The Yale Literary Magazine, Volume I, Number 2. March, 1836 by Various
book was produced from images made available by the HathiTrust Digital Library.)
THE YALE LITERARY MAGAZINE.
CONDUCTED BY THE STUDENTS OF YALE COLLEGE.
“Dum mens grata manet, nomen laudesque YALENSES Cantabunt SOBOLES, unanimique PATRES.”
NEW HAVEN: HERRICK & NOYES.
Page. The Benefit of Thought, 41
Ode—The Birth of Poesy, 47
The Cascade, 53
Story and Sentiment, No. II. 54
Pen and Ink, 62
Confessions of a Sensitive Man, No. II. 63
The Whale’s Last Moments, 69
Review—The Partisan, 70
Greek Anthology, No. II. 77
“Our Magazine,” 80
YALE LITERARY MAGAZINE.
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THE BENEFIT OF THOUGHT.
The worst as well as the best of us in this world, sometimes love to stop and think. The bad man, wanting every fine feeling, and mostly giving his passions the rein, and suffering them to lead him, to the exclusion of what is beautiful in morals and religion, will sometimes be struck with the contrast between himself and others, and give a few moments to thought. Besides, there are, from the mutual relation of mind and body, certain states of physical feeling, which seem to make men pause, and set them thinking, whether they will or not. In fact, this seems a provision of nature, and it is a benevolent one; for men who think a great deal, are improved by it; and if so, it is obviously a kind plan of our Maker, who, by giving us constitutions susceptible of the changes in the natural world, leads us, thereby, to pause awhile, and familiarize ourselves with that which is wisest and best in the constitutions of our souls.
That a man is improved by thinking much, few will deny. If he sits and thinks upon his secular concerns, or employs himself in ambitious speculations, or upon any other of the subjects which beguile the greater part of the human family, we would not say he was improved, at least, but little, by it. But we think a man who now and then gives himself to solitude, will not employ his mind thus. It is a law of our natures, that earthly objects, even the best, and purest, if pursued long, and obtained in profusion, have a tendency to induce satiety and disgust. Most men have had experience of this; for few are there, we think, who have not, after calculating long on the delights of a prospective good, found on its attainment, its comparative worthlessness and insufficiency. Now the man who devotes a few moments to reflection, will have this great inducement to lead his mind off from such subjects as tend only to make him the more of a worldling, viz. that they cannot satisfy. Moreover, if he does not know, or does not remember this, as the result of former experience, he will (unless he be yoked with fetters of iron to the world, and his whole character be different from that of other men) if at first, in his retirement, he gives his mind up to outward objects, or to such as serve his worst passions—after a while, even then, experience the same, or something of the same satiety. The mind then turns somewhere else, for it must have nourishment; and whither, but into itself. It is thus, retirement puts a man in the way of being better.
Now the mind abstracted from outward, every-day objects, or such as have dominion over it through the medium of the senses, will soon become acquainted with its own noble faculties. It certainly is a truth, and every thinking man will remark it as he mingles with men, that they all seem unconscious of their natures. A wiser than man has revealed to us, and Philosophy tells us, that there are fountains of bliss in ourselves; and that if we taste of these, we shall look upon those things which constitute most of the enjoyment of our race, as worth little or nothing. Of this truth, we say, men seem ignorant. A being with half our natural faculties, would be capacitated for about as much bliss as most men take. The extent of many, we may say of most of the human family’s ideas of happiness, might almost be comprehended by a sagacious animal. Does it not consist mainly, in securing such a portion of worldly substance, as shall make them comfortable? It is so, manifestly. Now let me ask, if this, in the scale of being, elevates us much above brutes. Brutes do all this; and it might be remarked without much hazard, that, instinct taken into account, they take a higher stand than we do. Retirement, however, turning the mind into itself, as remarked above, tends to correct this evil; and did society think more, its condition would instantly be improved. Thought opens new sources of thought; these sources other sources, increasing in tenfold ratio: and this unravels that which is so often esteemed a mystery by many, viz. that men, once devoted to books, can never be brought back to business men; and, furthermore, it shows an egregious error in those who account for this devotion, on the grounds of habit. That we are creatures of habit in a great degree, none will deny; but that habit can be broken, is as readily admitted—whereas, this devotion was never known to be lessened.
The man who thinks much, in addition to the discovery of his great mental powers, discovers, also, his great moral capacities. Things that once struck him as strange in his moral constitution, and which, as they seemed inexplicable, he had so often dismissed with a glance, he now discovers, are so many evidences of a relationship to the Divine being: all is illuminated which, before, was so dark: the film passes from his eye: what he thought but a stagnant pool, he finds, now, is an ocean whose waters are limpid and sweet, the bottom of which is strewn with the richest and rarest shells: every exertion reveals to him a new treasure, until he wonders within himself at that perversity and blindness, which could pass over, undiscovered, such deep sources of improvement. Now one result of all this is, that he gains a just sense of the dignity of his being. We know how fashionable it is, to decry human nature; and we doubt not we shall receive censure, for turning off from such a beaten path. The great and good, of almost all time, have rather preferred to find fault, than bestow on it eulogium. But it seems to us, an abuse, and a perversion, for looking over society as we do, and catching here and there so many evidences of bright and heroic virtues as are presented—we cannot follow the fashion, and say, every man is altogether bad. There is every thing in the soul which is noble: it bears the imprint of a divine hand: and though its fair phasis be soiled, and blackened, as doubtless it is, by transgression, there are, nevertheless, some intelligent spots left, to show its divine origin.
Another result of patient thought is, a man discovers his proper relationship to society. Self-knowledge tends greatly to remove selfishness. By it, he learns his obligation, not only to God, but man; he begins to see how impossible it is, to live an isolated being; and he begins to feel, in its full force, that beautiful truth, that he is a part of the great chain which links society together. In proportion as he feels this, must his selfishness give place to nobler feelings. No man exhibits a more unprepossessing ignorance, than he who sets at nought the opinions, and feelings of others. He becomes an object of pity, and even contempt, to every thinking man; for so little is required to see his error, that we despise his oversight. If men did but know it, it is the cause of a large portion of the unhappiness of life. Society never finds a person in its midst, entirely wrapped in self, and scorning its good will, but it leaves such to the fate they merit, viz. to test their ill grounded belief, and see if they _can_ live, setting at nought the doctrine of mutual dependence. No! men were made dependent—mutually dependent—and it is the loveliest thing in morals that it is so; for just so far as it is recognized, is selfishness destroyed, and harmony established among men. This doctrine ought to be held up more than it is, especially in this nation: it would serve to correct and counteract, if any thing can do it, that spirit of self-interest, always the result of popular and free institutions.
The moral powers are greatly improved, also, by thought, and as a consequence, the moral taste. It is unfortunate, we think, that so much should have been said, and written, as there has been, on beauty and taste, and moral beauty, and moral taste, so often left out of the account. The order and harmony in Nature, has never wanted admirers; and eulogists, by scores, are found, to speak of high deeds, and heroic attachments. In the Arts, too, the ideal symmetry of Phidias; the burning canvass of Michael Angelo; and the fabulous shell of Orpheus—these have never lacked encomium. On the contrary, there has been something like a mad emulation among men, from the bright era of Grecian Pericles until now, to invent epithets of admiration. But how are high deeds and heroic virtues ennobled—what added grace and dignity is afforded the Fine Arts, when the principles of moral beauty are associated! Our object here, however, shall not be to discover, why moral taste is neglected, but rather to find out some principles by which it may be seen, and improved, wherever there is a wish for its culture. Taste is doubtless an inherent faculty; and, if the doctrine of innate ideas is admitted, then moral taste is an inherent faculty. Now every thing which relates to morals, affects moral taste; they cannot be dissociated: hence, would you look for its liveliest exercise, you will take the most elevated character. In such you will observe it, not in great display, but in the thousand little offices of life,
‘Those little, nameless, unremember’d acts Of kindness and of love.’
It checks them, at every little departure from rectitude, and is a good and efficient guide, in all their intercourse with men. If a man would _improve_ his moral taste, let him, instead of that pernicious habit of revery to which there are so many inducements, especially in retirement, give his thoughts to the excellence of moral virtues: let him look at those sparks of beauty, so to speak, sometimes struck off from heroic characters, in trying circumstances: let him trace them in their two-fold results, as affecting others, and then refracting on himself; and much have we mistaken the human mind, if the practice do not benefit him. We are not aware of the extent of the benefit of a taste rightly understood, and rightly directed, because it is so very subtle and delicate; nevertheless, those many imperceptible advances which it makes against an ill regulated mind, operate powerfully as a whole, and do modify the disposition to a degree little dreamed of. It improves a man’s _whole_ character, and throws a charm around it, not otherwise, than as the flush sometimes seen lying along the sky of evening, which, thrown down to the earth by the atmosphere, gives it all a mellow glow of beauty.
From the above, we detect another truth. There are in society, certain little observances, which tend to regulate it—such as the forms of etiquette; which observances, it is deemed can best be learned _in_ society. This we deem a very pernicious doctrine. It is reasoning from wrong premises; and false _data_ in moral, assuredly bring about as wrong deductions, as in physical science. The very object to be attained, viz. the regulation of society, not only goes to show, that it is something which is extraneous, but presupposes that it can never be found there: and yet we are told, that politeness is the result of social intercourse. But this we believe not. So far from it, we believe that true politeness is _never_ learned there. Society is nothing but a hot bed—what grows in it, is rank and unwholesome. True, there is a something passing for politeness, very meaningless, and very stiff; but it is, at the same time, so very shallow, that men of sense make no pretensions to it: and _this_ is learned _in_ society. True politeness is of another growth. It is the offspring of correct principle; and any thing springing from such a source, we may not be much afraid of. True politeness is nothing but a refined kind of humanity; and give a man a kind heart, and one regulated by correct taste; and never fear, but he has that which will make his way any where, to the utter exclusion of these danglers on the skirts of good breeding. It is a sad thing, that we have such an abundance of _manners_ in the world, and so little _character_: that men think so little, they have mostly become frivolous and superficial: that frivolous and superficial manners, best become them. This is true however. We _have_ lost the substance, and taken the shadow; and now, in groping for it, we have got a substitute, without one of the virtues of its expatriated pre-occupant.
But though the age is not one marked by any very severe exercise of thought, and though utilitarian principles are threatening to sweep away almost every kind of speculative knowledge, yet we are not greatly fearful as to the result. The system is revolving, and a better succession will soon be among us. And why? Our hope is, in the fast increasing intelligence of the world. Though we might, and, did we give our mind, we should, find complaint, in respect to many of the features of the spirit of the day, deeming it too clamorous, and active, as having a tendency to injure what is pure and beautiful, in the ideal world—still, intelligence is fast and widely diffused; and on the whole, doubtless, the good will predominate. Those rank plants among us, such as false taste, sickly sensibility, affectation, and the like, will be crowded out by those of healthier growth, and society put on a new aspect; while, as evils, we shall have too much of a captious, matter-of-fact atmosphere, which rejects every thing not immediately communicated, through the medium of the senses. This, however, will be counteracted in some degree, by the few that _do_ think: and, further, by that _other_ few, who in all states of society hold their own, uncontaminated by that which is about them. These are they who bring into existence with them, those susceptibilities of harmony in the natural and moral world—minds, which separate them from their fellows—feelings, which earth never appreciates—and aspirations, which carry them up to breathe in a purer atmosphere, where the bustle, ‘and hoarse enginery of Life’ cannot come. These, we say, have an influence in society, though they are above it—‘birds of heavenly plumage fair,’ that, stooping occasionally from higher regions, appear for a moment, and then are gone.
In conclusion: the benefit of thought is most manifest, in that proper self-confidence, without which, there is no real dignity of character. To be a growing man, is to be a confident one; and the secret of greatness, lies in the consciousness of the ability to be great. We should be sorry to advocate folly,—modesty, we are taught from our cradles, is a virtue,—but by some unaccountable process, the thing has got to signifying something, better designated sheepishness; and hence, we have an _animal_ virtue. Different from these, however, are our ideas of modesty. True modesty is that proper appreciation of one’s own powers, which leads him never to offend, either by bashfulness or presumption: now, who so likely to hit the mark, as he who knows the strength of the bow. The workings of a great mind, conscious of its capacities—and its aspirations for eminence, are, in distinction to the greatness of little men, as opposite as possible—the one a mighty river, always overflowing, and enriching the soil through which it moves, with its abundant and generous fullness—the other an insignificant stream, always within its banks, as grudging the smallest pittance to the scene around. To be a modest man in a certain usage, is to be an ignorant one—for to underrate one’s self, and be honest in it, is to show ignorance of self; and he who knows not himself, has skipped the first page in the book of wisdom: but to be a modest man in a right sense, is to be a wise one—for it is a knowledge of self (which we suppose constitutes a wise man) that enables one to seize upon and retain, his proper station in society. It is this latter kind of modesty which is commendable. It is that of great men. It is that which, meet it where we will, we love to praise. Milton could stop, mid-word in one of his loudest invectives against the rotten fabric of Episcopacy, and speak of himself as ‘a poet sitting in the high regions of his fancy, with his garlands and singing robes about him’—and, with voice like the wild note of prophecy, proclaim ‘the great argument,’ as yet sleeping in the darkness of his vision; and of his confidence to produce a work ‘that posterity should not willingly let die.’ Was this folly? and yet, it was a full appreciation of what the great God had given him. No! It was knowledge—knowledge at home—knowledge gained by thought—the knowledge of energies proud enough, to build up a colossal monument to posterity—_and he did it_.
These are some of the advantages, we think, of a substantial knowledge of ourselves; and when we look at the age, and see how headlong it is, and how dangerously practical it is becoming; too much cannot be said, and too loudly it cannot be spoken, that there is need of more reflection, and more forethought.
ODE. THE BIRTH OF POESY.
Spirit that floatest o’er me now, So beautiful, so bright, I know thee by that lip, that brow, That eye of beaming light. Hail! Sovereign of the golden lyre, Rapture-breathing God, All Hail! We bow beneath thy rod, Who dost, for aye, the glowing thought inspire. Hail! Radiant One, we welcome thee, Heaven-born, holy Poesy!
Spirit who weavest Thy sweet spells so strong, Answer me, answer me, Spirit of Song, Where was thy birth-place, Where is thy home, Why, o’er the doom’d earth, Spirit, dost thou roam?
“When the dewy earth was young, When the flowers of Eden sprung, When first woman’s smile exprest All the heaven of her breast, Then and there I had my birth, In the infancy of earth.
“Angel-hands my cradle made, Woven gay from every flower, And they swung it in the shade, Sheltered from the noon-tide hour, While the balmy air that crept Murmuring thro’ the waving trees, Rocked me gently till I slept In the music of the breeze.
“Then, a hollow shell they brought, Strung across with golden wires, Every chord with passion fraught, Thrills with joy, with hope inspires. Angel-songs at eve I heard Rise from many a circling hill, And my harp whene’er ’t is stirr’d Trembles to their cadence still!
“I am the spirit of joy and of mirth, And I gladden the hearts of the sons of earth, I twine a chaplet of deathless flowers For the fair young brows of the laughing Hours, I show to the Poet’s dreaming eye, The shadowy realms of Phantasy, A charm o’er the earth and the air I fling,— Such are the offerings I bring. Beings that people the depths of air, Come when I speak my wizard prayer; I tell my will, and away! away! O’er the boundless fields of glowing day, Where the quivering sunbeams ever play, Onward and onward they wing their flight, Brightening towards the source of light. Beings that people the depths of sea, Rise at my call and bow before me, And they bear me down to their coral caves, Where ever the roll of Sapphire waves Thro’ vaulted roof and temples dim, Sounds forth a strange and solemn hymn. But would’st thou know where I love to dwell, And where I weave my strongest spell,— Where beameth the light of woman’s eye, Where flowers spring up, there, there, am I!”
“There is some soul of goodness in things evil.”—_King Henry V._
Macbeth is a historical character. He is one of those who stand on the page of history as personifications of vice, rather than as men who possess any thing in common with ourselves. They distinguished themselves by a career of crime—in general that crime arose from ambition,—their names have become a proverb, and are associated in our minds with a particular form of vice as the entire and bare sum of their character. Yet when thus viewed, what are called examples affect us little more than a lifeless homily. They raise in us no sympathy, and of course no interest. They may indeed excite a hatred of that abstract form of vice, but against that we feel secure, and we make no attempt to derive from them any further benefit. Our abhorrence forbids; for we look upon them not as human beings with their varying hues, but as monsters, almost as monsters born. This horror, thus excited at personified vice, seems to speak well for our hearts, yet it will be found to prevent us from taking discriminating views of such characters, and from deriving any practical wisdom from them. We do not reflect that they were men like ourselves, that though deeply sunk in vice, they were once as innocent as we may suppose ourselves to be; that it was by objects working upon what is within every one of us, that they became what they were; that the deeper they were involved in the coil of wickedness, the more narrowly does it become us, would we derive true wisdom or true knowledge from them, to search out those places in the heart where its cords were first fastened on them; to find what was first effectually touched to make them what they were. Nor do we reflect that to obtain any practical knowledge of men, it is no way to separate whatever of good there may be in such characters, from the bad, however great it may be; since it is only to be obtained by observing the struggle between the two as they actually stand connected. Nor need we fear to admire too much, that, in the most vicious mind, which is worthy of our admiration; as if we should detest vice the less, for seeing the ruin it makes, or for detecting its insidiousness in undermining the fair qualities which may call forth our praise.
An excellent means of thus presenting to us the characters of history, as they are in their original cast, and as they progress or change in the course of events, may be found in the drama. The living beings in all their “intensity of life,” are before us; with the circumstances of life about them—whether actual circumstances or not is of little importance, if they are such as might have been expected. The scenes of a whole life pass rapidly, yet distinctly and freshly before us, as imagination loves, and as we should review the eventful life of one whom we had well known.
The tragedy before us moves towards its conclusion with a fearful rapidity, which we vainly wish to detain; and is invested with a stern and awful solemnity, disturbed only by thrilling scenes of horror.
Macbeth, the kinsman of king Duncan, and general of his army, returning from a victorious battle, is met by three witches, two of whom hail him with titles of nobility, which are almost instantly confirmed, and the third with that of future king. Led by this and his own ambition, he, at the suggestion of his wife, murders at midnight the king whom he had entertained, and charges the deed upon his guards. He is crowned, and to maintain his crown, is led into a series of butcheries, which ends in his own death by the hand of Macduff, aided by the English, who had been invited over by the sons of the murdered Duncan.
It might seem, at first view, that Macbeth is only one among the slaves of a vulgar ambition, which implies a mind already hardened, and which, attracted by some splendid object, sets itself, from purely selfish ends, to the attainment of it, and after some visitings of remorse, becomes thoroughly obdurate. The elements of such a character are gross and palpable; the representations obvious; and it is, we think, under this impression that this play has been pronounced to contain “no nice discriminations of character.” But if we consider that Macbeth is in a great degree the subject of influence, acted upon rather than acting, and in some respects more sinned against than sinning; and how, at last, it is the sarcasm of his wife, and the fear of disappointing her whom he loves, full as much as his own ambition, which prevails on him to do the murder, the character becomes more complicated, and we are constrained to find the good and bad in it more evenly balanced, than we at first thought they could be. The truth about Macbeth seems to be, that with the peculiar openness of a hero, and with all his grandeur of intellect, together with nice discrimination of all that may become a man, he is wanting in that _energy of reflection_, which imparts integrity or moral entireness to the mind. In this respect, his conduct is well contrasted with that of Banquo, upon the reception of the infernal prediction. The want of this trait accounts also for the fact, that he is never self-possessed in his wickedness, and never acts properly upon a selfish plan. For this reason, when we mark the many pure and bright qualities, which might form the elements of a most noble character, and of whose value the ingenuous owner seems hardly conscious, we are tempted to exclaim in another sense,
“O Fortunatus! sua si bona noverit!”
And when we see these tarnished and obscured by means of deceit which he does not comprehend, or if he does, has not sufficient energy to dispel, though we cannot greatly respect, we can still admire and pity him. We cannot view him with the same feelings as we do Richard III, wholly remorseless, and self-possessed in wickedness absolutely unredeemed; nor as we do that cool, contriving villain, Iago. On account of his openness of mind also, his character will be best understood, not by formal analysis, but by following him through the various circumstances in which he is placed, and observing their effects on a mind too genial not to receive them, and withal too transparent to hide them.
Let us take him then as he is first presented to us. He is a hero. This character also remains with him throughout. It is heroism which urges him to deeds of high daring, which prompts his mind to its lofty conceptions of greatness, which struggles long and hard with his conscience, but at last plunges him in guilt, propelling him deeper and deeper into it, and called out in its utmost grandeur and intensity in braving the cowardice of remorse. But with the hero’s bravery and lion strength, there is united also the “milk of human kindness,” and the tenderest pity; for who, other than he who copied from his own breast, would have conceived of it thus, even when it opposed directly his designs.
And _pity_, like a _naked newborn babe_, Striding the blast, or heav’ns cherubim, hors’d Upon the sightless couriers of the air, Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye, That tears shall drown the wind.
But above all, as a hero he “is not without ambition.” Yet he is also “without the illness should attend it.” Naturally noble and ingenuous, his ambition up to this time had been rather than any thing else, an aimless, generous aspiring after that which should fill his own capacity, and sought no other reward for manly deeds than the doing them. It was consistent also with a state of high and pure moral feeling, as is not that which has always an end in view, and is always planning and plotting for it. Accordingly, we find it combined in him with great purity and ingenuousness of heart. “What he would highly, that would he holily.” Still it was dangerous, and, no guide to itself, was liable to take shape and direction from any conjunction of circumstances. Until now, however, he had gone with it securely and uprightly. He seems to have been kept in the path of duty and honor by the generous impulses of his nature, and perhaps more, with his peculiar openness, by the favorable influence of his kinsman the “good king Duncan,” whom he heartily loves and admires.
But now the trial is to come; to come too with circumstances, and at a time exactly adapted to overcome _him_. In the midst of an intoxicating self-complacency at his victory, a state of mind peculiarly genial for the reception of any suggestions favoring his promotion, he is met by three supernatural beings, (to him at least they were such,) in whom, from childhood, he had had an unwavering faith. That faith is confirmed by the almost instant fulfillment of two of their predictions. The third is unavoidably suggested to his mind as a necessary consequence. A strong conviction, amounting to a belief of destiny, that it must be fulfilled, seems from that time to have taken hold of his mind. And how is it to be done. His mind shrinks with ingenuous horror from the only way: he must _murder_ the king. He strives to escape from the idea. His mind cannot, with all its ambition, and all its heroism, look clearly through the deed to its end. It cannot _see_ in the wrong direction. It is untaught and unskilled in the ways of cunning wickedness. He is not sufficient master of himself to climb over the horror which rises before him. Nor yet has he _energy_ enough to get away from it. That strong conviction of the necessity of the deed, full as much, at least, as the desirableness of its end, still enchains him. He might indeed have reflected that it lay with him to do it or not, but he does not, and perhaps it was hardly to be expected that _he should_. His ambition, which had been the habit of his life, and which he had hitherto trusted in as his good guide, has received a direction which he cannot change, towards a point from which he cannot divert it. He is as it were _spell-bound_. Still he cannot consent; he even decides not to do it. His newly-won honor, gratitude, reputation which was most dear to him, admiration for Duncan, and pity for him as his intended victim, all forbid. Here his wife comes in, and by some of the finest rhetoric of sophistry, sarcasm, and rebuke for his want of heroism, induces him to “bend himself up to the terrible feat.” The part of the play about this crisis is peculiarly fine. There is the dagger scene, in which conscience is seen exerting its full sway over a mind which owns it not. In the night scene, especially, the author seems to have exerted himself to bring in every thing that could add to the horror of the scene. Though we are not introduced to the murder, yet we are made so fully to participate in the horrors of the murderer, that the effect is greater than if it had been so. All indeed that is presented to the senses, is the most ordinary. The scene is rendered _hideous_ by the knocking at the door, and the ill-timed jollity of the unconscious porter, more, perhaps, than by any thing else. Of Macbeth little more need be said, nor are we inclined to pursue the subject farther. Yet amidst all the dark and “strange deeds,” in which his heroism and the destiny of guilt involve him, and amidst all his desperation, he still exhibits longings for his former state of innocence and peace. For the murdered Duncan his feelings are none other than those of respectful compassion. In the very midst also of his deeds of guilt, and amidst his struggles with remorse, he reveals to his wife his anguish with the utmost tenderness of reposing affection. These things throw a softening over a character which would otherwise be purely abhorrent to our feelings. The idea of fate still clings to him, and the belief that by the murder of Duncan, he had more closely associated himself with those hellish beings who had led him on, adds yet another shade to the darkness of his mind. In an agony of desperation he consults them to learn, “by the worst means the worst.” From that hour, we feel that his doom is fixed; knowing that though
They “keep the words of promise to his ear,” They’ll “break it to his hope.”
Thus it proves. Macbeth seeing one promise after another in which he had trusted, failing him, at last throws himself upon his own courage, which, as an acquired habit of the field at least, had never left him. With sword in hand he dies.
Lady Macbeth, who by her amazing, and fearful energy of intellect, could suppress remorse as long as there was any object to be accomplished, when at length her mind is left objectless, feels it in its most terrible power. When upon such a mind remorse fastens its fangs, that mind turns upon its devourer with an energy strong as its own power to grasp, and enduring as its hold. Nothing sooner than death can end the struggle.
And now that we are at the end of this fearful and gloomy history, we may just review the scene. Duncan, the meek and guileless father-king, shedding around him a cheerful, genial light! Macbeth, growing up in that light, and promising to reflect it back on its giver, and to add to its splendor! But that light is put out in darkness: a more fearful darkness comes over the _guilty man_, spreading to all about him, and gathering gloom, as we are hurried rapidly and certainly to the consummation. At length, when virtue reappears, though it be in the form of an avenger, the darkness begins to move away; and light, though mild and chastened, just gilds the scene as it closes.
‘It leapt and danced along all joyously, Till winter winds swept o’er it.——’
I saw, as I stood by a mountain’s side On a lovely summer day, When the light winds in the vale had died, And all was fresh and gay— A cascade beautiful and clear All gaily laughing in the sun, As it dashed upon its bed of stone, Sprinkling the wild flowers near.
And I thought how sweet it were to dwell Beside that dashing stream, Watching the white foam where it fell, And vanished like a dream: To list as its murmurs flew along In all their thrilling harmony, And mingled in sweet symphony, With the wood-bird’s gushing song.
· · · · ·
The autumn winds swept through that wood, With a sad and mournful sound; Decay was in its solitude, And dead leaves spread the ground:— And I sighed, and cast a sorrowing look, As I passed that spot again; For Winter had thrown his icy chain Across that gushing brook.
_March 1st, 1836._ H.
STORY AND SENTIMENT, OR, CONVERSATIONS WITH A MAN OF TASTE AND IMAGINATION. No. 2.
A WORD WITH THE READER.
‘Ho! how he prates of himself—listen!’
If I was so fortunate as to please thee with my former offering—how shall I, as I resume my labors of this month, so weave from the store-house of my fancy such another vision, as shall make thee extend the hand of amity, and give me a second approving smile. To scribble for another, when you know not his taste—to attempt to bring out such a ‘conceit,’ as shall catch his kindness, and hurry him along with you into good humor, has ever, since the earliest essays in story writing, been accounted a delicate business. And why? because what pleases you, fair lady, pleases not my fellow student; and what pleases you, fellow student, pleases not somebody else; so a man finds himself like the bundle of oats betwixt—no, no! (Apollo forgive me!) I mean like the ass betwixt two bundles, &c. Washington Irving (Heaven bless him! and pardon _me_ for whipping his name into my thoughtless lucubrations) has somewhere—finding himself in a similar predicament—made this remark; ‘if the reader find, here and there, something to please him, let him rest assured that it was written expressly for intelligent readers like himself; but should he find any thing to dislike, let him tolerate it, as one of those articles which the author has been obliged to write for readers of a less refined taste.’ Allow me to say the same.
You should know, I think, by this time, that I am devoted to thy interest, as completely so, as ever belted knight on plain of Palestine, to his ‘ladye love,’—that my feelings and sympathies go out to thee, as a bee to its bower, a bird to its forest-nest, or any other of the bright creatures of God to the home of their affections—(by the by, you may smile at this. Stop! I know you’re not my ‘ladye love,’ nor am I a bee, or a bird, or any such nonsense; but, by my ‘saying of this simile,’ as sweet Sir Philip hath it, I meant only to apprise thee of my extreme devotion. You understand?),—that I would do any thing, to witch from thee, the heart-ache, even to the disquiet of the pleasant comfortableness of one of my soft, selfish, afternoon reveries,—that I would spend the last drop of my—no! not my blood exactly, for much as I love you, I love myself better; but I mean, I would spend the last drop of my—_ink_, to please you; and that you know is much better—for the ink of a literary man, _id est_ a poetical one, is worth more than his blood and body together.
But, though I have such a love for you, it would be sad, if, like the Paddy’s saddle-bags, it should all be found on one side; for I can no more prosper—and, if I must confess it, can no more love you without some remuneration, than a lover could kiss the turf on which his mistress had stepped, or make sonnets to her eye-brows, when she frowned on him. She is the sun of his existence, the centre, the cynosure of his passions, hopes, and dreams—to which, through the darkness that the world flings about him, he may send his longing eye, and his heart’s holiest aspirations. _You_ are the sun of _my_ being—the centre—cynosure—_et cetera, et cetera_; and it is equally impossible that I can make verses and stories for you, when every time I look up, I see that horrible scowl on your face—Pray, put it off.
But I’ll not believe you hate me—and when you receive this fresh number, and open upon this page for the _morceau_ I have for you, I know ye’ll give me a pleasant smile, and, with the honest Scotchman, say, ‘Deil! but I winna gie ither than thanks to a daft callan like ye.’
* * * * *
Talking with my friend one day on the subject of dueling, he gave me the following story.
‘Men should wear softer hearts, And tremble at these licens’d butcheries, Even as other murders.’
If there is one damning custom among the sons of men, ’tis dueling. Call it not murder—willful killing is murder; but this cool, calculating, exulting killing—killing not in madness, not in despair, when the heart tossed on a surge of passion, strikes, and repents next moment; but the coolly looking at the spot where the heart lies; the putting the dagger there calculatingly; and then, instead of pressing it home fiercely, thrusting it into the warm flesh, inch by inch, till the hot blood spurts over the fingers, and clots on the garments—this, what is this? Oh! call it not murder—murder is a thing of earth—earthly passions do it. But this—go to the pit where the damned shriek, and howl—select the most fiendish scheme of the prince of fiends—then, and then only, shall you have a parallel.
It was once my lot, to be a secondary actor, in a case of ‘honorable butchery;’ and one so black in itself, so heart-rending in consequences, that it is graven into my brain as with a stamp of fire. God of Heaven! when I think of it, even at this distance of time—when I see my friend stiff, ghastly, and stretched on the wet sands—when I hear the groans, which I heard there—when I see innocence, beauty, confiding affection, hanging over the yet warm corse, and pouring forth tears, as if crushed from the bottom of a heart loaded with the agony of ages—and then see the same creature, the inmate of a mad-house, and hear the moans and ravings for the dead object—and, with the peculiar characteristic of such insanity, accusing the loved one of coldness, ingratitude, unfaithfulness, and the like,—I say again, ages could not wipe out the recollection.
You are aware, that in the southern states, especially in the extreme south, men are guided more by their passions than at the north,—that there, dueling is little cared for,—that courageous is he who has shot his man,—that those only are cowards, who pale at blood, human blood, blood shed by their own hands. In no part of the south is this custom more prevalent, than at Natchez, on the Mississippi. New Orleans will not compare with it, or would not in the year 1816, the period of my story, and when I was a resident of that place. New Orleans, bad as it is, possessing greater means of indulgence, with its wealth to support theatres, gambling-houses, cock-pits, horse-races, and other such amusements—with its motley assemblage of inhabitants, Spanish, French, English, and Americans amalgamated,—with all these, it is not so bad as Natchez; and for this reason—that there are those, and in great numbers there, belonging to the northern and better regulated states, from whom, an imperceptible indeed, yet nevertheless great influence is sent into that community, and the people with more wickedness perhaps, have more conscience than any other of the extreme southern cities.
Natchez, it will be remembered, is on the eastern side of the Mississippi, and on one of the bends of that magnificent river, withdrawn a little from its banks, and sloping handsomely down to its flowing waters. Above and below the immediate town, are many eligible and pleasant sites for country seats, should that part of the country ever possess wealth and taste enough, to think of building them. But at the period of my story, there was nothing of the kind. Dark pine groves, and impenetrable thicks of beech and sycamore, with their lofty branches intertwined in many a wild convolution, made a high and thick canopy for the wearied traveler; while the beautiful flowers of the region, among which was the splendid magnolia, gave the forest, the freshness and fragrance of a lady’s flower garden. From morn till night, the woods were alive with music, and over all, was that sweet harmonist of nature, the American mocking-bird, with its rising and falling, ever-varying modulations—now screaming like the startled vulture of the cliffs—and now sinking away with a witching alternation of soft, plaintive, heart-moving minstrelsy, sufficient, it would seem, to charm rocks and forest trees,—He who built Thebes, would have thrown away his instrument in despair, could he have heard but one note of this wild-wood melodist.
I said there were no country seats there. I mistake. There was one bright spot, about twelve miles above Natchez, which, though it had small pretensions to the surpassing beauty of some of the fine superstructures on these northern rivers; nevertheless, for that day and place, it was, certainly, an elegant and hospitable mansion. That it was hospitable, many a man, yet living, can testify—for many were the travelers, visiting in that region, who spent days there, and enjoyed the rich hospitality and urbane attentions of its warm-souled, accomplished proprietor. This man, Charles Glenning, was certainly as gentlemanly a person as I ever knew. He was educated at the north—had spent his early days there—but for the sake of business, to which he betook him on leaving College, he went to the south, carrying with him as bright a bud of feminine loveliness, as ever God suffered to bloom in this uncongenial, ugly world. I cannot paint her—there’s no telling how beautiful she was. It wasn’t beauty of feature; neither was it beauty of mind—and yet, it was beauty of a high and ardent cast, which made you feel you were in the presence of a spirit, the moment you came near her. Forehead white as death—yet, neither intellectual nor otherwise,—soft blue eyes, that made you think they were little pieces cut out of the bluest summer sky,—complexion like ivory,—lips like the finest evening tints, in the back ground of one of Claude Lorraine’s landscapes,—and a figure as faultless as ever was hewn from the Pentelican marble, or set a painter a dreaming over his easel.—Imagine these, and you may get a glimpse of the laughing, bright-eyed Isabel Glenning.
Her love for her husband was as strange as her beauty. O! the treasure—the full, proud treasures of such a heart as that! Dive into mines—bring up jewels—fill your dwelling—win sceptres—ride the world like Cæsar or Alexander—and then offer me the pure, deep, devoted, heart’s affection of such a spiritual creature as she was, and I would spurn them all as the dirty commerce of dirtier minds. She lived only for him—she dreamed only for him—he was all. Place her in a palace, in an Esquimaux hut; in a fairyland, in a desert; no matter where—only with him—him she had chosen to live and die with, and her cup was full.
The circumstances which led me to their acquaintance were peculiar, and such as entwined me into their best feelings. They had been married about four summers; and the fruits of their union, was a little, crowing, curly headed boy, sweet as his mother’s beauty. I was hunting on the side of the Mississippi, one warm afternoon, when I observed something floating at a distance, which by means of my dog, was brought to land; and, to my surprise, were presented the lifeless, yet still warm features of this same little fellow. It seemed that playing near the river, he had fallen in, and was near about breathing his last. Taking him in my arms, I hurried home, and just in time to save him. From that hour, they loved me as a brother.
My story now leads me a little from the straight track, I have kept thus far—but ’tis necessary to turn aside a little, for the sake of the dark catastrophe, which brought sorrow and death into this Eden-dwelling I have described.
There was one Nat. Ralle, dwelling about half way between Natchez, and the plantation of my friend. His was one of those dark-browed, malicious countenances, which made one, in spite of himself, think of the devil, whenever he met him. He never spake like other men. If you met him in the woods of a morning, his salutation was in a low, surly tone, which made you doubtful as to its nature; and after he had passed you for forty or fifty yards, you might observe him stopping and looking back, as if he felt himself suspected by every body. This devil—for such he was, and such will he appear before I have done with him—more than once, had been seen prowling about the dwelling of Glenning; and once, being met suddenly, he turned and ran away into the woods, like one of the wild beasts he so much in disposition resembled.
There was a custom, which yet, I believe, exists in the southwestern new settlements, for a man to claim the exclusive privilege of hunting on a certain extent of ground, in the vicinity of his habitation. This right is as much insisted on, in certain parts of those states which I have visited, as are the game laws in England; and every one, every stranger-hunter, observes it, and recognizes the right by quitting the grounds, so soon as informed that an individual holds reasonable claim to them. This Ralle had, in open defiance of this knowledge, and against the reiterated, yet polite admonitions of Glenning, trespassed on his lands; and once shot a tame doe, which Glenning had kept for two or three years, the care of which had devolved on, and was a source of amusement to Isabel—and on that account it seemed a double injury.
Glenning, as cool a man as ever laid claim to the qualities of honor and honesty, at this, rode down to the plantation of Ralle, and mildly, yet earnestly, expostulated with him, on what was esteemed a breach of faith—careful at the same time to express his belief, that the shooting of his tame animal was undesigned, yet requesting, for fear of a similar occurrence, that he would hunt elsewhere in future, which thing he could do without incommoding himself.
To this mildness in Glenning, Ralle opposed the remark—‘That he would do as he pleased—that the woods were free, and that he should hunt towards the north or south, without asking leave of Yankee interlopers.’
This remark struck on the temper of Glenning, at an unlucky moment. The very consciousness of rectitude on his own part, made the insult fasten and rankle; and gave to it a barb, which, perhaps, in any other circumstances, would not have pained him. Glenning, I have said, was a gentleman. He was such, if there ever was one—a man of good morals, charitable in his disposition, and could not bear to inflict pain, even on a dumb beast. But there is, within the human heart—and philosophy may reason it over till doomsday, without explaining it—a something to quiet conscience, even in the best men, at times, and force them to acts, which in other circumstances they would shudder at. Dueling is one of them. Dueling, Glenning despised from his soul. I have heard him say so a thousand times, and sternly express his abhorrence of the man who could stain his hands with a fellow’s blood. He even rose once, and left an agreeable company, because he was told that such a gentleman present was a duelist. With such notions—and they were not mere talk with him—it is a thing I cannot explain, that he so far forgot himself as to hurl back the insult he had received, and in a manner calculated to lead to so sad a termination. He did so, however, and retort calling forth retort, they both lost their tempers—when, Ralle springing forward with a knife, Glenning knocked him down with the butt of his whip. He then turned and rode home.
Isabel met him at the door, and it needed but a glance to see that something was the matter. His brow was knit—his teeth set like a vise—and his lip curled with a stern haughtiness, which I had never supposed was in him before.
He tried to pass her. Isabel threw her arms about him, and burst into tears.
It awoke him—his happiness came back to his heart—the fiend fled from him—and he stood in the presence of that lovely, simple-hearted weeper, as helpless as a child. The effect of his passions unnerved him, like a fever; and he was forced to keep his chamber till evening. He then entered the parlor again.
To the fond inquisitiveness of Isabel, he now opposed, the heat of the weather, the weariness of his long ride, and some other little nothings; and by his wit, and pleasantry, succeeded in lulling her into a forgetfulness of the events of the day. O! that was a calm—a deep and awful calm. It was that which precedes the thunder—the moment between the flash and the bolt,—_And the bolt came_.
I had seen a messenger approach, and leave the gate at sun-set; and had suspicions, more than I dared acknowledge to myself. And yet, my friend was never more agreeable, than on that evening. It seemed as if some unheard of powers had been given him. Skilled in metaphysics—for they had amused him much at College—and, well acquainted with the principles, and history of the Fine Arts, he rambled from one to the other, with the most amusing madness—sometimes serious, sometimes turning a happy illustration into the most exquisite ridicule by some keen stroke of humor, and now running off again, in a manner at once new and electrifying. He was, on the whole, the most amusing man, for the time, I ever spent an evening with. Poor, poor Glenning!—but I will not anticipate.
When the evening closed, he followed me into my room; and, locking the door, sat down, and wept like a child.
‘Poor, poor Isabel!’ was all he could articulate. ‘She suspects nothing, poor thing—and it will break her heart. Death,’ cried he, starting up, ‘I fear it not. I have lived to die when my time comes. But she—she who loves me—whose life is wrapped up in mine—how can she’—and sinking down, he wept longer than before.
I ventured to lay my hand on his shoulder. He rose calm, awfully calm.
Grasping my hand, ‘my friend,’ said he—‘you must help me in this. You must stand by, and see me fall, if fall I must; and then—bear the news to—to—’ his sobbing choak’d his utterance.
I asked him if there were no means of avoiding it.
‘None—none in the world.’ He said this in a tone, which forbade argument: and I said no more.
I draw a veil over the remainder of that evening.
Before the sun, he met me at the bottom of the hill in front of his dwelling, with his pistols in his hand. He requested me to load them. I did so, and without a muscle’s shaking; for from my childhood, I had been incapable of every kind of fear; nevertheless, I thought of the form which might be stiff before evening—of eyes that might be glazed—and of the fond heart which I knew _would_ be broken.
He told me he had left his wife sleeping: and as he hung over her, and kissed those lips, the music of which he might hear no longer, she breathed his name in her slumbers. ‘That—that parting’—and he grasped my hand, with an energy sufficient to crush it—‘that parting,’ said he, ‘has killed me. I cannot feel worse. No! not if I felt my adversary’s bullet in my heart, could I feel worse. And she—O! who will take care of her? who will dry her tears? who bind up that heart, which will certainly break with mine?’
He gave way but a moment to feelings of this nature; for, commending her to me in case of his death, he walked forward to the place agreed on, with the most perfect calmness. All the difference to be observed in him was, perchance, a degree of paleness; nothing else betrayed the fact, that he was walking to his grave.
The place selected for the rencontre, was a wild and beaten spot on the river-shore, where the rocks, rising abruptly to the altitude of some hundred feet, swept round like a horse shoe in two projections, and then thrust themselves into the stream, leaving a hollow curve of smooth wet sand within them, of about three rods in length. The beach was white as snow, the blue waters of the Mississippi went by with a low groaning sound, the hoarse screaming of the flamingo swept out from the rocks overhead, and the sun was just blazing out from the lazy mists of the morning, as the party entered.
I shall never forget how the combatants looked, at that moment. Glenning was calm, stern, and sorrowful—Ralle looked like a devil. He scowled horridly, as he marked the tall, handsome figure of his adversary; and seemed joyed that he had it in his power, to spoil such a fine piece of God’s workmanship.
I approached Glenning, and asked his wishes.
‘_I am ready_’—were his words.
The pistols were placed in their hands. They fired—my friend into the air—Ralle with a steady aim; yet his ball whistled harmlessly by, and lodged in the opposite rocks.
‘What’s to be done?’ said Ralle’s second.
‘If Mr. Glenning will acknowledge himself a coward,’ said Ralle in a low, taunting tone, ‘and ask my forgiveness, he may go about his business.’
‘Never, wretch!—reload the pistols.’
The pistols were again placed in their hands, and they fired; as before, Glenning into the air—Ralle’s ball passing harmlessly by.
The man again interfered.
Ralle made the same remark.
‘Silence!’ thundered Glenning, ‘thou bloody villain, nor dare insult the ears of manhood, by your damning proposition. I should prove myself a liar did I do it; you, you gave the offence, and ’tis from you should come the acknowledgment. But this is wasting time. That I am no coward, sir, I have fully shown by twice withstanding your fire. Now ’tis my turn—give us the pistols. Wretch,’—cried he, looking on Ralle with eyes flashing intolerably bright, and voice so hoarse that it could scarcely be heard—‘wretch! you have lived too long. I would not stain my hands, but I shall bless the world, by ridding it of you. Look your last on the sun—for, by the Eternal God! you certainly die.’
The pistols were handed them—the word given; this time, my friend aimed and fired. Ralle staggered back, and fell upon his knees; yet, he soon recovered himself, and rising to his feet, he certainly presented the most horrible countenance I ever saw. The ball had struck him on the jaw near the ear, and crushed it to atoms; and the blood spirted over him from head to foot. He uttered one dreadful shriek of agony; then—before I could interfere, rushed up, presented his pistol at the breast of Glenning, and shot him through the heart.
Such a dastard act!—But let me close the scene. I have dwelt on it too long. We carried my friend to his dwelling—we tore open his garments—there was the ragged wound in his breast, and his heart’s blood gushing through it.
* * * * *
Poor, poor Isabel! she sleeps beneath the flowers she so much resembled—her name is left in our hearts.
PEN AND INK.
I do not know, I do not know, but yet I cannot think, That earth has pleasures sweeter than are found with pen and ink, This whiling off an idle hour with torturing into rhyme, The pretty thoughts, and pretty words, that do so softly chime.
I know it must be sad for such, as cannot make the verse Dash gaily off, and gallop on, delightfully and terse, But when the thought is beautiful, and language ain’t amiss, O! tell me what on earth can bring a joy so pure as this.
They sadly err and slander too, this lovely world of ours, Who say we gather thorns enough but never gather flowers,— Why, look abroad on field and sky, there is a welcome there, And who amid such happiness can weep or think of care?
The natural world is full of forms of beauty and delight, The forest leaves are beautiful, there’s beauty in the light; And all that meets us makes us feel that grieving is unkind, And says be happy in this world, and fling your cares behind.
The mental world is beautiful, and deck’d in beauty rare, Whate’er we see, whate’er we dream, we find it imaged there,— A halo circles all that is, the sprightly and the tame, ‘And gives to airy nothings too a dwelling and a name.’
And beauty, such as only breathes upon a seraph’s lyre, Is in this world, and comes to us, and gives us souls of fire; We love, and we forget the ills that to the earth belong, And Life becomes one holy dream of rapture and of song.
And he who scribbles verses knows (and no one knows but him) That this is but a picture here—a picture dull and dim,— Of that delight which thrills the heart of him, who can ‘in time,’ Arrest the thought, and give it word, and twist it into rhyme.
And when I sigh and weep—which things will happen, now and then— And I have nought to do but stop, and then begin again; Why then I hie me to my desk, and sit me down and think, And few companions pleasure me, as these—my pen and ink.
CONFESSIONS OF A SENSITIVE MAN. No. II.
Reader! if thou art one from whose mind all that is native in modesty or sentiment, has not been supplanted by that refined impudence so much in vogue—that fashionable insensibility, that
——“mortal coldness of the soul like death itself,”
I demand your sympathy with the thoughts, the emotions, the sorrows of a Sensitive Man. My earliest recollections are connected with acute suffering from an extreme modesty and diffidence, which ever has been, and ever will be, the bane of my spirits. A page from my life will reveal its nature. Those who have cast an eye over a previous article with the above title, will have learnt something of the bigotry and vulgarity of Droneville. It was blessed, however, with one family, of a higher and nobler order than the barbarians around them—beings, who, having walked forth into the world, had lost that narrowness of intellect, which distinguished the Dronevillites from the rest of mankind. The E—— family were the aristocracy of Droneville. C—— E—— was the companion of my earliest pleasures—the sharer of my earliest affections. We were inseparable friends—we walked together—we played together, and breast to breast severely drubbed the insolent urchin who dared assail our mutual honor.
Hope E——! What a scourge wert thou to every bashful youngster! There was a laughing deviltry in thy eye, which threw mine into a sudden gaze upon vacuity, or inspired an irresistible desire to examine my feet—while a deepening flush of the cheeks proclaimed the intensity of my curiosity! Never were there eyes more keen in detecting the occasional spots which diversify the face of boyhood—in discovering whose hands water would not sully—whose locks the fingers of the friseur might improve. Her laugh was the terror of every bashful youth—it was the signal of his discomfiture—it rang in his ears when alone—it haunted his fancy—it mingled with his dreams. Hope E——, thou torment of my early years! No artifice could hide from thy searching gaze any blemish of person or dress, which my pride or modesty was desirous of concealing. If my face was soiled—if there was a puncture in the elbow of my coat, thy laugh would first announce it. Any unfortunate rent in my nether integuments, was sure of detection, although every possible means was used to conceal it, and that laugh—that wild, gleeful laugh, would summon the eager gaze of all to thine embarrassed victim! My highest audacity could never encounter her eyes; they alone were enough to drive mad a modest youth. And yet I could not avoid them, for in spite of myself, mine were constantly straying in that direction, drawn thitherward by an impulse beyond the control of my will—the nature of which my philosophy has never yet unravelled. Believe me, that in all my visits to her brother, I avoided her with a dexterity, worthy the skill of the most finished adept in the fashionable art of “cutting acquaintance.” But it was vain to struggle against destiny. Poor C——! my bosom’s earliest friend—his mother’s hope—died—suddenly died in the first bloom of youth! How thrilled my young heart, as I knelt by his bedside, and caught from his dying lips a whispered farewell! He died—but, can death destroy a mother’s love? To me was transferred a portion of that deep, gushing affection, which had been thus suddenly driven back upon its source. A week elapsed—and I was summoned to an interview with Mrs. E——. What an invitation for a bashful youth! My heart forboded approaching calamity—it blenched like a wounded man—it already felt the glance of Hope—it trembled at the anticipation of her laugh. But there could be no demur—there was no escape—I _must_ go. View me there, “creeping like snail unwillingly,” over the small grass plot which separated our dwellings—kicking every stone and mushroom upon my path—“screwing up” my courage to an effort the most desperate, it had ever yet been called upon to sustain. I finally succeeded—gained the door—hesitated—my resolution failed—it rallied, and I entered the parlor with all the grace of attitude and mien, which may be observed in a detected sheep-stealer. Hope and her mother were there. I had scarcely made this observation, when I was enfolded in an embrace, nerved by all the fearful energies of a mother’s love! In a paroxysm of mingled grief and affection, she covered my face with the kisses and tears of an overflowing heart. But forget not me. What a predicament! Reader, art thou a bashful man? I ask your sympathy, I claim your advice. What would _you_ have done? What could _I_ do, but stand, perspiring with the intensity of my embarrassment—desperately clenching, with both hands, my hat—bracing my nerves to endurance—my eyes downcast with shame—my face burning with blushes—modesty personified! When this first outbreaking of maternal love had subsided, I stood in trembling expectation of its renewal. I durst not look up, for the eyes of Hope, swimming with suppressed mirth, at my ludicrous appearance, tortured even my fancy. A long struggle gave me the requisite courage to cast, from the corner of my eye, a timid glance towards her. I ventured to hope that the worst was over. Alas! how delusive! woes come not single. My eye no sooner met hers, than she—moved by sympathy, or one of the thousand impulses of passion or caprice which govern the actions of the fair, or something else, (I am no philosopher,)—rushed towards me, threw her arms convulsively around my neck, and with kisses and tears did admirable honor to the maternal example! Could a bashful youth endure this—be clasped in the arms of her he feared, yet loved—could he experience this, and survive the shock? I rushed in agony from the room, nor slackened my career, until I had buried my head in the recesses of my own solitary chamber.
Poor Hope! poor Hope! she died within a year.
“O! sic semper! sic semper vidi, amatas _spes_ abire.”
* * * * *
Years have rolled away, and the marks of manhood now darken his cheek, which once kindled under the glance of Hope E——. But the lapse of time has not—can not—change the peculiarities of his mind; he lived constantly in Droneville—he never mingled with society, and that youthful diffidence which maturer years wears off from the minds of others, was in his deepened into an exquisite sensitiveness, which draws from the slightest ridicule or neglect materials for self-torture. The sarcasm which glides from the ears of the giddy—the glance of indifference or scorn, unfelt by the votary of fashion, gains a lodgment in his breast, and for weeks, yes, months, preys upon its peace. He hears the laugh of the incredulous, the sneer of the cynic, the aphorism of the moralist, but neither, nor all, can drive from its lair this demon within him,—it is inwrought with the very texture of his soul—it is a part of its undying essence.
Ye who can feel for others’ woes, imagine the sufferings of a mind thus strung, yet branded with all the rusticity of Droneville manners, exposed to the taunts and ridicule of College life. View him, the butt of sarcasm—the mark of scorn—the bound, the unarmed victim, against whose breast all aspirant wits may with impunity test the point of every weapon, and their own dexterity in its use. My Droneville education! It has been a “heritage of woe”—a source of the deepest, acutest suffering. In manners, in appearance, in every thing which the cant of society calls “elegance,” I was not only entirely deficient, but so absolutely clownish as to elicit wit from stupidity itself. Follow such an one, forced by circumstances beyond his control into the cold world of fashion, and your fancy can picture those scenes of embarrassment and humiliation, which my memory shrinks from recalling. And yet, my mind—_my mind_ was of no such ungainly mould. If this clay was thrown amidst the stock of Droneville, it had been fired by an intellect whose boundless aspirations scorned all limit or control. What if it _did_ know nought of the refinements of artificial life? From the mountain solitude—from the heavens above—from the earth, in its sublimity—from the whisperings of its own spirit, it had drawn in all that is deep in emotion or thrilling in thought. If it _was_ a stranger to society, it was no stranger to the greatest minds of the present and past ages. It requires not the formalities of fashion—none of the coxcomb’s art—to hold communion with this ethereal principle within us—to dwell with the genius of the mighty Past—to soar amidst the high hopes of the Future—to love and worship those beings with whom imagination peoples her own brilliant creations. Must I be a scorned outcast, neglected by my race, because this perishable clay was not moulded in that form, which might please the evanescent fancy? because my limbs would not play the buffoon at the beck of fashion, or my tongue utter, or my spirit endure, her language of emptiness and deceit? A misanthrope? _no!_ I scorn that name, but scorn more him who covets the reputation or affects the spirit of misanthropy. A misanthrope! never. The source of my suffering was a consciousness of a deep fountain of feeling—of love, (if you please,) without one being upon whom I could lavish it; for who would deign to accept the devotion of a clown?—it was too much to ask of any one’s benevolence. Can there be one more unfortunate? Is there suffering more intense, than that of a being conscious of mental power, infinitely superior to the butterflies of fashion—glowing with all that is rich in thought, or deathless in love—a love, which, squandering on its object entire devotion, stoops to no barter of affection but soul for soul—yet, having all its energies paralyzed by a sense of awkwardness—a serpent whose folds are drawn tauter by his very struggles to resist them. Place such a mind, keenly sensitive to ridicule or neglect, in the gay saloon; with all his intellect he feels himself a mark for the sarcasm of the most insignificant. He can neither move, nor speak, and while his heart is overflowing with emotion, he is scorned as an unfeeling brute! No one cares for him—no one knows his sorrows—no eye
“will mark _His_ coming, and look brighter when _he_ comes.”
The joyful faces around him—the gay laugh ringing in his ears—the warm kiss of affection—the soft whisper of love—all, _all_ reveal the solitude, the hopelessness of his lot. How often have I been thus placed! How often, as I have stood, hour after hour, silent _and alone_, amidst a crowd of my species, have I thought, that a whole life’s love would not recompense one glance of remembrance—one word of welcome! All this too, while I have seen the selfish caressed—the ignorant flattered, and quailed beneath the eye of those, whom, if met upon the arena of mind, I could have crushed. But I have suffered most deeply, most keenly, from those in whose gratitude, at least, I had reposed some confidence. If there be one crime—_one_ of guilt so unmitigated as to wake the thunderbolt, as to call down retributive justice—it is that viper, ingratitude. No exertion of _human_ power can suppress it, laws cannot define it, penalties cannot reach it;—the law of love, that last hope of virtue, is powerless here. And yet, it is a crime which would drive all joy from earth—it would crush all that is holy in the heart—it would dissever man from his species.
As the eye of one after another has lighted upon me, and turned scornfully from the uncouth clown before them, I have prayed—yes, prayed—it could not be impious—that their vision might for one instant be quickened, so as to penetrate the mind. It is too much to hope for _here_,—but
“If there be, indeed, A shore where mind survives, ’twill be a mind All unincorporate.”
We can bear the scorn of man, cold, selfish man, for there is something in the insolent boldness of his sneer, which nerves the heart to endurance, or wakes the slumber of revenge; but the contumely of those, from whose nature’s tenderness, we might have expected pity at least, disarms all resistance. It is as if the elements conspired against you; it sends through the heart a sort of “et tu Brute” feeling, which imparts to it a desperate resignation to fate; this, this burns the brand which shuts out the victim from the sympathy of his race! I once thought that the contempt of all—the ridicule of inferiors—the ingratitude of friends, had steeled my heart to the most cutting scorn; but I lived to learn that there was a chord, deep in the recesses, which could only be reached by the dextrous hand of her who was worshipped there with a whole soul’s devotion. Even _her_ lip curled with disgust, as she turned contemptuously from me to listen to the voice of flattery. Censure her not—she is admired by all—she was never friendless—will she ever know how deep, how exhaustless is a rustic’s love? How often, as he has returned from gazing hours upon _her_ who deigned him not one glance in return, has the heart of the clown flowed forth, if not in the spirit of poetry, at least with that of sincerity.
I gazed on thee, dear one, in the crowd of the gay, And my long cherished hopes have floated away; I gazed on thee, dear one,—a glance might have given My bosom a hope like the martyr’s of heaven; But the eye which could gladden, was chilling with scorn, And a heart-nurtured rose is changed to a thorn.
I gazed on thee, dear one—’twas a moment that thought Had eagerly, hopefully, doubtingly sought; I did meet thee, I left thee, and _thou_ didst not know, That on thy lip quivered my joy or my woe; When I looked but for pity, thy scorn could I bear?— My hopes have all withered, my doubts are despair.
If sorrow—shall I wish it?—should ever reveal, That lips can profess, what the heart does not feel; If in a lone moment a wish should come o’er thee, For one who can love—yes, dear one, adore thee;— My heart never changes—tell me, dearest, can thine E’er love with an ardor so deathless as mine?
Is it surprising, that such an experience, acting upon such a temperament, has driven me from society, not as a misanthrope—not as a misogynist, but as a cold intellectualist. I must henceforth look for my enjoyment to the abstract pleasures of the understanding. A heart which was formed to open and expand in the atmosphere which gladdens the fireside, must stifle its emotions in the bustle of political life, in the fierce encounter of contending minds, or in the endless, absorbing pursuit of gain. I must hereafter dissever the mind from the heart, and content myself with being the civilized savage, which all men would have been, if woman had never existed, or if the religion she reveres had never exalted her character. For with all his boasting, what is man’s mind, without _her_ influence? It is like the rough sketch of the painter, in which the prominent parts only are developed. As it requires the utmost refinement of his art, to give these rugged outlines grace and beauty, to call into being the living landscape and the speaking eye; thus it is, beautifully, the part of woman, to fill out the rugged outlines of man’s mind, with those refined virtues, which embellish his character. It is for her to touch with the radiance of Mercy, the stern lineaments of Justice; she must shade away Ferocity, with the tints of Mildness; she must hide every blemish, with the coloring of her own purity; she must brighten every dark spot, with the brilliancy of her own innocence; she must throw over the roughness of the whole, the magic of her own refined sensibility.
Such has been the experience of a Sensitive Man: it is not without a moral for those who are not too wise to learn from the errors of others.
THE WHALE’S LAST MOMENTS. A LAMP-LIGHT MUSING.
I’m king—I’m king of the ‘vasty deep,’ My palace down ’mid the rocks I keep,— But what see I now o’er the waters sweep? Indeed—’tis a foe!—a foe! Ah! fatal shaft!—and a crimson wave!— But I’ll flee, I’ll flee to my ocean cave; My palace there—it shall be my grave, And the deep shall o’er me flow.
Yet, death to the foe!—for again I come Up, up from the depths of my ocean home— But, ah!—in a shroud of the white sea-foam An expiring thing I lie. And I see, in this darkly flashing light, Which coldly falls on my misty sight, Like the elfish glare of a polar night, The future before my eye.
And ah! no more can I call my own This ocean kingdom and coral throne; But tyrant man must be lord alone Of the earth, and the air, and sea; And my pure spirit he’ll bear away To the lamp-lit land of the sleeping day, There only to own his constant sway, And his tireless vassal be.
Aye, there, in the bannered hall of state, A radiant spirit, I’ll nightly wait, And throw new light on the long debate, And thwart Ambition’s schemes. I’ll sit me down by the statesman, too, Engage in whatever he chance to do, Read all his documents through and through, And enlighten his darkest dreams.
I’ll then to the hall of mirth advance, Pour Love’s own light on the joyous dance, Give life and point to the speaking glance, And charms to the blushing fair. At night I’ll visit the student’s room, And I’ll scatter the ancient mist of gloom Which darkly hangs over Learning’s tomb, And the classical mummies there.
I’ll help him fathom the depths of Time, Or up the heights of Parnassus climb, Or sport in the babbling brooks of rhyme, Or—for want of sense—make _dashes_;— Thus all I’ll serve—but I’ll have my pay— Revenge—and that in my own good way;— A dwelling I’ll touch—it shall be my prey— And a city shall burn to ashes!
REVIEW. _“The Partisan,” a Tale of the Revolution. By the author of “The Yemassee,” “Guy Rivers,” &c._
There are two ways of acquiring literary reputation—the one is by an author’s _real merits_, the other by his _puffs_. Of the former method nothing need be said, but the latter merits the severest censure.
Puffs, have become the publisher’s, and in a great degree the author’s, living. So completely is it the publisher’s trade, and so firm withal is his hold upon the nose of that stupid _gull_, the public, that he can make a book, which contains one page that will be read in a newspaper, as an extract, “the best novel of the season,” and can exalt “the most stupid ass that brays on paper,” to a place “among our first novelists.”
Authorship has, in fact, become a _trade_. The writer presents his manuscript to the publisher, with information that another novel is in the works. The latter prints it, and sends it forth, with a few feeble puffs, “damning with faint praise,” and the poor bantling, fathered by a head without brains, is worse than still-born. But the parties concerned are not a whit uneasy; they know of a revivifying principle, _all_ powerful. In a short time, another work is announced, by the same author. Now all is “ripe for the harvest.” The well paid journals and periodicals are loud in their praises. “This work fully answers the high expectations raised by the author’s first production. The uncommon genius and talents displayed in that, led us to expect nothing less than the work before us. Owing to the author’s want of celebrity, his first effort did not meet with the success which those acquainted with its merits had anticipated. This might have discouraged a genius of lower order, and less conscious of its powers, but the second trial promises an ample reward for both—in fame, as well as profit.” The scheme works. The greedy public swallow the dose, and smack their lips—for they are _told_ that it is good. Both of the works go off with a rapid sale, and the author is now sure of reaping profit, and, for the time, fame, from whatever trash he inflicts upon the community, for “his name is among our first novelists,” and he himself puts on “the distant air of greatness,” puffed into the belief that he is a genius.
This is labor most _unproductive_ to the country. It is but forging titles to literary fame,—it is climbing in some other way than by the door of merit,—a practice most disgraceful in itself, and most poisonous to our literature and literary reputation. This latter effect is full obvious, for the system brings dullness to an equality with genius and merit, and even gives it an advantage over them. They will not stoop to such means for success, but shrink back disgusted and discouraged, unable to compete with their inferior rival. It could not have been a rival of itself, but, backed by such base allies, _dullness_ becomes too strong for the single arm of _genius_. Nor is this all. We have spoken chiefly with reference to novels and novelists. Novels supply much of the reading of youth, and by them, therefore, in a great degree, the taste of the young is formed. Their own judgment is not ripe, and youth rely upon that of others, to furnish suitable models of taste. By the recommendations of those who should be judges, they are too apt to adopt the trash with which the press is teeming, and their judgment is affected and taste formed by its influence. Not only their style, but the mind itself is affected. False standards of literary merit arise, and literature itself must become corrupt. As the country is young, and our literature forming, those who are readers now, will soon become writers,—theirs will be the pens, which shall, in no small degree, give us literary character, and every taste and style thus perverted, will by so much detract from our reputation. The evil is one, therefore, which every literary man, who desires for our country a literary renown of which she may be proud, should be active in subduing, lest our fame be sacrificed to the _money speculations_ of the selfish.
Among the authors, who, with their works, have been puffed into notoriety, the author of “Martin Faber,” “Guy Rivers,” “The Yemassee,” and last of all, “The Partisan,” stands conspicuous. It may be said, that this is a bold assertion to make of a popular writer. It certainly would be, if we did not know that popularity is no sure test of merit.
When “Guy Rivers, a tale of Georgia,” by the author of “Martin Faber, the story of a criminal,” was announced, although we had never before heard of this same “story of a criminal,” yet such hearty praises accompanied the announcement, that we hoped indeed another Cooper had raised the “torch of genius,” and was about to dazzle the world with its rays. An enthusiast in our wishes for the glory of American literature, we were delighted with the prospect, and eagerly sought to complete our happiness by perusing the promising volumes. We read and were not satisfied, yet looked forward for better things; for we had noted the motto of the book—
“Who wants A sequel, may read on. Th’ unvarnished tale That follows, will supply the place of one.”
We finished, and were disappointed. We had expected something of genius—the rich, fervid style—the original thought—the bright and glowing paintings of natural beauty, or the thrilling description of high-wrought human energies, that stirs the soul. These we found not, and then we waited for the cunning delineation of the human heart—its workings, and—the “sequel.” Our reward was the “unvarnished tale.” The work bears no mark of a mind capable of original conceptions. The descriptions of natural scenery, throughout this and all the author’s works, are but imitations of the works of masters, served up in dim and changed colors. The thoughts are trite; and the sample piece, the tit-bit, that was served up to _water_ the mouth of the public—we mean the description of the destruction of the Georgia guard, which occupies by far the fairest page of the work—is but a scene familiar in plot and story. Guy Rivers himself is but a sorry deformity of one of those dark spirits, which require the genius of a Byron or Bulwer to throw an interest around them, and the hero has hardly a character. We can only conceive of him as a love-sick somebody, to whom is given the name of Ralph Colleton.
The next work dealt out to the public is “The Yemassee,” and to this we can only afford a passing remark, as our principal business is with “The Partisan.” “The Yemassee” is the best production of this author. When speaking of the _best_ of such works, we mean it has the fewest faults. The author advertises that he shall insist upon its being considered a _romance_, and (as near as we can gather from his remarks) that he has a right to say and do as he chooses. Some of the scenes might have been made exciting, did it not seem that the writer had measured his paper, and said “this description shall fill _so much_.” It might be read with some interest, perhaps, by one who had never read “The Last of the Mohicans.” But those who have, should wait until the memory of the latter has become faded and dim. There is enough in the story, to have made a pretty tale of fifty pages; at least, it then would have had one merit, which now it has not—brevity.
The last production from the pen of this author is “The Partisan, a tale of the Revolution.” As the author is very particular, and at times a little dictatorial in his _advertisements_, let us look there for what he promises, and then examine the tale for the fulfillment.
“The title of the work, indeed, will persuade the reader to look rather for a true description of that mode of warfare, (the partisan,) than for any consecutive story, comprising the fortunes of a single personage. This he is solicited to keep in mind.” Again, “I have entitled it ‘The Partisan, a tale of the Revolution’—it was intended to be particularly such. The characters, many of them are names in the nation, familiar as our thoughts; [the author’s thoughts are very familiar.] Gates, Marion, De Kalb, and the rest, are all the property of our country.” He says, “My aim has been to give a story of events, rather than of persons”—that “A sober desire for history—the unwritten, the unconsidered, but veracious history—has been with me, in this labor, a sort of principle.”
What, then, are we to presume from this, is to be the character of the work? Certainly, that it is to be almost entirely historical. Yet as it is entitled a tale, we might of course suppose that the fortunes of some individual, a fictitious person or one little known, was to be the _chain_, into which should be woven the adventures of the famous men—Marion, De Kalb, and others, whose names the author mentions. It is to be “a story of events, rather than of persons.” And what does the work prove to be? Not an event, in which either of these Generals was active, or in any great degree interested, is mentioned, except what is related in some of the one hundred pages, devoted to describing the battle and defeat of Gates by Cornwallis, which pages are almost the last of the work. To bring in this event, the author makes a long march with his hero, who, after all, was not engaged in the action. The story does not naturally bring us there: so, after all, it is only by a _forced march_, that any of the characters, set before us in the advertisement, are introduced. His censures upon Gates are severe. Since the laurels, won at Saratoga, were shed in the flight from Camden, that General has never been a favorite with his countrymen. There never were wanting hands to use the dagger against the fame of the fallen great; yet those are not to be envied, who thus can stab the slain.
We may now ask, are all the author’s promises but so much “ado about nothing?” Let us see, by examining further. The principal characters are, Major Singleton, the hero and ‘Partisan,’ an officer under Marion; Colonel Walton, uncle to the ‘hero,’ and father to the heroine; Dick Humphries, a co-partisan; and John Davis, the at first unsuccessful rival of a British sergeant, who is in love with the sister of Humphries. Besides these, there are a number of lesser characters, who figure not a little. The most conspicuous of these are, a mad man or devil-maniac, who has a most outlandish habit of haw-hawing, after the manner of _a wolf_, about his wife, who has been murdered most cruelly by the tories: his name is Frampton—and the glutton Porgy, who helps the author to no small quantity of matter, for filling his pages, while he helps himself, to fill his stomach. The female characters are, Katherine Walton,—the hero’s sister, Emily Singleton; and Bella Humphries. These are the principal _dramatis personæ_; of course, there are the _soldiers_, _attendants_, &c.
The story, which is without a plot, (and in this I suppose the great difference consists between a “history of events,” and novels generally,) amounts about to this: The hero is introduced towards the close of the day, makes one proselyte—John Davis—meets Humphries, and with him goes by night to the “Cypress Swamp;” in the morning suppresses with his “_swamp suckers_,” a party of tories, which had been sent against them; after which they cut off a supply of provisions, &c., destined for the camp of the enemy: then, placing his camp near the plantation of his uncle, he starts at night, and, with Humphries, visits “the Oaks,” the dwelling place of Col. Walton, and arriving, finds that Col. Proctor, who has also a love for the daughter of the Colonel, is already there; so, hiding in “the Oaks,” he overhears some conversation between the British officer and Kate, who are walking with Col. Walton and the sister, which conversation makes our hero feel better; and when the British officer is gone, the hiders come forth, and with their friends enter the mansion, make a visit, and shortly return to the camp; encounter a hurricane; meet Goggle, one of the tory prisoners, whom they had taken in the morning, and who had enlisted with them, and now escaped; and, after endeavoring in vain to take him, they pay a visit to his witch mother, all for no purpose; and finally reach their camp; while Goggle goes to his mother, and sends her to Proctor with information, and then returns to the camp of the “Partisan;” and this finishes the first volume, so far as the principal character is concerned.
In the second volume, our hero again visits “the Oaks,” and while standing by the bed side of his dying sister, is informed that Proctor, with a company of soldiers, has arrived; he refuses to fly at first, but at last escapes from the window, is pursued, and nearly taken, but escapes, and the next moment meets Col. Walton with a troop, the Colonel having been forced to take up arms for or against his country: they turn, take Proctor, let him go; and the next day our hero goes to join Marion, while Col. Walton joins Gates; and on his way, Singleton surprises Gaskens, a tory leader, with his party; Gates refusing to accept the proffered aid of Marion, the latter General, with our hero, departs; the battle is fought, Col. Walton taken, and carried to Dorchester, to be tried and executed, but is rescued at the scaffold by Singleton, who thus wins cousin Kate, and marries her _we suppose_, for the author leaves us in the dark as to the “consummation most devoutly to be wished for.”
This is the outline, and we will now examine parts more minutely. The author, in the first thirty pages, proceeds to introduce the hero to the reader, in the bar-room of the “Royal George” at Dorchester, which “belongs to Ashley no longer,” and gives a tedious account of sundry _bullyings_ and threats, between the two rivals, Sergeant Hastings and John Davis, a doughty Goose-creeker, which ended without many blows, thanks to the benign influence of the pretty bar maid, whose influence seems directly the reverse of the heifer in Virgil’s Comparison. The next thirty pages bring our hero to the swamp, and on the ride thither, Humphries gives a learned disquisition upon the manner of building causeways through the swamp, which he proves most conclusively should be built with a “back bone,” and logs placed “up and down the road.” In the following, we have a description of some twenty men, who are under arms in the swamp. “The gloomy painter would have done much with the scene before them,” says our author. Would that the gloomy painter _had_ done it, or some one, who would have done more in fewer words. It is a fault with this author, as it is with all who have a lack of genius or vivid imagination, that, instead of seizing upon the prominent and striking points in a scene, and sketching them with a bold hand, leaving the picture to be filled out by the awakened imagination of the reader, he tires, by giving minute descriptions of every tree, grape vine, and pool of water, and the appearance and position of each individual, as if all-important to the “story,” as well as to the mind of the reader. As the surprize of the tories is the first thing like an incident, that we find in the work, although we are through with half of the first volume, was this one of even common interest, it should be here transcribed, but it is too prolix, and the most of it is the chase of Frampton, the maniac, after a hang-man tory corporal, who at length became dreadfully _bit_ by the maniac’s sword. The rest of the work has little more of interest, than that which we have thus seen: it is all the transactions of a few men in a swamp, to illustrate the partisan warfare in the south, without interest or useful information. The work is made up of these _illustrations_, and the trivial adventures of an individual. There is nothing startling enough to please, or to excite but a drowsy interest. Notwithstanding the author tells us that it is his aim “to delineate with all the rapidity of one, who, with the mystic lantern, runs his uncouth shapes and varying shadows along the gloomy wall, startling imagination, and enkindling curiosity,” his delineations are slow, and imagination and curiosity are left to their slumbers. The author who promises a novel purely historical, in which true history is his chief object, promises much—such promises it requires no ordinary mind to fulfill; and the work before us must be looked upon only as a novel—one, in which fiction, as usual, supplies most of the material.
In this, as in the other works of this author, there is shown the want of all those powers which mark genius. It has no deeply drawn characters, no marks of deep insight into the human heart. There is nothing about the hero, that should set him apart from other men in his vocation; and Col. Walton, with a weakness that seems like dotage, although he is in the prime of life, hesitates long between private interest and patriotism; and is at last _driven_ to side with his country—a character despised to the last—a lie upon the high minded patriots of the south, who staked their princely fortunes and their lives, in the cause of freedom. The other characters, by which the author has endeavored to excite a higher interest, are Frampton and Porgy. Both are failures, and the most accurate idea we get of the latter, is where he is turned _grunter_, to catch three terrapins, that are “_basking_ in the starlight,” upon a tree that has fallen into the creek. Mr. Simms should never again attempt wit, or humor, unless when he is dealing with the negro character, in which he sometimes succeeds.
Kate Walton is a high minded girl enough. We see but little of her; but she should not have aimed the pistol at Col. Proctor; and when she snapped it, the weapon should not have missed fire. Singleton shows little sense of propriety, not to speak of affection, when he pressed his suit the moment after leaving the bedside of his dying sister; and the girl rebukes him well: “How can you know it—how can you feel it, Robert, when you come from the presence of one already linked, as it were, with heaven, and thus immediately urge to me so earthly a prayer?” Emily Singleton—the fading flower—
“There is a beauty in woman’s decay;”
and no one,—the coldest hearted, cannot contemplate the scene—a lovely woman, looking her last upon her existence here—“a flower gathered for the tomb,” ere the sweet bud is fully opened—without being excited to feeling. The death bed scene is affecting, and well portrayed. That, and the description of the hurricane, are almost the only parts of the work that command our feelings or admiration, and the rude entrance of a stranger jars harshly upon us, and turns our sympathies to hate against the intruder.
This author has few beauties of style—we believe that those who have praised him most, have ventured only _to be silent_ concerning this. There are no beauties of this description, to atone for want of incident; nothing in the manner, to charm us into indifference to the matter; and those who pretend to admire his writings the most, cannot point out in them all, one sentence that contains peculiar beauty, or originality of thought or expression. Mr. Simms at best is but an imitator. His characters, so far as he delineates them, are familiar. We can point out the original to each of them, in the writings of others. We would not do an author wrong. We would be the last to discourage talent, but we do not believe that Mr. Simms is one to give a helping hand to our literature, but, on the reverse, he will injure it. Aside from his works, we know nothing of him, and therefore cannot have “set down aught in malice.” He proposes “a series” of works, of which “The Partisan” is the first,—three to be devoted to the events of the Revolution in South Carolina; and we cannot calculate the number destined for other parts of the country. But he says, “I know not that I shall complete, or even continue the series; much will depend upon the reception of the present narrative.” There is then yet some small hope that the threatened inundation may not flow upon us. Heaven grant that voices enough may be raised to stay the coming flood, and say, “_peace, be still_.”
GREEK ANTHOLOGY.—No. II.
I call thee _honest_, because thou needs must be such, since thou art reading what neither toucheth thy cupidity, nor enkindleth a flame of self-dedicated love. I call thee _friend_, as in common courtesy I should, till I perceive some demonstrations of enmity.
It is deep night. I have trimmed my lamp, taken a _turn_ across the room, and am again seated at my pleasing toil. The Anthology lies open before me—a brown, German page, rough, but scholarlike. I have pondered each word and phrase, till they all bear a distinct and tangible significance. I have been striving to draw forth the beauty that lies locked in the cold, dead arms of an unspoken language. It requires a mightier magician, and a more prevailing charm. Lines, that are instinct with holy feeling, I have turned and labored with fruitless minuteness. I can transcribe the form—but the _life_—where is it? My spirit weepeth over its own stupidity. Yet not utterly am I in fault. I am a modern, and an American, and almost—but _not quite_—a Yankee. I have breathed a dollar-and-cent atmosphere. There is no soul—no enthusiasm in the land. Utility—cold, base utility is the all-in-all. Money is the shibboleth of rank and influence.
O cives, cives, quærenda pecunia primum.
Every thing is reduced to a standard of rationality, as if it were not the most irrational thing that ever sickened a liberal eye, to bind down passion, and poetry, and the “life of life,” by the frigid rules of mathematical exactness. It is my solemn belief, that within fifty years a double-track rail-road will run through the very vale of Tempe, and a steam-engine be propelled by the waters of Arethusa. Improvement! By the little toe of the Great Mogul, may the wheels of such improvement “long tarry in their coming!” Reader, I will not fret. My profit therefrom would be about as much as thy pleasure. But thou knowest not the feelings with which I uncork a bottle of pure Samian wine; and, in transferring it into an American jug, behold its strength and fragrance evaporate—the body swelling with dropsical inflation, while the spirit is oozing away through each treacherous pore. Sed satis. “Quid me querelis exanimas tuis?”
Behold! an enigmatic squib from Euclid, the geometer—him, whose labors I was wont to burden with “the mountain of my curse.” He was, probably, the first to solemnize a marriage so unnatural as that of Geometry and Poetry—January and May.
An ass and mule were bearing wine one day: Hard on the ass the vinous burden lay; When thus the mule her fainting dam addressed— “Why, like a maiden’s, pants thy groaning breast? Should’st thou _give_ me one portion of thy share, Then I should double of thy burden bear. Should’st thou _take_ one, alike are our conditions.” Solve me this problem, ye arithmeticians.
If the reader be at all skilled in threading the labyrinths of Algebra, he may discover that the ass bore five, and the mule seven measures. (Vide Day’s Alg. passim.)
Here we have a compliment to a beautiful girl, from Plato, even from the veritable Ipse Dixit himself, whose frosty philosophy thawed before the fire of love.
Thou gazest at the stars, my star, And would I were the sky, That I might view thee from afar With many a glowing eye.
By Theodorus, to Harmocrates, whose nasal developement was uncommonly huge.
Thy nose, my friend, is so excessive, To call it _thine_ would be a wrong to’t, But rather _that_ is the possessive, And we should judge that you belong to’t; And having met thee, properly I say, Nose’s Harmocrates I saw to-day.
Ammianus gives quite a caustic turn to the common wish, that the earth may lie lightly on the breast of the departed.
Light lie the earth, Nearchus, on thy breast, That dogs may tear thee from thy place of rest.
Here follows a little thing, replete with that still despair, so natural to a thoughtful Heathen.
I praise the Thracians, since for those they mourn, Whose eyes are opening to the light of day, But joy, when Death, the slave of Fate, has torn Their sons and daughters from their arms away. For we, the living, through each cruel ill With painful steps continually go, While they, who sleep beneath the grave’s green hill, Have found, at last, a refuge from their wo.
Here is a most beautiful epitaph upon Sophocles, composed by Limmias, the Theban. In the first place, I will render it literally and consecutively into plain English, although, reader, thou knowest that—saving only in the Bible—the life and loveliness of all poetry dies under this _ossifying_ process. “Gently over the tomb of Sophocles, gently, oh! ivy, mayst thou creep, pouring thy green curls abroad; and all about it may the petals of the rose bloom, and the grape-loving vine, scattering its moist branches around, on account of the wise docility, which he of the honey-tongue displayed, among the Muses and the Graces.”
It was thus elegantly translated many years since:
Wind, gentle evergreen, to form a shade Around the tomb where Sophocles is laid: Sweet ivy, wind thy boughs, and intertwine With blushing roses and the clustering vine; Thus will thy lasting leaves, with beauties hung, Prove grateful emblems of the lays he sung, Whose soul, exalted like a god of wit, Among the Muses and the Graces writ.
Beautifully done—yet somewhat marred by the incongruous idea of _a soul writing_. For my own attempt, I claim no merit, save something of fidelity.
Gently, oh! ivy, gently curl thy tresses, Where the cold bones of Sophocles repose; May thy young tendrils clasp in soft caresses The bursting petals of the blushing rose. May the green vine, its dewy branches flinging, A lasting bower above thy grave entwine, For the deep wisdom thou didst show, when singing Among the Graces and the heavenly Nine.
Thou knowest how the cruel Acrisius committed his daughter Danaë, with her infant Perseus, to the protection of a small ark, and the mercy of a raging sea. In this—certainly one of the most touching fragments of all antiquity, and written by Simonides, the Ceian, a poet, heart and soul—Danaë is introduced, alone and cheerless, yet watching, with a mother’s tenderness, over her sleeping son.
Round the frail boat the wild winds, roaring, swept, And shook the heart of Danaë with fear, While from her cold, pale cheek, as Theseus slept, Dropt the fast tear. And round her little boy, with closer strain, Her folding arm the desolate mother flung, And to the heedless winds her humble plain Half said, half sung. “Sweetly thou restest in thy joyless dwelling, And slumber sealeth up thy spirit mild, Though the dark waves be far around thee swelling, Perseus, my child. O’er thy bright locks while angry winds are lashing The storm-chafed spray, still sleeps thy careless eye: Little thou heedest, though the waves be dashing Insanely by. Wrapped in thy purple cloak—my breast thy pillow— Thou driftest helplessly—the ocean’s toy— Rocked in thy slumbers by the rolling billow— My little boy! Did not this peril at thy heart lie lightly, Unto thy little ear my words would creep: But _now_ thy face even through the gloom shines brightly— Oh! Perseus, sleep. And may the waves, and may our sorrows slumber, And may all snares be broken in our path; And on our foes, great Jove, for Perseus number Thy tenfold wrath.”
“Solventur _fletu_ tabulæ: tu, _lector_, abibis.”
Reader, our salutation must be brief—our correspondents have left us but brief space, in which to give it thee; nevertheless, we cannot take our leave, without introducing to you the dignified personage on our title-page. ’Tis but his likeness. He has long since gone—otherwise, we should not dare take upon ourselves this familiarity; but now we may here both gaze at, and converse about him with freedom. All will readily recognize that distinguished individual, GOV. ELIHU YALE, the patron of our Institution, (whose name it bears,) and the benefactor of mankind. We have not space, were we able, to give him his deserts. Let his epitaph, written in the good old style, and being that which expresses most in the fewest words, speak for us.
“Born in America, in Europe bred, In Afric travell’d, and in Asia wed, Where long he liv’d and thriv’d; at London dead. Much Good, some Ill he did: so hope all’s even, And that his soul thro’ Mercy’s gone to Heav’n.”
The “Lines to M. S.” and “A Sabbath Morning,” were received too late for insertion. They shall appear soon.
The “Lover’s Avowal,” is not after the present fashion.
“Little Jane” is wanting in dignity.
O.’s piece is rejected. We felt ourselves somewhat endangered in the perusal, particularly in the stormy parts of it.
H. and Imo, are respectfully declined.
We are highly pleased with the “Dramatic Fragment.” It shall appear in our next.
YALE LITERARY MAGAZINE.
TO BE CONDUCTED BY THE STUDENTS OF YALE COLLEGE.
An _apology_ for establishing a Literary Magazine, in an institution like Yale College, can hardly be deemed requisite by an enlightened public; yet a statement of the objects which are proposed in this Periodical, may not be out of place.
To foster a literary spirit, and to furnish a medium for its exercise; to rescue from utter waste the many thoughts and musings of a student’s leisure hours; and to afford some opportunity to train ourselves for the strife and collision of mind which we must expect in after life;—such, and similar motives have urged us to this undertaking.
So long as we confine ourselves to these simple objects, and do not forget the modesty becoming our years and station, we confidently hope for the approbation and support of all who wish well to this institution.
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The work will be printed on fine paper and good type. Three numbers to be issued every term, each containing about 40 pages, 8vo.
_Conditions_—$2,00 per annum, if paid in advance, or 75 cents at the commencement of each term.
Communications may be addressed through the Post Office, “To the Editors of the Yale Literary Magazine.”
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This No. contains 2½ sheets. Postage, under 100 miles, 3¾ cents; over 100 miles, 6¼ cents.
If any one is curious enough to make the inquiry, I can inform him, that this story is founded on fact;—the individual, herein mentioned, was a graduate of this Institution.
The inquiry has naturally arisen, how these Confessions came into his possession, who presented them to the Editors of this Magazine. It can be answered in a few words. While a class, which has since graduated, was in its Junior year, it was joined by an individual of rather rustic manners, dressed in a complete suit of grey cloth; yet he was by no means deficient in that important requisite, manly beauty. He roomed alone, and mingled but little with his classmates. It was observed that his temperament was exceedingly variable, sometimes highly excited, at others, as much depressed. His recitations evinced talents of a high order. He continued with the class until the close of the year, and then disappeared. His classmates have heard nothing from him since. In his table-drawer—left by accident or design—these manuscripts were found, which, with a few alterations, are now presented to the public.
1. Silently corrected typographical errors and variations in spelling. 2. Anachronistic, non-standard, and uncertain spellings retained as printed. 3. Footnotes have been re-indexed using numbers and collected together at the end of the last chapter. 4. Enclosed italics font in _underscores_.