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Occasionally we find a sentence conscience of the reader, or leading that is an almost perfect gem of him to recognize his moral nature poetic tenderness and beauty. For and his relations to his Maker. Cer. example, when the author brings tainly, very little of this can be exhis weary wanderers to a manufac. pected from the writings of a man turing town, where they obtain so ignorant of that tree of life, the lodgings for the night in an iron leaves of which are for the healing foundry, and sleep by the side of of the nations, as is the author now one of its ceaseless fires, and where before us. We have heard the inthe workman shares with thein his ference drawn from his writings, and scanty meal, makes a bed for them especially from some passages in from his own rough apparel, and in these American Notes, that he is the morning dismisses them with a a Unitarian. Unitarian! Did he at. pittance and his benediction. “ He tend any Unitarian church in Bosgave her two old, battered, smoke.
Is there any evidence, that encrusted penny pieces. Who he attended any church any
where knows but that they shone as bright in the United States, save in that ly in the eyes of angels, as golden one instance in which he visited gists that have been chronicled on Father Taylor's" sailors' chapel, tombs ?” Their loneliness, as they with a single eye to his own prostood one evening in a crowded session as a dealer in caricatures ? thoroughfare, entire strangers, with A Unitarian ! Why, Miss Sedgno prospect of a meal or bed, is wick is a Unitarian, yet how much thus depicted. Feeling amidst loftier is the moral tone of some of the crowd a solitude which has no her works within a few years past, parallel but in the thirst of the than that of any thing from the pen shipwrecked mariner, who, tost to of this author. He compliments and fro upon the billows of a mighty the Unitarians indeed, as we have ocean, his red eyes blinded by seen, but not on account of their looking on the water which hems having a more accurate exposition him in on every side, has not one of Christianity than other men. He drop to cool his burning tongue.” speaks admiringly of the Boston
Mr. Dickens probably values him. Transcendentalists, and says, that self, as certainly he has been com. • if he were a Bostonian, he would plimented by some critics, on the be a Transcendentalist ;' but the moral tendency of his writings. It great glory of Transcendentalism is often said that they tend to good, in his view, is its “hearty disgust by exciting sympathy with human of cant;' and he names its protessuffering, and by increasing the sors, not as expounders of Chrisreader's detestation of vice and his tianity, but as a sect of philosoadmiration of goodness. But after phers.” In brief, then, our underall that may be said and conceded standing of Mr. Dickens is, not that on this point, it remains a serious he embraces this or that system of question, whether any human be. latitudinarian doctrine, but that all ing was ever made better by read. forms and schemes of religion, Uniing such books as Oliver Twist or tarian or evangelical, Popish or Barnaby Rudge. Books of mere Protestant, Christian, Mohammedan, amusement-books written to be or Pagan, are alike to him. Is he sold, and the sale of which depends not one of the many whom Engexclusively on their power to amuse land trains, under the shadow of thoughtless minds, and to while her old cathedrals, in a deplorable away the tedious hours of the indo. ignorance of God and of Christ ? lent and the frivolous, are not likely “ Disgust of cant" is the profession to do much towards quickening the of his faith. And what do such
men mean by “ cant ?" To them, Objections have sometimes been all fear of God all the manifes- made to this literature of almstations of a devout and serious tem: houses and prisons, of pauperism per-all talk of sin and repentance and roguery, as necessarily tending and forgiveness for Christ's sake, to corruption of taste and of morals. and inward renovation by the grace We do not admit the force of such of God—all endeavors to live so- objections. On the contrary, we berly, righteously, and godly in this think that philanthropy may be evil world, are “ cant.” As is the grateful for any fair exhibition of man, such will be, on the whole, the vices and the better qualities, the influence of his writings. What the miseries and the whole existsort of influence then may be ex- ence, of the neglected and degraded pected from the writings of this au- portions of society; and especially, thor, of whose character the Amer. when the exhibition is so managed ican Notes give us so distinct a by the hand of genius, as to make revelation ? He is a good-natured all feel that natural bond of brothman, loving to laugh and to see erhood which connects the most others merry, and cherishing a good privileged with the most degraded. natured sympathy for those neglect. It is so, for the most part, with the ed and wretched classes of the pop- writings of this author. He often ulation of London, with whom his displays a generous sympathy with early life and his professional em- lowly wretchedness, which is not ployments have made him well ac- only creditable to his heart, but quainted. His writings, accordingly, touches the heart of the reader. present to us the most attractive Take, for example, a passage in representations of that kind of vir- which he contrasts the lives of tue, which consists of good-natured gipsy children with those of childispositions, and the most pictur- dren who are compelled to toil in esque descriptions of the vices and English manufactories. “Even the the miseries of those who groan, sun-burnt faces of gipsy children, and die a lingering death, under the half naked though they be, suggest crushing structure of the English a drop of comfort. It is a pleasant constitution of society. Of any other thing to see that the sun has been virtue than that which is made up there ; to know that the air and of kind and generous natural im- light are on them every day ; to pulses—of any other virtue than feel that they are children and lead that phrenological goodness, which children's lives; that if their pil. is analyzed into‘large benevolence,' lows be damp, it is with the dews
well developed conscientiousness,' of heaven, and not with tears ; that • large adhesiveness,' moderate the limbs of their girls are free, and veneration,' « small acquisitiveness,' that they are not crippled with dis'small destructiveness," and such tortions, imposing an unnatural and like elements of moral character- horrible penance upon their sex; his writings give no lesson. Of vir
Of vir that their lives are spent from day tue, springing from godliness as its to day, at least among the waving root—of virtue, strengthened by the trees, and not in the midst of dreadfear of God and by the knowledge ful engines, which make young chil. of God's holiness—of virtue, seek- dren old before they know what ing to please God, and praying, childhood is, and give them the ex' lead us not into temptation, but haustion and infirmity of age, with. deliver us from evil--no reader out, like age, the privilege to die.” would ever receive any image or But as often as we indulge the conception, from such books as hope, that the writings of Mr. Dick. those of Dickens.
ens may be productive of good in awakening an interest for the needy, pulsive in themselves, are exaggerthe defenseless, and the oppressed, ated by the distorting manner in and by making the more fortunate which they are held up to view, and privileged feel, that even the Mr. Dickens has written much that most degraded partake in the better is worthy of praise ; yet, we cansensibilities and generous impulses not but lament the extensive circuof our
common nature ; we are lation of his works, and their eviconstrained to fear, that these wri. dent influence on society. At least tings will have, on the whole, no one benefit of the international copy, other influence on the public mind, right law which he is so anxious to than to excite merriment at the ex- secure, would be, that it would prepense of those who are deserving vent the republication of many of of sympathy, and disgust at those, his productions, or limit their circuwhose deformities, sufficiently re- lation to the judicious few,
The moon now pours her full and noontide beams,
O'er the still mountain, and the quiet lawn;
Weaving their plots to vanish with the dawn.
The men, who yesterday were tossed with groans,
Now travel some bright region far away ;
Rise noiselessly, and noiselessly decay.
The sailor musing o'er the “rushing helm,"
Like sentinels to guard this dreamy realm.
A MOTHER AT HER INFANT'S GRAVE.
She comes to weep alone ; a mother's tears
THE WAR IN RHODE ISLAND.
A civil war in New England is state would so soon be called out to almost too strange an event to be put down insurrection against law? believed ; and, we are persuaded the Who was willing to believe that body of the people are not aware of where the people rule supreme, any the very great dangers which we considerable body of them could be have recently encountered, and from led to attempt the usurpation of powwhich, perhaps, we have not yet es- er by force? caped. The universal confidence But we confess we do not regard in our institutions, by preventing the even this, as the greatest evil. There occasion of suspicion, produces an is a wide difference between rushing unconsciousness of danger, which into civil war, and justifying it as a even its near approach can with dif- proper mode of changing free conficulty disturb. But to the inhabi- stitutions; and a still wider between tants of Rhode Island, the war was this being done by those engaged in a reality. It was felt in every fam- the strife, and its being done by men ily. The march of troops in the sol. of learning and statesmen of influemn earnestness of war to the sound ence, who far from the scene of conof file and drum, brought it home to test, and not excited by the passions every one's consciousness, that the which civil war always produces, state was in the midst of revolution. can coolly defend rebellion, not on And although the blood of citizens the ground that the last necessity has not been shed in battle, yet apart had arrived, and the law of nature from this, the people, in the aliena- must put down by force the law of tion of families, in the interruption government, but on the principle of social intercourse and in the hos- that insurrection is a legal right. tile feelings created, have suffered We might endure a civil war for the horrors of civil war.
once, but how can we endure a prinBut it is not the immediate evils, ciple which will make civil war one which most alarm us. It is not of the American principles of govmerely that money has been lost and ernment, one of the ordinary modes business disturbed, that private feuds of changing constitutions. bave been engendered which may
We think, therefore, the princinever be quelled, and distrust and ples brought forward to justify the suspicion excited throughout the war, more dangerous than the war whole community ; nor even that itself. For these are not the prinschools of learning have been shut ciples of the declaration of indepenand the solemnities of the sanctuary dence nor of the constitutions of the broken in upon ; nor, still farther, several states, however strenuously that the contest has passed beyond they have been confounded with the bounds of the state, and becom. them. That the people have a nating a topic of party politics, threat- ural right to overthrow the govern- . ens to embroil the whole country ; ment under which they live, and but it is, that civil war should erist substitute another in its place, is a at all. Who could have foreseen grave truth never to be questioned that it would thus early start forth among us, but involving in its appliin a country, whose just praise is its cation the highest moral responsiconstitutional governments ? Who bilities. It is not pretended that the could have predicted, that in a re- people of Rhode Island were so public, which boasts the supremacy oppressed as to make it, in the lanof law, the whole armed force of a guage of the declaration of indepen. dence, “their right,” “ their duty to as a necessary inference from the throw off the government." That former, since a legal right to comthere is also under our free institu- mand implies a legal obligation to tions, a method, originating in pro- obey. If it should so happen in any found wisdom, whereby the people state, (to give an illustration of these can exercise the natural right of principles,) that an actual minority changing government, without oppo- should elect a governor, the majorisition from the existing government, ty could immediately get rid of him and therefore without resort to force, in a legal way, by assembling on has been proved by abundant expe- the authority of this right of revolurience. But this method was dis. tion, either in mass or by delegates, carded in Rhode Island. The jus. and framing a new constitution and tification of the proceedings in that under it electing a new governor, state, is not founded on either of who would be the legal chief magisthese truly American doctrines. In trate to whom civil obedience is due, asserting, therefore, the dangerous while through the silent operation nature of the principles by which of law, the former becomes at once they are justified, we do not op- guilty of treason, if he remains lonpose any principles which are uni.
in office. versally recognized among us.
We fear the statement may apmaintain and cherish the principles pear to some incredible; we will of the declaration of independence; therefore give these doctrines in the they furnish the authority for over- language of a writer* who has most throwing by force an oppressive ably maintained them. Supposing government. And we have a still a constitution made by the whole higher respect, if any thing, for that people, according to which the elecwonderful expedient of political wis- tive franchise is restricted to a pordom, by which the existing govern- tion of the people, he asks, “ could ment is pledged against resistance; such a restriction be removed by a and thus that natural right, laid down majority of the whole people afterby our forefathers at the Revolution, wards ? Is the consent thus given, can be exercised in peace. These really or by implication, to a constiare not what we object to, but we do tution revocable, and can the exerobject to a principle that, under the cise of the sovereignty be resumed pretense of being legal and peaceful, at any time by the whole people, seduces its followers into measures without the consent of the parties to which otherwise they would never whom the power may have been take, and thus leads them on step confided, or to use a legal expresby step to inevitable war.
sion, without the consent of the What, then, are these principles? grantees? Can it be resumed withThey are, first, that the majority of out revolution ? After a consti. the people of any state, has a legal tution is once adopted, by which an right, which may be exercised at electoral body is established smaller any time, to change its constitution, than the whole people, does there and as a consequence its executive, still remain a legal right to change its legislature, and its laws, without that constitution in a manner not regard to the existing government provided by the constitution itself, and laws; and second, that the whole and without the consent of the elecpeople are under a corresponding toral body?” These questions are legal obligation to obey the new con- answered in the affirmative. We stitution, officers and laws, all obli. have italicised a few words to draw gations and oaths to the former gov. attention to the main points. A ernment at once ceasing. This lat. ter principle, it is obvious, follows * Democratic Review, July, 1842.