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"On the Duration of our Saviour's Ministry," considered as a critical disquisition, is preeminently characterized by clearness, thoroughness, and cogency of argument. To us its reasoning seems conclusive and unanswerable, though, before reading it, we were inclined to dissent from the author's hypothesis. The second dissertation, "On the Structure of the First Three Gospels in relation to the Succession of Events in our Lord's Ministry," maintains and establishes the general preferableness of Matthew's order. The third is an elaborate, graphic, thorough, and highly-instructive essay, "On the Political and Geographical State of Palestine at the period of our Lord's Ministry; giving a Descriptive Survey of the Districts in which he resided or journeyed.' The fourth, "On the Succession of Events recorded in the Gospels; giving an Outline View of our Lord's Ministry," comprises a recapitulation of the points established in the preceding dissertations, and a synopsis of the Harmony. These dissertations will all be read with deep interest by the biblical scholar; and the third, if published by itself, would be welcomed and perused with avidity by readers of every class and age, nor are we acquainted with any brief compend of gospel geography so well adapted both to enlighten and to please. We would urge the expediency of its being issued separately, as a manual for Sabbath schools and bible classes.
In the Harmony, the birth and infancy of Jesus form an introductory chapter; and the records of his ministry are divided by as many prominent eras into ten parts; these are separated into smaller sections, and these again broken into paragraphs according to the sense, while the usual division of verses is indicated, for purposes of reference, by figures too minute to distract the reader's eye, or deform the page. The text of the Harmony is a chaste, careful, and valuable revision of the common text of James's translators, from whose time-hallowed phraseology we cannot find a single deviation not demanded by sound criticism. The very few critical notes, which accompany the text, are comprehensive, judicious, and pertinent.
The Harmony is followed by a Calendar of our Lord's ministry, a Tabular View of the contents of the Gospels, and a detailed Analysis of St. Luke's Gospel.
We would refer, before closing, to a very interesting feature of the volume before us. The work is in its aim, purport, and end, a purely critical one. Yet it is written in a style far
different from the cold, unfeeling, anatomizing style, which in these latter days the transatlantic muse of biblical criticism seems to have made her own. Dr. Carpenter's language is always that of reverence, devotion, and piety. Though he keeps singularly close to his province as a critic, though he in the whole volume does not, so far as we remember, indulge so much as a single moral or religious reflection, though there is no parade whatever of devotional words or thoughts, he seems never to forget, and he never lets his reader forget, that it is a holy record that he is analyzing, the history of the Son of God that he is illustrating.
We are told that the five hundred copies of the first edition of this Harmony were all demanded for subscribers, or for the author's personal friends. There must be a call for it in the theological public both of England and America. We hope to see it soon republished here; and cannot believe that party prejudice would prevent or delay the circulation, among the inquiring and studious of all denominations, of a work of so much learning and merit, on a subject of so deep interest and
A. P. P.
ART. V.- Poems, by WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT.
THE poetry of Mr. Bryant has been before the public long enough to allow a dispassionate judgment to be formed of its merits, and the fact that four editions have been called for, shows what that judgment is. We think it highly creditable to the taste of the reading public, that such poetry should be relished. It has nothing to recommend it except its intrinsic excellence. It resorts to no tricks to obtain favor. It is not particularly exciting to the feelings. It does not appeal very strongly to the passions. It is neither licentious nor sentimental. It is not marked with any eccentricity. It is neither wildly romantic, nor brilliantly fanciful. It is not egotistical. It has none of these seasonings to recommend it to the public taste, and its popularity, in the absence of these, is more likely to indicate its genuine worth.
Mankind have, in every age, shown a great partiality for the poet. They have slept under the homilies of the preacher, and turned away from the dry formulas of the philosopher, but have sat with charmed ear while the poet has interpreted the book of life, hinted at the designs of Providence, appealed to the sense of right, and taught them the duties of their stations. In the early stages of society the poet is chronicler, monitor, and prophet. He celebrates the virtues of the dead. He stirs the soul to present action. And he carries forward the hopes of men into the unknown future. In a more cultivated period, when science has enlarged the bounds of exact knowledge, although the sphere of the poet's influence is contracted, he still wields a vast moral power, and continues to be followed with admiring eyes. But although poetical genius is a rare gift and highly to be prized, the possessor of it is perhaps less to be envied than is commonly supposed. Such is the wise impartiality of Providence, that splendid endowments of mind are attended with peculiar sources and avenues of pain. To whom much is given, upon him much also is imposed by way of discipline. That exquisite sensibility from which spring the highest efforts of art, subjects the poet to the acutest sufferings which "flesh is heir to." That work which the reader sits down in placid mood to peruse, and which he runs through with unabated delight, which warms his fancy and calls into exercise his best affections, which brings before him images of beauty and scenes of joy, that work, when it was revolving in the strained and agitated mind of the author, was probably the occasion of more misery than satisfaction.
"At, Phœbi nondum patiens, immanis in antro
Could the process be laid open to us which has been going on in the writer's mind from the time when the first idea germinated to the date of a full completion of his task; could we know how much of despair and disgust have mingled with his exertions; how imperfectly the pen has succeeded in drawing out and expressing the images that have passed before the mind; what lassitude, exhaustion of spirits, dissatisfaction with common objects and pursuits have attended long-continued exercise of the faculties, we should, instead of coveting, rather commiserate the lot of him upon whom God has breathed the
inspiration of genius. It reconciles one to mediocrity to meditate upon the sufferings to which the gifted are exposed. Read the life of Cowper, and ponder its moral. At what a price did he purchase his undying fame! What conditions were, in his case, annexed to the gift of genius! All high intellectual qualities are accompanied with corresponding hazards. But this is eminently true of the poet. He exercises the most delicate part of human nature. If even one invisible string in the internal machinery gets awry, the harmony and peace of the soul are disturbed.
In conformity with the division of labor which has been introduced by the progress of society into all human employments, it is sometimes thought that the mind must confine itself to some single department of study or branch of art, in order to accomplish any thing worthy of being remembered. To a certain extent the doctrine may be admitted, and the practice may be good. But such specimens of humanity as the process, when carried to extremes, exhibits to us, are any thing but agreeable. The man who has spent the larger part of a life in studying the etymology of a word, or determining the genus to which a plant belongs, and he who in his humbler occupation toils year after year in making heads to pins, and who knows no more about their points than he does about astronomy or metaphysics, serve to remind us of that cruel custom which luxury has suggested, of turning the whole economy of animal life to the preternatural enlargement of a liver or other part, in order to furnish a more dainty dish for the sensualist.
But if the exclusive process we are considering be injurious in other departments of intellectual labor, we believe it to be almost sure to be fatal where the imagination is concerned. If the body cannot be supported and the health preserved by living exclusively upon stimulants, neither can the internal life and health by the use of the imagination alone. Hence, perhaps, has arisen much of the unhappiness, which has been proverbially the lot of poets.
It formed part of the intellectual discipline recommended by the practice of the ancients to unite the study of mathematics with the study of poetry. There was wisdom in this course. The abstract sciences, by their rigid method and their severe and tenacious logic, are well adapted to act as a balance to the expansiveness and elasticity of the imagination, and to induce that medium action of the mind, which is alone safe and
followed by durable beneficial results. The remarks we have ventured will show that we are not of the number of those who see with regret a man of brilliant imagination immersed in the active business of life. It might have saved Lord Byron many a bitter hour, had he been chained by necessity to the drudgery of office, and it might have corrected much of the poison which now glitters on his brilliant pages. And we think that the healthy tone which distinguishes Mr. Bryant's poetry, its freedom from a morbid melancholy and from false sentiment, would not have been likely to mark the productions of one who occupied no place in society, and who had no connexion with the realities of life.
But if the exercise of his art be attended with so many dangers to the poet himself, it is also highly important, on the reader's account, what kind of stimulus and how much is provided for his imagination. The poet exercises a more immediate and more powerful sway over the bent of the opening mind, and does more to determine character, than perhaps any other laborer in the field of literature. There is a period of life when poetry is seized upon to feed an importunate craving of the soul; when it is read, not for the sake of the quiet and innocent pleasures that accompany a cultivated and delicate taste, but to sharpen an insatiable appetite. And that period is a critical one. Alas for him who then drinks at a polluted fountain! And in this view the community owes much to Mr. Bryant. He has published nothing calculated to pervert the judgment, or to corrupt the heart. He has not dipped his pen in gall to write a bitter invective against his race. He has not thrown over the limbs of vice the beautiful drapery which should adorn virtue. He has caused no pain to the good by sneering at what the world calls holy and reverences as such. Nor is his merit in this respect merely negative. His poetry is moral and religious in a true sense. Without formal, technical allusions to the sub-· ject of religion, his works are yet imbued with a spirit of hearty devotion, which steals into the mind of the reader with a grateful sweetness. His pictures from Nature are adorned with light from above; and whether we walk with him "in the shadow of the aged wood," or follow the water-fowl through "the rosy depths" of heaven, we are led "from the creature to the Creator." He does not separate Nature from that Being of whom Nature is only the visible manifestation. It has been too often the case that poets have gone to one or the other of