Imatges de pÓgina

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 elo

quence. 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 simple 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 pur sue, 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 seems 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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"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 subordinate 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. the mere men of taste ought to be silent respecting such a man as Howard; he is above their sphere of judgment. 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 sur veying the magnificence of its ruins. Such a sin against taste is very far beyond the reach of common saintship to commit. It implied an incon ceivable 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 ?

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.


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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 reserve, with sternness, and with incompliance; with an alienation 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. Alfred and Gustavus Adolphus, Yet Lycurgus and Timoleon, 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 comprehensive 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

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 " 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 unaccounta nounce 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 our 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

and as noxious, as the philanthropist, in his benevolent journey, will ever realize. Mr. F. when he penned these remarks, seems to have forgotten the character of Howard, which he had been just delineating.

Another illustration of the extravagant estimate of means is the expectation of far too much from mere instruction, communicated either privately or from the desk. Mr. F.'s remarks on this subject are striking, and, though perhaps not just to the extent to which he carries them, have, with some alteration, been echoed by many a faithful clergyman. Perhaps in England his remarks may be strictly just. We hear, perhaps because we are so distant, of few revivals of religion in that country. If they are just, they are enough to palsy the exertions of ordinary minds, and cramp those of the most resolute. But to this country they will not apply, without much qualification. Here it is certainly true, that an honest and faithful minister of Jesus Christ rarely toils through life to no purpose. Few dig among the stones and earth continually, without discovering here and there a gem, to set in that "crown of glory which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give them at his coming." As a general rule it is also true, that the success of clergymen here is somewhat proportioned to the sincerity, the constancy, and the affectionate zeal of their efforts. We hold with Mr. F. the deep rooted corruption of man; we know that sin is the natural growth of the heart, and that this growth is rank and noxious; and are

therefore ready to acknowledge the wildness of those schemers, who expect with their own puny instruments to cut down, at a blow, the growth of half a century. But we still believe, that with weapons of a better temper, and hands nerved with other strength, they may lay low even the proudest trees of the forest. We are therefore unwilling to allow that means have been so unavailing, as Mr. F. would represent. What would the venerable Vanderkemp, and the followers of the venerable Schwartz, answer, if interrogated on this subject? Or rather, to what do the hundreds of Hottentots and the ten thousands of Hindoos, on the coast of Coromandel, under God, attribute their conversion? And how does the great awakening in the time of President Edwards, and the numerous smaller ones, which have followed it to this time, har monize with this representation?

Mr. Foster concludes his Essay with mentioning several of those to whom the epithet romantic is often unjustly applied. One of these is the man, who takes high examples for imitation; who contemplates, with emotion, the class of men, who have been illustrious for their wisdom or their excellence; and keeps them in view as the standard of character. Another is he, who devotes the privileges of the rank to which he belongs, to a mode of excellence, of which the people who compose it never dreamed. He is a third, who makes and inculcates great sacrifices for a purely moral and ideal reward. Another, who thinks himself

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