Page images

the precepts of Epicurus. The Sto- ans have always held the Grecian ics made men virtuous, by teaching end and means; they insist upon them the precepts of Zeno ;—their one supreme good ; a spiritual state, systems were educative; their in comparison with which, all other means, the development of philoso good is evil, all other attainment so phers. Bacon was content to state idle, that he who has reached it may his end as the good of man, without be totally depraved. They are ed. troubling himself to discuss the su- ucators also, and look for God's preme good. He evidently had in blessing upon the direct application mind the legal goods of a thriving of truth to the soul. Bacon transcitizen in a well ordered state, the ferred the ends of law to other sci. virtuous enjoyment of life, liberty, ences. How completely these ends and property ; but he objected to no engrossed his mind, is no where kind of good, except that abstract more distinctly seen than in his congood, which is good for nothing. stant and bitter charges of barren. His means of attaining this end, was ness against the old philosophy ; for the increase of useful knowledge surely he overlooked its aims, when and useful inventions. He consid. he said that it bore no fruit. Fruit! ered these as a sort of hoarded hap- what fruit should it produce? The piness. If they did not render the groves of Academus were not plantinventors happy, they would some. ed with steam-engines, or lightning time add to the mass of human hap. rods. Men grew there. Its fruit is piness. They were happiness solid. to be sought in the men who have ified, subjected to weight and meas. matured under its influences-and ure, buying and selling. If Zeno were what a harvest! Was there nothto look around one of our factories, ing ripe, and mellow, and juicy in with its miracles of machinery, and the soul of Plato, on wbose infant its miserable mannikins of men, he blossom the honey-bees alighted, would cry aloud to them with groans, and no seed thoughts in the core of “get more soul !" Bacon would his spirit? Was Aristotle nothing, gaze exultingly upon the scene-- but a choke-pear of disputation ? a "toil on! toil on ! every new fabric metaphysical burr, with no meat in will be so much good for some one, the center? Was not Marcus Au. no matter whom ; so many yards of relius a sound and wholesome pro. happiness."

duct? an imperial growth worthy of The first advances the individual, propagation? Such as these have but keeps the race stationary. What been the fruits of the Grecian phineed of additions to the general losophy wherever it has been plantstock? That which educated Aris. ed; by the stately palaces of the totle, will certainly educate me. Medici ; by the monasteries of Ger

The second neglects the individ- many; by the academic balls of ual, in the race ; "and the individ. England; or, beyond the currents ual withers, and the world is more of Oceanus, in ihe lone wilds of and more.” The Greek left the America. Fruit glorious and imschool of Socrates intent upon mold- perishable ! aid and comfort also, ing himself into such a character as through all time, to universal hu. his teacher; our ambition is to dis- manity! The method of Bacon, cover a planet or a new and useful the inductive method, though it had bug, or to invent a lightning rod, or already been pointed out by Aris a safety lamp, or at least,

a new or- totle, has been generally considered ganization of society. The Stoic by philosophers the chief merit of would be something ; the Baconian his system. But the legal and por must do something. Here also Ba- litical commentators seem disposed con shows the lawyer. Theologi to pass it over very slightly. Mac

auley, for example, in his showy glory of the Baconian philosophy and sophistical review, says that consists. It has no direct, legitimate

scarcely any person, who propos. claim, to those sublime, but, in Baed to himself the same end wiih con's sense, barren studies, astronBacon, could fail to hit upon the same omy and geology ; for, in conclumeans.” However incorrect this sion, it savors of the faults, as well opinion may be, it shows how nearly as the excellences, of the legal proakin the inductive method is to those fession. pursued in the law.

They may be summed in a sen. But Bacon added the lawyer's tence. Bacon did not love truth for test of truth ; its working well. He its own sake, and he denied its relawanted no truths which could not tions to God. He was devout, too, produce or prophesy, and he judged in his way; but he held his creed them by their fruits. Knowledge by will, and not by reason ; he de. was truth to him, if he could make lighted in absurdities, to use, with nature act, or foretell her courses by Sir Thomas Brown, that odd resoit; otherwise, not,-a test always lution, learned out of Tertulliansure to give the clearest ideas of “Credo, quia impossibile.” He de. causes; but excluding all other re- nied final causes, and so left an unlations, an unerring guide to truth in spanned abyss between man and his physics, where only truth will act; God. but in civil business, where, as Ba. In the infancy of science, men con himself says, falsehood, like believed all things made for them ; an alloy in coin of gold and silver, to give them food, the earth was may make the metal work the bet- peopled ; to give them light, the sun, ter," it is but a slow guide to purity and moon, and stars, were created ; or truth. It consecrates means for God works for them alone. Then the sake of the end.

a science of utility is natural; but We have spoken of the spirit of when the telescope has opened the the Baconian philosophy, compre- heavens, depth beyond depth, and hension, and progress; of its end, the the microscope has revealed its good of man; of its means, useful wondrous and countless races, and knowledge, and useful inventions; the history of the world has been of its method, the inductive pro- traced back, ages upon ages, before cess; of its test of truth, the conse- man was ; he sees, with humility, quences of it: and claimed to find, his true relations to the universe, in all these, traces of the study of and science, expanding with his jurisprudence, not in such a sense, thought, embraces beauty, right, and that any good lawyer might have religion, as well as utility. written the Novum Organum, or that Lord Bacon clung to this earth, a better lawyer would have made and the old theory of the solar sysa better philosophy. Sir Edward tem; but if he be not one of those Coke would, doubiless, have made sublimer souls, who delight to be a worse one, but it would have been present in spirit with God, when of more like Bacon's, than one by Lu- old be laid the foundations of the ther or Erasmus. It is in tracing earth, and to raise the voice of the history of jurisprudence, and the praise, with the morning stars, which useful arts alone, ihat Baconianism sang together, or, far through the seems to grow up naturally ; to be infinite realms of space, to go soundthe “birth of time;" and it is in ing on, sphere beyond sphere, forthese, and the sciences to which they ever and forever; as the genius of have given rise in the hands of Gró- his philosophy, he is seen moving tius and Montesquieu, and in politi- among the crowds of men, in their cal economy and legislation, that the marts of business, or legislative halls; with trumpet-voice proclaim- soothed, he is seen moving with a ing the worth, and the high destiny look like His, “ who pitied men;" of man; or, nobler and diviner still, touching sad hearts to tears of joy, in the low and lone hut, by the and wielding the elements to perflickering light of poverty's cold fire, form the miracles of love. by the restless bed of sickness;

"Shall not his name lead all the rest, wherever shivering want can be

Who wisely loved his fellow-men ?" warmed, or the fevered brow be


The soft Gallic title, Evange- to presume that, in spite of the unline, a Tale of Acadie,” led every usual meter in which the writer one who looked at the book through chose to present his subject, almost the medium of “Excelsior," and every reader would have been those spirited translations, so indus. pleased with that fanciful little pretriously elaborated from the other lude, uniting the murmurs of the modern languages of Europe, into forest-foliage and moss, with the our own, to cut the leaves with hasty wild, though not more varied, re. fingers. The very word, Acadie, sponses of the “deep-voiced neighfalling upon the ear with a dreamy boring ocean.” Nor is the descrip. cadence, suggestive to the imagina. tion of Grand Prè, where the scene tion of flowery meadows, sylvan re- of the poem is laid, in any way caltreats and bowers, where primeval culated to destroy this favorable im. nature might recline and hold fa- pression. It is at once lively and miliar discourse with modern pro- minute. You have a picture of a vincial life, remote from the hum of sweet agricultural village, reposing the city, operated as a kind of charm. in a fruitful valley, with orchards Every reader, who opened the book, and corn-fields, stretching away to was predetermined to be pleased. the south and west ; on the north, a He said involuntarily to himself, now mountain, crowned with venerable I will, for one little hour, forget the forests, and the broad ocean, with corn laws, the tariff, the Oregon promontory, bay, and cavern, lying question, the Mexican war, the ex- like a vast map upon the eastern tension of the area of freedom, and horizon. Sea-mists, like armies in the prospects of different men for battle array, skirt the mountains in the next presidential canvass. I the distance. The distaff, ibe shutwill

go back to the days that Horace tle, the wheels of the laborer's wain and Akenside loved to figure to returning homeward, the song of themselves. I will spirit myself maidens and the frolicksome, unre. away from the steam-whistle, and strained glee of children, mingle the railway station, to haunts where their various notes with the soothing Sidney would have laid aside his influences of evening. The accus. sword in sweet abandonment to the tomed bell breathes its tremulous tones of his favorite lute. I will take tones musical, and full of moral Shenstone along with me, and meaning, over this little world of Burns, and Bloomfield. In short, I happy homes. It is true, the lanwill have a holiday. It is also safe guage is rude and unpolished; but * Evangeline, by Henry Wadsworth

this blernish is lost sight of in the Longfellow. W. D. Ticknor & Co., happy grouping, and easy drapery, Boston.

of the poet's images.

From this general sketching and gleamed beneath the brown shade landscape painting, the writer pro- of ber tresses. Her breath was ceeds to a particular description of sweet as the breath of kine that feed the principal personages, who are to in the meadows. Now, it is almost figure in the poem. It was one of impossible to transpose this passage the favorite maxims of Horace, that in any way that will render it more a passage of true poetry has a cer- prosaic and common-place, than it tain vigor of sentiment, and harmo. appears in the book. In the first nic richness of tone, which can not place, you have the picture of Benebe entirely destroyed by transposing dict Bellefontaine, a farmer, who the words, or even by translating (strange to say) lived on his own them into plain prose. Let us ap- farm; who had turned the manageply this touchstone to the following ment of his household affairs over lines :

to his daughter. In the very poet

ical and classical words of the au“ Somewhat apart from the village, and nearer the basin of Minas,

thor, he was a “hearty, hale” old Benedict Bellefontaine, the wealthiest farmer man, about seventy years old-an of Grand Prè,

oak, covered with snow-flakes, says Dwelt on his goodly acres ; and with him, directing his household,

the poet-a metaphor, which cerGentle Evangeline lived, his child, and the tainly has the merit of originality to

pride of the village. ? Stalworth and stately in form was the man

recommend it. But fearing, lest his of seventy winters ;

readers should be in doubt as to the Hearty and hale was he, an oak that was proportions and proper disposition

covered with snow-flakes ; White as the snow were his locks, and his

of its parts, he tells them that the cheeks as brown as the oak leaves ; snow is meant to represent the locks Fair was she to behold, that maiden of seven

of the old man, and that the foliage Black were her eyes, as the berry that grows of the oak is meant to shadow

on the thorn by the way side ;. forth the color of his cheeks. This Black, yet how softly they gleamed beneath the brown shade of her tresses ;

guarded explanation puts one in Sweet was her breath, as the breath of kine mind of the amusing dialogue be

that feed in the meadows, When, in the harvest heat, she bore to the

tween Snug and Bottom, in "Mid. reapers at noontide

summer Night's.Dream." Flagons of home-brewed ale: oh! fair in sooth

Snug. “ You can never bring in was the maiden.'"

a wall-what say you, Bottom ?" Now, under the application of Bottom. “ Some man or other Horace's rule, if we render these must present wall, and let him have thirteen lines into prose, we shall some plaster, or some lome, or some have a result similar to the follow- rough cast about him, to signify ing. Benedict Bellefontaine, the wall. Or let him hold his fingers wealthiest farmer of Grand Prè, thus, and through that cranny shall lived on his goodly acres, and the Pyramus and Thisbe whisper.” gentle Evangeline, his child, and the But poor Evangeline, her worst pride of the village, lived with him, enemy, could not have treated her directing his household.

This man

with more unnatural severity than of seventy winters was stalworth and the poet, who called her into being. stately in form ; he was hearty and She is just seventeen years old hale; an oak that is covered with (such darlings of the imagination are snow-fakes ; his locks were as white always just seventeen)- with a pair as snow, and his cheeks as brown as of eyes, that look for all the world oak leaves. That maiden of seven- like a couple of blackberries, that teen summers was fair to behold; grow on a thorn (probably the auher eyes were black as the berry thor thought the word blackberry that grows on the thorn by the way. bush unpoetical) by the way.side. side ; black, yet how softly they Lest there should be some misunder.

teen summers.

[ocr errors]

standing, and you should infer that weathercocks, which are said to be she had a small piercing black eye, without number, “rattling and sing. too black to express subdued senti- ing incessantly of mutation.” The ment, and languishing love-an eye, music of the spheres must have been which poets, of all ages, have ab- quile old-fashioned and monotonous, horred-he informs you, in the next if heard in contrast with this sublime verse, that their too piercing ray is and soul-stirring anthem. The next softened, in some degree, beneath character appearing, in the order of the brown shade of her tresses. As the story, is Gabriel, the hero, ihe respects that other qualification of son of a blacksmith, (for they had a his heroine, bad Mr. Longfellow stithy in Acadie,) a very respectbeen any thing more than a theoret. able young man in his way, though ical Acadian farmer, he must have possessed of some personal pecuknown that, let his kine feed in liarities as a lover, which we shall meadows, or where they may, he have occasion to note by-and-bye. was, by this comparison, not only Our young lovers had been school. offering an insult of the grossest mates in childhood it seems, and kind to Evangeline, but offending were in the habit of spending a good the taste of every reader, who knows deal of time in the blacksmith's any thing of the peculiarities of shop," where they stood,” says the those horned animals of whom the poet, (with great enthusiasm,) with poet seems so caressingly fond. 6 wondering eyes, to behold Basil,

Passing by the bee-hives and the father of Gabriel, take in his " the old moss-covered bucket," with leathern lap the hoof of the horse, its bewitching adjunct of “a water. as a play-thing.” While they were ing-trough for horses,” we come to not occupied in this way, they were the barns and barn.yard, where let hunting for swallows' nests in the us linger with the poet awhile, in barns. By this time, we are to suprapt and hallowed musings. Behold pose Evangeline grown up to wothe farming utensils of all sorts, from manhood, and so popular among the the wain, the plow and harrow, farmers as to receive the euphoninewly purchased, down to the wast- ous title of “Sunshine of Eulalie," ed relics of many a predecessor in because it was supposed that that all the stages of dissolution. And sort of sunshine had some mystethere, walking in aristocratic pride, rious sympathy with the apple ore the swollen lurkey and the cock, chards. whom, “surrounded by his se- The second canto of the poem raglio," in spite of poor morbid Beat- opens with a beautiful description of tie's appellation of " fell chanti- a northern autumn, which has more cleer,” our enamored bard could of the picturesque in it than is to be almost embrace. Those barns must found in any other part of the poem. have been a sight to be sure, to feast The description of his heroine's heifa poet's eye, a village of them, says er, however, with her “snow white the chronicler, with dove-cotes and hide,” and lofty gait, savors rather corn-lofts, (with stair-cases leading more of the shambles than of Aca. to them,) and every barn, so filled die. If Mr. Longfellow has any with hay as to be bursting, like a nervous readers, he might have ripe canteleup, in the sun. Surely, spared them the smell of the salt. the Earl of Northumberland's sta. marsh hay as too aromatic and pun. bles and outbuildings, nay, Paris it- gent for an invalid. The gigantic self, must have been insignificant in wooden saddles, of flaming color the comparison ; and, to finish the and crimson tassels “nodding in picture, while they delight the ear, bright array,” like so many holly. behold and listen to a multitude of hocks in blossom, must have been

« PreviousContinue »