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wisdom of the senses, which makes physical comfort and gratification the supreme good, and wealth the chief interest of life-we do not deny; nor do we deem it the least service which poetry renders to mankind, that it redeems them from the thraldom of this earth-born prudence. But, passing over this topic, we would observe that the complaint against poetry, as abounding in illusion and deception, is, in the main, groundless. In many poems there is more of truth than in many histories and philosophic theories. The fictions of genius are often the vehicles of the sublimest verities, and its flashes often open new regions of thought, and throw new light on the mysteries of our being. In poetry, the letter is falsehood, but the spirit is often profoundest wisdom. And if truth thus dwells in the boldest fictions of the poet, much more may it be expected in his delineations of life; for the present life, which is the first stage of the immortal mind, abounds in the materials of poetry, and it is the highest office of the bard to detect this divine element among the grosser pleasures and labors of our earthly being. The present life is not wholly prosaic, precise, tame, and finite. To the gifted eye it abounds in the poetic. The affections which spread beyond ourselves, and stretch far into futurity; the workings of mighty passions, which seem to arın the soul with an almost superhuman energy; the innocent and irrepressible joy of infancy; the bloom, and buoyancy, and dazzling hopes of youth; the throbbings of the heart when it first wakes to love, and dreams of a happiness too vast 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 mother's heart can inspire,—these are all poetical. It is not true that the poet paints a life which does not exist. He only extracts and concentrates, as it were, life's ethereal essence, arrests and condenses its volatile fragrance, brings together its scattered beauties, and prolongs its more refined but evanescent joys; and in this he does well; for it is good to feel that life is not wholly usurped by cares for subsistence and physical gratifications, but admits, in measures which may be indefinitely enlarged, sentiments and delights worthy of a higher being. This power of poetry to refine our views of life and happiness is more and more needed as society advances. It is needed to withstand the encroachments of heartless and artificial manners, which make civilization so tame and uninteresting. It is needed to counteract the tendency of physical science, which-being now sought, not, as formerly, for intellectual gratification, but for multiplying bodily comforts—requires a new development of imagination, taste, and poetry, to preserve men from sinking into an earthly, material, epicurean life.
In the best books, great men talk to us, give us their most precious thoughts, and pour their souls into ours. God be thanked for books! They are the voices of the distant and the dead, and make us heirs of the spiritual life of past ages. Books are the true levellers. They give to all who will faithfully use them the society, the spiritual presence, of the best and greatest of our race. No matter how poor I am,—no matter though the prosperous
of my own time will not enter my obscure dwelling,-if the sacred writers will enter and take up their abode under my roof, if Milton will cross my threshold to sing to me of Paradise, and Shakspeare to open to me the worlds of imagination and the workings of the human heart, and Franklin to enrich me with his practical wisdom, -I shall not pine for want of intellectual companionship, and I may become a cultivated man, though excluded from what is called the best society in the place where I live.
TIIE MORAL DIGNITY OF THE EDUCATIONAL PROFESSION.
One of the surest signs of the regeneration of society will be the elevation of the art of teaching to the highest rank in the community. When a people shall learn that its greatest benefactors and most important members are men devoted to the liberal instruction of all its classes, to the work of raising to life its buried intellect, it will have opened to itself the path of true glory.
There is no office higher than that of a teacher of youth ; for there is nothing on earth so precious as the mind, soul, and character of the child. No office should be regarded with greater respect. The first minds in the community should be encouraged to assume it. Parents should do all but impoverish themselves, to induce such to become the guardians and guides of their children. To this good all their show and luxury should be sacrificed.
Here they should be lavish, whilst they straiten themselves in every thing else. They should wear the cheapest clothes, live on the plainest food, if they can in no other way secure to their families the best instruction. They should have no anxiety to accumulate property for their children, provided they can place them under influences which will awaken their faculties, inspire them
and high principles, and fit them to bear a manly, useful, and honorable part in the world. No language can express
1 “The expression of gratitude is a virtue and a pleasure: a liberal mind will delight to celebrate the memory of its parents; and the teachers of science are the parents of the mind."-GIBBOX.
the cruelty or folly of that economy which, to leave a fortune to a child, starves his intellect, impoverishes his heart.
MILTON AND JOHNSON.
We have enlarged on Milton's character, not only from the pleasure of paying that sacred debt which the mind owes to him who has quickened and delighted it, but from an apprehension that Milton has not yet reaped his due harvest of esteem and veneration. The mists which the prejudices and bigotry of Johnson spread over his bright name, are not yet wholly scattered, though fast passing away. We wish not to disparage Johnson. We could find no pleasure in sacrificing one great man to the manes of another. But we owe it to Milton and to other illustrious names to say that Johnson has failed of the highest end of biography, which is to give immortality to virtue, and to call forth fervent admiration towards those who have shed splendor on past ages. We acquit Johnson, however, of intentional misrepresenta
. tion. He did not, and could not, appreciate Milton. We doubt
. whether two other minds, having so little in common as those of which we are now speaking, can be found in the higher walks of literature. Johnson was great in his own sphere, but that sphere was comparatively “of the earth,” whilst Milton's was only inferior to that of angels. It was customary, in the day of Johnson's glory, to call him a giant, to class him with a mighty but still an earth-born race. Milton we should rank among seraphs. Johnson's mind acted chiefly on man's actual condition, on the realities of life, on the springs of human action, on the passions which now agitate society, and he seems hardly to have dreamed of a higher state of the human mind than was then exhibited. Milton, on the other hand, burned with a deep yet calm love of moral grandeur and celestial purity. He thought, not so much of what man is, as of what he might become. His own mind was a revelation to him of a higher condition of humanity, and to promote this he thirsted and toiled for freedom, as the element for the growth and improvement of his nature. In religion, Johnson was gloomy and inclined to superstition, and on the subject of government leaned towards absolute power; und the idea of reforming either never entered his mind but to disturb and provoke it. The church and the civil polity under which he lived seemed to him perfect, unless he may have thought that the former would be improved by a larger infusion of Romish rites and doctrines, and the latter by an enlargement of the royal prerogative. Hence a tame acquiescence in the present forms of religion and government marks his works. IỈence we find so little in his writings which is electric and soul-kindling, and
which gives the reader a consciousness of being made for a state of loftier thought and feeling than the present. Milton's whole soul, on the contrary, revolted against the maxims of legitimacy, hereditary faith, and servile reverence for established power. He could not brook the bondage to which men had bowed for ages. “Reformation" was the first word of public warning which broke from his youthful lips, and the hope of it was the solace of his declining years. The difference between Milton and Johnson may be traced, not only in these great features of mind, but in their whole characters. Milton was refined and spiritual in his habits, temperate almost to abstemiousness, and refreshed himself after intellectual effort by music. Johnson inclined to more sensual delights. Milton was exquisitely alive to the outward creation, to sounds, motions, and forms, to natural beauty and grandeur. Johnson, through defect of physical organization, if not through deeper deficiency, had little susceptibility of these pure and delicate pleasures, and would not have exchanged the Strand for the vale of Tempe or the gardens of the Hesperides. How could Johnson be just to Milton ?
CHRISTIANITY THE GREAT EMANCIPATOR. I pass to another topic suggested by Mr. Gurney's book. What is it, let me ask, which has freed the West India slave, and is now raising him to the dignity of a man? The answer is most cheering. The great emancipator has been Christianity. Policy, interest, state-craft, church-craft, the low motives which have originated other revolutions, have not worked here. From the times of Clarkson and Wilberforce down to the present day, the friends of the slave, who have pleaded his cause and broken his chains, have been Christians; and it is from Christ, the divine philanthropist, from the inspiration of his cross, that they have gathered faith, hope, and love for the conflict. This illustration of the spirit and power of Christianity is a bright addition to the evidences of its truth. We have here the miracle of a great nation, rising in its strength, not for conquest, not to assert its own rights, but to free and elevate the most despised and injured race on earth; and as this stands alone in human history, so it recalls to us those wonderful works of mercy and power by which the divinity of our religion was at first confirmed.
It is with deep sorrow that I am compelled to turn to the contrast between religion in England and religion in America. There it vindicates the cause of the oppressed; here it rivets the chain and hardens the heart of the oppressor. At the South, what is the Christian ministry doing for the slave? Teaching the rightfulness of his yoke, joining in the cry against the men
who plead for his freedom, giving the sanction of God's name to the greatest offence against his children. This is the saddest view presented by the conflict with slavery. The very men whose office it is to plead against all wrong, to enforce the obligation of impartial, inflexible justice, to breathe the spirit of universal brotherly love, to resist at all hazards the spirit and evil customs of the world, to live and to die under the banner of Christian truth, have enlisted under the standard of slavery.
Review of Gurney's Letters, 1840.
CHARACTER OF THE NEGRO RACE.
I pass to another topic suggested by Mr. Gurney's book. According to this, and all the books written on the subject, emancipation has borne a singular testimony to the noble elements of the negro character. It may be doubted whether any other race would have borne this trial as well as they. Before the day of freedom came, the West Indies and this country foreboded fearful consequences from the sudden transition of such a multitude from bondage to liberty. Revenge, massacre, unbridled lust, were to usher in the grand festival of emancipation, which was to end in the breaking out of a new Pandemonium on earth. Instead of this, the holy day of liberty was welcomed by shouts and tears of gratitude. The liberated negroes did not hasten, as Saxon serfs in like circumstances might have done, to haunts of intoxication, but to the house of God. Their rude churches were thronged. Their joy found utterance in prayers and hymns. History contains no record more touching than the account of the religious, tender thankfulness which this vast boon awakened in the negro breast. And what followed ? Was this beautiful emotion an evanescent transport, soon to give way to ferocity and vengeance? It was natural for masters, who had inflicted causeless stripes, and filled the cup of the slaves with bitterness, to fear their rage after liberation. But the overwhelming joy of freedom having subsided, they returned to labor. Not even a blow was struck in the excitement of that vast change. No violation of the peace required the interposition of the magistrate. The new relation was assumed easily, quietly, without an act of violence; and, since that time, in the short space of two years, how much have they accomplished ! Beautiful villages have grown up, little freeholds have been purchased, the marriage tie has become sacred, the child is educated, crime has diminished, there are islands where a greater proportion of the young are trained in schools than among the whites of the slave States. I ask whether any other people on the face of the earth would have received and used the infinite blessing of liberty so well.