Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

as they are the guilty ones; but, with the exception of some mere material interests of the grossest character, the poor are not the sufferers, are not demoralizerl by drinking habits as much as those in the higher ranks of society. They are not nearly as responsible, and they ought not to be as severely judged and punished. Are those who talk about enforcing the laws ready to enforce that higher and more powerful law of fashion which the poor are ever imitating? Are you going to punish the poorer classes, while you have your wines and liquors at your parties and your family table, just as you will? The way to " help the poor” against intemperance is by no fine talk about sympathy or relief, or the enforcement of the laws; but are you ready to give up your social habits, the fashion of using wine at your own table? If not, all other pleas or laws will prove unavailing. Let the laws be executed by all means, and to the uttermost. Let wiser and more efficacious ones be passed and enforced, but let us remember that our own example will be the only final cure ; and, especially, the example of having what is called fashionable, cultivated life on the side of temperance.

ARNOLD AND EMERSON,

The independence of Mr. Arnold's criticism of Emerson is worthy of all praise, whether we agree with it entirely or not. It is his view of Emerson's literary work, and given without reservation in the midst of his admirers. This is always a bold thing to do, simply because most of us do not stop for a keen literary analysis of writings we have come to live by; and we can ill bear a word which seems to disparage them. It must be said, however, that a critic who, notwithstanding his sharp thrusts, still puts his author among such men as Aurelius, cannot be charged with a light estimate of that author's character or genius. Indeed, we regard Mr. Arnold's independence as of far more merit than that praise of Emerson which appears merely to fall in with the tributes without any careful or wise literary judgment now everywhere being paid to one of the greatest writers and sweetest characters this young nation has produced. It is not very long since these very persons who cannot tolerate Mr. Arnold's criticisms were themselves unable to find any merit whatever in Emerson. He was a heretic, openly denounced on every hand, and even by those who from their liberal views would naturally

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

come,

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

have been expected to give him and his writings a hospitable reception. No one thought then of judging them by their real merits: they merely joined the popular prejudice against him. His style was ridiculed, and the substance even more abundantly denounced. No sense was to be found beneath his ill-arranged words. And this from the very persons who, when Emerson had won his way to a world-wide respect, found his language the most beautiful, and every sentence laden with condensed truth. Even at the university where we ought to look for an estimate of literary work upon its own merits without regard to present praise or censure, there was no word but of opposition or condemnation for Emerson, only an attempt to keep him from being heard in the halls which afterwards opened to him such a wel

This only shows how difficult it is for persons to be independent in their judgment, to be above the popular clamor of approval or disapproval, to catch the truth and spirit of a man who is somewhat in advance of his time. In reality, the scholars and clergy of that day who saw no good in Emerson only followed the judgment of the crowd ; and the same may be truly said of those who now cannot let Mr. Arnold have a word of his own impartial criticism in a purely literary vein, without calling him to account. We thank Mr. Arnold for his independence. Time may not justify all his criticisms, but here is a man who has made literature his careful study. In the light of that study, he comes among us, and says just what he thinks of one of our greatest writers; and that, too, when after years of bitter censure and ridicule he had grown almost to be an idol with us, and when death had but recently revealed to us more fully our loss and his worth. And for that one ought to be thanked and honored, and his method and independence followed.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

THINGS AT HOME AND ABROAD.

BOOKS

Mr. Schermerhorn's Sacred Scriptures of the World. This handsome volume, published by G. P. Putnam's Sons, from a pressure of other work has lain too long unnoticed on the editors' book-table. Its very size and comprehensiveness have allowed smaller books to come earlier into notice.

It is evidently a labor of love on the part of the compiler, and certainly honorable to his industry and enthusiasm. His task is somewhat of an ungracious one, because we are all attached to our old Bible. A good part of the Christian world think it is profanity to touch it in any way of improvement as a collection; and this new book is, moreover, too large for popular use. It is not, however, too bulky for public uses, as the dignity of the pulpit requires a good-sized volume and large type. Here is where Mr. Schermerhorn hopes that his compilation will be convenient, and we see no reason why it should not be useful to a minister. We hope that the old Bible, as a venerable and precious book, will never be displaced in our churches. It is always easy to leave aside its imperfections and choose its beauties; but, for those ministers who wish to give variety in their service, we think this book will be found convenient.

Mr. Schermerhorn appears to estimate the Hebrew and Christian sacred writings above all the others, for he gives the larger part of the volume to these selections. We shall not attempt any criticisms upon the rendering of the passages in the translations given, partly because we are not competent, and partly because the textual accuracy, however interesting to the scholar, has little to do with the value of devotional services. As far as our own taste is concerned, we should say that these selections are made with good judgment and appreciative feeling. We shall forbear to enter upon any discussion of the theories which the writer puts forth in notes touching the resurrection, ascension, etc., because these notes take up little room, and do not necessarily interfere much with the selections, or obtrude themselves upon the reader. The compiler's aim is evidently not so much to provoke controversy as to collect mainly from these religious and historical books what chiefly recommends itself,

[merged small][ocr errors]

and has endeared itself to the heart of Christendom. The Persian Scriptures come next. Some of them are fine. They are not very ancient. We see from the allusions to Mecca, the “Prophet," etc., that they are under the reflex influence of Christianity through Mohammedanism. The Hindu Scriptures do not appear to be much more ancient, as allusion in them is made to pilgrimages to the Holy City, and their general air is modern; that is, we should say they were written five or six hundred years after Christ. They are, however, noble and broad in spirit, and superior to the fragmentary Vedic utterances in positive religious belief.

The Buddhist selections seem more ancient. Some of them evince a very high and delicate conception of immortality and true religion. As, for instance, these passages:

[ocr errors]

As kindred, friends, and dear ones salute him who hath travelled far and returned home safe, so will good deeds welcome him who goes from this world and enters another.

Never will I seek or receive private individual salvation; never will I enter into final peace alone : but forever and ever, and everywhere, I will live and strive for universal redemption of every creature throughout all the world.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

The Chinese aphorisms are sententious, as we usually find them. We have next the Grecian and Roman selections, being extracts from Plato, Plutarch, Epictetus; and, then, the book closes with a few quotations from the Arabic.

The volume contains a series of prefaces and explanations, which, although interesting to the scholar, are likely to excite the crude thinker, turn him away from his devotional frame, and perhaps frighten him from the book. So also we should say of the notes affixed to the chapters here and there that, although the compiler has inserted them from good motives,- that is, in order to account for what he has left out of or retained in the New Testament narratives,— he is really under no obligations to explain, as his book only professes to be selections; and he has therefore a right to reject or insert what he pleases.

As we understand, this book has been prepared for devotional purposes and edification. Whatever, therefore, has a tendency to over-stimulate the speculative faculties mars the fine harmony of spirit with which all Christian believers and free religionists might read these contributions from the religious mind of the world.

[merged small][ocr errors]

We have found pleasure in the book, and think it will meet the wants of many persons. We, as a Church, are indebted to the compiler for the zeal and perseverance with which he has carried out his work.

Mr. E. F. Hayward's Patrice: Her Love and Work. This poem, published by Cupples, Upham & Co., is the story in verse of a man who passed through painful scenes of love, disappointment, jealousy, and failure in life, and at last found his good angel who redeemed him. We cannot say that the tale fixes itself upon our attention. If it were told in a sensational newspaper, with all the usual accompaniments, it might arouse the young reader; but it is not original, and it is the production of a refined and cultivated writer, who tones down his despairing scenes to careful verse. Moreover, the leading character is somewhat morbid and undatural, and the lines are often in their construction involved and obscure.

Ilaving said this much in criticism, we will now add that the poem seems to us to show a mind of fine culture, good command of language, and rhythmic power. The writer never has a rough line, never a common one. At the same time, he is not stilted in his style, but talking of plain things. His thought is simple, poetic, and true; but his construction is often, as we have said before, blind, and involved by the misplacement of words -- a fault which we have to pardon in Milton or Browning, but do not however like even in them.

Mr. Hayward's language is always elevated, and he has many lines in his poem quite perfect in iheir flow and thought. Some sustained passages have real grace and beauty. Here is a passage:

“Patrice kept evening quiet when he came,
Cooling the fever of the day's unrest
With wise and tender words; and even urged,
When effort pressed his mind too heavily,
The yielding of his quest. •To worthy man,
Worth is not long denied; and work will come.'

[ocr errors]

See,' she said,
• How all things work him good who loves the good!
And man is beggared, so he will not sport
Or work as bees and blackbirds in the sun.''

« VorigeDoorgaan »