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regret may be speedily reversed, while the ground that we have gained need not be retrodden. Our position is one eminently favorable to the future and rapid progress of humanity, one, from which the race may advance with accelerated speed in all the elements of spiritual knowledge, freedom, and power. In ancient fable, the Titans piled mountain upon mountain that they might reach the celestial seats; and when they began to climb, the angry king of the gods hurled them and their unwieldy scaffolding to the ground. We stand, as they did, upon the tops of the mountains, and the broad earth, the vast universe, lies beneath us; but for us they furnish a solid foothold from which we can mount the skies, and the Infinite Father stretches out the hand to help those who have subdued the earth to scale the heavens. The spiritual world lies all open for our research and activity. It is in this that industry must toil, science explore, fancy create; and we trust that the engrossing demands of the material world will soon give place to higher fields of research and modes of effort. Let us now cast a cursory glance at the work which remains to be wrought in coming ages, and in which we trust that our own will begin to bear part.
First, the practical skill, which has almost exhausted its resources in the material world, must apply itself to the reorganization of human society. That the social system is out of joint is only too obvious. Here are the vast masses of superfluous and unproductive wealth; there the crowded ranks of the suffering, the starving, the degraded, the enslaved, for whom no healing or restoring influence has ever gone forth. These are the valleys to be exalted; those the mountains to be brought low. War, still the scourge of a guilty world, must be put away, and the principles of peace, forbearance, equity, and good faith brought down to the details of domestic and social life, and thence (for it can be only thence) infused into the machinery of governments and the counsels of nations. Grovelling toil, both among the sordid rich and the hunger-driven poor, must be made to relax its demands and to equalize its burdens, so that in all classes of society the mind and heart shall claim their rights and have their dues, their sufficient space and means for culture and enjoyment. These ends are not, as we suppose, to be reached by any violent convulsion, outbreak, or revolution.
On the old Jewish temple was heard no sound of axe or hammer; still less will there be on the tabernacle of God, as its stakes are planted, and its curtains spread over the regenerated earth. Nor have we the slightest faith in Fourierism, or in any of the plans for creating a social machinery which shall move aright by its own momentum. We do not believe that Providence ever meant that human institutions and arrangements should produce the highest results by their own independent and self-adjusting action. It is essential to our best moral discipline, that the bands, wheels, and pulleys of the social machine should be constantly liable to be thrown out of gear and out of play, and should thus need weights of our own addition and compensations of our own device, the incessant and vigorous exercise of our best powers of mind and heart.
Meanwhile, philosophy has its appointed work, still unwrought, in the spiritual universe. Man has measured the heights and sounded the depths of nature, yet still knows not his own soul. The laws of mind, its mutual relations, its connection with the Supreme Intelligence, the harmonies of the spiritual world, the correspondences between nature and revelation, the scientific aspects of nature, the glimpses that reach us from a higher sphere of being, the shadows of a past, and the foreshinings of a future eternity, these form a field of research on which the human mind has hardly entered, but which, from their vastness, sublimity, and intense interest, may well demand and tax to the utmost the loftiest powers for unnumbered ages.
Imagination, too, has before her a sphere from which she has hardly begun to draw materials for her creations. In the immensity of the spiritual universe, the realm of the unknown can never vanish. Even revelation gives us only the great outlines of spiritual truth and of the future life; and may not the details have been withholden, in order that fancy might range at will in the vast expanse thus left open, that there might be, within the temple-gates of eternal truth, ample scope for the creative faculty of the human soul to build, garnish, and people its own mansions? In this spiritual world, there will always be mysteries before which science will veil her face, hidings of omnipotence, which the keenest eye cannot penetrate, secrets of the future life, which the earthly vision cannot explore. It is in this region
that the fountains of poetic inspiration must henceforth be sought. As in ancient times, the poet's and the prophet's name will again be one. Imagination will thus become the handmaid of devotion, letting in the light of eternity on the toils of time, and filling man's path to heaven with celestial harmonies.
We have completed the discussion which we proposed; but, as we have taken Gilfillan's book for our text, we feel bound to give a brief notice of it before we close. To use the epithet which Dickens has stamped as an Americanism, this is one of the most remarkable books of the age. The author tells us that "the life of every thinking man may be divided into three eras, the era of admiration, the era of action, and the era of repose." In the work before us," he has garnered up the results of his young love and wonder for the master-pieces of his country's genius "; and he informs us, that, with it, one mental period of his history is closing, and that it is for the public to decide whether he be encouraged to gird up his loins for some other more manlike, more solid, and strenuous achievement." The public, we opine, will very readily connive at his easy transit from the first to the third era. And yet the book is entertaining. The writer seems to have made himself a sort of Boswell general. He has picked up a rich assortment of literary gossip, sat as a humble listener in many learned coteries, heard almost all the great men talk, attended the ministrations of most of the distinguished preachers of England and Scotland, and wormed himself into a knowledge of the personal habits and private history of almost all the originals of his "Gallery of Literary Portraits." Moreover, though the least skilful of portrait-painters, he is by no means unsuccessful. His colors are chosen at random, and his strokes of the brush are mere dabs; but he piles color upon color, and plies stroke upon stroke, till by dint of reiterated trial he hits a tolerable, though in almost every instance a grossly flattered, likeness. His style is the most stilt-like that has come under our cognizance for many a day. His sentences consist generally of metaphors in threes, fours, or fives, most unequally yoked together. For the incoherent mixture of metaphors we can match him by no parallel within our memory, unless we liken him to Orator Emmons, whose peculiar rhetoric cannot have wholly faded from the memory
of our Boston readers. But the laws of fermentation and combination once in a while enable him to throw together half a dozen bold and striking figures, that really make a splendid sentence, just as every hundredth shake of a kaleidoscope may present a figure of perfect symmetry and surpassing beauty. We are tempted to quote, as a striking and by no means an exaggerated specimen of his style of delineation, the introductory paragraph of his sketch of Robert Hall.
"Robert Hall was the facile princeps of English descent [dissent?]. And though his merits have been enshrined and emblazoned in the criticism of Foster, Dugald Stewart, Southey, and John Scott, as well as of Mackintosh and Parr, we may yet, gleaning after them in a field so rich, find a few stray ears. Following in their wake, we may, perchance, pick up a few floating fragments from the wreck of such an argosie. As a preacher, he enjoys the traditional fame of having outstripped all his contemporaries. Some sturdy sons of the Scottish Establishment continued, indeed, long to stand up for the superiority of Chalmers; but their voice, if not drowned, was overwhelmed by the general verdict of public opinion. We believe, however, that, in the mere force of immediate impression, the Scottish preacher had the advantage. The rapidity of Hall's delivery, the ease with which finished sentences succeeded each other like a shower of pearls, the elevation of the sentiment, the purity of the composition, the earnestness of the manner, the piercing coruscations of the eye, all these taken together, produced the effect of thrilling every bosom, and enchaining every countenance. But there lacked the struggle and the agony, the prophetic fury, the insana vis, the wild and mystic glance, 'seeing the invisible,' and (when the highest point of his oratory was reached) the torrent rapture' of our countryman, 'taking the reason prisoner,' and hurrying the whole being as before a whirlwind. In listening to Hall, you felt as under the influence of the 'cup which cheers, but not inebriates.' Hearing Chalmers was like tasting of the insane root.' Hall's oratory might be compared to a low but thrilling air; Chalmers's to a loud and barbaric melody. Hall's excitement was fitful, varying with the state of his health and feelings; that of Chalmers was constant and screwed up to a prodigious pitch, as if by the force of frenzy. Hall's inspiration was elegant and Grecian: you said of Chalmers, 'He hath a demon, if he be not full of the God." pp. 74, 75.
Gilfillan has a genius for comparisons. There are no two
men so unlike, that he cannot put them in juxtaposition ; and there are certain names which, like constant terms in mathematical calculation, he brings forward in his estimate of almost every literary character in his catalogue. Burke and Horsley, for some inscrutable reason, have the precedence among these common measures, and are both named in connection with authors who can never have reminded any other living man of either of them. We were going to give a list of the men with whom he compares Robert Hall, but find that it would occupy too much room; for we have counted forty, without scanning the last few pages very closely. We should do him injustice not to quote a few of his boldest and most original parallels. Thus, - "Percy Bysshe Shelley, of all the modern poets, with the exception of Coleridge in his youth, reminds us most of Israel's prophets." He terms "Moses Stuart, of Andover University," a Polyphemus, why, we know not, unless it be on account of his single-eyed devotion to the science of Scriptural exegesis. In considering Channing's position with reference to American literature, he is "reminded more of Dr. Johnson than of any other writer." In his sketch of "the preachers of the day," he styles George Croly "the Burke of theology," leaving us in some doubt whether he likens him to the great orator of that name, or to the individual of our own day who has rendered the same name illustrious by his liberal contributions to anatomical science.
In a paper which has "Ralph Waldo Emerson" for its caption, our author gives us a sketch of the literary men of America. Here the absurdities of his style and manner are heightened by a palpable ignorance of his subject, the absence of which is the one redeeming trait of the residue of his work. We quote the following paragraph as a choice morceau of cockney criticism, unparalleled for its impertinence, flippancy, and absurdity.
"Ere estimating the writer Emerson, we must permit ourselves a glance, however cursory, at the state of American literature. Its inferiority has long been deplored with a bitterness proportioned to the height of the expectations which had been excited. It had been imagined, that, far as the Andes transcend the Alps, minds were to appear in the western hemisphere, so far transcending our Shakspeares and Miltons. Many excellent reasons were given why nature should bear such a progeny; but