Billeder på siden


“ It is a most shallow supposition that a field for the display of high qualities can ever be wanting wherever intelligences are found; for freedom of will is the property of all spiritual existences. Now these views, however incontrovertible, are quite at issue with the sentiments generally imbibed on the nature of the angelic life. We seem to dread an admixture of earthly elements even in our vague meditations on this subject. We assign to them a state of insipid monotony; imagine them animated with but one train of interests; conceive them as all sharing the same undisputed views, and enjoying a happiness constantly maintained at the same level, tranquil and unexcited. And when reminded that a state so passionless can have slight attraction indeed for beings like ourselves, our usual reply is (and surely a most unsatisfactory and insufficient one,) that we shall then, by a mysterious change, be able to relish that which we admit to our present views would be cloying and insipid. But how a physical change--for death is no more--can produce a violent and total alteration of all our moral ideas, and even of our conception of happiness, is more than we can understand. Equally baseless with the view which we have been combating is that other fancy, that the bliss of the angels is maintained at one even flow, ever full and unvarying. For if so, at least according to our earthly apprehensions, the feeling of satiety could not fail to steal in, and to cloy the guests even of the celestial banquet. Besides, the confutation of this opinion follows at once as a corollary from the more expanded views which we have sought to enforce. Wherever high interests are involved and imperilled, wherever mighty destinies are hung in counterpoise, there of necessity must high emotions be generated -the flush of hope—the joy of victory—the agony of disappointment. The very name of one, at least, of the angelic orders (for heaven, be it remembered, is no democracy) might teach us that natures, though celestial, may yet be impassioned; for the word seraphim, being interpreted, is the ardours of heaven. We have as yet only argued for the existence of all the more vehement affections of the soul in this elevated class of crea. tion, with, of course, their counterpart objects; but we might plead the cause much higher, and say that they must there reach an intensity which is here inconceivable; for this corruptible body sets a bar to all extravagant emotions. And this remark applies not only to the indulgence of those malign sentiments which are proverbially so adverse to health, — which poison the springs of life, while they embitter and defile the spirit, —but even to the state of joy. Too full a tide of happiness would burst the weak ramparts of the flesh almost sooner than an intolerable grief. It is our doom here to have only moderate satisfactions; we are forbidden ecstacies. Our organs, though wondrously endowed, are still too weak for any passion of the soul that would lead to them.”

If we remember rightly, it was South who said, when speaking of the joys of Eden, that they were severe joys. But our present author pictures the bliss of heaven in a sentimental strain, and sometimes approaches the sensual. To be sure he does not charge the loves of the angels with animal effects ; but the translated of our race, especially such as lovers and admirers on earth, pronounced to

be angels, are, according to Mr. Haughton's poetic imaginings, to retain

a large amount of their sublunary feelings, and something also, it seems to be insinuated, of the beautiful and winning failings or frailties of the world below. There must, at least if our author conjectures correctly, be in heaven strong and deep sympathies with what the beatified experienced on earth, before admission to that heaven can be said to be a happy exchange. "Who can paint,” he asks, "the desolation of that spirit which after leaving the precincts of the cheerful day,' and this green blooming earth, and all its sweet companionships, goes forth into an unknown universe alone and unattended ?” But we ask in our turn, is this not a strange question for a minister of the gospel to put? Then, how many sainted ones have seldom tasted the sweets of this green blooming earth, and its companionships ? Few heaven-ward spirits desire to retrace the exact steps of their earthly pilgrimage, we believe; and the experience of the Rev. Mr. Haughton, we think, should have so taught him. But lecturing is not our province; at present we are reporters; and therefore we go on to cite :

“Can we conceive of her on whom love and homage have always waited, whose pure but impassioned nature has never been without its counterpart objects, to whom friendship, however noble, would be but an insipid exchange for those keener and more exquisite feelings which are to her as the breath of life, and which the relations of life gave ample room for, but whose occupation, according to the ordinary representations of the other life, is for ever gone ; whose infancy was watched over with untiring care, and whose growth, as each day she became

More sweet to sense, and lovely to the eye,' was but the signal for exchanging the caresses of parents for the adoring fondness of a husband, to whom the tones of love are become a want, and an averted look would be anguish ; and one who, beside all the deliciousness which what we have said implies, has moreover exulted in all the pride of life, and all the gratifications of sense ; at whose banquets the voice of music ever rose, and in whose gay halls neither mirth, nor song, nor dance, have ever failed, filled as they always were with a bright assemblage of the high, the talented, the valorous, and the fair ; and who yet amid so dazzling a scene, was scarcely chargeable with a fault more serious than that of Wordsworth’s Village Maiden,

Whose heaviest sin it was to look
Askance upon

her pretty self Reflected in some crystal brook ;' and whom we only prized the more for some slight failures, because revealing her as

'A being not too bright or good

For human nature's daily food,-' can we conceive of her the heroine of this sentence, after closing her eyes on this world, as at once consigned to a state merely intellectual, with no

objects around which her affections might twine and cling ; or, as entrusted to guardians, though of a high order, but between whom and herself there exists, and can exist no community of thought, and no congeniality of feeling? In this case there might be protection, but there would be no society, and that is essential to happiness; for the being we have imagined has always lived in sympathy, and could only exist on its finest reciprocations. To constitute true society, there is required not only a general agreement of sentiment but something also of the same grasp of intellect. It is necessary that the parties (if we may so express it) should live at the same rate, and their minds in operation observe a proposition. The mind whose glance is swift as lightning, whose memory holds the records of unfathomable

ages before the foundations of the earth were laid, whose experience is rich with the history and achievements not of one planet, but of an entire system,-such a mind, we say, would but ill accord with our slower procedures and our scantier knowledge. If in the celestial regions we are to find not protecters merely, but genial friends and companions, then it is necessary that we should meet with those whose faculties and acquirements bear some proportion to our own, who are not

too bright nor too good' for us, as the poet boldly says. We need something better than security-we ask love."

From all this it is quite clear that Mr. Haughton's notions of heaven are those of a very luscious condition. We must whisper in his ear, however, that the heroine set before us, and the earthly scenes of pure enjoyment, of generous sympathies, and innocent occupations or pastimes are not only entirely imaginary, but are contrary to experience, are destitute of truth and reality. Even if such a heroine existed, enjoying from year to year such a constant succession and variety of pleasures and occupations as those pictured by the rev. gentleman, we doubt very much, whether at the close of the earthly scene, she would be in a fit state for inhabiting the celestial mansions, unless the truest of all friends-unless He whose love has been most wondrously exemplified, should have mercy upon her.

We have not room for many more of our author's arguments. Nor would a profusion of extracts guide the sober reader to any more definite or satisfactory conclusions than may have been the result of what we have already copied out. Indeed the arguments and illustrations are all pretty nearly of one kind; feeling, instead of theology or philosophy, being the source and staple of the whole. For example, he asks, in one paragraph, whose is the presence that chases away every care, so that “the soul regains her serenity, her verdure, and her fragrance?” Of course the answer implied is that of woman! Because, for the office mentioned, there is required "a more airy and delicious spirit than usually resides within the breast of man, one less ambitious and more attuned to sympathy. Moreover, believing as we do," Mr. H. continues, “that in the next life our affairs will be more momentous, and our interest in them more

vital and agitating than what we experience here (there is nothing unpleasing in this prospect, divorced as we shall then be from every animal want, and every humiliating sensation); we naturally conceive that the same divine philanthropy in which we originated will also insure its permanence.

Theologians have differed with regard to the state or the constitution, so to speak, of the beatified in a future world, some thinking that it will be purely spiritual: others, that there will be a material form. As must be expected from what has already been said and quoted, Mr. Haughton contemplates form. He says :

“ Moreover, love is felt through the magic of the form. That magic will be more potent than we have ever felt it on earth. The celestial body will be more characteristic of the qualities of its owner than the coarser fabric we inhabit now. Nothing offends us more than any striking disproportion in this regard.

We cannot tolerate it even in names, still less in forms. How appropriate to the one sex are the rich and vowelled syllables, that fall so gently from the lips, sounding so airy and bright and could they be exchanged for the shorter and rougher names assigned to the other, without a painful incongruity and sense of violence ? Much more, then, may we be assured that in the future state the characteristic qualities of both will retain their characteristic exterior. A spirit of love and gentleness would naturally be invested in a form of more delicacy, fragility, and grace-with a softer and smoother surface, a voice more tender and impassioned, and eyes of sweet and fawn-like ray, that comfort, and not burn.' These will continue to difference her from what Mr. Coleridge would call her exact and harmonious opposite. To this we may add a comparative smallness of frame and want of power-in short, all the outward signs which help to form beauty, and to provoke love."

In conclusion we have to express this opinion--that Mr. Haughton would have been better employed had he treated of a state of existence better known to us than that, concerning which, there has not entered into the mind of man any just or adequate conceptions. Revelation is far from being explicit on the conditions of a future state; and probably any communication on the subject could not be comprehended by earthly beings. Therefore rashness as well as idleness attaches to a performance of the sort before us. bound at the same time to add, that a kindly as well as a poetic feeling pervades the work; so that the questionable subject, and sometimes the questionable approaches to it, are rendered less startling and offensive than had a coarser hand been employed in the execution, and an unaffectionate spirit presided over it.

We are


Art. XIII.-Essays. By R. W. Emerson, of Concord, Massachusetts ;

with Preface by Thomas CARLYLE. London: Fraser. This volume is a curiosity: it may almost class with Mr. Haughton's Essay on Sex in the World to Come, in any cabinet of unique books. At any rate it ought to occupy a shelf in the case assigned especially to Thomas Carlyle, although Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson will have no right to complain should he be shoved into the darkest or least inviting corner of the mahogany. The mere act of god. fathership, by reprinting the work in this country, and heralding it by a laudatory preface, proves that it is a book after Carlyle's own heart. Some portions of that preface itself must not be passed over; for it tells us something which the Essays themselves cannot be expected to do of the author ; while it furnishes a striking and not unamusing or unsuggestive specimen of Carlylisms.

Thomas thus inquires and speaks ,-“While so many Benthamisms, Socialisms, Fourrierisms, professing to have no soul, go staggering and lowing like monstrous moon-calves, the product of a heavy moonstruck age; and in this same baleful'twelfth hour of night,' even galvanic Puseyisms, as we say, are visible, and dancings of the sheeted dead,--shall not any voice of a living man be welcome to us, even because it is alive ?" Mr. C. has just before told “ the British public" not to trouble itself about whether this Emerson be a Pantheist, or what kind of Theist or Ist he may be.” The only thing is, “if he prove a devout-minded, veritable, original man, this for the present will suffice;" for that Ists and Isms are rather growing a weariness." Well then, “and for the rest, what degree of mere literary talent lies in these utterances, is but a secondary question ; which every reader may gradually answer for himself.” Even, “ What Emerson's talent is, we will not altogether estimate by this book. The utterance is abrupt, fitful; the great idea not yet embodied struggles towards an embodiment. Yet everywhere there is the true heart of a man ; which is the parent of all talent; which without much talent cannot exist. A breath as of the green country-all the welcomer that it is New-England country, not second-hand but first-hand country--meets us wholesomely everywhere in these Essays; the authentic green earth is there, with her mountains, rivers, with her mills and farms. Sharp gleams of insight arrest us by their pure intellectuality; here and there, in heroic rusticism, a tone of modest manfulness, of mild invincibility, low-voiced, but lion-strong, makes us to thrill with a noble pride. Talent ? Such ideas as dwell in this man, how can they ever speak themselves with enough of talent? The talent is not the chief question here. The idea, that is the chief question. Of the living acorn you do not ask first, How large an acorn art thou? The

« ForrigeFortsæt »