Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

INTRODUCTORY NOTICE.

My duty in editing this volume is a very simple one:—to state, with frankness and precision, the circumstances of its publication, and, if need be, to disarm criticism by the absence of any thing like pretension on the part of nim whose posthumous work is now given to the reading world of his own countrymen. Immediately on my brother's death in the autumn of last year, or as soon (and with me it was very soon) as all hope of possible rescue had faded away, my attention was turned to his manuscript lectures, delivered in different courses at the University of Pennsylvania. I knew that, as popular lectures, or rather essays at lectures, they had been very successful, and I hoped and believed they would bear the severer test of being printed. This, I was well aware, is not always the case; and I examined these manuscripts with the idea of possible inaptitude clearly in my mind. The result, however, was a conviction that the Lectures, or a portion of them, ought to be published. They contain, aside from their value as works of criticism, developments of the pure taste and gentle feeling of the author, which will interest, at least his friends, and be appreciated by all who value them exactly for what they were designed—not profound disquisitions, but popular lectures. In saying this, I must be understood as speaking with precision, and not in words either of real or affected disparagement. I wish to describe them as He would do, were he alive to speak of his own modest work. There will be found on these pages, if I mistake not, hints and suggestions of philosophic criticism floating on the surface (or hidden not far beneath) of a most graceful and attractive current of thought and language.

It will be farther borne in mind that these Lectures are printed exactly as written, with scarcely a verbal alteration, and no change or modification of opinion. He wrote from a full mind, often with great rapidity, and without the opportunity or the necessity of revision. Knowing this to be his habit of composition, and that he never prepared himself specially for any one lecture, I have been much struck with the proof they afford of his long and habitual studiousness and rich and accomplished scholarship. His citations of authorities, or rather quotations, are purely incidental; and one of my duties has been to trace his studies to their sources, and, as far as possible, verify, by exact reference, the citations he has made. In this—for my own occupations have forced my ordinary reading into other channels—I have been aided by the only survivor (one still nearer to him than myself) to whom, before delivery and as he wrote them, he read these Lectures; and also by his and my friends,—to whom I am glad thus to make my acknowledgments,—Mr. George W. Hunter, Mr. Ellis Yarnall, and Mr. William Arthur Jackson.

In selecting this course of Lectures, I was guided by two

considerations,—one that it was a more complete and continuous course than others; another, that it was among the last delivered by him. The dates will be found noted in each lecture.

I have ventured not only to put, in the form of notes, some unconnected remarks by the author himself and marked with his initials, but to add a few of my own. These are very few, and are meant to be illustrative. Perhaps, in the analysis of my feelings, there may be another pardonable motive, in an affectionate desire, not diminishing, but growing with every hour of desolate separation, of connecting some work of mine with his. Now that it is done, I feel as if a mournful pleasure were over, and I was parting anew from him.

Should this volume be received with interest and favour, it is my wish to complete the series by two other courses on kindred subjects:

1. Lectures on Modern History down to the Period of the Reformation; and

2. Lectures on the History of England, as illustrated by Shakspeare's Historical Dramas.

If, then, (for I am dealing very candidly with the public,) sufficient interest be felt in the intellectual and moral developments of these volumes to justify such a tribute to his memory, I may venture—at least, this now is my purpose—to prepare a Memoir of my brother's gentle and tranquil life, and very interesting correspondence on both sides of the Atlantic. The life of a secluded American scholar

may not be without interest to those near and at a distance. With this hope clearly before me, and dreading, from observation in other cases, the effect of a preliminary memoir which affection so naturally exaggerates, I shall now simply note a few dates and incidents, by way of explanatory introduction, of his quiet life.

Henry Reed was born in Philadelphia on the 11th of July, 1808. He was christened by the name of Henry Hope, though the middle name was afterwards dropped. His early education was at the classical school, of high repute in its day, of Mr. James Ross. Here began a friendship, which lasted through life and survived in earnest sorrow for his premature death, with Mr. Horace Binney, (the younger,) whose name I venture to refer to in simple justice to the living and the dead, to us who grieve and to him for whom we mourn. This friendship was faithful and affectionate to the end.

Mr. Reed entered the Sophomore class at the University of Pennsylvania in September, 1822, and was graduated as Bachelor of Arts in 1825. He began the study of the law under the general guidance of Mr. Sergeant, then at the heighth of his professional fame, and was admitted to practice in the District Court of the City and County of Philadelphia in 1829. In September, 1831, he relinquished the practice of his profession, and was elected Assistant Professor of English Literature in the University. In November of the same year, he was chosen Assistant Professor of Moral Philosophy. In the service of the College he continued for twentythree years, faithful, I am sure I may say, to his duties, however irksome; and never in all that period, until his visit to Europe, absent for any length of time from his post, except when compelled by sickness. In 1835, he was elected Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature.

Mr. Reed was married, in 1834, to Elizabeth White Bronson, who, with three children, now survives him.

It had long been his wish to visit Europe, but his professional duties and other claims had always prevented it. In the spring of 1854, the Professorship of Moral Philosophy, which he had once filled as Assistant Professor, being vacant, Mr. Reed became a candidate for the chair, but was not elected. Although no personal disparagement was intended, so earnest and so reasonable was his ambition for what he considered a high academical distinction, that his disappointment was most keen and depressing. His secluded mode of life, exempt from the world's rough competitions; his modest wishes; his consciousness of services rendered and duties performed; his natural pride in the affection of his students; and, above all, his conviction that moral science, in its highest and holiest sense, as elevated by religious truth, was a department of education which he was peculiarly competent to take charge of, combined to render the disappointment very poignant. His friends and family never saw him more depressed. I certainly never saw him so deeply wounded. He asked for leave of absence, which was granted by the Trustees; and early in May, 1854, accompanied by his sister-in-law, Miss Bronson, he sailed for Europe.

No American, visiting the Old World as a private citizen*;

« ElőzőTovább »