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retain their pattern and color, and the clouds remember their own favorite forms. Let the hills, like those of ancient Judæa, be terraced to their tops, and wave with the vine and corn ; let the rich build and adorn to their heart's content, inventing new comforts and luxuries which the poor shall yet profit by. Let the deluge of human life rush into all nooks and recesses, and prevail exceedingly, until the high hills under the whole heaven are covered. A poor Canute is he who would roll back the tide of activity and change which is sweeping over the earth.
The reverent spirit of the ancients of the Orient ascribed all invention and skill to Him whose inspiration gives understanding. " Then,” it is recorded, “wrought every wisehearted man in whom the Lord put wisdom and understanding, to know how to work all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary." And not wisdom only, but all strength, is from His inflowing power; the hand that slays is nerved, though not guided, by Omnipotence, - much more the hand that builds and adorns. The speculative dreamer would add to this, that all we truly know of matter is some kind of motion in the organs of sense; that these organs, and the body in which they inhere, have no stronger proof of their objective reality; and that therefore the First Cause may be so intimately present in art, as in nature, that, if the movements of ultimate substance were to cease, the artist and his work would instantly vanish, and spirit alone remain in the void realm of existence.
Throughout these remarks, the mechanical and the fine arts have not been distinguished; and perhaps it is well. One book tells us that the plastic arts are “the game of a rude and youthful people, and not the manly labor of a wise and spiritual nation," — that the instinct of genius now is, “ to find beauty and holiness in new and necessary facts, in the field and roadside, in the shop and mill.” Another book ad. mits “that it is fit surely to recognize with admiring joy any glimpse of the beautiful and eternal that is hung out for us, in color, in form, or tone, in canvas, stone, or atmospheric air, and made accessible by any sense in this world”; yet this book demands whether all talk about the polite arts be not "in good part a temporary dilettante cloud-land of our poor century.”
Yet there are peculiar respects in which the beautiful arts are divine. All beauty is essentially so. And the several departments might be spoken of, for instance, music, of which a living writer says: “ No other art can so depict to the eyes of the soul all the splendors of nature; all Scotland is in a true Scotch air,” etc. And this is the first general way, among many, in which the fine arts concern the Creator; they interpret nature, they reveal its spirit, and thus the heart of its Author. Secondly, as before stated, in their biographical and historical character they embody the artist and his age, and so record the shapings of Providence. Thirdly, in their didactic capacity, they are a language of symbols, and may be eloquent of all truth, which all centres in God,
- is his body, to use the figure of Plato. Fourthly, they have power to educate the senses, training them to precision and sensitiveness, so as to make men better observers of the universe. Fifthly, in their vivifying power, they awaken in man his better nature, and stimulate him to love and to act the divinely beautiful. Sixthly, the inspiration of their production is an ascent into a higher sphere of our being, where intuition rules, and the soul directly beholds essential truth, beauty, and goodness. Schefer, in his “ Artist's Married Life,” declares that it is only as a pure being that a man can really mount into the region of imagination, and that he must remain a moral being, and may least of all give himself up to the Devil that he may reveal God in his art.” Seventhly, in their ideal perfection, the fine arts concentrate the boundless, the infinite; so far as anything is perfect, its contemplation seems to remove all limitations of thought and emotion. Eighthly, in the elements of typical beauty which they possess, as developed by Ruskin, they give us “ infinity, or the type of the Divine incomprehensibility; unity, or comprehensiveness; repose, or permanence; symmetry, or justice; purity, or energy; moderation, or law.” With these suggestions, this “ dilettante cloud-land” may be passed by. In Schefer's words, "the great Master in heaven gives the conception of the fair work, the power of accomplishing it, and joy to men in beholding it.”
In conclusion, we need not go to so-called Nature alone,
the fields and woods, — to feel a devout and poetic enthusiasm. We have but to open our eyes on street and roof, and merchandise from far countries, - matter wonderfully designed for such transformations by means of men wonderfully made for the work,- a wonder doubly divine. Let us look not only through telescope and microscope, but also at the instruments themselves, to behold the All-glorious. The sound of bell and organ, and the roar of machinery, are as vocal of Him as are cataract and avalanche, when they " in their perilous fall shall thunder God.” Nor is the climax of any art required to this end, - the webs of Persia, the spires of Europe, the Herschelian reflector, or Atlantic steamship. The commonest reproductions of matter are full of this poetry and natural theology,—the barest walls no less than painted ceilings, the coarse raiment of the laborer no less than laces subtile as frost-work, or silks of changing hues that undulate like a purple sunset on a billowy sea. Everything in city or country, in earth or heaven, is lustrous with the light of Him whom we think of, in childhood, as a human person; in youth, as a superhuman one, who speaks in thunder and descends in the mystery of night; in manhood, as the unseen Reality who shines through all appearances. As we walk onward in the gathering darkness of care and sorrow, one ray after another struggles through the visible, until, as in the annual illumination of a great cathedral, every line of the temple of existence flashes forth the omnipresent Light; we read the mighty plan in touches of fire, and gaze upon the infinite Light, Love, and Beauty.
And let it be noticed that the final triumph of truth, the union of heaven and earth, is represented, in inspired vision, in terms of art, not of nature. It is a city of pearl and gold, descending out of heaven. May it not picture the descent of knowledge, as well as holiness, to earth, the union of art with nature, as well as of God with man? However this may be, there is a point of view, if not on earth, yet high in the heavens, where the whole universe, material and spiritual, natural and artificial, is embraced in one complex purpose, one great thought of God.
Art. II. — 1. Poems. By John G. Whittier. Boston: B.
B. Mussey & Co. 1849. 2. Margaret Smith's Journal. Boston: Ticknor, Reed, &
Fields. 1849. 3. Old Portraits and Modern Sketches. By John G. Whit
TIER. Boston: Ticknor, Reed, & Fields. 1850. 4. Songs of Labor. By John G. WHITTIER. Boston: Tick
nor, Reed, & Fields. 1850. 5. Chapel of the Hermit, and other Poems. By John G.
WHITTIER. Boston: Ticknor, Reed, & Fields. 1853.
Joun G. WHITTIER, the Boanerges of American poets, was born in 1808, of Quaker parentage, in the romantic outskirts of Haverhill, a beautiful Massachusetts town on the Merrimack, where we recognize the scenes of many of the incidents which form the groundwork of his ballads. His ancestors had suffered not a little from Puritan intolerance, and he consequently comes honestly by the bitterness towards the early Puritans so observable in his writings. Every one must be struck by the contrast between the peaceful tenets of his professed Quakerism and the martial vehemence of his denunciation against the old persecutors of his family, - a fact showing the irrepressibleness of the combative principle of human nature under the restraints of mere theory. The spot of his birth, which had been inhabited by his family for four or five generations, he has thus described in “ The Yankee Zincali."
“ The old farm-house nestling in its valley ; hills stretching off to the south, and green meadows to the east; the small stream which came noisily down its ravine, washing the old garden wall, and softly lapping on fallen stones and mossy roots of beeches and hemlocks; the tall sentinel poplars at the gateway; the oak forest, sweeping unbroken to the northern horizon; the grass-grown carriage-path, with its rude and crazy bridge; the dear old landscape of my boyhood lies outstretched before me like a daguerreotype from that picture within, which I have borne with me in all my wanderings. I am a boy again.”
Until about his eighteenth year Whittier lived upon his father's farm, diversifying his agricultural labors by attendance
upon the winter's country school, by occasional essays at verse, which were duly communicated to the Haverhill Gazette, the paper which, as he says, “ once a week diffused happiness over our fireside circle, making us acquainted in our lonely nook with the goings-on of the great world,” and, it must be confessed, by a somewhat irregular attention to the more prosaic business of shoe-making. Indeed, upon the strength of this, " the gentle craft of leather” have laid an especial claim to him as one of their own poets; but we are afraid that mankind would go barefoot if St. Crispin had never had a more devoted disciple. It is characteristic of the thrift of New England farmers to provide extra occupation for a rainy day, and during the winter season, or when the weather is too inclement for out-of-door work, the farmer and his sons turn an honest penny by giving their attention to some employment equally remunerative. For this purpose they have near the farm-house a small shed stocked with the appropriate implements of labor. But from what we know of Whittier's life, it could not have been long before he violated the Horatian precept which forbids the shoemaker to go beyond his last.
For two years after his eighteenth, Whittier attended the town academy, acquiring some classical knowledge, eagerly devouring all the reading which came within his reach, especially historical (whence his profuse references to historical events and personages), and contributing constantly in prose and verse to the weekly newspaper of the town. Most of these poems are omitted in his published works, though some of them merit insertion. Among them we recall several in the Scotch dialect, to which his early admiration of Burns may have given him a bias, and in which he found a zealous though friendly rival in “the Rustic Bard,” Robert Dinsmore, a Scotchman whose life he has commemorated in a graceful essay contained among his prose writings. His extending reputation soon led to his being called to the editor. ship of “ The American Manufacturer," a journal devoted to the advocacy of a protective tariff. He was at this time an ardent admirer of Henry Clay, and supported his claims to the Presidency. From “ The American Manufacturer” he