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The Continental Monthly, Vol. 4, No. 5, November, 1863 online

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No harp, no dulcimer, no guitar,
Breaks into singing at Sunbeam's touch;
But do not think that our evenings are
Without their music; there is none such
In the concert halls where the palpitant air
In musical billows floats and swims;
Our lives are as psalms, and our foreheads wear
A calm like the feel of beautiful hymns.

When cloudy weather obscures our skies,
And some days darken with drops of rain,
We have but to look in each other's eyes,
And all is balmy and bright again.
Ah! ours is the alchemy that transmutes
The dregs to elixir, the dross to gold;
And so we live on Hesperian fruits,
Sunbeam and I, and never grow old.

Never grow old: and we live in peace,
And we love our fellows, and envy none;
And our hearts are glad at the large increase
Of plenteous virtue under the sun.
And the days pass by with their thoughtful tread,
And the shadows lengthen toward the west;
But the wane of our young years brings no dread,
To break our harvest of quiet rest.

Sunbeam's hair will be streaked with gray,
And Time will furrow my darling's brow;
But never can Time's hand take away
The tender halo that clasps it now.
So we dwell in wonderful opulence,
With nothing to hurt us, nor upbraid;
And my life trembles with reverence,
And Sunbeam's spirit is not afraid.




PATRIOTISM AND PROVINCIALISM.


In that memorable parliamentary battle between Webster and Hayne, the
broad nationalism of the former stands out in splendid contrast with the
narrow provincialism of the latter. Hayne's theme was small and
sectional - it wanted bulk; hence, he continually intrudes himself in his
subject: the subject is half, and Hayne and Webster the other and more
important half. Webster, on the contrary, is completely absorbed in the
magnitude of his subject; he forgets the very existence of such facts as
Webster and Hayne, and considers only that the destinies of millions
hang upon the great principles he is enunciating. Hayne is burdened with
an inferior sense of personality, and never gets beyond the clouds;
Webster's massive intellect shines out calm and bright as a fixed
star - far beyond the gross atmosphere of personal strife or sectional
antagonism. Hayne looks through a glass dimly, and sees only South
Carolina - a part; Webster, with his grand _coup d'oeil_ sweeps the
horizon, and his eagle glance takes in the entire Union as one perfect,
organic whole. Hayne's logic, granting the premises, was a finished and
splendid piece of mechanism; Webster started from a deeper and broader
vantage-ground of universal principle and intuitive truth, and by one
terrible wrench, of his giant intellect, Hayne's premises fell from
under, and the labored superstructure of his logic went down in one
confused mass of ruin with its foundations.

General Banks, in his late order, welcoming the return of our brave
soldiers from their two years' captivity in Texas, after recounting
their heroic history, gives utterance to the following noble sentiment:
'They refused to substitute the misguided ambition of a vulgar, low-bred
provincialism, for the hallowed hopes of a national patriotism.'

A great truth, like 'a thing of beauty, is a joy forever.' We feel it as
the wine of life in our spiritual organisms, quickening thought,
ennobling our aims, fortifying virtue, and expanding our immortal
statures. Such a truth is contained in that pointed antithesis: 'A
vulgar, low-bred provincialism, and the hallowed hopes of a national
patriotism.'

The human soul, in its process of development, grows from the centre to
the circumference, from a part to the whole, from a unit to the
universe. Its first conception is that of self-consciousness, and its
first emotion that of self-love. As it expands its immortal germs, it
becomes conscious of its relation to objects outside of self; it seeks
new outlets of sympathy in love of parents and kindred - then of
political communities, nations, and races; ever expanding the grand
circle of its sympathies as it grows more and more into a perfect image
of the divine spirit of the universe.

This tendency of the soul to the universal is a sure index of its
highest moral and intellectual culture; it is one of the divine
instincts of our nature, and shines out as God's autograph upon the
great representative minds of all ages. In Marcus Curtius, William Tell,
Garibaldi, and our own loved Washington, it makes the cream of history
and the highest poetry of nations. Its perfect manifestation is seen in
that grandest of all epics, 'Christ on the Cross,' wherein we behold a
most complete absorption of the self of the individual in the universal
self of the race.

There are men with little, narrow souls, that never radiate beyond the
centre of self; they have no conception of pure, fixed, absolute
principles, but are wholly governed by their local surroundings,
provincial prejudices, and the lower instincts of their nature. The
large, liberal mind of the true patriot, however, can never be dwarfed
down to mere sectional standards, but, true to the law of its
attraction, will ever point to the Pole-star of national unity and
national brotherhood.

Universality of soul, in the sense above adverted to, distinguishes the
Anglo-Saxon race as the best government-builders of the world. England,
by her subordination of the sectional to the national, by her reverence
for organic law and national unity, has survived the fiercest shocks of
her civil convulsions, and built upon their ruins a more perfect and
enduring fabric of government. In Southern latitudes, where the
temperament grows mercurial, and the emotional nature predominates, as
in France and the Italian States, governments seem founded on _volcanic
strata_, liable to frequent and radical eruptions. In the hot Huguenot
blood of South Carolina was kindled the first fatal spark that now
threatens to set our entire Union in a blaze of ruin.

The Christian draws nearer to the angels as he forgets self in the love
of God and his kind; and that nation is the most prosperous, happy, and
powerful that subordinates all selfish local interests, all sectional
antagonisms, to the higher law of national unity and brotherhood, that
holds 'the hallowed hopes of a national patriotism' as ever paramount to
the misguided ambition of a vulgar, low-bred provincialism.




LITERARY NOTICES.


GALA DAYS. By GAIL HAMILTON, Author of 'Country Living and Country
Thinking.' Ticknor & Fields, Boston. For sale by D. Appleton & Co.,
New York.

Who will not welcome another book from the pen of Gail Hamilton, nor
name a 'gala day' indeed the one devoted to a perusal of these pleasant
pages? As Americans, we are very proud of Gail Hamilton. We regard her
books as blessings to the community. We know of no familiar essays
comparable to hers; we prefer them greatly to those of Elia. Everything
she touches assumes a sudden interest, no matter how trivial in itself
it may be. She pours sunshine over the pettiest details of every-day
life. We have known and felt all she tells us, lived it as life, and
instantaneously recognize it as truth; but who before has ever recorded
it for us - nay, who could do it for us, save this gifted woman, who
accepts all with a spirit so brave and true? How acute her analysis of
character! Every house has its own Halicarnassus. He is a typal man, as
is shown in the fact that husbands, brothers, sons, and lovers are
constantly called 'Halicarnassus' by the ladies most closely associated
with them. Halicarnassus - tantalizing and antagonistic, slow to work and
ready to jeer, the plague and pest of the home hearth, but at the same
time its pride and joy, true and helpful in all real emergencies, though
full of irritating taunts and desperate indolence. Such books keep our
spirits up in these days of national calamity and domestic losses. Their
charm is indescribable. Their style is sharp and brusque, but telling of
wide culture; keen, but tender; clear as mountain brook, but varied and
full as a river. Gail Hamilton will write of the daily trifles of which
life is made, then boldly grapple with the highest truths; she mounts
from the hut to the skies, and pours the light of heaven on all she
touches by the way. Humor and pathos, fun and earnestness, fiery
indignation and loving charity, detailed truths and bold imaginations
meet in her singularly rich, graphic, natural, and original pages. We
have often heard fault found with them by the artificial, as fault is
always found with things fresh and natural; but for ourselves we would
not willingly lose a single line she has ever written. No affectation,
no cant, no sickly feeling, no weakness, no inflation, no appealing for
petty sympathy, no writing for the sake of seeming fine, does she ever
indulge in. She coins words at will, for she writes from her heart and
is no purist; but we feel them to be appropriate, and requisite to
express the shade of thought in question: we may laugh at them at first,
but so natural and naive are they that we soon find them stealing into
our own vocabulary.

The beneficial effect of such writings upon American women cannot be
overestimated. They act as invigorating tonics, courses of beefsteak and
iron upon the somewhat too fragile loveliness, the exacting and
fastidious fine-ladyism, the morbid helplessness, far too prevalent
among them. Their ideal of womanhood has been wrong, narrow and
contracted, wanting in strength, breadth, and charity. Miss Muloch and
Gail Hamilton, while cherishing the sanctity of womanhood, are giving
broader views, higher aims, truer delicacy, and greater self-reliance to
their plastic sex. Their lessons and examples are bracing as the sea
breeze, and soothing as air fresh from the piny mountain.

Gail Hamilton dares to call things by their right names; humbugs die and
shams perish as her clear, deep eyes gaze upon them. She has the bravery
of virtue, and battles courageously with wrong, selfishness, and
weakness, though we always feel it is a woman's arm that strikes the
blow, and the Halicarnassuses of earth are ready to kneel to receive
it. But that she has explicitly forbidden all intrusion into her
privacy, we would say more about her. Meantime we frankly offer her our
sympathy and humble admiration, our true and leal homage, our grateful
appreciation of her strong, womanly, truthful, pure, and generous
nature. Move on in peace, fair iconoclast of false idols, stripper of
tinsel shrines, bringer of pleasant hours to the quiet home-hearth,
vigorous painter of home tasks and duties; and may Halicarnassus feed
upon your pungent and salty wit, drink the wine of your valiant and
patriotic heart, and bask in the sunshine of your loyal and loving soul
forever and ever!


OUR OLD HOME: A Series of English Sketches. By NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE.
Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1863. For sale by D. Appleton & Co., New
York.

Messrs. Ticknor & Fields are daily doing their countrymen service by
publishing good books, and thus increasing the means for promoting
general and solid culture. To them as well as to the gifted author are
due our thanks for this agreeable volume of truthful and instructive
sketches. It is, in fact, the portfolio of a genuine artist. He tells us
that the picture to have been evolved from a combination of these
faithful outlines is now never to be completed. This is certainly to be
regretted so far as artistic enjoyment is concerned; but, in regard to
exact portrayal of subject matter, sketches are ofttimes more valuable,
because more precise, than the finished work as seen through the haze of
the artist's imagination, wrought upon by the softening influences of
time, distance, and the necessary requirements of beauty in every such
creation.

Americans, until recently, have been prone either to sneer
indiscriminately at everything foreign, or to undervalue their own
country and advantages, and find nothing tolerable which was not the
growth of the eastern shore of the Atlantic. These tendencies are now,
we think, giving place to a calmer impartiality, a broader and more
enlightened spirit of inquiry. Patriotism is no longer a mere matter of
scoff among politicians, self-sacrifice the object of newspaper sneers,
_our country_ a spread-eagle figure for a Fourth-of-July oration.
American men and women now know that in a good cause they can cheerfully
resign fortune, and even bravely send forth to the battle field, or to
the still more fatal hospital, the dearest members of their household;
and they hence feel lifted up above petty scoffs and political or
commercial jealousies. Having proven their continued manhood and
womanhood, they can look their brother men of whatever nation in the
face, quietly yielding precedence where deserved, and as quietly
claiming their own dues. The spirit of Hawthorne's book is strictly in
accordance with this growing feeling. Fanatics, either for or against
England and the English, may find too much praise or too much blame; but
the impartial reader cannot fail to be impressed by the author's
fairness, even by the keen-sighted appreciation of either virtues or
faults resulting from a sincere and long-seated affection.

The chapter on "Outside Glimpses of English Poverty" is written as if
with the heart's blood of the writer; and we may all of us ponder it
well, lest some day its graphic but melancholy outlines may only too
vividly delineate the condition of our own poor. Let it teach every man
of us to strive without ceasing to bridge the wide chasm almost
necessarily dividing rich and poor. Let us untiringly pour into that
chasm love, pity, help, forbearance, our best of constructive thinking,
but last as well as first, love - Christian love - until vice and despair
no longer find excuse in circumstance.

We are glad again to welcome within the ranks of American literature the
author whose "Twice-Told Tales," "Manse Mosses," and "Scarlet Letter" so
thrilled our youthful souls; and we hope the pressure of the times,
weighing heavily upon him as upon all men of imagination who have
outlived their first youth, may ere long be lifted, and his mind
naturally revert to the treatment of mystic themes he of all writers
seems empowered to render dreamily interesting and suggestive.


METHODS OF STUDY IN NATURAL HISTORY. By L. AGASSIZ. Boston: Ticknor
& Fields, 1863. For sale by D. Appleton & Co., New York.

This is indeed a valuable work, supplying a want long felt by that class
of intelligent students who, without the time or means to fathom the
depths of natural science, are yet desirous of obtaining accurate and
reliable information regarding its foundation and general principles.
The public are deeply indebted to Professor Agassiz, for it is not every
man of real science who is willing to step into the popular arena, throw
aside (in so far as possible) technicalities, and strive to impart to
the unlearned the valuable results of years of severe study,
observation, and thought. We are happy to see that the illustrious
author enters "an earnest protest against the transmutation theory,
revived of late with so much ability, and so generally received." The
book concludes thus: "I cannot repeat too emphatically that there is not
a single fact in embryology to justify the assumption that the laws of
development, now known to be so precise and definite for every animal,
have ever been less so, or have ever been allowed to run into each
other. The philosopher's stone is no more to be found in the organic
than the inorganic world; and we shall seek as vainly to transform the
lower animal types into the higher ones by any of our theories as did
the alchemists of old to change the baser metals into gold."

The subjects treated are: General Sketch of the Early Progress in
Natural History; Nomenclature and Classification; Categories of
Classification; Classification and Creation; Different Views respecting
Orders; Gradation among Animals; Analogous Types; Family
Characteristics; The Characters of Genera; Species and Breeds; Formation
of Coral Reefs; Age of Coral Reefs, as showing permanence of species;
Homologies; Alternate Generations; The Ovarian Egg; Embryology and
Classification.


SERMONS PREACHED BEFORE HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS THE PRINCE OF WALES,
during his Tour in the East, in the Spring of 1862, with Notices of
some of the Localities visited. By ARTHUR PENRHYN STANLEY, D.D.,
Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History in the University of
Oxford; Honorary Chaplain in Ordinary to the Queen; Deputy Clerk of
the Closet; Honorary Chaplain to the Prince of Wales. Published by
Charles Scribner, 124 Grand street, New York.

These Sermons are dedicated to his Royal Highness Albert Edward, Prince
of Wales, and are published at the request of the Queen of England,
Their interest depends in part on the circumstances and the occasion of
their delivery; in part upon the charm of their own quiet, simple, and
elegant style, their devout and tender spirit. The scenes in which these
discourses were preached are among the most famous and familiar of the
sacred and classical localities, the texts chosen being always in
accordance with them, the sermons illustrating their history and
connecting their glorious Past with the Present of the illustrious
travellers. They were preached on the Nile, at Thebes; in Palestine, at
Jaffa, at Nablus, at Nazareth, at Tiberias; in Syria, at Rasheya, at
Baalbec, at Ehden; on the Mediterranean, &c. Notices are appended of the
spots visited during the tour of the young Prince in the East. We find
in the table of contents: 'The Mosque of Hebron, The Cave of Machpelah,
The Tomb of David at Jerusalem, The Samaritan Passover, The Passover on
Mount Gerizim, The Antiquities of Nablus, Galilee, Cana, Tabor, The Lake
of Genesareth, Safed, Kedesh-Naphtali, The Valley of the Litany, The
Temples of Hermon, Baalbec, Damascus, Beirut, The Cedars of Lebanon,
Arvad; Patmos, its Traditions and connection with the Apocalypse.' These
notices are interesting and graphic. Places into which travellers have
found it impossible to penetrate, were rendered accessible to the heir
of England's crown. The visit to the hitherto inaccessible Sanctuary,
the Mosque of Hebron - the Sanctuary, first Jewish, then Christian, now
Mussulman, which is supposed to cover the Cave of Machpelah, to which
their attention had been directed by the great German geographer,
Ritter, and which has excited in modern times the keenest curiosity - is
full of instruction and interest. Since the time of Prince Edward and
Eleanor, this visit was the first paid by an heir of the crown of
England to these sacred regions. We close our notice with a short
extract from the pages of this pleasant book.

'That long cavalcade, sometimes amounting to one hundred and fifty
persons, of the Prince and his suite, the English servants, the troop of
fifty or a hundred Turkish cavalry, their spears glittering in the sun,
and their red pennons streaming in the air, as they wound their way
through the rocks and thickets, and over the stony ridges of Syria, was
a sight that enlivened even the tamest landscape, and lent a new charm
even to the most beautiful. Most remarkably was this felt on our first
entrance into Palestine, and on our first approach to Jerusalem. The
entrance of the Prince into the Holy Land was almost on the footsteps of
Richard Coeur de Lion, and of Edward I, under the tower of Ramleh, and
in the ruined Cathedral of St. George, at Lydda. Thence we had climbed
the pass of Joshua's victory at Bethhoron, had caught the first glimpse
of Jerusalem from the top of the Mosque of the Prophet Samuel, where
Richard had stood and refused to look on the Holy Sepulchre which he was
not thought worthy to rescue. Then came the full view of the Holy City
from the northern road, the ridge of Scopus - the view immortalized in
Tasso's description of the first advance of the Crusaders. The cavalcade
had now swelled into a strange and motley crowd. The Turkish governor
and his suite - the English consul and the English clergy - groups of
uncouth Jews - Franciscan monks and Greek priests - here and there under
the clumps of trees, groups of children singing hymns - the stragglers at
last becoming a mob - the clatter of the horses' hoofs on the hard stones
of that rocky and broken road drowning every other sound - such was the
varied procession, which, barbarous as it was, still seemed to contain
within itself the representatives, or, if one will, the offscourings of
all nations, and thus to combine the impressive, and, at the same time,
the grotesque and melancholy aspect which so peculiarly marks the modern
Jerusalem. Our tents were pitched outside the Damascus Gate, near the
scene of the encampment of Godfrey de Bouillon, and from thence we
explored the city and the neighborhood.'


FREEDOM AND WAR: Discourses on Topics suggested by the Times. By
HENRY WARD BEECHER. Boston: Ticknor & Fields. For sale by D.
Appleton & Co.

We cannot more appropriately present this work to the notice of our
readers, than by quoting from the editor's introduction the following
passage with regard to it: 'The title sufficiently expresses the rule by
which the selection was made. That rule was to choose discourses on
subjects of present interest, and which, at the same time, should, as
far as possible, so handle those subjects as to have a more permanent
value. They have also a certain significance from their order in time.
No other system will be found in the book, except a systematic purpose
always to discuss the subject apparently most important at the time. Its
general method is, to apply the principles of Christianity to the duties
and circumstances of life; to insist on a sound and fearless Christian
morality in whatever men do; and to show the increased importance of
practising that morality in times like these. It is believed that, in
seeking to do this, the discourses are consistent and clear in teaching
God's almighty supremacy and his goodness and wisdom, faith in humanity
and its future, the absolute necessity of national righteousness and of
Christian equality, the substantial truth and excellence of the frame of
government of the United States, the substantial nobility and courage,
justice and perseverance, of the real democracy of the country, and the
certain and ineffable splendor of our future, if only we are true to
ourselves, to humanity, and to God.' Few men have had such ardent and
devoted friends as Henry Ward Beecher; few such bitter and determined
enemies. It were useless to tell his friends of the loyalty, patriotism,
and ability of these remarkable Discourses; we heartily wish his enemies
could be persuaded to peruse them. We believe they would find the writer
far other than they deem him. We think they would find their prejudices
melting away, their dislike growing into admiration, and their own souls
kindling from the fire of his ardent and broad humanity. No man's
opinions have been more constantly misstated, none more generally
miscomprehended, than Mr. Beecher's. A man of large soul, of generous
impulses, he thinks as he feels, and writes as he thinks. His thoughts
are original, his imagination glowing, his sympathies all-embracing, his
creed broad and flowing, his illustrations apt and graphic, his diction
clear and bold, though often careless and sometimes almost grotesquely
familiar; - all that he touches seems poured through his heart, and thus
never fails to reach the heart of his audience. He battles with the sins
and evils of his time, and is perhaps as conservative as truth will
admit.




EDITOR'S TABLE.


NOW AND THEN.

John Letcher, the present rebel Governor of Virginia, has lately
presented himself in rather a new character by recommending in his
message to the legislature of his State, a provision of law to pay for
slaves lost by the war. When he was a member of the House of
Representatives of the United States, he was altogether incapable of
appreciating any public liability to individuals. He was notorious for
the sleepless energy and vigilance with which he opposed all private
claims without regard to their merits. He seemed to set on the principle
that a valid demand against the government could not exist, and that no
man who presented one could be honest.

By the rules of the House of Representatives certain days are set apart
called 'objection days,' when the private calendar is called over, and
all bills not objected to are laid by and passed without debate. Few,


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Online LibraryVariousThe Continental Monthly, Vol. 4, No. 5, November, 1863 → online text (page 18 of 20)