صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

whose inspéction nothing was too minùte. To know Him, to serve Him, to enjoy Him, was with them the great énd of existence. They rejected with contempt the ceremonious homage which other sects substituted for the pùre 5 wórship of the sòul. Instead of catching occasional glimpses of the Deity through an obscùring véil, they aspired to gaze fùll on the intólerable brightness, and to commune with Him fáce to fàce. Hence originated their contempt for terréstrial distinctions. The difference be10 tween the greatest and méanest of mankind, seemed to vànish, when compared with the boundless interval which separated the whole ràce from Him on whom their own eyes were constantly fixed. They recognized no title to superiority but His favor; and cónfident of that favor, 15 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 réad in the óracles of God. If their names were not found in the registers of héralds, they felt assured that they were 20 recorded in the Book of Life. If their steps were not accompanied by a splendid train of ménials, legions of ministering àngels had charge over them. Their pálaces were houses not made with hands: their díadems, crowns of glory which should never fade awày!


On the rich and the èloquent, on nòbles and priests, they looked down with contèmpt: for they esteemed themselves rich in a more précious trèasure, and eloquent in a more sublíme lànguage, nobles by the right of an èarlier creátion, and priests by the imposition of a mígh30 tier hand. The very meanest of them was a being to whose fate a mystèrious and térrible impòrtance 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 35 which should continue when heaven and earth should have passed awày.

Events which short-sighted politicians ascribed to earthly causes, had been ordained on his account. For hís sake èmpires had risen, and flourished, and decayed. For 40 hís sake the Almighty had proclaimed his will by the pèn of the evangelist, and the hárp of the prophet. He had been rescued by nó còmmon deliverer from the grasp of nò cómmon fòe. He had been ransomed by the sweat of

nó vùlgar ágony, by the blood of nò éarthly sàcrifice. It was for him that the sùn had been dàrkened,* that the ròcks had been rènt, that the dèad had arisen, that áll nàture had shuddered at the sufferings of her expíring 5 Gòd!

Thus the Puritan was made up of twò dífferent mèn, the one all self-abàsement, pènitence, gràtitude, pássion; the other proud, càlm, infléxible, sagàcious. He próstrated himself in the dust before his Máker: but he set 10 his foot on the néck of the king. In his devòtional retírement, he prayed with convulsions, and gróans, and tèars. He was half maddened by glòrious or térrible illùsions. He heard the lyres of ángels, or the tempting whispers of fiènds. He caught a gleam of the beatific 15 vísion, or woke screaming from dreams of everlasting fìre. Like Váne, he thought himself intrusted with the scèptre of the millennial year. Like Fleetwood, he cried in the bitterness of his soul that Gòd had híd his fàce from him. But when he took his séat in the council, or girt on his 20 sword for wár, these tempestuous workings of the soul had left nò percéptible trace behind them. People who saw nothing of the godly but their uncouth vìsages, and heard nothing from them but their groans and their hýmns, might laugh at them. But those had little reason 25 to laugh who encountered them in the hall of debáte, or in the field of battle.

The Puritans brought to civil and military affairs a coolness of judgment, and an immutability of púrpose, which some writers have thought inconsistent with their 30 religious zeal, but which were in fact the nécessary effècts of it. The intensity of their feelings on óne subject, made them trànquil on évery òther. One overpowering sentiment had subjected to itself pity and hátred, ambition and fear. Death had lost its térrors, and pleasure its 35 chàrms. They had their smiles and their téars, their ráptures and their sòrrows, but not for the things of this world. Enthusiasm had made them stòics, had cleared their minds from every vulgar pàssion and préjudice, and raised them above the influence of dánger and of cor40 rùption.

*When an emphatic series causes, thus, a succession of falling inflections, the second one in each clause, falls lower than the first.


[Marked for Inflections.]

We believe that poetry, far from injuring society, is one of the great instruments of its refinement and exaltation. It lifts the mind above ordinary life, gives it a rèspite from depressing cares, and awakens the consciousness of 5 its affinity with what is púre and nòble. In its legitimate and highest efforts, it has the same tèndency and áim with Christianity; that is, to spiritualize our nature. Trùe, poetry has been made the instrument of vice, the pander of bad pássions; but when genius thùs stóops, it dims its 10 fires, and parts with múch of its power; and even when Poetry is enslaved to licéntiousness and misànthropy, she cannot wholly forgét her trúe vocàtion. Strains of púre fèeling, touches of tenderness, images of innocent happiness, sympathies with what is good in our nature, bursts 15 of scòrn or indignátion at the hóllowness of the world, passages true to our mòral náture, often escape in an immóral work, and show us how hard it is for a gifted spírit to divorce itself whòlly from what is good.

Poetry has a natural alliance with our best affèctions. 20 It delights in the beauty and sublimity of outward náture and of the soul. It indeed portrays with terrible energy the excèsses of the pássions, but they are passions which show a mighty nature, which are full of power, which command awe, and excite a deep though shuddering sym25 pathy. Its great tendency and púrpose, is, to carry the mind beyond and above the beaten, dùsty, wèary walks of ordinary life; to lift it into a pùrer element, and to breathe into it more profound and génerous emotion. It reveals to us the loveliness of nature, brings back the 30 fréshness of youthful feeling, revives the rèlish of símple pleasures, keeps unquenched the enthusiasm which warmed the spring-time of our being, refines youthful lòve, strengthens our interest in human nature, by vivid delineations of its tènderest and lóftiest fèelings, spreads 35 our sympathies over all classes of society, knits us by new ties with univérsal bèing, and, through the brightness of its pròphetic visions, helps faith to lay hold on the future life.

We are aware that it is objected to poetry, that it gives 40 wrong views, and excites fàlse expectations of life, peoples the mind with shadows and illúsions, and builds up ima

ginátion on the ruins of wisdom. That there is a wisdom, against which poetry wárs, the wisdom of the senses, which makes physical comfort and gratification the supréme good, and wealth the chief ínterest of life, we do 5 not deny: nor do we deem it the least service which poetry renders to mankind, that it redèems them from the thraldom of this éarthborn prùdence.

But, passing over this topic, we would observe, that the complaint against póetry as abounding in illùsion and de10 céption is, in the main, groundless. In many poems there is more of trúth, than in many histories and philosóphic theories. The fictions of génius are often the vehicles of the sublímest vèrities, and its flashes often open new regions of thought, and throw new light on the 15 mysteries of our being. In poetry the lètter is fálsehood, but the spirit is often profoundest wisdom. And if trùth thus dwells in the boldest fíctions of the poet, much more may it be expected in his delinéations of life; for the présent life, which is the first stage of the immortal mind, 20 abounds in the matérials of poetry, and it is the highest office of the bard to detect this divine element, among the grósser pleasures and lábors of our earthly being.

The present life is not wholly prosáic, precíse, tàme,* and finite. To the gifted eye it abounds in the poètic. 25 The affections which spread beyond ourselves, and stretch far into futurity; the workings of mighty pàssions, which seem to arm the soul with an almost superhuman energy ; the innocent and irrepressible joy of infancy; the bloom, and buoyancy, and dazzling hópes of youth; the throb30 bings of the heart when it first wakes to lòve, and dreams of a happiness too vást for earth; woman, with her beauty, and grace, and gentleness, and fulness of feeling, and depth of affection, and her blushes of purity, and the tones and looks which only a móther's heart can inspire; 35 these are all poetical.

It is not true that the poet paints a life which does not exíst. He only extracts and concentrates, as it were, life's ethereal èssence, arrésts and condènses its volatile fràgrance, brings together its scattered béauties, and pro40 lòngs its more refined but evanescent joys; and in this he does well; for it is good to feel that life is not wholly

* A negative sentence, ending with a rising inflection, has the falling slide on its penultimate word or clause.

usurped by cares for subsistence and physical gratificátions, but admits, in measures which may be indèfinitely enlarged, sèntiments and delíghts worthy of a higher being.


[To be marked for Inflections, by the reader.]

What are sufficient causes of war let no man say, let no legislator say, until the question of war is directly and inevitably before him. Jurists may be permitted with comparative safety, to pile tome upon tome of intermina5 ble disquisition upon the motives, reasons, and causes of just and unjust war. Metaphysicians may be suffered with impunity to spin the thread of their speculations until it is attenuated to a cobweb; but for a body created for the government of a great nation, and for the adjustment 10 and protection of its infinitely diversified interests, it is worse than folly to speculate upon the causes of war, until the great question shall be presented for immediate action, until they shall hold the united question of cause, motive, and present expediency, in the very palm of their 15 hands. War is a tremendous evil. Come when it will, unless it shall come in the necessary defence of our national security, or of that honor under whose protection national security reposes, it will come too soon,-too soon for our national prosperity, too soon for our individual 20 happiness, too soon for the frugal, industrious, and virtuous habits of our citizens, too soon, perhaps, for our most precious institutions. The man who, for any cause, save the sacred.cause of public security, which makes all wars defensive, the man who, for any cause but this, 25 shall promote or compel this final and terrible resort, assumes a responsibility second to none, nay, transcendantly deeper and higher than any, which man can assume before his fellow-men, or in the presence of God, his Creator.


[To be marked for Inflections, by the reader.]

Mental energy has been equally diffused by sterner levellers than ever marched in the van of a revolution,the nature of man and the providence of God.


« السابقةمتابعة »