« AnteriorContinuar »
one out of many other ingredients of the understanding. There is an association in mnen's minds be tween dulness and wisdom, amusement and folly, which has a very powerful influence in decision upon character, and is not overcome without considerable difficulty. The reason is, that the outroard sign of a dull man and a wise man are the same, and so are the outward signs of a frivolous man and a witty man; and we are not to expect that the majority will be disposed to look to much more than the outward sign. I believe the fact to be, that wit is very seldom the only eminent quality which resides in the mind of any man; it is cominonly accompanied with many other talents of every description, and ought to be considered as a strong evidence of a fertile and superior understanding. Almost all the great poets, orators, and statesmen of all times, have been witty. CÆSAR, ALEXANDER, ARISTOTLE, DESCARTES, and Lord Bacon,were witty men; so were CICERO, SHAKSPEARE, Demos THENES, BOILEAU, POPE, DRYDEN, FONTENELLE, JONSON, WALLER, COWLEY, SOLON, SOCRATES, Doctor Johnson, and almost every man who has made a distinguished figure in the House of Commons. I have talked of the danger of wit: I do not mean by that to enter into common-place declamation against faculties becanse they are dangerous; wit is dangerous, eloquence is dangerous, a talent for observation is dangerous, every thing is dangerous that has efficacy and vigor for its characteristics: nothing is safe but mediocrity. The business is, in conducting the understanding well, to risk something; to aim at uniting things that are commonly incompatible. The meaning of an extrwrdinary man is, that he is eight men, not one man; that he has as much wit as if he had no sense, and as much sense as if he had no wit: that his conduct is as judicious as if he were the dullest of human beings, and his imagination as brilliant as if he were irretrievably ruined. But when wit is combined with sense and information; when it is softened by benevolence, and restrained by strong principle; when it is in the hands of a man who can use it and despise it, who can be witty and some thing much better than witty, who loves honor, justice, decency, good-nature, morality, and religion, ten thousand times better than wit; wit is then a beautiful and delightful part of our nature, There is no more interesting spectacle than to see the effects of wit upon the different characters of men: than to observe it expanding caution, relaxing dignity, upfreezing coldness, teaching age, and care, and pain, to smile; extorting reluctant gleams of pleasure from melancholy, and charming even the pangs of grief. It is pleasant to observe how it penetrates through the coldness and awkwardness of society, gradually bringing men nearer together, and, like the combined force of wine and oil, giving every man a glad heart and a shining countenance, Genuine and innocent wit like this, is surely the favor of the mind! Man could direct his ways by plain reason, and support his life by tasteless food;
bas given us wit, and flavor, and brightness, and laughter, and perfumes, to enliven the days of man's pilgrimage, and to charm his pained steps over the burning marl.'
We hope to see the volume from which these extracts are taken soon republished on this side of the Atlantic. It could not fail of a wide circulation among the writer's numerous American admirers. . . . A SOUTH-WESTERN correspondent sends us the following anecdote of Harry H - ,' a prominent citizen, a member of a leading commission-house in his native town, a zealous Methodist there, not quite so much so' in New-Orleans, but shrewd enough in trade any where :' 'Some years ago the Methodists were holding a camp-meeting in the country a few miles from this place, and Harry was present. On Sunday evening a sermon had been preached, and an effort made to get up an excitement, but in vain. The congregation were extremely dull and indifferent. By-and-by Harry arose and commenced singing, walking about the altar, up and down the aisles, shaking hands with the brethren, etc. At the end of each verse was a familiar chorus, something like this:
Shall I ever get to heaven, hallelujah, hallelujah,
He had got through one verse, and this chorus, which he sang with peculiar spirit and emphasis, and just as he had finished the last word, a student, seated in the back part of the meeting, and overlooking the whole scene, cried out, “No-Sir-ree! you never will !' The preachers could not help smiling any more than the rest of the people could refrain from laughing outright.' ... We copy from 'The Tribune daily journal, the following notice of an entertaining work, recently published by the Brothers HARPER ; regretting that our own copy came at too late a period of the month to be adequately reviewed in the present number. The author is a gentleman of decided talent, whose pen has heretofore been welcomed cordially to these pages : Standish the Puritan' is a tale of the American revolution, issued under the nom de plume, we suppose, of ELDRED GRAYSON, Esq., and dedicated to no less a flesh and blood reality than our friend of the KNICKERBOCKER, LEWIS GAYLORD CLARK.
The scene of the story is laid in New-York and its vicinity, at the breaking out of the revolutionary war, and the numerous reminiscences and traditions of that period are made use of, for the construction of the narrative, with very considerable success. The author evidently possesses the power of quick and accurate observation; he understands the grouping of characters, so as to command the interest of the reader ; and with a keen perception of the ridiculous, and a lively satirical vein, he has produced a work, which in spite of faults of arrangement and style, is creditable to his talents for fictitious composition. His book will find many readers, and will well reward their attention.' . .. UNDER the head of "The Knickerbocker and the South' the Charleston ‘Literary Gazette' favors it readers with some forcible-feeble remarks against this Magazine, for having admitted a poem by ALBERT PIKE, Esq., of Arkansas, entitle 'Disunion,' wherein he denounced in strong terms the project of dissolving the bonds which, bind our glorious States together. This, it seems, is the head and front of our own and our correspondent's offending; and in this, it would appear, we have permitted the South' to be ill-treated. On the one hand, we are abused by the abolition papers for making fun of our black brethren,' turning them into ridicule, by publishing the colored effusions' of such poets as Pancko, Gaul, and the Hartford PlatO-ESS ;' and on the other we are denounced for permitting the South' to be ' evil spoken of. Well, well; we shall go on as heretofore; interfering at no time with vexed questions, religious or sectional; but striving to make a readable Magazine, which shall please many and offend none, save quacks and pretenders, literary and other. Meanwhile, if we have any patrons' at 'the South' or elsewhere who fancy that the KNICKERBOCKER is not worth their money, or undeserving of their favor, we shall of course be always ready to remove their names from our subscriptionlist. We desire no unwilling 'patrons,' nor have we any such ; and we suspect it will require something more than a suggestion of discontinuanced by the 'Gazette,' and something more heinous on our part than the publication of a piece of patriotic poetry, by a Southern fellow-citizen, who commanded our brave Southern volunteers in Mexico — we think, we say, that it will require something more than this to bring about the consummation so much desiderated by the Gazette. However, to make use of an expression which has been once before employed in print, ' Nous verrons, Messieurs.' ... Since the last number of the KNICKERBOCKER greeted our friends, one of the bright stars in the firmament of our literary world has been withdrawn, to shine forever in calmer and brighter spheres. FRANCES SARGENT OSGOOD, of whose admirable characteristics as a poet we need say nothing here, died at the residence of her husband, near our own, in Twenty-Second-street, on Sunday afternoon, the twelfth of May, aged twenty-seven years, six months and five days. The Rev. Dr. Rufus W. GRISWOLD, for many years one of her most intimate friends, has published in the 'Evening Mirror' an extended notice of her life and genius, from which we extract the following paragraphs descriptive of the closing scenes:
Mrg. Osgood's health was variable during the summer, which she passed chiefly at Saratoga Springs, in the company of a family of intimate friends, and as the colder months came on, her strength decayed, so that before the close of November she was confined to her apartments. She bore her sufferings with resignation, and her natural hopefulness cheered her all the while with re membrances that she had before come out with the flowers and the embracing airs, and dreams that she would again be in the world with nature. Two or three weeks ago her husband carried her in his arms, like a child, to a new home, and she was happier than she had been for months, in the er. citement of selecting its furniture, brought in specimens or in patterns to her bedside. We shall be so happy!' was her salutation to the few friends who were admitted to see her; but they saw, and her physicians saw, that her life was ebbing fast, and that she would never again see the brooks and green fields for which she pined, nor even any of the apartments but the one she occupied of her own house. A friend communicated the terrible truth to her, in studiously gentle words, reminding her that in heaven there is richer and more delicious beauty, that there is no discord in the sweet sounds there, no poison in the perfume of the flowers there, and that they know not any Sorrow who are with OUR FATHER. She read the brief note almost to the end silently, and then turned upon her pillow like a child and wept the last tears that were in a fountain which had flowed for every grief but hers she ever knew. I cannot leave my beautiful home,' she said, looking about upon the souvenirs of many an affectionate recollection, “and my noble husband, and Lily and Mar!" These last are her children. The sentence of her friend was confirmed by other friends, and she resigned herself to the will of God. The next evening but one a young girl went to amuse her by making paper flowers for her and teaching her to make them; and she wrote to her these verses her dying song:
• YOU'VE woven roses round my way,
And gladdened all my being:
Save only the ALL-SEXING!
May Er who gave this lovely gift
This love of lovely doings -
In ev'ry hope's pursuings !
I'm going through the eternal gates
Era June's sweet roses blow!
And it is sweet to go!'
At the end of five days - at fifteen minutes before four o'clock, on Sunday, the 12th of May -as gently as one goes to sleep, she withdrew into a better world.
On Tuesday her remains were removed to Boston, to be interred in the cemetery of Mount Auburn. It was a beautiful day, in the fulness of spring, mild and calm, and clouded to a solemn shadow. In the morning, as the company of the dead and living started, the birds were singing what seemed to her friends a sadder song than they were wont to sing; and as the cars flew fast on the long way, the trees bowed their luxuriant foliage, and the flowers in the verdant fields were swung slowly on their stems, filling the air with the gentlest fragrance, and the streams, it was fancied, checked their turbulent speed to move in sympathy, as from the heart of nature tears might flow for a dead worshipper. God was thanked that all the elements were ordered so, that sweetest incense and such natural music and reverent aspect of the silent world should wait upon her, as so many hearts did, in this last journey. She slept all the while, nor waked when in the evening, in her native city, a few familiar faces bent above her, with difcult looks through tears, and scarcely audible words, to bid farewell to her. On Wednesday she was buried with some dear ones who had gone before her, beside her mother and her daughter, in that City of Rest, more sacred now than all before had made it to those whose spirits are attuned to Beauty or to Sorrow; those twin sisters, so rarely parted, until the last has led the first to heaven.'
A FRIENDLY correspondent writes us from down-east' as follows: 'I have been much pleased with Maga's rebukes of sectarian bigotry and intolerance; rebukes justly and judiciously spoken. One cannot better prove his friendship for the cause of religion than by contributing to the growth of a tolerant and catholic spirit in the churches. When cant shall become unprofitable and coarseness offensive, and 'nothing else,' christianity will be relieved of its worst (because domestic) enemies, and skepticism will be deprived of its best allies. Why should professed christians treat each other (or any others, christian or infidel) but with charity and kindness? What does the member of one denomination gain by denouncing that of another as an 'infidel? Will the scorn of the one convince the other of his error, or make his own heart the better? 'It is sorrowful,' says a celebrated English writer, 'to dream that we are scourges in God's hand, and that He appoints for us no better work than lacerating one another! Of such I would inquire, in the language of the writer just quoted, 'Is it not wonderful that the words of eternal life should have hitherto produced only eternal litigation ; and that in our progress heavenward we should think
it expedient to plant unthrifty thorns over bitter wells of blood in the wilderness we leave behind us ?' The following anecdote, whose worst fault is its truth, exhibits a spirit more easily defended by precedent than by Christian principle. A clergyman of one of the “liberal' denominations, who formerly resided on this river,' was called a few years ago to a neighboring town to officiate at a wedding. During his absence there was in some way connected with the wedding a party, at which there were
plays and forfeits' and dancing. Immediately on his return a report was started and industriously circulated by a clergyman of a different pursuasion that the former had, while absent, attended a party, and danced! It was not long before they met, and the former informed the latter that he had heard of the report in circulation, and that it was entirely false. Did you think it right,' he inquired, to make up and put in circulation a story of this kind, because you thought it would injure me ?' “Sir,' said the respondent, 'I do n't consider you evangelical " and he turned and went his way. How long will it take a spirit like this to evangelize the world ? — ReliGION has received no benefit from the practice by many sects of permitting coarse and ignorant men to become ministers. At a revival-meeting, not long ago, in a town "down east, one of the clergymen present read a passage from the Bible, and commenced his remarks thereon as follows: 'Now, my friends, you see this text puts in for Christ! What can any serious mind think of the effect of such language upon a revival congregation ? Apropos of ignorant ministers: I knew a minister in the ‘hill country,' who, in preaching from the text. The time of the singing of birds is come,' etc., broke out after this fashion: 'And how delightsome it is, my friends, to go forth in the spring and behold the turkle as he climbs upon some neighboring log, stretches out his majestic head, and lifts up his melodious voice!' At another time I heard him say that the religious life was like unto a fine-spun thread spun out by a spunster !! - P.S.: I see that you have heard of a lawyer away' down east here by the name of $ - . Several years ago, during the time of the late Judge P- , our lawyer had brought a sham replevin suit for the purpose of obtaining and keeping for a time certain goods and chattels. When the action was reached and was in order for trial, the defendant, as by our statute he might, pleaded the general issue' • What are the pleadings ?' inquired the judge. The general issue. Have you j'ined issue, Mr. S ?? No, I've demurred, your honor,' was the reply. Demurred to the general issue, Mr. S ? I never heard of such a thing! For what cause have you demurred ?' •For duplicity, your honor.' Wha-wha-what do you mean, Mr. S- ? • Why, may it please the court, I assure you I am perfectly serious.' “R-r-r-that will never answer in this court, Mr. S— !!... The North-American Review,' for the April quarter, is a varied and interesting number. The article upon Irving's Life of Goldsmitu is discriminating, and written with great good taste. We select a single passage, marked as we read, which we commend for its truth and beauty: 'We love best those who seem most nearly acquainted with our common daily life, and most warmly concerned in it; those who express this sympas thy and concern with the least reserve, and who count most securely on the universality of human hopes and wishes, passions and accidents. There is a secret solicitude in every breast on this subject of life ; it is of the intensest importance to us; an overshadowing thought, indeed, which insensibly colors all our other thoughts, while we are fancying ourselves very philosophical about the world and its affairs. It is in vain that we seek to reduce the importance of this life, or to moderate our concern in it, by considerations connected with anotier. Those very considerations do but add
dignity to a period which is so intimately connected with an unimaginable eternity. The greater our anxiety, or the stronger our hope in the future, the more intense is, and ought to be, the interest of a healthful mind in the present, and whatever tends to unfold, disentangle, or illuminate, that most puzzling but most precious present.' Or that most contemptible of all contemptible things, a Scotch Toady, the reviewer remarks: ‘Boswell's mental universe admitted but one sun, and the grand business of his life was, the exclusion of what might intervene between himself and the rays which glorified his insignificance.' The following remarks, in a review of a work on · The Siege of Boston,' seems to confirm the argument of our correspondent who placed 'Old Puf, at the Bar in these pages several years ago : It now appears very satisfactorily that Putnam never interfered with the direction of the troops in the redoubt at Bunker-Hill, who bore the brunt of the contest : he left that entirely to Colonel Prescott. What orders he gave were at the slighter defences.' ... THE ensuing graceful and feeling lines were sent by Mrs. James Russell Lowell in a letter to a bereaved friend, whence they escaped into print. We commend them to the heart of every bereaved parent :
I want to get some alum,' said a friend of ours to a Bowery druggist the other day, 'to allay a canker in my mouth. Please to dissolve it in water.' The man mixed something in a tumbler, that looked more like fine wool than alum-water. “Is this alum ? asked our friend. "Alum?- no; I thought you asked for ellum; that's slippery-ellum!' A bright druggist that! ... Talbot and Vernon' is the title of a new novel just published by Messrs. BAKER AND SCRIBNER. A friend, an authentic literary judge, who had been permitted to read the work in manuscript, pronounced a high eulogium upon it in the sanctum some weeks since. Finding it inconvenient to afford the requisite space for an adequate review of the work in the present number, we adopt the following notice by one of the best literary critics of the metropolis : " It is written with the ostensible purpose of illustrating the strength of circumstantial evidence, though it is free from the dry and didactic tone which usually ruins the atVOL. XXXV.