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cannon ball, shot from the earth, would not arrive at the nearest of the fixed stars during many generations : and he will give to all this the same degree of credit as he does to the Lilliputians of Gulliver, or to the flying people of Peter Wilkins. But if we can gradually lead up the mind to think accurately (not adequately) of these immense distances, so that their novelty and vastness shall appear to him neither monstrous nor incredible, we shall do something towards enlarging his mental capacity.
As to moral truths also. If we can convey to the mind some idea of certain facts relative to the character of the Great Creator and Governor of all things, such as his power, omnipresence, and omniscience, and leave them in their own simple and unsophisticated beauty and grandeur to tell upon the human mind, separating from them all that a thorny and disputatious theology has done to render them less great and less impressive, we shall disclose scenes in which the soul may expatiate at large and without limit. For what more simple, grand, and beautiful than the expression of the divine power in the words of Moses, “God said, let there be light, and there was light;" or that which proceeded from the hallowed lips of Isaiah, “ He hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with a span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance. The nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance; behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing." And what more mysterious, or what more magnificient ideas can be conveyed to the mind, than those which may be imparted to the diligent reader of the words of the Psalmist, “ Whither shall I go from thy spirit, or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there; if I make my bed in the abyss, thou art there; if I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.” Well might the royal poet exclaim, “ Such knowledge,” an adequate knowledge of such an attribute, " is too wonderful for me, it is high, I cannot attain unto it.” In like manner, what can be better adapted to enlarge the mind than contemplations on the omniscience of God, or his infinite knowledge, extending as it does to objects the most vast, and embracing the most minute. From the globes that roll in space, the suns that light up this and other and remote systems, down to the meanest insect that floats in the atmosphere of our globe, and the minutest animalcule that moves in its waters. But it extends far beyond this; the material is obvious, it strikes our senses, and is known superficially by those who dwell in houses of clay. But what mortal hand has ever lifted the veil that conceals the heart, the mind of another ? Locked up in impenetrable mystery, it is secure from the glance of every eye, but the eye of omniscience; to the all-pervading and all-penetrating view of this eye, all human hearts are naked and open. While, on the one hand, the moral bearing of such truths is most important, on the other, their tendency, as the objects of intellectual contemplation and exercise, is to
enlarge the mind, and to emancipate it from the thraldom of low, confined, and debasing thoughts.
To a narrow and ignorant mind, any subject which involves a complication of thought is perplexing. To accustom ourselves, therefore, to some sciences which embrace a great number and complication of ideas, will tend to enlarge the mind. Some of the most useful, such as arithmetic and the mathematics, if carried out to their higher branches, are of this description, and require, to conduct their processes accurately, a continuity of thought, and a great complication of ideas. Many controversial topics are of this character, demanding, as different cases in a court of law or equity, a knowledge of principles and their details, facts and the arguments which sustain them, and the illustrations which render them intelligible; a balancing of probabilities against probabilities, facts against facts, arguments against arguments, and not deciding till the mind is fully satisfied with the weight of evidence on the side in favour of which the judgment concludes.
A comprehensive view of history will tend to enlarge the mind. This is a wide field, and few have leisure and opportunity to cross its breadth and traverse its length. Its leading facts may, however, be easily known, and their dates and localities readily fixed. But these, however, are only the boundary lines and starting points, which lead to, or embrace, a vast number and complication of events and circumstances, which, if we select only a few, will require close attention, much exercise of the memory, and frequent review. It is here that we are introduced to illustrious characters, moving in the midst of great events, unexpected revolutions, and violent and longcontinued opposition. It is here that mind is seen in some of its most arduous struggles; lofty principle, and high moral and religious character, in some of their most glorious triumphs; a Brutus, a Cato, a Hampden, a Russell, a Chatham, live and breathe and act before us. It is not the rise of a vast empire, its armies, its navies, its colonies, its extent of conquest, with all the tributary states that cast their diadems at her feet; nor is it the fall of such an empire, even though it be imperial Rome herself, whether that fall be induced by luxury within, or by the inroads of barbarous tribes from without, which so fills the imagination and expands the mind, and which so touches the tenderest sympathies of the soul, as heroic sacrifice for the good of kindred, of country, or the great family of man. The Athenian youth sits down content in bonds,
“ that his great father's body might not want • A peaceful, humble tomb.'
Tyrants have been moved, have had their hearts enlarged, and shed unwilling tears, when they have beheld the force of virtuous friendship. And a poet has asked,
« is there
Aloft extending like eternal Jove,
And Rome again is free?" Of the power of this sublime description of a great and heroic act to enlarge the mind there can be but one opinion, whilst we may differ as to the morality of the act. There have been indeed instances of sacrifice quite as heroic, the moral excellence of which cannot be called in question. Peter and Paul, and to descend to times nearer our own, Hooper, and Ridley, and Latimer, and Cranmer displayed heroism as perfect as Brutus, while against them the charge could not be sustained, that they sacrificed a friend, to promote the public good. Let it therefore be the object of the young man, who desires to expand his mind, to store it with a great number and variety of ideas together, with the relative ideas associated with them. Let him avail himself of every opportunity of adding to his stock of knowledge ; and let him fix it in his memory by frequent review and meditation. Let him also range his new acquisitions in a regular order, connecting them with the subjects with which he is already acquainted, and with the heads under which they naturally fall. It will be desirable also, if the subject is new, to begin our acquaintance with it by a recurrence to its most simple and elementary principles, and rising from this to advance to its more difficult, complicated, and elevated portions. It would be absurd to put a youth, ignorant of the first principles of Latin Grammar, at once into Juvenal: or a tyro in Greek into Longinus or Demosthenes. It would be equally absurd to set a youth, who had not passed through the first books of Euclid, to study the fourth : or to set a youth, not acquainted with the four great rules of arithmetic to the study of vulgar decimals and fractions. Improvement in language, and in the certain sciences, would not be facilitated by such a procedure, but rather retarded, and the mind, by such a process, instead of being enlarged, would only be confused. But let the youth who aspires to learn a language be content to begin at the beginning, to overcome the difficulties of grammar, before he encounter those of translation; and the youth who would acquire the higher branches of arithmetic, and the mathematical sciences, begin with the four rules and master them ; and learn the axioms and definitions, before he enter upon problems, which require a number and complication of thoughts. This will tend gradually to enlarge, while the former will only serve to obscure the mind, and fill it with confused, and therefore worthless notions. It is indeed the simple, easy, and elementary principles of all arts and sciences, which are the foundation, and unless that be securely laid, we cannot expect either a strong or a graceful superstructure. The most enlarged minds that have ever given dignity to our race, began here: and though a Plato, a Cicero, a Bacon, and a Milton, a Boyle, a Locke, and a Newton, had doubtless great natural abilities,
they would never have risen to so high an eminence among the gifted and illustrious of our race, had they not pursued, with all the clearness and accuracy of certain knowledge, their way upward from the small to the great, from the simple to the complex, from the well known to the unknown.
(To be concluded in our next.)
LETTERS FROM ROME.—No. III. Temple of Neptune-Catacombs' Relics-Basilica-A Preaching
Rome, February, 1834. My Dear Friend,—The almond-trees, which are in full blossom, and the anemonies and violets, which cover the Campagna, tell us that spring has arrived, and induce me to mount my horse, almost every day, to visit some of the objects of interest without the walls of the city. To-day I passed through the Porta San Lorenzo, and rode along the Via Tiburtina, till I came to the Basilica of San Lorenzo. This is a very ancient edifice, said to have been built by Constantine, on the site, and partly with the ruins, of an old temple of Neptune. Some beautiful specimens of ancient art, are to be seen in some of the pillars which form the portico, and in other parts of the building. The principal object, however, which I had in view, was to visit the catacombs adjoining the church, and to these, therefore, we descended. Each person being provided with a candle, we entered from an adjoining field, by a short descent, into a long narrow passage. From this, other passages branched off in various directions, several of them sometimes communicating in a small square apartment. These apartments appear at one time to have been used as chapels. The walls are generally ornamented with rude fresco paintings; and there is usually a crucifix, and something like an altar, for the use of the Catholic visitors. In these catacombs, the Christians of the first and second centuries concealed themselves from their cruel persecutors; but it is difficult to understand how they could have been used as residences, except for a very short time. For with the exception of the small apartments, from six to seven feet square, to which I have alluded, the whole catacombs consist of long passages about threc feet broad. These passages, however, are of considerable extent, running for many miles in various directions. The walls, which consist of soft tufo and pozzolana, are cut into shelves or compartments, most of which would scarcely hold the body of an adult stretched at full length. Each compartment was shut up by a stone, or stones, placed against the opening and fastened by cement, so that each compartment was in fact a sort of coffin, three sides of which were formed by the tufo mass in which they were cut. On the stones which close up these compartments, are engraved the names or initials, and the ages of the occupants; the inscription being generally in Latin, sometimes in Greek. On the more modern ones there is frequently some hieroglyphic sign, the most common of which are a fish and a dove. Frequently the word yovs is found instead of the hieroglyphic, and at the bottom is inscribed “ in pace.” Most of the compartments have been broken into, for the sake of robbing them of any valuables they might contain. Lachrymatories, rings, and a few other trifling ornaments, are, however, all that is usually found. The ancient terra cotta lamps are met with in abundance, stuck against the walls by means of cement. Most of the inscriptions have been removed, and many hundreds of them now, either line the walls, or fill the cellars of the Vatican, so that nothing is any longer to be seen in the catacombs, but a few ashes of the skeletons in some of the compartments. Occasionally you meet with a portion of a skeleton, the bones of which retain their original form and relative position, but on attempting to lay hold of them they crumble to powder in your fingers; so completely has time reduced these bodies to dust, nay even to less than dust! But those ashes which still remain, are held in sacred reverence. Our guide detected me attempting to take up a portion of bone which still retained its form, and I was severely reprimanded for my sacrilegious attempt. On enquiring why my offence was considered to be so heinous, he replied, “because, for any thing we know, these ashes may be those of saints or martyrs, and therefore are to be considered as sacred relics." These excavations are generally supposed to have been made originally, for the sake of obtaining pozzolana for cement, used in building, and to have been converted subsequently into cemeteries. Both Pagans and Christians appear to have made use of them for the latter purpose; but the remains of none but the lower orders, and those of slaves, seem to have been deposited here, for none of the bodies appear to have been burnt. The ashes of incincrated bodies, found on opening the sepulchral urns of the Romans, the inscriptions on which, denote greater antiquity than any thing found in the catacombs, present a totally different appearance. They are dry and hard, presenting all the appearance of bones that have been recently burnt; for if the animal components of bone be destroyed by combustion, the earthy parts will remain for ages, without much alteration, if only moderately secluded from the air. There is another entrance to the catacombs from the Basilica of Sebastian.
I may here mention, in answer to your queries, what I have been able to gather respecting the Basilicæ. They are seven in number, and their names are-St. Peter, St. John Lateran, Santa Maria Maggiore, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, St. Paul, St. Lorenzo, and St. Sebastian. The last three are without the walls of the city. The term Basilica seems originally to have been applied to places of Christian worship, from the circumstance, of the plans of the Roman Basilicæ having been found to present the most convenient form, for edifices intended for public worship. The interior of a Roman Basilica was usually in the form of a parallelogram, with a recess at one extremity, where the tribune was. Hence the term tribune, applied to that part of the edifice in all churches, which is situated behind the high altar. St. John Lateran is said to be built on the site of the Basilica of Constantine. But it is remarkable, that VOL. I. N.S.