Imatges de pÓgina

also a very small number will be found to have fixed the attention, and to have made the indelible impression. The scenes of nature will have been laid under contribution by here and there a mind, like Beattie's in his own Minstrel, and to have yielded an hourly revenue of beauty and grandeur, to enrich the character, and ennoble the conceptions. But from the world of men we shall find we have borrowed the most of what we are. The feelings, excited by a scene of oppression, of atrocity, or of extreme distress; of the extravagance of wealth, or the frivolity of dissipation, if revived again at intervals, may have formed a Draco or a Montbar, a philanthropist or a cynic, a miser or a philosopher. A conviction too will be forced from us of the far greater frequency and facility of bad impressions, than of good ones. We shall also find among the millions of objects, which have assailed us, that most have failed in their attack; while a few, no more powerful elsewhere than the rest, have gained over us a commanding control. This must have been owing to some capital bent of the mind, early received and lastingly felt; the origin of which will be the great secret of our character. Few of these influences will be found consolatory, except those of religion.

"Were a hundred men," says our author, "to read you their memoirs, you would often, during the disclosure, regret to observe how many things may be the causes of irretrievable mischief." He then proceeds to trace, in a masterly manner, the bent which a few of them received in

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"For unless he is omnipresent, unless he is at this moment in every place in the universe, he cannot know

but there may be in some place manifestations of a Deity by which even he would be overpowered. If he does the universe, the one that he does not know absolutely every agent in not know may be God. If he is not himself the chief agent in the uni verse, and does not know what is so, that which is so may be God. If he is not in absolute possession of all the propositions that constitute universal truth, the one which he wants may be, that there is a God. If he cannot with certainty assign the cause of all that he perceives to exist, that cause may be a God. If he does not know every thing that has been done in the immeasurable ages that are past, some things may have been done by a God. Thus, unless he knows all things, that is, precludes another Deity by being

one himself, he cannot know that the Being whose existence he rejects, does not exist."

The progress of atheism is represented as gradual. The causes of it are original indifference; professions of liberality; the pride of differing from others; the sophistry of the man, of his friends, and of his books; the rejection of revelation, and the consequent darkness of the mind; the gratification of pride as he advances; the progress in

guilt; the desire of freedom from that restraint on indulgence, which the belief of a God imposes; and lastly the herding of a band of profligates, to harden and destroy each other: where, having dared to exclaim together," What is the Almighty, that we should serve him," each individual is emboldened to subjoin, "Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice?"

The ensuing letter is one continued strain of sublime eloquence. After expressing his amazement, that a rational being can live daily in the sight of the Infinite Mind, and yet daily become more and more regardless and unconscious of his presence; Mr. F. arraigns him in judgment, and summons the numberless objects, animate and inanimate, those within his own mind and those without it, which were every hour proclaiming to him, with a silent, but irresistible oratory, the existence, the presence, the ineffable glory of the GREAT and LOFTY ONE, as swift witnesses of his amazing blindness, of his stupendous guilt. Gladly would we transcribe the whole letter, would our limits permit, and nothing short of the whole will do it justice.

In the 7th letter, Mr. F. concludes with some miscellaneous observations on the extreme versatility of the mind in changing its opinions; on the style, in which the Memoirs should be written, which should be as sim ple as possible; on their minuteness, depending on the fact how far they are to be circulated; and lastly, on the unblushing impudence, with which Rousseau, and others of both sexes, have

hung themselves up to infamy by their "Histories" and "Confessions."

The next Essay is on " Decision of Character," a quality bolder than is usually believed, and, in spite of the frequency of obstinacy, rarely to be met with. The importance of it is happily illustrated in some of the ordinary occurrences of life. A man, destitute of it, never belongs to himself; but depends on others for his opinions and his purposes. Events shape the irresolute man, but in a wonderful manner bend to him who is resolute. The latter never wavers, he only deliberates; and as soon as he resolves, is expected to be, and is found, busily employed. Such a man never wastes his pas sions; but gives their undivided force to the purposes of his mind. He is exempted from the interference and opposition of others with respect to his plans; and if his manners are gentle, he usually compels those about him to fall in with them, and further their accomplishment; and he crushes opposition by inflexible obstinacy. This quality is represented as depending much on the organization of the body. As the frame of the lion gives him a courage, an impetuosity, and a determination, superior to those of larger animals; and as women in these respects are far surpassed by men; so the man of resolution will usually be found, in the firmness of his frame, equally to excel the mass of men. The first element of this character is declared to be a complete confidence in one's own judg. ment. The man possessed of it will listen to information from all quarters, but will set his own

value upon it. The next requisite is an inflexible resolution to pursue, without delay or indifference what the mind has once resolved as proper to be accomplished. Indolence, debility or caprice never check the exertions of such a mind; on the contrary, it is linked to its determination with iron bands; its purpose becomes its fate, and it must and will accomplish it unless arrested by calamity or death. In such a mind the passions and the reason act with one united effort. A ruling passion is also one capital feature of a decisive character, as all the others learn to submit to its guidance, and by habit it becomes invincible. The utmost powers of the mind are thus forced into the service of the favourite cause by this passion, which sweeps away as it advances all the trivial objections and little opposing motives, and



almost to open a path through impossibilities. Wherever this quality is found, it can give dignity to the worst of men. Even Satan, in Paradise Lost, commands a degree of admiration, by his invincible resolution. But, when connected with virtue, it exalts its possessor to an elevation in the scale of being, which man seems otherwise incapable of obtaining.

"In this distinction," says our author, "no man ever exceeded, or ever will exceed, the late illustrious How

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totally the reverse of any thing like turbulence or agitation. It was the calmness of an intensity kept uniform by the nature of the human mind forbidding it to be more, and by the character of the individual forbidding it to be less. The habitual passion of his mind was a measure of feeling almost equal to the temporary extremes and paroxysms of common minds: as a great river, in its customary state, is equal to a small or moderate one when swollen to a torrent.

"The moment of finishing his plans in deliberation, and commencing them in action, was the same. I wonder what must have been the

amount of that bribe in emolument or pleasure, that would have detained him a week inactive after their final adjustment. The law which carries water down a declivity, was not more unconquerable and invariable than the determination of his feelings toward the main object. The importance of this object held his faculties in a state of excitement which was too rigid to be affected by lighter interests, and on which therefore the beauties of nature and of art had no power. He had no leisure feeling which he could spare to be diverted among the innumerable varieties of the extensive scene which he traversed; all his sub

ordinate feelings lost their separate existence and operation, by falling into the grand one. There have not been wanting trivial minds, to mark this as a fault in his character. But the mere men of taste ought to be silent respecting such a man as Howard; he is above their sphere of judg ment. The invisible spirits, who fulfil their commission of philanthropy among mortals, do not care about pictures, statues, and sumptuous buildings; and no more did he, when the time in which he must have inspected and admired them, would have been taken from the work to which he had consecrated his life. The curiosity which he might feel was reduced to wait till the hour should arrive, when its gratification should be presented by conscience, which kept a scrupulous charge of all his time, as the most sacred duty of that hour. If he was still at every hour, when it came, fated to feel the attractions of the fine arts but the second claim, they might

be sure of their revenge; for no other man will ever visit Rome under such a despotic consciousness of duty as to refuse himself time for surveying the magnificence of its ruins. Such a sin against taste is very far beyond the reach of common saintship to commit. It implied an inconceivable severity of conviction, that he had one thing to do, and that he who would do some great thing in this short life, must apply himself to the work with such a concentration of his forces, as, to idle spectators, who live only to amuse themselves, looks like insanity.

His attention was so strongly and tenaciously fixed on his object, that even at the greatest distance, like the Egyptian pyramids to travellers, it appeared to him with a luminous distinctness, as if it had been nigh, and beguiled the toilsome length of labour and enterprise by which he was to reach it. It was so conspicuous before him, that not a step deviated from the direction, and every moment and every day was an approximation. As his method referred every thing he did and thought to the end, and as his exertion did not relax for a moment, he made the trial, so seldom made, what is the utmost effect which may be granted to the last possible efforts of a human agent and therefore what he did not accomplish, he might conclude to be placed beyond the sphere of mortal activity, and calmly leave to the immediate disposal of Omnipotence.” Who, after reading this short sketch, will not repine, that it was not filled up, till the last stroke was given to the finished portrait ?


moned to the diet of Worms, of Daniel, of Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego, are mentioned as sublime specimens of elevated decision. The good man, possessed of this character, says our author, should take care to prevent it from becoming unamiable. It is usually accompanied with incompliance; with an alienareserve, with sternness, and with tion of feelings and of interests; with an impatience of correction, a tone of authority, and an unyielding dogmatism; with an intolerance to the prejudices and weaknesses of others, and a real insensibility to the tender and gentle feelings of the heart. Yet Lycurgus and Timoleon, Alfred and Gustavus Adolphus, are glorious examples of the union of these apparently opposite excellencies.

Various circumstances, says Mr. F. will confirm this character.

One of these is opposition. Let such a man be opposed in the general tenor of his actions, and opposition will render him the service of an ally, by corroborating his inflexibility. Another is desertion. Many a inan has become resolute by being left friendless in early life. Another is success, and another the habit of associating with inferiors. The man not possessed of decision may, our author thinks, acquire it in a measure by the following steps. He should first gain a clear and com prehensive knowledge of the concerns before him. He should cultivate a conclusive manner of reasoning. Reasoning should be his ordinary process of thinking. He should never leave Z. z

Courage is another essential requisite of the decisive character. This will be often and severely tried, by the disapprobation of friends, and the contempt and ridicule of others; times by evils of a darker aspect, by serious sufferings, and by the prospect of death itself. The conduct of Luther when sumVol. III. No. 8.


any question, which occurs to him, undecided. When the judgment is formed the man should commit himself, by doing something which will compel him to do more. The objects which engage the mind should be dignified, and the course proposed should meet the approbation of conscience.

the authors of which, we think, should long since have been sent to the isle of Anticyra, had they not pitched their tents on the borders of Lethe.

The third letter commences with the following remark: "One of the most obvious distinctions of the works of romance is an utter violation of all the reIn the first letter of the next lations between means and ends." Essay, Mr. F. remarks, that "a This is illustrated by various exthoughtful judge of sentiments, amples. One of these is the books, and men, will often find plan, which many benevolent perreason to regret, that the lan- sons entertain, of civilizing savaguage of censure is so easy and ges without the aid of conquest. undefined. It costs no labour, Mr. F. allows that a few such and needs no intellect, to pro- instances have been unaccountanounce the words foolish, stupid, bly successful, but insists that dull, odious, absurd, ridiculous." those, who build their hopes on There is a competent number these, lay just claims to the of words for this use of cheap character of romance. Had he censure. Among these are the lived in or own country, he words Puritan, Methodist, and would not have thought this so Jacobin. Like these the epithet hopeless a measure. The Romantic has become a vehicle of Creeks and the Cherokees would unmeaning reproach. He is have turned his eye to the unromantic, whose imagination strung bow and broken arrow, to has the ascendency over his the scattered wampum and the judgment; whose fancy throws falling wigwam, as indications its colours where reason ought that the character of the savage to draw its lines; accumulates was dropping off. They would metaphors where reason ought then have pointed to their houses to deduce its arguments; and and their barns, to their ploughs presents images instead of and their harvests; to their Bithoughts, and scenes instead of bles and their schools; and told disquisitions. That this should him in good English, "See in all be the case in youth is not an un- these things, which are ours, promising symptom; but if it is and procured by ourselves, one so in maturer life, the mind is additional proof of the success of unfortunately constructed. Va- benevolence." The truth is, rious operations of the imagina- that, although romantic feelings tion, when it has gained this as- are often indulged on this subcendency, are unfolded in the ject, yet the philosopher, in his next letter, and a censure de- closet, can conjure up snow servedly severe is cast on the storms and rivers, mountains wretched garbage, daily disgorg- and deserts, in quite as thick ed upon the public, in the shape succession, and make them as of plays, novels, and romances; cold and as wide, as inaccessible

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