic, and imposing character, beautiful in its ever-varying aspect, and interesting in its mystic associations. High hills, occasionally assuming the appearance of mountains, rise on either side, covered with a dense andbeaulifully-variegated foliage. The dogwood, with its beautiful flowers, the chesnut, the locust, the melancholy willow, the sumac, the gum, with its-Vermillion leaves, and the gloomy hemlock, flourish here in all their native grandeur; and the lofty oak, the father of the forest, stretches out his thickly-covered branches to afford shade and shelter to the weary pedestrian. Wild flowers, in great number and varieties, rivalling each other in loveliness, are found in the underwood, giving effect to the drapery of the verdant trees, by enlivening the dark hues of the thickly-growing and overshadowed forest. Some of these flowers and plants are of rare quality and surpassing beauty, and far eclipse in attraction many that are cultivated with care and pride in our gardens; but here they spring up, yearaftcr year, in silence and solitude, being literally
"— Born to blush unseen,
And waste their fragrance on that desert air."
In the valley of the stream, along the eastern side of which, for a mile or two, a convenient road has been chiseled and scooped out of the sides of the stony hill, the vision is completely obstructed by the imposing banks, and hills rising above hills, on either shore; and
but for the unpoetic noise of a laboring mill, and the span of a rude bridge which crosses to a small cavern or cleft in the rocky slope, there would be nothing to betray the presence of man, or to mark the contiguity of human enterprise. Alas I that not one spot—not even the glorious Wissahiccon—bearing the undoubted impress of the hand of the God of nature, can escape the desolating depredations and officious interference of the onward march of civilization.
The carriage road commencing at the mouth of the Wissahiccon, crosses the stream on a covered bridge, about a mile and a half above, winds up a hill of considerable elevation, and passes over to the ridge. From the covered bridge access along the creek is obtained by means of a foot path, on the western side, which is marked through the forest, over crags and cliffs, rugged rocks and rooted trees, until it reaches a beautiful green lawn, a little parlor in the wilderness, celebrated as the resort of occasional pic-nic parties of young ladies and gentlemen from the city, and where, on the grassy floor, youth and beauty have often mingled in the graceful dance, and joined in the merry song of innocence and gay hilarity. It is a sweet spot, and surrounded, as it is, by scenery of the wildest and most romantic character, may very appropriately be designated the "oasis of the Wissahiccon." Near this place, immediately on the water's edge, the ruins of an antiquated stone building arc discovered, scattered over the ground, and as no trace of the original appearance of the edifice can be found, the imagination is permitted to enjoy free scope in dwelling upon the character and pursuits of its ancient founders. On the opposite side, the banks rise up, in many places almost perpendicularly, to the height of mountains, and but few have the temerity to attempt a passage along the course of the stream, as a single false step might hurl them among the dangerous rocks and jutting cliffs below. Here, as well as on the western side, several clefts and caverns in the granite rocks may be found, but it does not appear that they extend to any great depth under the massive structure; and here, upon the edge of a hill, may be seen the point at which it was sometime since proposed to throw a bridge over the stream, to carry across the rail road from Philadelphia to Norristown. The projectors of the scheme reached thus far in their onward progress, but in casting a glance over the precipice into the gulph below, were struck with dismay at the formidable obstacles which appeared, and prudently abandoned the hazardous and wildlyconceived undertaking.
Near Garscd's flax mill, the foot-path crosses to the eastern shore of the stream, on a rude log chained to an adjacent stone, and passes up through a forest overhanging the sluggish waters, and through a thick underwood, which, in some places, is almost impenetrable. Occasional openings in the dense foliage, which become more frequent as the pedestrian progresses up the stream, afford highly picturesque and enchanting views of the surrounding hills, such as those who appreciate Nature in her majesty, would journey miles upon miles, and endure pain and fatigue without murmuring, to behold. In every direction the scenes unfolded to the eye are rich and enchanting beyond description, and remind the writer who associates therewith ideas of intellectual pleasure and enjoyment, of the beautiful lines of the poet:
Vol.. II —4
"Dear solitary groves, where peace doth dwell!
One of the most interesting spots on the Wissahiccon, is in the immediate vicinity of the great perpendicular rock of granite, opposite Rittcnhouse's mill. Here the dark shadows of the hill full, with beautiful effect, upon the gurgling stream, and the rich and deep woodland foliage, the tangled and fragrant shrubbery, the towering cliffs on the one side, and imposing hills and dales on the other, give to the place a charm and fascination, which the reflecting mind may enjoy, but of which it is impossible to convey with the pen, any accurate description. It was near this enchanting place, on the sun side of a high hill, as is currently believed, that Kelpius and his friend, scholars of Germany, located themselves about the close of the seventeenth century, and where for years they dwelt in quiet and religious meditation, awaiting, with anxious prayer, the coming of the "Lady of the Wilderness," and where they died, as we now know, "without the sight." It was here, that, at a period long anterior to the arrival of Kelpius, the untamed monarch of these wilds came to enjoy the rich treasures of nature, and to worship, in silence, the goodness and bounty of the Great Spirit. It was here, perhaps, on the summit of this very hill, that the original owners of the soil convened for the war dance, and to make preparations for a furious and bloody contest; or mayhap it was here that the chiefs of different tribes assembled to bury the hatchet of war, and to smoke the calumet of amity and peace. Perhaps it was here that the noble young warrior, flushed with the honors of victory, stole silently at the midnight hour, to breathe his tale of love and his vows of devotion, into the ear of his blushing and affianced bride; and surely no spot can be found, in the whole range of our wide-spread territory, so suitable for scenes of this character. Here is the abode of romance, here the spirit of nature holds undisputed sway— and here, among these rugged rocks, and in this dense foliage—by the side of this poetic stream, with its associations of woody heights and shady dells, it is fitting that pure and holy vows of love should be uttered, where Heaven, in every leaf of the forest, in every blade of grass, may be called upon to bear witness to their sincerity and truth.
But the Wissahiccon has fallen into other hands. The untutored savage no longer strolls over these silent mountains and vales, for his abode has been removed far away, beyond the western waters. The bones of his warrior fathers lie bleached and neglected in the depths of the valley, for the high-bounding spirit of the son is tamed, by the contaminating influence of his civilized brethren. The active deer no longer bounds over the hills and dales of the Wissahiccon, for he has been driven to more sequestered abodes. The stream is, however, much the same—its placid waters are still beautiful as mirrors—its shores are still romantic—its groves are still enchanting—and so may they ever remain, undisturbed, untouched by the dilapidating hand of man I The place should ever be reserved as a refreshing retreat, where the soul may be uplifted in devotion, and
the heart gladdened in sweet contemplation—where no sound shall be heard but the notes of melody and joy, in delightful unison with the tones of the murmuring rill
"To sit on rocks, to muse o'er flood and felt,
To slowly trace the forest's shady scene,
And mortal foot hath ne'er or rarely been;
Two or three miles above the perpendicular rock, on the eastern shore of the stream, and in a spot equally beautiful and romantic, stands an edifice of great antiquity, connected with which there are a number of interesting associations. It is built nearly on the summit of a slope that stretches into a ravine, walled in on three sides by elevated hills, thickly covered with foliage. The building is of stone, three stories high, with numerous windows, four to each chamber, of uniform size, and appearance; sixty years ago there was a balcony around the second story, and the old-fashioned eaves, plastered in semi-circular form, still to be seen, exhibit the architectural taste and style of a past century. The date of its erection is supposed to be the year 1706, and its founders a society of religious Germans, probably known as Pietists or Seven day Baptists, who no doubt selected this secluded situation in order to secure peace and quietness in their religious devotions. Many of the aged inhabitants of the neighborhood remember this monastery, as a building of unchanged appearance, even from the days of their boyhood, and some have connected therewith curious traditions of romance and legends of mystic tale. Notwithstanding the edifice has lately undergone a thorough alteration, and is now the permanent residence of a highly respectable and very intelligent family, it still bears the reputation of being visited by spirits.
The fact of this building having been occupied as a monastery, by a brotherhood of Germans, is, however, involved in doubt One tradition alleges, that it was tenanted for sometime, by a fraternity of Capuchins, or White Friars, who took upon themselves vows of abstinence and poverty, and who slept upon wooden or stone pillows, with places scolloped out for the head. In confirmation of this tradition, an ancient burial place near the premises, now under tillage, is pointed out, where repose the remains of many of the brotherhood. Another and more probable story is, that the building was actually erected for a religious society, professing a faith similar to that of the Seven day Baptists at Ephrata, near Lancaster, but never occupied, as those for whom it was designed deemed it expedient to leave the neighborhood, and join the settlement at Ephrata. The Chronica Ephrata expressly states that, previous to the formation of that community, in May, 1733, they had dwelt in separate places as hermits, and " the hermits of the ridge" are frequently mentioned. That there was a feeling of affection between these hermits and the brotherhood in Ephrata, is beyond all doubt, as the Chronica, in another place, speaks of some brothers of single devotedness at Roxborough, "who subsequently fell in with the spirit of the world and married."
Kelpius, probably the first of the hermits, on the Wissahiccon, died in the year 1703. He was succeeded by Seelig, who survived him many years, and who was contemporary with Conrad Matthias, another recluse, whose cave was near the Schuylkill. Tradition speaks of these Germans as being men of undoubted piety and great learning. Kelpius wrote several languages, and his journal, in Latin, is now in the possession of a distinguished antiquarian of Philadelphia. He waited the coming of the "Lady of the Wilderness,"—the "woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars," spoken of in the scriptures, as having " fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days." (Rev. xii.) We may wonder that such a man as Kelpius should labor under a delusion of this character, but those who will visit the spot he selected for his " prayerful waiting," will agree with me in opinion that it was singularly well chosen to harmonize with and foster his eccentric views, and romantic religious expectations.
There is another interesting legend, connected with the monastery on the Wissahiccon, which I feel inclined to allude to, if I may do so without being held responsible for its veracity. It is a tale of unhappy love, and relates to a young, beautiful, and accomplished French lady, who followed her lover to the Indian wars, who fought in disguise by his side, and who closed his eyes when he fell at her feet, mortally wounded. Being subsequently admitted, for temporary shelter, into the monastery, she passed a year or two in unavailing grief, and died, heart-broken at the loss of all she held near and dear on earth. The particulars of the melancholy fate of the beautiful Louisa 1 may hereafter unfold to the reader, but I beg my young friends who may discover the mound which covers her remains at the foot of a weeping willow, washed by the gurgling stream, to shed a tear to the memory of one whose beauty and virtues deserved a happier fate.
I have thus attempted to give a sketch of the everdelightful Wissahiccon, and to cast a hasty glance at a few of the prominent incidents with which it was once associated. If I have failed to excite interest in the mind of the reader, let him not hesitate to attribute the circumstance to the feeble powers of the writer, rather than to the poverty of the subject to which his attention has been called. Beautiful and magnificent beyond comparison are the picturesque views of this romantic stream, and for ages to come may its crystal waters continue to course through the valley, affording peaceful enjoyment to the pedestrian on its banks, and unqualified delight to those who may ramble through it s attractive forests. Philadelphia, October 1835.
Le Bran, a Jesuit, wrote what he called a Christian Virgil, and a Christian Ovid. The Virgil consists, of Eclogues, Gcorgics, and an Epic of twelve books, all however on devotional subjects. The Ovid is in the same taste. The Epistles are pious ones—the Fasti are the six days of the Creation—the Elegies are the Lamentations of Jeremiah—the Art of Love is a poem on The Love of God, and the history of some Conversions supplies the place of the Metamorphoses.
Oh! why should Memory love to dwell
And why should Fancy's magic spell
Ev'n Hope's delusive, glittering beam
And, dull and cold, Time's onward stream
But Memory, like a fairy dream,
Still haunts the pensive view,
Clothes fading scenes in loveliest hue.
The Past, with all its glittering train
At Memory's touch returns again,
To cheer the heart whose hopes are dead.
Fond Retrospection lingers near
Each scene of bliss which could not last,
And links again that chain so dear,
Hopes, Friendships, Lore, —a seraph band—
As Memory waves her magic wand,
They come, like Music's distant breath,
And fadeless is that lovely wreath
With which they bind the brow of care.
Oh! Memory's joys will always last—
Still bright and brighter glows the Past,
The City—the City—its glare and din—
My spirit is cramp'd, and my soul pent in—
And the vines untrnmmel'd but seem to be
Disporting to tell of their liberty.
From the crowded streets, and the jostling throng,