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Editor's Table, February 1852

From: Editor's Table
Creator:  A (author)
Date: February 1852
Publication: The Opal
Source: New York State Library

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Our second remark relates to the manner in which Miss G. has been noticed by the public press. This has been, on the whole, quite satisfactory. To this remark, however, there are some mortifying exceptions. We sometimes think that we should be willing to exchange all our peculiar, natural privileges for the European exemption from prejudice with regard to color. In a notice of the "Swan's" singing, in one of our city papers, a notice, on the whole, discriminating and just, we were much offended by the jeering, irreverent tone, of the whole article. The remark, for example, that "her voice, was perfectly white," was, doubtless, an effort after wit; but did the writer ever reflect what effort was requisite to secure the result which is the subject of his mirth: and, still more, did he ever reflect on what tremendous moral efforts were necessary to produce that repose of manner, that perfect dignity, with which Miss Greenfield encounters the trials, -- the insults, sometimes, -- to which she is subjected.


But let us leave these things, which, we confess, have a little irritated us, as well as all right-minded people, and proceed to what is more agreeable, -- the examination of the favors of those who exchange their wares for ours.


Harper's Monthly Magazine, January, 1852. -- The first article of this splendid monthly contains an interesting view of the life of Franklin, by Jacob Abbott, and is illustrated with great beauty. No words can express the obligations which the people, and especially the young people of this country, owe to the author of this article, and to his distinguished brothers. We have read with peculiar satisfaction, the series of biographies recently furnished by the oldest of them. He has been very judicious in the selection of his subjects, and, though he must have been often severely tried by the prejudices of his education, he has, on the whole, written these histories with great impartiality. In his Life of Charles the First, for example -- a character so unpalatable in many respects to the Puritan mind -- he has given to his subject all the credit to which even the most extravagant admirer of the House of Stewart, would consider him entitled.


We do not know but that we ought to modify our praise on the present occasion -- at least, so far as to disapprove of the subject -- which he has selected. Franklin was a very great man. His strong sense, his scientific success, and his services to his country, especially in dealing with the petite maitres of France, and the obstinate prejudiced adherants to what was old, and merely old, in England-services which no other man could have rendered-will always ensure to him a place in the first rank of public men. But, that he was of the earth, earthy. He is the very last of our great men, whom we should wish to be the study of the rising generation. He drank water, while his fellow apprentices drank beer; not because drinking was wrong, but because drinking beer would save him the penny ha'penny a day. But in matters of mere thrift even, of which he is the boasted example, we could furnish a better specimen any where along the roadside in New England -- a specimen of men, who, forming their estimate of wealth on just grounds, but on the principle of the great and wise poet of Scotland --


"To catch Dame Fortune's golden smile -- Assiduous wait upon her;
And gather gear by every wile
That's justified by honor --
Not for to hide it in a hedge,
Not for a train attendant,
But for the glorious privilege
Of being independent


We do not wish to deprecate the value of prudence and frugality, though we would not place them at the top of the catalogue of virtues. But were we compelled to choose, we would prefer to sacrifice all the advantages of this safe but narrow spirit, (we speak of the extreme to which Franklin would drive us,) and urge our youth to the other extreme, perilous as it is, described in the firm old ballad-


"Blow the trumpets, strike the drum,
To all the sensual world proclaim --
One crowded hour of glorious life
Is worth an age without a name."


With regard to the other contents of the Magazine, we must speak with unqualified praise. They are fitted either "to raise the genius or to mend the heart." The superb mechanical execution of the work is worthy of the character of the truly great publishers.


Before leaving this number of "Harper," we cannot forbear expressing a wish, which we have long and earnestly entertained, and which the Proprietors of this Magazine might perhaps find it in their power to indulge. It is this -- to see together in some safe depository a full set of all the duodecimo works published by the Harpers. It has occurred to us, that in the "Opal Library," the Library of this Asylum, which contains about 500 inmates, such a safe depository might be found. This suggestion is thrown out for a practical and very feasible purpose. Should it meet the eye of the American Constables, it will doubtless be understood.

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