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have biased Whittier's judgment when he inserted the sketch of Rogers, especially when he ranked him with the author of Elia. Rogers appears to have been an irregular and eccentric genius, but decidedly lacking in the culture and unerring taste of the inimitable humorist with whom he is compared. Another deviation from the spirit of the work, for similar reasons, in the introduction of Robert Dinsmore among this goodly company, we can more applaud. Dinsmore is “ the Rustic Bard" to whom we have before alluded, - a plain, old Scotch farmer, living near Haverhill, whose simplicity and shrewd wit are sornetimes embodied in a rustic poem which does credit to his Scotch descent, and the tenderness of whose “ Stanzas to a Sparrow," on accidentally crushing its nest in his corn-field, reminds the reader of the pathos of Burns.
We give, as a specimen of the style of this work, and as containing a sagacious and probable explanation of the warlike phrases which interlard Quaker discourse, the following passage from the life of John Roberts :
“ From the Puritan yeomanry of England the Quakers drew their most zealous champions ; men who, in renouncing the carnal weapons' of their old service, found employment for habitual combativeness in hot and wordy sectarian warfare. To this day, the vocabulary of Quakerism abounds in the military phrases and figures which were in use in the Commonwealth's time. Their old force and significance are now in a great measure lost; but one can well imagine that, in the assemblies of the primitive Quakers, such stirring battle-cries and warlike tropes, even when employed in enforcing or illustrating the doctrines of peace, must have made many a stout heart to beat quicker, under its drab covering, with recollections of Naseby and Preston ; transporting many a listener from the benches of his place of worship to the ranks of Ireton and Lambert, and causing him to hear, in the place of the solemn and nasal tones of the preacher, the blast of Rupert's bugles, and the answering shout of Cromwell's pikemen : "Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered !'”.
One of the most vigorous sketches in the book is that of William Leggett, a gentleman once remarkable for his ability and influence as a political writer, and for the intrepidity with which he maintained his Antislavery views in despite of the opposition of the Democratic party of which he was a member, and of the bulls of excommunication thundered at his head from the Democratic head-quarters in Tammany Hall.
His death was commemorated in the verses of his friend and co-editor, Mr. Bryant;-and Whittier, too, upon the proposition coming from Tammany Hall to erect a monument to the deceased, gave vent to his feelings in an indignant sonnet, pref, aced with the text, “ Ye build the tombs of the prophets," and concluding with these lines :
“ Well is it now that o'er his grave ye raise
The stony tribute of your tardy praise,
Of the brave heart beneath, but of the builders' shame!” Whittier's latest publications are two volumes of poems, issued in 1851 and 1853, entitled “ Songs of Labor," and “ The Chapel of the Hermits." The first of these is a series of spirited ballads illustrating the nobility of labor. For the purpose of presenting the poetical aspects of his theme, the poet was obliged to take pretty wide excursions into the domains of his fancy. In glorifying the Ship-builders we recognize the propriety of sailing off to the “frozen Hebrides," or even farther, to “ sultry Hindostan”; but it is going a good way from his subject, in the tribute to 5 The Shoemakers,” to maintain that,
“For you, the dark-eyed Florentine
Her silken skein is reeling."; Or that,
“For you, round all her shepherd homes,
Bloom England's thorny hedges.”
In fact, throughout this poem the excursion into foreign parts to indicate the origin of waxed ends and shoe-pegs is rather more ingenious than poetical, making the song a song of labor in more senses than one. The best of the pieces, both in the subject and its treatment, appears to us to be “ The Huskers, and the Dedication is superior to any other portion of the book.
4 The Chapel of the Hermits,” as we understand it, is an
-elucidation of some of the author's religious and metaphysical ideas, founded on an incident related in St. Pierre's Studies of Nature. Its design, if we may speak prosaically, is to inculcate the importance of attention to the monitions of the inward principle of conscience, and the possibility of thereby reaching that degree of perfection which will answer the end of our being. Of course the confession of faith, like all similar announcements, is, as a whole, dull; but it is relieved by passages of unmistakable beauty. “Questions of Life” is an admirable poem, and illustrates the seriousness of tone pervading this volume.
Before attempting to specify the qualities which distinguish Whittier as an author, it will be well to consider the predominating influence which bore upon him almost at the outset of his career. This was his participation in the spirit of Antislavery agitation; and in order to make our view of his writings more complete, it may not be inappropriate to take a survey of this movement in its inception, and of the different phases which the public mind in this country has from time to time assumed upon the question of slavery.
At the time of the adoption of the Federal Constitution, enlightened men in all quarters were opposed to slavery, regarding it as an evil entailed upon us by the mother country, unprofitable in an economical point of view, and at variance with the spirit of our political institutions; and its extinction at no distant day was deemed certain. That this was so, is abundantly manifest from the debates in the Convention which formed the Constitution, where the subject was fully discussed, the views of Northern and Southern statesmen recorded, and a provision inserted in the Constitution itself prohibiting the importation of slaves after the year 1808. Shortly before the commencement of the present century the cotton-gin was invented by Eli Whitney, prodigiously facil. itating the preparation of cotton for manufacture. The consequence of its introduction was so to augment the consumption of this material as to elevate it into the chief staple of the country, and to enhance the value of that species of labor which was best adapted to its cultivation. This naturally effected a gradual revolution in the opinions of the people ·
among whom slavery existed, and their interests, in consequence of this stimulus, were identified with its growth and extension. When the institution became profitable in the cotton-growing States, it of course became profitable also in those States that could assist in supplying the demand of the others for new laborers. Moreover, the occasional opposition to slavery manifested on the part of the North, where it was unprofitable and had by degrees disappeared, conspired with other causes to excite that esprit du corps or pride in the institution, which at this time unites in its defence all the States within whose borders it exists. Whenever, therefore, new territory was to be acquired upon the line separating the regions where slavery could and could not be profitably maintained, the South took care to lose nothing by default; and since the discussions upon the Missouri Compromise in 1819, fixing the northern limit of the system at 36° 30', it has by a mutual and tacit understanding been distinctly before the national legislature, to be protected and guarded as one of the great interests of the country.
When, therefore, in 1833, Mr. Garrison established the American Antislavery Society, and announced as his watchword “ Immediate and Unconditional Emancipation," he came into conflict with a doctrine settled and considered essential to the stability of the Union, and also with the commercial interests of the North, which had become dependent upon the prosperity of the South. In consequence, an excite. ment was produced wholly disproportionate to the importance of the exciting cause. In maintaining their positions, the Abolitionists were guilty of many unnecessary extravagances; but the persecutions to which they were subjected, and the tenacity with which they held to their convictions, won for them some admirers outside of their ranks, who regarded them as the vindicators of that liberty under which
"free-born men, Having to advise the public, may speak free." One noticeable effect of the Abolition agitation has been the promotion of the freedom of individual inquiry. Most of the new theories contemplating radical changes in politics, religion,
and social life, which agitate us at the present time, have ap. peared in the wake of the Antislavery reform; and it must be confessed that in this country men have since moved less in masses, and been less prone to take their opinions at second hand, upon the authority of others.
Whittier's ardent and poetical temperament predisposed him to take part in the Antislavery reform. In fact, the poetical temperament is naturally anarchical in its tendencies. Accordingly, he did enter it from the outset, and became the Tyrtæus of the new movement. He shared all the feelings of exultation and discouragement elicited during the progress of the struggle, and we can imagine the powerful effect his vehement appeals must have had upon his fellowreformers, when, even to those who read them now, with but a faint idea of the circumstances under which they were written, they stir the blood like the sound of a trumpet. An antiAbolition mob, the movements of any political or ecclesiastical body upon the subject of slavery, an election favorable or unfavorable to his cause, was sure to arouse his lyric genius, so that his poems may be read as a commentary chronicling events as they bore upon the struggle, and were looked upon as such by those with whom he was in communion.
In considering Whittier's merits as an author, it is quite manifest that we should mention, first, his intensity,--that vivid force of thought and expression which distinguishes his writings. His verses sometimes bear marks of extreme haste, but the im. perfections which would result from this cause are in a great measure obviated by the strength and simplicity of his conceptions. He begins to write with so clear an apprehension of what he intends to say, that in many cases his poems come out at first heat with a roundness and perfection which would lead one to suppose that they had passed through the fires of revision. But at times this vehemence is overdone, and needs a restraint which longer consideration would have supplied. This vividness, which Whittier possesses in a greater degree than any other living author with whom we are acquainted, is in part a natural peculiarity of his mind, and in part arises from the urgent circumstances under which he wrote. His object was to produce an immediate effect upon the popular