Uncollected Prose


Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Table of Contents

  1. The Lord’s Supper
  2. Essays from “The Dial”
  3. Thoughts on Modern Literature
  4. Two Years before the Mast.
  5. Social Destiny of Man: or Association and Reorganization of Industry. By Albert Brisbane. Philadelphia. 12mo. pp. 480.
  6. Michael Angelo, considered as a Philosophic Poet, with Translations. By John Edward Taylor. London: Saunders & Otley, Conduit Street. 1840.
  7. Essays and Poems, by Jones Very. Boston: C. C. Little and James Brown.
  8. Walter Savage Landor
  9. The Senses and the Soul
  10. Transcendentalism
  11. Prayers
  12. Fourierism and the Socialists
  13. Chardon Street and Bible Conventions
  14. Agriculture of Massachusetts
  15. The Zincali: or an Account of the Gypsies of Spain; with an Original Collection of their Songs and Poetry, by George Borrow. Two Volumes in one. New York: Wiley & Putnam.
  16. Ancient Spanish Ballads, Historical and Romantic. Translated, with Notes, by J. G. Lockhart. New York: Wiley & Putnam.
  17. Tecumseh; a Poem. By George H. Colton. New York: Wiley & Putnam.
  18. Intelligence
  19. Harvard University
  20. English Reformers
  21. Poems. By Alfred Tennyson. Two Volumes. Boston: W. D. Ticknor.
  22. A Letter to Rev. Wm. E. Channing, D. D. by O. A. Brownson Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown. 1842.
  23. Europe and European Books
  24. The Bible in Spain, or the Journeys, Adventures, and Imprisonments of an Englishman in an attempt to circulate the Scriptures in the Peninsula. By George Borrow. Author of “The Gipsies in Spain.
  25. Past and Present, by Thomas Carlyle.
  26. Antislavery Poems, by John Pierpont. Boston: Oliver Johnson. 1843.
  27. Sonnets and other Poems, by William Lloyd Garrison. Boston. 1843. pp. 96.
  28. America — an Ode; and other Poems, by N. W. Coffin. Boston: S. G. Simpkins.
  29. Poems by William Ellery Channing. Boston. 1843.
  30. A Letter
  31. The Huguenots in France and America
  32. The Spanish Student. A Play in Three Acts, By H. W. Longfellow.
  33. The Dream of a Day, and other Poems, by James G. Percival. New Haven. 1843.
  34. The Tragic

The Lord’s Supper

The Kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. — ROMANS XIV. 17.

In the history of the Church no subject has been more fruitful of controversy than the Lord’s Supper. There never has been any unanimity in the understanding of its nature, nor any uniformity in the mode of celebrating it. Without considering the frivolous questions which have been lately debated as to the posture in which men should partake of it; whether mixed or unmixed wine should be served; whether leavened or unleavened bread should be broken; the questions have been settled differently in every church, who should be admitted to the feast, and how often it should be prepared. In the Catholic Church, infants were at one time permitted and then forbidden to partake; and, since the ninth century, the laity receive the bread only, the cup being reserved to the priesthood. So, as to the time of the solemnity. In the fourth Lateran Council, it was decreed that any believer should communicate at least once in a year — at Easter. Afterwards it was determined that this Sacrament should be received three times in the year — at Easter, Whitsuntide, and Christmas. But more important controversies have arisen respecting its nature. The famous question of the Real Presence was the main controversy between the Church of England and the Church of Rome. The doctrine of the Consubstantiation taught by Luther was denied by Calvin. In the Church of England, Archbishops Laud and Wake maintained that the elements were an Eucharist or sacrifice of Thanksgiving to God; Cudworth and Warburton, that this was not a sacrifice, but a sacrificial feast; and Bishop Hoadley, that it was neither a sacrifice nor a feast after sacrifice, but a simple commemoration. And finally, it is now near two hundred years since the Society of Quakers denied the authority of the rite altogether, and gave good reasons for disusing it.

I allude to these facts only to show that, so far from the supper being a tradition in which men are fully agreed, there always been the widest room for difference of opinion upon this particular.

Having recently given particular attention to this subject, I was led to the conclusion that Jesus did not intend to establish an institution for perpetual observance when he ate the Passover with his disciples; and, further, to the opinion, that it is not expedient to celebrate it as we do. I shall now endeavor to state distinctly my reasons for these two opinions.

I. The authority of the rite.

An account of the last supper of Christ with his disciples is given by the four Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

In St. Matthew’s Gospel (Matt. XXVI. 26-30) are recorded the words of Jesus in giving bread and wine on that occasion to his disciples, but no expression occurs intimating that this feast was hereafter to be commemorated.

In St. Mark (Mark XIV. 23) the same words are recorded, and still with no intimation that the occasion was to be remembered.

St. Luke (Luke XXII. 15), after relating the breaking of the bread, has these words: This do in remembrance of me.

In St. John, although other occurrences of the same evening are related, this whole transaction is passed over without notice.

Now observe the facts. Two of the Evangelists, namely, Matthew and John, were of the twelve disciples, and were present on that occasion. Neither of them drops the slightest intimation of any intention on the part of Jesus to set up anything permanent. John, especially, the beloved disciple, who has recorded with minuteness the conversation and the transactions of that memorable evening, has quite omitted such a notice. Neither does it appear to have come to the knowledge of Mark who, though not an eye-witness, relates the other facts. This material fact, that the occasion was to be remembered, is found in Luke alone, who was not present. There is no reason, however, that we know, for rejecting the account of Luke. I doubt not, the expression was used by Jesus. I shall presently consider its meaning. I have only brought these accounts together, that you may judge whether it is likely that a solemn institution, to be continued to the end of time by all mankind, as they should come, nation after nation, within the influence of the Christian religion, would have been established in this slight manner — in a manner so slight, that the intention of commemorating it should not appear, from their narrative, to have caught the ear or dwelt in the mind of the only two among the twelve who wrote down what happened.

Still we must suppose that the expression, “This do in remembrance of me,” had come to the ear of Luke from some disciple who was present. What did it really signify? It is a prophetic and an affectionate expression. Jesus is a Jew, sitting with his countrymen, celebrating their national feast. He thinks of his own impending death, and wishes the minds of his disciples to be prepared for it. “When hereafter,” he says to them, “you shall keep the Passover, it will have an altered aspect to your eyes. It is now a historical covenant of God with the Jewish nation. Hereafter, it will remind you of a new covenant sealed with my blood. In years to come, as long as your people shall come up to Jerusalem to keep this feast, the connection which has subsisted between us will give a new meaning in your eyes to the national festival, as the anniversary of my death.” I see natural feeling and beauty in the use of such language from Jesus, a friend to his friends; I can readily imagine that he was willing and desirous, when his disciples met, his memory should hallow their intercourse; but I cannot bring myself to believe that in the use of such an expression he looked beyond the living generation, beyond the abolition of the festival he was celebrating, and the scattering of the nation, and meant to impose a memorial feast upon the whole world.

Without presuming to fix precisely the purpose in the mind of Jesus, you will see that many opinions may be entertained of his intention, all consistent with the opinion that he did not design a perpetual ordinance. He may have foreseen that his disciples would meet to remember him, and that with good effect. It may have crossed his mind that this would be easily continued a hundred or a thousand years — as men more easily transmit a form than a virtue — and yet have been altogether out of his purpose to fasten it upon men in all times and all countries.

But though the words, Do this in remembrance of me, do occur in Matthew, Mark, or John, and although it should be granted us that, taken alone, they do not necessarily import so much as is usually thought, yet many persons are apt to imagine that the very striking and personal manner in which this eating and drinking is described, indicates a striking and formal purpose to found a festival. And I admit that this impression might probably be left upon the mind of one who read only the passages under consideration in the New Testament. But this impression is removed by reading any narrative of the mode in which the ancient or the modern Jews have kept the Passover. It is then perceived that the leading circumstances in the Gospels are only a faithful account of that ceremony. Jesus did not celebrate the Passover, and afterwards the Supper, but the Supper was the Passover. He did with his disciples exactly what every master of a family in Jerusalem was doing at the same hour with his household. It appears that the Jews ate the lamb and the unleavened bread, and drank wine after a prescribed manner. It was the custom for the master of the feast to break the bread and to bless it, using this formula, which the Talmudists have preserved to us, “Blessed be Thou, O Lord our God, the King of the world, who hast produced this food from the earth,” — and to give it to every one at the table. It was the custom of the master of the family to take the cup which contained the wine, and to bless it, saying, “Blessed be Thou, O Lord, who givest us the fruit of the vine,” — and then to give the cup to all. Among the modern Jews who in their dispersion retain the Passover, a hymn is also sung after this ceremony, specifying the twelve great works done by God for the deliverance of their fathers out of Egypt.

But still it may be asked, why did Jesus make expressions so extraordinary and emphatic as these — “This is my body which is broken for you. Take; eat. This is my blood which is shed for you. Drink it.” — I reply they are not extraordinary expressions from him. They were familiar in his mouth. He always taught by parables and symbols. It was the national way of teaching and was largely used by him. Remember the readiness which he always showed to spiritualize every occurrence. He stooped and wrote on the sand. He admonished his disciples respecting the leaven of the Pharisees. He instructed the woman of Samaria respecting living water. He permitted himself to be anointed, declaring that it was for his interment. He washed the feet of his disciples. These are admitted to be symbolical actions and expressions. Here, in like manner, he calls the bread his body, and bids the disciples eat. He had used the same expression repeatedly before. The reason why St. John does not repeat his words on this occasion, seems to be that he had reported a similar discourse of Jesus to the people of Capernaum more at length already (John VI. 27). He there tells the Jews, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.” And when the Jews on that occasion complained that they did not comprehend what he meant, he added for their better understanding, and as if for our understanding, that we might not think his body was to be actually eaten, that he only meant, we should live by his commandment. He closed his discourse with these explanatory expressions: “The flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak to you, they are spirit and they are life.”

Whilst I am upon this topic, I cannot help remarking that it is not a little singular that we should have preserved this rite and insisted upon perpetuating one symbolical act of Christ whilst we have totally neglected all others — particularly one other which had at least an equal claim to our observance. Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and told them that, as he had washed their feet, they ought to wash one another’s feet; for he had given them an example, that they should do as he had done to them. I ask any person who believes the Supper to have been designed by Jesus to be commemorated forever, to go and read the account of it in the other Gospels, and then compare with it the account of this transaction in St. John, and tell me if this be not much more explicitly authorized than the Supper. It only differs in this, that we have found the Supper used in New England and the washing of the feet not. But if we had found it an established rite in our churches, on grounds of mere authority, it would have been impossible to have argued against it. That rite is used by the Church of Rome, and by the Sandemanians. It has been very properly dropped by other Christians. Why? For two reasons: (1) because it was a local custom, and unsuitable in western countries; and (2) because it was typical, and all understand that humility is the thing signified. But the Passover was local too, and does not concern us, and its bread and wine were typical, and do not help us to understand the redemption which they signified.

These views of the original account of the Lord’s Supper lead me to esteem it an occasion full of solemn and prophetic interest, but never intended by Jesus to be the foundation of a perpetual institution.

It appears however in Christian history that the disciples had very early taken advantage of these impressive words of Christ to hold religious meetings, where they broke bread and drank wine as symbols.

I look upon this fact as very natural in the circumstances of the church. The disciples lived together; they threw all their property into a common stock; they were bound together by the memory of Christ, and nothing could be more natural than that this eventful evening should be affectionately remembered by them; that they, Jews like Jesus, should adopt his expressions and his types, and furthermore, that what was done with peculiar propriety by them, his personal friends, with less propriety should come to be extended to their companions also. In this way religious feasts grew up among the early Christians. They were readily adopted by the Jewish converts who were familiar with religious feasts, and also by the Pagan converts whose idolatrous worship had been made up of sacred festivals, and who very readily abused these to gross riot, as appears from the censures of St. Paul. Many persons consider this fact, the observance of such a memorial feast by the early disciples, decisive of the question whether it ought to be observed by us. For my part I see nothing to wonder at in its originating with them; all that is surprising is that it should exist among us. There was good reason for his personal friends to remember their friend and repeat his words. It was only too probable that among the half converted Pagans and Jews, any rite, any form, would find favor, whilst yet unable to comprehend the spiritual character of Christianity.

The circumstance, however, that St. Paul adopts these views, has seemed to many persons conclusive in favor of the institution. I am of opinion that it is wholly upon the epistle to the Corinthians, and not upon the Gospels, that the ordinance stands. Upon this matter of St. Paul’s view of the Supper, a few important considerations must be stated.

The end which he has in view, in the eleventh chapter of the first epistle is, not to enjoin upon his friends to observe the Supper, but to censure their abuse of it. We quote the passage now-a-days as if it enjoined attendance upon the Supper; but he wrote it merely to chide them for drunkenness. To make their enormity plainer he goes back to the origin of this religious feast to show what sort of feast that was, out of which this riot of theirs came, and so relates the transactions of the Last Supper. “I have received of the Lord,” he says, “that which I delivered to you.” By this expression it is often thought that a miraculous communication is implied; but certainly without good reason, if it is remembered that St. Paul was living in the lifetime of all the apostles who could give him an account of the transaction; and it is contrary to all reason to suppose that God should work a miracle to convey information that could so easily be got by natural means. So that the import of the expression is that he had received the story of an eye-witness such as we also possess.

But there is a material circumstance which diminishes our confidence in the correctness of the Apostle’s view; and that is, the observation that his mind had not escaped the prevalent error of the primitive church, the belief, namely, that the second coming of Christ would shortly occur, until which time, he tells them, this feast was to be kept. Elsewhere he tells them, that, at that time the world would be burnt up with fire, and a new government established, in which the Saints would sit on thrones; so slow were the disciples during the life, and after the ascension of Christ, to receive the idea which we receive, that his second coming was a spiritual kingdom, the dominion of his religion in the hearts of men, to be extended gradually over the whole world.

In this manner we may see clearly enough how this ancient ordinance got its footing among the early Christians, and this single expectation of a speedy reappearance of a temporal Messiah, which kept its influence even over so spiritual a man as St. Paul, would naturally tend to preserve the use of the rite when once established.

We arrive then at this conclusion, first, that it does not appear, from a careful examination of the account of the Last Supper in the Evangelists, that it was designed by Jesus to be perpetual; secondly, that it does not appear that the opinion of St. Paul, all things considered, ought to alter our opinion derived from the evangelists.

One general remark before quitting this branch of the subject. We ought to be cautious in taking even the best ascertained opinions and practices of the primitive church, for our own. If it could be satisfactorily shown that they esteemed it authorized and to be transmitted forever, that does not settle the question for us. We know how inveterately they were attached to their Jewish prejudices, and how often even the influence of Christ failed to enlarge their views. On every other subject succeeding times have learned to form a judgment more in accordance with the spirit of Christianity than was the practice of the early ages.

But it is said: “Admit that the rite was not designed to be perpetual. What harm doth it? Here it stands, generally accepted, under some form, by the Christian world, the undoubted occasion of much good; is it not better it should remain?”

II. This is the question of expediency.

I proceed to state a few objections that in my judgment lie against its use in its present form.

1. If the view which I have taken of the history of the institution be correct, then the claim of authority should be dropped in administering it. You say, every time you celebrate the rite, that Jesus enjoined it; and the whole language you use conveys that impression. But if you read the New Testament as I do, you do not believe he did.

2. It has seemed to me that the use of this ordinance tends to produce confusion in our views of the relation of the soul to God. It is the old objection to the doctrine of the Trinity, — that the true worship was transferred from God to Christ, or that such confusion was introduced into the soul, that an undivided worship was given nowhere. Is not that the effect of the Lord’s Supper? I appeal now to the convictions of communicants — and ask such persons whether they have not been occasionally conscious of a painful confusion of thought between the worship due to God and the commemoration due to Christ. For, the service does not stand upon the basis of a voluntary act, but is imposed by authority. It is an expression of gratitude to Christ, enjoined by Christ. There is an endeavor to keep Jesus in mind, whilst yet the prayers are addressed to God. I fear it is the effect of this ordinance to clothe Jesus with an authority which he never claimed and which distracts the mind of the worshipper. I know our opinions differ much respecting the nature and offices of Christ, and the degree of veneration to which he is entitled. I am so much a Unitarian as this: that I believe the human mind cannot admit but one God, and that every effort to pay religious homage to more than one being, goes to take away all right ideas. I appeal, brethren, to your individual experience. In the moment when you make the least petition to God, though it be but a silent wish that he may approve you, or add one moment to your life, — do you not, in the very act, necessarily exclude all other beings from your thought? In that act, the soul stands alone with God, and Jesus is no more present to the mind than your brother or your child.

But is not Jesus called in Scripture the Mediator? He is the mediator in that only sense in which possibly any being can mediate between God and man — that is an Instructor of man. He teaches us how to become like God. And a true disciple of Jesus will receive the light he gives most thankfully; but the thanks he offers, and which an exalted being will accept, are not compliments — commemorations, — but the use of that instruction.

3. Passing other objections, I come to this, that the use of the elements, however suitable to the people and the modes of thought in the East, where it originated, is foreign and unsuited to affect us. Whatever long usage and strong association may have done in some individuals to deaden this repulsion, I apprehend that their use is rather tolerated than loved by any of us. We are not accustomed to express our thoughts or emotions by symbolical actions. Most men find the bread and wine no aid to devotion and to some, it is a painful impediment. To eat bread is one thing; to love the precepts of Christ and resolve to obey them is quite another.

The statement of this objection leads me to say that I think this difficulty, wherever it is felt, to be entitled to the greatest weight. It is alone a sufficient objection to the ordinance. It is my own objection. This mode of commemorating Christ is not suitable to me. That is reason enough why I should abandon it. If I believed that it was enjoined by Jesus on his disciples, and that he even contemplated making permanent this mode of commemoration, every way agreeable to an eastern mind, and yet, on trial, it was disagreeable to my own feelings, I should not adopt it. I should choose other ways which, as more effectual upon me, he would approve more. For I choose that my remembrances of him should be pleasing, affecting, religious. I will love him as a glorified friend, after the free way of friendship, and not pay him a stiff sign of respect, as men do to those whom they fear. A passage read from his discourses, a moving provocation to works like his, any act or meeting which tends to awaken a pure thought, a flow of love, an original design of virtue, I call a worthy, a true commemoration.

4. Fourthly, the importance ascribed to this particular ordinance is not consistent with the spirit of Christianity. The general object and effect of this ordinance is unexceptionable. It has been, and is, I doubt not, the occasion of indefinite good; but an importance is given by Christians to it which never can belong to any form. My friends, the apostle well assures us that “the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy, in the Holy Ghost.” I am not so foolish as to declaim against forms. Forms are as essential as bodies; but to exalt particular forms, to adhere to one form a moment after it is out-grown, is unreasonable, and it is alien to the spirit of Christ. If I understand the distinction of Christianity, the reason why it is to be preferred over all other systems and is divine is this, that it is a moral system; that it presents men with truths which are their own reason, and enjoins practices that are their own justification; that if miracles may be said to have been its evidence to the first Christians, they are not its evidence to us, but the doctrines themselves; that every practice is Christian which praises itself, and every practice unchristian which condemns itself. I am not engaged to Christianity by decent forms, or saving ordinances; it is not usage, it is not what I do not understand, that binds me to it — let these be the sandy foundations of falsehoods. What I revere and obey in it is its reality, its boundless charity, its deep interior life, the rest it gives to my mind, the echo it returns to my thoughts, the perfect accord it makes with my reason through all its representation of God and His Providence; and the persuasion and courage that come out thence to lead me upward and onward. Freedom is the essence of this faith. It has for its object simply to make men good and wise. Its institutions, then, should be as flexible as the wants of men. That form out of which the life and suitableness have departed, should be as worthless in its eyes as the dead leaves that are falling around us.

And therefore, although for the satisfaction of others, I have labored to show by the history that this rite was not intended to be perpetual; although I have gone back to weigh the expressions of Paul, I feel that here is the true point of view. In the midst of considerations as to what Paul thought, and why he so thought, I cannot help feeling that it is time misspent to argue to or from his convictions, or those of Luke and John, respecting any form. I seem to lose the substance in seeking the shadow. That for which Paul lived and died so gloriously; that for which Jesus gave himself to be crucified; the end that animated the thousand martyrs and heroes who have followed his steps, was to redeem us from a formal religion, and teach us to seek our well-being in the formation of the soul. The whole world was full of idols and ordinances. The Jewish was a religion of forms. The Pagan was a religion of forms; it was all body — it had no life — and the Almighty God was pleased to qualify and send forth a man to teach men that they must serve him with the heart; that only that life was religious which was thoroughly good; that sacrifice was smoke, and forms were shadows. This man lived and died true to this purpose; and now, with his blessed word and life before us, Christians must contend that it is a matter of vital importance — really a duty, to commemorate him by a certain form, whether that form be agreeable to their understandings or not.

Is not this to make vain the gift of God? Is not this to turn back the hand on the dial? Is not this to make men — to make ourselves — forget that not forms, but duties; not names, but righteousness and love are enjoined; and that in the eye of God there is no other measure of the value of any one form than the measure of its use?

There remain some practical objections to the ordinance into which I shall not now enter. There is one on which I had intended to say a few words; I mean the unfavorable relation in which it places that numerous class of persons who abstain from it merely from disinclination to the rite.

Influenced by these considerations, I have proposed to the brethren of the Church to drop the use of the elements and the claim of authority in the administration of this ordinance, and have suggested a mode in which a meeting for the same purpose might be held free of objection.

My brethren have considered my views with patience and candor, and have recommended unanimously an adherence to the present form. I have, therefore, been compelled to consider whether it becomes me to administer it. I am clearly of opinion I ought not. This discourse has already been so far extended, that I can only say that the reason of my determination is shortly this:— It is my desire, in the office of a Christian minister, to do nothing which I cannot do with my whole heart. Having said this, I have said all. I have no hostility to this institution; I am only stating my want of sympathy with it. Neither should I ever have obtruded this opinion upon other people, had I not been called by my office to administer it. That is the end of my opposition, that I am not interested in it. I am content that it stand to the end of the world, if it please men and please heaven, and I shall rejoice in all the good it produces.

As it is the prevailing opinion and feeling in our religious community, that it is an indispensable part of the pastoral office to administer this ordinance, I am about to resign into your hands that office which you have confided to me. It has many duties for which I am feebly qualified. It has some which it will always be my delight to discharge, according to my ability, wherever I exist. And whilst the recollection of its claims oppresses me with a sense of my unworthiness, I am consoled by the hope that no time and no change can deprive me of the satisfaction of pursuing and exercising its highest functions.

September 9, 1832.

Essays from “The Dial”

The Editors to the Reader

We invite the attention of our countrymen to a new design. Probably not quite unexpected or unannounced will our Journal appear, though small pains have been taken to secure its welcome. Those, who have immediately acted in editing the present Number, cannot accuse themselves of any unbecoming forwardness in their undertaking, but rather of a backwardness, when they remember how often in many private circles the work was projected, how eagerly desired, and only postponed because no individual volunteered to combine and concentrate the free-will offerings of many cooperators. With some reluctance the present conductors of this work have yielded themselves to the wishes of their friends, finding something sacred and not to be withstood in the importunity which urged the production of a Journal in a new spirit.

As they have not proposed themselves to the work, neither can they lay any the least claim to an option or determination of the spirit in which it is conceived, or to what is peculiar in the design. In that respect, they have obeyed, though with great joy, the strong current of thought and feeling, which, for a few years past, has led many sincere persons in New England to make new demands on literature, and to reprobate that rigor of our conventions of religion and education which is turning us to stone, which renounces hope, which looks only backward, which asks only such a future as the past, which suspects improvement, and holds nothing so much in horror as new views and the dreams of youth.

With these terrors the conductors of the present Journal have nothing to do, — not even so much as a word of reproach to waste. They know that there is a portion of the youth and of the adult population of this country, who have not shared them; who have in secret or in public paid their vows to truth and freedom; who love reality too well to care for names, and who live by a Faith too earnest and profound to suffer them to doubt the eternity of its object, or to shake themselves free from its authority. Under the fictions and customs which occupied others, these have explored the Necessary, the Plain, the True, the Human, — and so gained a vantage ground, which commands the history of the past and the present.

No one can converse much with different classes of society in New England, without remarking the progress of a revolution. Those who share in it have no external organization, no badge, no creed, no name. They do not vote, or print, or even meet together. They do not know each other’s faces or names. They are united only in a common love of truth, and love of its work. They are of all conditions and constitutions. Of these acolytes, if some are happily born and well bred, many are no doubt ill dressed, ill placed, ill made — with as many scars of hereditary vice as other men. Without pomp, without trumpet, in lonely and obscure places, in solitude, in servitude, in compunctions and privations, trudging beside the team in the dusty road, or drudging a hireling in other men’s cornfields, schoolmasters, who teach a few children rudiments for a pittance, ministers of small parishes of the obscurer sects, lone women in dependent condition, matrons and young maidens, rich and poor, beautiful and hard-favored, without concert or proclamation of any kind, they have silently given in their several adherence to a new hope, and in all companies do signify a greater trust in the nature and resources of man, than the laws or the popular opinions will well allow.

This spirit of the time is felt by every individual with some difference, — to each one casting its light upon the objects nearest to his temper and habits of thought; — to one, coming in the shape of special reforms in the state; to another, in modifications of the various callings of men, and the customs of business; to a third, opening a new scope for literature and art; to a fourth, in philosophical insight; to a fifth, in the vast solitudes of prayer. It is in every form a protest against usage, and a search for principles. In all its movements, it is peaceable, and in the very lowest marked with a triumphant success. Of course, it rouses the opposition of all which it judges and condemns, but it is too confident in its tone to comprehend an objection, and so builds no outworks for possible defence against contingent enemies. It has the step of Fate, and goes on existing like an oak or a river, because it must.

In literature, this influence appears not yet in new books so much as in the higher tone of criticism. The antidote to all narrowness is the comparison of the record with nature, which at once shames the record and stimulates to new attempts. Whilst we look at this, we wonder how any book has been thought worthy to be preserved. There is somewhat in all life untranslatable into language. He who keeps his eye on that will write better than others, and think less of his writing, and of all writing. Every thought has a certain imprisoning as well as uplifting quality, and, in proportion to its energy on the will, refuses to become an object of intellectual contemplation. Thus what is great usually slips through our fingers, and it seems wonderful how a lifelike word ever comes to be written. If our Journal share the impulses of the time, it cannot now prescribe its own course. It cannot foretell in orderly propositions what it shall attempt. All criticism should be poetic; unpredictable; superseding, as every new thought does, all foregone thoughts, and making a new light on the whole world. Its brow is not wrinkled with circumspection, but serene, cheerful, adoring. It has all things to say, and no less than all the world for its final audience.

Our plan embraces much more than criticism; were it not so, our criticism would be naught. Everything noble is directed on life, and this is. We do not wish to say pretty or curious things, or to reiterate a few propositions in varied forms, but, if we can, to give expression to that spirit which lifts men to a higher platform, restores to them the religious sentiment, brings them worthy aims and pure pleasures, purges the inward eye, makes life less desultory, and, through raising man to the level of nature, takes away its melancholy from the landscape, and reconciles the practical with the speculative powers.

But perhaps we are telling our little story too gravely. There are always great arguments at hand for a true action, even for the writing of a few pages. There is nothing but seems near it and prompts it, — the sphere in the ecliptic, the sap in the apple tree, — every fact, every appearance seem to persuade to it.

Our means correspond with the ends we have indicated. As we wish not to multiply books, but to report life, our resources are therefore not so much the pens of practised writers, as the discourse of the living, and the portfolios which friendship has opened to us. From the beautiful recesses of private thought; from the experience and hope of spirits which are withdrawing from all old forms, and seeking in all that is new somewhat to meet their inappeasable longings; from the secret confession of genius afraid to trust itself to aught but sympathy; from the conversation of fervid and mystical pietists; from tear-stained diaries of sorrow and passion; from the manuscripts of young poets; and from the records of youthful taste commenting on old works of art; we hope to draw thoughts and feelings, which being alive can impart life.

And so with diligent hands and good intent we set down our Dial on the earth. We wish it may resemble that instrument in its celebrated happiness, that of measuring no hours but those of sunshine. Let it be one cheerful rational voice amidst the din of mourners and polemics. Or to abide by our chosen image, let it be such a Dial, not as the dead face of a clock, hardly even such as the Gnomon in a garden, but rather such a Dial as is the Garden itself, in whose leaves and flowers and fruits the suddenly awakened sleeper is instantly apprised not what part of dead time, but what state of life and growth is now arrived and arriving.

Thoughts on Modern Literature

There is no better illustration of the laws by which the world is governed than Literature. There is no luck in it. It proceeds by Fate. Every scripture is given by the inspiration of God. Every composition proceeds out of a greater or less depth of thought, and this is the measure of its effect. The highest class of books are those which express the moral element; the next, works of imagination; and the next, works of science; — all dealing in realities, — what ought to be, what is, and what appears. These, in proportion to the truth and beauty they involve, remain; the rest perish. They proceed out of the silent living mind to be heard again by the living mind. Of the best books it is hardest to write the history. Those books which are for all time are written indifferently at any time. For high genius is a day without night, a Caspian Ocean which hath no tides. And yet is literature in some sort a creature of time. Always the oracular soul is the source of thought, but always the occasion is administered by the low mediations of circumstance. Religion, Love, Ambition, War, some fierce antagonism, or it may be, some petty annoyance must break the round of perfect circulation, or no spark, no joy, no event can be. The poet rambling through the fields or the forest, absorbed in contemplation to that degree, that his walk is but a pretty dream, would never awake to precise thought, if the scream of an eagle, the cries of a crow or curlew near his head did not break the sweet continuity. Nay the finest lyrics of the poet come of this unequal parentage; the imps of matter beget such child on the soul, fair daughter of God. Nature mixes facts with thoughts to yield a poem. But the gift of immortality is of the mother’s side. In the spirit in which they are written is the date of their duration, and never in the magnitude of the facts. Everything lasts in proportion to its beauty. In proportion as it was not polluted by any wilfulness of the writer, but flowed from his mind after the divine order of cause and effect, it was not his but nature’s, and shared the sublimity of the sea and sky. That which is truly told, nature herself takes in charge against the whims and injustice of men. For ages, Herodotus was reckoned a credulous gossip in his descriptions of Africa, and now the sublime silent desert testifies through the mouths of Bruce, Lyons, Caillaud, Burckhardt, Belzoni, to the truth of the calumniated historian.

And yet men imagine that books are dice, and have no merit in their fortune; that the trade and the favor of a few critics can get one book into circulation, and defeat another; and that in the production of these things the author has chosen and may choose to do thus and so. Society also wishes to assign subjects and methods to its writers. But neither reader nor author may intermeddle. You cannot reason at will in this and that other vein, but only as you must. You cannot make quaint combinations, and bring to the crucible and alembic of truth things far fetched or fantastic or popular, but your method and your subject are foreordained in all your nature, and in all nature, or ever the earth was, or it has no worth. All that gives currency still to any book, advertised in the morning’s newspaper in London or Boston, is the remains of faith in the breast of men that not adroit book makers, but the inextinguishable soul of the universe reports of itself in articulate discourse to-day as of old. The ancients strongly expressed their sense of the unmanageableness of these words of the spirit by saying, that the God made his priest insane, took him hither and thither as leaves are whirled by the tempest. But we sing as we are bid. Our inspirations are very manageable and tame. Death and sin have whispered in the ear of the wild horse of Heaven, and he has become a dray and a hack. And step by step with the entrance of this era of ease and convenience, the belief in the proper Inspiration of man has departed.

Literary accomplishments, skill in grammar and rhetoric, knowledge of books, can never atone for the want of things which demand voice. Literature is a poor trick when it busies itself to make words pass for things. The most original book in the world is the Bible. This old collection of the ejaculations of love and dread, of the supreme desires and contritions of men proceeding out of the region of the grand and eternal, by whatsoever different mouths spoken, and through a wide extent of times and countries, seems, especially if you add to our canon the kindred sacred writings of the Hindoos, Persians, and Greeks, the alphabet of the nations, — and all posterior literature either the chronicle of facts under very inferior ideas, or, when it rises to sentiment, the combinations, analogies, or degradations of this. The elevation of this book may be measured by observing, how certainly all elevation of thought clothes itself in the words and forms of speech of that book. For the human mind is not now sufficiently erect to judge and correct that scripture. Whatever is majestically thought in a great moral element, instantly approaches this old Sanscrit. It is in the nature of things that the highest originality must be moral. The only person, who can be entirely independent of this fountain of literature and equal to it, must be a prophet in his own proper person. Shakspeare, the first literary genius of the world, the highest in whom the moral is not the predominating element, leans on the Bible: his poetry supposes it. If we examine this brilliant influence — Shakspeare — as it lies in our minds, we shall find it reverent not only of the letter of this book, but of the whole frame of society which stood in Europe upon it, deeply indebted to the traditional morality, in short, compared with the tone of the Prophets, secondary. On the other hand, the Prophets do not imply the existence of Shakspeare or Homer, — advert to no books or arts, only to dread ideas and emotions. People imagine that the place, which the Bible holds in the world, it owes to miracles. It owes it simply to the fact that it came out of a profounder depth of thought than any other book, and the effect must be precisely proportionate. Gibbon fancied that it was combinations of circumstances that gave Christianity its place in history. But in nature it takes an ounce to balance an ounce.

All just criticism will not only behold in literature the action of necessary laws, but must also oversee literature itself. The erect mind disparages all books. What are books? it saith: they can have no permanent value. How obviously initial they are to their authors. The books of the nations, the universal books, are long ago forgotten by those who wrote them, and one day we shall forget this primer learning. Literature is made up of a few ideas and a few fables. It is a heap of nouns and verbs enclosing an intuition or two. We must learn to judge books by absolute standards. When we are aroused to a life in ourselves, these traditional splendors of letters grow very pale and cold. Men seem to forget that all literature is ephemeral, and unwillingly entertain the supposition of its utter disappearance. They deem not only letters in general, but the best books in particular, parts of a preestablished harmony, fatal, unalterable, and do not go behind Virgil and Dante, much less behind Moses, Ezekiel, and St. John. But no man can be a good critic of any book, who does not read it in a wisdom which transcends the instructions of any book, and treats the whole extant product of the human intellect as only one age revisable and reversible by him.

In our fidelity to the higher truth, we need not disown our debt in our actual state of culture, in the twilights of experience to these rude helpers. They keep alive the memory and the hope of a better day. When we flout all particular books as initial merely, we truly express the privilege of spiritual nature; but, alas, not the fact and fortune of this low Massachusetts and Boston, of these humble Junes and Decembers of mortal life. Our souls are not self-fed, but do eat and drink of chemical water and wheat. Let us not forget the genial miraculous force we have known to proceed from a book. We go musing into the vault of day and night; no constellation shines, no muse descends, the stars are white points, the roses brick-colored leaves, and frogs pipe, mice cheep, and wagons creak along the road. We return to the house and take up Plutarch or Augustine, and read a few sentences or pages, and lo! the air swarms with life; the front of heaven is full of fiery shapes; secrets of magnanimity and grandeur invite us on every hand; life is made up of them. Such is our debt to a book. Observe, moreover, that we ought to credit literature with much more than the bare word it gives us. I have just been reading poems which now in my memory shine with a certain steady, warm, autumnal light. That is not in their grammatical construction which they give me. If I analyze the sentences, it eludes me, but is the genius and suggestion of the whole. Over every true poem lingers a certain wild beauty, immeasurable; a happiness lightsome and delicious fills the heart and brain, — as they say, every man walks environed by his proper atmosphere, extending to some distance around him. This beautiful result must be credited to literature also in casting its account.

In looking at the library of the Present Age we are first struck with the fact of the immense miscellany. It can hardly be characterized by any species of book, for every opinion old and new, every hope and fear, every whim and folly has an organ. It prints a vast carcass of tradition every year, with as much solemnity as a new revelation. Along with these it vents books that breathe of new morning, that seem to heave with the life of millions, books for which men and women peak and pine; books which take the rose out of the cheek of him that wrote them, and give him to the midnight a sad, solitary, diseased man; which leave no man where they found him, but make him better or worse; and which work dubiously on society, and seem to inoculate it with a venom before any healthy result appears.

In order to any complete view of the literature of the present age, an inquiry should include what it quotes, what it writes, and what it wishes to write. In our present attempt to enumerate some traits of the recent literature, we shall have somewhat to offer on each of these topics, but we cannot promise to set in very exact order what we have to say.

In the first place, it has all books. It reprints the wisdom of the world. How can the age be a bad one, which gives me Plato and Paul and Plutarch, St. Augustine, Spinoza, Chapman, Beaumont and Fletcher, Donne and Sir Thomas Browne, beside its own riches? Our presses groan every year with new editions of all the select pieces of the first of mankind, — meditations, history, classifications, opinions, epics, lyrics, which the age adopts by quoting them. If we should designate favorite studies in which the age delights more than in the rest of this great mass of the permanent literature of the human race, one or two instances would be conspicuous. First; the prodigious growth and influence of the genius of Shakspeare, in the last one hundred and fifty years, is itself a fact of the first importance. It almost alone has called out the genius of the German nation into an activity, which spreading from the poetic into the scientific, religious, and philosophical domains, has made theirs now at last the paramount intellectual influence of the world, reacting with great energy on England and America. And thus, and not by mechanical diffusion, does an original genius work and spread himself. Society becomes an immense Shakspeare. Not otherwise could the poet be admired, nay, not even seen; — not until his living, conversing, and writing had diffused his spirit into the young and acquiring class, so that he had multiplied himself into a thousand sons, a thousand Shakspeares, and so understands himself.

Secondly; the history of freedom it studies with eagerness in civil, in religious, in philosophic history. It has explored every monument of Anglo-Saxon history and law, and mainly every scrap of printed or written paper remaining from the period of the English Commonwealth. It has, out of England, devoted much thought and pains to the history of philosophy. It has groped in all nations where was any literature for the early poetry not only the dramatic, but the rudest lyric; for songs and ballads, the Nibelungen Lied, the poems of Hans Sachs and Henry of Alckmaer in Germany, for the Cid in Spain, for the rough-cast verse of the interior nations of Europe, and in Britain for the ballads of Scotland and of Robinhood.

In its own books also, our age celebrates its wants, achievements, and hopes. A wide superficial cultivation, often a mere clearing and whitewashing, indicate the new taste in the hitherto neglected savage, whether of the cities or the fields, to know the arts and share the spiritual efforts of the refined. The time is marked by the multitude of writers. Soldiers, sailors, servants, nobles, princes, women, write books. The progress of trade and the facilities for locomotion have made the world nomadic again. Of course it is well informed. All facts are exposed. The age is not to be trifled with: it wishes to know who is who, and what is what. Let there be no ghost stories more. Send Humboldt and Bonpland to explore Mexico, Guiana, and the Cordilleras. Let Captain Parry learn if there be a northwest passage to America, and Mr. Lander learn the true course of the Niger. Puckler Muskau will go to Algiers, and Sir Francis Head to the Pampas, to the Brunnens of Nassau, and to Canada. Then let us have charts true and Gazeteers correct. We will know where Babylon stood, and settle the topography of the Roman Forum. We will know whatever is to be known of Australasia, of Japan, of Persia, of Egypt, of Timbuctoo, of Palestine.

Thus Christendom has become a great reading-room; and its books have the convenient merits of the newspaper, its eminent propriety, and its superficial exactness of information. The age is well bred, knows the world, has no nonsense, and herein is well distinguished from the learned ages that preceded ours. That there is no fool like your learned fool, is a proverb plentifully illustrated in the history and writings of the English and European scholars for the half millenium that preceded the beginning of the eighteenth century. The best heads of their time build or occupy such card-house theories of religion, politics, and natural science, as a clever boy would now blow away. What stuff in Kepler, in Cardan, in Lord Bacon. Montaigne, with all his French wit and downright sense, is little better: a sophomore would wind him round his finger. Some of the Medical Remains of Lord Bacon in the book for his own use, “Of the Prolongation of Life,” will move a smile in the unpoetical practitioner of the Medical College. They remind us of the drugs and practice of the leeches and enchanters of Eastern romance. Thus we find in his whimsical collection of astringents:

“A stomacher of scarlet cloth; whelps or young healthy boys applied to the stomach; hippocratic wines, so they be made of austere materials.

“8. To remember masticatories for the mouth.

“9. And orange flower water to be smelled or snuffed up.

“10. In the third hour after the sun is risen to take in air from some high and open place with a ventilation of rosae moschatae and fresh violets, and to stir the earth with infusion of wine and mint.

“17. To use once during supper time wine in which gold is quenched.

“26. Heroic desires.

“28. To provide always an apt breakfast.

“29. To do nothing against a man’s genius.”

To the substance of some of these specifics we have no objection. We think we should get no better at the Medical College to-day: and of all astringents we should reckon the best, “heroic desires,” and “doing nothing against one’s genius.” Yet the principle of modern classification is different. In the same place, it is curious to find a good deal of pretty nonsense concerning the virtues of the ashes of a hedgehog, the heart of an ape, the moss that groweth upon the skull of a dead man unburied, and the comfort that proceeds to the system from wearing beads of amber, coral, and hartshorn; — or from rings of sea horse teeth worn for cramp; — to find all these masses of moonshine side by side with the gravest and most valuable observations.

The good Sir Thomas Browne recommends as empirical cures for the gout:

“To wear shoes made of a lion’s skin.

“Try transplantation: Give poultices taken from the part to dogs.

“Try the magnified amulet of Muffetus, of spiders’ legs worn in a deer’s skin, or of tortoises’ legs cut off from the living tortoise and wrapped up in the skin of a kid.”

Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy is an encyclopaedia of authors and of opinions, where one who should forage for exploded theories might easily load his panniers. In daemonology, for example; “The air,” he says, “is not so full of flies in summer as it is at all times of invisible devils. They counterfeit suns and moons, and sit on ships’ masts. They cause whirlwinds on a sudden and tempestuous storms, which though our meteorologists generally refer to natural causes, yet I am of Bodine’s mind, they are more often caused by those aerial devils in their several quarters. Cardan gives much information concerning them. His father had one of them, an aerial devil, bound to him for eight and twenty years; as Aggrippa’s dog had a devil tied to his collar. Some think that Paracelsus had one confined in his sword pommel. Others wear them in rings. At Hammel in Saxony, the devil in the likeness of a pied piper carried away 130 children that were never after seen.”

All this sky-full of cobwebs is now forever swept clean away. Another race is born. Humboldt and Herschel, Davy and Arago, Malthus and Bentham have arrived. If Robert Burton should be quoted to represent the army of scholars, who have furnished a contribution to his moody pages, Horace Walpole, whose letters circulate in the libraries, might be taken with some fitness to represent the spirit of much recent literature. He has taste, common sense, love of facts, impatience of humbug, love of history, love of splendor, love of justice, and the sentiment of honor among gentlemen; but no life whatever of the higher faculties, no faith, no hope, no aspiration, no question touching the secret of nature.

The favorable side of this research and love of facts is the bold and systematic criticism, which has appeared in every department of literature. From Wolf’s attack upon the authenticity of the Homeric Poems, dates a new epoch in learning. Ancient history has been found to be not yet settled. It is to be subjected to common sense. It is to be cross examined. It is to be seen, whether its traditions will consist not with universal belief, but with universal experience. Niebuhr has sifted Roman history by the like methods. Heeren has made good essays towards ascertaining the necessary facts in the Grecian, Persian, Assyrian, Egyptian, Ethiopic, Carthaginian nations. English history has been analyzed by Turner, Hallam, Brodie, Lingard, Palgrave. Goethe has gone the circuit of human knowledge, as Lord Bacon did before him, writing True or False on every article. Bentham has attempted the same scrutiny in reference to Civil Law. Pestalozzi out of a deep love undertook the reform of education. The ambition of Coleridge in England embraced the whole problem of philosophy; to find, that is, a foundation in thought for everything that existed in fact. The German philosophers, Schelling, Kant, Fichte, have applied their analysis to nature and thought with an antique boldness. There can be no honest inquiry, which is not better than acquiescence. Inquiries, which once looked grave and vital no doubt, change their appearance very fast, and come to look frivolous beside the later queries to which they gave occasion.

This skeptical activity, at first directed on circumstances and historical views deemed of great importance, soon penetrated deeper than Rome or Egypt, than history or institutions, or the vocabulary of metaphysics, namely, into the thinker himself, and into every function he exercises. The poetry and the speculation of the age are marked by a certain philosophic turn, which discriminates them from the works of earlier times. The poet is not content to see how “fair hangs the apple from the rock,” “what music a sunbeam awoke in the groves,” nor of Hardiknute, how “stately steppes he east the way, and stately steppes he west,” but he now revolves, What is the apple to me? and what the birds to me? and what is Hardiknute to me? and what am I? And this is called subjectiveness, as the eye is withdrawn from the object and fixed on the subject or mind.

We can easily concede that a steadfast tendency of this sort appears in modern literature. It is the new consciousness of the one mind which predominates in criticism. It is the uprise of the soul and not the decline. It is founded on that insatiable demand for unity — the need to recognise one nature in all the variety of objects, — which always characterizes a genius of the first order. Accustomed always to behold the presence of the universe in every part, the soul will not condescend to look at any new part as a stranger, but saith, — “I know all already, and what art thou? Show me thy relations to me, to all, and I will entertain thee also.”

There is a pernicious ambiguity in the use of the term subjective. We say, in accordance with the general view I have stated, that the single soul feels its right to be no longer confounded with numbers, but itself to sit in judgment on history and literature, and to summon all facts and parties before its tribunal. And in this sense the age is subjective.

But, in all ages, and now more, the narrow-minded have no interest in anything but its relation to their personality. What will help them to be delivered from some burden, eased in some circumstance, flattered, or pardoned, or enriched, what will help to marry or to divorce them, to prolong or to sweeten life, is sure of their interest, and nothing else. Every form under the whole heaven they behold in this most partial light or darkness of intense selfishness, until we hate their being. And this habit of intellectual selfishness has acquired in our day the fine name of subjectiveness.

Nor is the distinction between these two habits to be found in the circumstance of using the first person singular, or reciting facts and feelings of personal history. A man may say I, and never refer to himself as an individual; and a man may recite passages of his life with no feeling of egotism. Nor need a man have a vicious subjectiveness because he deals in abstract propositions.

But the criterion, which discriminates these two habits in the poet’s mind, is the tendency of his composition; namely, whether it leads us to nature, or to the person of the writer. The great always introduce us to facts; small men introduce us always to themselves. The great man, even whilst he relates a private fact personal to him, is really leading us away from him to an universal experience. His own affection is in nature, in What is, and, of course, all his communication leads outward to it, starting from whatsoever point. The great never with their own consent become a load on the minds they instruct. The more they draw us to them, the farther from them or more independent of them we are, because they have brought us to the knowledge of somewhat deeper than both them and us. The great never hinder us; for, as the Jews had a custom of laying their beds north and south, founded on an opinion that the path of God was east and west, and they would not desecrate by the infirmities of sleep the Divine circuits, so the activity of the good is coincident with the axle of the world, with the sun and moon, with the course of the rivers and of the winds, with the stream of laborers in the street, and with all the activity and well being of the race. The great lead us to nature, and, in our age, to metaphysical nature, to the invisible awful facts, to moral abstractions, which are not less nature than is a river or a coal mine; nay, they are far more nature, but its essence and soul.

But the weak and evil, led also to analyze, saw nothing in thought but luxury. Thought for the selfish became selfish. They invited us to contemplate nature, and showed us an abominable self. Would you know the genius of the writer? Do not enumerate his talents or his feats, but ask thyself, What spirit is he of? Do gladness and hope and fortitude flow from his page into thy heart? Has he led thee to nature because his own soul was too happy in beholding her power and love; or is his passion for the wilderness only the sensibility of the sick, the exhibition of a talent, which only shines whilst you praise it; which has no root in the character, and can thus minister to the vanity but not to the happiness of the possessor; and which derives all its eclat from our conventional education, but would not make itself intelligible to the wise man of another age or country? The water we wash with never speaks of itself, nor does fire, or wind, or tree. Neither does the noble natural man: he yields himself to your occasion and use; but his act expresses a reference to universal good.

Another element of the modern poetry akin to this subjective tendency, or rather the direction of that same on the question of resources, is, the Feeling of the Infinite. Of the perception now fast becoming a conscious fact, — that there is One Mind, and that all the powers and privileges which lie in any, lie in all; that I as a man may claim and appropriate whatever of true or fair or good or strong has anywhere been exhibited; that Moses and Confucius, Montaigne and Leibnitz are not so much individuals as they are parts of man and parts of me, and my intelligence proves them my own, — literature is far the best expression. It is true, this is not the only nor the obvious lesson it teaches. A selfish commerce and government have caught the eye and usurped the hand of the masses. It is not to be contested that selfishness and the senses write the laws under which we live, and that the street seems to be built, and the men and women in it moving not in reference to pure and grand ends, but rather to very short and sordid ones. Perhaps no considerable minority, perhaps no one man leads a quite clean and lofty life. What then? We concede in sadness the fact. But we say that these low customary ways are not all that survives in human beings. There is that in us which mutters, and that which groans, and that which triumphs, and that which aspires. There are facts on which men of the world superciliously smile, which are worth all their trade and politics, the impulses, namely, which drive young men into gardens and solitary places, and cause extravagant gestures, starts, distortions of the countenance, and passionate exclamations; sentiments, which find no aliment or language for themselves on the wharves, in court, or market, but which are soothed by silence, by darkness, by the pale stars, and the presence of nature. All over the modern world the educated and susceptible have betrayed their discontent with the limits of our municipal life, and with the poverty of our dogmas of religion and philosophy. They betray this impatience by fleeing for resource to a conversation with nature — which is courted in a certain moody and exploring spirit, as if they anticipated a more intimate union of man with the world than has been known in recent ages. Those who cannot tell what they desire or expect, still sigh and struggle with indefinite thoughts and vast wishes. The very child in the nursery prattles mysticism, and doubts and philosophizes. A wild striving to express a more inward and infinite sense characterizes the works of every art. The music of Beethoven is said by those who understand it, to labor with vaster conceptions and aspirations than music has attempted before. This Feeling of the Infinite has deeply colored the poetry of the period. This new love of the vast, always native in Germany, was imported into France by De Stael, appeared in England in Coleridge, Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, Felicia Hemans, and finds a most genial climate in the American mind. Scott and Crabbe, who formed themselves on the past, had none of this tendency; their poetry is objective. In Byron, on the other hand, it predominates; but in Byron it is blind, it sees not its true end — an infinite good, alive and beautiful, a life nourished on absolute beatitudes, descending into nature to behold itself reflected there. His will is perverted, he worships the accidents of society, and his praise of nature is thieving and selfish.

Nothing certifies the prevalence of this taste in the people more than the circulation of the poems, — one would say, most incongruously united by some bookseller, — of Coleridge, Shelley, and Keats. The only unity is in the subjectiveness and the aspiration common to the three writers. Shelley, though a poetic mind, is never a poet. His muse is uniformly imitative; all his poems composite. A good English scholar he is, with ear, taste, and memory, much more, he is a character full of noble and prophetic traits; but imagination, the original, authentic fire of the bard, he has not. He is clearly modern, and shares with Richter, Chateaubriand, Manzoni, and Wordsworth, the feeling of the infinite, which so labors for expression in their different genius. But all his lines are arbitrary, not necessary. When we read poetry, the mind asks, — Was this verse one of twenty which the author might have written as well; or is this what that man was created to say? But, whilst every line of the true poet will be genuine, he is in a boundless power and freedom to say a million things. And the reason why he can say one thing well, is because his vision extends to the sight of all things, and so he describes each as one who knows many and all.

The fame of Wordsworth is a leading fact in modern literature, when it is considered how hostile his genius at first seemed to the reigning taste, and with what feeble poetic talents his great and steadily growing dominion has been established. More than any other poet his success has been not his own, but that of the idea which he shared with his coevals, and which he has rarely succeeded in adequately expressing. The Excursion awakened in every lover of nature the right feeling. We saw stars shine, we felt the awe of mountains, we heard the rustle of the wind in the grass, and knew again the ineffable secret of solitude. It was a great joy. It was nearer to nature than anything we had before. But the interest of the poem ended almost with the narrative of the influences of nature on the mind of the Boy, in the first book. Obviously for that passage the poem was written, and with the exception of this and of a few strains of the like character in the sequel, the whole poem was dull. Here was no poem, but here was poetry, and a sure index where the subtle muse was about to pitch her tent and find the argument of her song. It was the human soul in these last ages striving for a just publication of itself. Add to this, however, the great praise of Wordsworth, that more than any other contemporary bard he is pervaded with a reverence of somewhat higher than (conscious) thought. There is in him that property common to all great poets, a wisdom of humanity, which is superior to any talents which they exert. It is the wisest part of Shakspeare and of Milton. For they are poets by the free course which they allow to the informing soul, which through their eyes beholdeth again and blesseth the things which it hath made. The soul is superior to its knowledge, wiser than any of its works.

With the name of Wordsworth rises to our recollection the name of his contemporary and friend, Walter Savage Landor — a man working in a very different and peculiar spirit, yet one whose genius and accomplishments deserve a wiser criticism than we have yet seen applied to them, and the rather that his name does not readily associate itself with any school of writers. Of Thomas Carlyle, also we shall say nothing at this time, since the quality and the energy of his influence on the youth of this country will require at our hands ere long a distinct and faithful acknowledgment.

But of all men he, who has united in himself and that in the most extraordinary degree the tendencies of the era, is the German poet, naturalist, and philosopher, Goethe. Whatever the age inherited or invented, he made his own. He has owed to Commerce and to the victories of the Understanding, all their spoils. Such was his capacity, that the magazines of the world’s ancient or modern wealth, which arts and intercourse and skepticism could command — he wanted them all. Had there been twice so much, he could have used it as well. Geologist, mechanic, merchant, chemist, king, radical, painter, composer, — all worked for him, and a thousand men seemed to look through his eyes. He learned as readily as other men breathe. Of all the men of this time, not one has seemed so much at home in it as he. He was not afraid to live. And in him this encyclopaedia of facts, which it has been the boast of the age to compile, wrought an equal effect. He was knowing; he was brave; he was clean from all narrowness; he has a perfect propriety and taste, — a quality by no means common to the German writers. Nay, since the earth, as we said, had become a reading-room, the new opportunities seem to have aided him to be that resolute realist he is, and seconded his sturdy determination to see things for what they are. To look at him, one would say, there was never an observer before. What sagacity, what industry of observation! to read his record is a frugality of time, for you shall find no word that does not stand for a thing, and he is of that comprehension, which can see the value of truth. His love of nature has seemed to give a new meaning to that word. There was never man more domesticated in this world than he. And he is an apology for the analytic spirit of the period, because, of his analysis, always wholes were the result. All conventions, all traditions he rejected. And yet he felt his entire right and duty to stand before and try and judge every fact in nature. He thought it necessary to dot round with his own pen the entire sphere of knowables; and for many of his stories, this seems the only reason: Here is a piece of humanity I had hitherto omitted to sketch; — take this. He does not say so in syllables, — yet a sort of conscientious feeling he had to be up to the universe, is the best account and apology for many of them. He shared also the subjectiveness of the age, and that too in both the senses I have discriminated. With the sharpest eye for form, color, botany, engraving, medals, persons, and manners, he never stopped at surface, but pierced the purpose of a thing, and studied to reconcile that purpose with his own being. What he could so reconcile was good; what he could not, was false. Hence a certain greatness encircles every fact he treats; for to him it has a soul, an eternal reason why it was so, and not otherwise. This is the secret of that deep realism, which went about among all objects he beheld, to find the cause why they must be what they are. It was with him a favorite task to find a theory of every institution, custom, art, work of art, which he observes. Witness his explanation of the Italian mode of reckoning the hours of the day, as growing out of the Italian climate; of the obelisk of Egypt, as growing out of a common natural fracture in the granite parallelopiped in Upper Egypt; of the Doric architecture, and the Gothic; of the Venetian music of the gondolier originating in the habit of the fishers’ wives of the Lido singing to their husbands on the sea; of the Amphitheatre, which is the enclosure of the natural cup of heads that arranges itself round every spectacle in the street; of the coloring of Titian and Paul Veronese, which one may verify in the common daylight in Venice every afternoon; of the Carnival at Rome; of the domestic rural architecture in Italy; and many the like examples.

But also that other vicious subjectiveness, that vice of the time, infected him also. We are provoked with his Olympian self-complacency, the patronizing air with which he vouchsafes to tolerate the genius and performances of other mortals, “the good Hiller,” “our excellent Kant,” “the friendly Wieland,” &c. &c. There is a good letter from Wieland to Merck, in which Wieland relates that Goethe read to a select party his journal of a tour in Switzerland with the Grand Duke, and their passage through Valois and over the St. Gothard. “It was,” says Wieland, “as good as Xenophon’s Anabasis. The piece is one of his most masterly productions, and is thought and written with the greatness peculiar to him. The fair hearers were enthusiastic at the nature in this piece; I liked the sly art in the composition, whereof they saw nothing, still better. It is a true poem, so concealed is the art too. But what most remarkably in this as in all his other works distinguishes him from Homer and Shakspeare, is, that the Me, the Ille ego, everywhere glimmers through, although without any boasting and with an infinite fineness.” This subtle element of egotism in Goethe certainly does not seem to deform his compositions, but to lower the moral influence of the man. He differs from all the great in the total want of frankness. Whoso saw Milton, whoso saw Shakspeare, saw them do their best, and utter their whole heart manlike among their brethren. No man was permitted to call Goethe brother. He hid himself, and worked always to astonish, which is an egotism, and therefore little.

If we try Goethe by the ordinary canons of criticism, we should say that his thinking is of great altitude, and all level; — not a succession of summits, but a high Asiatic table land. Dramatic power, the rarest talent in literature, he has very little. He has an eye constant to the fact of life, and that never pauses in its advance. But the great felicities, the miracles of poetry, he has never. It is all design with him, just thought and instructed expression, analogies, allusion, illustration, which knowledge and correct thinking supply; but of Shakspeare and the transcendant muse, no syllable. Yet in the court and law to which we ordinarily speak, and without adverting to absolute standards, we claim for him the praise of truth, of fidelity to his intellectual nature. He is the king of all scholars. In these days and in this country, where the scholars are few and idle, where men read easy books and sleep after dinner, it seems as if no book could so safely be put in the hands of young men as the letters of Goethe, which attest the incessant activity of this man to eighty years, in an endless variety of studies with uniform cheerfulness and greatness of mind. They cannot be read without shaming us into an emulating industry. Let him have the praise of the love of truth. We think, when we contemplate the stupendous glory of the world, that it were life enough for one man merely to lift his hands and cry with St. Augustine, “Wrangle who pleases, I will wonder.” Well, this he did. Here was a man, who, in the feeling that the thing itself was so admirable as to leave all comment behind, went up and down from object to object, lifting the veil from everyone, and did no more. What he said of Lavater, may trulier be said of him, that “it was fearful to stand in the presence of one, before whom all the boundaries within which nature has circumscribed our being were laid flat.” His are the bright and terrible eyes, which meet the modern student in every sacred chapel of thought, in every public enclosure.

But now, that we may not seem to dodge the question which all men ask, nor pay a great man so ill a compliment as to praise him only in the conventional and comparative speech, let us honestly record our thought upon the total worth and influence of this genius. Does he represent not only the achievement of that age in which he lived, but that which it would be and is now becoming? And what shall we think of that absence of the moral sentiment, that singular equivalence to him of good and evil in action, which discredits his compositions to the pure? The spirit of his biography, of his poems, of his tales, is identical, and we may here set down by way of comment on his genius the impressions recently awakened in us by the story of Wilhelm Meister.

All great men have written proudly, nor cared to explain. They knew that the intelligent reader would come at last, and would thank them. So did Dante, so did Machiavel. Goethe has done this in Meister. We can fancy him saying to himself; — There are poets enough of the ideal; let me paint the Actual, as, after years of dreams, it will still appear and reappear to wise men. That all shall right itself in the long Morrow, I may well allow, and my novel may easily wait for the same regeneration. The age, that can damn it as false and falsifying, will see that it is deeply one with the genius and history of all the centuries. I have given my characters a bias to error. Men have the same. I have let mischances befall instead of good fortune. They do so daily. And out of many vices and misfortunes, I have let a great success grow, as I had known in my own and many other examples. Fierce churchmen and effeminate aspirants will chide and hate my name, but every keen beholder of life will justify my truth, and will acquit me of prejudging the cause of humanity by painting it with this morose fidelity. To a profound soul is not austere truth the sweetest flattery?

Yes, O Goethe! but the ideal is truer than the actual. That is ephemeral, but this changes not. Moreover, because nature is moral, that mind only can see, in which the same order entirely obtains. An interchangeable Truth, Beauty, and Goodness, each wholly interfused in the other, must make the humors of that eye, which would see causes reaching to their last effect and reproducing the world forever. The least inequality of mixture, the excess of one element over the other, in that degree diminishes the transparency of things, makes the world opaque to the observer, and destroys so far the value of his experience. No particular gifts can countervail this defect. In reading Meister, I am charmed with the insight; to use a phrase of Ben Jonson’s, “it is rammed with life.” I find there actual men and women even too faithfully painted. I am, moreover, instructed in the possibility of a highly accomplished society, and taught to look for great talent and culture under a grey coat. But this is all. The limits of artificial society are never quite out of sight. The vicious conventions, which hem us in like prison walls, and which the poet should explode at his touch, stand for all they are worth in the newspaper. I am never lifted above myself. I am not transported out of the dominion of the senses, or cheered with an infinite tenderness, or armed with a grand trust.

Goethe, then, must be set down as the poet of the Actual, not of the Ideal; the poet of limitation, not of possibility; of this world, and not of religion and hope; in short, if I may say so, the poet of prose, and not of poetry. He accepts the base doctrine of Fate, and gleans what straggling joys may yet remain out of its ban. He is like a banker or a weaver with a passion for the country, he steals out of the hot streets before sunrise, or after sunset, or on a rare holiday, to get a draught of sweet air, and a gaze at the magnificence of summer, but dares not break from his slavery and lead a man’s life in a man’s relation to nature. In that which should be his own place, he feels like a truant, and is scourged back presently to his task and his cell. Poetry is with Goethe thus external, the gilding of the chain, the mitigation of his fate; but the muse never essays those thunder-tones, which cause to vibrate the sun and the moon, which dissipate by dreadful melody all this iron network of circumstance, and abolish the old heavens and the old earth before the free-will or Godhead of man. That Goethe had not a moral perception proportionate to his other powers, is not then merely a circumstance, as we might relate of a man that he had or had not the sense of tune or an eye for colors; but it is the cardinal fact of health or disease; since, lacking this, he failed in the high sense to be a creator, and with divine endowments drops by irreversible decree into the common history of genius. He was content to fall into the track of vulgar poets, and spend on common aims his splendid endowments, and has declined the office proffered to now and then a man in many centuries in the power of his genius — of a Redeemer of the human mind. He has written better than other poets, only as his talent was subtler, but the ambition of creation he refused. Life for him is prettier, easier, wiser, decenter, has a gem or two more on its robe, but its old eternal burden is not relieved; no drop of healthier blood flows yet in its veins. Let him pass. Humanity must wait for its physician still at the side of the road, and confess as this man goes out that they have served it better, who assured it out of the innocent hope in their hearts that a Physician will come, than this majestic Artist, with all the treasuries of wit, of science, and of power at his command.

The criticism, which is not so much spoken as felt in reference to Goethe, instructs us directly in the hope of literature. We feel that a man gifted like him should not leave the world as he found it. It is true, though somewhat sad, that every fine genius teaches us how to blame himself. Being so much, we cannot forgive him for not being more. When one of these grand monads is incarnated, whom nature seems to design for eternal men and draw to her bosom, we think that the old wearinesses of Europe and Asia, the trivial forms of daily life will now end, and a new morning break on us all. What is Austria? What is England? What is our graduated and petrified social scale of ranks and employments? Shall not a poet redeem us from these idolatries, and pale their legendary lustre before the fires of the Divine Wisdom which burn in his heart? All that in our sovereign moments each of us has divined of the powers of thought, all the hints of omnipresence and energy which we have caught, this man should unfold and constitute facts.

And this is the insatiable craving which alternately saddens and gladdens men at this day. The Doctrine of the Life of Man established after the truth through all his faculties; — this is the thought which the literature of this hour meditates and labors to say. This is that which tunes the tongue and fires the eye and sits in the silence of the youth. Verily it will not long want articulate and melodious expression. There is nothing in the heart but comes presently to the lips. The very depth of the sentiment, which is the author of all the cutaneous life we see, is guarantee for the riches of science and of song in the age to come. He, who doubts whether this age or this country can yield any contribution to the literature of the world, only betrays his own blindness to the necessities of the human soul. Has the power of poetry ceased, or the need? Have the eyes ceased to see that which they would have, and which they have not? Have they ceased to see other eyes? Are there no lonely, anxious, wondering children, who must tell their tale? Are we not evermore whipped by thoughts;

“In sorrow steeped and steeped in love

Of thoughts not yet incarnated?”

The heart beats in this age as of old, and the passions are busy as ever. Nature has not lost one ringlet of her beauty, one impulse of resistance and valor. From the necessity of loving none are exempt, and he that loves must utter his desires. A charm as radiant as beauty ever beamed, a love that fainteth at the sight of its object, is new to-day.

“The world does not run smoother than of old,

There are sad haps that must be told.”

Man is not so far lost but that he suffers ever the great Discontent, which is the elegy of his loss and the prediction of his recovery. In the gay saloon he laments that these figures are not what Raphael and Guercino painted. Withered though he stand and trifler though he be, the august spirit of the world looks out from his eyes. In his heart he knows the ache of spiritual pain, and his thought can animate the sea and land. What then shall hinder the Genius of the time from speaking its thought? It cannot be silent, if it would. It will write in a higher spirit, and a wider knowledge, and with a grander practical aim, than ever yet guided the pen of poet. It will write the annals of a changed world, and record the descent of principles into practice, of love into Government, of love into Trade. It will describe the new heroic life of man, the now unbelieved possibility of simple living and of clean and noble relations with men. Religion will bind again these that were sometime frivolous, customary, enemies, skeptics, self-seekers, into a joyful reverence for the circumambient Whole, and that which was ecstasy shall become daily bread.

New Poetry

The tendencies of the times are so democratical, that we shall soon have not so much as a pulpit or raised platform in any church or townhouse, but each person, who is moved to address any public assembly, will speak from the floor. The like revolution in literature is now giving importance to the portfolio over the book. Only one man in the thousand may print a book, but one in ten or one in five may inscribe his thoughts, or at least with short commentary his favorite readings in a private journal. The philosophy of the day has long since broached a more liberal doctrine of the poetic faculty than our fathers held, and reckons poetry the right and power of every man to whose culture justice is done. We own that, though we were trained in a stricter school of literary faith, and were in all our youth inclined to the enforcement of the straitest restrictions on the admission of candidates to the Parnassian fraternity, and denied the name of poetry to every composition in which the workmanship and the material were not equally excellent, in our middle age we have grown lax, and have learned to find pleasure in verses of a ruder strain, — to enjoy verses of society, or those effusions which in persons of a happy nature are the easy and unpremeditated translation of their thoughts and feelings into rhyme. This new taste for a certain private and household poetry, for somewhat less pretending than the festal and solemn verses which are written for the nations, really indicates, we suppose, that a new style of poetry exists. The number of writers has increased. Every child has been taught the tongues. The universal communication of the arts of reading and writing has brought the works of the great poets into every house, and made all ears familiar with the poetic forms. The progress of popular institutions has favored self-respect, and broken down that terror of the great, which once imposed awe and hesitation on the talent of the masses of society. A wider epistolary intercourse ministers to the ends of sentiment and reflection than ever existed before; the practice of writing diaries is becoming almost general; and every day witnesses new attempts to throw into verse the experiences of private life.

What better omen of true progress can we ask than an increasing intellectual and moral interest of men in each other? What can be better for the republic than that the Capitol, the White House, and the Court House are becoming of less importance than the farm-house and the book-closet? If we are losing our interest in public men, and finding that their spell lay in number and size only, and acquiring instead a taste for the depths of thought and emotion as they may be sounded in the soul of the citizen or the countryman, does it not replace man for the state, and character for official power? Men should be treated with solemnity; and when they come to chant their private griefs and doubts and joys, they have a new scale by which to compute magnitude and relation. Art is the noblest consolation of calamity. The poet is compensated for his defects in the street and in society, if in his chamber he has turned his mischance into noble numbers.

Is there not room then for a new department in poetry, namely, Verses of the Portfolio? We have fancied that we drew greater pleasure from some manuscript verses than from printed ones of equal talent. For there was herein the charm of character; they were confessions; and the faults, the imperfect parts, the fragmentary verses, the halting rhymes, had a worth beyond that of a high finish; for they testified that the writer was more man than artist, more earnest than vain; that the thought was too sweet and sacred to him, than that he should suffer his ears to hear or his eyes to see a superficial defect in the expression.

The characteristic of such verses is, that being not written for publication, they lack that finish which the conventions of literature require of authors. But if poetry of this kind has merit, we conceive that the prescription which demands a rhythmical polish may be easily set aside; and when a writer has outgrown the state of thought which produced the poem, the interest of letters is served by publishing it imperfect, as we preserve studies, torsos, and blocked statues of the great masters. For though we should be loath to see the wholesome conventions, to which we have alluded, broken down by a general incontinence of publication, and every man’s and woman’s diary flying into the bookstores, yet it is to be considered, on the other hand, that men of genius are often more incapable than others of that elaborate execution which criticism exacts. Men of genius in general are, more than others, incapable of any perfect exhibition, because however agreeable it may be to them to act on the public, it is always a secondary aim. They are humble, self-accusing, moody men, whose worship is toward the Ideal Beauty, which chooses to be courted not so often in perfect hymns, as in wild ear-piercing ejaculations, or in silent musings. Their face is forward, and their heart is in this heaven. By so much are they disqualified for a perfect success in any particular performance to which they can give only a divided affection. But the man of talents has every advantage in the competition. He can give that cool and commanding attention to the thing to be done, that shall secure its just performance. Yet are the failures of genius better than the victories of talent; and we are sure that some crude manuscript poems have yielded us a more sustaining and a more stimulating diet, than many elaborated and classic productions.

We have been led to these thoughts by reading some verses, which were lately put into our hands by a friend with the remark, that they were the production of a youth, who had long passed out of the mood in which he wrote them, so that they had become quite dead to him. Our first feeling on reading them was a lively joy. So then the Muse is neither dead nor dumb, but has found a voice in these cold Cisatlantic States. Here is poetry which asks no aid of magnitude or number, of blood or crime, but finds theatre enough in the first field or brookside, breadth and depth enough in the flow of its own thought. Here is self-repose, which to our mind is stabler than the Pyramids; here is self-respect which leads a man to date from his heart more proudly than from Rome. Here is love which sees through surface, and adores the gentle nature and not the costume. Here is religion, which is not of the Church of England, nor of the Church of Boston. Here is the good wise heart, which sees that the end of culture is strength and cheerfulness. In an age too which tends with so strong an inclination to the philosophical muse, here is poetry more purely intellectual than any American verses we have yet seen, distinguished from all competition by two merits; the fineness of perception; and the poet’s trust in his own genius to that degree, that there is an absence of all conventional imagery, and a bold use of that which the moment’s mood had made sacred to him, quite careless that it might be sacred to no other, and might even be slightly ludicrous to the first reader.

We proceed to give our readers some selections, taken without much order from this rich pile of manuscript. We first find the poet in his boat.

Boat Song

THE RIVER calmly flows,

Through shining banks, through lonely glen,

Where the owl shrieks, though ne’er the cheer of men

Has stirred its mute repose,

Still if you should walk there, you would go there again.

The stream is well alive;

Another passive world you see,

Where downward grows the form of every tree;

Like soft light clouds they thrive:

Like them let us in our pure loves reflected be.

A yellow gleam is thrown

Into the secrets of that maze

Of tangled trees, which late shut out our gaze,

Refusing to be known;

It must its privacy unclose, — its glories blaze.

Sweet falls the summer air

Over her frame who sails with me:

Her way like that is beautifully free,

Her nature far more rare,

And is her constant heart of virgin purity.

A quivering star is seen

Keeping his watch above the hill,

Though from the sun’s retreat small light is still

Poured on earth’s saddening mien:—

We all are tranquilly obeying Evening’s will.

Thus ever love the POWER;

To simplest thoughts dispose the mind;

In each obscure event a worship find

Like that of this dim hour, —

In lights, and airs, and trees, and in all human kind.

We smoothly glide below

The faintly glimmering worlds of light:

Day has a charm, and this deceptive night

Brings a mysterious show; —

He shadows our dear earth, — but his cool stars are white.

Two Years before the Mast.

Two Years before the Mast. A Personal Narrative of Life at Sea. New York: Harper and Brothers. 12mo. pp. 483.

This is a voice from the forecastle. Though a narrative of literal, prosaic truth, it possesses something of the romantic charm of Robinson Crusoe. Few more interesting chapters of the literature of the sea have ever fallen under our notice. The author left the halls of the University for the deck of a merchant vessel, exchanging “the tight dress coat, silk cap, and kid gloves of an undergraduate at Cambridge, for the loose entofDocumentsduck trowsers, checked shirt, and tarpaulin hat of a sailor,” and here presents us the fruits of his voyage. His book will have a wide circulation; it will be praised in the public prints; we shall be told that it does honor to his head and heart; but we trust that it will do much more than this; that it will open the eyes of many to the condition of the sailor, to the fearful waste of man, by which the luxuries of foreign climes are made to increase the amount of commercial wealth. This simple narrative, stamped with deep sincerity, and often displaying an unstudied, pathetic eloquence, may lead to reflections, which mere argument and sentimental appeals do not call forth. It will serve to hasten the day of reckoning between society and the sailor, which, though late, will not fail to come.

Social Destiny of Man: or Association and Reorganization of Industry. By Albert Brisbane. Philadelphia. 12mo. pp. 480.

This work is designed to give a condensed view of the system of M. Fourier, for the improvement and elevation of productive industry. It will be read with deep interest by a large class of our population. The name of Fourier may be placed at the head of modern thinkers, whose attention has been given to the practical evils of society and the means of their removal. His general principles should be cautiously separated from the details which accompany their exposition, many of which are so exclusively adapted to the French character, as to prejudice their reception with persons of opposite habits and associations. The great question, which he brings up for discussion, concerns the union of labor and capital in the same individuals, by a system of combined and organized industry. This question, it is more than probable, will not be set aside at once, whenever its importance is fully perceived, and those who are interested in its decision will find materials of no small value in the writings of M. Fourier. They may be regarded, in some sense, as the scientific analysis of the cooperative principle, which has, within a few years past, engaged the public attention in England, and in certain cases, received a successful, practical application.

Michael Angelo, considered as a Philosophic Poet, with Translations. By John Edward Taylor. London: Saunders & Otley, Conduit Street. 1840.

We welcome this little book with joy, and a hope that it may be republished in Boston. It would find, probably, but a small circle of readers, but that circle would be more ready to receive and prize it than the English public for whom it was intended, if we may judge by the way in which Mr. Taylor, all through his prefatory essay, has considered it necessary to apologize for, or, at least, explain views very commonly received among ourselves.

The essay is interesting from the degree of acquaintance it exhibits with some of those great ones, who have held up the highest aims to the soul, and from the degree of insight which reverence and delicacy of mind have given to the author. From every line comes the soft breath of green pastures where “walk the good shepherds.”

Of the sonnets, we doubt the possibility of making good translations into English. No gift of the Muse is more injured by change of form than the Italian sonnet. As those of Petrarch will not bear it, from their infinite grace, those of Dante from their mystic and subtle majesty; so these of Angelo, from the rugged naivete with which they are struck off from the mind, as huge splinters of stone might be from some vast block, can never be “done into English,” as the old translators, with an intelligent modesty, were wont to write of their work. The grand thought is not quite evaporated in the process, but the image of the stern and stately writer is lost. We do not know again such words as “concetto,” “superna” in their English representatives.

But since a knowledge of the Italian language is not so common an attainment as could be wished, we ought to be grateful for this attempt to extend the benefit of these noble expressions of the faith which inspired one of the most full and noble lives that has ever redeemed and encouraged man.

Fidelity must be the highest merit of these translations; for not even an Angelo could translate his peer. This, so far as we have looked at them, they seem to possess. And even in the English dress, we think none, to whom they are new, can read the sonnets, —

“Veggio nel volto tuo col pensier mie.”

“S’un casto amor, s’una pieta superna.”

“La vita del mio amor non e cuor mio.”

and others of the same pure religion, without a delight which shall

“Cast a light upon the day,

A light which will not go away,

A sweet forewarning.”

We hope they may have the opportunity. It is a very little book with a great deal in it, and five hundred copies will sell in two years.

We add Mr. Taylor’s little preface, which happily expresses his design.

“The remarks on the poetry and philosophy of Michael Angelo, which are prefixed to these translations have been collected and are now published in the hope that they may invite the student of literature to trace the relation which unites the efforts of the pure intelligence and the desires of the heart to their highest earthly accomplishment under the complete forms of Art. For the example of so eminent a mind, watched and judged not only by its finished works, but, as it were, in its growth and from its inner source of Love and Knowledge cannot but enlarge the range of our sympathy for the best powers and productions of man. And if these pages should meet with any readers inclined, like their writer, to seek and to admire the veiled truth and solemn beauty of the eldertime, they will add their humble testimony to the fact, that whatever be the purpose and tendencies of the time we live in, we are not all unmindful of the better part of our inheritance in this world.”

Essays and Poems, by Jones Very. Boston: C. C. Little and James Brown.

This little volume would have received an earlier notice, if we had been at all careful to proclaim our favorite books. The genius of this book is religious, and reaches an extraordinary depth of sentiment. The author, plainly a man of a pure and kindly temper, casts himself into the state of the high and transcendental obedience to the inward Spirit. He has apparently made up his mind to follow all its leadings, though he should be taxed with absurdity or even with insanity. In this enthusiasm he writes most of these verses, which rather flow through him than from him. There is no composition, no elaboration, no artifice in the structure of the rhyme, no variety in the imagery; in short, no pretension to literary merit, for this would be departure from his singleness, and followed by loss of insight. He is not at liberty even to correct these unpremeditated poems for the press; but if another will publish them, he offers no objection. In this way they have come into the world, and as yet have hardly begun to be known. With the exception of the few first poems, which appear to be of an earlier date, all these verses bear the unquestionable stamp of grandeur. They are the breathings of a certain entranced devotion, which one would say, should be received with affectionate and sympathizing curiosity by all men, as if no recent writer had so much to show them of what is most their own. They are as sincere a litany as the Hebrew songs of David or Isaiah, and only less than they, because indebted to the Hebrew muse for their tone and genius. This makes the singularity of the book, namely, that so pure an utterance of the most domestic and primitive of all sentiments should in this age of revolt and experiment use once more the popular religious language, and so show itself secondary and morbid. These sonnets have little range of topics, no extent of observation, no playfulness; there is even a certain torpidity in the concluding lines of some of them, which reminds one of church hymns; but, whilst they flow with great sweetness, they have the sublime unity of the Decalogue or the Code of Menu, and if as monotonous, yet are they almost as pure as the sounds of Surrounding Nature. We gladly insert from a newspaper the following sonnet, which appeared since the volume was printed.

The Barberry Bush.

The bush that has most briers and bitter fruit,

Wait till the frost has turned its green leaves red,

Its sweetened berries will thy palate suit,

And thou may’st find e’en there a homely bread.

Upon the hills of Salem scattered wide,

Their yellow blossoms gain the eye in Spring;

And straggling e’en upon the turnpike’s side,

Their ripened branches to your hand they bring,

I ‘ve plucked them oft in boyhood’s early hour,

That then I gave such name, and thought it true;

But now I know that other fruit as sour

Grows on what now thou callest Me and You;

Yet, wilt thou wait the autumn that I see,

Will sweeter taste than these red berries be.

Walter Savage Landor

We sometimes meet in a stage coach in New England an erect muscular man, with fresh complexion and a smooth hat, whose nervous speech instantly betrays the English traveller; — a man nowise cautious to conceal his name or that of his native country, or his very slight esteem for the persons and the country that surround him. When Mr. Bull rides in an American coach, he speaks quick and strong, he is very ready to confess his ignorance of everything about him, persons, manners, customs, politics, geography. He wonders that the Americans should build with wood, whilst all this stone is lying in the roadside, and is astonished to learn that a wooden house may last a hundred years; nor will he remember the fact as many minutes after it has been told him; he wonders they do not make elder-wine and cherry-bounce, since here are cherries, and every mile is crammed with elder bushes. He has never seen a good horse in America, nor a good coach, nor a good inn. Here is very good earth and water, and plenty of them, — that he is free to allow, — to all others gifts of nature or man, his eyes are sealed by the inexorable demand for the precise conveniences to which he is accustomed in England. Add to this proud blindness the better quality of great downrightness in speaking the truth, and the love of fair play, on all occasions, and, moreover, the peculiarity which is alleged of the Englishman, that his virtues do not come out until he quarrels. Transfer these traits to a very elegant and accomplished mind, and we shall have no bad picture of Walter Savage Landor, who may stand as a favorable impersonation of the genius of his countrymen at the present day. A sharp dogmatic man with a great deal of knowledge, a great deal of worth, and a great deal of pride, with a profound contempt for all that he does not understand, a master of all elegant learning and capable of the utmost delicacy of sentiment, and yet prone to indulge a sort of ostentation of coarse imagery and language. His partialities and dislikes are by no means calculable, but are often whimsical and amusing; yet they are quite sincere, and, like those of Johnson and Coleridge, are easily separable from the man. What he says of Wordsworth, is true of himself, that he delights to throw a clod of dirt on the table, and cry, “Gentlemen, there is a better man than all of you.” Bolivar, Mina, and General Jackson will never be greater soldiers than Napoleon and Alexander, let Mr. Landor think as he will; nor will he persuade us to burn Plato and Xenophon, out of our admiration of Bishop Patrick, or “Lucas on Happiness,” or “Lucas on Holiness,” or even Barrow’s Sermons. Yet a man may love a paradox, without losing either his wit or his honesty. A less pardonable eccentricity is the cold and gratuitous obtrusion of licentious images, not so much the suggestion of merriment as of bitterness. Montaigne assigns as a reason for his license of speech, that he is tired of seeing his Essays on the work-tables of ladies, and he is determined they shall for the future put them out of sight. In Mr. Landor’s coarseness there is a certain air of defiance; and the rude word seems sometimes to arise from a disgust at niceness and over-refinement. Before a well-dressed company he plunges his fingers in a sess-pool, as if to expose the whiteness of his hands and the jewels of his ring. Afterward, he washes them in water, he washes them in wine; but you are never secure from his freaks. A sort of Earl Peterborough in literature, his eccentricity is too decided not to have diminished his greatness. He has capital enough to have furnished the brain of fifty stock authors, yet has written no good book.

But we have spoken all our discontent. Possibly his writings are open to harsher censure; but we love the man from sympathy, as well as for reasons to be assigned; and have no wish, if we were able, to put an argument in the mouth of his critics. Now for twenty years we have still found the “Imaginary Conversations” a sure resource in solitude, and it seems to us as original in its form as in its matter. Nay, when we remember his rich and ample page, wherein we are always sure to find free and sustained thought, a keen and precise understanding, an affluent and ready memory familiar with all chosen books, an industrious observation in every department of life, an experience to which nothing has occurred in vain, honor for every just and generous sentiment, and a scourge like that of the Furies for every oppressor, whether public or private, we feel how dignified is this perpetual Censor in his curule chair, and we wish to thank a benefactor of the reading world.

Mr. Landor is one of the foremost of that small class who make good in the nineteenth-century the claims of pure literature. In these busy days of avarice and ambition, when there is so little disposition to profound thought, or to any but the most superficial intellectual entertainments, a faithful scholar receiving from past ages the treasures of wit, and enlarging them by his own love, is a friend and consoler of mankind. When we pronounce the names of Homer and Aeschylus, — Horace, Ovid, and Plutarch, — Erasmus, Scaliger, and Montaigne, — Ben Jonson and Isaak Walton, — Dryden and Pope, — we pass at once out of trivial associations, and enter into a region of the purest pleasure accessible to human nature. We have quitted all beneath the moon, and entered that crystal sphere in which everything in the world of matter reappears, but transfigured and immortal. Literature is the effort of man to indemnify himself for the wrongs of his condition. The existence of the poorest play-wright and the humblest scrivener is a good omen. A charm attaches to the most inferior names which have in any manner got themselves enrolled in the registers of the House of Fame, even as porters and grooms in the courts, to Creech and Fenton, Theobald and Dennis, Aubrey and Spence. From the moment of entering a library and opening a desired book, we cease to be citizens, creditors, debtors, housekeepers, and men of care and fear. What boundless leisure! what original jurisdiction! the old constellations have set, new and brighter have arisen; an elysian light tinges all objects.

“In the afternoon we came unto a land

In which it seemed always afternoon.”

And this sweet asylum of an intellectual life must appear to have the sanction of nature, as long as so many men are born with so decided an aptitude for reading and writing. Let us thankfully allow every faculty and art which opens new scope to a life so confined as ours. There are vast spaces in a thought; a slave, to whom the religious sentiment is opened, has a freedom which makes his master’s freedom a slavery. Let us not be so illiberal with our schemes for the renovation of society and nature, as to disesteem or deny the literary spirit. Certainly there are heights in nature which command this; there are many more which this commands. It is vain to call it a luxury, and as saints and reformers are apt to do, decry it as a species of day-dreaming. What else are sanctities, and reforms, and all other things? Whatever can make for itself an element, means, organs, servants, and the most profound and permanent existence in the hearts and heads of millions of men, must have a reason for its being. Its excellency is reason and vindication enough. If rhyme rejoices us, there should be rhyme, as much as if fire cheers us, we should bring wood and coals. Each kind of excellence takes place for its hour, and excludes everything else. Do not brag of your actions, as if they were better than Homer’s verses or Raphael’s pictures. Raphael and Homer feel that action is pitiful beside their enchantments. They could act too, if the stake was worthy of them; but now all that is good in the universe urges them to their task. Whoever writes for the love of truth and beauty, and not with ulterior ends, belongs to this sacred class, and among these, few men of the present age, have a better claim to be numbered than Mr. Landor. Wherever genius or taste has existed, wherever freedom and justice are threatened, which he values as the element in which genius may work, his interest is sure to be commanded. His love of beauty is passionate, and betrays itself in all petulant and contemptuous expressions.

But beyond his delight in genius, and his love of individual and civil liberty, Mr. Landor has a perception that is much more rare, the appreciation of character. This is the more remarkable considered with his intense nationality, to which we have already alluded. He is buttoned in English broadcloth to the chin. He hates the Austrians, the Italians, the French, the Scotch, and the Irish. He has the common prejudices of the English landholder; values his pedigree, his acres, and the syllables of his name; loves all his advantages, is not insensible to the beauty of his watchseal, or the Turk’s head on his umbrella; yet with all this miscellaneous pride, there is a noble nature within him, which instructs him that he is so rich that he can well spare all his trappings, and, leaving to others the painting of circumstance, aspire to the office of delineating character. He draws his own portrait in the costume of a village schoolmaster, and a sailor, and serenely enjoys the victory of nature over fortune. Not only the elaborated story of Normanby, but the whimsical selection of his heads prove this taste. He draws with evident pleasure the portrait of a man, who never said anything right, and never did anything wrong. But in the character of Pericles, he has found full play for beauty and greatness of behavior, where the circumstances are in harmony with the man. These portraits, though mere sketches, must be valued as attempts in the very highest kind of narrative, which not only has very few examples to exhibit of any success, but very few competitors in the attempt. The word Character is in all mouths; it is a force which we all feel; yet who has analyzed it? What is the nature of that subtle, and majestic principle which attaches us to a few persons, not so much by personal as by the most spiritual ties? What is the quality of the persons who, without being public men, or literary men, or rich men, or active men, or (in the popular sense) religious men, have a certain salutary omnipresence in all our life’s history, almost giving their own quality to the atmosphere and the landscape? A moral force, yet wholly unmindful of creed and catechism, intellectual, but scornful of books, it works directly and without means, and though it may be resisted at any time, yet resistance to it is a suicide. For the person who stands in this lofty relation to his fellow men is always the impersonation to them of their conscience. It is a sufficient proof of the extreme delicacy of this element, evanescing before any but the most sympathetic vision, that it has so seldom been employed in the drama and in novels. Mr. Landor, almost alone among living English writers, has indicated his perception of it.

These merits make Mr. Landor’s position in the republic of letters one of great mark and dignity. He exercises with a grandeur of spirit the office of writer, and carries it with an air of old and unquestionable nobility. We do not recollect an example of more complete independence in literary history. He has no clanship, no friendships, that warp him. He was one of the first to pronounce Wordsworth the great poet of the age, yet he discriminates his faults with the greater freedom. He loves Pindar, Aeschylus, Euripides, Aristophanes, Demosthenes, Virgil, yet with open eyes. His position is by no means the highest in literature; he is not a poet or a philosopher. He is a man full of thoughts, but not, like Coleridge, a man of ideas. Only from a mind conversant with the First Philosophy can definitions be expected. Coleridge has contributed many valuable ones to modern literature. Mr. Landor’s definitions are only enumerations of particulars; the generic law is not seized. But as it is not from the highest Alps or Andes, but from less elevated summits, that the most attractive landscape is commanded, so is Mr. Landor the most useful and agreeable of critics. He has commented on a wide variety of writers, with a closeness and an extent of view, which has enhanced the value of those authors to his readers. His Dialogue on the Epicurean philosophy is a theory of the genius of Epicurus. The Dialogue between Barrow and Newton is the best of all criticisms on the Essays of Bacon. His picture of Demosthenes in three several Dialogues is new and adequate. He has illustrated the genius of Homer, Aeschylus, Pindar, Euripides, Thucydides. Then he has examined before he expatiated, and the minuteness of his verbal criticism gives a confidence in his fidelity, when he speaks the language of meditation or of passion. His acquaintance with the English tongue is unsurpassed. He “hates false words, and seeks with care, difficulty, and moroseness, those that fit the thing.” He knows the value of his own words. “They are not,” he says, “written on slate.” He never stoops to explanation, nor uses seven words where one will do. He is a master of condensation and suppression, and that in no vulgar way. He knows the wide difference between compression and an obscure elliptical style. The dense writer has yet ample room and choice of phrase, and even a gamesome mood often between his valid words. There is no inadequacy or disagreeable contraction in his sentence, any more than in a human face, where in a square space of a few inches is found room for every possible variety of expression.

Yet it is not as an artist, that Mr. Landor commends himself to us. He is not epic or dramatic, he has not the high, overpowering method, by which the master gives unity and integrity to a work of many parts. He is too wilful, and never abandons himself to his genius. His books are a strange mixture of politics, etymology, allegory, sentiment, and personal history, and what skill of transition he may possess is superficial, not spiritual. His merit must rest at last, not on the spirit of the dialogue, or the symmetry of any of his historical portraits, but on the value of his sentences. Many of these will secure their own immortality in English literature; and this, rightly considered, is no mean merit. These are not plants and animals, but the genetical atoms, of which both are composed. All our great debt to the oriental world is of this kind, not utensils and statues of the precious metal, but bullion and gold dust. Of many of Mr. Landor’s sentences we are fain to remember what was said of those of Socrates, that they are cubes, which will stand firm, place them how or where you will.

We will enrich our pages with a few paragraphs, which we hastily select from such of Mr. Landor’s volumes as lie on our table.

“The great man is he who hath nothing to fear and nothing to hope from another. It is he, who while he demonstrates the iniquity of the laws, and is able to correct them, obeys them peaceably. It is he who looks on the ambitious, both as weak and fraudulent. It is he who hath no disposition or occasion for any kind of deceit, no reason for being or for appearing different from what he is. It is he who can call together the most select company when it pleases him. . . . Him I would call the powerful man who controls the storms of his mind, and turns to good account the worst accidents of his fortune. The great man, I was going on to show thee, is somewhat more. He must be able to do this, and he must have that intellect which puts into motion the intellect of others.”

“All titulars else must be produced by others; a knight by a knight, a peer by a King, while a gentleman is self-existent.”

“Critics talk most about the visible in sublimity . . the Jupiter, the Neptune. Magnitude and power are sublime, but in the second degree, managed as they may be. Where the heart is not shaken, the gods thunder and stride in vain. True sublimity is the perfection of the pathetic, which has other sources than pity; generosity, for instance, and self-devotion. When the generous and self-devoted man suffers, there comes Pity; the basis of the sublime is then above the water, and the poet, with or without the gods, can elevate it above the skies. Terror is but the relic of a childish feeling; pity is not given to children. So said he; I know not whether rightly, for the wisest differ on poetry, the knowledge of which, like other most important truths, seems to be reserved for a purer state of sensation and existence.”

“O Cyrus, I have observed that the authors of good make men very bad as often as they talk much about them.”

“The habit of haranguing is in itself pernicious; I have known even the conscientious and pious, the humane and liberal dried up by it into egoism and vanity, and have watched the mind, growing black and rancid in its own smoke.”

Glory.

“Glory is a light which shines from us on others, not from others on us.”

“If thou lovest Glory, thou must trust her truth. She followeth him who doth not turn and gaze after her.”

RICHARD I.

“Let me now tell my story . . to confession another time. I sailed along the realms of my family; on the right was England, on the left was France; little else could I discover than sterile eminences and extensive shoals. They fled behind me; so pass away generations; so shift, and sink, and die away affections. In the wide ocean I was little of a monarch; old men guided me, boys instructed me; these taught me the names of my towns and harbors, those showed me the extent of my dominions; one cloud, that dissolved in one hour, half covered them.

“I debark in Sicily. I place my hand upon the throne of Tancred, and fix it. I sail again, and within a day or two I behold, as the sun is setting, the solitary majesty of Crete, mother of a religion, it is said, that lived two thousand years. Onward, and many specks bubble up along the blue Aegean; islands, every one of which, if the songs and stories of the pilots are true, is the monument of a greater man than I am. I leave them afar off . . . . and for whom? O, abbot, to join creatures of less import than the sea-mews on their cliffs; men praying to be heard, and fearing to be understood, ambitious of another’s power in the midst of penitence, avaricious of another’s wealth under vows of poverty, and jealous of another’s glory in the service of their God. Is this Christianity? and is Saladin to be damned if he despises it?”

DEMOSTHENES.

“While I remember what I have been, I never can be less. External power can affect those only who have none intrinsically. I have seen the day, Eubulides, when the most august of cities had but one voice within her walls; and when the stranger, on entering them, stopped at the silence of the gateway, and said, ‘Demosthenes is speaking in the assembly of the people.’”

“There are few who form their opinions of greatness from the individual. Ovid says, ‘the girl is the least part of herself.’ Of himself, certainly, the man is.”

“No men are so facetious as those whose minds are somewhat perverted. Truth enjoys good air and clear light, but no playground.”

“I found that the principal means (of gratifying the universal desire of happiness) lay in the avoidance of those very things, which had hitherto been taken up as the instruments of enjoyment and content; such as military commands, political offices, clients, adventures in commerce, and extensive landed property.”

“Abstinence from low pleasures is the only means of meriting or of obtaining the higher.”

“Praise keeps good men good.”

“The highest price we can pay for a thing is to ask for it.”

“There is a gloom in deep love as in deep water; there is a silence in it which suspends the foot; and the folded arms, and the dejected head are the images it reflects. No voice shakes its surface; the Muses themselves approach it with a tardy and a timid step, and with a low and tremulous and melancholy song.”

“Anaxagoras is the true, firm, constant friend of Pericles; the golden lamp that shines perpetually on the image I adore.”

[The Letter of Pericles to Aspasia in reply to her request to be permitted to visit Xeniades.]

“Do what your heart tells you; yes, Aspasia, do all it tells you. Remember how august it is. It contains the temple, not only of Love, but of Conscience; and a whisper is heard from the extremity of one to the extremity of the other.

“Bend in pensiveness, even in sorrow, on the flowery bank of youth, whereunder runs the stream that passes irreversibly! let the garland drop into it, let the hand be refreshed by it — but — may the beautiful feet of Aspasia stand firm.”

E.

The Senses and the Soul

What we know is a point to what we do not know.” The first questions are still to be asked. Let any man bestow a thought on himself, how he came hither, and whither he tends, and he will find that all the literature, all the philosophy that is on record, have done little to dull the edge of inquiry. The globe that swims so silently with us through the sea of space, has never a port, but with its little convoy of friendly orbs pursues its voyage through the signs of heaven, to renew its navigation again forever. The wonderful tidings our glasses and calendars give us concerning the hospitable lights that hang around us in the deep, do not appease but inflame our curiosity; and in like manner, our culture does not lead to any goal, but its richest results of thought and action are only new preparation.

Here on the surface of our swimming earth we come out of silence into society already formed, into language, customs, and traditions, ready made, and the multitude of our associates discountenance us from expressing any surprise at the somewhat agreeable novelty of Being, and frown down any intimation on our part of a disposition to assume our own vows, to preserve our independence, and to institute any inquiry into the sweet and sublime vision which surrounds us.

And yet there seems no need that any should fear we should grow too wise. The path of truth has obstacles enough of its own. We dwell on the surface of nature. We dwell amidst surfaces; and surface laps so closely on surface, that we cannot easily pierce to see the interior organism. Then the subtlety of things! Under every cause, another cause. Truth soars too high or dives too deep, for the most resolute inquirer. See of how much we know nothing. See the strange position of man. Our science neither comprehends him as a whole, nor any one of its particulars. See the action and reaction of Will and Necessity. See his passions, and their origin in the deeps of nature and circumstance. See the Fear that rides even the brave. See the omnipresent Hope, whose fountains in our consciousness no metaphysician can find. Consider the phenomenon of Laughter, and explore the elements of the Comic. What do we know of the mystery of Music? and what of Form? why this stroke, this outline should express beauty, and that other not? See the occult region of Demonology, with coincidence, foresight, dreams, and omens. Consider the appearance of Death, the formidable secret of our destiny, looming up as the barrier of nature.

Our ignorance is great enough, and yet the fact most surprising is not our ignorance, but the aversation of men from knowledge. That which, one would say, would unite all minds and join all hands, the ambition to push as far as fate would permit, the planted garden of man on every hand into the kingdom of Night, really fires the heart of few and solitary men. Tell men to study themselves, and for the most part, they find nothing less interesting. Whilst we walk environed before and behind with Will, Fate, Hope, Fear, Love, and Death, these phantoms or angels, whom we catch at but cannot embrace, it is droll to see the contentment and incuriosity of man. All take for granted, — the learned as well as the unlearned, — that a great deal, nay, almost all, is known and forever settled. But in truth all is now to be begun, and every new mind ought to take the attitude of Columbus, launch out from the gaping loiterers on the shore, and sail west for a new world.

This profound ignorance, this deep sleep of the higher faculties of man, coexists with a great abundance of what are called the means of learning, great activity of book-making, and of formal teaching. Go into one of our public libraries, when a new box of books and journals has arrived with the usual importation of the periodical literature of England. The best names of Britain are on the covers. What a mass of literary production for a single week or month! We speculate upon it before we read. We say, what an invention is the press and the journal, by which a hundred pale students, each a hive of distilled flowers of learning, of thought, — each a poet, — each an accomplished man whom the selectest influences have joined to breed and enrich, are made to unite their manifold streams for the information and delight of everybody who can read! How lame is speech, how imperfect the communication of the ancient Harper, wandering from castle to hamlet, to sing to a vagrant audience his melodious thoughts! These unopened books contain the chosen verses of a hundred minstrels, born, living, and singing in distant countries and different languages; for, the intellectual wealth of the world, like its commercial, rolls to London, and through that great heart is hurled again to the extremities. And here, too, is the result, not poetic, of how much thought, how much experience, and how much suffering of wise and cultivated men! How can we in America expect books of our own, whilst this bale of wisdom arrives once or twice in a month at our ports?

In this mind we open the books, and begin to read. We find they are books about books; and then perhaps the book criticized was itself a compilation or digest of others; so that the page we read is at third or fourth hand from the event or sentiment which it describes. Then we find that much the largest proportion of the pages relates exclusively to matter of fact — to the superficial fact, and, as if systematically, shuns any reference to a thought or law which the fact indicated. A large part again, both of the prose and verse, is gleanings from old compositions, and the oft repeated praise of such is repeated in the phrase of the present day. We have even the mortification to find one more deduction still from our anticipated prize, namely, that a large portion of ostentatious criticism is merely a hired advertisement of the great booksellers. In the course of our turning of leaves, we fall at last on an extraordinary passage — a record of thought and virtue, or a clarion strain of poetry, or perchance a traveller makes us acquainted with strange modes of life and some relic of primeval religion, or, rarer yet, a profound sentence is here printed — shines here new but eternal on these linen pages, — we wonder whence it came, — or perhaps trace it instantly home — aut Erasmus aut Diabolus — to the only head it could come from.

A few thoughts are all we glean from the best inspection of the paper pile; all the rest is combination and confectionary. A little part abides in our memory, and goes to exalt the sense of duty, and make us happier. For the rest, our heated expectation is chilled and disappointed. Some indirect benefit will no doubt accrue. If we read with braced and active mind, we learn this negative fact, itself a piece of human life. We contrast this mountain of dross with the grains of gold, — we oversee the writer, and learn somewhat of the laws of writing. But a lesson as good we might be learning elsewhere.

Now what is true of a month’s or a year’s issue of new books, seems to me with a little qualification true of the age. The stock-writers, (for the honesty of the literary class has given this population a name,) vastly out-number the thinking men. One man, two men, — possibly, three or four, — have cast behind them the long-descended costume of the academy, and the expectations of fashion, and have said, This world is too fair, this world comes home too near to me than that I should walk a stranger in it, and live at second-hand, fed by other men’s doctrines, or treading only in their steps; I feel a higher right herein, and will hearken to the Oracle myself. Such have perceived the extreme poverty of literature, have seen that there was not and could not be help for the fervent soul, except through its own energy. But the great number of those who have voluminously ministered to the popular tastes were men of talents, who had some feat which each could do with words, but who have not added to wisdom or to virtue. Talent amuses; Wisdom instructs. Talent shows me what another man can do; Genius acquaints me with the spacious circuits of the common nature. One is carpentry; the other is growth. To make a step into the world of thought is now given to but few men; to make a second step beyond the first, only one in a country can do; but to carry the thought on to three steps, marks a great teacher. Aladdin’s palace with its one unfinished window, which all the gems in the royal treasury cannot finish in the style of the meanest of the profusion of jewelled windows that were built by the Genie in a night, is but too true an image of the efforts of talent to add one verse to the copious text which inspiration writes by one or another scribe from age to age.

It is not that the literary class or those for whom they write, are not lovers of truth, and amenable to principles. All are so. The hunger of men for truth is immense; but they are not erect on their feet; the senses are too strong for the soul. Our senses barbarize us. When the ideal world recedes before the senses, we are on a retrograde march. The savage surrenders to his senses; he is subject to paroxysms of joy and fear; he is lewd, and a drunkard. The Esquimaux in the exhilaration of the morning sun, when he is invigorated by sleep, will sell his bed. He is the fool of the moment’s sensations to the degree of losing sight of the whole amount of his sensations in so many years. And there is an Esquimaux in every man which makes us believe in the permanence of this moment’s state of our game more than our own experience will warrant. In the fine day we despise the house. At sea, the passengers always judge from the weather of the present moment of the probable length of the voyage. In a fresh breeze, they are sure of a good run; becalmed, they are equally sure of a long passage. In trade, the momentary state of the markets betrays continually the experienced and long-sighted. In politics, and in our opinion of the prospects of society, we are in like manner the slaves of the hour. Meet one or two malignant declaimers, and we are weary of life, and distrust the permanence of good institutions. A single man in a ragged coat at an election looks revolutionary. But ride in a stage-coach with one or two benevolent persons in good spirits, and the Republic seems to us safe.

It is but an extension of the despotism of sense, — shall I say, only a calculated sensuality, — a little more comprehensive devotion which subjugates the eminent and the reputed wise, and hinders an ideal culture. In the great stakes which the leaders of society esteem not at all fanciful but solid, in the best reputed professions and operations, what is there which will bear the scrutiny of reason? The most active lives have so much routine as to preclude progress almost equally with the most inactive. We defer to the noted merchants whose influence is felt not only in their native cities, but in most parts of the globe; but our respect does them and ourselves great injustice, for their trade is without system, their affairs unfold themselves after no law of the mind; but are bubble built on bubble without end; a work of arithmetic, not of commerce, much less of considerate humanity. They add voyage to voyage, and buy stocks that they may buy stocks, and no ulterior purpose is thought of. When you see their dexterity in particulars, you cannot overestimate the resources of good sense, and when you find how empty they are of all remote aims, you cannot underestimate their philosophy.

The men of letters and the professions we have charged with the like surrender to routine. It is no otherwise with the men of office. Statesmen are solitary. At no time do they form a class. Governments, for the most part, are carried on by political merchants quite without principle, and according to the maxims of trade and huckster; so that what is true of merchants is true of public officers. Why should we suffer ourselves to be cheated by sounding names and fair shows? The titles, the property, the notoriety, the brief consequence of our fellows are only the decoration of the sacrifice, and add to the melancholy of the observer.

“The earth goes on the earth glittering with gold,

The earth goes to the earth sooner than it should,

The earth builds on the earth castles and towers,

The earth says to the earth, all this is ours.”

All this is covered up by the speedy succession of the particulars, which tread so close on each other’s heel, as to allow no space for the man to question the whole thing. There is somewhat terrific in this mask of routine. Captain Franklin, after six weeks travelling on the ice to the North Pole, found himself two hundred miles south of the spot he had set out from. The ice had floated; and we sometimes start to think we are spelling out the same sentences, saying the same words, repeating the same acts as in former years. Our ice may float also.

This preponderance of the senses can we balance and redress? Can we give permanence to the lightnings of thought which lick up in a moment these combustible mountains of sensation and custom, and reveal the moral order after which the earth is to be rebuilt anew? Grave questions truly, but such as to leave us no option. To know the facts is already a choosing of sides, ranges us on the party of Light and Reason, sounds the signal for the strife, and prophesies an end to the insanity and a restoration of the balance and rectitude of man.

Transcendentalism

The more liberal thought of intelligent persons acquires a new name in each period or community; and in ours, by no very good luck, as it sometimes appears to us, has been designated as Transcendentalism. We have every day occasion to remark its perfect identity, under whatever new phraseology or application to new facts, with the liberal thought of all men of a religious and contemplative habit in other times and countries. We were lately so much struck with two independent testimonies to this fact, proceeding from persons, one in sympathy with the Quakers, and the other with the Calvinistic Church, that we have begged the privilege to transcribe an extract from two private letters, in order that we might bring them together.

The Calvinist writes to his Correspondent after this manner.

“All the peculiarities of the theology, denominated Trinitarian, are directly or indirectly transcendental. The sinfulness of man involves the supposition of a nature in man, which transcends all limits of animal life and of social moralities. The reality of spirit, in the highest sense of that holy word, as the essence of God and the inward ground and law of man’s being and doing, is supposed both in the fact of sin, and the possibility of redemption of sin. The mystery of the Father revealed only in the Son as the Word of Life, the Light which illumines every man, outwardly in the incarnation and offering for sin, inwardly as the Christ in us, energetic and quickening in the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, — the great mystery wherein we find redemption, this, like the rest, is transcendental. So throughout, as might be shown by the same induction suggested in relation to another aspect of the matter. Now here is my point. Trinitarians, whose whole system from beginning to end is transcendental, ideal, — an idea is the highest truth, — war against the very foundations of whatever is transcendental, ideal; all must be empiric, sensuous, inductive. A system, which used to create and sustain the most fervid enthusiasm, as is its nature, for it makes God all in all, leads in crusade against all even the purest and gentlest enthusiasm. It fights for the letter of Orthodoxy, for usage, for custom, for tradition, against the Spirit as it breathes like healing air through the damps and unwholesome swamps, or like strong wind throwing down rotten trees and rotten frameworks of men. It builds up with one hand the Temple of Truth on the outside; and with the other works as in a frenzy to tear up its very foundations. So has it seemed to me. The transcendentalists do not err in excess but in defect, if I understand the case. They do not hold wild dreams for realities; the vision is deeper, broader, more spiritual than they have seen. They do not believe with too strong faith; their faith is too dim of sight, too feeble of grasp, too wanting in certainty. I regret that they should ever seem to undervalue the Scriptures. For those scriptures have flowed out of the same spirit which is in every pure heart; and I would have the one spirit recognise and respond to itself under all the multiform shapes of word, of deed, of faith, of love, of thought, of affection, in which it is enrobed; just as that spirit in us recognises and responds to itself now in the gloom of winter, now in the cheer of summer, now in the bloom of spring, now in the maturity of autumn; and in all the endless varieties of each.”

The Friend writes thus.

“Hold fast, I beseech you, to the resolution to wait for light from the Lord. Go not to men for a creed, faint not, but be of good courage. The darkness is only for a season. We must be willing to tarry the Lord’s time in the wilderness, if we would enter the Promised Land. The purest saints that I have ever known were long, very long, in darkness and in doubt. Even when they had firm faith, they were long without feeling what they believed in. One told me he was two years in chaotic darkness, without an inch of firm ground to stand upon, watching for the dayspring from on high, and after this long probation it shone upon his path, and he has walked by its light for years. Do not fear or regret your isolation from men, your difference from all around you. It is often necessary to the enlargement of the soul that it should thus dwell alone for a season, and when the mystical union of God and man shall be completely developed, and you feel yourself newly born a child of light, one of the sons of God, you will also feel new ties to your fellow men; you will love them all in God, and each will be to you whatever their state will permit them to be.

“It is very interesting to me to see, as I do, all around me here, the essential doctrines of the Quakers revived, modified, stript of all that puritanism and sectarianism had heaped upon them, and made the foundation of an intellectual philosophy, that is illuminating the finest minds and reaches the wants of the least cultivated. The more I reflect upon the Quakers, the more I admire the early ones, and am surprised at their being so far in advance of their age, but they have educated the world till it is now able to go beyond those teachers.

“Spiritual growth, which they considered at variance with intellectual culture, is now wedded to it, and man’s whole nature is advanced. The intellectual had so lorded it over the moral, that much onesided cultivation was requisite to make things even. I remember when your intellect was all in all, and the growth of the moral sense came after. It has now taken its proper place in your mind, and the intellect appears for a time prostrate, but in due season both will go on harmoniously, and you will be a perfect man. If you suffer more than many before coming into the light, it is because your character is deeper and your happy enlargement will be proportioned to it.”

The identity, which the writer of this letter finds between the speculative opinions of serious persons at the present moment, and those entertained by the first Quakers, is indeed so striking as to have drawn a very general attention of late years to the history of that sect. Of course, in proportion to the depth of the experience, will be its independence on time and circumstances, yet one can hardly read George Fox’s Journal, or Sewel’s History of the Quakers, without many a rising of joyful surprise at the correspondence of facts and expressions to states of thought and feeling, with which we are very familiar. The writer justly remarks the equal adaptation of the philosophy in question “to the finest minds, and to the least cultivated.” And so we add in regard to these works, that quite apart from the pleasure of reading modern history in old books, the reader will find another reward in the abundant illustration they furnish to the fact, that wherever the religious enthusiasm makes its appearance, it supplies the place of poetry and philosophy and of learned discipline, and inspires by itself the same vastness of thinking; so that in learning the religious experiences of a strong but untaught mind, you seem to have suggested in turn all the sects of the philosophers.

We seize the occasion to adorn our pages with the dying speech of James Naylor, one of the companions of Fox, who had previously been for eight years a common soldier in the army. Its least service will be to show how far the religious sentiment could exalt the thinking and purify the language of the most uneducated men.

“There is a spirit which I feel,” said James Naylor a few hours before his death, “that delights to do no evil, nor to revenge any wrong, but delights to endure all things, in hope to enjoy its own in the end. Its hope is to outlive all wrath and contention, and to weary out all exultation and cruelty, or whatever is of a nature contrary to itself. It sees to the end of all temptations. As it bears no evil in itself, so it conceives none in thought to any other. If it be betrayed, it bears it; for its ground and spring is the mercies and forgiveness of God. Its crown is meekness, its life is everlasting love unfeigned, and it takes its kingdom with entreaty, and keeps it by lowliness of mind. In God alone it can rejoice, though none else regard it, or can own its life. It is conceived in sorrow, and brought forth without any to pity it; nor doth it murmur at grief and oppression. It never rejoiceth but through sufferings; for with the world’s joy it is murdered. I found it alone being forsaken. I have fellowship therein with them who lived in dens and desolate places of the earth, who through death obtained this resurrection and eternal holy life.”

Prayers

Not with fond shekels of the tested gold,
Nor gems whose rates are either rich or poor,
As fancy values them: but with true prayers,
That shall be up at heaven, and enter there
Ere sunrise; prayers from preserved souls,
From fasting maids, whose minds are dedicate
To nothing temporal.

SHAKSPEARE.

Pythagoras said that the time when men are honestest, is when they present themselves before the gods. If we can overhear the prayer, we shall know the man. But prayers are not made to be overheard, or to be printed, so that we seldom have the prayer otherwise than it can be inferred from the man and his fortunes, which are the answer to the prayer, and always accord with it. Yet there are scattered about in the earth a few records of these devout hours which it would edify us to read, could they be collected in a more catholic spirit than the wretched and repulsive volumes which usurp that name. Let us not have the prayers of one sect, nor of the Christian Church, but of men in all ages and religions, who have prayed well. The prayer of Jesus is, as it deserves, become a form for the human race. Many men have contributed a single expression, a single word to the language of devotion, which is immediately caught and stereotyped in the prayers of their church and nation. Among the remains of Euripides, we have this prayer; “Thou God of all! infuse light into the souls of men, whereby they may be enabled to know what is the root from whence all their evils spring, and by what means they may avoid them.” In the Phaedrus of Plato, we find this petition in the mouth of Socrates; “O gracious Pan! and ye other gods who preside over this place! grant that I may be beautiful within; and that those external things, which I have, may be such as may best agree with a right internal disposition of mind; and that I may account him to be rich, who is wise and just.” Wacic the Caliph, who died A. D. 845, ended his life, the Arabian historians tell us, with these words; “O thou whose kingdom never passes away, pity one whose dignity is so transient.” But what led us to these remembrances was the happy accident which in this undevoutage lately brought us acquainted with two or three diaries which attest, if there be need of attestation, the eternity of the sentiment and its equality to itself through all the variety of expression. The first is the prayer of a deaf and dumb boy.

“When my long-attached friend comes to me, I have pleasure to converse with him, and I rejoice to pass my eyes over his countenance; but soon I am weary of spending my time causelessly and unimproved and I desire to leave him, (but not in rudeness,) because I wish to be engaged in my business. But thou, O my Father, knowest I always delight to commune with thee in my lone and silent heart; I am never full of thee; I am never weary of thee; I am always desiring thee. I hunger with strong hope and affection for thee, and I thirst for thy grace and spirit.

“When I go to visit my friends, I must put on my best garments, and I must think of my manner to please them. I am tired to stay long, because my mind is not free, and they sometimes talk gossip with me. But, Oh my Father, thou visitest me in my work, and I can lift up my desires to thee, and my heart is cheered and at rest with thy presence, and I am always alone with thee, and thou dost not steal my time by foolishness. I always ask in my heart, where can I find thee?”

The next is a voice out of a solitude as strict and sacred as that in which nature had isolated this eloquent mute.

“My Father, when I cannot be cheerful or happy, I can be true and obedient, and I will not forget that joy has been, and may still be. If there is no hour of solitude granted me, still I will commune with thee. If I may not search out and pierce my thought, so much the more may my living praise thee. At whatever price, I must be alone with thee; this must be the demand I make. These duties are not the life, but the means which enable us to show forth the life. So must I take up this cross, and bear it willingly. Why should I feel reproved when a busy one enters the room? I am not idle though I sit with folded hands; but instantly I must seek some cover. For that shame I reprove myself. Are they only the valuable members of society who labor to dress and feed it? Shall we never ask the aim of all this hurry and foam, of this aimless activity? Let the purpose for which I live be always before me; let every thought and word go to confirm and illuminate that end; namely, that I must become near and dear to thee; that now I am beyond the reach of all but thee.

“How can we not be reconciled to thy will? I will know the joy of giving to my friend the dearest treasure I have. I know that sorrow comes not at once only. We cannot meet it, and say, now it is overcome, but again, and yet again its flood pours over us, and as full as at first.

“If but this tedious battle could be fought,

Like Sparta’s heroes at one rocky pass,

‘One day be spent in dying,’ men had sought

The spot and been cut down like mower’s grass.”

The next is in a metrical form. It is the aspiration of a different mind, in quite other regions of power and duty, yet they all accord at last.

“Great God, I ask thee for no meaner pelf

Than that I may not disappoint myself,

That in my action I may soar as high,

As I can now discern with this clear eye.

And next in value, which they kindness lends,

That I may greatly disappoint my friends,

Howe’er they think or hope that it may be,

They may not dream how thou ‘st distinguished me.

That my weak hand may equal my firm faith,

And my life practise more than my tongue saith;

That my low conduct may not show,

Nor my relenting lines,

That I thy purpose did not know,

Or overrated thy designs.”

The last of the four orisons is written in a singularly calm and healthful spirit, and contains this petition.

“My Father! I now come to thee with a desire to thank thee for the continuance of our love, the one for the other. I feel that without thy love in me, I should be alone here in the flesh. I cannot express my gratitude for what thou hast been and continuest to be to me. But thou knowest what my feelings are. When nought on earth seemeth pleasant to me, thou dost make thyself known to me, and teach me that which is needful for me, and dost cheer my travels on. I know that thou hast not created me and placed me here on earth, amidst its toils and troubles, and the follies of those around me, and told me to be like thyself, when I see so little of thee here to profit by; thou hast not done this, and then left me to myself, a poor, weak man, scarcely able to earn my bread. No; thou art my Father, and I will love thee, for thou didst first love me, and lovest me still. We will ever be parent and child. Wilt thou give me strength to persevere in this great work of redemption. Wilt thou show me the true means of accomplishing it. . . . I thank thee for the knowledge that I have attained of thee by thy sons who have been before me, and especially for him who brought me so perfect a type of thy goodness and love to men. . . . . I know that thou wilt deal with me as I deserve. I place myself therefore in thy hand, knowing that thou wilt keep me from all harm so long as I consent to live under thy protecting care.”

Let these few scattered leaves, which a chance, (as men say, but which to us shall be holy,) brought under our eye nearly at the same moment, stand as an example of innumerable similar expressions which no mortal witness has reported, and be a sign of the times. Might they be suggestion to many a heart of yet higher secret experiences which are ineffable! But we must not tie up the rosary on which we have strung these few white beads, without adding a pearl of great price from that book of prayer, the “Confessions of Saint Augustine.”

“And being admonished to reflect upon myself, I entered into the very inward parts of my soul, by thy conduct; and I was able to do it, because now thou wert become my helper. I entered and discerned with the eye of my soul, (such as it was,) even beyond my soul and mind itself the Light unchangeable. Not this vulgar light which all flesh may look upon, nor as it were a greater of the same kind, as though the brightness of this should be manifold greater and with its greatness take up all space. Not such was this light, but other, yea, far other from all these. Neither was it so above my understanding, as oil swims above water, or as the heaven is above the earth. But it is above me, because it made me; and I am under it, because I was made by it. He that knows truth or verity, knows what that Light is, and he that knows it knows eternity, and it is known by charity. O eternal Verity! and true Charity! and dear Eternity! thou art my God, to thee do I sigh day and night. Thee when I first knew, thou liftedst me up that I might see there was what I might see, and that I was not yet such as to see. And thou didst beat back my weak sight upon myself, shooting out beams upon me after a vehement manner, and I even trembled between love and horror, and I found myself to be far off, and even in the very region of dissimilitude from thee.”

Fourierism and the Socialists

The increasing zeal and numbers of the disciples of Fourier, in America and in Europe, entitle them to an attention which their theory and practical projects will justify and reward. In London, a good weekly newspaper (lately changed into a monthly journal) called “The Phalanx,” devoted to the social doctrines of Charles Fourier and bearing for its motto, “Association and Colonization,” is edited by Hugh Doherty. Mr. Etzler’s inventions, as described in the Phalanx, promise to cultivate twenty thousand acres with the aid of four men only and cheap machinery. Thus the laborers are threatened with starvation if they do not organize themselves into corporations, so that machinery may labor for instead of working against them. It appears that Mr. Young, an Englishman of large property, has purchased the Benedictine Abbey of Citeaux, in the Mont d’Or, in France, with its ample domains, for the purpose of establishing a colony there. We also learn that some members of the sect have bought an estate at Santa Catharina, fifty miles from Rio Janeiro, in a good situation for an agricultural experiment, and one hundred laborers have sailed from Havre to that port, and nineteen hundred more are to follow. On the anniversary of the birthday of Fourier, which occurred in April, public festivals were kept by the Socialists in London, in Paris, and in New York. In the city of New York, the disciples of Fourier have bought a column in the Daily Tribune, Horace Greeley’s excellent newspaper, whose daily and weekly circulation exceeds twenty thousand copies, and through that organ are now diffusing their opinions.

We had lately an opportunity of learning something of these Socialists and their theory from the indefatigable apostle of the sect in New York, Albert Brisbane. Mr. Brisbane pushes his doctrine with all the force of memory, talent, honest faith, and importunacy. As we listened to his exposition, it appeared to us the sublime of mechanical philosophy; for the system was the perfection of arrangement and contrivance. The force of arrangement could no farther go. The merit of the plan was that it was a system; that it had not the partiality and hint-and-fragment character of most popular schemes, but was coherent and comprehensive of facts to a wonderful degree. It was not daunted by distance, or magnitude, or remoteness of any sort, but strode about nature with a giant’s step, and skipped no fact, but wove its large Ptolemaic web of cycle and epicycle, of phalanx and phalanstery, with laudable assiduity. Mechanics were pushed so far as fairly to meet spiritualism. One could not but be struck with strange coincidences betwixt Fourier and Swedenborg. Genius hitherto has been shamefully misapplied, a mere trifler. It must now set itself to raise the social condition of man, and to redress the disorders of the planet he inhabits. The Desert of Sahara, the Campagna di Roma, the frozen polar circles, which by their pestilential or hot or cold airs poison the temperate regions, accuse man. Society, concert, cooperation, is the secret of the coming Paradise. By reason of the isolation of men at the present day, all work is drudgery. By concert, and the allowing each laborer to choose his own work, it becomes pleasure. “Attractive Industry” would speedily subdue, by adventurous, scientific, and persistent tillage, the pestilential tracts; would equalize temperature; give health to the globe, and cause the earth to yield ‘healthy imponderable fluids’ to the solar system, as now it yields noxious fluids. The hyaena, the jackal, the gnat, the bug, the flea, were all beneficent parts of the system; the good Fourier knew what those creatures should have been, had not the mould slipped, through the bad state of the atmosphere, caused, no doubt, by these same vicious imponderable fluids. All these shall be redressed by human culture, and the useful goat, and dog, and innocent poetical moth, or the wood-tick to consume decomposing wood, shall take their place. It takes 1680 men to make one Man, complete in all the faculties; that is, to be sure that you have got a good joiner, a good cook, a barber, a poet, a judge, an umbrella-maker, a mayor and aldermen, and so on. Your community should consist of 2000 persons, to prevent accidents of omission; and each community should take up 6000 acres of land. Now fancy the earth planted with fifties and hundreds of these phalanxes side by side, — what tillage, what architecture, what refectories, what dormitories, what reading rooms, what concerts, what lectures, what gardens, what baths! What is not in one, will be in another, and many will be within easy distance. Then know you and all, that Constantinople is the natural capital of the globe. There, in the Golden Horn, will be the Arch-Phalanx established, there will the Omniarch reside. Aladdin and his magician, or the beautiful Scheherzarade, can alone in these prosaic times, before the sight, describe the material splendors collected there. Poverty shall be abolished; deformity, stupidity, and crime shall be no more. Genius, grace, art, shall abound, and it is not to be doubted but that, in the reign of “Attractive Industry,” all men will speak in blank verse.

Certainly we listened with great pleasure to such gay and magnificent pictures. The ability and earnestness of the advocate and his friends, the comprehensiveness of their theory, its apparent directness of proceeding to the end they would secure, the indignation they felt and uttered at all other speculation in the presence of so much social misery, commanded our attention and respect. It contained so much truth, and promised in the attempts that shall be made to realize it so much valuable instruction, that we are engaged to observe every step of its progress. Yet in spite of the assurances of its friends, that it was new and widely discriminated from all other plans for the regeneration of society, we could not exempt it from the criticism which we apply to so many projects for reform with which the brain of the age teems. Our feeling was, that Fourier had skipped no fact but one, namely, Life. He treats man as a plastic thing, something that may be put up or down, ripened or retarded, moulded, polished, made into solid, or fluid, or gas, at the will of the leader; or, perhaps, as a vegetable, from which, though now a poor crab, a very good peach can by manure and exposure be in time produced, but skips the faculty of life, which spawns and scorns system and system-makers, which eludes all conditions, which makes or supplants a thousand phalanxes and New-Harmonies with each pulsation. There is an order in which in a sound mind the faculties always appear, and which, according to the strength of the individual, they seek to realize in the surrounding world. The value of Fourier’s system is that it is a statement of such an order externized, or carried outward into its correspondence in facts. The mistake is, that this particular order and series is to be imposed by force of preaching and votes on all men, and carried into rigid execution. But what is true and good must not only be begun by life, but must be conducted to its issues by life. Could not the conceiver of this design have also believed that a similar model lay in every mind, and that the method of each associate might be trusted, as well as that of his particular Committee and General Office, No. 200 Broadway? nay, that it would be better to say, let us be lovers and servants of that which is just; and straightway every man becomes a centre of a holy and beneficent republic, which he sees to include all men in its law, like that of Plato, and of Christ. Before such a man the whole world becomes Fourierized or Christized or humanized, and in the obedience to his most private being, he finds himself, according to his presentiment, though against all sensuous probability, acting in strict concert with all others who followed their private light.

Yet in a day of small, sour, and fierce schemes, one is admonished and cheered by a project of such friendly aims, and of such bold and generous proportion; there is an intellectual courage and strength in it, which is superior and commanding: it certifies the presence of so much truth in the theory, and in so far is destined to be fact.

But now, whilst we write these sentences, comes to us a paper from Mr. Brisbane himself. We are glad of the opportunity of letting him speak for himself. He has much more to say than we have hinted, and here has treated a general topic. We have not room for quite all the matter which he has sent us, but persuade ourselves that we have retained every material statement, in spite of the omissions which we find it necessary to make, to contract his paper to so much room as we offered him.

Mr. Brisbane, in a prefatory note to his article, announces himself as an advocate of the Social Laws discovered by CHARLES FOURIER, and intimates that he wishes to connect whatever value attaches to any statement of his, with the work in which he is exclusively engaged, that of Social Reform. He adds the following broad and generous declaration.

“It seems to me that, with the spectacle of the present misery and degradation of the human race before us, all scientific researches and speculations, to be of any real value, should have a bearing upon the means of their social elevation and happiness. The mass of scientific speculations, which are every day offered to the world by men, who are not animated by a deep interest in the elevation of their race, and who exercise their talents merely to build up systems, or to satisfy a spirit of controversy, or personal ambition, are perfectly valueless. What is more futile than barren philosophical speculation, that leads to no great practical results?”

Chardon Street and Bible Conventions

In the month of November, 1840, a Convention of Friends of Universal Reform assembled in the Chardon Street Chapel, in Boston, in obedience to a call in the newspapers signed by a few individuals, inviting all persons to a public discussion of the institutions of the Sabbath, the Church and the Ministry. The Convention organized itself by the choice of Edmund Quincy, as Moderator, spent three days in the consideration of the Sabbath, and adjourned to a day in March, of the following year, for the discussion of the second topic. In March, accordingly, a three-days’ session was holden, in the same place, on the subject of the Church, and a third meeting fixed for the following November, which was accordingly holden, and the Convention, debated, for three days again, the remaining subject of the Priesthood. This Convention never printed any report of its deliberations, nor pretended to arrive at any Result, by the expression of its sense in formal resolutions, — the professed object of those persons who felt the greatest interest in its meetings being simply the elucidation of truth through free discussion. The daily newspapers reported, at the time, brief sketches of the course of proceedings, and the remarks of the principal speakers. These meetings attracted a good deal of public attention, and were spoken of in different circles in every note of hope, of sympathy, of joy, of alarm, of abhorrence, and of merriment. The composition of the assembly was rich and various. The singularity and latitude of the summons drew together, from all parts of New England, and also from the Middle States, men of every shade of opinion, from the straitest orthodoxy to the wildest heresy, and many persons whose church was a church of one member only. A great variety of dialect and of costume was noticed; a great deal of confusion, eccentricity, and freak appeared, as well as of zeal and enthusiasm. If the assembly was disorderly, it was picturesque. Madmen, madwomen, men with beards, Dunkers, Muggletonians, Come-outers, Groaners, Agrarians, Seventh-day-Baptists, Quakers, Abolitionists, Calvinists, Unitarians, and Philosophers, — all came successively to the top, and seized their moment, if not their hour, wherein to chide, or pray, or preach, or protest. The faces were a study. The most daring innovators, and the champions-until-death of the old cause, sat side by side. The still living merit of the oldest New England families, glowing yet, after several generations, encountered the founders of families, fresh merit, emerging, and expanding the brows to a new breadth, and lighting a clownish face with sacred fire. The assembly was characterized by the predominance of a certain plain, sylvan strength and earnestness, whilst many of the most intellectual and cultivated persons attended its councils. Dr. Channing, Edward Taylor, Bronson Alcott, Mr. Garrison, Mr. May, Theodore Parker, H. C. Wright, Dr. Osgood, William Adams, Edward Palmer, Jones Very, Maria W. Chapman, and many other persons of a mystical, or sectarian, or philanthropic renown, were present, and some of them participant. And there was no want of female speakers; Mrs. Little and Mrs. Lucy Sessions took a pleasing and memorable part in the debate, and that flea of Conventions, Mrs. Abigail Folsom, was but too ready with her interminable scroll. If there was not parliamentary order, there was life, and the assurance of that constitutional love for religion and religious liberty, which, in all periods, characterizes the inhabitants of this part of America.

There was a great deal of wearisome speaking in each of those three days’ sessions, but relieved by signal passages of pure eloquence, by much vigor of thought, and especially by the exhibition of character, and by the victories of character. These men and women were in search of something better and more satisfying than a vote or a definition, and they found what they sought, or the pledge of it, in the attitude taken by individuals of their number, of resistance to the insane routine of parliamentary usage, in the lofty reliance on principles, and the prophetic dignity and transfiguration which accompanies, even amidst opposition and ridicule, a man whose mind is made up to obey the great inward Commander, and who does not anticipate his own action, but awaits confidently the new emergency for the new counsel. By no means the least value of this Convention, in our eye, was the scope it gave to the genius of Mr. Alcott, and not its least instructive lesson was the gradual but sure ascendency of his spirit, in spite of the incredulity and derision with which he is at first received, and in spite, we might add, of his own failures. Moreover, although no decision was had, and no action taken on all the great points mooted in the discussion, yet the Convention brought together many remarkable persons, face to face, and gave occasion to memorable interviews and conversations, in the hall, in the lobbies, or around the doors.

Before this body broke up in November last, a short adjournment was carried, for the purpose of appointing a Committee to summon a new Convention, to be styled ‘the Bible Convention,’ for the discussion of the credibility and authority of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. A Committee was agreed upon, and, by their invitation, the new Association met in the Masonic Temple, in Boston, on the 29th of March, of the present year. This meeting was less numerously attended, and did not exhibit at its birth the same vigor as its predecessors. Many persons who had been conspicuous in the former meetings were either out of the country, or hindered from early attendance. Several who wished to be present at its deliberations deferred their journey until the second day, believing that, like the former Convention, it would sit three days. Possibly from the greater unpopularity of its object, out of doors, some faintness or coldness surprised the members. At all events, it was hurried to a conclusion on the first day to the great disappointment of many. Mr. Brownson, Mr. Alcott, Mr. West, and among others a Mormon preacher took part in the conversation. But according to the general testimony of those present, as far as we can collect it, the best speech made on that occasion was that of Nathaniel H. Whiting, of South Marshfield. Mr. Whiting had already distinguished himself in the Chardon Street meetings. Himself a plain unlettered man, leaving for the day a mechanical employment to address his fellows, he possesses eminent gifts for success in assemblies so constituted. He has fluency, self-command, an easy, natural method, and very considerable power of statement. No one had more entirely the ear of this audience, for it is not to be forgotten that, though, as we have said there were scholars and highly intellectual persons in this company, the bulk of the assemblage was made up of quite other materials, namely, of those whom religion and solitary thought have educated, and not books or society, — young farmers and mechanics from the country, whose best training has been in the Anti-slavery, and Temperance, and Non-resistance Clubs.

Agriculture of Massachusetts

In an afternoon in April, after a long walk, I traversed an orchard where two boys were grafting apple trees, and found the Farmer in his corn field. He was holding the plough, and his son driving the oxen. This man always impresses me with respect, he is so manly, so sweet-tempered, so faithful, so disdainful of all appearances, excellent and reverable in his old weather-worn cap and blue frock bedaubed with the soil of the field, so honest withal, that he always needs to be watched lest he should cheat himself. I still remember with some shame, that in some dealing we had together a long time ago, I found that he had been looking to my interest in the affair, and I had been looking to my interest, and nobody had looked to his part. As I drew near this brave laborer in the midst of his own acres, I could not help feeling for him the highest respect. Here is the Caesar, the Alexander of the soil, conquering and to conquer, after how many and many a hard-fought summer’s day and winter’s day, not like Napoleon hero of sixty battles only, but of six thousand, and out of every one he has come victor; and here he stands, with Atlantic strength and cheer, invincible still. These slight and useless city-limbs of ours will come to shame before this strong soldier, for his have done their own work and ours too. What good this man has, or has had, he has earned. No rich father or father-in-law left him any inheritance of land or money. He borrowed the money with which he bought his farm, and has bred up a large family, given them a good education, and improved his land in every way year by year, and this without prejudice to himself the landlord, for here he is, a man every inch of him, and reminds us of the hero of the Robinhood ballad,

“Much, the miller’s son,

There was no inch of his body

But it was worth a groom.”

Innocence and justice have written their names on his brow. Toil has not broken his spirit. His laugh rings with the sweetness and hilarity of a child; yet he is a man of a strongly intellectual taste, of much reading, and of an erect good sense and independent spirit which can neither brook usurpation nor falsehood in any shape. I walked up and down, the field, as he ploughed his furrow, and we talked as we walked. Our conversation naturally turned on the season and its new labors. He had been reading the Report of the Agricultural Survey of the Commonwealth, and had found good things in it; but it was easy to see that he felt towards the author much as soldiers do towards the historiographer who follows the camp, more good nature than reverence for the gownsman.

The First Report, he said, is better than the last, as I observe the first sermon of a minister is often his best, for every man has one thing which he specially wishes to say, and that comes out at first. But who is this book written for? Not for farmers; no pains are taken to send it to them; it was by accident that this copy came into my hands for a few days. And it is not for them. They could not afford to follow such advice as is given here; they have sterner teachers; their own business teaches them better. No; this was written for the literary men. But in that case, the State should not be taxed to pay for it. Let us see. The account of the maple sugar, — that is very good and entertaining, and, I suppose, true. The story of the farmer’s daughter, whom education had spoiled for everything useful on a farm, — that is good too, and we have much that is like it in Thomas’s Almanack. But why this recommendation of stone houses? They are not so cheap, not so dry, and not so fit for us. Our roads are always changing their direction, and after a man has built at great cost a stone house, a new road is opened, and he finds himself a mile or two from the highway. Then our people are not stationary, like those of old countries, but always alert to better themselves, and will remove from town to town as a new market opens, or a better farm is to be had, and do not wish to spend too much on their buildings.

The Commissioner advises the farmers to sell their cattle and their hay in the fall, and buy again in the spring. But we farmers always know what our interest dictates, and do accordingly. We have no choice in this matter; our way is but too plain. Down below, where manure is cheap, and hay dear, they will sell their oxen in November; but for me to sell my cattle and my produce in the fall, would be to sell my farm, for I should have no manure to renew a crop in the spring. And thus Necessity farms it, necessity finds out when to go to Brighton, and when to feed in the stall, better than Mr. Colman can tell us.

But especially observe what is said throughout these Reports of the model farms and model farmers. One would think that Mr. D. and Major S. were the pillars of the Commonwealth. The good Commissioner takes off his hat when he approaches them, distrusts the value of “his feeble praise,” and repeats his compliments as often as their names are introduced. And yet, in my opinion, Mr. D. with all his knowledge and present skill, would starve in two years on any one of fifty poor farms in this neighborhood, on each of which now a farmer manages to get a good living. Mr. D. inherited a farm, and spends on it every year from other resources; other-wise his farm had ruined him long since; — and as for the Major he never got rich by his skill in making land produce, but by his skill in making men produce. The truth is, a farm will not make an honest man rich in money. I do not know of a single instance, in which a man has honestly got rich by farming alone. It cannot be done. The way in which men who have farms grow rich, is either by other resources; or by trade; or by getting their labor for nothing; or by other methods of which I could tell you many sad anecdotes. What does the Agricultural Surveyor know of all this? What can he know? He is the victim of the “Reports,” that are sent him of particular farms. He cannot go behind the estimates to know how the contracts were made, and how the sales were effected. The true men of skill, the poor farmers who by the sweat of their face, without an inheritance, and without offence to their conscience, have reared a family of valuable citizens and matrons to the state, reduced a stubborn soil to a good farm, although their buildings are many of them shabby, are the only right subjects of this Report; yet these make no figure in it. These should be holden up to imitation, and their methods detailed; yet their houses are very uninviting and unconspicuous to State Commissioners. So with these premiums to Farms, and premiums to Cattle Shows. The class that I describe, must pay the premium which is awarded to the rich. Yet the premium obviously ought to be given for the good management of a poor farm.

In this strain the Farmer proceeded, adding many special criticisms. He had a good opinion of the Surveyor, and acquitted him of any blame in the matter, but was incorrigible in his skepticism concerning the benefits conferred by legislatures on the agriculture of Massachusetts. I believe that my friend is a little stiff and inconvertible in his own opinions, and that there is another side to be heard; but so much wisdom seemed to lie under his statement, that it deserved a record.

The Zincali: or an Account of the Gypsies of Spain; with an Original Collection of their Songs and Poetry, by George Borrow. Two Volumes in one. New York: Wiley & Putnam.

Our list of tribes in America indigenous and imported wants the Gypsies, as the Flora of the western hemisphere wants the race of heaths. But as it is all one to the urchin of six years, whether the fine toys are to be found in his father’s house or across the road at his grandfather’s, so we have always domesticated the Gypsy in school-boy literature from the English tales and traditions. This reprinted London book is equally sure of being read here as in England, and is a most acceptable gift to the lovers of the wild and wonderful. There are twenty or thirty pages in it of fascinating romantic attraction, and the whole book, though somewhat rudely and miscellaneously put together, is animated, and tells us what we wish to know. Mr. Borrow visited the Gypsies in Spain and elsewhere, as an agent of the British and Foreign Bible Society, and seems to have been commended to this employment by the rare accomplishment of a good acquaintance with the language of this singular people. How he acquired his knowledge of their speech, which seems to have opened their hearts to him, he does not inform us; and he appears to have prospered very indifferently in the religious objects of his mission; but to have really had that in his nature or education which gave him access to the gypsy gang, so that he has seen them, talked confidentially with them, and brought away something distinct enough from them.

He has given us sketches of their past and present manner of life and employments, in the different European states, collected a strange little magazine of their poetry, and added a vocabulary of their language. He has interspersed some anecdotes of life and manners, which are told with great spirit.

This book is very entertaining, and yet, out of mere love and respect to human nature, we must add that this account of the Gypsy race must be imperfect and very partial, and that the author never sees his object quite near enough. For, on the whole, the impression made by the book is dismal; the poverty, the employments, conversations, mutual behavior of the Gypsies, are dismal; the poetry is dismal. Men do not love to be dismal, and always have their own reliefs. If we take Mr. Borrow’s story as final, here is a great people subsisting for centuries unmixed with the surrounding population, like a bare and blasted heath in the midst of smiling plenty, yet cherishing their wretchedness, by rigorous usage and tradition, as if they loved it. It is an aristocracy of rags, and suffering, and vice, yet as exclusive as the patricians of wealth and power. We infer that the picture is false; that resources and compensation exist, which are not shown us. If Gypsies are pricked, we believe they will bleed; if wretched, they will jump at the first opportunity of bettering their condition. What unmakes man is essentially incredible. The air may be loaded with fogs or with fetid gases, and continue respirable; but if it be decomposed, it can no longer sustain life. The condition of the Gypsy may be bad enough, tried by the scale of English comfort, and yet appear tolerable and pleasant to the Gypsy, who finds attractions in his out-door way of living, his freedom, and sociability, which the Agent of the Bible Society does not reckon. And we think that a traveler of another way of thinking would not find the Gypsy so void of conscience as Mr. Borrow paints him, as the differences in that particular are universally exaggerated in daily conversation. And lastly, we suspect the walls of separation between the Gypsy and the surrounding population are less firm than we are here given to understand.

Ancient Spanish Ballads, Historical and Romantic. Translated, with Notes, by J. G. Lockhart. New York: Wiley & Putnam.

The enterprising publishers, Messrs. Wiley & Putnam, who have reprinted, in a plain but very neat form, Mr. Lockhart’s gorgeously illustrated work, have judiciously prefixed to it, by way of introduction, a critique on the book from the Edinburgh Review, and have added at the end of the volume an analytical account, with specimens of the Romance of the Cid, from the Penny Magazine. This is done with the greatest propriety, for the Cid seems to be the proper centre of Spanish legendary poetry. The Iliad, the Nibelungen, the Cid, the Robin Hood Ballads, Frithiof’s Saga, (for the last also depends for its merit on its fidelity to the legend,) are five admirable collections of early popular poetry of so many nations; and with whatever difference of form, they possess strong mutual resemblances, chiefly apparent in the spirit which they communicate to the reader, of health, vigor, cheerfulness, and good hope. In this day of reprinting and of restoration, we hope that Southey’s Chronicle of the Cid, which is a kind of “Harmony of the Gospels” of the Spanish Romance, may be republished in a volume of convenient size. That is a strong book, and makes lovers and admirers of “My Cid, the Perfect one, who was born in a fortunate hour.” Its traits of heroism and bursts of simple emotion, once read, can never be forgotten; “I am not a man to be besieged;” and “God! What a glad man was the Cid on that day,” and many the like words still ring in our ears. The Cortes at Toledo, where judgment was given between the Cid and his sons-in-law, is one of the strongest dramatic scenes in literature. Several of the best ballads in Mr. Lockhart’s collection recite incidents of the Cid’s history. The best ballad in the book is the “Count Alarcos and the Infanta Solisa,” which is a meet companion for Chaucer’s Griselda. The “Count Garci Perez de Vargas” is one of our favorites; and there is one called the “Bridal of Andalla,” which we have long lost all power to read as a poem, since we have heard it sung by a voice so rich, and sweet, and penetrating, as to make the ballad the inalienable property of the singer.

Tecumseh; a Poem. By George H. Colton. New York: Wiley & Putnam.

This pleasing summer-day story is the work of a well read, cultivated writer, with a skillful ear, and an evident admirer of Scott and Campbell. There is a metrical sweetness and calm perception of beauty spread over the poem, which declare that the poet enjoyed his own work; and the smoothness and literary finish of the cantos seem to indicate more years than it appears our author has numbered. Yet the perusal suggested that the author had written this poem in the feeling, that the delight he has experienced from Scott’s effective lists of names might be reproduced in America by the enumeration of the sweet and sonorous Indian names of our waters. The success is exactly correspondent. The verses are tuneful, but are secondary; and remind the ear so much of the model, as to show that the noble aboriginal names were not suffered to make their own measures in the poet’s ear, but must modulate their wild beauty to a foreign metre. They deserved better at the author’s hands. We felt, also, the objection that is apt to lie against poems on new subjects by persons versed in old books, that the costume is exaggerated at the expense of the man. The most Indian thing about the Indian is surely not his moccasins, or his calumet, his wampum, or his stone hatchet, but traits of character and sagacity, skill or passion; which would be intelligible at Paris or at Pekin, and which Scipio or Sidney, Lord Clive or Colonel Crockett would be as likely to exhibit as Osceola and Black Hawk.

Intelligence

Exploring Expedition. The United States Corvette Vincennes, Captain Charles Wilkes, the flag ship of the Exploring Expedition, arrived at New York on Friday, June 10th, from a cruise of nearly four years. The Brigs Porpoise and Oregon may shortly be expected. The Expedition has executed every part of the duties confided to it by the Government. A long list of ports, harbors, islands, reefs, and shoals, named in the list, have been visited and examined or surveyed. The positions assigned on the charts to several vigias, reefs, shoals, and islands, have been carefully looked for, run over, and found to have no existence in or near the places assigned them. Several of the principal groups and islands in the Pacific Ocean have been visited, examined, and surveyed; and friendly intercourse, and protective commercial regulations, established with the chiefs and natives. The discoveries in the Antarctic Ocean (Antarctic continent, — Observations for fixing the Southern Magnetic pole, &c.) preceded those of the French and English expeditions. The Expedition, during its absence, has also examined and surveyed a large portion of the Oregon Territory, a part of Upper California, including the Columbia and Sacramento Rivers, with their various tributaries. Several exploring parties from the Squadron have explored, examined, and fixed those portions of the Oregon Territory least known. A map of the Territory, embracing its Rivers, Sounds, Harbors, Coasts, Forts, &c., has been prepared, which will furnish the information relative to our possessions on the Northwest Coast, and the whole of Oregon. Experiments have been made with the pendulum, magnetic apparatus, and various other instruments, on all occasions, — the temperature of the ocean, at various depths ascertained in the different seas traversed, and full meteorological and other observations kept up during the cruise. Charts of all the surveys have been made, with views and sketches of headlands, towns or villages, &c., with descriptions of all that appertains to the localities, productions, language, customs, and manners. At some of the islands, this duty has been attended with much labor, exposure, and risk of life, — the treacherous character of the natives rendering it absolutely necessary that the officers and men should be armed, while on duty, and at all times prepared against their murderous attacks. On several occasions, boats have been absent from the different vessels of the Squadron on surveying duty, (the greater part of which has been performed in boats,) among islands, reefs, &c., for a period of ten, twenty, and thirty days at one time. On one of these occasions, two of the officers were killed at the Fiji group, while defending their boat’s crew from an attack by the Natives.

Harvard University

On the subject of the University we cannot help wishing that a change will one day be adopted which will put an end to the foolish bickering between the government and the students, which almost every year breaks out into those uncomfortable fracases which are called ‘Rebellions.’ Cambridge is so well endowed, and offers such large means of education, that it can easily assume the position of an University, and leave to the numerous younger Colleges the charge of pupils too young to be trusted from home. This is instantly effected by the Faculty’s confining itself to the office of Instruction, and omitting to assume the office of Parietal Government. Let the College provide the best teachers in each department, and for a stipulated price receive the pupil to its lecture-rooms and libraries; but in the matter of morals and manners, leave the student to his own conscience, and if he is a bad subject to the ordinary police. This course would have the effect of keeping back pupils from College, a year or two, or, in some cases, of bringing the parents or guardians of the pupil to reside in Cambridge; but it would instantly destroy the root of endless grievances between the student and teacher, put both parties on the best footing, — indispensable one would say, to good teaching, — and relieve the professors of an odious guardianship, always degenerating into espionage, which must naturally indispose men of genius and honorable mind from accepting the professor’s chair.

English Reformers

Whilst Mr. Sparks visits England to explore the manuscripts of the Colonial Office, and Dr. Waagen on a mission of Art, Mr. Alcott, whose genius and efforts in the great art of Education have been more appreciated in England than in America, has now been spending some months in that country, with the aim to confer with the most eminent Educators and philanthropists, in the hope to exchange intelligence, and import into this country whatever hints have been struck out there, on the subject of literature and the First Philosophy. The design was worthy, and its first results have already reached us. Mr. Alcott was received with great cordiality of joy and respect by his friends in London, and presently found himself domesticated at an institution, managed on his own methods and called after his name, the School of Mr. Wright at Alcott House, Ham, Surrey. He was introduced to many men of literary and philanthropic distinction, and his arrival was made the occasion of meetings for public conversation on the great ethical questions of the day.

Mr. Alcott’s mission, beside making us acquainted with the character and labors of some excellent persons, has loaded our table with a pile of English books, pamphlets, periodicals, flying prospectuses, and advertisements, proceeding from a class very little known in this country, and on many accounts important, the party, namely, who represent Social Reform. Here are Educational Circulars, and Communist Apostles; Alists; Plans for Syncretic Associations, and Pestalozzian Societies, Self-supporting Institutions, Experimental Normal Schools, Hydropathic and Philosophical Associations, Health Unions and Phalansterian Gazettes, Paradises within the reach of all men, Appeals of Man to Woman, and Necessities of Internal Marriage illustrated by Phrenological Diagrams. These papers have many sins to answer for. There is an abundance of superficialness, of pedantry, of inflation, and of want of thought. It seems as if these sanguine schemers rushed to the press with every notion that danced before their brain, and clothed it in the most clumsily compounded and terminated words, for want of time to find the right one. But although these men sometimes use a swollen and vicious diction, yet they write to ends which raise them out of the jurisdiction of ordinary criticism. They speak to the conscience, and have that superiority over the crowd of their contemporaries, which belongs to men who entertain a good hope. Moreover, these pamphlets may well engage the attention of the politician, as straws of no mean significance to show the tendencies of the time.

Mr. Alcott’s visit has brought us nearer to a class of Englishmen, with whom we had already some slight but friendly correspondence, who possess points of so much attraction for us, that we shall proceed to give a short account both of what we already knew, and what we have lately learned, concerning them. The central figure in the group is a very remarkable person, who for many years, though living in great retirement, has made himself felt by many of the best and ablest men in England and in Europe, we mean James Pierrepont Greaves, who died at Alcott-House in the month of March of this year. Mr. Greaves was formerly a wealthy merchant in the city of London, but was deprived of his property by French spoliations in Napoleon’s time. Quitting business, he travelled and resided for some time in Germany. His leisure was given to books of the deepest character; and in Switzerland he found a brother in Pestalozzi. With him he remained ten years, living abstemiously, almost on biscuit and water; and though they never learned each the other’s language, their daily intercourse appears to have been of the deepest and happiest kind. Mr. Greaves there made himself useful in a variety of ways. Pestalozzi declared that Mr. Greaves understood his aim and methods better than any other observer. And he there became acquainted with some eminent persons. Mr. Greaves on his return to England introduced as much as he could of the method and life, whose beautiful and successful operations he had witnessed; and although almost all that he did was misunderstood, or dragged downwards, he has been a chief instrument in the regeneration in the British schools. For a single and unknown individual his influence has been extensive. He set on foot Infant Schools, and was for many years Secretary to the Infant School Society, which office brought him in contact with many parties, and he has connected himself with almost every effort for human emancipation. In this work he was engaged up to the time of his death. His long and active career developed his own faculties and powers in a wonderful manner. At his house, No. 49 Burton Street, London, he was surrounded by men of open and accomplished minds, and his doors were thrown open weekly for meetings for the discussion of universal subjects. In the last years he has resided at Cheltenham, and visited Stockport for the sake of acquainting himself with the Socialists and their methods.

His active and happy career continued nearly to the seventieth year, with heart and head unimpaired and undaunted, his eyes and other faculties sound, except his lower limbs, which suffered from his sedentary occupation of writing. For nearly thirty-six years he abstained from all fermented drinks, and all animal food. In the last years he dieted almost wholly on fruit. The private correspondent, from whose account, written two years ago, we have derived our sketch, proceeds in these words. “Through evil reports, revilings, seductions, and temptations many and severe, the Spirit has not let him go, but has strongly and securely held him, in a manner not often witnessed. New consciousness opens to him every day. His literary abilities would not be by critics entitled to praise, nor does he speak with what is called eloquence; but as he is so much the ‘lived word,’ I have described, there is found a potency in all he writes and all he says, which belongs not to beings less devoted to the Spirit. Supplies of money have come to him as fast, or nearly as fast as required, and at all events his serenity was never disturbed on this account, unless when it has happened that, having more than his expenses required, he has volunteered extraneous expenditures. He has been, I consider, a great apostle of the Newness to many, even when neither he nor they knew very clearly what was going forward. Thus inwardly married, he has remained outwardly a bachelor.”

Mr. Greaves is described to us by another correspondent as being “the soul of his circle, a prophet of whom the world heard nothing, but who has quickened much of the thought now current in the most intellectual circles of the kingdom. He was acquainted with every man of deep character in England, and many both in Germany and Switzerland; and Strauss, the author of the ‘Life of Christ,’ was a pupil of Mr. Greaves, when he held conversations in one of the Colleges of Germany, after leaving Pestalozzi. A most remarkable man; nobody remained the same after leaving him. He was the prophet of the deepest affirmative truths, and no man ever sounded his depths. The best of the thought in the London Monthly Magazine was the transcript of his Idea. He read and wrote much, chiefly in the manner of Coleridge, with pen in hand, in the form of notes on the text of his author. But, like Boehmen and Swedenborg, neither his thoughts nor his writings were for the popular mind. His favorites were the chosen illuminated minds of all time, and with them he was familiar. His library is the most select and rare which I have seen, including most of the books which we have sought with so ill success on our side of the water.” (*)

* The following notice of Mr. Greaves occurs in Mr. Morgan’s “Hampden in the Nineteenth Century.” “The gentleman whom he met at the school was Mr. J. P. Greaves, at that time Honorary Secretary to the Infant School Society, and a most active and disinterested promoter of the system. He had resided for three (?) years with Pestalozzi, who set greater value upon right feelings and rectitude of conduct, than upon the acquisition of languages. A collection of highly interesting letters, addressed to this gentleman by Pestalozzi on the subject of education, has been published. Among the numerous advocates for various improvements, there was not one who exceeded him in personal sacrifices to what he esteemed a duty. At the same time he had some peculiar opinions, resembling the German mystical and metaphysical speculations, hard to be understood, and to which few in general are willing to listen, and still fewer to subscribe; but his sincerity, and the kindness of his disposition always secured for him a patient hearing.” — Vol. II. p. 22.

His favorite dogma was the superiority of Being to all knowing and doing. Association on a high basis was his ideal for the present conjuncture. “I hear every one crying out for association,” said he; “I join in the cry; but then I say, associate first with the Spirit, — educate for this spirit-association, and far more will follow than we have as yet any idea of. Nothing good can be done without association; but then we must associate with goodness; and this goodness is the spirit-nature, without which all our societarian efforts will be turned to corruption. Education has hitherto been all outward; it must now be inward. The educator must keep in view that which elevates man, and not the visible exterior world.” We have the promise of some extracts from the writings of this great man, which we hope shortly to offer to the readers of this Journal. His friend, Mr. Lane, is engaged in arranging and editing his manuscript remains.

Mr. Heraud, a poet and journalist, chiefly known in this country as the editor for two years of the (London) Monthly Magazine, a disciple, in earlier years, of Coleridge, and by nature and taste contemplative and inclined to a mystical philosophy, was a friend and associate of Mr. Greaves; and for the last years has been more conspicuous than any other writer in that connexion of opinion. The Monthly Magazine, during his editorship, really was conducted in a bolder and more creative spirit than any other British Journal; and though papers on the highest transcendental themes were found in odd vicinity with the lowest class of flash and so-called comic tales, yet a necessity, we suppose, of British taste made these strange bed-fellows acquainted, and Mr. Heraud had done what he could. His papers called “Foreign Aids to Self Intelligence,” were of signal merit, especially the papers on Boehmen and Swedenborg. The last is, we think, the very first adequate attempt to do justice to this mystic, by an analysis of his total works; and, though avowedly imperfect, is, as far as it goes, a faithful piece of criticism. We hope that Mr. Heraud, who announces a work in three volumes, called “Foreign Aids to Self Intelligence, designed for an Historical Introduction to the Study of Ontological Science, preparatory to a Critique of Pure Being,” as now in preparation for the press, and of which, we understand, the Essays in the Monthly Magazine were a part, will be enabled to fulfil his design. Mr. Heraud is described by his friends as the most amiable of men, and a fluent and popular lecturer on the affirmative philosophy. He has recently intimated a wish to cross the Atlantic, and read in Boston, a course of six lectures on the subject of Christism as distinct from Christianity.

One of the best contributors to Mr. Heraud’s Magazine was Mr. J. Westland Marston. The papers marked with his initials are the most eloquent in the book. We have greatly regretted their discontinuance, and have hailed him again in his new appearance as a dramatic author. Mr. Marston is a writer of singular purity of taste, with a heart very open to the moral impulses, and in his settled conviction, like all persons of a high poetic nature, the friend of a universal reform, beginning in education. His thought on that subject is, that “it is only by teachers becoming men of genius, that a nobler position can be secured to them.” At the same time he seems to share that disgust, which men of fine taste so quickly entertain in regard to the language and methods of that class with which their theory throws them into correspondence, and to be continually attracted through his taste to the manners and persons of the aristocracy, whose selfishness and frivolity displease and repel him again. Mr. Marston has lately written a Tragedy, called “The Patrician’s Daughter,” which we have read with great pleasure, barring always the fatal prescription, which in England seems to mislead every fine poet to attempt the drama. It must be the reading of tragedies that fills them with this superstition for the buskin and the pall, and not a sympathy with existing nature and the spirit of the age. The Patrician’s Daughter is modern in its plot and characters, perfectly simple in its style; the dialogue is full of spirit, and the story extremely well told. We confess, as we drew out this bright pamphlet from amid the heap of crude declamation on Marriage and Education, on Dietetics and Hydropathy, on Chartism and Socialism, grim tracts on flesh-eating and dram-drinking, we felt the glad refreshment of its sense and melody, and thanked the fine office which speaks to the imagination, and paints with electric pencil a new form — new forms on the lurid cloud. Although the vengeance of Mordaunt strikes us as overstrained, yet his character, and the growth of his fortunes is very natural, and is familiar to English experience in the Thurlows, Burkes, Foxes, and Cannings. The Lady Mabel is finely drawn. Pity that the catastrophe should be wrought by the deliberate lie of Lady Lydia; for beside that lovers, as they of all men speak the most direct speech, easily pierce the cobwebs of fraud, it is a weak way of making a play, to hinge the crisis on a lie, instead of letting it grow, as in life, out of the faults and conditions of the parties, as, for example, in Goethe’s Tasso. On all accounts but one, namely, the lapse of five years between two acts, the play seems to be eminently fit for representation. Mr. Marston is also the author of two tracts on Poetry and Poetic Culture.

Another member of this circle is Francis Barham, the dramatic poet, author of “The Death of Socrates,” a tragedy, and other pieces; also a contributor to the Monthly Magazine. To this gentleman we are under special obligations, as he has sent us, with other pamphlets, a manuscript paper “On American Literature,” written with such flowing good will, and with an aim so high, that we must submit some portion of it to our readers.

Intensely sympathizing, as I have ever done, with the great community of truth-seekers, I glory in the rapid progress of that Alistic, (*) or divine literature, which they develop and cultivate. To me this Alistic literature is so catholic and universal, that it has spread its energies and influences through every age and nation, in brighter or obscurer manifestations. It forms the intellectual patrimony of the universe, delivered down from kindling sire to kindling son, through all nations, peoples, and languages. Like the God from whom it springs, on whom it lives, and to whom it returns, this divine literature is ever young, ever old, ever present, ever remote. Like heaven’s own sunshine, it adorns all it touches, and it touches all. It is a perfect cosmopolite in essence and in action; it has nothing local or limitary in its nature; it participates the character of the soul from which it emanated. It subsists whole in itself, it is its own place, its own time, nor seeks abroad the life it grants at home; aye, it is an eternal now, an eternal present, at once beginning, middle, and end of every past and every future.

* In explanation of this term, we quote a few sentences from a printed prospectus issued by Mr. Barham. “The Alist; a Monthly Magazine of Divinity and Universal Literature. I have adopted the title of ‘the Alist, or Divine,’ for this periodical, because the extension of Divinity and divine truth is its main object. It appears to me, that by a firm adherence to the {to Theion}, or divine principle of things, a Magazine may assume a specific character, far more elevated, catholic, and attractive, than the majority of periodicals attain. This Magazine is therefore specially written for those persons who may, without impropriety, be termed Alists, or Divines; those who endeavor to develop Divinity as the grand primary essence of all existence, — the element which forms the all in all, — the element in which we live, and move, and have our being. Such Alists, (deriving their name from Alah — the Hebrew title of God,) are Divines in the highest sense of the word; for they cultivate Alism, or the Divinity of Divinities, as exhibited in all Scripture and nature, and they extend religious and philanthropical influences through all churches, states, and systems of education. This doctrine of Alism, or the life of God in the soul of man, affords the only prothetic point of union, sufficiently intense and authoritative to unite men in absolute catholicity. In proportion as they cultivate one and the same God in their minds, will their minds necessarily unite and harmonize; but without this is done, permanent harmony is impossible.”

It is, I conceive, salutary for us to take this enlarged view of literature. We should seek after literary perfection in this cosmopolite spirit, and embrace it wherever we find it, as a divine gift; for, in the words of Pope,

“both precepts and example tell

That nature’s masterpiece is writing well.”

So was it with the august and prophetic Milton. To him literature was a universal presence. He regarded it as the common delight and glory of gods and men. He felt that its moral beauty lived and flourished in the large heart of humanity itself, and could never be monopolized by times or places. Most deeply do I think and feel with Milton, when he utters the following words. “What God may have determined for me, I know not; but this I know, that if ever he instilled an intense love of moral beauty into the breast of any man, he has instilled it into mine. Hence wherever I find a man despising the false estimates of the vulgar, and daring to aspire in sentiment and language and conduct to what the highest wisdom through every age has taught us, as most excellent, to him I unite myself by a kind of necessary attachment. And if I am so influenced by nature, or destiny, that by no exertions or labors of my own I may exalt myself to this summit of worth and honor, yet no power in heaven or earth will hinder me from looking with reverence and affection upon those, who have thoroughly attained this glory, or appeared engaged in the successful pursuit of it.”

Mr. Barham proceeds to apply this sentiment as analogous to his own sentiment, in respect to the literatures of other nations, but specially to that of America.

The unity of language unites the literature of Britain and America, in an essential and imperishable marriage, which no Atlantic Ocean can divide. Yes; I as an Englishman say this, and maintain it. United in language, in literature, in interest, and in blood, I regard the English in England and the English in America as one and the same people, the same magnificent brotherhood. The fact is owned in the common names by which they are noted; John and Jonathan, Angles and Yankees, all reecho the fact.

Mr. Barham proceeds to exhibit the manifold reasons that enjoin union on the two countries, deprecates the divisions that have sometimes suspended the peace, and continues;

Let us rather maintain the generous policy of Milton, and with full acclamation of concord recite his inspiring words;

“Go on both hand in hand, O nations, never to be disunited. Be the praise and the heroic song of all posterity. Merit this, but seek only virtue, not the extension of your limits. For what needs to win a fading triumphal laurel out of the tears of wretched men, but to settle the true worship of God and justice in the commonwealth. Then shall the hardest difficulties smooth themselves out before you, envy shall sink to hell, and craft and malice shall be confounded, whether it be homebred mischief or outlandish cunning. Yea, other nations will then covet to serve you; for lordship and victory are but the pages of justice and virtue. Commit securely to true wisdom the vanquishing and uncaging of craft and subtlety, which are but her two runagates. Join your invincible might to do worthy and godlike deeds, and then he that seeks to break your union, a cleaving curse be his inheritance throughout all generations.”

Mr. Barham then proceeds to express his conviction, that the specific character, which the literature of these countries should aim at, is the Alistic or Divine. It is only by an aim so high, that an author can reach any excellence.

“He builds too low who builds beneath the skies.”

But our limits forbid any more extracts from this friendly manuscript at present.

Another eminent member of this circle is Mr. Charles Lane, for many years manager of the London Mercantile Price Current; a man of a fine intellectual nature, inspired and hallowed by a profounder faith. Mr. Lane is the author of some pieces marked with his initials, in the Monthly Magazine, and of some remarkable tracts. Those which we have seen are, “The Old, the New-Old, and the New;” “Tone in Speech;” some papers in a Journal of Health; and last and best, a piece called “The Third Dispensation,” prefixed by way of preface to an English translation of Mme. Gatti de Gamond’s “Phalansterian,” a French book of the Fourier School. In this Essay Mr. Lane considers that History has exhibited two dispensations, namely, first, the Family Union, or connexion by tribes, which soon appeared to be a disunion or a dispersive principle; second, the National Union. Both these, though better than the barbarism which they displaced, are themselves barbarism, in contrast with the third, or Universal Union.

“As man is the uniter in all arrangements which stand below him, and in which the objects could not unite themselves, so man needs a uniter above him, to whom he submits, in the certain incapability of self-union. This uniter, unity, or One, is the premonitor whence exists the premonition Unity, which so recurrently becomes conscious in man. By a neglect of interior submission, man fails of this antecedent, Unity; and as a consequence his attempts at union by exterior mastery have no success.” Certain conditions are necessary to this, namely, the external arrangements indispensable for the evolution of the Uniting Spirit can alone be provided by the Uniting Spirit.

“We seem to be in an endless circle, of which both halves have lost their centre connexion; for it is an operation no less difficult than the junction of two such discs that is requisite to unity. These segments also being in motion, each upon a false centre of its own, the obstacles to union are incalculably multiplied.

“The spiritual or theoretic world in man revolves upon one set of principles, and the practical or actual world upon another. In ideality man recognizes the purest truths, the highest notions of justice; in actuality he departs from all these, and his entire career is confessedly a life of self-falseness and clever injustice. This barren ideality, and this actuality replete with bitter fruits, are the two hemispheres to be united for their mutual completion, and their common central point is the reality antecedent to them both. This point is not to be discovered by the rubbing of these two half globes together, by their curved sides, nor even as a school boy would attempt to unite his severed marble by the flat sides. The circle must be drawn anew from reality as a central point, the new radius embracing equally the new ideality and the new actuality.

“With this newness of love in men there would resplendently shine forth in them a newness of light, and a newness of life, charming the steadiest beholder.” — Introduction, p. 4.

The remedy, which Mr. Lane proposes for the existing evils, is his “True Harmonic Association.” But he more justly confides in “ceasing from doing” than in exhausting efforts at inadequate remedies. “From medicine to medicine is a change from disease to disease; and man must cease from self-activity, ere the spirit can fill him with truth in mind or health in body. The Civilization is become intensely false, and thrusts the human being into false predicaments. The antagonism of business to all that is high and good and generic is hourly declared by the successful, as well as by the failing. The mercantile system, based on individual aggrandizement, draws men from unity; its swelling columns of figures describe, in pounds, shillings, and pence, the degrees of man’s departure from love, from wisdom, from power. The idle are as unhappy as the busy. Whether the dread factory-bell, or the fox-hunter’s horn calls to a pursuit more fatal to man’s best interests, is an inquiry which appears more likely to terminate in the cessation of both, than in a preference of either.”

Mr. Lane does not confound society with sociableness. “On the contrary, it is when the sympathy with man is the stronger and the truer, that the sympathy with men grows weaker, and the sympathy with their actions weakest.”

We must content ourselves with these few sentences from Mr. Lane’s book, but we shall shortly hear from him again. This is no man of letters, but a man of ideas. Deep opens below deep in his thought, and for the solution of each new problem he recurs, with new success, to the highest truth, to that which is most generous, most simple, and most powerful; to that which cannot be comprehended, or overseen, or exhausted. His words come to us like the voices of home out of a far country.

With Mr. Lane is associated in the editorship of a monthly tract, called “The Healthian,” and in other kindred enterprises, Mr. Henry G. Wright, who is the teacher of the School at Ham Common, near Richmond, and the author of several tracts on moral and social topics.

This school is founded on a faith in the presence of the Divine Spirit in man. The teachers say, “that in their first experiments they found they had to deal with a higher nature than the mere mechanical. They found themselves in contact with an essence indefinably delicate. The great difficulty with relation to the children, with which they were first called to wrestle, was an unwillingness to admit access to their spiritual natures. The teachers felt this keenly. They sought for the cause. They found it in their own hearts. Pure spirit would not, could not hold communion with their corrupted modes. These must be surrendered, and love substituted in lieu of them. The experience was soon made that the primal duty of the educator is entire self-surrender to love. Not partial, not of the individual, but pure, unlimited, universal. It is impossible to speak to natures deeper than those from which you speak. Reason cries to Reason, Love to Love. Hence the personal elevation of the teacher is of supreme importance.” Mr. Alcott, who may easily be a little partial to an instructor who has adopted cordially his own methods, writes thus of his friend.

“Mr. Wright is a younger disciple of the same eternal verity, which I have loved and served so long. You have never seen his like, so deep serene, so clear, so true, and so good. His school is a most refreshing and happy place. The children are mostly under twelve years of age, of both sexes; and his art and method of education simple and natural. It seemed like being again in my own school, save that a wiser wisdom directs, and a lovelier love presides over its order and teachings. He is not yet thirty years of age, but he has more genius for education than any man I have seen, and not of children alone, but he possesses the rare art of teaching men and women. What I have dreamed and stammered, and preached, and prayed about so long, is in him clear and definite. It is life, influence, reality. I flatter myself that I shall bring him with me on my return. He cherishes hopes of making our land the place of his experiment on human culture, and of proving to others the worth of the divine idea that now fills and exalts him.”

In consequence of Mr. Greaves’s persuasion, which seems to be shared by his friends, that the special remedy for the evils of society at the present moment is association; perhaps from a more universal tendency, which has drawn in many of the best minds in this country also to accuse the idealism, which contents itself with the history of the private mind, and to demand of every thinker the warmest dedication to the race, this class of which we speak are obviously inclined to favor the plans of the Socialists. They appear to be in active literary and practical connexion with Mr. Doherty, the intelligent and catholic editor of the London Phalanx, who is described to us as having been a personal friend of Fourier, and himself a man of sanguine temper, but a friend of temperate measures, and willing to carry his points with wise moderation, on one side; and in friendly relations with Robert Owen, “the philanthropist, ‘who writes in brick and clay, in gardens and green fields,’ who is a believer in the comforts and humanities of life, and would give these in abundance to all men,” although they are widely distinguished from this last in their devout spiritualism. Many of the papers on our table contain schemes and hints for a better social organization, especially the plan of what they call “a Concordium, or a Primitive Home, which is about to be commenced by united individuals, who are desirous, under industrial and progressive education, with simplicity in diet, dress, lodging, &c., to retain the means for the harmonic development of their physical, intellectual, and moral natures.” The institution is to be in the country, the inmates are to be of both sexes, they are to labor on the land, their drink is to be water, and their food chiefly uncooked by fire, and the habits of the members throughout of the same simplicity. Their unity is to be based on their education in a religious love, which subordinates all persons, and perpetually invokes the presence of the spirit in every transaction. It is through this tendency that these gentlemen have been drawn into fellowship with a humbler, but far larger class of their countrymen, of whom Goodwyn Barmby may stand for the representative.

Mr. Barmby is the editor of a penny magazine, called “The Promethean, or Communitarian Apostle,” published monthly, and, as the covers inform us, “the cheapest of all magazines, and the paper the most devoted of any to the cause of the people; consecrated to Pantheism in Religion, and Communism in Politics.” Mr. Barmby is a sort of Camille Desmoulins of British Revolution, a radical poet, with too little fear of grammar and rhetoric before his eyes, with as little fear of the Church or the State, writing often with as much fire, though not with as much correctness, as Ebenezer Elliott. He is the author of a poem called “The European Pariah,” which will compare favorably with the Corn-law Rhymes. His paper is of great interest, as it details the conventions, the counsels, the measures of Barmby and his friends, for the organization of a new order of things, totally at war with the establishment. Its importance arises from the fact, that it comes obviously from the heart of the people. It is a cry of the miner and weaver for bread, for daylight, and fresh air, for space to exist in, and time to catch their breath and rest themselves in; a demand for political suffrage, and the power to tax as a counterpart to the liability of being taxed; a demand for leisure, for learning, for arts and sciences, for the higher social enjoyments. It is one of a cloud of pamphlets in the same temper and from the same quarter, which show a wholly new state of feeling in the body of the British people. In a time of distress among the manufacturing classes, severe beyond any precedent, when, according to the statements vouched by Lord Brougham in the House of Peers, and Mr. O’Connell and others in the Commons, wages are reduced in some of the manufacturing villages to six pence a week, so that men are forced to sustain themselves and their families at less than a penny a day; when the most revolting expedients are resorted to for food; when families attempt by a recumbent posture to diminish the pangs of hunger; in the midst of this exasperation the voice of the people is temperate and wise beyond all former example. They are intent on personal as well as on national reforms. Jack Cade leaves behind him his bludgeon and torch, and is grown amiable, literary, philosophical, and mystical. He reads Fourier, he reads Shelley, he reads Milton. He goes for temperance, for non-resistance, for education, and for the love-marriage, with the two poets above named; and for association, after the doctrines either of Owen or of Fourier. One of the most remarkable of the tracts before us is “A Plan for the Education and Improvement of the People, addressed to the Working Classes of the United Kingdom; written in Warwick Gaol, by William Lovett, cabinet-maker, and John Collins, tool-maker,” which is a calm, intelligent, and earnest plea for a new organization of the people, for the highest social and personal benefits, urging the claims of general education, of the Infant School, the Normal School, and so forth; announcing rights, but with equal emphasis admitting duties. And Mr. Barmby, whilst he attacks with great spirit and great contempt the conventions of society, is a worshipper of love and of beauty, and vindicates the arts. “The apostleship of veritable doctrine,” he says, “in the fine arts is a really religious Apostolate, as the fine arts in their perfect manifestation tend to make mankind virtuous and happy.”

It will give the reader some precise information of the views of the most devout and intelligent persons in the company we have described, if we add an account of a public conversation which occurred during the last summer. In the (London) Morning Chronicle, of 5 July, we find the following advertisement. “Public Invitation. An open meeting of the friends to human progress will be held to-morrow, July 6, at Mr. Wright’s Alcott-House School, Ham Common, near Richmond, Surrey, for the purpose of considering and adopting means for the promotion of the great end, when all who are interested in human destiny are earnestly urged to attend. The chair taken at Three o’clock and again at Seven, by A. Bronson Alcott, Esq., now on a visit from America. Omnibuses travel to and fro, and the Richmond steam-boat reaches at a convenient hour.”

Of this conference a private correspondent has furnished us with the following report.

A very pleasant day to us was Wednesday, the sixth of July. On that day an open meeting was held at Mr. Wright’s, Alcott-House School, Ham, Surrey, to define the aims and initiate the means of human culture. There were some sixteen or twenty of us assembled on the lawn at the back of the house. We came from many places; one 150 miles; another a hundred; others from various distances; and our brother Bronson Alcott from Concord, North America. We found it not easy to propose a question sufficiently comprehensive to unfold the whole of the fact with which our bosoms labored. We aimed at nothing less than to speak of the instauration of Spirit and its incarnation in a beautiful form. We had no chairman, and needed none. We came not to dispute, but to hear and to speak. And when a word failed in extent of meaning, we loaded the word with new meaning. The word did not confine our experience, but from our own being we gave significance to the word. Into one body we infused many lives, and it shone as the image of divine or angelic or human thought. For a word is a Proteus that means to a man what the man is. Three papers were successively presented.

Poems. By Alfred Tennyson. Two Volumes. Boston: W. D. Ticknor.

Tennyson is more simply the songster than any poet of our time. With him the delight of musical expression is first, the thought second. It was well observed by one of our companions, that he has described just what we should suppose to be his method of composition in this verse from “The Miller’s Daughter.”

“A love-song I had somewhere read,

An echo from a measured strain,

Beat time to nothing in my head

From some odd corner of the brain.

It haunted me the morning long,

With weary sameness in the rhymes,

The phantom of a silent song,

That went and came a thousand times.”

So large a proportion of even the good poetry of our time is ever over-ethical or over-passionate, and the stock poetry is so deeply tainted with a sentimental egotism, that this, whose chief merits lay in its melody and picturesque power, was most refreshing. What a relief, after sermonizing and wailing had dulled the sense with such a weight of cold abstraction, to be soothed by this ivory lute!

Not that he wanted nobleness and individuality in his thoughts, or a due sense of the poet’s vocation; but he won us to truths, not forced them upon us; as we listened, the cope

“Of the self-attained futurity

Was cloven with the million stars which tremble

O’er the deep mind of dauntless infamy.”

And he seemed worthy thus to address his friend,

“Weak truth a-leaning on her crutch,

Wan, wasted truth in her utmost need,

Thy kingly intellect shall feed,

Until she be an athlete bold.”

Unless thus sustained, the luxurious sweetness of his verse must have wearied. Yet it was not of aim or meaning we thought most, but of his exquisite sense for sounds and melodies, as marked by himself in the description of Cleopatra.

“Her warbling voice, a lyre of widest range,

Touched by all passion, did fall down and glance

From tone to tone, and glided through all change

Of liveliest utterance.”

Or in the fine passage in the Vision of Sin, where

“Then the music touched the gates and died;
Rose again from where it seemed to fail,
Stormed in orbs of song, a growing gale;” &c.

Or where the Talking Oak composes its serenade for the pretty Alice; but indeed his descriptions of melody are almost as abundant as his melodies, though the central music of the poet’s mind is, he says, as that of the

“fountain

Like sheet lightning,

Ever brightening

With a low melodious thunder;

All day and all night it is ever drawn

From the brain of the purple mountain

Which stands in the distance yonder:

It springs on a level of bowery lawn,

And the mountain draws it from heaven above,

And it sings a song of undying love.”

Next to his music, his delicate, various, gorgeous music, stands his power of picturesque representation. And his, unlike those of most poets, are eye-pictures, not mind-pictures. And yet there is no hard or tame fidelity, but a simplicity and ease at representation (which is quite another thing from reproduction) rarely to be paralleled. How, in the Palace of Art, for instance, they are unrolled slowly and gracefully, as if painted one after another on the same canvass. The touch is calm and masterly, though the result is looked at with a sweet, self-pleasing eye. Who can forget such as this, and of such there are many, painted with as few strokes and with as complete a success?

“A still salt pool, locked in with bars of sand;

Left on the shore; that hears all night

The plunging seas draw backward from the land

Their moon-led waters white.”

Tennyson delights in a garden. Its groups, and walks, and mingled bloom intoxicate him, and us through him. So high is his organization, and so powerfully stimulated by color and perfume, that it heightens all our senses too, and the rose is glorious, not from detecting its ideal beauty, but from a perfection of hue and scent, we never felt before. All the earlier poems are flower-like, and this tendency is so strong in him, that a friend observed, he could not keep up the character of the tree in his Oak of Summer Chase, but made it talk like an “enormous flower.” The song,

“A spirit haunts the year’s last hours,”

is not to be surpassed for its picture of the autumnal garden.

The new poems, found in the present edition, show us our friend of ten years since much altered, yet the same. The light he sheds on the world is mellowed and tempered. If the charm he threw around us before was somewhat too sensuous, it is not so now; he is deeply thoughtful; the dignified and graceful man has displaced the Antinous beauty of the youth. His melody is less rich, less intoxicating, but deeper; a sweetness from the soul, sweetness as of the hived honey of fine experiences, replaces the sweetness which captivated the ear only, in many of his earlier verses. His range of subjects was great before, and is now such that he would seem too merely the amateur, but for the success in each, which says that the same fluent and apprehensive nature, which threw itself with such ease into the forms of outward beauty, has now been intent rather on the secrets of the shaping spirit. In ‘Locksley Hall,’ ‘St. Simeon Stylites,’ ‘Ulysses,’ ‘Love and Duty,’ ‘The Two Voices,’ are deep tones, that bespeak that acquaintance with realities, of which, in the ‘Palace of Art,’ he had expressed his need. The keen sense of outward beauty, the ready shaping fancy, had not been suffered to degrade the poet into that basest of beings, an intellectual voluptuary, and a pensive but serene wisdom hallows all his song.

His opinions on subjects, that now divide the world, are stated in two or three of these pieces, with that temperance and candor of thought, now more rare even than usual, and with a simplicity bordering on homeliness of diction, which is peculiarly pleasing, from the sense of plastic power and refined good sense it imparts.

A gentle and gradual style of narration, without prolixity or tameness, is seldom to be found in the degree in which such pieces as ‘Dora’ and ‘Godiva’ display it. The grace of the light ballad pieces is as remarkable in its way, as was his grasp and force in ‘Oriana,’ ‘The Lord of Burleigh,’ ‘Edward Gray,’ and ‘Lady Clare,’ are distinguished for different shades of this light grace, tender, and speaking more to the soul than the sense, like the different hues in the landscape, when the sun is hid in clouds, so gently shaded that they seem but the echoes of themselves.

I know not whether most to admire the bursts of passion in ‘Locksley Hall,’ the playful sweetness of the ‘Talking Oak,’ or the mere catching of a cadence in such slight things as

“Break, break, break

On thy cold gray stones, O sea,” &c.

Nothing is more uncommon than the lightness of touch, which gives a charm to such little pieces as the ‘Skipping Rope.’

We regret much to miss from this edition ‘The Mystic,’ ‘The Deserted House,’ and ‘Elegiacs,’ all favorites for years past, and not to be disparaged in favor of any in the present collection. England, we believe, has not shown a due sense of the merits of this poet, and to us is given the honor of rendering homage more readily to an accurate and elegant intellect, a musical reception of nature, a high tendency in thought, and a talent of singular fineness, flexibility, and scope.

A Letter to Rev. Wm. E. Channing, D. D. by O. A. Brownson Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown. 1842.

That there is no knowledge of God possible to man but a subjective knowledge, — no revelation but the development of the individual within himself, and to himself, — are prevalent statements, which Mr. Brownson opposes by a single formula, that life is relative in its very nature. God alone is; all creatures live by virtue of what is not themselves, no less than by virtue of what is themselves, the prerogative of man being to do consciously, that is, more or less intelligently. Mr. Brownson carefully discriminates between Essence and Life. Essence, being object to itself, alone has freedom, which is what the old theologians named sovereignty; — a noble word for the thing intended, were it not desecrated in our associations, in being usurped by creatures that are slaves to time and circumstance. But life implies a causative object, as well as causative subject; wherefore creatures are only free by Grace of God.

That men should live, with God for predominating object, is the Ideal of Humanity, or the Law of Holiness, in the highest sense; for this object alone can emancipate them from what is below themselves. But a nice discrimination must be made here. The Ideal of Humanity, as used by Mr. Brownson, does not mean the highest idea of himself, which a man can form by induction on himself as an individual; it means God’s idea of man, which shines into every man from the beginning; “Enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world,” though his darkness comprehendeth it not, until it is “made flesh.” It is by virtue of that freedom which is God’s alone, and which is the issue of absolute love, that is, “because God so loved the world,” he takes up the subject, Jesus, and makes himself objective to him without measure, thereby rendering his life as divine as it is human, though it remains also as human, — strictly speaking, — as it is divine.

To all men’s consciousness it is true that God is objective in a degree, or they were not distinctively human. His glory is refracted, as it were, to their eyes, through the universe. But only in a man, to whom he has made himself the imperative object, does he approach men, in all points, in such degree as to make them divine. He is no less free (sovereign) in coming to each man in Christ, than, in the first instance, in making Jesus of Nazareth the Christ. Men are only free inasmuch as they are open to this majestic access, and are able to pray with St. Augustine, “What art thou to me, oh Lord? Have mercy on me that I may ask. The house of my soul is too strait for thee to come into; but let it, oh Lord, be enlarged by thee. It is ruinous, but let it be repaired by thee,” &c.

The Unitarian Church, as Mr. Brownson thinks, indicates truth, in so far as it insists on the life of Jesus as being that wherein we find grace; but in so far as it does not perceive that this life is something more than a series of good actions, which others may reproduce, it leans on an arm of flesh, and puts an idol in the place of Christ. The Trinitarian Church, he thinks, therefore, has come nearer the truth, by its formulas of doctrine; and especially the Roman Catholic Church, by the Eucharist. The error of both Churches has been to predicate of the being, Jesus, what is only true of his life. The being, Jesus, was a man; his life is God. It is the doctrine of John the Evangelist throughout, that the soul lives by the real presence of Jesus Christ, as literally as the body lives by bread. The unchristianized live only partially, by so much of the word as shines in the darkness which may not hinder it quite. This partial life repeats in all time the prophecies of antiquity, and is another witness to Jesus Christ, “the same yesterday, to-day, and forever.”

Mr. Brownson thinks that he has thus discovered a formula of “the faith once delivered to the saints,” which goes behind and annihilates the controversy between Unitarians and Trinitarians, and may lead them both to a deeper comprehension and clearer expression of the secret of life.

Literary Intelligence

The death of Dr. Channing at Bennington in Vermont, on the 2d October, is an event of great note to the whole country. The great loss of the community is mitigated by the new interest which intellectual power always acquires by the death of the possessor. Dr. Channing was a man of so much rectitude, and such power to express his sense of right, that his value to this country, of which he was a kind of public Conscience, can hardly be overestimated. Not only his merits, but his limitations also, which made all his virtues and talents intelligible and available for the correction and elevation of society, made our Cato dear, and his loss not to be repaired. His interest in the times, and the fidelity and independence, with which, for so many years, he had exercised that censorship on commercial, political, and literary morals, which was the spontaneous dictate of his character, had earned for him an accumulated capital of veneration, which caused his opinion to be waited for in each emergency, as that of the wisest and most upright of judges. We shall probably soon have an opportunity to give an extended account of his character and genius. In most parts of this country notice has been taken of this event, and in London also. Beside the published discourses of Messrs. Gannett, Hedge, Clarke, Parker, Pierpont, and Bellows, Mr. Bancroft made Dr. Channing’s genius the topic of a just tribute in a lecture before the Diffusion Society at the Masonic Temple. We regret that the city has not yet felt the propriety of paying a public honor to the memory of one of the truest and noblest of its citizens.

Confessions of St. Augustine. Boston: E. P. Peabody.

We heartily welcome this reprint from the recent London edition, which was a revision, by the Oxford divines, of an old English translation. It is a rare addition to our religious library. The great Augustine, — one of the truest, richest, subtlest, eloquentest of authors, comes now in this American dress, to stand on the same shelf with his far-famed disciples, with A-Kempis, Herbert, Taylor, Scougal, and Fenelon. The Confessions have also a high interest as one of the honestest autobiographies ever written. In this view it takes even rank with Montaigne’s Essays, with Luther’s Table Talk, the Life of John Bunyan, with Rousseau’s Confessions, and the Life of Dr. Franklin. In opening the book at random, we have fallen on his reflections on the death of an early friend.

“O madness, which knowest not how to love men like men! I fretted, sighed, wept, was distracted, had neither rest nor counsel. For I bore about a shattered and bleeding soul, impatient of being borne by me, yet where to repose it I found not. All things looked ghastly; yea the very light; whatsoever was not what he was, was revolting and hateful, except groaning and tears. In those alone found I a little refreshment. I fled out of my country; for so should mine eyes look less for him where they were not wont to see him. And thus from Thagaste I came to Carthage. Times lose no time; nor do they roll idly by; through our senses they work strange operations on the mind. Behold, they went and came day by day, and by coming and going introduced into my mind other imaginations and other remembrances; and little by little patched me up again with my old kind of delights unto which that my sorrow gave way. And yet there succeeded not indeed other griefs, yet the causes of other griefs. For whence had that former grief so easily reached my inmost soul but that I had poured out my soul upon the dust in loving one, that must die, as if he would never die. For what restored and refreshed me chiefly, was the solaces of other friends with whom I did love what instead of thee I loved: and this was a |P1249|p1 great fable and protracted lie, by whose adulterous stimulus our soul, which lay itching in our ears, was defiled. But that fable would not die to me so oft as any of my friends died. There were other things which in them did more take my mind; to talk and jest together; to do kind offices by turns; to read together honied books; to play the fool or be earnest together; to dissent at times without discontent, as a man might with his ownself; and even with the seldomness of those dissentings, to season our more frequent consentings; sometimes to teach, and sometimes learn; long for the absent with impatience, and welcome the coming with joy.”

— BOOK 4.

Europe and European Books

The American Academy, the Historical Society, and Harvard University, would do well to make the Cunard steamers the subject of examination in regard to their literary and ethical influence. These rapid sailers must be arraigned as the conspicuous agents in the immense and increasing intercourse between the old and the new continents. We go to school to Europe. We imbibe an European taste. Our education, so called, — our drilling at college, and our reading since, — has been European, and we write on the English culture and to an English public, in America and in Europe. This powerful star, it is thought, will soon culminate and descend, and the impending reduction of the transatlantic excess of influence on the American education is already a matter of easy and frequent computation. Our eyes will be turned westward, and a new and stronger tone in literature will be the result. The Kentucky stumporatory, the exploits of Boone and David Crockett, the journals of western pioneers, agriculturalists, and socialists, and the letters of Jack Downing, are genuine growths, which are sought with avidity in Europe, where our European-like books are of no value. It is easy to see that soon the centre of population and property of the English race, which long ago began its travels, and which is still on the eastern shore, will shortly hover midway over the Atlantic main, and then as certainly fall within the American coast, so that the writers of the English tongue shall write to the American and not to the island public, and then will the great Yankee be born.

But at present we have our culture from Europe and Europeans. Let us be content and thankful for these good gifts for a while yet. The collections of art, at Dresden, Paris, Rome, and the British Museum and libraries offer their splendid hospitalities to the American. And beyond this, amid the dense population of that continent, lifts itself ever and anon some eminent head, a prophet to his own people, and their interpreter to the people of other countries. The attraction of these individuals is not to be resisted by theoretic statements. It is true there is always something deceptive, self-deceptive, in our travel. We go to France, to Germany, to see men, and find but what we carry. A man is a man, one as good as another, many doors to one open court, and that open court as entirely accessible from our private door, or through John or Peter, as through Humboldt or Laplace. But we cannot speak to ourselves. We brood on our riches but remain dumb; that makes us unhappy; and we take ship and go man-hunting in order to place ourselves en rapport, according to laws of personal magnetism, to acquire speech or expression. Seeing Herschel or Schelling, or Swede or Dane, satisfies the conditions, and we can express ourselves happily.

But Europe has lost weight lately. Our young men go thither in every ship, but not as in the golden days, when the same tour would show the traveler the noble heads of Scott, of Mackintosh, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Goethe, Cuvier, and Humboldt. We remember when arriving in Paris, we crossed the river on a brilliant morning, and at the bookshop of Papinot, in the Rue de Sorbonne, at the gates of the University, purchased for two sous a Programme, which announced that every Monday we might attend the lecture of Dumas on Chemistry at noon; at a half hour later either Villemain or Ampere on French literature; at other hours, Guizot on Modern History; Cousin on the Philosophy of Ancient History; Fauriel on Foreign Literature; Prevost on Geology; Lacroix on the Differential Calculus: Jouffroy on the History of Modern Philosophy; Lacretelle on Ancient History; Desfontaines or Mirbel on Botany.

Hard by, at the Place du Pantheon, Degerando, Royer Collard, and their colleagues were giving courses on Law, on the law of nations, the Pandects and commercial equity. For two magical sous more, we bought the Programme of the College Royal de France, on which we still read with admiring memory, that every Monday, Silvestre de Sacy lectures on the Persian language; at other hours, Lacroix on the Integral Mathematics; Jouffroy on Greek Philosophy; Biot on Physics; Lerminier on the History of Legislation; Elie de Beaumont on Natural History; Magendie on Medicine; Thenard on Chemistry; Binet on Astronomy; and so on, to the end of the week. On the same wonderful ticket, as if royal munificence had not yet sufficed, we learned that at the Museum of Natural History, at the Garden of Plants, three days in the week, Brongniart would teach Vegetable Physiology, and Gay-Lussac Chemistry, and Flourent Anatomy. With joy we read these splendid news in the Cafe Procope, and straightway joined the troop of students of all nations, kindreds, and tongues, whom this great institution drew together to listen to the first savans of the world without fee or reward. The professors are changed, but the liberal doors still stand open at this hour. This royal liberality, which seems to atone for so many possible abuses of power, could not exist without important consequences to the student on his return home.

The University of Gottingen has sunk from its high place by the loss of its brightest stars. The last was Heeren, whose learning was really useful, and who has made ingenious attempts at the solution of ancient historical problems. Ethiopia, Assyria, Carthage, and the Theban Desart are still revealing secrets, latent for three millenniums, under the powerful night glass of the Teutonic scholars, who make astronomy, geology, chemistry, trade, statistics, medals, tributary to their inquisitions. In the last year also died Sismondi, who by his History of the Italian Republics reminded mankind of the prodigious wealth of life and event, which Time, devouring his children as fast as they are born, is giving to oblivion in Italy, the piazza and forum of History, and for a time made Italian subjects of the middle age popular for poets, and romancers, and by his kindling chronicles of Milan and Lombardy perhaps awoke the great genius of Manzoni. That history is full of events, yet, as Ottilia writes in Goethe’s novel, that she never can bring away from history anything but a few anecdotes, so the “Italian Republics” lies in the memory like a confused melee, a confused noise of slaughter, and rapine, and garments rolled in blood. The method, if method there be, is so slight and artificial, that it is quite overlaid and lost in the unvaried details of treachery and violence. Hallam’s sketches of the same history were greatly more luminous and memorable, partly from the advantage of his design, which compelled him to draw outlines, and not bury the grand lines of destiny in municipal details. Italy furnished in that age no man of genius to its political arena, though many of talent, and this want degrades the history. We still remember with great pleasure, Mr. Hallam’s fine sketch of the external history of the rise and establishment of the Papacy, which Mr. Ranke’s voluminous researches, though they have great value for their individual portraits, have not superseded.

It was a brighter day than we have often known in our literary calendar, when within the twelvemonth a single London advertisement announced a new volume of poems by Wordsworth, poems by Tennyson, and a play by Henry Taylor. Wordsworth’s nature or character has had all the time it needed, in order to make its mark, and supply the want of talent. We have learned how to read him. We have ceased to expect that which he cannot give. He has the merit of just moral perception, but not that of deft poetic execution. How would Milton curl his lip at such slipshod newspaper style! Many of his poems, as, for example, the Rylstone Doe, might be all improvised. Nothing of Milton, nothing of Marvell, of Herbert, of Dryden, could be. These are such verses as in a just state of culture should be vers de Societe, such as every gentleman could write, but none would think of printing or of claiming the poet’s laurel on their merit. The Pindar, the Shakspeare, the Dante, whilst they have the just and open soul, have also the eye to see the dimmest star that glimmers in the Milky Way, the serratures of every leaf, the test objects of the microscope, and then the tongue to utter the same things in words that engrave them on all the ears of mankind. The poet demands all gifts and not one or two only.

The poet, like the electric rod, must reach from a point nearer to the sky than all surrounding objects down to the earth, and down to the dark wet soil, or neither is of use. The poet must not only converse with pure thought, but he must demonstrate it almost to the senses. His words must be pictures, his verses must be spheres and cubes, to be seen, and smelled and handled. His fable must be a good story, and its meaning must hold as pure truth. In the debates on the Copyright Bill, in the English Parliament, Mr. Sergeant Wakley, the coroner, quoted Wordsworth’s poetry in derision, and asked the roaring House of Commons, what that meant, and whether a man should have a public reward for writing such stuff. Homer, Horace, Milton, and Chaucer would defy the coroner. Whilst they have wisdom to the wise, he would see, that to the external, they have external meaning. Coleridge excellently said of poetry, that poetry must first be good sense, as a palace might well be magnificent, but first it must be a house.

Wordsworth is open to ridicule of this kind. And yet Wordsworth, though satisfied if he can suggest to a sympathetic mind his own mood, and though setting a private and exaggerated value on his compositions, though confounding his accidental with the universal consciousness, and taking the public to task for not admiring his poetry, — is really a superior master of the English language, and his poems evince a power of diction that is no more rivalled by his contemporaries, than is his poetic insight. But the capital merit of Wordsworth is, that he has done more for the sanity of this generation than any other writer. Early in life, at a crisis, it is said, in his private affairs, he made his election between assuming and defending some legal rights with the chances of wealth and a position in the world — and the inward promptings of his heavenly genius; he took his part; he accepted the call to be a poet, and sat down, far from cities, with coarse clothing and plain fare to obey the heavenly vision. The choice he had made in his will, manifested itself in every line to be real. We have poets who write the poetry of society, of the patrician and conventional Europe, as Scott and Moore, and others who, like Byron or Bulwer, write the poetry of vice and disease. But Wordsworth threw himself into his place, made no reserves or stipulations; man and writer were not to be divided. He sat at the foot of Helvellyn and on the margin of Winandermere, and took their lustrous mornings and their sublime midnights for his theme, and not Marlow, nor Massinger, not Horace, nor Milton, nor Dante. He once for all forsook the styles, and standards, and modes of thinking of London and Paris, and the books read there, and the aims pursued, and wrote Helvellyn and Winandermere, and the dim spirits which these haunts harbored. There was not the least attempt to reconcile these with the spirit of fashion and selfishness, nor to show with great deference to the superior judgment of dukes and earls, that although London was the home for men of great parts, yet Westmoreland had these consolations for such as fate had condemned to the country life; but with a complete satisfaction, he pitied and rebuked their false lives, and celebrated his own with the religion of a true priest. Hence the antagonism which was immediately felt between his poetry and the spirit of the age, that here not only criticism but conscience and will were parties; the spirit of literature, and the modes of living, and the conventional theories of the conduct of life were called in question on wholly new grounds, not from Platonism, nor from Christianity, but from the lessons which the country muse taught a stout pedestrian climbing a mountain, and in following a river from its parent rill down to the sea. The Cannings and Jeffreys of the capital, the Court Journals and Literary Gazettes were not well pleased, and voted the poet a bore. But that which rose in him so high as to the lips, rose in many others as high as to the heart. What he said, they were prepared to hear and confirm. The influence was in the air, and was wafted up and down into lone and into populous places, resisting the popular taste, modifying opinions which it did not change, and soon came to be felt in poetry, in criticism, in plans of life, and at last in legislation. In this country, it very early found a strong hold, and its effect may be traced on all the poetry both of England and America.

But notwithstanding all Wordsworth’s grand merits, it was a great pleasure to know that Alfred Tennyson’s two volumes were coming out in the same ship; it was a great pleasure to receive them. The elegance, the wit, and subtlety of this writer, his rich fancy, his power of language, his metrical skill, his independence on any living masters, his peculiar topics, his taste for the costly and gorgeous, discriminate the musky poet of gardens and conservatories of parks and palaces. Perhaps we felt the popular objection that he wants rude truth, he is too fine. In these boudoirs of damask and alabaster, one is farther off from stern nature and human life than in Lallah Rookh and “the Loves of the Angels.” Amid swinging censers and perfumed lamps, amidst velvet and glory we long for rain and frost. Otto of roses is good, but wild air is better. A critical friend of ours affirms that the vice, which bereaved modern painters of their power, is the ambition to begin where their fathers ended; to equal the masters in their exquisite finish, instead of in their religious purpose. The painters are not willing to paint ill enough: they will not paint for their times, agitated by the spirit which agitates their country; so should their picture picture us and draw all men after them; but they copy the technics of their predecessors, and paint for their predecessors’ public. It seems as if the same vice had worked in poetry. Tennyson’s compositions are not so much poems as studies in poetry, or sketches after the styles of sundry old masters. He is not the husband who builds the homestead after his own necessity, from foundation stone to chimney-top and turret, but a tasteful bachelor who collects quaint stair cases and groined ceilings. We have no right to such superfineness. We must not make our bread of pure sugar. These delicacies and splendors are then legitimate when they are the excess of substantial and necessary expenditure. The best songs in English poetry are by that heavy, hard, pedantic poet, Ben Jonson. Jonson is rude, and only on rare occasions gay. Tennyson is always fine; but Jonson’s beauty is more grateful than Tennyson’s. It is a natural manly grace of a robust workman. Ben’s flowers are not in pots, at a city florist’s ranged on a flower stand, but he is a countryman at a harvest-home, attending his ox-cart from the fields, loaded with potatoes and apples, with grapes and plums, with nuts and berries, and stuck with boughs of hemlock and sweet briar, with ferns and pond lilies which the children have gathered. But let us not quarrel with our benefactors. Perhaps Tennyson is too quaint and elegant. What then? It is long since we have as good a lyrist; it will be long before we have his superior. “Godiva” is a noble poem that will tell the legend a thousand years. The poem of all the poetry of the present age, for which we predict the longest term, is “Abou ben Adhem” of Leigh Hunt. Fortune will still have her part in every victory, and it is strange that one of the best poems should be written by a man who has hardly written any other. And “Godiva” is a parable which belongs to the same gospel. “Locksley Hall” and “the Two Voices” are meditative poems, which were slowly written to be slowly read. “The Talking Oak,” though a little hurt by its wit and ingenuity, is beautiful, and the most poetic of the volume. “Ulysses” belongs to a high class of poetry, destined to be the highest, and to be more cultivated in the next generation. “oEnone” was a sketch of the same kind. One of the best specimens we have of the class is Wordsworth’s “Laodamia,” of which no special merit it can possess equals the total merit of having selected such a subject in such a spirit.

Next to the poetry the novels, which come to us in every ship from England, have an importance increased by the immense extension of their circulation through the new cheap press, which sends them to so many willing thousands. So much novel reading ought not to leave the readers quite unaffected, and undoubtedly gives some tinge of romance to the daily life of young merchants and maidens. We have heard it alleged, with some evidence, that the prominence given to intellectual power in Bulwer’s romances had proved a main stimulus to mental culture in thousands of young men in England and America. The effect on manners cannot be less sensible, and we can easily believe that the behavior of the ball room, and of the hotel has not failed to draw some addition of dignity and grace from the fair ideals, with which the imagination of a novelist has filled the heads of the most imitative class.

We are not very well versed in these books, yet we have read Mr. Bulwer enough to see that the story is rapid and interesting; he has really seen London society, and does not draw ignorant caricatures. He is not a genius, but his novels are marked with great energy, and with a courage of experiment which in each instance had its degree of success. The story of Zanoni was one of those world-fables which is so agreeable to the human imagination, that it is found in some form in the language of every country, and is always reappearing in literature. Many of the details of this novel preserve a poetic truth. We read Zanoni with pleasure, because magic is natural. It is implied in all superior culture that a complete man would need no auxiliaries to his personal presence. The eye and the word are certainly subtler and stronger weapons than either money or knives. Whoever looked on the hero, would consent to his will, being certified that his aims were universal, not selfish; and he would be obeyed as naturally as the rain and the sunshine are. For this reason, children delight in fairy tales. Nature is described in them as the servant of man, which they feel ought to be true. But Zanoni pains us, and the author loses our respect, because he speedily betrays that he does not see the true limitations of the charm; because the power with which his hero is armed, is a toy, inasmuch as the power does not flow from its legitimate fountains in the mind; is a power for London; a divine power converted into a burglar’s false key or a highwayman’s pistol to rob and kill with.

But Mr. Bulwer’s recent stories have given us, who do not read novels, occasion to think of this department of literature, supposed to be the natural fruit and expression of the age. We conceive that the obvious division of modern romance is into two kinds; first, the novels of costume or of circumstance, which is the old style, and vastly the most numerous. In this class, the hero, without any particular character, is in a very particular circumstance; he is greatly in want of a fortune or of a wife, and usually of both, and the business of the piece is to provide him suitably. This is the problem to be solved in thousands of English romances, including the Porter novels and the more splendid examples of the Edgeworth and Scott romances.

It is curious how sleepy and foolish we are, that these tales will so take us. Again and again we have been caught in that old foolish trap; — then, as before, to feel indignant to have been duped and dragged after a foolish boy and girl, to see them at last married and portioned, and the reader instantly turned out of doors, like a beggar that has followed a gay procession into a castle. Had one noble thought opening the chambers of the intellect, one sentiment from the heart of God been spoken by them, the reader had been made a participator of their triumph; he too had been an invited and eternal guest; but this reward granted them is property, all-excluding property, a little cake baked for them to eat and for none other, nay, a preference and cosseting which is rude and insulting to all but the minion.

Excepting in the stories of Edgeworth and Scott, whose talent knew how to give to the book a thousand adventitious graces, the novels of costume are all one, and there is but one standard English novel, like the one orthodox sermon, which with slight variation is repeated every Sunday from so many pulpits.

But the other novel, of which Wilhelm Meister is the best specimen, the novel of character, treats the reader with more respect; a castle and a wife are not the indispensable conclusion, but the development of character being the problem, the reader is made a partaker of the whole prosperity. Every thing good in such a story remains with the reader, when the book is closed.

A noble book was Wilhelm Meister. It gave the hint of a cultivated society which we found nowhere else. It was founded on power to do what was necessary, each person finding it an indispensable qualification of membership, that he could do something useful, as in mechanics or agriculture or other indispensable art; then a probity, a justice, was to be its element, symbolized by the insisting that each property should be cleared of privilege, and should pay its full tax to the State. Then, a perception of beauty was the equally indispensable element of the association, by which each was so dignified and all were so dignified; then each was to obey his genius to the length of abandonment. They watched each candidate vigilantly, without his knowing that he was observed, and when he had given proof that he was a faithful man, then all doors, all houses, all relations were open to him; high behavior fraternized with high behavior, without question of heraldry and the only power recognised is the force of character.

The novels of Fashion of D’Israeli, Mrs. Gore, Mr. Ward, belong to the class of novels of costume, because the aim is a purely external success.

Of the tales of fashionable life, by far the most agreeable and the most efficient, was Vivian Grey. Young men were and still are the readers and victims. Byron ruled for a time, but Vivian, with no tithe of Byron’s genius, rules longer. One can distinguish at sight the Vivians in all companies. They would quiz their father, and mother, and lover, and friend. They discuss sun and planets, liberty and fate, love and death, over the soup. They never sleep, go nowhere, stay nowhere, eat nothing, and know nobody, but are up to anything, though it were the Genesis of nature, or the last Cataclasm, — Festus-like, Faust-like, Jove-like; and could write an Iliad any rainy morning, if fame were not such a bore. Men, women, though the greatest and fairest, are stupid things; but a rifle, and a mild pleasant gunpowder, a spaniel, and a cheroot, are themes for Olympus. I fear it was in part the influence of such pictures on living society, which made the style of manners, of which we have so many pictures, as for example, in the following account of the English fashionist. “His highest triumph is to appear with the most wooden manners, as little polished as will suffice to avoid castigation, nay, to contrive even his civilities, so that they may appear as near as may be to affronts; instead of a noble high-bred ease, to have the courage to offend against every restraint of decorum, to invert the relation in which our sex stand to women, so that they appear the attacking, and he the passive or defensive party.”

We must here check our gossip in mid volley, and adjourn the rest of our critical chapter to a more convenient season.

The Bible in Spain, or the Journeys, Adventures, and Imprisonments of an Englishman in an attempt to circulate the Scriptures in the Peninsula. By George Borrow. Author of “The Gipsies in Spain.

“This is a charming book, full of free breezes, and mountain torrents, and pictures of romantic interest. Mr. Borrow is a self-sufficing man of free nature, his mind is always in the fresh air; he is not unworthy to climb the sierras and rest beneath the cork trees where we have so often enjoyed the company of Don Quixote. And he has the merit, almost miraculous to-day, of leaving us almost always to draw our own inferences from what he gives us. We can wander on in peace, secure against being forced back upon ourselves, or forced sideways to himself. It is as good to read through this book of pictures, as to stay in a house hung with Gobelin tapestry. The Gipsies are introduced here with even more spirit than in his other book. He sketches men and nature with the same bold and clear, though careless touch. Cape Finisterre and the entrance into Gallicia are as good parts as any to look at.

Paracelsus

Mr. Browning was known to us before, by a little book called “Pippa Passes,” full of bold openings, motley with talent like this, and rich in touches of personal experience. A version of the thought of the day so much less penetrating than Faust and Festus cannot detain us long; yet we are pleased to see each man in his kind bearing witness, that neither sight nor thought will enable to attain that golden crown which is the reward of life, of profound experiences and gradual processes, the golden crown of wisdom. The artist nature is painted with great vigor in Aprile. The author has come nearer that, than to the philosophic nature. There is music in the love of Festus for his friend, especially in the last scene, the thought of his taking sides with him against the divine judgment is true as poesy.

Past and Present, by Thomas Carlyle.

Here is Carlyle’s new poem, his Iliad of English woes, to follow his poem on France, entitled the History of the French Revolution. In its first aspect it is a political tract, and since Burke, since Milton, we have had nothing to compare with it. It grapples honestly with the facts lying before all men, groups and disposes them with a master’s mind, — and with a heart full of manly tenderness, offers his best counsel to his brothers. Obviously it is the book of a powerful and accomplished thinker, who has looked with naked eyes at the dreadful political signs in England for the last few years, has conversed much on these topics with such wise men of all ranks and parties as are drawn to a scholar’s house, until such daily and nightly meditation has grown into a great connexion, if not a system of thoughts, and the topic of English politics becomes the best vehicle for the expression of his recent thinking, recommended to him by the desire to give some timely counsels, and to strip the worst mischiefs of their plausibility. It is a brave and just book, and not a semblance. “No new truth,” say the critics on all sides. Is it so? truth is very old; but the merit of seers is not to invent, but to dispose objects in their right places, and he is the commander who is always in the mount, whose eye not only sees details, but throws crowds of details into their right arrangement and a larger and juster totality than any other. The book makes great approaches to true contemporary history, a very rare success, and firmly holds up to daylight the absurdities still tolerated in the English and European system. It is such an appeal to the conscience and honor of England as cannot be forgotten, or be feigned to be forgotten. It has the merit which belongs to every honest book, that it was self-examining before it was eloquent, and so hits all other men, and, as the country people say of good preaching, “comes bounce down into every pew.” Every reader shall carry away something. The scholar shall read and write, the farmer and mechanic shall toil with new resolution, nor forget the book when they resume their labor.

Though no theocrat, and more than most philosophers a believer in political systems, Mr. Carlyle very fairly finds the calamity of the times not in bad bills of Parliament, nor the remedy in good bills, but the vice in false and superficial aims of the people, and the remedy in honesty and insight. Like every work of genius, its great value is in telling such simple truths. As we recall the topics, we are struck with the force given to the plain truths; the picture of the English nation all sitting enchanted, the poor enchanted so they cannot work, the rich enchanted so that they cannot enjoy, and are rich in vain; the exposure of the progress of fraud into all arts and social activities; the proposition, that the laborer must have a greater share in his earnings; that the principle of permanence shall be admitted into all contracts of mutual service; that the state shall provide at least school-master’s education for all the citizens; the exhortation to the workman, that he shall respect the work and not the wages; to the scholar, that he shall be there for light; to the idle, that no man shall sit idle; the picture of Abbot Samson, the true governor, who “is not there to expect reason and nobleness of others, he is there to give them of his own reason and nobleness;” and the assumption throughout the book, that a new chivalry and nobility, namely the dynasty of labor is replacing the old nobilities. These things strike us with a force, which reminds us of the morals of the Oriental or early Greek masters, and of no modern book. Truly in these things there is great reward. It is not by sitting still at a grand distance, and calling the human race larvae, that men are to be helped, nor by helping the depraved after their own foolish fashion, but by doing unweariedly the particular work we were born to do. Let no man think himself absolved because he does a generous action and befriends the poor, but let him see whether he so holds his property that a benefit goes from it to all. A man’s diet should be what is simplest and readiest to be had, because it is so private a good. His house should be better, because that is for the use of hundreds, perhaps of thousands, and is the property of the traveler. But his speech is a perpetual and public instrument; let that always side with the race, and yield neither a lie nor a sneer. His manners, — let them be hospitable and civilizing, so that no Phidias or Raphael shall have taught anything better in canvass or stone; and his acts should be representative of the human race, as one who makes them rich in his having and poor in his want.

It requires great courage in a man of letters to handle the contemporary practical questions; not because he then has all men for his rivals, but because of the infinite entanglements of the problem, and the waste of strength in gathering unripe fruits. The task is superhuman; and the poet knows well, that a little time will do more than the most puissant genius. Time stills the loud noise of opinions, sinks the small, raises the great, so that the true emerges without effort and in perfect harmony to all eyes; but the truth of the present hour, except in particulars and single relations, is unattainable. Each man can very well know his own part of duty, if he will; but to bring out the truth for beauty and as literature, surmounts the powers of art. The most elaborate history of to-day will have the oddest dislocated look in the next generation. The historian of to-day is yet three ages off. The poet cannot descend into the turbid present without injury to his rarest gifts. Hence that necessity of isolation which genius has always felt. He must stand on his glass tripod, if he would keep his electricity.

But when the political aspects are so calamitous, that the sympathies of the man overpower the habits of the poet, a higher than literary inspiration may succor him. It is a costly proof of character, that the most renowned scholar of England should take his reputation in his hand, and should descend into the ring, and he has added to his love whatever honor his opinions may forfeit. To atone for this departure from the vows of the scholar and his eternal duties, to this secular charity, we have at least this gain, that here is a message which those to whom it was addressed cannot choose but hear. Though they die, they must listen. It is plain that whether by hope or by fear, or were it only by delight in this panorama of brilliant images, all the great classes of English society must read, even those whose existence it proscribes. Poor Queen Victoria, — poor Sir Robert Peel, — poor Primate and Bishops, — poor Dukes and Lords! there is no help in place or pride, or in looking another way; a grain of wit is more penetrating than the lightning of the night-storm, which no curtains or shutters will keep out. Here is a book which will be read, no thanks to anybody but itself. What pains, what hopes, what vows, shall come of the reading! Here is a book as full of treason as an egg is full of meat, and every lordship and worship and high form and ceremony of English conservatism tossed like a foot-ball into the air, and kept in the air with merciless kicks and rebounds, and yet not a word is punishable by statute. The wit has eluded all official zeal; and yet these dire jokes, these cunning thrusts, this flaming sword of Cherubim waved high in air illuminates the whole horizon, and shows to the eyes of the universe every wound it inflicts. Worst of all for the party attacked, it bereaves them beforehand of all sympathy, by anticipating the plea of poetic and humane conservatism, and impressing the reader with the conviction, that the satirist himself has the truest love for everything old and excellent in English land and institutions, and a genuine respect for the basis of truth in those whom he exposes.

We are at some loss how to state what strikes us as the fault of this remarkable book, for the variety and excellence of the talent displayed in it is pretty sure to leave all special criticism in the wrong. And we may easily fail in expressing the general objection which we feel. It appears to us as a certain disproportion in the picture, caused by the obtrusion of the whims of the painter. In this work, as in his former labors, Mr. Carlyle reminds us of a sick giant. His humors, are expressed with so much force of constitution, that his fancies are more attractive and more credible than the sanity of duller men. But the habitual exaggeration of the tone wearies whilst it stimulates. It is felt to be so much deduction from the universality of the picture. It is not serene sunshine, but everything is seen in lurid stormlights. Every object attitudinizes, to the very mountains and stars almost, under the refractions of this wonderful humorist, and instead of the common earth and sky, we have a Martin’s Creation or Judgment Day. A crisis has always arrived which requires a deus ex machina. One can hardly credit, whilst under the spell of this magician, that the world always had the same bankrupt look, to foregoing ages as to us, — as of a failed world just recollecting its old withered forces to begin again and try and do a little business. It was perhaps inseparable from the attempt to write a book of wit and imagination on English politics that a certain local emphasis and of effect, such as is the vice of preaching, should appear, producing on the reader a feeling of forlornness by the excess of value attributed to circumstances. But the splendor of wit cannot outdazzle the calm daylight, which always shows every individual man in balance with his age, and able to work out his own salvation from all the follies of that, and no such glaring contrasts or severalties in that or this. Each age has its own follies, as its majority is made up of foolish young people; its superstitions appear no superstitions to itself; and if you should ask the contemporary, he would tell you with pride or with regret (according as he was practical or poetic) that it had none. But after a short time, down go its follies and weakness, and the memory of them; its virtues alone remain, and its limitation assumes the poetic form of a beautiful superstition, as the dimness of our sight clothes the objects in the horizon with mist and color. The revelation of Reason is this of the unchangeableness of the fact of humanity under all its subjective aspects, that to the cowering it always cowers, to the daring it opens great avenues. The ancients are only venerable to us, because distance has destroyed what was trivial; as the sun and stars affect us only grandly, because we cannot reach to their smoke and surfaces, and say, Is that all?

And yet the gravity of the times, the manifold and increasing dangers of the English state, may easily excuse some over-coloring of the picture, and we at this distance are not so far removed from any of the specific evils, and are deeply participant in too many, not to share the gloom, and thank the love and the courage of the counsellor. This book is full of humanity, and nothing is more excellent in this, as in all Mr. Carlyle’s works, than the attitude of the writer. He has the dignity of a man of letters who knows what belongs to him, and never deviates from his sphere; a continuer of the great line of scholars, and sustains their office in the highest credit and honor. If the good heaven have any word to impart to this unworthy generation, here is one scribe qualified and clothed for its occasion. One excellence he has in an age of Mammon and of criticism, that he never suffers the eye of his wonder to close. Let who will be the dupe of trifles, he cannot keep his eye off from that gracious Infinite which embosoms us. As a literary artist, he has great merits, beginning with the main one, that he never wrote one dull line. How well read, how adroit, what thousand arts in his one art of writing; with his expedient for expressing those unproven opinions, which he entertains but will not endorse, by summoning one of his men of straw from the cell, and the respectable Sauerteig, or Teufelsdrock, or Dryasdust, or Picturesque Traveller says what is put into his mouth and disappears. That morbid temperament has given his rhetoric a somewhat bloated character, a luxury to many imaginative and learned persons, like a showery south wind with its sunbursts and rapid chasing of lights and glooms over the landscape, and yet its offensiveness to multitudes of reluctant lovers makes us often wish some concession were possible on the part of the humorist. Yet it must not be forgotten that in all his fun of castanets, or playing of tunes with a whiplash like some renowned charioteers, — in all this glad and needful vending of his redundant spirits, — he does yet ever and anon, as if catching the glance of one wise man in the crowd, quit his tempestuous key, and lance at him in clear level tone the very word, and then with new glee returns to his game. He is like a lover or an outlaw who wraps up his message in a serenade, which is nonsense to the sentinel, but salvation to the ear for which it is meant. He does not dodge the question, but gives sincerity where it is due.

One word more respecting this remarkable style. We have in literature few specimens of magnificence. Plato is the purple ancient, and Bacon and Milton the moderns of the richest strains. Burke sometimes reaches to that exuberant fulness, though deficient in depth. Carlyle in his strange half mad way, has entered the Field of the Cloth of Gold, and shown a vigor and wealth of resource, which has no rival in the tourney play of these times; — the indubitable champion of England. Carlyle is the first domestication of the modern system with its infinity of details into style. We have been civilizing very fast, building London and Paris, and now planting New England and India, New Holland and Oregon, — and it has not appeared in literature, — there has been no analogous expansion and recomposition in books. Carlyle’s style is the first emergence of all this wealth and labor, with which the world has gone with child so long. London and Europe tunnelled, graded, corn-lawed, with trade-nobility, and east and west Indies for dependencies, and America, with the Rocky Hills in the horizon, have never before been conquered in literature. This is the first invasion and conquest. How like an air-balloon or bird of Jove does he seem to float over the continent, and stooping here and there pounce on a fact as a symbol which was never a symbol before. This is the first experiment; and something of rudeness and haste must be pardoned to so great an achievement. It will be done again and again, sharper, simpler, but fortunate is he who did it first, though never so giant-like and fabulous. This grandiose character pervades his wit and his imagination. We have never had anything in literature so like earthquakes, as the laughter of Carlyle. He “shakes with his mountain mirth.” It is like the laughter of the genii in the horizon. These jokes shake down Parliament-house and Windsor Castle, Temple, and Tower, and the future shall echo the dangerous peals. The other particular of magnificence is in his rhymes. Carlyle is a poet who is altogether too burly in his frame and habit to submit to the limits of metre. Yet he is full of rhythm not only in the perpetual melody of his periods, but in the burdens, refrains, and grand returns of his sense and music. Whatever thought or motto has once appeared to him fraught with meaning, becomes an omen to him henceforward, and is sure to return with deeper tones and weightier import, now as promise, now as threat, now as confirmation, in gigantic reverberation, as if the hills, the horizon, and the next ages returned the sound.

Antislavery Poems, by John Pierpont. Boston: Oliver Johnson. 1843.

These poems are much the most readable of all the metrical pieces we have met with on the subject; indeed, it is strange how little poetry this old outrage of negro slavery has produced. Cowper’s lines in the Task are still the best we have. Mr. Pierpont has a good deal of talent, and writes very spirited verses, full of point. He has no continuous meaning which enables him to write a long and equal poem, but every poem is a series of detached epigrams, some better, some worse. His taste is not always correct, and from the boldest flight he shall suddenly alight in very low places. Neither is the motive of the poem ever very high, so that they seem to be rather squibs than prophecies or imprecations: but for political satire, we think the “Word from a Petitioner” very strong, and the “Gag” the best piece of poetical indignation in America.

Sonnets and other Poems, by William Lloyd Garrison. Boston. 1843. pp. 96.

Mr. Garrison has won his palms in quite other fields than those of the lyric muse, and he is far more likely to be the subject than the author of good poems. He is rich enough in the earnestness and the success of his character to be patient with the very rapid withering of the poetic garlands he has snatched in passing. Yet though this volume contains little poetry, both the subjects and the sentiments will everywhere command respect. That piece in the volume, which pleased us most, was the address to his first-born child.

America — an Ode; and other Poems, by N. W. Coffin. Boston: S. G. Simpkins.

Our Maecenas shakes his head very doubtfully at this well-printed Ode, and only says, “An ode nowadays needs to be admirable to carry sail at all. Mr. Sprague’s Centennial Ode, and Ode at the Shakspeare Jubilee, are the only American lyrics that we have prospered in reading, — if we dare still remember them.” Yet he adds mercifully, “The good verses run like golden brooks through the dark forests of toil, rippling and musical, and undermine the heavy banks till they fall in and are borne away. Thirty-five pieces follow the Ode, of which everything is neat, pretty, harmonious, tasteful, the sentiment pleasing, manful, if not inspired. If the poet have nothing else, he has a good ear.”

Poems by William Ellery Channing. Boston. 1843.

We have already expressed our faith in Mr. Channing’s genius, which in some of the finest and rarest traits of the poet is without a rival in this country. This little volume has already become a sign of great hope and encouragement to the lovers of the muse. The refinement and the sincerity of his mind, not less than the originality and delicacy of the diction, are not merits to be suddenly apprehended, but are sure to find a cordial appreciation. Yet we would willingly invite any lover of poetry to read “The Earth-Spirit,” “Reverence,” “The Lover’s Song,” “Death,” and “The Poet’s Hope.”

A Letter

As we are very liable in common with the letter-writing world, to fall behindhand in our correspondence, and a little more liable because, in consequence of our editorial function, we receive more epistles than our individual share, we have thought that we might clear our account by writing a quarterly catholic letter to all and several who have honored us in verse, or prose, with their confidence, and expressed a curiosity to know our opinion. We shall be compelled to dispose very rapidly of quite miscellaneous topics.

And first, in regard to the writer who has given us his speculations on Rail-roads and Air-roads, our correspondent shall have his own way. To the rail-way, we must say, like the courageous lord mayor at his first hunting, when told the hare was coming, “Let it come, in Heaven’s name, I am not afraid on ‘t.” Very unlooked for political and social effects of the iron road are fast appearing. It will require an expansion of the police of the old world. When a rail-road train shoots through Europe every day from Brussels to Vienna, from Vienna to Constantinople, it cannot stop every twenty or thirty miles, at a German customhouse, for examination of property and passports. But when our correspondent proceeds to Flying-machines, we have no longer the smallest taper light of credible information and experience left, and must speak on a priori grounds. Shortly then, we think the population is not yet quite fit for them, and therefore there will be none. Our friend suggests so many inconveniences from piracy out of the high air to orchards and lone houses, and also to other high fliers, and the total inadequacy of the present system of defence, that we have not the heart to break the sleep of the good public by the repetition of these details. When children come into the library, we put the inkstand and the watch on the high shelf, until they be a little older; and nature has set the sun and moon in plain sight and use, but laid them on the high shelf, where her roystering boys may not in some mad Saturday afternoon pull them down or burn their fingers. The sea and the iron road are safer toys for such ungrown people; we are not yet ripe to be birds.

In the next place, to fifteen letters on Communities, and the Prospects of Culture, and the destinies of the cultivated class, — what answer? Excellent reasons have been shown us why the writers, obviously persons of sincerity and of elegance, should be dissatisfied with the life they lead, and with their company. They have exhausted all its benefit, and will not bear it much longer. Excellent reasons they have shown why something better should be tried. They want a friend to whom they can speak and from whom they may hear now and then a reasonable word. They are willing to work, so it be with friends. They do not entertain anything absurd or even difficult. They do not wish to force society into hated reforms, nor to break with society. They do not wish a township, or any large expenditure, or incorporated association, but simply a concentration of chosen people. By the slightest possible concert persevered in through four or five years, they think that a neighborhood might be formed of friends who would provoke each other to the best activity.

They believe that this society would fill up the terrific chasm of ennui, and would give their genius that inspiration which it seems to wait in vain. But ‘the selfishness!’ One of the writers relentingly says, What shall my uncles and aunts do without me? and desires to be distinctly understood not to propose the Indian mode of giving decrepit relatives as much of the mud of holy Ganges as they can swallow, and more, but to begin the enterprise of concentration, by concentrating all uncles and aunts in one delightful village by themselves! — so heedless is our correspondent of putting all the dough into one pan, and all the leaven into another. Another objection seems to have occurred to a subtle but ardent advocate. Is it, he writes, a too great wilfulness and intermeddling with life, — with life, which is better accepted than calculated? Perhaps so; but let us not be too curiously good; the Buddhist is a practical Necessitarian; the Yankee is not. We do a good many selfish things every day; among them all let us do one thing of enlightened selfishness. It were fit to forbid concert and calculation in this particular, if that were our system, if we were up to the mark of self-denial and faith in our general activity. But to be prudent in all the particulars of life, and in this one thing alone religiously forbearing; prudent to secure to ourselves an injurious society, temptations to folly and despair, degrading examples and enemies; and only abstinent when it is proposed to provide ourselves with guides, examples, lovers! —-

We shall hardly trust ourselves to reply to arguments by which we would too gladly be persuaded. The more discontent, the better we like it. It is not for nothing, we assure ourselves, that our people are busied with these projects of a better social state, and that sincere persons of all parties are demanding somewhat vital and poetic of our stagnant society. How fantastic and unpresentable soever the theory has hitherto seemed, how swiftly shrinking from the examination of practical men, let us not lose the warning of that most significant dream. How joyfully we have felt the admonition of larger natures which despised our aims and pursuits, conscious that a voice out of heaven spoke to us in that scorn. But it would be unjust not to remind our younger friends that, whilst this aspiration has always made its mark in the lives of men of thought, in vigorous individuals it does not remain a detached object, but is satisfied along with the satisfaction of other aims. To live solitary and unexpressed, is painful, — painful in proportion to one’s consciousness of ripeness and equality to the offices of friendship. But herein we are never quite forsaken by the Divine Providence. The loneliest man after twenty years discovers that he stood in a circle of friends, who will then show like a close fraternity held by some masonic tie. But we are impatient of the tedious introductions of Destiny, and a little faithless, and would venture something to accelerate them. One thing is plain, that discontent and the luxury of tears will bring nothing to pass. Regrets and Bohemian castles and aesthetic villages are not a very self-helping class of productions, but are the voices of debility. Especially to one importunate correspondent we must say, that there is no chance for the aesthetic village. Every one of the villagers has committed his several blunder; his genius was good, his stars consenting, but he was a marplot. And though the recuperative force in every man may be relied on infinitely, it must be relied on, before it will exert itself. As long as he sleeps in the shade of the present error, the after-nature does not betray its resources. Whilst he dwells in the old sin, he will pay the old fine.

More letters we have on the subject of the position of young men, which accord well enough with what we see and hear. There is an American disease, a paralysis of the active faculties, which falls on young men in this country, as soon as they have finished their college education, which strips them of all manly aims and bereaves them of animal spirits, so that the noblest youths are in a few years converted into pale Caryatides to uphold the temple of conventions. They are in the state of the young Persians, when “that mighty Yezdam prophet” addressed them and said, “Behold the signs of evil days are come; there is now no longer any right course of action, nor any self-devotion left among the Iranis.” As soon as they have arrived at this term, there are no employments to satisfy them, they are educated above the work of their times and country, and disdain it. Many of the more acute minds pass into a lofty criticism of these things, which only embitters their sensibility to the evil, and widens the feeling of hostility between them and the citizens at large. From this cause, companies of the best educated young men in the Atlantic states every week take their departure for Europe; for no business that they have in that country, but simply because they shall so be hid from the reproachful eyes of their countrymen, and agreeably entertained for one or two years, with some lurking hope, no doubt, that something may turn up to give them a decided direction. It is easy to see that this is only a postponement of their proper work, with the additional disadvantage of a two years’ vacation. Add that this class is rapidly increasing by the infatuation of the active class, who, whilst they regard these young Athenians with suspicion and dislike, educate their own children in the same courses, and use all possible endeavors to secure to them the same result.

Certainly we are not insensible to this calamity, as described by the observers or witnessed by ourselves. It is not quite new and peculiar, though we should not know where to find in literature any record of so much unbalanced intellectuality; such undeniable apprehension without talent, so much power without equal applicability, as our young men pretend to. Yet in Theodore Mundt’s (*) account of Frederic Holderlin’s “Hyperion,” we were not a little struck with the following Jeremiad of the despair of Germany, whose tone is still so familiar, that we were somewhat mortified to find that it was written in 1799.

* Geschichte der Literatur der Gegenwart. 1842. p. 86.

“Then came I to the Germans. I cannot conceive of a people more disjoined than the Germans. Mechanics you shall see, but no man; priests, but no man; thinkers, but no man. Is it not like some battlefield, where hands and arms and all members lie scattered about, whilst the life-blood runs away into the sand? Let every man mind his own, you say, and I say the same. Only let him mind it with all his heart, and not with this cold study, literally, hypocritically to appear that which he passes for, but in good earnest, and in all love, let him be that which he is; then there is a soul in his deed. And is he driven into a circumstance where the spirit must not live, let him thrust it from him with scorn, and learn to dig and plough. There is nothing holy which is not desecrated, which is not degraded to a mean end among this people. It is heartrending to see your poet, your artist, and all who still revere genius, who love and foster the Beautiful. The Good! They live in the world as strangers in their own house; they are like the patient Ulysses whilst he sat in the guise of a beggar at his own door, whilst shameless rioters shouted in the hall and ask, who brought the raggamuffin here? Full of love, talent and hope, spring up the darlings of the muse among the Germans; come seven years later, and they flit about like ghosts, cold and silent; they are like a soil which an enemy has sown with poison, that it will not bear a blade of grass. On earth all is imperfect! is the old proverb of the German. Aye, but if one should say to these Godforsaken, that with them all is imperfect, only because they leave nothing pure which they do not pollute, nothing holy which they do not defile with their fumbling hands; that with them nothing prospers; because the godlike nature which is the root of all prosperity, they do not revere; that with them, truly, life is shallow and anxious and full of discord, because they despise genius, which brings power and nobleness into manly action, cheerfulness into endurance, and love and brotherhood into towns and houses. Where a people honors genius in its artists, there breathes like an atmosphere a universal soul, to which the shy sensibility opens, which melts self-conceit, — all hearts become pious and great, and it adds fire to heroes. The home of all men is with such a people, and there will the stranger gladly abide. But where the divine nature and the artist is crushed, the sweetness of life is gone, and every other planet is better than the earth. Men deteriorate, folly increases, and a gross mind with it; drunkenness comes with disaster; with the wantonness of the tongue and with the anxiety for a livelihood, the blessing of every year becomes a curse, and all the gods depart.”

The steep antagonism between the money-getting and the academic class must be freely admitted, and perhaps is the more violent, that whilst our work is imposed by the soil and the sea, our culture is the tradition of Europe. But we cannot share the desperation of our contemporaries, least of all should we think a preternatural enlargement of the intellect a calamity. A new perception, the smallest new activity given to the perceptive power, is a victory won to the living universe from chaos and old night, and cheaply bought by any amounts of hard-fare and false social position. The balance of mind and body will redress itself fast enough. Superficialness is the real distemper. In all the cases we have ever seen where people were supposed to suffer from too much wit, or as men said, from a blade too sharp for the scabbard, it turned out that they had not wit enough. It may easily happen that we are grown very idle and must go to work, and that the times must be worse before they are better. It is very certain, that speculation is no succedaneum for life. What we would know, we must do. As if any taste or imagination could take the place of fidelity! The old Duty is the old God. And we may come to this by the rudest teaching. A friend of ours went five years ago to Illinois to buy a farm for his son. Though there were crowds of emigrants in the roads, the country was open on both sides, and long intervals between hamlets and houses. Now after five years he has just been to visit the young farmer and see how he prospered, and reports that a miracle has been wrought. From Massachusetts to Illinois, the land is fenced in and builded over, almost like New England itself, and the proofs of thrifty cultivation everywhere abound; — a result not so much owing to the natural increase of population, as to the hard times, which, driving men out of cities and trade, forced them to take off their coats and go to work on the land, which has rewarded them not only with wheat but with habits of labor. Perhaps the adversities of our commerce have not yet been pushed to the wholesomest degree of severity. Apathies and total want of work and reflection on the imaginative character of American life, &c. &c., are like seasickness, which never will obtain any sympathy, if there is a woodpile in the yard, or an unweeded patch in the garden; not to mention the graver absurdity of a youth of noble aims, who can find no field for his energies, whilst the colossal wrongs of the Indian, of the Negro, of the emigrant, remain unmitigated, and the religious, civil, and judicial forms of the country are confessedly effete and offensive. We must refer our clients back to themselves, believing that every man knows in his heart the cure for the disease he so ostentatiously bewails.

As far as our correspondents have entangled their private griefs with the cause of American Literature, we counsel them to disengage themselves as fast as possible. In Cambridge orations, and elsewhere, there is much inquiry for that great absentee American Literature. What can have become of it? The least said is best. A literature is no man’s private concern, but a secular and generic result, and is the affair of a power which works by a prodigality of life and force very dismaying to behold, — the race never dying, the individual never spared, and every trait of beauty purchased by hecatombs of private tragedy. The pruning in the wild gardens of nature is never forborne. Many of the best must die of consumption, many of despair, and many be stupid and insane, before the one great and fortunate life, which they each predicted, can shoot up into a thrifty and beneficent existence.

But passing to a letter which is a generous and a just tribute to Bettina von Arnim, we have it in our power to furnish our correspondent and all sympathizing readers with a sketch, (*) though plainly from no very friendly hand, of the new work of that eminent lady, who in the silence of Tieck and Schelling, seems to hold a monopoly of genius in Germany.

* We translate the following extract from the Berlin Correspondence of the Deutsche Schnellpost of September.

“At last has the long expected work of the Frau von Arnim here appeared. It is true her name is not prefixed; more properly is the dedication, This Book belongs to the King, also the title; but partly because her genius shines so unmistakeably out of every line, partly because this work refers so directly to her earlier writings, and appears only as an enlargement of them, none can doubt who the author is. We know not how we should characterize to the reader this most original work. Bettina, or we should say, the Frau von Arnim, exhibits her eccentric wisdom under the person of Goethe’s Mother, the Frau Rath, whilst she herself is still a child, who, (1807) sits upon ‘the shawl’ at the foot of the Frau Rath, and listens devoutly to the gifted mother of the great poet. Moreover, Bettina does not conceal that she solely, or at any rate principally, propounds her views from the Frau Rath. And in fact, it could not be otherwise, since we come to hear the newest philosophical wisdom which makes a strange enough figure in the mouth of Goethe’s mother. If we mistake not, the intimate intercourse with Bruno Bauer is also an essential impulse for Frau von Arnim, and we must not therefore wonder if the Frau Rath loses her way in pure philosophical hypotheses, wherein she avails herself of the known phrases of the school. It is true, she quickly recovers herself again, clothes her perceptions in poetical garb, mounts bravely to the boldest visions, or, (and this oftenest happens,) becomes a humorist, spices her discourses in Frankfort dialect by idiomatic expressions, and hits off in her merriest humors capital sketches. For the most part, the whole humoristic dress seems only assumed in order to make the matter, which is in the last degree radical, less injurious. As to the object of these ‘sayings and narratives reported from memory’ of the Frau Rath, (since she leads the conversation throughout,) our sketch must be short. ‘It is Freedom which constitutes the truest being’ of man. Man should be free from all traditions, from all prejudices, since every holding on somewhat traditional, is unbelief, spiritual selfmurder. The God’s impulse to truth is the only right belief. Man himself should handle and prove, ‘since whoever reflects on a matter, has always a better right to truth, than who lets himself be slapped on the cheek by an article-of-Faith.’ By Sin she understands that which derogates from the soul, since every hindrance and constraint interrupts the Becoming of the soul. In general, art and science have only the destination to make free what is bound. But the human spirit can rule all, and, in that sense, ‘man is God, only we are not arrived so far as to describe the true pure Man in us.’ If, in the department of religion, this principle leads to the overthrow of the whole historical Christendom, so, in the political world, it leads to the ruin of all our actual governments. Therefore she wishes for a strong reformer, as Napoleon promised for a time to be, who, however, already in 1807, when these conversations are ascribed to the Frau Rath, had shown that instead of a world’s liberator, he would be a world’s oppressor. Bettina makes variations on the verse, ‘and wake an avenger, a hero awake!’ and in this sense is also her dedication to read. It were noble if a stronger one should come, who in more beautiful moderation, in perfecter clearness of soul and freedom of thought, should plant the tree of equity. Where remains the Regent, if it is not the genius of humanity? that is the Executive principle, in her system. The state has the same will, the same conscience-voice for good and evil as the Christ; yet it crumbles itself away into dogmaticalness of civil officers against one another. The transgressor is the state’s own transgression! the proof that it, as man, has trespassed against humanity. The old state’s doctors, who excite it to a will, are also its disease. But they who do not agree in this will, and cannot struggle through soul-narrowing relations, are the demagogues, against whom the unsound state trespasses, so long as it knows not how to bring their sound strength into harmony. And precisely to those must it dedicate itself, since they are its integration and restoration, whilst the others who conform to it, make it more sunken and stagnant. If it be objected, that this her truth is only a poetic dream which in the actual world has no place, she answers; ‘even were the truth a dream, it is not therefore to be denied; let us dedicate our genius to this dream, let us form an Ideal Paradise, which the spiritual system of Nature requires at our hands.’ ‘Is the whole fabric of state, she asks, only a worse arranged hospital, where the selfish or the ambitious would fasten on the poor human race the foolish fantastic malversations of their roguery for beneficent co;auoperation? and with it the political economy, so destitute of all genius to bind the useful with the beautiful, on which these state’s doctors plume themselves so much, and so with their triviality exhibit as a pattern to us, a wretched picture of ignorance, of selfishness, and of iniquity; when I come on that, I feel my veins swell with wrath. If I come on the belied nature, or how should I call this spectre of actuality! Yea justly! No! with these men armed in mail against every poetic truth, we must not parley; the great fools’ conspiracy of that actuality-spectre defends with mock reasoning its Turkish states’-conduct, before which certainly the revelation of the Ideal withdraws into a poetic dream-region.’ But whilst the existing state in itself is merely null, whilst the transgressor against this state is not incorporated with its authorizations with its directions and tendencies, so is the transgressor ever the accuser of the state itself. In general, must the state draw up to itself at least the lowest class, and not let it sink in mire; and Bettina lets the Frau Rath make the proposal, instead of shutting up the felon in penitentiaries, to instruct him in the sciences, as from his native energies, from his unbroken powers, great performances might be looked for. But in order also to show practically the truth of her assertions, that the present state does not fulfil its duties especially to the poorest class, at the close of the book are inserted, ‘Experiences of a young Swiss in Voigtland.’ This person visited the so-called Family-houses, which compose a colony of extremest poverty. There he went into many chambers, listened to the history of the life, still oftener to the history of the day, of the inhabitants; informed himself of their merit and their wants, and comes to the gloomiest results. The hard reproaches, which were made against the Overseers of the Poor, appear unhappily only too well founded. We have hastily sketched, with a few literal quotations, the contents of this remarkable book of this remarkable woman, and there remains no space further to elaborate judgment. The highflying idealism, which the Frau von Arnim cherishes, founders and must founder against the actuality which, as opposed to her imagination, she holds for absolute nothing. So reality, with her, always converts itself to spectres, whilst these dreams are to her the only reality. In our opinion an energetic thorough experiment for the realization of her ideas would plunge us in a deeper misery than we at present have to deplore.”

The Huguenots in France and America

The Huguenots is a very entertaining book, drawn from excellent sources, rich in its topics, describing many admirable persons and events, and supplies an old defect in our popular literature. The editor’s part is performed with great assiduity and conscience. Yet amidst this enumeration of all the geniuses, and beauties, and sanctities of France, what has the greatest man in France, at that period, Michael de Montaigne, done, or left undone, that his name should be quite omitted?

The Spanish Student. A Play in Three Acts, By H. W. Longfellow.

A pleasing tale, but Cervantes shall speak for us out of La Gitanilla.

“You must know, Preciosa, that as to this name of Poet, few are they who deserve it, — and I am no Poet, but only a lover of Poesy, so that I have no need to beg or borrow the verses of others. The verses, I gave you the other day, are mine, and those of to-day as well; — but, for all that, I am no poet, neither is it my prayer to be so.”

“Is it then so bad a thing to be a poet?” asked Preciosa.

“Not bad,” replied the Page, “but to be a poet and nought else, I do not hold to be very good. For poetry should be like a precious jewel, whose owner does not put it on every day, nor show it to the world at every step; but only when it is fitting, and when there is a reason for showing it. Poetry is a most lovely damsel; chaste, modest, and discreet; spirited, but yet retiring, and ever holding itself within the strictest rule of honor. She is the friend of Solitude. She finds in the fountains her delight, in the fields her counsellor, in the trees and flowers enjoyment and repose; and lastly, she charms and instructs all that approach her.”

The Dream of a Day, and other Poems, by James G. Percival. New Haven. 1843.

Mr. Percival printed his last book of poems sixteen years ago, and every school-boy learned to declaim his “Bunker Hill,” since which time, he informs us, his studies have been for the most part very adverse to poetic inspirations. Yet here we have specimens of no less than one hundred and fifty different forms of stanza. Such thorough workmanship in the poetical art is without example or approach in this country, and deserves all honor. We have imitations of four of the leading classes of ancient measures, — the Dactylic, Iambic, Anapestic, and Trochaic, to say nothing of rarer measures, now never known out of colleges. Then come songs for national airs, formed on the rhythm of the music, including Norwegian, German, Russian, Bohemian, Gaelic, and Welsh, — Teutonian and Slavonian. But unhappily this diligence is not without its dangers. It has prejudiced the creative power,

“And made that art, which was a rage.”

Neatness, terseness, objectivity, or at any rate the absence of subjectivity, characterize these poems. Our bard has not quite so much fire as we had looked for, grows warm but does not ignite; those sixteen years of “adverse” studies have had their effect on Pegasus, who now trots soundly and resolutely on, but forbears rash motions, and never runs away with us. The old critics of England were hardly steadier to their triad of “Gower, Lydgate, and Chaucer,” than our American magazines to the trinity of “Bryant, Dana, and Percival.” A gentle constellation truly, all of the established religion, having the good of their country and their species at heart. Percival has not written anything quite as good on the whole as his two fast associates, but surpasses them both in labor, in his mimetic skill, and in his objectiveness. He is the most objective of the American poets. Bryant has a superb propriety of feeling, has plainly always been in good society, but his sweet oaten pipe discourses only pastoral music. Dana has the most established religion, more sentiment, more reverence, more of England; whilst Mr. Percival is an upright, soldierly, free-spoken man, very much of a patriot, hates cant, and does his best.

The Tragic

He has seen but half the universe who never has been shown the House of Pain. As the salt sea covers more than two thirds of the surface of the globe, so sorrow encroaches in man on felicity. The conversation of men is a mixture of regrets and apprehensions. I do not know but the prevalent hue of things to the eye of leisure is melancholy. In the dark hours, our existence seems to be a defensive war, a struggle against the encroaching All, which threatens surely to engulf us soon, and is impatient of our short reprieve. How slender the possession that yet remains to us; how faint the animation! how the spirit seems already to contract its domain, retiring within narrower walls by the loss of memory, leaving its planted fields to erasure and annihilation. Already our own thoughts and words have an alien sound. There is a simultaneous diminution of memory and hope. Projects that once we laughed and leaped to execute, find us, now sleepy and preparing to lie down in the snow. And in the serene hours we have no courage to spare. We cannot afford to let go any advantages. The riches of body or of mind which we do not need today, are the reserved fund against the calamity that may arrive tomorrow. It is usually agreed that some nations have a more sombre temperament, and one would say that history gave no record of any society in which despondency came so readily to heart as we see it and feel it in ours. Melancholy cleaves to the English mind in both hemispheres as closely as to the strings of an Aeolian harp. Men and women at thirty years, and even earlier, have lost all spring and vivacity, and if they fail in their first enterprizes, they throw up the game. But whether we, and those who are next to us, are more or less vulnerable, no theory of life can have any right, which leaves out of account the values of vice, pain, disease, poverty, insecurity, disunion, fear, and death.

What are the conspicuous tragic elements in human nature?

The bitterest tragic element in life to be derived from an intellectual source is the belief in a brute Fate or Destiny; the belief that the order of nature and events is controlled by a law not adapted to man, nor man to that, but which holds on its way to the end, serving him if his wishes chance to lie in the same course, — crushing him if his wishes lie contrary to it, — and heedless whether it serves or crushes him. This is the terrible idea that lies at the foundation of the old Greek tragedy, and makes the;oEdipus and Antigone and Orestes objects of such hopeless commiseration. They must perish, and there is no over-god to stop or to mollify this hideous enginery that grinds and thunders, and takes them up into its terrific system. The same idea makes the paralyzing terror with which the East Indian mythology haunts the imagination. The same thought is the predestination of the Turk. And universally in uneducated and unreflecting persons, on whom too the religious sentiment exerts little force, we discover traits of the same superstition; ‘if you baulk water, you will be drowned the next time:’ ‘if you count ten stars, you will fall down dead:’ ‘if you spill the salt;’ ‘if your fork sticks upright in the floor;’ ‘if you say the Lord’s prayer backwards;’ — and so on, a several penalty, nowise grounded in the nature of the thing, but on an arbitrary will. But this terror of contravening an unascertained and unascertainable will, cannot coexist with reflection: it disappears with civilization, and can no more be reproduced than the fear of ghosts after childhood. It is discriminated from the doctrine of Philosophical Necessity herein: that the last is an Optimism, and therefore the suffering individual finds his good consulted in the good of all, of which he is a part. But in Destiny, it is not the good of the whole or the best will that is enacted, but only one particular will. Destiny properly is not a will at all, but an immense whim; and this is the only ground of terror and despair in the rational mind, and of tragedy in literature. Hence the antique tragedy, which was founded on this faith, can never be reproduced.

But after the reason and faith have introduced a better public and private tradition, the tragic element is somewhat circumscribed. There must always remain, however, the hindrance of our private satisfaction by the laws of the world. The law which establishes nature and the human race, continually thwarts the will of ignorant individuals, and this in the particulars of disease, want, insecurity, and disunion.

But the essence of tragedy does not seem to me to lie in any list of particular evils. After we have enumerated famine, fever, inaptitude, mutilation, rack, madness, and loss of friends, we have not yet included the proper tragic element, which is Terror, and which does not respect definite evils but indefinite; an ominous spirit which haunts the afternoon and the night, idleness and solitude. A low haggard sprite sits by our side “casting the fashion of uncertain evils,” — a sinister presentiment, a power of the imagination to dislocate things orderly and cheerful, and show them in startling disarray. Hark! what sounds on the night wind, the cry of Murder in that friendly house: see these marks of stamping feet, of hidden riot. The whisper overheard, the detected glance, the glare of malignity, ungrounded fears, suspicions, half-knowledge, and mistakes darken the brow and chill the heart of men. And accordingly it is natures not clear, not of quick and steady perceptions, but imperfect characters from which somewhat is hidden that all others see, who suffer most from these causes. In those persons who move the profoundest pity, tragedy seems to consist in temperament, not in events. There are people who have an appetite for grief, pleasure is not strong enough and they crave pain, mithridatic stomachs which must be fed on poisoned bread, natures so doomed that no prosperity can soothe their ragged and dishevelled desolation. They mis-hear and mis-behold, they suspect and dread. They handle every nettle and ivy in the hedge, and tread on every snake in the meadow.

“Come bad chance,

And we add to it our strength,

And we teach it art and length,

Itself o’er us to advance.”

Frankly then it is necessary to say that all sorrow dwells in a low region. It is superficial; for the most part fantastic, or in the appearance and not in things. Tragedy is in the eye of the observer, and not in the heart of the sufferer. It looks like an insupportable load under which earth moans aloud, but analyze it; it is not I, it is not you, it is always another person who is tormented. If a man says, lo I suffer, — it is apparent that he suffers not, for grief is dumb. It is so distributed as not to destroy. That which would rend you, falls on tougher textures. That which seems intolerable reproach or bereavement, does not take from the accused or bereaved man or woman appetite or sleep. Some men are above grief, and some below it. Few are capable of love. In phlegmatic natures calamity is unaffecting, in shallow natures it is rhetorical. Tragedy must be somewhat which I can respect. A querulous habit is not tragedy. A panic such as frequently in ancient or savage nations put a troop or an army to flight without an enemy; a fear of ghosts; a terror of freezing to death that seizes a man in a winter midnight on the moors; a fright at uncertain sounds heard by a family at night in the cellar or on the stairs; are terrors that make the knees knock and the teeth chatter, but are no tragedy, any more than sea-sickness, which may also destroy life. It is full of illusion. As it comes, it has its support. The most exposed classes, soldiers, sailors, paupers, are nowise destitute of animal spirits. The spirit is true to itself, and finds its own support in any condition, learns to live in what is called calamity, as easily as in what is called felicity, as the frailest glass-bell will support a weight of a thousand pounds of water at the bottom of a river or sea, if filled with the same.

A man should not commit his tranquillity to things, but should keep as much as possible the reins in his own hands, rarely giving way to extreme emotion of joy or grief. It is observed that the earliest works of the art of sculpture are countenances of sublime tranquillity. The Egyptian sphinxes, which sit today as they sat when the Greek came and saw them and departed, and when the Roman came and saw them and departed, and as they will still sit when the Turk, the Frenchman, and the Englishman, who visit them now, shall have passed by, “with their stony eyes fixed on the East and on the Nile,” have countenances expressive of complacency and repose, an expression of health, deserving their longevity, and verifying the primeval sentence of history on the permanency of that people; “Their strength is to sit still.” To this architectural stability of the human form, the Greek genius added an ideal beauty, without disturbing the seals of serenity; permitting no violence of mirth, or wrath, or suffering. This was true to human nature. For, in life, actions are few, opinions even few, prayers few; loves, hatreds, or any emissions of the soul. All that life demands of us through the greater part of the day, is an equilibrium, a readiness, open eyes and ears, and free hands. Society asks this, and truth, and love, and the genius of our life. There is a fire in some men which demands an outlet in some rude action; they betray their impatience of quiet by an irregular Catalinarian gait; by irregular, faltering, disturbed speech, too emphatic for the occasion. They treat trifles with a tragic air. This is not beautiful. Could they not lay a rod or two of stone wall, and work off this superabundant irritability. When two strangers meet in the highway, what each demands of the other is, that the aspect should show a firm mind, ready for any event of good or ill, prepared alike to give death or to give life, as the emergency of the next moment may require. We must walk as guests in nature, — not impassioned, but cool and disengaged. A man should try time, and his face should wear the expression of a just judge, who has nowise made up his opinion, who fears nothing and even hopes nothing, but who puts nature and fortune on their merits: he will hear the case out, and then decide. For all melancholy, as all passion, belongs to the exterior life. Whilst a man is not grounded in the divine life by his proper roots, he clings by some tendrils of affection to society, — mayhap to what is best and greatest in it, and in calm times it will not appear that he is adrift and not moored; but let any shock take place in society, any revolution of custom, of law, of opinion, and at once his type of permanence is shaken. The disorder of his neighbors appears to him universal disorder; chaos is come again. But in truth he was already a driving wreck, before the wind arose which only revealed to him his vagabond state. If a man is centred, men and events appear to him a fair image or reflection of that which he knoweth beforehand in himself. If any perversity or profligacy break out in society, he will join with others to avert the mischief, but it will not arouse resentment or fear, because he discerns its impassable limits. He sees already in the ebullition of sin, the simultaneous redress.

Particular reliefs, also, fit themselves to human calamities, for the world will be in equilibrium, and hates all manner of exaggeration. Time, the consoler, time, the rich carrier of all changes, dries the freshest tears by obtruding new figures, new costumes, new roads, on our eye, new voices on our ear. As the west wind lifts up again the heads of the wheat which were bent down and lodged in the storm, and combs out the matted and dishevelled grass as it lay in night-locks on the ground, so we let in time as a drying wind into the seed-field of thoughts which are dank and wet, and low-bent. Time restores to them temper and elasticity. How fast we forget the blow that threatened to cripple us. Nature will not sit still; the faculties will do somewhat; new hopes spring, new affections twine, and the broken is whole again.

Time consoles, but Temperament resists the impression of pain. Nature proportions her defence to the assault. Our human being is wonderfully plastic, if it cannot win this satisfaction here, it makes itself amends by running out there and winning that. It is like a stream of water, which, if dammed up on one bank, over-runs the other, and flows equally at its own convenience over sand, or mud, or marble. Most suffering is only apparent. We fancy it is torture: the patient has his own compensations. A tender American girl doubts of Divine Providence whilst she reads the horrors of “the middle passage:” and they are bad enough at the mildest; but to such as she these crucifixions do not come: they come to the obtuse and barbarous, to whom they are not horrid, but only a little worse than the old sufferings. They exchange a cannibal war for the stench of the hold. They have gratifications which would be none to the civilized girl. The market-man never damned the lady because she had not paid her bill, but the stout Irish woman has to take that once a month. She, however, never feels weakness in her back because of the slave-trade. This self-adapting strength is especially seen in disease. “It is my duty,” says Sir Charles Bell, “to visit certain wards of the hospital where there is no patient admitted but with that complaint which most fills the imagination with the idea of insupportable pain and certain death. Yet these wards are not the least remarkable for the composure and cheerfulness of their inmates. The individual who suffers has a mysterious counterbalance to that condition, which, to us who look upon her, appears to be attended with no alleviating circumstance.” Analogous supplies are made to those individuals whose character leads them to vast exertions of body and mind. Napoleon said to one of his friends at St. Helena, “Nature seems to have calculated that I should have great reverses to endure, for she has given me a temperament like a block of marble. Thunder cannot move it; the shaft merely glides along. The great events of my life have slipped over me without making any impression on my moral or physical nature.”

The intellect is a consoler, which delights in detaching, or putting an interval between a man and his fortune, and so converts the sufferer into a spectator, and his pain into poetry. It yields the joys of conversation, of letters, and of science. Hence also the torments of life become tuneful tragedy, solemn and soft with music, and garnished with rich dark pictures. But higher still than the activities of art, the intellect in its purity, and the moral sense in its purity, are not distinguished from each other, and both ravish us into a region whereinto these passionate clouds of sorrow cannot rise.

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