Page images
PDF
EPUB

malities of rigid vistue. “Let not bis frailties be remembered,' said Johnson ; .he was a very great inan.'

But, for our parts, we rather say, let them be remembered,' for we question whether he himself would not feel gratified in hearing bis reader, after dwelling with admiration on the proofs of his greatness, closo the volume with the kind-hearted phrase, so fondly and familiarly ejaculated, of Poor GOLDSMITH !''

It would be a work of supererogation to commend this cheap and beautiful edition of 'Goldsmith's Life and Writings' to a wide acceptance. Every reader knows the value and interest of the volumes. The merits of the works they embrace have long since been fully discussed, and their station in the scale of literary merit permanently established. They have outlasted generations of works of higher power and wider scope, and will continue to outlast succeeding generations, for they have that magic charm of style which embalms works to perpetuity.

Life's MYSTERY. — To every sensitive and thoughtful man, who realizes that he is walking between two eternities, "hovering, with insecure adhesion, in the midst of the Unfathomable, and to dissolve at the farthest very soon,' there come often moments of existence, in which the Mystery of Life is almost insupportable ; moments when, like the sweet poetess of England, that divine Intellect, now gone to solve the great secret, we question the winds, the stars, the wide earth, and the sounding sea, to tell us of the dead who have gone before us – to lift the dark curtain that bides the future from our mortal vision. This eventful theme we had the pleasure and satisfaction to hear treated not long since by one of the finest and most suggestive minds in this country, and in a manner so eloquent and masterly, that his audience were hushed as by a spell of enchantinent, while the brilliant thoughts fell upon their ears, and found entrance to their hearts. The text was that kindred aspiration of JoB: O that I knew where I might find him; that I might come even to his seat l'etc. Some idea, perhaps, may be formed of the character of the discourse, from the following passages, rendered from memory and a few cursory notes. Man is not at all times a ware, said the speaker, in substance, of the intensity and awfulness of the life that is in him; yet a dim consciousness of infinite mystery and grandeur lies beneath all the common-place of life. Our steps are evermore haunted with thoughts far beyond their own range, which some have regarded as the reminiscences of a prëexistent state. 'As I have seen,' said he, 'a rude peasant from the mountains of the Appenines, falling asleep at the foot of a pillar, in one of the majestic Roman churches: doubtless the choral symphonies yet fell soft upon his ear, and the gilded arches were yet dimly seen, through the half-slumbering eye-lids: and thus, it seems to me, is it often with the repose and stupor of the heart. Heaven is above us, and eternity is before and behind us; and suns and stars are silent witnesses and watchers over us. We are enfolded by infinity: infinite powers, infinite spaces, do they not lie all around us? Is not the dread arch of mystery spread over us, and no voice ever pierced it? Is not eternity enthroned amidst yonder starry heights, and no utterance, no word, ever came from those far-lying and silent spaces! Oh, it is strange, to think of that awful majesty above, and then to think of what is beneath it: this little struggle of life; this poor day's conflict; this busy ant-hill of a city! Shut down the dome of heaven close upon it; let it crush and confine every thought to the present spot, to the present instant, and such would a city be. Ascend the lonely watch-tower of evening meditation, and look forth, and listen ; and lo! the talk of the streets -- the sounds of music and revelling – the stir and tread of a multitude, goeth up into the silent and all-surrounding infinitude; and some indeed have supposed that every sound which rises from the earth, wanders onward and onward forever. But is it the audible sound only that goeth up? O no! but amidst the stir and noise of visible life, from the inmost bosom of the visible man, goeth up a call, a cry, an asking, unuttered, unutterable; an asking for revelation; saying, in almost speechless agony: 'O break, dread

arch of mystery! Tell us, ye stars that roll above the waves of mortal trouble --- speak forth, thou enthronéd majesty of the unbounded spaces on high bow down your my s. terious heavens, and come near! Tell us, what ye only know; tell us of the loved and lost! - tell us what we are, and whither we are going!.. Equally benutiful were the remarks of the speaker upon the impressive silence of nature. There was, he said in effect, no distinct, articulate utterance, yet the majesty of silence spoke with most miraculous orgun.' Accustomed as we are, said he, to speech, how much more powerful in some things is silence? How intolerable would it have been, if every Day, when it came, had audibly said, 'God is good;' and every Evening when it stole upon us, had said 'God is good ;' and every cloud when it rose, and every tree as it blossomed, and every plant as it sprung from the earth, had audibly said, 'God is good.' No; the silence of nature is more impressive than speech; it expresses more than words can utter. When we lift up our thoughts to the vast infinitude, what do we find? Order, holding its sublime reign among the countless revolving suns and systems, and light, fair and beautiful, covering all as with a garment. Look up to the heights of heaven, in some bright and smiling day: behold the ethereal softness, the meteor of beauty that hangs over us : and does it not seem as if it were an enfolding gentleness -- a silent, hushed breathing of unutterable love? Was ever a mother's eye, bent on her child, more sweet and gentle ? O you sweet heavens!' hath many a poet said. A voice of unutterable tenderness seems breathing from that blue vault - toward which the voices of human want and suffering go upward like inarticulate cries, and sobbings of a dumb creature, which in the ears of heaven are prayers — saying: 'Poor frail beings ! borne on the bosom of imperfection, and laid upon the lap of sorrow, be patient and hopeful ! Ye are not neglected nor forgotten! The heaven above holds you in a solemn suspense, which death only may break. Be trustful for awhile, and all your lofty asking shall have answer, and all your patient sorrow shall find issue in everlasting peace.' . . . Our readers, we are sure, will not need to be informed, that they have held frequent communion in these pages with the master mind of which these beautiful thoughts are an emanation; nor will they fail to recognise in them the author of a discourse entitled 'Erroneous Views of Death,' noticed at large in a recent number. We cannot but hope that, in connexion with others from the same source, the present discourse, of the character of which we have afforded but an unsatisfactory glimpse, may soon find its way to the public in a permanent form.

LAFAYETTE AND WASHINGTON. We acknowledge from the publisher, Mr. J. Cris. SEY, Philadelphia, an 'Address on the Characters of LAFAYETTE and WASHINGTON, pronounced before the Washington Society of Lafayette College, Easton, Pa., on the Fourth of July, 1840, by Willis GAYLORD Clark.' Our 'relations' with the orator naturally exclude us from comment upon this performance; but our readers, we may be. lieve, will not take it amiss that we append the conclusion of their kindly remembered friend OLLAPOD's address :

"Such was WASHINGTON : a combination and a form where every human grace and virtue appeared to have set an indelible seal. li we look at the various peculiarities of the various great men, for example, of the ancient republic, we shall find that he embraced the good ones of them all:

His was Octavian's prosperous star,
The rush of Cesar's conquering car,

A: Battle's call;
His Scipio's virtue: his, the skill,
And the indomitable will

Of Hannibal.
The clemency of Antonine,

And pure Aurelios' love divine ;
Intented field and i loody fray,
An Alexander's vigorous sway,

And stern command:
The faith of Coostantine-ay, more
The fervent love Camillus bore

His native land.

But the crowning glory of WASHINGTON's course was its close. Nothing could be more glorious than such a life, but such a death. Encircled by his family ; watched by eyes that loved him, and attended with tender ministrations, his soul parted from his body, and that immortal guest of his earthly tabernacle ascended to Heaven. As that hour approached, his conteniment and peace were indescribable. He saw, if his thoughts were then momentarily of earth, tbrough the long vista of coming years, the grandeur and beauty of a new republic, made free by bis hand ; tceming with

all kinds of riches, and filling with a virtuous and well-governed people. How beautiful a prospect! We read, of late, of the death of a king of Europe, who, when on his dying pillow, caused a mirror to be placed near his bed, that he might see his army defile in their glittering uniforms before him; an insubstantial picture -- mere shadows on glass, showing, in a most striking emblem, how the glory of this world passeth away. But WASHINGTON had retired from his armies; throughout the land,

Glad Peace was tinkling in the farmer's bell,

And singing with the reapers :' and he had no regret in his hour of departure.

Can we scarcely refrain from allowing to that hour the unutterable splendor of an apotheosis ? He had fought his warfare; he had left his testimony for the rights of men, and obedience to Heaven; and is it too much to imagine bim looking at his last moment, loward Heaven, with his dying eyes, and exclaiming with chastened rapture:

"What means von blaze on high?

The empyrean sky,
Like the rich veil of some proud fane is rending;

I see the star-paved land,

Where all the angels stand,
Even to the highest heighi, in burning rows ascending i

Some with their wings outspread,

And bowed the stately head,
As on some errand of God's love departing,
Like Homes from evening conflagration starting ;
The heralde of Omnipotence are they,
And nearer earth they come, to wast my soul away!

The Celestial Edicts. — An influential English journal, in commenting upon the disturbed state of affairs in China, and the edicts of the Emperor, through High Com. missioner Lin, affects to believe that the tone of these papers is assumed, to awe the lower orders of the Chinese, rather than the 'outside barbarians;' and that the promul. gators themselves, the celestial dynasty proper, do not feel the superiority they vaunt so constantly. This opinion we hold to be entirely erroneous. In the first place, as has been truly said, the fact that the Chinese empire is the oldest now existing in the world, is well nigh sufficient to justify this assumption of superiority over all European nations, who are as a people of yesterday, in comparison. While every other nation distinguished in history, as Egypt, Greece, and Rome, has had its decline and fall, 'the Chinese have maintained in the East, for several thousand years, the same comparative intellectual rank which the English, French, and Germans hold in Europe.' The government of China is termed 'celestial,' because its principles are believed to be in accordance with the revealed will of heaven, as vouchsafed to Chinese astronomers, hundreds of years before CHRIST. But independent of these facts, the very style of the celestial edicts themselves is a sufficient evidence that the idea of boundless power, and 'oneness' of superiority, is inherent in the very nature of a Chinese. We have seen a Chinese map of the world, in which the celestial country occupies the entire space, with the ex. ception of a few island-like circles - more or less large, according to their trade with China- dotted out near the borders, indicating such trifling localities as England and America. But note the spirit of the vermillion protocols. Without the feeling that dictates them, who could write them? Who can imitate their saturating national egotism and bravado? 'My dynasty,' says the Emperor, in his expostulations touching the trade in opium, ‘soothes and tranquillizes the outside barbarians, and my favor flows most wide, For several tens of hundreds of years, they have been permitted here to get gains, and have been steeped in goodness and bounty. I now observe that these foreigners are exceedingly proud, haughty, and disrespectful, and lightly esteem and despise the celestial dynasty. It is proper that they immediately know how greatly the anger of the Emperor has been excited, and to learn that even ordure is more valuable than the smoking mud. I have heard that the outside barbarians' ships, several tens of sail of them, remain anchored at Hong-Kong, on the outer ocean, where they keep staring and looking about, and won't go away. Uniting these circumstances, it is proper that I forthwith issue perspicuous orders, that all may thoroughly know and understand, and pungently repent. Let these barbarian ships tarry no longer in the outer waters,

waiting with lingering hopes, but at once put up their sails, and immediately go away over the top of the ocean! Hasten, hasten! Oppose not! The words have gone forth — the law will follow. In the capital I have commanded my officers to draw up the severest statutes; in the provinces I have ordered the laws enforced with the utmost rigor. Most certainly there will be no forgiveness. Do not involve yourselves in cause for mourning, by bringing upon your heads heaps of calamities, and unnumbered woes. Decidedly no indulgence will be shown! Tremble fearfully hereat! A vermillion edict.' But notwithstanding this terrible proclamation, the vessels would not budge. Then comes another missive from Lin, with additional warnings and threatenings from head-quarters. Every Chinese subject, he says, 'burns with impatience to drive away or destroy the offending vessels ; to do which, the following highly feasible plan, among others, has been submitted to the Emperor by a loyal subject, who begs that his sovereign will bestow upon it a single holy glance :'

"I would call out and get ready several hundreds of the people living on the sea.coast: of those who are the stoutest, the bravest, and the best swimmers and divers, I would cause them at night to divide into groups, to go diving straight op board the foreign ships, and taking the said foreigners at unawares, massacre every individual among them! Or I would fit up several hundreds of fire-ships beforehand, and cause the most skilful swimmers and divers to go on board of them; thesc should take advantage of the wind, and let the fire-ships go; and close in the wake of these should come our armed cruizers. But before going into action, I would proclaim to all the soldiers and people that he or they who should be able to take a foreign ship, the entire ship and cargo should be given them for encouragement: and this being nade known, every one would be more enger than the other in prersing forward to the capture : and what stay, I ask, would these ras. cally foreigners have to cling to any longer ? Would not their hearts, on the contrary, die within them for fear?'

Every body remembers how contemptuously the imperial nose was turned up at the 'red bristled foreign ships' which England sent to protect her rights, or rather her wrongs,

in the China seas. 'Who is this Elliot,' says the Emperor, 'that has been sent here with his ships, by the outside barbarians of the English nation?' Up 10 the last advices, this feeling of contempt was as visible and strong as ever. In answer 10 a recent petition from American merchants, for protection from a reported British blockade, the petitioners are told that the whole story is 'analogous to an audacious falsehood,' and they are desired to try and reflect' – as if it were rather a hopeless case, but worth a trial, perhaps — to 'try and reflect that the harbors belonged to the Chinese,' and to give over their unmanly fears!

"THERE BHALL BE War No More.'— 'Pride, pomp, and circumstance,' will soon cease to be elements of glorious war. Perkins's steam-gun, which is capable of throwing an hundred and fifty-eight balls in a minute, with unexampled force ; which may be made of every size, and used with equal facility on land and water; is an invention which will soon entirely divest battle of its poetry. By this instrument, continuous showers of balls may be projected with such rapidity, that when the barrel of the gun is slowly swept around in a horizontal direction, the line of shol-holes will cut the wooden walls' of a ship in iwain, as if by an invisible saw; and the same force will cut a horizontal gash through the side of a fort, or mow down a regiment, in ten minutes. Hence we hold, with a pleasant Pennsylvanian' contemporary, that war will soon cease to be attractive, and its 'day' go by. "To bring destruction thus to its maximum, and to effect in a few minutes results which have heretofore required whole campaigns to accomplish, will be by no means likely to increase the belligerent spirit. Pugnacity itself will be overawed at such certain slaughter. The joy of battle will be gone. There will be little of the romance with which the trade of human butchery is strangely invested, if battalions are to be blown to fragments by the opening of a steamvalve; and if in place of glittering warriors, and plumed troops, and music, feathers, and gold lace, the fate of nations is to be decided by a few swarthy firemen, in red flannel shirts, sweating with blackened brows over the hot and greasy engine; shooting

cannon balls by the cart-load from hissing pipes, and poking the fire to keep up the necessary heat, instead of having recourse to pealing trumpets and rattling drums to blow the sparks of military ardor into a flame. This will be reducing war to its essentials; it will be getting rid of all its fascinating deceptions at once; it will be such an application of the labor-saving principle to the business of thinning population, and of making widows and orphans, that neither nations nor individuals will lightly go in search of such ghastly honor.

Lorenzo Dow's Successor. — Several years ago, as many of our readers will remember, a series of 'Lay Sermons' appeared in a popular country journal of Pennsylvania. They were from the pen of the Hon. Charles Miner, author of the ‘Poor Richard sketches, and were written with such freedom and simplicity, and inculcated virtuous deeds and moral principles in so attractive a manner, that they became widely known and admired throughout the country. These popular lay discourses, we may presume, afforded the original hint for the 'Short Patent Sermons' which are reported from the lips of LORENZO Dow, JR., in the New-York ' Sunday Mercury. No one who opens that entertaining sheet, can fail to observe the figure of a “powerful preacher,' leaning over a small box of a pulpit, with open mouth and uplifted hand, 'laying down the law with all the fervor of a Mawworm. Dow Jr.'s discourses, like those of his eccentric progenitor, are the most desultory things imaginable; but there is about them an oddity, an originality, that at once attracts attention; something, we know not what, that pleases, we know not how. With an occasional redundance that abhors all discrimination; which compares till it perplexes, and illustrates till it confounds; and conceits often strained to the height of bizarrerie, there are mingled passages containing genuine humor, fine pictures of nature, touching pathos, and apposite imagery. The imagination of the preacher, indeed, is 'a good blood-mare, and goes well;' and her only fault is, that she sees too many paths before her. In the use of personification, 'Dow Jr.' outvies the Persian. He seems to be quite aware of this propensity. 'I don't know why it is,' says he, 'that I am so apt to personify every thing; but creatures of all shapes and forms are continually dancing in the sun-light of my fancy, and I hail them as they appear. The wind to me has a form and substance; there is a ditty in every breeze; the stones, trees, brooks, and rivers, all have tongues; every little flower whispers a language that I understand: I build houses for airy nothing, coop up the hours, and sometimes catch minutes in my hat. I talk to things inanimate as well as to animate.' We have collated a few passages from our lay-preacher's discourses, on various texts taken from ancient and modern writers, to illustrate his style :

*My friends, allow me to show you how the human body is likened to a house. My text explains this. It says that the big bones are the main timbers: very true. It says also that the ribs aro laths, well plastered; but I should say they are rafters, that run into the ridge-pole, or backbone. The mouth is the door, and the nose is the chimney - especially for snokers. The throat is the entry that leads to the kitchen of the stomach, where all sorts of food are cooked up; the lungs are the bellows that blow the flame of life, and keep the pot of existence always boiling; the heart is tbe great chamber, where the greatest variety of goods imaginable are stored ; some good, mnany bad, and a few rather middling. In this way, my hearers, you see the house of the human body is formed; and since it is a house of no small value, you ought to be careful of it; keep it well swept, and never let the cobwebs of sin guther in the corners of its apartments. Í beseech you, especially, to look after the great chamber of the heart, and see that every thing there is arranged according to the very letter of morality. If there is any useless rubbish there, clear it out, to make room for goods that are saleable in the markets of the virtuous. The cbambers of some hearts present an awful dirty appearance! I should like to walk into them with a bran-new broom: the way I'd brush out sin, and sand the floor with virtue, would be a cautiou to depravity!'

The following is a characteristic passage of natural description, which has the additional merit of being seasonable; for a more golden autumn than the present, or more gorgeous October sunsets, we have never beheld :

“The mildest day of autumn seems to coax heaven itself down to implant a rapturous kiss on the blushing cheek of earth, and send a thrill of ecstacy through the very heart of the universe! My VOL. XVI.

59

« PreviousContinue »