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“golden showers,” with their prolific train, must inevitably cover, at some period, the yet sparsely populated plains and valleys of this mountain region with many of the bounties that embellish life, and more that elevate and ennoble a people. But, until her industrial pursuits attain a controlling point, California will perform the part only of a depot for this eastern trade, and receive its benefits in reflected light from the older States. The Atlantic border will first enjoy the monopoly. The greater variety and abundance of valuable exchanges that it now possesses, will secure it. The projected rail-road across the Isthmus is the first great step in the progress, and, of itself, will give us a decided advantage over Europe. Time, which is esteemed money in every pursuit, is eminently so in the mercantile. The shores of Europe are too remote, and the routes to them too devious and too hazardous, and require too great a disparity of time, for any long competition. The distance from Canton to Liverpool, around Cape Horn, is estimated at 20,000 miles, and by the Cape of Good Hope 18,000 miles, while to Charleston, by the Isthmus of Panama, the distance is not 10,000 miles, making a difference in our favor of 10,000 miles, or one-half, and, as to time, a difference of three months. But should foreigners be permitted to share with us the benefits of the Isthmus road, and we presume of course they would be, the distance to the markets of New-Orleans and Charleston would yet be shortened, in comparison with those of Europe, by the breadth of the Atlantic. Even this competition would in a short time break up the direct intercourse with transatlantic nations. But there is another project in contemplation, to be completed, perhaps, before the present generation has passed away, that will utterly extinguish the last hope of continued intercourse between Europe and the Pacific. We allude to the connection, by rail-road within our own territory, of the Mississippi valley and the coast of California, which, uniting with a line of steam-ships at San Francisco, or wherever the terminus may be, would enable the trip to Asia, and back again, to be made within a period of ninety days; whereas it requires now almost twelve months. The certainty of these events is as clearly perceived by the ordinary intelligence, as was the ancient writing on the wall. The laws of trade would ere long induce—the irresistible claims of commerce and the interests of the majority of mankind will demand—their accomplishment, and nothing but the conquest of Asia by Europe, a consummation neither contemplated nor practicable, can avert what appears to be the decrees of inevitable destiny. The entire eastern world will thus be opened, sooner or later, mainly to our commerce. The prospect of such an era for this country is magnificent. The realization of this prospect, when the icy barriers of jealousy and apprehension, and the absurd laws of political and social exclusiveness, are removed, may surpass some of the wildest dreams of the imagination. The first effect will be to augment greatly the transit trade of the United States, which, in two or three years, has already increased from $8,000,000 to more than $21,000,000. California will early be rendered prominent as one of its principal points d'appui. Time and industry will ultimately replace this species of trade with our own products, and give us the sole control of all the eastern markets, and of Western America. But the energy directed by the enterprise of the great conquering race of modern times, in drawing the “Golden Indus” 15,000 miles nearer to us, or within a travel of forty days, and inducing an exchange of their rich fruits of the earth, of the sea, and of the ingenuity of their people, for all the products of our arts, stimulated continually to the utmost extent, would create higher and more enduring benefits than those which accrue alone from commerce. The key of commerce opening the walls which stubborn prejudice has always kept closed, would insure an interchange of ideas, and enlighten those remote and comparatively ignorant people with regard to our political institutions and laws, our social customs, our morals, and our religion. Who can estimate the probably stupendous results? The spirit of liberty is infectious. Proceeding from our borders, it has recently thrown all Europe into a revolutionary ferment. In the course of ages, it may be infused into all Asia; and, following its natural and resistless tendencies, it may elevate the masses there, from the degradation of mere animals, to the condition of men. It must dissipate the delusions of their barbarian ignorance. It must burst the fetters of their heathen superstition. It must subvert their institutions of hoary despotism, and convert hundreds of millions of souls into intellectual beings, enriched and improved by the western arts and sciences—polished and refined by the western literature—-and dignified in the scale of humanity by the precepts of the true religion. All these events, striking to the view of the mere philanthropist, and sublime in operating a grand amelioration of the condition of the majority of the race, are unquestionably in the womb of the future; for we cannot doubt the Divine Will, that the human family shall emerge from darkness and sloth into the broad beams of light. And how glorious is it to contemplate our free Republic as the means of shedding upon the benighted world the first gleams of benignant sunshine !. But our space does not permit us to pursue the speculations to which this fruitful theme would give rise. Our topic is confined to California. The reciprocal benefits to accrue from commercial intercourse between the United States and the East, will enure ultimately to the grandeur of California, and under their influence she may attain a degree of civilization that the older States shall never equal. H.
ART. WI.—The Philosophy of the Beautiful; from the French of Victor Cous IN. Translated, with Notes and an Introduction, by JEsse CATo DANIEL, Cheshunt College. London: William Pickering. 1848.
ON no subject, perhaps, has there been more speculation or more theorizing, than on that of beauty. From the days of Aristotle and Plato and Cicero, to our own, the problem, In what does the beautiful consist? has been pondered upon by philosophic thinkers, and pondered upon in vain. Plato devotes an entire dialogue (The Greater Hip pias) to the inquiry, but arrives at no very definite or intel ligible conclusion, except that beauty is something real, and not merely that which is agreeable to the senses—an important distinction, by the way, and one which we shall have occasion to dwell upon hereafter. Both Aristotle and himself seem to regard the good, the true and the beautiful as one and the same, but do not clearly show to what class of things each separately belongs. In modern times there have been numerous theories of beauty. According to some, since beautiful objects are primarily revealed to us through the senses—chiefly the eye—beauty must consist in certain sensible qualities; in the assemblage of certain physical properties. Hence, Hogarth's Line of Beauty, Kame's theory of mingled simplicity and utility, Burke's catalogue of the “Qualities of Beauty.” All of these do nothing more than attempt to show that certain objects, which common consent admits to be beautiful, possess certain physical characteristics, and hence assume that the assemblage of these properties, in a concrete form, constitutes beauty, Nor are these theories, deduced, like the truths of mere physical science, from an induction of particulars, adequate to explain, on their own principles, the beauty of many familiar objects. One instance will suf. fice : Take a fine spreading oak—one which all will agree in pronouncing beautiful—can its beauty be resolved into the serpentine line of Hogarth 2 The stem is straight— the branches radiate from it at angles, for the most part acute, and, if curved themselves, are almost wholly concealed by dense masses of foliage ; in outline irregular, ever-varying and indistinct. Is it “simple” or “useful ?” So far from being, as Kame would have it, both, it is neither. In his sense, it is complex, made up of various parts, differing in size, shape and color. Though it may be useful as wood, (#3xov,) yet the tree, as tree, serves no useful purpose, unless as a shelter from sun and rain, in which capacity an umbrella would be its rival and a shop-awning
its superior. Lastly, does it possess the qualities, the possession of which, according to Burke, constitutes beauty 2 We will enumerate them in his own words, as given in his “Essay on the Sublime and Beautiful.” “The qualities of beauty, as they are merely sensible qualities, are the following: First, to be comparatively small; secondly, to be smooth; thirdly, to have a variety in the direction of the parts; but, fourthly, to have those parts not angular, but melted, as it were, into each other; fifthly, to be of delicate frame, without any remarkable appearance of strength; sixthly, to have its colors clear and bright, but not very strong and glaring; seventhly, or if it should have any glaring color, to have it diversified with others.” How many, and which of these “qualities” does the oak pos
sess? Is it not surprising, that a mind so comprehensive and penetrating as that of Burke, should, in discoursing on a theme so well calculated to inspire it, arrive at conclusions, and lay down principles, so meagre, flat and unprofitable 2 r Some, in a spirit of the same material philosophy, have endeavored to show in what beauty of color consists, or why certain colors charm the eye more than others. Beeause they reflect or absorb such and such rays of the spectrum ! About as satisfactory as Mr. Burke's telling us an object is beautiful because it is “comparatively small,” “smooth,” &c. &c. So it is explained that one sound is melodious, another harsh, because there are a greater or less number of vibrations communicated to the tympanum of the ear in a given time ! But, even if we supposed these “Analyses of Beauty” to be correct—we mean in the narrow sense in which their authors intended them, as expressing simply the fact, that all things which, by common consent, are beautiful, do uniformly exhibit the qualities for which they contend— how much nearer are we brought to the true springs, causes, or nature of beauty 2 These, even by their own showing, exist not in the objects which are said to possess it, but in us—in our own souls—in the ultimate nature of man. Even if correct, they only show that certain things, in their very nature, are pleasing to us, because it is in our very nature to be pleased by them. Even if correct, they have traced back the mystery but a single step. Suppose, with Burke, that beauty consists in the possession of the seven qualities he has enumerated—in being “comparatively small,” “smooth,” &c.—still, behind the material barrier of this sevenfold shield lies the very heart and kernel of the matter. Why should comparative smallness, smoothness, &c. give us pleasure ? We cannot tell. We are so constituted. It is a law of our nature. For some wise purpose, doubtless, God has made us so. Again, if these theories we are considering be correct, they should, as being sensational, hold true universally, since all men are endowed with the same senses, acted upon in the same way by the external world. But this we know is not the case. The glaring colors which delight the savage, offend our eyes. The shrill, harsh tones of
his rude musical instruments, which to him “discourse *