The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Yale Literary Magazine (Vol. I, No. 4, June 1836)

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Title: The Yale Literary Magazine (Vol. I, No. 4, June 1836)

Author: Various

Release date: December 12, 2021 [eBook #66933]

Language: English

Credits: hekula03, sf2001, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This book was produced from images made available by the HathiTrust Digital Library.)


[Pg i]




“Dum mens grata manet, nomen laudesque Yalenses Cantabunt Soboles, unanimique Patres.”


JUNE, 1836.



[Pg ii]


A Father to his Child, 132
Sir Thomas More’s Works, 133
I Love Thee, 139
The Coffee Club, No. II. 140
Ambition—A Fragment, 150
The Influence of Moral Feeling on the Pleasures of the Imagination, No. II. 151
The Seminole, 154
The Outlaw and His Daughter, 155
I would not Flatter Thee, 161
Ruminations of a Bovine Gentleman, 163
A Rhyming Mood, 165
Greek Anthology, No. IV. 166

[Pg 129]


VOL. I. JUNE, 1836. NO. 4.


What is truth? “Truth,” says a standard logician, “signifies nothing but the joining or separating of signs, as the things signified by them do agree or disagree with one another;” that is, in making propositions. These are divided into mental and verbal. Truth then consists in ideal or verbal sentences, or, in other words, in a certain arrangement of ideas and words. This view of the subject may answer for a mere definition; but it is not satisfactory. We are disposed to make truth consist in things, and not alone in their representatives. It is the reality of things; using the term thing as it is, the most universal of any in the language, including every object of sense or conception, objects past, present, and future, objects terrestrial and celestial, objects of all space and all duration, objects possible and impossible; in a word, every-thing. There are propositions concerning things; we have ideas of things, and things themselves exist independently of both. The verbal statement, and the mental apprehension, may accord with the reality of the thing, and be true, or figuratively speaking, the truth. But can it be strictly said that the truth consists in them, and them only?

But this train of remark avails little in resolving the momentously practical question, What is truth? To give this a reply worthy of itself, would lead us beyond our present design, and each reader must be left to judge for himself.

“Truth is consistent with itself.” This is a common saying, and regarded as axiomatic in its nature. It is not intended for the identical proposition, Truth is truth; but that whatever is truth in one subject, can in no way be rendered nugatory or false, by what is truth in any other subject; and that one truth in the same subject is not weakened or diminished by any other truth in the same subject. Truth, as before intimated, may be considered in a three-fold aspect; in itself; in regard to the verbal propositions embracing it; in respect to our own conceptions of it.

[Pg 130]

In itself, in its own nature, it may be consistent with itself. But of the many truths with which our acquaintance is imperfect, we cannot judge whether they agree, or disagree, among themselves. In regard to some others, of which we are better assured, it is difficult to say that there is no contradiction.

In propositions there is certainly great discrepancy; owing partly to the barrenness of language, and to the ambiguity of terms; also to the different impressions which different authors of the statement may possess, and which the same man may have at different times. The propositions may be too brief, or too ample; in many ways they are made to disagree one with another, and as they are the representatives of truth, for all practical purposes truth itself is often found inconsistent with itself.

We find our own conceptions of truth exceedingly contradictory; which is attributable to the limited nature of our faculties, and narrow extent of our observations. It is only the ends of truths that we see. Their remote extension, and multiplied relations, we cannot ascertain. There appears to be much disagreement. In theology the doctrines of decrees and free agency are both true, but who can reconcile them? This apparent inconsistency of truth is the origin of scepticism, and is the occasion of many unhappy dissensions among men.

“Great is truth, and it will prevail.” The harmlessness of this declaration has permitted it to pass unmolested. It certainly is a pleasing prediction, and in the prospect which it unfolds, has inspired many a languid heart with fresh vigor in the cause of truth. From the implicit reliance which most men place in its verity, and from the wish of all for its fulfillment, is manifested the confidence which each reposes in his own integrity, and also a secret admiration of truth in the minds of all. But the sentiment is perhaps more flattering to the nobleness of our nature, than accordant with our constant experience. That some truths will prevail, is certain. But in respect to others—for instance, the thousand and one litigated points in history, how shall the truth ever be ascertained. If the facts were noted at the time of their occurrence, prejudice operated to distort them. If not till years had elapsed, it was the effect of remoteness to obliterate, or obscure them. Years and centuries are bearing us still farther from the period of their transpiring, and how is it possible, that, without a revelation from heaven, the truth shall ever be disclosed?

In metaphysics are many points equally indeterminable. Here a man’s own mind is the field of observation, in every part of which the most rigid, extensive, and patient scrutiny, and the most careful comparison have been made by the most profound thinkers, and with the best lights; but up to this time there are many points unillustrated, undecided. Will they ever be made more plain? Who does not feel that there are doubtful points in himself that he will never understand, at least this side of the grave?

[Pg 131]

In the sciences, which suffer less from prejudice than most subjects of investigation, the want of facts will prevent the discovery of truth on many points; while, faster than old questions are settled, new subjects of discussion are advanced.

With respect to the active duties of life, temperament will continue to influence our views of truth, as it always has done.

Prejudice, which is the great barrier to the entrance of truth into the mind, must, while man exists under his present mental and moral constitution, retain the influence it now exerts.

There are many truths of which the highest order of human intellect can only catch a fleeting glimpse, and the amount of knowledge is graduated downwards, corresponding with the ability to grasp it. Many points lie equally balanced between truth and falsehood.

We do not then seem to be sufficiently warranted in the opinion that truth, i. e. all truth, will prevail.

“Men are more willing to embrace error than truth.” No one will admit this imputation in his own case; but by an easy generalization, each one applies it to all other men.

It may be doubted whether a love of truth or of error, for their own sake, is a primary principle of our moral nature. A love of one’s own happiness, or interest, or reputation, in a word, of one’s self, is primary. Truth and error are regarded with complaisance or aversion, accordingly as they oppose or favor the interests of men. If there were but one being in the universe, it would be of little moment whether he passed his existence in truth or falsehood. In society, he, whose basis is falsehood, is derided by his fellows, and his interests are endangered. As truth, on the whole, is most conducive to the interests of men, it is most generally sought after. Few are willing to oppose a fashionable error. There are portions of every man’s whole life, which he passes in error, without being in the least concerned. Many minds are so preoccupied, that they cannot examine the evidence requisite for the admission of a new truth. More are so prejudiced that they will not. With many men a fear of results is stronger than love of truth, and they are induced by a prospect of consequences, to abandon the pursuit. An entire devotion to truth itself, to truth for its own sake, is a rare sight, and one of high moral sublimity.

[Pg 132]


I cannot say, I cannot say, my beautiful and wild,
I’ve ever seen so fair a one as thou my pretty child—
A form so full of elegance, a cheek where roses blow,
And a forehead where the glossy curls seem braided over snow—
A lip whence sounds of music gush, that might with ease unsphere
Some spirit from its airy halls and witch that spirit here.
When first thy mother gave thee me, my beautiful and wild,
And others sought to gaze upon and bless the pretty child,
And thy soft lip to mine was press’d, and thy soft hand I felt,
And felt all of a father’s heart within my bosom melt;
I know I heaved a sigh, for there was sadness in my joy—
Thou wert so very beautiful, my smiling little boy.
Where’er thou go’st, there seems to go a gladness, and a life,
Which all unfitted is for this dark world of sin and strife;
Thou dost remind me of the flowers that are when Spring comes on,
Thou dost remind me of the light when comes and goes the sun;
Of brooks, and falling waters, when they with the pebbles toy—
Of all that’s gay and beautiful, my smiling little boy.
I mingle with the busied world, and when I find it vain,
I turn me to my happy hearth and little boy again;
I love to have him shout to me, I love his airy call,
I love to hear his little step go patting through the hall;
I love to take him on my knee and fold him into rest,
As doth the parent bird the dove she shelters with her breast.
Thy kind complaints, thy boyish talk, thy merriment, my boy,
Crush all that’s base within my heart, and smooth the day’s annoy;
Where’er I go, if ills assail, and passion plays her part,
And dark Ambition spreads her gauds before my eye and heart,
And I one moment list the voice that proffers me the crown—
I think me of thy looks my boy, and bid the tempter down.

[Pg 133]

Yet there will sometimes come to me a thought of sadness given,
As the dark cloud streams athwart the flush that tints the sky of even,
When I look at thee, and think of thee, in all thine artlessness,
And think how flowery is the path which thy young foot doth press—
For I know that eye which sparkles now may suddenly be wet,
And the earth which looks so lovely too may be a desert yet.
Ah! yes, I tremble for my boy with fears he cannot know,
Lest he take the path which I have ta’en, and find it leads to wo;
I tremble lest the Circean cup may yet be given him,
With roses decked and myrtles crown’d and sparkling to the brim;
For O! his foot hath not yet tried the path which mine hath trod,
Nor hath his young heart framed a wish he might not give to God.
And yet I will not think it—no! it will not, cannot be,
That fate shall ever fling its shroud of blackness over thee;
Thou art too like thy mother, child,—she would not harm this breast—
And all thy days have been too like the holy and the bless’d;
Thou can’st not other be to me than this, my cradle joy—
Thou wilt not grieve thy father’s heart, my smiling little boy.

[1] A friend of mine thinks he has seen a poem somewhere not altogether unlike this. Whether such a poem there is I know not, nor have I, after hunting over pamphlets and periodicals, been able to find one. If the reader shall be more successful, he will please give the writer of any similar production as much praise as he chooses, and subduct the same from me. An author ought to know if he is guilty of plagiarism; and though I may err, it is my opinion, that among the many who have written upon this subject, though I may not boast of as much beauty, I may at least have been as far from stealing as the best of the rhyming tribe. These are indeed days of barter—still I would live on my own capital.


Lib. Old Eng. Prose Writers—Vol. 9.—Boston, 1834.

Self-sufficiency, under one form or another, is the predominant vice of the present age. A disposition to neglect the gathered wisdom of former times, and to deny all reverence to customs and institutions from which our fathers deemed it inseparable, and to go forward rejoicing in our own strength, is becoming more and more apparent. And whether we regard this sentiment as the fool-hardiness resulting from ignorance, and as ‘the pride which goeth before a fall,’ or, which we are more inclined to do, as the exultation of conscious might, and the prelude of more glorious achievements—still it is a vice, and requires the most vigorous exertions to check its further progress. These remarks are most obviously applicable to political matters, but they are not without meaning in reference to literature. Even in this department of knowledge, there has become manifest a proneness to circumscribe curiosity and inquiry within the narrow circle of cotemporary writers, to extol our popular authors, as the only ones deserving our attention, and as incontestably superior to all who have gone before them. It is difficult to determine whether this feeling is more unjust to those great lights of learning, who laid the foundations of our literature, by defrauding them of their merited homage, or more unfortunate for ourselves, by [Pg 134] depriving us of their illumination. Nor is it less absurd, than it is unjust and unfortunate. For if we are indeed at the culminating point, whence beams of light and beauty shall fall on succeeding ages, the closest investigation can but confirm the truth; but if we are not, by timely consideration we may be saved from the error of those ancient astronomers, who assumed this little earth to be the center of the universe, and therefore, at each supposed advance, plunged deeper in error and perplexity. And those, who, in utter ignorance of our older writers, are ever asserting the preeminence of Byron and Bulwer and Irving, should be careful, lest, with those who have traveled further in the world of letters, they may incur the charge of weakness, no less ridiculous than that of the vain Chinese, who imagine their land, the only radiant point in a world of darkness.

Nor would the results of a candid and thorough examination of the early English writers, be really prejudicial to the reputation of cotemporary works; for though we might return from our researches with a less extravagant complacency in the productions of living authors, it would be more strongly established. We should meet with opposite merits and opposite faults. If our current literature is more frivolous, theirs is more prolix; if their thoughts are more sound, and their style more simple, our reasoning is more pointed, and our expression more sparkling—if we are more disgusted here with spurious originality, we are oftener wearied there with staid monotony.

We have been led into these reflections, by the perusal of several volumes of ‘the Library of Old English Prose Writers.’ Among the many series, which have of late appeared in England and this country, under the specious name of ‘Libraries,’ there is none so truly deserving as this, of the approbation and support of the educated and intellectual portion of the community—and to them, from its peculiar character, it must be almost entirely confined. Other publications, appealing to the interests or the love of novelty and excitement of the ‘reading public,’ meet with a ready support. But this series, whose design and tendency is to correct this corrupt taste, and chasten this morbid partiality to the matter-of-fact, or the romantic, cannot expect a promiscuous patronage. It is emphatically the literature of literary men, and all such, if they have any sympathy with ‘sober thought, in simple language dressed,’ nay, to appeal to selfish motives only, if they have any regard for the improvement of their taste, the strengthening of their own minds, or the purifying of their own style, will not fail to search out and drink deeply of these ‘healthful wells of English undefiled.’ We would gladly ramble through the several works of which the ‘Library’ is composed, but time does not permit, and we hasten to the consideration of the last of their number, with the simple remark that the plan of the undertaking is so praiseworthy, and the manner of its execution [Pg 135] thus far has evinced so correct a judgment, and refined a taste, that we cannot but regret that any circumstances should for a moment delay its progress.

The fame of Sir Thomas More’s Utopia must be familiar to every ear. Its authority as a classic is so high, quotations from it are so numerous, and allusions to it among literary, political and metaphysical writers, are so frequent and eulogistic, that no one who has passed beyond the first lispings of polite learning, can be presumed ignorant of its general character. But a much smaller number, probably, are acquainted with it from actual examination and study. Before the appearance of this edition it had long been out of print in this country, or excluded from general circulation by being buried in an expensive and cumbrous volume, among the ponderous controversial writings of its author; and in rescuing it from its unfortunate companionship, the editor has conferred no slight gratification upon the lovers of serious thought and quaint style. A clear view of the design and plan of the work, cannot better be obtained, than by a brief analysis of its contents.

The author, for the convenience of setting forth his ideal of a perfect commonwealth, in a plainer and bolder manner than the jealousy of the government and the church would allow, feigns the existence of an island, Utopia, in a remote quarter of the globe, unknown to the people of Europe, and recently discovered by the celebrated navigator, Vespucci. Raphael Hylleloday, a philosopher, who accompanied Vespucci in his voyages, through curiosity, to examine the condition of the new-found nations, having become intimately versed in the history and manners of the Utopians, conveys a lengthened and minute account of the same to his friend More, at that time employed in the ‘king’s embassat’ in Flanders.

Upon this hypothesis, the philosophical romance is founded; and under the form of historical narrative, the author unfolds his views of the manners, customs, pursuits, government and religion, which would obtain among a perfectly happy people. He condemns with severity, and ridicules with sharpness, the policy, both temporal and spiritual, which was pursued by the governments of Europe, and the whole system of social relations, which prevailed among the people. He exposes with equal fearlessness, the folly and wickedness of royal tyranny, prelatical intolerance, and private avarice. He pictures in earnest simplicity, the advantages of equality of rank, temperance in living, freedom of opinion, and general education; and much more than anticipates in theory, all the advances which have actually been made, in more than three centuries. In order to feel the full admiration, which the perusal of the ‘Utopia’ should legitimately excite, the reader must constantly bear in mind, the period at which the author wrote. Many positions, which to us appear obvious and common place,—because we have been familiar with them, as undoubted truisms, from our childhood—evinced in our author surpassing [Pg 136] vigor of thought, and boldness of purpose, joined with a sagacity almost prophetic. The extent to which he pushed his liberality in religion, in an age distinguished for its bloody bigotry, may be learned from the following extract. (p. 159.)

“For this is one of their most ancient laws, that no man ought to be punished for his religion. At the first constitution of their government, Utopas having understood, that before his coming among them, the old inhabitants had been engaged in great quarrels concerning religion, by which they were so divided among themselves, that he found it an easy thing to conquer them, since instead of uniting their forces against him, every different party in religion fought by themselves; after he had subdued them, he made a law that every man might be of what religion he pleased, and might endeavor to draw others to it by the force of argument, and by amicable and modest ways, but without bitterness against those of other opinions; but that he ought to use no other force but that of persuasion, and was neither to mix with it reproaches nor violence; and such as did otherwise were to be condemned to banishment or slavery.”

To affirm that all the maxims and institutions in this fictitious system of politics are unexceptionable, and would be desirable if realized, would be foolish eulogium—indeed, in some very important features, (we would refer particularly to the chapters on ‘the Manner of Living,’ on ‘Slavery,’ and on ‘Marriages,’) the progress of political science and moral philosophy, has shown that there is much that is erroneous and defective. The grand error is, and it is a very common one among theorists, in allowing to corrupt human nature a higher degree of moral perfection, than it has ever yet vindicated its claims to, and, resting upon this unsubstantial basis, must fall to the ground. The candid reader, however, cannot fail to admire the acuteness and honesty of the reasoning, and to wonder at the nobleness of the sentiments upon the great subjects of civil and religious freedom, when he reflects that the author was a courtier under the despotic Henry VIII, and was a tenacious Romanist, amid the fierce struggles of the Reformation. He will also be highly pleased with the simplicity of language in which the profoundest truths are conveyed, and will often be provoked to a smile, as he detects, under the modest guise of our author’s graceful style, many a thought, which with pompous epithet, and startling antithesis, has been brought forth as the offspring of the ‘wonderful advance of mind in the XIXth century.’ And if he should be ready to point at some passages as absurd, and at others as childishly simple, let him remember, that according to competent critics, the prince of ancient philosophers, Plato, is not free from similar crudities. The most valuable portions of the work, are those which are employed in the discussion of permanent moral and political principles, though the most curious and amusing, are the descriptions of the island, and of the domestic and civil habits of its citizens. There are, here and there, some positions of even ludicrous extravagance, which the author, it would seem, intended to serve him as a refuge from the charge of heresy, by giving his book the aspect of an idle and humorous fiction.

[Pg 137]

The latter half of the volume is occupied with the ‘History of King Richard III’—and though it does not possess the intrinsic value of the Utopia, it acquires even a higher interest from the circumstance of its being the earliest specimen of English prose, intelligible to readers of the present day.[2] It is also deserving of great attention, as the original chronicle of that troublous and tragical reign, written while several of the actors in its scenes are yet living. It is in this light, as the ‘Father of English Prose,’ that the character of Sir Thomas More appears most interesting. He was the first to break loose from the prevailing custom, which confined all learning and philosophy and history, to the constrained medium of a dead language, and commenced those efforts in the living English, which have resulted in giving us a vernacular prose literature, unequalled by that of any other language in the world. He was fortunate too in living just at that period, when the language had acquired sufficient elegance and copiousness, to render it in a great measure permanent. The tasteful reader will be tempted to wish that our native Saxon had been suffered to retain its pristine vigor, unencumbered with such ponderous accumulations, as it has since received, though it had remained less magnificent in its periods, and less fertile in synonymes.

The principal points worthy of notice in this venerable composition, are, the honest straight-forward course of the narrative, the discrimination in the portraiture of character, and in tracing outward actions to their secret causes, and the nature and individuality shown in the speeches, which, in imitation of the manner of Livy and Sallust, he puts in the mouths of his personages. We were much struck with the perfect coincidence with this authentic chronicle, maintained in Shakspeare’s drama of Richard III. It is exceedingly thorough and minute, and affords gratifying evidence that the efforts of the imagination may with success be made subservient to impressing and illustrating historical truth. As an instance of this resemblance, as well as for the purpose of exhibiting our author’s original style, we quote as follows. (p. 302-304.)

“And thus, as I have learned of them that much knew and little cause had to lie, were these two noble princes, these innocent, tender children, born of most royal blood, brought up in great wealth, likely long to live to reign and rule in the realm, by traitorous tyranny taken, deprived of their estate, shortly shut up in prison, and privily slain and murthered, their bodies cast, God wot where, by the cruel ambition of their unnatural uncle and his dispiteous tormentors. Which things on every part well pondered, God never gave this world a more notable example, neither in what unsurety standeth this worldly weal, or what mischief worketh the proud enterprise of a high heart, or finally what wretched end ensueth such dispiteous cruelty. For first, to begin with the ministers, Miles Forrest at Saint Martin’s piecemeal rotted away. Dighton indeed yet walketh on alive, in good possibility to be hanged ere he die. But Sir James Tyrrel died at Tower hill, beheaded [Pg 138] for treason. King Richard himself, as ye shall hereafter hear, slain in the field, hacked and hewed of his enemies’ hands, harried on horseback dead, his hair in despite torn and togged like a cur dog. And the mischief that he took, within less than three years of the mischief that he did. And yet all the mean time, spent in much pain and trouble outward, much fear, anguish and sorrow within. For I have heard by credible report of such as were secret with his chamberers, that after this abominable deed done, he never had quiet in his mind, he never thought himself sure. Where he went abroad, his eyen whirled about, his body privily fenced, his hand ever on his dagger, his countenance and manner like one always ready to strike again; he took ill rest a nights, lay long waking and musing, sore wearied with care and watch, rather slumbered than slept, troubled with fearful dreams, suddenly sometime start up, leap out of his bed and run about the chamber; so was his restless heart continually tossed and tumbled with the tedious impression and stormy remembrance of his abominable deed.”

The character of Sir Thomas More is one of the noblest that the whole circle of history can present, and his whole career was as glorious, in the highest sense of that term, as the loftiest aspirations could desire. His fame rests not on the adventitious distinctions of rank or political authority, or on the short lived eminence, conferred by popular idolatry; for, though he was placed high in office, though he was courted by his sovereign, beloved by his equals, and worshiped by his inferiors—the native power of his intellect, and loftiness of his spirit, shed the proudest luster upon his name. We have already had occasion to notice some points of his greatness, in the review of his works. In his Utopia we found him a subtle reasoner, and bold asserter of the rights of man; and in his history, we met with an honest annalist, and skillful pioneer in the untraced paths of English literature. In many other respects he was no less gifted by nature, and favored by fortune. He was the first lay chancellor of England, that high station, before his accession, having been entirely monopolized by churchmen. He is the first person in English history distinguished for senatorial eloquence, and the earliest champion of parliamentary liberty. He was the first, as speaker of the House of Commons, to teach that body the use of that power, which, as keeper of the purse of the nation, it possessed, and which, in later times, it has exerted with so overwhelming an influence on the destinies of the nation. In a word, he was the first of British ministers, who deserved, in all its breadth, the title of a statesman. His personal character was no less lovely, than his public career was commanding. The sweetness of his disposition, the mirthfulness of his temper, his reluctance to engage in the stormy contentions of political ambition, the depth of his learning, and the order of his piety, are alike conspicuous—and the manner of his death has associated his fame with that of the martyrs to tyranny ‘for conscience sake.’


[2] Utopia was written in Latin. The current translation was made by Bishop Burnet.

[Pg 139]


’Tis sweet, when first the infant’s voice
Lisps to the parent of his joys,
Words like no other;
And says,—as a bright, radiant smile
Lights up his countenance the while—
“I love thee, mother.”
’Tis sweet, to watch that mother’s eye
Beam, like a star in yonder sky,
Radiant, though mild;
To hear her speak the glad reply,—
Her joyous bosom heaving high—
“I love thee, child.”
’Tis pleasant, when at midnight hour
Beneath some fragrant myrtle bower
With flow’rs inwove,
The happy swain, with trembling tone
Reveals his heart to her alone—
“’Tis thee I love:”
And then, to mark the rising sigh,
The blushing cheek, the laughing eye,
In turn appear;
The swelling breast, the throbbing there,
The playful struggle—all declare,
“I love thee, dear.”

’Tis sweet, when man doth contrite bow
Before his God, his spirit low,
And seek His favor.
With deep submission as he kneels,
He speaks the joy his bosom feels,
“I love thee, Savior.”
But sweeter far, when God hath said,
“The offering which I have made,
Thine heart hath won.
Through Him will I now hear thy cries,
Through that ‘atoning sacrifice,’
‘I love thee, son.’”

[Pg 140]


No. II.

“I wish you saw me half starting out of my chair, with what confidence, as I grasp the elbow of it, I look up, catching the idea, even sometimes before it half-way reaches me.

——I believe in my conscience I intercept many a thought, which Heaven intended for another man.”—Tristram Shandy.


Lest, from the fact that we have hitherto drawn our mottos from “The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy,” the suspicion may be festering in your brain that poor Nescio Quod has confined his reading among the older English writers to this single work, it may not be amiss to adduce such evidence, as shall set at rest so unjust and injurious a surmise.

For instance—had he wished to be sarcastical upon himself, and thus, by a common artifice, predispose his critics to clemency, he might, in reference to the multitudinous array of shadowy jests—flitting around the brightness of the reader’s fancy, like moths around a candle, to their own destruction—have cited this keen retort of Fuller—“It is good to make a jest, but not to make a trade of jesting.”

Or, in allusion to the somewhat pedantic display of information, varied, but worthless, he might have adopted from the same author a complaint at the frivolous attainments of the idle and riotous student—“Yet, perchance, he may get some alms of learning, here a snap, there a piece of knowledge, but nothing to purpose.”

Or, in a mood of preeminent self-complacency, he might have imagined that the reader’s feelings towards him, maugre his faults and his prolixity, might be fitly expressed in the language of the Spectator (after Martial.)

“In all thy humors, whether grave or mellow,
Thou’rt such a touchy, testy, pleasant fellow,
Hast so much wit, and mirth, and spleen about thee,
There is no living with thee, nor without thee.”

Or, in defense of his desultory style—half-way between the frisking pirouettes of Harlequin, and the staid pace of the moraliser, he might have borrowed a circumlocutory sentence from the bungling Locke—“I would have him try whether he can keep one unvaried, single idea in his mind without any other, for any considerable length of time.”

[Pg 141]

Or, having in his mind the stolidity of those, who condescended gravely to condemn so trifling a jeu d’esprit, he might have taken to his aid a sarcasm from Smollett—“Some formidable critics declared that the work was void of humor, character, and sentiment.”

Or, revolving in his thoughts the mystery attending the appearance of the first number, and the pining curiosity excited to unveil its paternity, with flattered pride, he might have quoted a splendid sentence from Count Fathom—“Over and above this important secret, under which he was begotten, other particularities attended his birth, and seemed to mark him out as uncommon among the sons of men.”—These “ancient instances” will suffice, my reader, if you are in a yielding mood, to convince you that, if Tristram is called upon somewhat often, it is less a matter of necessity, than of choice. I am doubting whether it would not be a most Machiavelian stroke of diplomatic wisdom, to persuade you that I perceive all my failings. Surely your admiration at my frankness would outweigh your anger at the repetition of my sins. I am sometimes affected, and, now and then, I perpetrate a verbicide. I like to make new words—I feel for them the affection of a father. I am slightly tinctured with the sin mentioned by Boileau. (L’Art Poetique. Chant Troisieme.)

“Souvent, sans y penser, un écrivain qui s’aime,
Forme tous ses héros semblables à soi-meme.”

Which lines the Il-literati are to know mean, “A self-complacent writer often inadvertently draws his heroes like himself.” Thus I, forgetting the precise terms of the conversators, (there ought to be such a word,) make them parley in a brogue very like my own. I am, moreover, somewhat vain, though less so than Ovid, or Horace, (Vide Metam. lib. 15. in fine. and Hor. 2.20 3.30.) or than that Etrurian Spurinna, whom Valerius Maximus cites as an instance of modesty, though he was rather an example of uncommon self-inflation; since he thought himself so killing, that he disfigured his face, lest he should unwittingly seduce his fair country-women!

I would that I could affirm with Falstaff in the play, “I am not only witty in myself, but I am likewise the cause that wit is in other men.” But the protasis will, I fear, be doubted by the judicious, and my own observation tells me that the apodosis is false. I am naturally neither contemptuous nor malicious, but when I look around me, and behold so many with but two ideas, “one for superfluity and one for use,” and reflect that I may myself rank among that soulless number, I become almost a misanthrope, and quite a scorner. “Les diseurs des bons mots,” says Pascal, “sont mauvais caractères.” “The perpetrators of witticisms are bad men.” Yet the same author observes, that silence is the severest punishment, and, since novelty is all that can gain one notoriety at the present day, I know not why I should not attempt to be new, at least, if not[Pg 142] witty. I sometimes think I would rather give utterance to a brilliant error than a stupid truth, and, like Tully, espouse falsehood with a Plato, rather than be right with the rabble. “Had the nose of Cleopatra been shorter,” remarks an eminent writer, “the face of the world had been altered.” (Her face would have been, at any rate.) Had I, too, been born at an earlier era, before the fingers of a million had compressed every square inch of this vast globe’s surface, till it is as dry and hopeless as the peel of an eviscerated orange, I, too, might have been at once original and wise. But all truths have of late become truisms, and to reiterate them would be like praising Shakspeare. Sufficient be it for me, (you will find the thought somewhere in Irving,) if, like a skillful physician, who gives you a pill enveloped in some palate-tickling sauce, I now and then, under the guise of folly, pop down your throat a sound moral, or a wholesome truth. My writings, if less grave in appearance, will be more healthful in effect than Bellamy’s learned computation of the earth’s inhabitants during the millennium, (whom he makes so numerous that they would be compelled to lie in strata,) or the labored inquiry of the ingenious Spaniard, whether it be more certain that a cause will produce an effect, or that an effect must spring from a cause. Pardon these patch-work prolegomena—remembering that it is my fashion to place my thoughts in Mosaic—and pass on to my compeers of the club.

Apple. “Well, Pulito, time flies, or,” (looking learnedly,) “tempus fugit, as the Latins would say. If Quod and you are coming to the point, I’ll e’en light my cigar, and listen with elongated and patent ears.” (Here, after a series of wicked bantering, Apple was forced to explain that patent meant open—he then continued pettishly,) “I really thought you could see through a joke sooner—but if you are not about to discuss, I’ll read to Tristo a few chapters of my Psychological Autobiography, in which I have shown by induction that punning may become a second nature, and that in numerous consecutive instances—”

Tristo. “Enough, good Apple; I perceive the plan of your work, and doubt not that it is profoundly amusing, and amusingly profound. But why wish to read it to me, rather than to Nescio, or Pulito?”

Apple. “Because you are melancholy, and something light and trifling might—”

Tristo. “No, Apple, no! When I am sad, which is but too often, I find no relief from the ludicrous, or the gay. I should sooner look for an antidote to melancholy in the deep thought and earnest style of Coleridge, than in the levities of Swift, or the whimsicalities of Sterne. And an evening walk in the solemn starlight would quicker soothe me than a merry ramble among the green hills in the brightness of the morning. When the soul wanders through its airy chambers in solitary sadness, let it not flee for refuge to the comic[Pg 143] page, to laughter, or the song. Let it dwell upon scenes and objects, more wretched than itself, till the sigh of sorrow burst into the tear of pity. The descriptions of Crabbe, so gloomy, so powerful, and so true, bear me away from sadness to solemnity, and the deep conceptions of Foster lift me from solemnity to a high and tender elevation.”

Apple. “Fool as I am, these bright spring mornings always make even me serious.”

Tristo. “Fools as we all are, there are times when the cup of pleasure is as nauseous to the soul, as is wine to the sated palate of the morning reveler. Why is it, Apple, why is it that the first gay breath of spring is so saddening in its influence? Nature seems then to burst from her winter’s sleep, like a resurrection from the grave. The jocund earth puts on her brightest robes, as if soon to celebrate her nuptials with heaven. The pulse of existence beats high with new-born vigor, and the warm, bright blood runs riot through the renovated veins. Alike in the open fields, and the crowded city, throughout the glorious works of God, and the petty creations of man, there is a newness of life, which, it would seem, must fill every heart with bounding ecstacy. And so it may be, for aught I know, with the busy and the riotous. But with the idle and the thoughtful, the approach of spring produces, I am persuaded, far different effects.”

Apple. “Physicians would tell us that the balmy breeze bears on its wings a subtle, penetrating fluid, which dampens the spirits and enfeebles the energies.”

Tristo. “No. While I allow that these early gales of spring, which breathe life and vigor into all the rest of animated nature, unbrace our nerves, and through those media of sensation, lower the tone, and lessen the elasticity of the feelings, yet, for the main cause would I look deeper—even in the mind. There are certain periods, as we all know, when we are forced to reflect. Such periods are, every serious change in the world without—the recurrence of a birth-day, or the revisiting of home; and sometimes the sight of a long-neglected volume, through whose pages I have strayed in pleasant intercourse with an absent, or a buried friend, has brought paleness to my lip, and sadness to my heart. And such an occasion, preeminently, are the early days of spring; for spring (as the Germans say) is the cradle-time of the year.”

Apple. “The calendar, though, says otherwise. But go on.”

Tristo. “Then are we summoned to look forward to another year, with hopes less wild and free than they were at the commencement of the last; and we look backward, also, with a longer and a sadder retrospect: and you know, Apple, that the memory of a student is but a shadowy maze, where the forms, which, in prospect, were gilded with glory, and girded with magnificence, to his backward gaze, seem airy nothings, or shapes, palpable, indeed, but[Pg 144] unsightly—fiends, mocking at the vanity of his hopes, and the folly of his grief. And thus the bland breath of the reviving year becomes, through the mysterious principle of association, an instrument of keenest anguish to the sensitive mind. This annual birth of nature is a mile-stone, that notches our progress from the cradle to the grave: the figures are surrounded by bloom and greenness, but they are graven by the finger of Death.”

Apple. “I think such brilliant days make us feel too well.”

Tristo. “They do. They kindle sensations too delightful for continuance—our systems are too coarse, too frail—it seems as if an electric finger were laid invisibly upon each shrinking nerve—a balm circumfuses and permeates the heart, strange, ecstatic, overpowering. The change, too, is often so abrupt as to cause an unpleasant revulsion—the process (so far as regards the action of the mind) is not unlike that by which we pass from the stern winter of our existence here, to the bright and unending summer of the future life.”

Apple. “Well, Tristo, though I could not succeed in making you merry, you have well nigh rendered me as sad as yourself. And Quod and Pulito have stopped their wrangling to listen to your melancholy.”

Pulito. “Yes, Tristo, you are unwontedly depressed to-night, and Dumpling has scarcely made a pun since we came together. However, the coffee is ready, that will revive you both.”

The first cup sufficed to set Apple on his legs, (speaking intellectually,) which he evinced by commencing a running fire of puns and jests, too rapid for transcription; while Tristo, more slowly, but not less surely, owned the mild, exhilarating influence. In the mean time conversation lagged, and finally ceased, while they gave themselves up to the more sensible pleasures of the palate. After a while, Pulito, who appeared to have been collecting all his energies for the onset, seized a moment, when Apple was poring over his Autobiography, Tristo with a pleased smile was dipping into Little’s poems, and Quod, as magister morum for the evening, was resettling the coffee pot on its uneasy bed, and broke forth in a most oratorical tone with the following introduction to the debate.

Pulito. “On whatever principle you may compare the writings of the older novelists with the works of Bulwer and his school, whether as to their effect, in instructing the mind, or improving the heart, quickening the moral sense, or conveying useful information, or even for mere interest, or whiling away the time in rational amusement, (which last is but the lowest commendation of a good novel): in any of these points of comparison, I maintain that the older writers have a decided and manifest superiority. I might appeal, for the support of this position, to the concurrent testimony of literary men, to the fact that they have outlived contemporary criticism, and are still classics in this fastidious age, and furthermore”—

[Pg 145]

Apple, (looking up from his manuscript.) “What book is that you’re reading out of, Pulito?”

“The book of my own intellect, as yet unpublished, Mr. Impertinence,” said Pulito, somewhat disconcerted.

Apple. “Indeed! As I was looking down, I thought from the rapid and mellifluous flow of words, the elegance and profoundness of the thought, that you were reading loud from some one of the British Essayists. No insinuations, however,” and he chuckled at the effect, while the others smiled at the harmlessness of his sarcasm.

Nescio. “Don’t suppose, Pulito, that because I prefer the modern to the ancient school among the English novelists, I therefore deny all merit to the latter. It would be strange, indeed, if men, who were admitted unâ voce to be the wits and geniuses of their age, should not have displayed many, and great, and varied excellencies. But won’t you allow that the incongruous mass, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, has gained its greenest laurels from its outrageous oddity? Its eccentricity is so astounding, so far beyond anomaly itself, that criticism pauses aghast, as at ‘the quills of the fretful porcupine,’ unknowing where to strike. You might as soon trace ‘the path of a serpent on a rock,’ or reduce to rule the movements of the wild ass of the desert. It is a mere chaos—a “rudis indigestaque moles.”

Pulito. “But, my dear fellow, such the author intended to have it.”

Nescio. “Well, and what then? Suppose he had made it dull, (as in fact much of it is, at least, to me,) would it be the more pleasing, that the author had simply fulfilled his intentions? I like a good conceit in my heart, and the more I like it, the more do I hate to see it spoiled.”

Pulito. “Do you assert that Sterne has spoiled his plan? If you do, the world is against you.”

Nescio. “I beg your pardon. Those few are against me, who copy their sentiments from one another, and who, I’ll be sworn, never had the patience to read through what they so extravagantly admire. There are many good judges, who have the taste to perceive the unrivalled beauties of Sterne in particular passages, his fine strokes of humor, his felicitous touches of character, and, therefore, indiscriminately extol the whole.”

Pulito. “Well, and I think they are about right.”

Nescio. “So they are, except in Tristram Shandy. But there I maintain, that while uncle Toby, and Yorick, and in fact all the actors, are among the most perfect pictures in the English language, the scenes are yet, many of them, unbearably wearisome. I would rather undertake to thread the labyrinth of Minos.”

Pulito. “Now, in my view, this same rambling style constitutes his great charm.”

[Pg 146]

Nescio. “Not at all. This attraction consists in the exquisite fidelity of his characters, and the wit that gleams along his zigzag path. His roving, if properly restrained, would be pleasing. But, in the very nature of things, we cannot heartily like an author whom we cannot keep in sight. He seems to have thought that any thing would take, provided only it were irrelevant. If, indeed, these disjecta membra were all brilliant or weighty, it would repay the labor of putting them together. But when you have done this, and find much of it absolute nonsense, you must feel spent, disappointed, and angry.”

Pulito. “Say what you will, and there is some truth in your words, Sterne will always remain inimitable.”

Nescio. “I deny it not, and I hope he may. One such specimen, however beautiful, of utter lawlessness, is quite enough, and the fame of Sterne has already drawn many a weak-winged aspirant from sober truth into erratic nonsense. That style, which, in him, if affected, was, at least, original, in an imitator would be stale and intolerable. By the way, have you ever read his Sermons and Letters?”

Pulito. “Yes, and they are beautiful, are they not?”

Nescio. “Surpassingly. But what say you to the older novelists, Fielding, Richardson and Smollett?”

Pulito. “Why, I say that their language is as much stronger and purer, as their thoughts are better, and their characters more natural, than those of Bulwer, and his tawdry tribe.”

Nescio. “Well, I must admire your modesty, to speak thus of a man, whom the spontaneous and infallible voice of a million has applauded, till praise itself grows weary.”

Pulito. “The infallible voice of the million! Phoebus! their words are oracular! It has not been a fact, then, has it, since the stars first sang together, that whatever the lions of the day have done, or written, these infallible judges have followed with their praise? They did not shout ‘te deum’ to Cowley, when that worshipper of the ‘dim obscure’ was the star of a voluptuous court, as vicious in taste as it was depraved in morals? Each spectacled ‘mother in Israel’ was not enraptured by Hervey’s magniloquent meditations among the tombs? The horrors of Walpole, and the mysteries of Radcliffe, the sorrows of Porter, with the bravery of her superhuman Wallace, and the streaming eyes of her immaculate Amanda, have not all been worshipped in their day as lords of the ascendant—have not all risen, and shone, and set, in the April sky of popular applause? Why, Quod, I am astonished that you should for a moment adduce the opinion of the rabble as authority.”

Nescio. “Out, aristocrat! where else would you look for natural and unbiassed feeling? I tell you, that when the voice of a people bursts forth in simultaneous applause, a work must be good.”

[Pg 147]

Pulito. “And I tell you, that if at this moment our meretricious press should bring forth the Letters of Junius, and the scribblings of Jack Downing, the people, if left to themselves, would choose the latter to reign over them, because the latter is most like themselves. Besides, upon one of these fashionable novels you do not get the free popular voice. Some giant critic, from prejudice, or false taste, sends forth his imprimatur, and the groundlings catch and repeat the cry,—as a mountain shakes the thunder from its cliffs, and the little bills reverberate its voice.”

Apple. “But the people have no interest to sway their opinion.”

Pulito. “Neither have they any judgment to guide it.”

Apple. “To what, then, shall we resort? For criticism has always shifted with the shifting taste of the age, and it may be shown that the learned, and the polished, have fluctuated in their sentiments as much as the ignorant and the coarse. Did not the voices of the educated prefer Cowley and Dryden to Milton, until Addison took Milton on his wing, and bore him far into the heaven of fame? The critics of every age have followed the prevailing style of the writers of their time; and, indeed, they have constituted a large portion of those writers. Every thirty years has a style peculiar to itself—soft or strong, plain or mystical, brief or diffuse, moralizing or descriptive, simple or turgid; and the critics have set up no barrier, and constituted no law.”

Pulito. “What you have said, was true, but is not. There are now so many perfect specimens from every literary mine, that dross or counterfeit is instantly detected. Criticism has become stable, or, if ever influenced by prejudice, or local feeling, you have only to take the average—cast them together into the alembic, and truth will come forth. And indeed the general and long-continued opinion of the multitude on a literary work, is always correct, partly because nature speaks within them, and partly because they have been told what to think by their superiors.”

Nescio. “Don’t suppose I prefer the flimsy modern copyists, to the eloquent Old English prose writers—the thinkers of the seventeenth century. But what says your Criticism to the novelists of the present age, as compared with those of eighty years since?”

Pulito. “I speak not of Scott; for I admit, as must all, that to the rest of story tellers, he is the sun in heaven. I likewise except Edgeworth, and Marryatt, and, perhaps, James and Cooper. But the Bulwerian is the prevailing style; and of him enlightened criticism says, that, with much brilliancy, and some philosophy, there is a great deal that is vicious in style, and false in sentiment, shallow in reasoning, and depraving in tendency. It says that his aphorisms are merely antitheses, striking, but untrue. His characters are too strong contrasts to be natural; they are foils to one another.”

Nescio. “And where will you find a more glaring instance of this, than in Scott’s Quentin Durward, where he introduces tragedy and comedy—the executioners to Lewis, that subtle king?”

[Pg 148]

Pulito. “I allow it, and always considered the picture overcharged: it is broad farce, and not real life.”

Nescio. “Well, I will tell you what I think of Smollett. When he is himself, he is coarse; and when he rises to the tender, he speaks in language, which true lover and true poet never employed. His sentimentality is to me disgusting, and his sketches, though laughable, are many of them caricatures. He had a strong sense of the ludicrous, but no taste for the refined. His sea-characters are admirable; but when, in the History of England, were oaths and exclamations, which I repeat not, so common in the mouths of refined ladies even, as he would represent? When I close a volume of Smollett, I rise with a sense of weariness—there is a something, which I sought, and found not—his characters appear before me in bold prominence, and they are consistent with themselves, but I doubt me whether all of them are consistent with human nature.”

Pulito. “There is something in what you say. Smollett fails in some points: but his mind was powerful, and his language is strong, and idiomatically pure. But in regard to poetry, and to love-scenes, the taste of the age was wrong: yet he simply accorded with that taste, and you cannot blame him for drifting with a race that thought Johnson a poet! As for Fielding, though too diffuse in style of remark, he is still immeasurably above Bulwer and his countless spawn. And so is Richardson, maugre his epistolary prolixity; and Goldsmith, with his quiet beauty and truth to nature, transcends them all. But Bulwer, instead of the apotheosis his admirers would bestow, deserves to do penance in purgatory for his literary sins. As obscure as Coleridge, without his deep philosophy, as glittering as Voltaire, without his sparkling wit, as seductive as Byron, without his amazing strength, his wisdom is founded in a few heartless maxims, and his poetry is comprized in a Rhyming Dictionary.”

Tristo. “No! Pulito, you are wrong there. I have heard your discussion with interest, and allow me to draw the line, which, in cooler moments, you would both approve. Bulwer is a scholar, and a genius, and essentially a poet. That he is a scholar, and a ripe one, no one that has read his Ambitious Student, and, above all, his Last Days of Pompeii, can doubt for an instant. When I look at the fact that he has founded a new school in romance; that he has written eight or ten novels, all different, all original, all creative in their kind; that we follow his characters from their entrance to their exit, with feverish and untiring interest; that in his own path no one approaches him, and that for eight years he has supported his reputation, I see not how he can be denied many of the attributes of genius. And that he is, in heart, a poet, despite his Siamese Twins, is equally evident to me. He is certainly fertile in invention, rich in expression, and powerful in pathos. I know not where to find any thing more poetic, more moving, than the character of[Pg 149] Lucy Brandon, and her twilight interview with Clifford at the lattice, the beautifully simple portraiture of Mydia, and, above all, the crossed love, and shattered hopes of the Ambitious Student. I say that he does possess wit and humor, and poetry, and talent, and that in large abundance. Yet his power is more in the manner than the matter; for he is often superficial, and his pictures of the world, though faithful and clear in parts, are false and confused as a whole. Their coloring is too high. He strains for effect. His views in politics, in ethics, and religion, are all shifting. If a brilliant thought occurs, he pauses little upon its truth or consistency with his previous sentiments. Because red and blue are both beautiful, he lays them on together. You view his pictures as in a glass, and depart, ‘straitway forgetting what manner of man he is.’ He makes all his heroes think and act splendidly for the moment; but their thoughts and actions are incongruous as a whole—they war among themselves. A man cannot at once be patient and resentful, thoughtful and careless, or learned and an idler. Again—his style is as bad as it is brilliant—it is affected—sometimes tawdry. His novels are bad, very bad, in their tendency. He marries vice and virtue; he joins nobleness to sin; he makes man the puppet of fate or circumstance; around the desperate offender he weaves a spell of enchantment; we follow his heroes with wonder and pity and love, through all their paths of crime and glory, and we close the book with a sigh that ourselves were not born with natures so high, and destinies so splendid, even at the price of all their wretchedness, and all their guilt. Bulwer may talk, and talk of virtue and religion, till his hair is gray—but his principles are poison. And if he be dangerous, his imitators are contemptible. Without a tithe of his power, they are more corrupt. Their works are prolific as the rod of Aaron, and lean as the kine of Pharaoh. In regard to talent, making allowance for the greater freshness of his novels, and that sympathy which we feel for every thing of our own day, and remembering that he had all their excellencies to build upon, and imitate, I should place him far below both Fielding and Smollett in mental power. Those older writers, though freer in language, are far less corrupt and enervate in thought, than these modern profligates. In those, there is a style simple, vigorous, and clear, and reflection solid, rational, and just—in these there is a continual reaching forth after singularity and power. Those draw faithful figures, though larger, perhaps, than life—but these present distortions—wicked daubs—gross flatteries, or else vile libels upon human nature. There is thought—here, sentiment—there, rough gold—here, spangled tinsel. Those are chalybeate streams, which come tumbling from mountains of iron, with waves dark, but salubrious: while these are rivulets from mercurial mines, that dance swiftly along their shining bed, with waters bright, but destructive.”


[Pg 150]


—“I charge thee, fling away Ambition;
Love thyself last.”
Henry VIII.
What! check the spirit in its earliest flight?
The new-fledged eaglet dash to earth again?
Wrap the just-rising sun in blackest night?
Hurl yon bright star from its empyrean?
Curs’d be the mind whence such a thought e’er sprung,
Yea, doubly curs’d the vile and slavish tongue
Which spake so mean a thought!
No, let that spirit rise,
Until the heaven of heavens before it lies,
Stretched out in clear perspective; and its home,
Ere it was fettered in this earthly form,
Be seen and recognized by thought innate;—
There let it brood, and “over all debate,”
Grasping earth, heaven, the Maker and the made,
Man and his fate, and fearlessly invade
The darkness which begirts Him round—the cloud
In which He hides His majesty.
The shroud,
Corruption, Reproduction, the stern war
Of Life and Death—the whence and what they are—
All it shall know—at least attempt to know,
Uninfluenced by the world it scorns below.
Yes, let that eaglet rise on tireless wing;
Far, far beyond the clouds’ dominion spring,
And dwell where all is one eternal hush—
No dash of billowy rack, no whirlwind’s rush;
But yon bright sun blazes an universe
Of pure, essential fire, whose gleams disperse
All shade, and ‘permeate the unsensuous space’—
Its atmosphere—the spirit of the place.
Ambition, Oh Ambition! fire of hell,
Burning and burning, why in me dost dwell,
A frail, ungifted one, who soon must die,
“Unwept, unhonored,” who with longing eye
Beholds thy heaven-high dome, but whose poor might
Sinks, struck and palsied, ere it scale that height?
Go, light his eye who loves the storms of life,
Go, burn his heart whose pulse unvarying beats,
Go, circle him in whom there is no strife
Of Soul and Sense,—of cold, and feverish heats.
[Pg 151]
But no, I would not drive thee from my soul,
Black “effluence of bright essence, uncreate.”
What trumps the conqueror’s fame from pole to pole?
What weaves the poet’s name in the web of fate?—
Man! Time and Power—these on thee wait.
W. F.


No. II.

The influence of moral feeling tends to heighten the pleasure which we derive from the contemplation of great actions.

Turn over the pages of history and philosophy—study the record of human events, and the laws of the mind, and we gather as their united testimony, the truth, that in all ages of the world, whatever has carried with it the impress of intellect, has commanded the homage of men. Even among rude and barbarous nations, he who distinguishes himself by some act of superior sagacity or valor, gains the ascendancy over his rivals, and is worshiped as Chief. The meed of honor in this case, is the result of a blind, but still a controlling admiration for the effect, unattended by a recognition of the cause. In more civilized communities, it is an enlightened and intelligent tribute to the offspring of mind.

To the man of imagination there is a powerful charm in the spectacle of a great mind throwing off the grave clothes of inactivity, and arousing itself for some mighty effort. There is almost a fearful grandeur in its movements, as it calls up one after another its slumbering energies, and girds itself for the struggle. And when it goes forth in its power to achieve the purposes which it has formed, it treads with a sternness and majesty which fling around it an irresistible spell. It is not simply the exhibition of vast strength which it presents, like the exertion of mere brute force, or the plunge of a falling avalanche, that awakens in the beholder these emotions of interest and delight. There is, it is true, in all such exhibitions, much to inspire sublimity of feeling. But the appeal which we speak of now, owes its effect to other associations of thought. It is the soul, the living, moving principle within, directing and controlling the whole, bending the will and purposes of others into subservience to its own ‘ruling passion,’ like the earth born giant of old, rising with fresh strength from every grapple with opposition, and pressing right onward to the goal of its wishes, with a progress that resembles the sure march of destiny—it is this which gives to the sublimity of intellect its distinguishing characteristics. With such a[Pg 152] mind, the man of imagination cherishes a fellow feeling, entering into its aspirations with kindred ardor, watching with intense interest its struggles against difficulties, sharing its gloom in the hour of trial, and its exultation at success. This thrill of sympathy is with him the vibration of the chord which binds him to the universe, and to his fellow man. Shut him out from such a kindred with his race; seal up the fountain of ever-flowing sensibility within his bosom, bid him gaze upon the sublime achievements of intellect, with a stoic’s indifference, and you have cut off from him a source of happiness of the purest and most exalted character, and left him a blank on creation’s page.

In our contemplation of great actions, perhaps no exercise affords the imagination more pleasure, than to observe the progress of some mighty revolution. At first, all is apparently calm and peaceful on the surface of society, and the beholder finds nothing in the cloudless sky above, the whispering breeze, or the unruffled serenity beneath, to forebode the fury of the coming tempest. He does not dream that the waves of discord and strife are so soon to dash their foam along the mirror-like tranquillity before him. Yet the principles may be already at work, whose influence is to arouse these slumbering elements to a fearful energy. Some youthful mind, destined to be the master spirit of its age, may be, even at the moment, preparing within the still retreat of its lonely musings, by patient and toilsome research, the great problem whose solution is to shake the existing system of things to its foundations. At length the fullness of the time is come, and “the little cloud like a man’s hand,” rears its shadowy outline far in the distant horizon. The voice of the tempest is heard moaning in suppressed accents, as though wailing a dirge over the wreck it must make. Darker and still darker above, the sky spreads out its drapery of mantling clouds. The spirits of the storm awake, and ride forth on the howling blast, amid the wild roar of the elements, celebrating the festival of their freedom. The tempest at length has spent its rage, the pall of blackness is withdrawn, and the bow of promise gives goodly token of the returning calm. This may seem perhaps a fanciful description of a revolution. But to the cultivated imagination, the reality calls up all the intenseness of interest and excitement which belong to scenes like these. The storm of human passions, when stirred up and left to range uncontrolled through a community, gathering in its ranks the ruthless votaries of ambition, avarice and revenge, urged, as it sweeps onward, by a thousand new impulses from selfish and opposing interests, may well be likened to the strife of the angry elements. There is in the majestic energies of human nature, when aroused and carried forward with a momentum generated by the heart, an exhibition of more terrific sublimity than all the varied convulsions in the physical world can possibly present. But we have said enough on this point, to show, that the source of pleasure to the imagination, which [Pg 153] we are at present considering, is one of no ordinary character, both in respect to the nature and degree of the gratification which it induces. And it is now high time that we return to our main object, which is to notice the influence of moral feeling in enhancing our susceptibility to this kind of intellectual enjoyment.

We look back with admiration upon the exploits of an Alexander; we are struck by the power of his genius, by the grandeur of his designs, the perseverance and energy of his execution. But the truth—the sober truth, with its disenchanting wand, breaks the charm which these throw around his memory, and compel our minds, divested of all enthusiasm, to sink their admiration of the hero in their aversion to the unprincipled robber of nations. But on the other hand, with how much of unmingled delight does the imagination contemplate the high moral dignity so conspicuous in the character of Washington. Both are splendid instances of the triumphs of genius; but with what different sentiments are they regarded! Over the memory of the latter, the purity of his motives and the disinterestedness of his ambition, have thrown a hallowed and unclouded atmosphere. Thus, it is only when great talents are ennobled by their subservience to virtue, that they receive the meed of unqualified admiration. As another illustration of this truth, notice the reformation in Germany—one of the most eventful dramas ever acted upon the theatre of the world. Perhaps there is no succession of events recorded on the page of history, which inspires the imagination with more thrilling interest—no prouder monument of the achievements of a single mind.

For a period of not less than a thousand years, the darkness of midnight had brooded over the nations of the east, relieved occasionally by some meteor star, whose solitary and transient gleam seemed only to deepen by contrast the surrounding gloom that succeeded. The curse of Papacy, with its ignorance, depravity, and superstition, lay like the frosts of winter upon the intellect and the heart of man; and the progress of true principles seemed to have been arrested forever. At this period of mental and moral gloom, nearly coeval with the dawn of reviving knowledge, arose the man who was to usher in the commencement of a new and glorious era. He had stood amid the worship of the temple at Rome, and been an eye witness to the luxury and licentiousness that defiled the consecrated courts. The name of the Holy City—the residence of the Vicar of Christ, had been treasured up in his mind from boyhood, with sacred associations. Alas, how changed from the image that his fond anticipations had pictured out! That moment gave birth in his soul to a mighty thought. He stood undazzled and unallured, though Rome’s pomp, and gaiety and beauty were spread out like a sea of enchantment before him. From that hour, Martin Luther was a champion of the truth—of the simple, unperverted truth. Year after year, with an ardor unchecked by difficulties, undaunted [Pg 154] by the threats of power, he continued to pour the light of his own illumination over the nations of Europe, until the temple of Papacy shook to its foundations, and every Catholic king trembled on his throne. In contemplating this wonderful revolution, it is difficult to decide, whether our admiration should be most excited by the magnitude of the event, or the apparent total inadequacy of the means. A humble and unknown individual, with the Bible in his hand as his only weapon of warfare, enters the field against a Pontifical hierarchy, that had swayed for ages the sceptre of an absolute dominion—and PREVAILS. The sublimity and grandeur of the achievement itself would be deservedly a theme for the highest flight of the poet’s muse, and the most glowing strains of the historian. But it is only when we consider the nature of this triumph, that its full power, as a source of pleasure to the imagination, can be appreciated. It was a triumph of knowledge over ignorance. The light of science, which had so long glimmered but faintly, and at intervals, from the cell of the cloister, now burst forth in full orbed glory—‘rejoicing like a giant to run his race.’ It was a triumph of literature and refinement over brutality and barbarism. From the frozen waters of the north, to the pillars of Hercules, the intellect of Europe shook off the weight of its darkness, and awoke to life and activity. It was a triumph of the pure simplicity of the Christian faith over idolatry, hypocrisy and superstition. The degraded slave of popish tyranny and imposition cast away the shackles of his bondage, and arose to assert the dignity of his nature. On every thing that had been enveloped in the universal chaos, the almighty mandate was written, “Let there be light.” Thus, in contemplating this great revolution, it is in the power of its appeal to our moral sensibilities, that its true sublimity is seen and felt.



Where the oak and the pine in grandeur vie,
Where the orange and lemon their fragrance blend,
Where its rushing stream the rivulet pours,
There stood a warrior Chief. His eagle eye
Shot a searching look on all around. His form
Was symmetry; and proudly eminent
In all the majesty of pride and strength,
That Indian stood. One look at Heaven,
One glance at earth he cast, and then he yelled
A whoop so terrible, so fiercely wild,
All nature seemed to start. As, when
On Afric’s sands a wounded lion roars,
[Pg 155]
The desert quakes, so now the sunbeams
Trembled upon each quiv’ring leaf. But see!
He starts—he bounds into the forest depths,
And all is still again.
Two moons
Their circling revolutions had fulfilled.
Twas when the evening breezes softly breathed,
Wafting sweet odors from the balmy groves,
And from each songster of the wood there rose
A vesper hymn, and over all the scene
Twilight a soft and rosy tint had spread—
Upon a grassy knoll was seen to sit
That warrior Indian. His head was still
Proudly erect. But his glassy eye
On vacancy was fixed, and from his side
There flowed a crimson stream that spake of death.
Alas! how changed the noble warrior!
His snowy plume—the captured eagle’s gift—
Is pure no more, but sprinkled o’er with blood;—
Yet see! he rises slowly—but anon,
He reels—he falls—a deathless stillness comes
O’er all the scene. In mortal agony his hand
Still tighter grasps his knife, and ’twixt
His lips compressed, in faint and broken voice,
He murmurs thus—“Great Spirit of my fathers!
In the pleasant hunting grounds receive me!”—
His spirit’s flown—the noble warrior’s dead;
His life-blood ebbed upon his native soil.
Free had he lived—free did the Seminole die.
H. H. B.


At the termination of one of those revolutions which have convulsed the Mexican States from their earliest formation, Herraras, who had been an active partizan, finding his own side in the minority, sought in retirement a refuge from the turmoils of political life, and protection for the innocence, with facilities for the education of his motherless daughter. This he realized, until it began to be rumored, and not without foundation, that he was secretly leagued with the piratical smugglers. He who intended to reap the chief advantage from a public prosecution, was young Velasque, a favorite of the Administration, whose sole motive was a vehement passion for the daughter of Herraras, which as yet the jealous fondness of the father for his own child, and the aversion of the adolescent Almirena herself, had with vexatious firmness resisted.

[Pg 156]

‘Surrender your daughter to my solicitations, and my influence with the Government shall secure your acquittal; otherwise, you must die, and—I will be avenged’—sternly uttered the wily amorado.

‘Leave me till morning, and you shall have my answer,’ replied the perplexed and indignant father.

That morning discovered him with his child many leagues from the Mexican coast, in a vessel bound to the United States, whose sudden departure he had procured by bribes, after having, under cover of the night, with the aid of a faithful servant, taken on board of it, a rich amount of his ill-gotten treasure.

On the borders of one of those lakes whose silvery surfaces may be frequently seen imbosomed among the wild highlands of New England, near the margin of a forest that encircled its waters with a drapery of dark green foliage, and luxuriant vines, and stretched far away over the circumjacent mountains, the outlaw had chosen his retreat. A few roods of ground were cleared around his lodge, which was secured from view in the direction of the lake, by a narrow file of trees and underwood, and on all other sides, by the unbroken forest. Here the refugee lived, sequestered from the world, his only companion his child; with a single attendant, an African, the menial of the lodge, and only visiter of the village that lay over the mountains, and was the nearest within many miles of circuit, where the servant went for the supplies of the family. The outlaw suffered no stranger to enter his precincts, partly because he feared lest justice should find an avenue to his guilt, and partly because he dreaded an interruption to the communion of affection between him and his daughter. He loved his child as few fathers love their offspring. He had always cherished her as the “apple of his eye.” But since his recent misfortunes, all other feelings had become extinct, or submerged in this one passion. He loved her because she was the image of her mother, who had been the young idol of his soul. He loved her because she was a part of himself, and his own dark eye flashed beneath her brow. She was all the world had left him which he could call his own. To make her father happy, and witness his cloudy features clear away in smiles, was the dearest delight of the affectionate daughter. He could not bear her a moment from his presence, which she, at the least sound of danger as instinctively sought, as the timid lamb bounds away to its dam. Music was to both father and child an exhilaration of pleasure, and relieved of its weariness many a lonely hour. He had instructed her to play the guitar, whose strings responding to the skilful touch of her fingers, trilled in his ear the sweet airs of his youth; while her zephyr-like voice poured forth, in rich harmony with his deep bass, those lays that awakened fostered memories in his bosom. She read to him from his favorite Spanish authors, a few of which he had brought to be companions of his exile. A daily and indulged employment [Pg 157] for the Mexican was sailing upon the lake, and angling for fish that were numerous in its waters. He had constructed for his daughter a light canoe with which she accompanied her father. While he fished, she sported with her little bark, which she learned to scull with such art, that like the shell of the Nautilus, it seemed of itself to glide through the waters. When the wind was high, so lightly and fearless did she skim over the curling tops of the waves, and so shrill and clear she sounded her notes on the air, that her father called her his Bird of the Lake. When the summer’s sun was shining hot, she would oar her boat along the shore, under the archway of the trees; here she twanged her guitar, or decked her hair with flowers from the banks, or filled her basket from the grape vines that twined among the low hanging limbs.

One day she sailed farther up the shore, and had unconsciously steered her boat into a sheltered cove. She was seated platting a chaplet of leaves; and as she adjusted it to her head, she looked into the water, so darkly shaded by the surrounding trees that it reflected her image clear as a mirror, and bright as her beautiful self. Not like Narcissus was she in love with her own image; but her father had told her that her hair and forehead were like her mother’s—that mother whom she had never seen—that she wore wreaths in her hair; and the fond orphan smiled at the resemblance, and seemed, as she gazed, to be enamored of the beauty whose early blight her father so bitterly mourned.

But the real beauty of this illusion was not without its charms. A young man, in the guise of a sportsman, attracted by the murmuring echoes of the music this Nereid warbled, had silently approached the waters, and screened behind a tuft of laurel shrubbery was looking, in breathless wonder, and deeply fascinated, upon this seemingly unearthly visitant of his mountain lake.

That a gloomy browed foreigner with his child, had come to reside near the lake was known in the village. Many suspicions were afloat as to his character. Few had seen the renegade. Even young Clermont, whose hunting excursions were fearlessly and widely extended, had not ventured near the dwelling of the recluse; nor had he dreamed what a flower was blooming in the dark woods of his native hills.

Almirena raised herself in her boat and attempted to pluck a rose that grew wild from a projecting rock. A tropical sun had imbrowned her skin; but polished the jet of her eyes to a higher brilliance; and her raven tresses floated more luxuriantly over her unbared neck. Attired in the costume of her country, her light vest open in front, with its flowing collar, and gathered loosely about her waist, revealed a form of classic mould; while her silken skirt, with its rich embroidery, excited still more the surprise of Clermont, who had seen in that retired district, only the simple dresses of rural life.

[Pg 158]

Perceiving that she could not easily reach the flower, Clermont, who had been fixed in his concealment by the enchantment of the vision, advanced to her view and offered his assistance. She was startled at the sudden apparition, and seized her oar. She did not know his language, but his gentle tones and supplicating gestures, tempted her to come nearer the bank and take the rose he offered, and then like the timid bird that picks one kernel from your hand, not staying for more flowers, which he would have gathered, she flew away over the waters.

Elfred Clermont, the son of the wealthy merchant of the village to which we have before alluded, was advanced in his professional studies, and at the time we are narrating, passing a vacation at home. With romance and enthusiasm commixed in his nature, refined in his feelings, he met with little congeniality of spirit among the rustic yeomanry of his native town; while amid the rugged scenery of the mountains, and deep gloom of the forests, he found his soul’s fondest sympathy. Taking his gun, and sometimes a musical instrument, he often pursued his solitary rambles; in the last of which he so unexpectedly encountered the outlaw’s daughter.

That night the sleep of Almirena was feverish. Her dreams were of the fair browed youth and his kind attentions. She awoke wishing he were her brother. Aware of her father’s inveterate aversion to any intercourse with the inhabitants of the vicinity, she said nothing to him of her adventure. But the next day, while he fished below, the hare-hearted girl, now emboldened by a feeling which to her was new, and which she did not probably analyze, again slowly propelled her canoe near the cove. The sound of music struck her ear. She dropped her oar, and taking her guitar, touched its chords. Its notes blended symphoniously in the sylvan recess with the sweet sounds of the young stranger’s flute; while their hearts were awakened to thrill in more exquisite melody. The ravished Clermont ran down to the water’s edge, and with a rich bouquet of flowers, which he held up to her view, prevailed upon her to approach the shore. He kissed the deep blushes from her cheek, as he assisted her to debark; and the stranger lovers sat down together upon the moss covered bank.

They did not understand each other’s language. But Nature has a dialect which she teaches all her children. The heart finds utterance not in artificial characters, but in burning expression. Music too speaks in glowing tones to the very ear of feeling.

They often met; he of the blue eyed Saxon race, she of the darker Roman origin—both impassioned; he from the gushing enthusiasm of his being, she from the ardent temperament of her southern skies. His love was pure as if she had been his sister. Hers as confiding as if he were her brother. Elfred soon acquired her native tongue, and instructed a ready learner in his own.

[Pg 159]

Herraras had marked the change in his daughter, and forbade her interviews with the young American. She implored; but he was inflexible. He loved his child, but with a love that could not be severed from its object. ‘What music is that?’ as a familiar air came quivering through the latticed window of his cottage, inquired the outlaw, with an emotion that was never kindled except at the voice of his child, or the sound of her guitar. ‘Has a minstrel of our own country wandered hither?’

‘Shall I call the player, father?’ eagerly asked the child.

‘I would see him.’

She ran for her lover.—Her artifice succeeded. Elfred was admitted to the lodge. The music of his flute, his frequent conversations with the Mexican in his own language, tended somewhat to revive humanity in the seared breast of the outlaw. But the doting father could not be induced to yield up his daughter to the solicitations of Clermont, who was at length obliged, quite in despair, to cease pressing his suit with the old man, though he still visited at the lodge. Almirena’s filial piety was too closely interwoven with her father’s happiness to allow her to thwart his wishes, yet at the same time she twined about Elfred in all the artlessness and strength of her love.

The exiles were seated one afternoon in the front apartment of the cottage, when the door was darkened by a strange form. The features of Velasque broke upon them like a fiend’s, hellish with revenge, blood-shot with lust. The outlaw stirred not, only hoarsely uttered ‘devil!’

‘I have come for my revenge,’ alternated the intruder, in a tone of cool, malignant triumph.

Almirena shrieked out as the tiger-like eyes of Velasque gleamed upon her.

The young Mexican immediately assumed a more familiar manner, and declared to the imperturbed outlaw, that he had been convicted of piracy in his own country, and that himself was accompanied by a party of United States officers, who were furnished with a warrant for his arrest from their Government. While they delayed in the woods, he had advanced professedly to reconnoitre, but really to parley.

‘You may escape if’——

‘If!’ thundered out the infuriated father. He checked his words. For a moment the storm of feeling raged within his breast. ‘I die,’ at length he said. ‘But we will pray before we go. Yonder is the image of our Mother.’ He led his daughter into a back room. ‘Now pray for protection.’ He whispered in agony, ‘fly—fly to your boat—you will be safe. I suffer for my guilt.’ The terrified child, the affectionate daughter, would have stayed by her father. But he sternly urged her forward. She sped her way to the lake. Velasque, suspecting an artifice, advanced; and missing his victim, dashed impetuously by Herraras, hurling the old [Pg 160] man to the floor as he impotently endeavored to oppose him, and ran down the wood-skirted path to the waters. The resolute girl had pushed her canoe from the shore, and standing erect was vigorously plying her oar. Her pursuer seized her father’s boat; but the wind was up, and the waves mocked his strong-nerved efforts. She seemingly leaped from crest to crest. He called after her. The wind returned upon him his voice; and her flowing locks streamed in wilder witchery to his view. Nearing the shore, she sprang from her boat, and bounded away like a young fawn through the forest, leaving her vexed pursuer far behind.

The outlaw, recovering from his violent fall, hurried for the water. Velasque was far on the lake. The old man hastened along the shore to meet his daughter on the upper extremity of the lake. He found her in a branch-vaulted glen, concealed under an arbor that Clermont had constructed for their stolen interviews; scarcely did he begin to tranquillize his child, now fluttering with fear, and exhausted by her efforts, when Velasque leaped down the side of the glen. They stood face to face—the outlaw and the exasperated lover. ‘Obstinate old man,’ said the latter, ‘thou shalt die, and thy defenseless daughter shall be subdued to my wishes, if thou wilt not now acknowledge her mine.’ The old man replied not. Almirena, deadly pale, staggered forward to her father, and extending up to him her clasped hands, groaned out, ‘Oh my father, let me be honorably his.’ Nature failed her—she fell lifeless at his feet. Velasque stooped forward to raise her. But the maddened old man, with unnatural nerve, ran upon him, and precipitated him down a chasm in the rocks. The officers, who had been on the alert in the woods, now came up.

They bore the unconscious form of Almirena to the lodge, and consigned it to the care of her tender hearted slave. The wounded Velasque was carried away on a litter. The outlaw was manacled. He was supposed to be a bloody-handed, ferocious pirate. And as the girl was thought to be an accomplice in her father’s guilt, the officers had little pity for either. They did not permit the old man to go to his house and take a last look of his child; but conveying him by a nearer way through the valley of the lake, on the next morning they reached the sea-port, and lodged the outlaw in prison, where he was to be confined until Velasque should be sufficiently recovered to take charge of him to Mexico. Herraras was not sorry that his daughter had died. He knew that his own fate was sealed, and that she should live, exposed to the violence of Velasque, would have been worse than death on the rack to himself. He settled down in a calm, sullen submission to his destiny.

But Almirena lived. She had fainted; but awoke in a delirium. Clermont did not come to the lodge till the following morning. She wildly addressed him as he entered, ‘Farewell, Elfred, farewell. I have given myself to Velasque, and he spares my father’s life. You [Pg 161] would see me before I go. Farewell. One kiss, one more;’ and she threw her arms about his neck, as he leaned over her, and sobbed like a child. For weeks did her lover watch in patient agony by her side. At length she slowly recovered.

Velasque did die. Foiled in his chief design, his spirits sunk, and he had not sufficient energy to counteract the effects of his wounds, which soon terminated his existence. Velasque being the only witness against the outlaw, and no one appearing to prosecute the case farther, he might have been discharged; but a new suit was instituted by those who had accompanied Velasque, charging him with the murder of the Mexican. He possessed no evidence to countervail the accusation. A stranger in a strange land, a condemned pirate immured in a prison, he had not heard that his daughter was yet alive. The popular feeling was against him. Clermont, who, being busy and remote, and also too fearful of the guilt of Herraras in respect to piracy, had not interested himself to learn what was transpiring, did not arrive at the court, till the evidence on the part of the state had been received. He was admitted to manage the defense. He called only one witness, the lovely daughter of the prisoner. As the hard-visaged outlaw met his child, the living from the dead, and held her in his embrace, his iron soul seemed to melt, and flow out at his eyes; a sight that turned the sympathies of the spectators in his favor. Almirena’s story was simple, and touching, in manifestation of the villainy of Velasque. Clermont conducted the case, to him, and all, now most intensely interesting, by an ingenious and manly argument in point of the prisoner’s having acted in defense of himself, and of the honor of his daughter. The outlaw was acquitted.

Herraras cheerfully yielded his daughter to his noble deliverer, her devoted lover; stipulating only that he might love her yet, for the sake of her mother. In tranquillity, and penitence for early misdeeds, the outlaw passed his days. Clermont, under another name, has arisen to distinction; but yearly does he revisit with his still beautiful Mexican wife, the lake of their romantic loves.


Lady, I would not flatter thee—oh no!
For ’tis unkind to foster earth-born vanity,
And he doth err that wishes to bestow
An extra share of it on weak humanity.
Yet, on reflection, sure I do not know
That I should be suspected of insanity,
Were I to call thee—as I truly might—
Beautiful, aye, beautiful as a form of light.

[Pg 162]

Beautiful—and saying it, I tell no lie,
Though tried by Madam Opie’s strict ordeal—
Beautiful—if soft, soul-beaming eye,
And form as graceful as the beau-ideal
The sculptor carved his Cnidian Venus by,
And features blooming, not with cochineal,
But with such hues as Fancy would fain cull
From Angel’s cheeks—if such as these be beautiful.
I would not flatter thee—and yet must say
Thou hast a witching gracefulness of motion,
A dream-like lightness; and thou hast a way
Of sweetly smiling, like the rippled ocean,
When on it joyously the moonbeams play;
And thou hast gaiety softened by devotion,
Aye, and good nature, which, upon inspection,
I always found developed in extreme perfection.
I would not flatter thee—much less, would know
The pungent strength of critical acidity
For talking prettily of ‘twilight glow,’
And ‘moons,’ and ‘sighs’—all types of insipidity.
And yet I say not that the earth can show
Ought more enchanting than the deep placidity
Stealing around us on a moonlight eve,
When winds are hushed in sleep, and clouds the heavens leave.
And when, at that most heart-ensnaring time,
With thee I gaze upon the huge old man
Reigning in yon pale center-light of rhyme,
Or in the heavens the path of Venus scan,
Or fancy from the spheres the distant chime
Of evening bells—I will not say that then
Strange feelings come not o’er me, soft and solemn,
Producing—tears, perhaps, and poetry by the volume.
I will not say that then I have not found
In thee almost an Angel’s loveliness,
Or that thy voice has not as sweet a sound
As music on the waters, or that less
Than a bright spirit’s influence has bound
My soul in that fond dream of blessedness,
Which, vastly strengthened by thy conversation,
Has seemed, to say the least, a sweet hallucination.
I would not flatter thee—much less, indeed,
Would seem, in poetry, a Della Cruscan;
I own not that, nor any kindred creed;
Nor do I like the sentimental fustian,
Which modern fashionables so much read.—
Now he who honestly professes thus, can
By law poetic, ne’er be an offender,
Though, now and then, he seem a little over-tender.

[Pg 163]

From friends long loved how hard it is to part!
How hard, indeed, from one but briefly known—
From thee, sweet bird of passage, as thou art—
Charming awhile, but oh, how quickly flown!
Aye, thou’rt away:—and my unguarded heart—
Whither, ah, whither has the truant gone?
In vain I search;—didst thou, fair maiden, take it?
Then, cast it not away, for rudeness sure would break it!



“——Secum meditari ingenium est boûm.”

“Cows, of all animals, have the greatest propensity for rumination. For the most part, they are gentle, quiet, affectionate, unpretending, useful animals; all they require is kindness, and kindness they will return. Yet they have their antipathies and their whims, (red shawls are their abomination,) but, on the whole, they are inoffensive ruminators—not obtrusive, (except when they take a fancy to gore.) Their caresses are rough as their tongues; yet their roughest licks are meant in kindness. They never bite—their teeth are ground down. They are neither snappish nor carnivorous. They are remarkably fond of salt, and are quick to detect its presence. Although timid and yielding in general, they will fight any one, or any thing, in defense of their young.”

Baron Munchausen.

The last quoted author has described with remarkable correctness, in his remarks upon the cow, the character of a being, of whose existence he could not have dreamed—even of myself. Yes, even such I conceive to be my character—the coat fits, and I will put it on—“under such a shape I write.” Being in external appearance, a hale, stout, fat old bachelor of fifty, fond of the arm-chair and the comfortable dressing-gown, of easy fortune, retired habits, and few friends, I am, in soul, thought and disposition, and to all intents and purposes, a gentle old cow. Nor is there any thing humiliating in the confession. I esteem the character—I admire it. Would to heaven that in these matter-of-fact, dollar-and-cent days, there were more men of my nature! I injure no man; but if any man injures me, I have horns and can gore him, a tail and can lash him. In consideration of the unsullied purity of my character in my manly state, I have ventured to conceive that I am, in the bovine genus, that most amiable non-descript, an old maid. Still, I am no Io—nor Io turned old maid. I never was handsome enough to warm the soul of Jove, nor mad enough to swim the Bosphorus. I am not, never was, and never will be, Oestrus-driven. The many-eyed[Pg 164] shepherd, Argus, if ordered to watch me, would have needed only one of his hundred eyes—he might have seen me, even with “half an eye,” quietly grazing, all the morning of my life, in the flowery meads of Literature, Moral Philosophy and Metaphysics—ever and anon, quenching my thirst with a draft from the pure stream of Helicon—and now, in the afternoon of life, reclined upon the grass, under the shade of a branching, verdant oak, placidly, philosophically, philanthropically, and withal meekly chewing the stock which I formerly stored.

——“Lacte alimentum cognoscimus.”

Were it not presumptuous, I would hope that my production might prove the pure, unadulterated, untainted “milk of human kindness.”


I was recalling to memory, the other day, all the friends and acquaintance of my boyhood and youth, that I could recollect; and I mustered a goodly list. My mind wandered from their names to their hopes and plans; I recalled the schemes and enterprizes, which I knew they had meditated. The train once started, visions of bygone days and circumstances poured in upon me. Again, I sauntered, arm in arm, with a friend, through the moon-lit streets, on a summer’s evening—again, I wandered listlessly along the beach—again, I stood upon the summits of the hills which surrounded the abode of my youth—again, I heard the confiding strain of youthful friendship—I saw the face lit with the joy of anticipated triumph—the step, unnaturally firm, proud and elastic. Alas! where now were those friends? Some were dead—some were in obscurity—many were in mediocrity of life—few, how few, had approached the goal of their youthful wishes. And what was the cause of all this? Was the fault in the men, or their plans? Upon the plans I fixed it; for I could not, and I would not, lay aught to the charge of the loved ones of my youth. And where was the fault in the plans? Was it not here—that the plans were founded on the hopes, while the hopes should have been founded on the plans? Hope is the etherialplan the material part of an expectation. A plan, founded on a hope, is like a house founded on the sand—it cannot endure. As verdant forests and luxuriant vegetation adorn and beautify the sides, and white fleecy clouds cap the summits, of a rock-based mountain, softening the rugged cliffs, filling up the chasms, smoothing the precipices, and concealing the roughness of the path which winds up the ascent; so should Hope, with its varied hues, tinge and adorn the ever-during frame-work reared by Reason. So should it be—but, is it so? Do not men strive rather to throw a semblance of reason over their hopes? Do they not build castles in the [Pg 165] air, and then exert all their ingenuity to give an appearance of probability, or at least of possibility, to their baseless fabrics?

O Hope! thou art a blessing, and thou art a curse. Thou art an intrusive, impudent, officious, treacherous imp—thou art a lying varlet—a cheating knave—thou hast no conscience—thou wilt gull, over and over again, prince and peasant, rich and poor, the unjust judge and the oppressed widow. Men kick thee out of doors, and again thou comest. Thou art a very Proteus—deny thee entrance in one shape, and instantly thou takest another. Sometimes thou servest the devil, and sometimes thou doest business on thine own account. Again, I say, hang thee for an intermeddling imp!

Men talk of the pleasures of hope! have they never felt the misery of hope deferred—the pang of hope crushed? Have they ever estimated the amount of misery chargeable to this self-same hope? Who fathers Ambition, with all its woes, attendant and consequent? Hope. How many dream away their lives in listless vacuity, hoping all the while, that something will turn up! What injuries has Hope not done to youth? Then, when men ought to be training themselves for the stern realities of life—when they should prepare their provisions for its stormy voyage, Hope whispers that the course is clear—the ocean calm—the wind favorable. How many commence enterprizes, which can end in nothing but disappointment, and undertake duties, to the performance of which their abilities are inadequate, spirited on the while by Hope, the traitor, who stimulates his unconscious victims to mount round after round of the ladder, until, with a whoop and a laugh, he tears the veil from their eyes, and permits them to see and to feel that they are high, not on the temple, but on the pillory of Fame! ‘Hope sweetens labor’—does he? ‘Thank you, madam, I prefer it without sugar.’

Hold! I revoke—I take back somewhat that I have said. Hope—thou art an imp, but still a playful imp—full of mischief, but such a lively, laughing, little, curly-headed rogue, with such a comical look in the corner of thine eye, that for my life I cannot lose thee. I am inclined to say to thee, as one said to his dog—‘Ah! Tray! thou little knowest the mischief thou hast done.’

B. V.


There’s much of rapture in those favored hours,
When o’er the mind a magic influence steals,
That tunes to poetry and song its powers,
And melts in music all a warm heart feels.
There is a blissfulness that lifts the soul
Far from the paltry cares and toils of time,
In venting feelings that defy control,
In lofty-measured strains or tuneful rhyme.

[Pg 166]

The summer’s shower that wets the deep-seared earth,
And decks her burning surface new in green,
And saves the land from pestilence and dearth,
Comes not more joyous than the spirit dream,
Steals o’er the poet’s troubled soul, and gives
The rapture-speaking voice and tone!
He rises to another sphere—he lives
For a short season in a world alone!
Alone!—oh no! there Fancy groups her forms
More lovely far than earth presents to view;
More beauteous garniture that land adorns—
The skies assume a deeper, brighter blue.


Pray, accept a cold dish for a desert—a crab apple, as it were, and a glass of water, to wash down previous articles and assist digestion. I have purposely excluded all brightnesses; for temperance is the vogue, and after so diversified and incongruous a meal, the cracking of a joke might be as pernicious to your mind as the cracking of a bottle would be deleterious to your body. You may, if you choose, apply to me the Latin cant phrase, “ab ovo usque ad mala,” meaning by ‘mala,’ not ‘apples,’ but ‘evils;’ yet will I meet the thrust with calmness—proudly reflecting that I myself suggested the sarcastical equivoque.

Agathias’ narrative of the little ruse, whereby he tore the veil of feminine hypocrisy from the heart of his mistress. Let some of my condisciples improve upon the hint.

Eager to know my place in Cynthia’s heart,
I probed her hidden soul with cunning art.
“To a far land, my Cynthia, while I go,
Oh, let mine image to thy memory grow!”
Groaning she sprang in anguish from her chair,
Beat her fair face and tore her shining hair.
With tears my stay the suppliant beauty prayed,
Till, slow, I yielded to the lovely maid.
Ye gods! how bless’d! since what my heart did crave,
That, as a favor, to my love I gave.
Minerva once saw Venus all in arms,
With beamy casque, and wavy plume array’d—
“Thus dar’st thou meet the trial of our charms,
My Cyprian rival?” said the awful maid.
Smiling she spoke, “How, when I take the shield,
If weaponless, my beauty gained the field?” [3]

[3] The contest before Paris, on Mt. Ida.

[Pg 167]

Many an old man, whose limbs are as heavy as if the gold he had spent years to amass, were gliding, molten, through his veins, can join bitterly in the following lament, and many a young man, who forsakes the heights of Parnassus for the vale of Mammon, may find, too late, that the chase for riches is, in an evil sense, its own “exceeding great reward.”

When young, I was poor—now I’m old, I am wealthy—
Thus my life has been all but a goose-chase of pleasure—
I had not a copper, when buoyant and healthy,
But, past its enjoyment, I’ve mountains of treasure.

There has been in all ages a prejudice against step-mothers, and the feeling, if unjust, is yet natural. When the hearts of children are yet sore with sorrow for the loss of their own dear mother, it creates dislike to have another, whom as a stranger, they cannot view with love, step over their heads, and assume the reins of command. If kind, yet the contrast is strange, if not disgusting—the tones may be soft, but they are not those which sealed their infant eyes, and soothed their infant woes—if overbearing, her tyranny is intolerable.

Thinking her nature with her life was gone,
No more to household tyranny a slave,
A youth was crowning once the chiseled stone,
That rose columnar o’er his step-dame’s grave.
But as he leaned against its marble base,
The pillar crushed him, toppling from its place.
Ye step-sons, who would flee his wretched doom,
Beware approaching e’en a step-dame’s tomb.

Here is a thing or two, appertaining to love and women, and so forth, just as such things have been described since Adam first gazed in pleased astonishment upon Eve,

“That would be woo’d, and not unsought be won,”
“The amorous bird of night
Sung spousal, and bid haste the evening star
On his hill-top to light the bridal lamp.”
A maiden kissed me at the evening hour
With dewy lip—how honied was the kiss!
Her mouth breathed nectar, and its balmy power
Hath made me drunk with love’s bewildering bliss.
I would I were a rose—that thy sweet hand
Might gently place me on thy snowy breast—
Or sighing gale—for then my spirit bland
On thy soft bosom would securely rest.

[Pg 168]

Here follow a few melancholy breathings of that better part, which shone bright and burning while it lasted, though its food was error, and its end was death. Their aspirations after immortality were few and faint—for the very existence of another world was merely an assumption—a matter of speculation. An immortality of fame, to the sober eye, was not merely worthless, if acquired, but its acquisition was a thing of toil, and danger, and doubt. Robbed of the high aims and hopes for which it was made, “the chainless spirit of the eternal mind,” would stoop to no medium flight, but sunk in hopeless despondence, and like guilty Adam,

“On the cold earth it lay,
Oft cursing its Creator.”

The light of reason did but make known their darkness, and ignorant of the unseen and the future, they clung with deep devotion to the visible and the present.

Drink and be glad: for what’s to-morrow’s sun,
Or what the future? No one knows—not one.
Haste not, nor toil: but, as thou can’st be kind,
Give, eat, deem all things mortal in thy mind.
To live, or not to live—it’s an equal state,
For life’s a feather in the scales of fate.
Seize it—’tis thine—but if thou die—then what?—
Another has thine all—it matters not.
How came I here? Whence am I, and for what?
To go again. How know I, knowing nought?
Nought before birth, I shall be such again,
For less than nothing are the sons of men.
But bring me wine—that fountain of relief—
That sparkling soother of distressing grief.
Oh! swiftly flies the blooming hue,
That doth the rose adorn,
And then unto thy searching view,
The rose is but a thorn.
Gray Time flies swiftly by, and steals the breath
Of vocal men. Himself unseen the while,
He shrouds the visible in the dust of death,
And brings to light the lowly and the vile.
Oh! thou of life the undetermined end,
Thy steps do daily unto darkness tend.

[Pg 169]


“The Character of the Indian,” though inadmissible, is not without merit. In manner it is nearly faultless; in matter, too commonplace to be either instructive or entertaining.

“F.” had better send his verses to “R.” in manuscript. She would undoubtedly greet them with a hearty welcome.

“P.’s” poetry on Poland, though apparently somewhat in years, is filed for insertion. The prolegomena, on account of their too great length, are declined.

“Loose Thoughts on Smoking”—much too loose for publication. We find no fault with the author’s habit, but think he had better smoke in silence.

[Pg 170]



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.

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.”

This No. contains 2½ sheets. Postage, under 100 miles, 3¾ cents; over 100 miles, 6¼ cents.

Printed by B. L. Hamlen.

Transcriber’s Notes

A number of typographical errors were corrected silently.

Cover image is in the public domain.