صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

emerge from the gloom of these avenues into the lake, the scene is said to be " as beautiful as fairy-land."

The bears inhabiting the swamp climb trees in search of acorns and gum-berries, breaking off large boughs of the oaks in order to draw the acorns near to them. These same bears are said to kill hogs, and even cows. There are also wild-cats, and occasionally a solitary wolf, in the morass.

That the ancient seams of coal were produced for the most part by terrestrial plants of all sizes, not drifted but growing on the spot, is a theory more and more generally adopted in modern times; and the growth of what is called sponge in such a swamp, and in such a climate as the Great Dismal, already covering so many square miles of a low level region, bordering the sea, and capable of spreading itself indefinitely over the adjacent country, helps us greatly to conceive the manner in which the coal of the ancient carboniferous rocks

may have been formed. The heat, perhaps, may not have been excessive when the coal-measures originated, but the entire absence of frost, with a warm and damp atmosphere, may have enabled tropical forms to flourish in latitudes far distant from the line. Huge swamps in a rainy climate, standing above the level of the surrounding firm land, and supporting a dense forest, may have spread far and wide, invading the plains, like some European peat-mosses when they burst ; and the frequent submergence of these masses of vegetable matter beneath seas or estuaries, as often as the land sank down during subterranean movements, may have given rise to the deposition of strata of mud, sand, or limestone immediately upon the vegetable matter. The conversion of successive surfaces into dry land where other swamps supporting trees may have formed, might give origin to a continued series of coal-measures of great thickness. In some kinds of coal the vegetable texture is apparent throughout under the microscope; in others, it has only partially disappeared; but even in this coal, the flattened trunks of trees, converted into pure coal, are occasionally met with, and erect fossil trees are observed in the overlying strata, terminating downwards in seams of coal.



THOMAS BABINGTON MACAULAY, who may fairly be described as the most accomplished literary man of his time, was born in Leicestershire, England, in 1800, and died in 1859. His father, Zachary Macaulay, was an eminent philanthropist. The subject of this notice entered Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating B. A. in 1822, with a reputation for varied and readily available learning such as few collegians have ever won. In 1826 he was called to the bar, and in 180 was elected to represent the borough of Calne in Parliament. In that body he was an aci e supporter of the Reform Measures. In 1834 he was sent to India as a member of the Supreme Council of Calcutta ; in 1839 he was made Secretary of War; in 1841 he went out of office, on the accession of Sir Robert Peel; in 1846, the Whigs returning to power, he was appointed Paymaster-General of the Forces, and had a seat in the Cabinet. In 1847 he was defeated in the ParLamentary elections, his Edinburgh constituents disapproving his course on the Maynooth Grant question. Five years later, however, these same constituents chose him as their representative in Parliament, where he served them till 1856, when he withdrew finally from political life. Meantime, in 1849, he was elected Lord Rector of the University of Glasgow, and delivered an inaugural address of great brilliancy. In 1857 his genius and services in literature and politics received merited recognition in his elevation to the peerage, with the title of Baron or Lord Macaulay. Macaulay's first essays in literature were in the department of poetry; during his university career he won two high prizes for poetical composition, and he was a frequent contributor of verse to Knight's Quarterly Magazine. Among his best-known youthful productions were The Battle of Ivry and The Spanish Armada, poems which foreshadowed the maturer excellence of his Lays of Ancient Rome, which were first published in 1842. In the periodical above mentioned Macaulay made his début as an essayist; but his first great triumph in this character is connected with the pages of the Edinburgh Review, in which, in 1825, appeared his masterly essay on Milton, which instantly gave him acknowledged rank among the ablest English critics. This essay was followed by many others, which are familiar to all readers of English, and which as a collection are unsurpassed, perhaps unequaled, in the literature of any nation. The essay on Bacon, though less popular than some of its associates, illustrates with admirable effect the original intellectual power and vast acquired resources of the author. As an essayist Macaulay very closely approaches perfection. His poetry lacks the sensuous element which the public seems to demand in that form of composition, and, vigorous and dramatic though it is in an almost unequaled degree, it has never become popular with the mass of readers. His history has been assailed for its manifestations of partisanship and its occasional inaccuracies. But in the presence of his essays unfriendly criticism has stayed its hand; and even the eye of envy and personal animosity has failed to find any serious blemishes in their beautiful and symmetrical fabric. There is little risk in pronouncing them the most perfect literary products of the nineteenth century. The first and second volumes of Macaulay's History of England" from the time of James II. down to a time which is within the memory of men still living," appeared in 1849, and won immediate success. The work did not, however, escape censure; John Wilson Croker attacked it violently, though his judgment was said to be biased by personal feeling, and Sir Archibald Alison deplored its general lack of candor. But these few protesting voices were drowned in the chorus of applause with which the literary leaders of England and America welcomed the history. All things considered, the writings of Macaulay offer a more remunerative field to the student than do those of any other English writer, except of course Shakespeare. In point or style, construction, and effective utilization of knowledge, they may safely be used as models.

WE would speak of the men, perhaps, which the


Puritans, the most remarkable body of world has ever produced. The odious

and ridiculous parts of their character lie on the surface. He that

runs may read them; nor have there been wanting attentive and malicious observers to point them out. For many years after the Restoration, they were the theme of unmeasured invective and derision. They were exposed to the utmost licentiousness of the press and of the stage, at the time when the press and the stage were most licentious. They were not men of letters; they were, as a body, unpopular they could not defend themselves; and the public would not take them under its protection. They were therefore abandoned, without reserve, to the tender mercies of the satirists and dramatists. The ostentatious simplicity of their dress, their sour aspect, their nasal twang, their stiff posture, their long graces, their Hebrew names, the Scriptural phrases which they introduced on every occasion, their contempt of human learning, their detestation of polite amusements, were indeed fair game for the laughers. But it is not from the laughers alone that the philosophy of history is to be learnt. And he who approaches this subject should carefully guard against the influence of that potent ridicule which has already misled so many excellent writers.

Those who roused the people to resistance, who directed their measures through a long series of eventful years, who formed, out of the most unpromising materials the finest army that Europe had ever seen, who trampled down King, Church, and Aristocracy, who, in the short intervals of domestic sedition and rebellion, made the name of England terrible to every nation on the face of the earth, were no vulgar fanatics. Most of their absurdities were mere external badges, like the signs of freemasonry or the dresses of friars. We regret that these badges were not more attractive. We regret that a body to whose courage and talents mankind has owed inestimable obligations had not the lofty elegance which distinguished some of the adherents of Charles the First, or the easy good-breeding for which the Court of Charles the Second was celebrated. But, if we must make our choice, we shall, like Bassanio in the play, turn from the specious caskets which contain only the Death's head and the Fool's head, and fix on the plain leaden chest which conceals the treasure.

The Puritans were men whose minds had derived a peculiar character from the daily contemplation of superior beings and eternal interests. Not content with acknowledging, in general terms, an overruling Providence, they habitually ascribed every event to the will of the Great Being for whose power nothing was too vast, for whose

inspection nothing was too minute. To know him, to serve him, to enjoy him was with them the great end of existence. They rejected with contempt the ceremonious homage which other sects substituted for the pure worship of the soul. Instead of catching occasional glimpses of the Deity through an obscuring veil, they aspired to gaze full on his intolerable brightness, and to commune with him face to face. Hence originated their contempt for terrestrial distinctions. The difference between the greatest and the meanest of mankind seemed to vanish, when compared with the boundless interval which separated the whole race from him on whom their own eyes were constantly fixed. They recognized no title to superiority but his favor; and, confident of that favor, they despised all the accomplishments and all the dignities of the world. If they were unacquainted with the works of philosophers and poets, they were deeply read in the oracles of God. If their names were not found in the registers of heralds, they were recorded in the Book of Life. If their steps were not accompanied by a splendid train of menials, legions of ministering angels had charge of them.

Their palaces were houses not made with hands; their diadems crowns of glory which should never fade away. On the rich and the eloquent, on nobles and priests, they looked down with contempt : for they esteemed themselves rich in a more precious treasure, and eloquent in a more sublime language, nobles by the right of an earlier creation, and priests by the imposition of a mightier hand. The very meanest of them was a being to whose fate a mysterious and terrible importance belonged, on whose slightest action the spirits of light and darkness looked with anxious interest, who had been destined, before heaven and earth were created, to enjoy a felicity which should continue when heaven and earth should have passed away. Events which short-sighted politicians ascribed to earthly causes, had been ordained on his account. For his sake empires had risen, and flourished, and decayed. For his sake the Almighty had proclaimed his will by the pen of the evangelist and the harp of the prophet. He had been wrested by no common deliverer from the grasp of no common foe. He had been ransomed by the sweat of no vulgar agony, by the blood of no earthly sacrifice. It was for him that the sun had been darkened, that the rocks had been rent, that the dead had risen, that all nature had shuddered at the sufferings of her expiring God.

Thus the Puritan was made up of two different men, - the one all

self-abasement, penitence, gratitude, passion; the other proud, calm, inflexible, sagacious. He prostrated himself in the dust before his Maker; but he set his foot on the neck of his king. In his devotional retirement he prayed with convulsions and groans and tears. He was half-maddened by glorious or terrible illusions. He heard the lyres of angels or the tempting whispers of fiends. He caught a gleam of the Beatific Vision, or woke screaming from dreams of everlasting fire. Like Vane, he thought himself entrusted with the scepter of the millennial year. Like Fleetwood, he cried in the bitterness of his soul that God had hid his face from him. But when he took his seat in the council, or girt on his sword for war, these tempestuous workings of the soul had left no perceptible trace behind them. People who saw nothing of the godly but their uncouth visages, and heard nothing from them but their groans and their whining hymns, might laugh at them. But those had little reason to laugh who encountered them in the hall of debate or in the field of battle.

These fanatics brought to civil and military affairs a coolness of judgment and an immutability of purpose which some writers have thought inconsistent with their religious zeal, but which were in fact the necessary effects of it. The intensity of their feelings on one subject made them tranquil on every other. One overpowering sentiment had subjected to itself pity and hatred, ambition and fear. Death had lost its terrors and pleasure its charms. They had their smiles and their tears, their raptures and their sorrows, but not for the things of this world. Enthusiasm had made them Stoics, had cleared their minds from every vulgar passion and prejudice, and raised them above the influence of danger and of corruption. It sometimes might lead them to pursue unwise ends, but never to choose unwise means. They went through the world, like Sir Artegal's iron man Talus with his flail, crushing and trampling down oppressors, mingling with human beings, but having neither part nor lot in human infirmities, insensible to fatigue, to pleasure, and to pain, not to be pierced by any weapon, not to be withstood by any barrier.


THE history of England is emphatically the history of progress. It is the history of a constant movement in the public mind, of a constant change in the institutions of a great society. We see that

« السابقةمتابعة »