Page images
PDF
EPUB

fore it is that the arrogant will ridicule illusion, we do not, with Mrs. C., admit, any extravagant confidence, and that or seem to admit, that a spectre can be moderate ones--they who lack the per- any thing else. There is strangeness fervidum ingenium of our authoress--de- enough, and unaccountableness enough, fer belief; and Mrs. C. must continue philosophically speaking, in an illusion to pity, but, we entreat her, not reproach. so perfect, as to be taken by a sound

*Carlyle's sharp rebuke,” which she minded man for actual existence.) The quotes with big assurance, will not alto- fulfilment of some dreams may be also in gether uphold her. “Thou wilt have no a measure accounted for, by supposing mystery and mysticism? Wilt walk intense thought or anxiety in the individthrough the world by the sunshine of ual's mind previous to the dream, and of what thou callest logic? Thou wilt er- a nature similar to the actual fulfilment. plain all, account for all, or believe noth- Thus, a man dreams, being away from ing of it? Nay, thou wilt even attempt home, that a mortgage upon his house laughter ?” As for mystery and mysti- will during his absence subject it to a cism, we are surely content that they ruinous sale; and he hurries home just in should be, and that they who love them time to prevent the foreclosure. It were should live by them, and in them-allow- very reasonable to suppose in this case, ing us the passing favor, that while they that the mortgage, and the character of remain such, we may leave them alone; the holder, had been with him subject of yea, even preferring, not “ boldly,” but great thought, and that an occasional abmodestly, " to walk through the world”— sence had rendered him trebly anxious; i. e., to gain a reputable living, doing the dream thus became the natural sewhat good we may, by the sunshine of quent of previous impressions, and its acwhat we call logic, rather than the moon- cidental fulfilment is noised about as an shine of what we both call

mystery. And erception to their general issue. The as for explaining-with God's help, we minute concurrence of times in a dream, will explain what we can; and the much and its fulfilment, is indeed a matter which we cannot explain-so far as it be which cannot be reasoned about; and a essential to our living here or hereafter- disbelief of them on that ground would be we will take on what we call faith, and ridiculous, it is true ; but equally ridicuon what you call the inner light; and the lous would be belief in them without"evmuch which is not essential we will leave idence to the senses" that the dream and to such as love it better than we. And fulfilment were real. as for laughter-if in their travails after But we owe the reader a relief; and a laying open of the remaining mysteries, here he has it in one of the prettily told their lovers be decoyed into situations ri- yet curious stories that lie profusely over diculous enough, yet which they are so these letters : delirious as not to see, or so self-willed as not to admit , be assured, we will not herd in the service of a nobleman. From

“M. Guzikow was a Polish Jew: a sheponly attempt laughter, but laugh out earliest childhood, music seemed to pervade courageously, leaving the world to de- his whole being. As he tended his flocks cide (which they will claim to be a weak in the loneliness of the fields, he was forjudge, but which, for want of other, must

ever fashioning Autes and reeds from the sit) which of us are the greater fools. trees that grew around him. He soon ob.

The subject of spectral illusions, Mrs. served that the tone of the flute varied ac. C. makes the topic of some remark un- cording to the wood he used; by degrees he der the same letters, and adduces an in- came to know every tree by its sound; and stance or two. To say that there is the forest stood round him a silent oratorio. something very wonderful and incompre- The skill with which he played on his myshensible about these occurrences, and tic flutes attracted attention. The nobility more especially the kindred and still invited him to their houses, and he becamo

a favorite of fortune.

Men never grew more strange fact of the occasional fulfilment of dreams, is saying nearly all weary of hearing him. But soon it was that can be said. The spectral illusion perceived that he was pouring forth the

fountains of his life in song. Physicians may indeed, in a measure, be accounted said he must abjure the fute, or die. It for, by supposing that under a morbid

was a dreadful sacrifice : for music to him state of the system, a mental conception was life. His old familiarity with tones of may be so intense as to leave the im- the forest came to his aid.' He took four pression of real existence. (Observe, round sticks of wood, and bound them that by our very use of the term spectral closely together with bands of straw; across these he arranged numerous pieces of round, books, social remarks, domestic conversasmooth wood of different kinds. They were tion, literature, public festivals, legislative arranged irregularly to the eye, though har. Proceedings, and popular honors, all teach moniously to the ear; for some jutted beyond the young soul that it is noble to retaliate, the straw-bound foundation at one end, and mean to forgive an insult, and unmanly some at the other, in and out, in apparent not to resent a wrong. Animal instincts, confusion. The whole was lashed together instead of being brought into subjection to with twine, as men would fasten a rast. the higher powers of the soul, are thus cher. This was laid on a common table, and ished into more than natural activity. Of struck with two small ebony sticks. Rude three men thus educated, one enters the as the instrument appeared, Guzikow army, kills a hundred Indians, hangs their brought from it such rich and liquid melo. scalps on a tree, is made major-general, and dy, that it seemed to take the heart of man considered a fitting candidate for the presion its wings, and bear it aloft to the throne dency. The second goes to the southwest of God.

to reside ; some 'roarer calls him a rascal “ He was heard by a friend of mine at -a phrase not misapplied, perhaps, but ne- Hamburg. The countenance of the musi- cessary to be resented; he agrees to settle cian was very pale and haggard, and his the question of honor at ten paces-shoots large dark eyes wildly expressive. He car- his insulter through the heart, and is hailed ried his head according to the custom of by society as a brave man. The third lives the Jews; but the small cap of black vel. in New York; a man enters his office, and, vet was not to be distinguished in color true or untrue, calls him a knave. He from the jet black hair that fell from under fights, kills his adversary, is tried by the it, and flowed over his shoulders in glossy laws of the land, and is hung. These three natural ringlets. He wore the costume of men indulged the same passion, acted from his people—an ample robe, that fell about the same motives, and illustrated the same him in graceful folds. From head to feet education; yet how different their fate!" all was black as his own hair and eyes, re. (pp. 190–1.) lieved only by the burning brilliancy of a diamond on his breast. Before this singu

Now, we venture to say, without furlarly gifted being stood a common wooden ther knowledge of these three very extable, on which reposed his rude-looking in- traordinary brothers (which we fancy to vention. He touched it with the ebony sticks. be the enormous progeny of Mrs. Č.'s At first you heard a sound as of wood: the extraordinary fancy) than she herself orchestra rose higher and higher, till it has afforded, that they acted from differdrowned its voice; then gradually subsi- ent motives, illustrated different educading, the wonderful instrument rose above tions—if, indeed, we may be guided by other sounds: clear, warbling, like a night- the simplest and safest possible deducingale ; the orchestra rose higher, like the tion--and for aught that appears in the coming of the breeze : but above them all swelled the sweet tones of the magic in. premises to the contrary, may have

been strument, rich, liquid, and strong, like a

as unlike as possible in passion. Thus, skylark piercing the heavens!” (pp. 173–5.) such) may have had no passion at all,

the major-general (we have known of Letter XXIX. contains an account of and yet have hung the hundred scalps and reflections upon a visit to Blackwell's upon a tree; and as for the motive, it Island. It is a long one; it takes up and may have been as destitute of passion as goes over all the writer's peculiar views of patriotism, or (the thing is possible) relating to crime, and law, and society, as full of the one as of the other. The yet again. It must have filled, at the southwesterner may have had no passion; least, three close-written sheets; and surely the motive was not passion, which unless the correspondent to whom were

in case of the third brother was the only addressed these favors, had more enthu- motive; nor could it by any supposable siastic relish for these particular views construction have been the same with than nine-tenths of the readers of the his, who directed the movements of an printed copy, it could hardly have been army. And as for education : the first run over at one sitting. Society she may have had, for aught that appears, makes appear the wilful parent of every

the best every way; the second may wrong, and now adds, with some more have had it, lacking only that moral edshow of justice, the charge of caprice in ucation which gives most perfect moral judging a wrong, equalled only by its ma- courage; and the third must have lacked levolence in seducing to the wrong.

the best part of education--that which

teaches subjection of the passions to rea“Every thing,” says she, “in school- son. They may, it is true, have had the same, but we want "evidence to the beautiful attribute of justice; but, after senses" before we believe that they il- all, one only among many. “It,” says lustrate the same. And as to the recom- Sheridan, beautifully speaking of justice, pense. Mrs. C. evidently means to direct “is in its loveliest attitude when bending our especial attention to the New Yorker, to uplift the suppliant at its feet.” But and have us feel that he ought not to have if always bending, no longer justice-no been punished. But society, in the cases longer would it need to be either inquissupposed, may act unjustly only in that of itive or searching, vigilant or active, the southwesterner. For the first man commanding or awful. There is this may have acted for the urgent necessi- difference between love and duty: that ties of his country, and have deserved while duty to all, and duty to individuher rewards; the second, under a lin- als may have perfect agreement, love to. gering remnant of feudal sentiment, all may sometimes be at disagreement now abandoned by the greater part of with particular love. Thus duty is higher christendom, receives honor, when he than love. Does not the writer see that should be severely punished; the third any or all of her sweetly extenuating merely gets his due. This is only other voices of sympathy plead as strongly for proof of the writer's want of discrimina- a sufferer under Infinite punishment as tion ; a want whichếwe must say it, for under this temporal ? “Far from us," we like her writings—totally unfits her said Burke, with something of his usual for any serious discussion in which her extravagance, and a great deal of his peculiar prejudices are awakened-we usual good sense, “ be that false, affectmust say it earnestly, since others like ed, hypocritical candor that is eternally her writings as well as ourselves. Pre- in treaty with crime; that half-virtue, judice was the word we used; and did which, like the ambiguous animal that it ever occur to Mrs. C., that there can flies about in the twilight of a comprobe prejudice so anomalous as to favor mise between day and night, is to a just new things, just as easily as those old man's eye an odious and disgusting ones, which here and there call out her thing.” Thus fretted that greatest of poutings and sneers? And has it ever great men at the casual expressions of occurred to her that she is the actual sub- sympathy for the very questionable culject of such prejudice in whatever re- prit, Warren Hastings. lates to coercion on the part of law, or its We are glad to afford our readers anministers-any infringements upon the other relief-a couple of pages and more, rights, absolute or relative, of every hu- which we transcribe from Letter XXX. man being-any doing of violence to the with pleasure, and with fullest commengenuine wishes of our natural hearts ? dation. Surely we have a right to It is a glorious failing-yet a womanly change our topic as violently—as these failing, and a real failing--that sympathy letters theirs. with the oppressed which warps reason

“ There is a false necessity with which to a justification of its claims—which would extend its power by sounding circle that never expands ; whose iron never

we industriously surround ourselves ; a plaintively those notes to which every changes to ductile gold. This is the preshuman heart is made to vibrate more or

ence of public opinion : the intolerable reless distinctly. Take her appeal to the straint of conventional forms. Under this street woman, who complained of the despotic influence, men and women check delay to execute a public malefactor- their best impulses, suppress their noblest “ Would she so desire were the criminal feelings, conceal their highest thoughts. her son? She had forgotten,” continues Each longs for full communion with other the paragraph, “that every criminal is souls, but dares not give utterance to its somebody's son.” A touching way to yearnings. What hinders? The fear of close a period ; but what does it show?

what Mrs. Smith or Mrs. Clark will say ; It may show that every criminal is to be

or the frown of some sect; or the anathema pitied, but not at all what Mrs. C. mani, clique ; or the laugh of some club; or the

of some synod; or the fashion of some festly feels--that he is not to be punished misrepresentation of some political party: to the fulness of the law. Such appeals, Oh, thou foolish soul! Thou art afraid of which abound in the book, are, if we may thy neighbor, and knowest not that he is use the expression, the fungal growth of equally afraid of thee. He has bound thy an over-sensitive heart-just as some of hands, and thou hast fettered his fect. It her previous remarks proved to be the were wise for both to snap the imaginary fungi of the brain. Mercy is indeed a bonds, and walk onwards unshackled. If

thy heart yearns for love, be loving ; if thou here and there on the side-tables, that all wouldst free mankind, be free; if thou may take who like ; but eating, which con. wouldst have a brother frank to thee, be stitutes so large a part of all American enfrank to him.

tertainments, is a slight and almost un“ But what will people say?

noticed incident in these festivals of intelWhy does it concern thee what they lect and taste. Wouldst thou like to see say? Thy life is not in their hands. They such social freedom introduced here? Then can give thee nothing of real value, nor do it. But the first step must be complete take from thee any thing that is worth the indifference to Mrs. Smith's assertion, that having. Satan may promise thee all the you were mean enough to offer only one kingdoms of the earth, but he has not an kind of cake to your company, and to put acre of it to give. He may offer much as less shortening in the under-crust of your the price of his worship, but there is a flaw pies than the upper. Let Mrs. Smith talk in all his title-deeds. Eternal and sure is according to her gists : be thou assured that the promise, "Blessed are the meek, for all living souls love freedom better than they shall inherit the earth.'

cake, or under-crust.”—(pp. 203-4-5.) But I shall be misunderstood, misrepresented.

This is good, so far as it goes : we “ And what if thou art? They who wish that the writer, in place of her throw stones at what is above them, re.

meek dissent and quiet ridicule, had emceive the missiles back again by the law of ployed every allusion that her memory gravity; and lucky are they if they bruise

would justify, and every figure of speech not their own faces. Would that I could

her rhetoric could command, to satirize persuade all who read this to be truthful and free ; to say what they think, and act

the dogmas of fashionable life. In such what they fecl"; to cast from them, like work we would bid her, earnestly and ropes of sand, all fear of sects and parties, in good faith, God-speed ; adding thereof clans and classes.

to, whatever of mockery our feeble lan"What is there of joysul freedom in our guage could promote, to throw the foulest social intercourse? We meet to see each odium on those puppets of their own other; and not a peep do we get under the fashion, who prescribe modes and orders thick, stifling veil which each carries about for social intercourse. Any severity of him. We visit to enjoy ourselves; and our remark, any bitterness of ridicule, would host takes away all our freedom, while we be mild weapons wherewith to controvert destroy his own. If the host wishes to work that growing spirit of stupid formalism or ride, he dare not lest it seem unpolite to which prevails through all the ranks of the guest; if the guest wishes to read or sleep, he dare not lest it seem unpolite to Leroy Place, or St. John's, to the Nag's

city life--from the silver bell-pulls of the host ; so they both remain slaves, and Head in Barclay-street

. Nor is the evil feel it a relief to part company. A few in. dividuals, mostly in foreign lands, arrange only metropolitan :-the infection reaches this matter with wiser freedom. If a visiter to every town in the country that can arrives, they say, 'I am busy to-day; but boast its Mayor, or its Mayor's lady. if you wish to ride, there are horse and sad. And, incredible as it may seem, the disdle in the stable ; if you wish to read, there tinctions in society—which in a measure are books in the parlor; if you want to spring out of city habits, but are yet orwork, the men are raking hay in the fields; dered and modified by the controlling if you want to romp, the children are at voices of wealth and fashion-are carplay in the court; if you want to talk to ried, with all the petty modifications they me, I can be with you at such an hour. engender, to embitter the freedom and Go where you please, and while you stay, naturalness of country life. Self-posdo as you please.'

session, ease, and quietness-always the " At some houses in Florence, large par- truest tests of good-breeding--can have ties meet without invitation, and with the slightest preparation. It is understood that Refinement and intellectual cultivation

no place where all is studied constraint. on some particular evening of the week, a lady or gentleman always receive their

are utterly inappreciable by those who friends. In one room are books, and busts, gloat at the absurd inanities which disand flowers ; in another

, pictures and en- tinguish prevailing social usage. Does gravings; in a third, music. Couples are

the reader remember how, in the tale of ensconced in some shaded alcove, or groups Woodstock, Sir Henry Lee chafes and dotted about the rooms, in mirthful or se.

fumes at the impertinence and noisy rious conversation. No one is required to merriment of the page Louis Kernegay, speak to his host, either entering or depart- until he finds that the blood of royalty ing. Lemonade and baskets of fruit stand flows in his veins, when in an instant, petulance is succeeded by submission and stone at evening. Who, that is reading reverence? Proper familiarity with the this, has been so barbarously taught from forced conventionalities of social life, childhood, as not to have somewhere in will, like the blood-royal, carry impu- his memory--a little corner--a nookdence anywhere, and confront innocence filled with some such image as is now with sensuality, grosser even than that present to our mind, -of crackling flames of the Scotch page. Under such dispo- -of youngsters busy with old Dr. Aikin sition of things, polite conversation has and Mrs. Barbauld—of girls, not grown become the merest stolidity ; no natural- too old for some such story as that of the ness, no freedom, no heartiness of ex- Skotcher Boy or Lazy Lawrence-or, pression. Where would Charles Lamb hearkening intently to the tale of some find now the type for his Rosamond ?- neighbor grandam, or to the mother as

one whose remarks should be suggest- she runs softly through some of Crabbe's ed most of them by the passing scene, silver melody, or, possibly, to the father, and betray all of them the liveliness of lifting up his voice to some of Milton's present impulse ; whose conversation organ-music, or the glorious, great things should not consist in a comparison of of history? vapid feeling, an interchange of senti- We think, then, there is needed, in ment lip-deep-but have all the freshness view of the social reforin our authoress of young sensation in it.”

Here is no

proposes, primal attention in the sphere extravagance, yet how unreal! Not on- we have designated-need of the indely is there lack of that freeness, which pendence she suggests; an independent is the subject of the present writer's re- love of home ; an independent appreciagret--but also of a fulness, that joined tion of its privileges; an independent love to freedom of thought and of expression, of its quietude ; an independent contempt upon any topic suggested, would always fur those excitements and follies which give the happiest and healthiest kind of destroy its best influences, and canker all animation to a properly constituted social its joys. circle. But where are now the con- We have not done with this subject tributing forces to that excitement which yet. The resinement which the prevailkeeps alive the general forms of social ing systems of polite education demand, intercourse ? Do they lie within the has no sort of relation to the social province of reason, or anywhere upon qualities of the heart or mind; it has not the broad ground of what Mrs. C. would even any connection with the duties of call, in her exaggerated way-Universal private companionship, or the enlivenLove? How utterly the reality falsifies ment of domestic scenes; but its whole either supposition! We seriously believe meaning, and nature, and ends, as curthat they have their origin in the worst rently understood, centre in publicity; kinds of selfish pride, and ignorant van- Refinement is opposed to vulgarity, and ity.

vulgarity is understood to mean only Another suggestion occurs to us, in non-compliance with those forms of view of the present state of polite so- speech, or dress, or action, which existciety. Its whole tendency is to wean ing fashion has brought into vogue, and away from the quiet and the charms—as which the next change may carry out. they once were-of the domestic circle. Immorality has no part in the making up For the forms and vulgar ceremonies of what is called, in the polite circles, of the one, are wholly foreign to the free- vulgarity. So, too, highest natural endom and conviviality of the other. A dowment, and elegant cultivation of the taste for the one will insensibly breed a mental perceptions, have little to do with distaste for the other. Not a woman, nor the popular meaning of refinement. man either, can put away their habit Hence, the education of females esof thought, and expression, and action, pecially—for with them rests the control as they would a garment. Hence, the of the social usages we are considering charm that lay in the fireside circle is -is modulated to a compliance with gone ;-that promoter of virtue—that those established public forms and cererestorer of broken spirits—that procur- monies-called, when the compliance is er of heart-felt contentedness—is gone. nice, and, as it were, insensible, refineNot a hundredth part can the bewilder. ment--which refinement, or which eduing excitements of what we call so- cation, for the one is the other, has no ciety supply the earnest and hearty joys foundation in any truthful sentiment of that used to gather round the hearth- the mind, or any natural love of the

« PreviousContinue »