« VorigeDoorgaan »
except for one small section, and that section which stagger our belief in Christianity, strengthitself a no less flagrant proof of the desperate cor- ened theirs. ruption of the nature ;—the ultimate, grand re- But we have a second remark to make upon the medial visitation, Christianity, laboring in a diffi- passages we have just now cited, and it is this, cult progress and very limited extension, and soon namely :—That as the appearance of sentiments perverted from its purpose into darkness and super- such as these is characteristic of the times, and is stition for a period of a thousand years—at the an indication of what is going on around us-ocpresent hour known, and even nominally acknowl, cultly perhaps-50, the diffusion of these modes of edged, by very greatly the minority of the race, feeling, through the religious community, ought at the mighty mass remaining prostrate under the in once to be met, on the part of whoever is comfernal dominion of which countless generations of petent to the task, in a wise and effectual manner. their ancestors have been the slaves and victims- There are those who will say-Leave this sort a deplorable majority of the people in the Chris- of melancholy and unprofitable moodiness to itself; tian nations strangers to the vital power of Chris- it will never spread; it will never affect more than tianity, and a large proportion directly hostile to it; a few minds of morbid structure, similar to Fosand even the institutions pretended to be for its ter's. This is, we think, an inconsiderate conclusupport and promotion, being baneful to its virtue sion, and it is one which will be accepted only by —its progress in the work of conversion, in even those who are living in too great a bustle to find the most favored part of the world, distanced by leisure for thinking, and who, accustomed to look the progressive increase of the population ; so that down, from pulpits and platforms, upon areas filled even there, (but to a fearful extent if we take the with faces, surmise little or nothing of what is world at large,) the disproportion of the faithful to going on in the secrecy of hosoms. It is quite true the irreligious is continually increasing ;-the sum that you may find means for discouraging and for of all these melancholy facis being, that thousands dissipating melancholy modes of thioking ; but, if of millions have passed, and thousands every day you wholly succeed in doing so, you bring a comare passing, out of the world, in no state of fitness munity that once was deep-feeling into the frivolous for a pure and happy state elsewhere. Oh, it is a shallows of literary, scientific, and sensuous impiemost confounding and appalling contemplation !" ty. What is the gain of this process to religion ? -Vol. ii., p. 444.
Look at the general condition of society in France ! Upon passages such as the foregoing we should Nothing can be more perilous than the attempt to remark, first, that it is a style of speaking which, turn off religious meditation from its path, by means although not often heard, is truly characteristic of that are not of homogeneous quality. —it is symptomatic of—this present era. It is not The further spread of Christianity is not merely the style of any past era. We could adduce strik-devoutly desired by Christians, but is looked for as ing illustrations of the fact, by citing what should a probable event. We onght, however, to remembe parallel passages, from the writers of successive ber that it may spread-it may continue to spread ages. To go no further back, Foster's language in the way in which, of late years, it has superfiis not that of the sober non-conformists whom he cially, but not deeply ;-that is to say, everywhere would have called his ecclesiastical predecessors raising the tone of moral sentiment-purifying and fathers. It was in a light essentially differing the domestic atmosphere-removing from view, from this, that Baxter was accustomed to look upon throughout Christian countries, whatever is morthe very same objects. And, assuredly, the robust ally offensive-cherishing and promoting beneficent disputants of the Westminster Assembly were not enterprises—and, in a word, diffusing, on all sides, soul-troubled in any such manner! Theologically, a vital sensitiveness, and bringing all minds into a as well as logically, and to their own entire ease habit of benevolent reflectiveness. It may do all of mind and comfort,” they dealt with, and final- this—and it may do it to an extent of which we ly determined questions, the mere thought of which cannot now calculate the consequences—and yet, broke Foster's heart! Had he, with his mournful as at present, it may be making little or no prostrains, come in their way, they would have re- gress as a deep spiritual power, evolving mighty garded him as little better than a blasphemer; and counteractive influences within the bosoms of men it is a doubt if even his hatred of prelacy would individually. What, then, ought we to anticipate have been held good for “ bailing” his ears. No as the inevitable consequence? The consequence, -in their time the recovered Christianity of Lu- infallible, irresistible, is and we ask that the imther's period had not, in any such manner, purified port of our words may be seriously considered-the the moral or the intellectual atmosphere, as is im- result of the expected and desired diffusion of plied in breathings, and in sighs, such as those of Christianity, in highly civilized countries, under its Foster's correspondence with his friends. Two present aspect of a mild, purifying, but powerless hundred years ago the great truths of the Gospel influence, is an antagonist reaction from Christianbeat strong in the trunk arteries ; but had not sent ized sensibilities, upon Christianity itself, and fine feelings and a fine complexion to the surface which must bring about, unless the course of things of man's moral nature. All modes of thinking be early arrested, the substitution silently of a were barbaric, and the modes of feeling were such Christianized Pantheism. as might allow good men, with an easy conscience, Let it be remembered, that what we are now to burn one another; and such as strengthened dealing with are not those definite causes which them to endure their hour when their own time may be capable of being scientifically stated and came to be burned. The conventional ideas of the logically followed out to their effect. We are divine government had been compacted out of speaking of a thing so indeterminable as the moral men's recollections of the ways of the Holy Office, sensitiveness of communities, and of the conseand their experience of Star Chamber mercy. quences that are involved in the presence of this They read Scripture by a Smithfield light, and vague force. We are speaking of the nebulous were not appalled at that which we read with matter of the moral universe ; but, because it is heart-stricken discomfort. The very same things imponderable, unfixed, and not to be mapped, is
CXXII. LIVING AGE. VOL. X. 33
this influence therefore unimportant? If any could pancies between the terms of biblical history in think so, we might remind them of what this same certain instances, and the positive evidence of sciunappreciable power, slowly rising, by a few de- ence. All such discordances—whether real or apgrees yearly, and suffusing itself wider and wider, parent, will find the proper means of adjustment, has effected in our times. The adjuncts of the na- readily and finally, in due time. We have no anstional movement thrown out of our estimate, it was ieties on this subject. Men “ easily shaken in this silent swell of the moral sensitiveness of an mind," will rid themselves of the atoms of faith entire people, that at length denounced the “trade which perhaps once they possessed, by the means in blacks' as a horrible crime, and which, so far as of " difficulties," such as these. But it is not from the people's will and acts could go-suppressed it. causes so superficial that serious danger to the faith Again, the same tide of feeling, rippling upward of a people is to be apprehended. always in the British bosom, at length denounced What we have in view is that involuntary, and slavery itself as an intolerable evil, and annulled it, suddenly affected shifting of our intellectual posiand paid the price, cash down, for buying relief tion, which the discoveries of astronomy and geolfrom that anguish which the thought of slavery had ogy have brought about :-a change of position, come to inflict npon the keen moral sensitiveness involving a change equally great, in the apparent of the British people. But where was this same magnitude of all those objects in the presence of mighty influence fifty years ago? Latent, yet not which our religious conceptions have hitherto been latent, simply because the appalling facts regarding formed ;-a change, too, in our notions both of the slavery had not then been presented to the British processes, and of the principles of creative power. mind;-but it was latent, just as the vigorous af- We had formed our ideas, very distinctly, of what fections of manhood--the determined energies of God had done, and when it was done, and why, and five-and-twenty-are asleep in the brain and bosom now, not without amazement, we read on all sides of the rude, reckless, purposeless schoolboy. a startling comment upon the words—"My ways The reflective mood had not been ripened until of are not as your ways-nor my thoughts as your
thoughts, saith the Lord.” To the development of the same slow-working It would be idle to imagine that these vast rereforces, must be attributed that great movement of lations of Time and Space-God's own providenour times—the Evangelic Mission to the heathen tial revelations of his own works and ways, should world; and to the same, a hundred forms of Chris- exert no influence-or that they ought to exert no tianized benevolence; and to the same, a rise in influence upon those notions of the divine govern the moral energies of the domestic economy. ment, and of the moral universe, which were Whence come the anxious inquiries of parents as formed in the dark, and during the times of our to the disposal of their children at school and after- ignorance of everything more remote from us than wards, consistently with their highest welfare? | a few hundred miles, and a few hundred years. It Was a solicitude of this sort prevalent fifty years is in vain to imagine that a Chinese wall can be ago? We think not. And whence arises the ea- carried up around the celestial empire of superangerness with which books are caught up, profess- nuated theological formulas—a wall which must be ing to treat of the moral domestic economy, and of as lofty as the stars, and so impervious as to interthe functions and duties of the maternal character? cept all communications between that sacred enAll these things are the indications, and they are closure, and the open world of philosophy! This the results, of that enhancement of the moral con- cannot be done ; and assuredly it ought not to be 'sciousness which has been in progress in England desired. especially, which is now in progress, and which, | The one science-call it astronomical geology, in its silent course, is swelling and heading itself or geological astronomy, is daily bringing home to up to act, we will not say when, or in what precise all minds the conviction that the universe is one manner, upon Christianity ;-yes, upon that very place that it is built of one material-that it is Christianity whence the whole influence has taken governed by one set of laws, and is adapted to the its rise.
support of analogous, if not of identical modes of In whatever way this looked-for reaction should conscious existence; and that it presents, amid inhe met, and whatever those means are which finite diversities of forms and conditions, the prethoughtful men should labor to render effective for valence of principle-shall we term it, THE DREAD the conservation of religious belief, the motives for UNIFORMITY OF FIRST LAWS! All discoveries an early consideration of the subject, are rendered bear this same inference, every deduction brings imperative by some collateral facts, the influence forward the same conclusion. The colossal teleof which upon religious belief at large, and upon scoperche infinitesimal analysis—which gives erthe meditative consciousness of the educated classes, pression to the revelations of the telescope, say the has rendered itself obvious, and must become more same thing; and what else do those aërolites say, and more so every year. The reader will know that that dash upon our planet? what are they but we here refer to that indirect modification of religious epistles from the skies, charged with a symbolic notions and sentiments, that results insensibly from message to this effectThat the planetary stuff is the spread and consolidation of the modern sister all one, and the same? sciences-Astronomy and Geology, which, immea- In rigid logic-logic after the fashion of the surably enlarging as they do, our conceptions of mediæval theology, it makes no difference in the the universe, in its two elements of space and time working of a metaphysic or ethical problem, -expel a congeries of narrow errors, heretofore whether the consequence attaches to " few-that regarded as unquestionable truths, and open before is to eight souls," or to millions. Whatever it is us, at once, a Chart, and a History of the Domin that can be made to appear to be certain, or probaions of Infinite Power and Wisdom!
ble, as relating to the few, must be granted to be We should hasten to exclude the supposition certain, or probable, also, even when the concluthat, in thus mentioning the relation of the modern sion is discovered to embrace the well-being of the sciences to Christianity, we are thinking of anything million. But it is not, and it will not be the same so small and incidental as are the alleged discre-J in relation to the meditative consciousness-to that involuntary conviction which seizes the mind under always off from taking that next step, beyond the influence of vast and unlooked-for discoveries. which lie the regions of atheism and despair ! The strict logician may hold in contempt our But it is impossible to watch the development of groundless impressions, our unproven and our un- these ominous feelings, and to observe their demonstrable notions. Yet These impressions, parallelism with another class of feelings of simiand these notions, spring, we tell him, from lar aspect, without being convinced that a causal the very ground of our moral nature ; they are connection ran on from the one to the other. products of the rudiments of the intellectual life. Foster's prime years of manhood were contem
Henceforward, whatever is held to be true, on poraneous (as we have already observed) with well ascertained scriptural testimony-that is to those dire events which turned many of the best say-troe as law and principle-when brought to formed brains in Europe. His intellectual and bear upon the human family, will be held to be moral temperament was ill-fitted to resist those true also, as law and principle, bearing upon the maddening influences ; his early habits, his relibreadth of that realm which astronomy describes, gious connections, his position in society, everyand taking effect throughout those eras of which ihing about him lent its aid to carry him forward in geology is the chronicle !
the one direction of democratic enthusiasm, and to In what manner then will expanded conceptions, breathe into his soul the frenzy of political and of this kind, come in, and operate upon, that ecclesiastical demolition. “Overturn-overturnfuture, and much enhanced moral consciousness- overturn”- these were the notes ringing in his upon that refined sensitiveness, upon that reflec- ears, day and night. But the course of events, at tive mode, which, on no very uncertain grounds, home and abroad, soon brought in upon such we assume as likely to attend the suffusion of a minds, and upon his, a crushing disappointment ! diluted Christianity? We retreat from the ground Foster lived to see even his latest hope diswe have here reached, nor will we dare to conjec- appointed-that of the happy revolutions which ture, with any definitiveness or specification of were to ensue upon parliamentary reform! particulars, what these results may be. The prac- “Unfortunately for me," he says, “ from a tical end we had proposed is attained, if we have temperament somewhat sanguine and ardent in shown a probability that under all the actual cir- youth, I am dried and cooled down to that of old cumstances of the present times, the wide diffusion age. The course of the world's events since that of such a Christianity, refining more and more, but season of prime,' has been a grievous disappointnot deeply moving, the minds of men, would be ment. No one who is not toward twice your age likely to bring about a religious revolution not can have any adequate conception of the commoless extensive in its consequences than any which tion there was in susceptible and inflammable Christianized communities have hitherto under spirits. The proclamation went forth, overturn, gone.
overturn, overturn,' and there seemed to be a reBut if such a revolution is of a kind that must sponsive earthquake in the nations. The vain, excite alarm, where is the remedy, or what are short-sighted seers of us had all our enthusiasm the available means of safety and prevention? We ready to receive the magnificent changes; the cannot be of opinion either that the true remedy is downfall of all old and corrupt institutions—the far to seek, or that it is of doubtful efficacy. We explosion of prejudices-the demolition of the do not believe that the means proper for counter-strongholds of ignorance, superstition, and spirituacting the influences we have referred to, are such al, with all other, despotism-man on the point of as lie beyond the range of human wisdom to ascer- being set free for a noble career of knowledge, tain, or of the zealous endeavors of intelligent men liberty, philanthropy, virtue-and all that, and all to put in operation. Not indeed as if we would that. A most shallow judgment, a pitiable ignoattribute more than is due to the sagacity, or to rance of the nature of man, was betrayed in these the energies of man, in relation to the sustentation elated presumptions. But they so possessed themand growth of religious belief. A deep sense of selves of the mind as to prepare it to feel a bitteroor absolute dependence, for wisdom and might, ness of disappointment as time went on, through upon the divine aid, should impel Christian men so many lustrums, and accomplished so nigdevoutly to hope that both may be granted, and gardly a portion of all the dream."-Vol. ii., granted early, to some who shall set about to do p. 443. what may be done for the renovation of the Chris-/ Disappointment as to the course of political TIAN MIND, and the restoration of a profound and events drove him first into egregious misapprehenwell-established religious belief.
sions of the motives of public men, and then A word is yet due t John Foster's memory- wrought in him a mood, or temper, which masdeserving as it is, of tenderness and reverential tered his reason, and which, had it not been powaffection ; and something should be said too, rela erfully counteracted, would have broken up his tive to that feature of this signal case which has religious convictions. given occasion to the preceding suggestions. In "I was pleased, not at all surprised, at your some of the passages we have cited, and in several coincidence with me in opinion about dissenting we have not cited, every reader, whose mind is ordinations, and also about a widely different matgoverned by religious awe and pious affections, ter, the principles of Wellington's policy in the will be tempted to draw back ; he will tremble as measure so favorable to Ireland. if some one were inciting, or dragging him on, to “One cannot help suspecting, that one of his look over the brim of a volcanic crater ! Enough, chief motives was a wish to have the military enough! he will say—let us descend again to the force of the country more disposable for aid (under tranquil levels of the Christian life! A feeling is possible circumstances,) to support their infernal generated as if these sombre and daring medita- Mahomedan domination in the east of Europe, tions must, at the next turn, lead to blasphemy; which one earnestly wishes-all mere political calas if there were but a thin partition between John culations out of the question to see crushed by Foster, and Shelley, or Byron. Foster's genuine the Russian invasion. Under sanction of that old piety, his deep and unfeigned humility, held him humbug, the balance of power,' and to prevent some eventually possible inconvenience to our trade | are destined to witness a process more tremendous to the Levant--that is to say, reduced to plain than all their predecessors have beheld. While exterms, some pecuniary disadvantage-our govern- ulting at what has taken place in France, I have ment would not scruple to sink the nation a hun-yet no confidence of a peaceful result in Europe."dred millions deeper in debt. But Ireland again ! Vol. ii., p. 190. who would have thought that the session of par- And who shall dare to deny the probability that liament, commencing with the beneficial political a woe may be still impending over Europe, and the measure, would pass off without one particle of world ? Nevertheless, those who have lived to see anything done for the internal relief and improve- cloud after cloud pass over and disappear, will be ment of your miserable population-some plan for encouraged to put their trust in Him whose comcultivating the waste land, or providing for the passion is infinite, and will, with a cheerful imporejected cottagers ? * * * Unfortunate Ire- tunity, repeat daily the prayer—"That it may land, and England, too, in having, from genera- please thee to have mercy upon all men." tion to generation, a set of statesmen, and a court, This disappointment of his hope of political resowho care really nothing for the public good, any lution worked itself into his constitution in a form otherwise and further than as it may serve the which we do not say was rancorous or malignantproduction of revenue! Still the world, our part for his nature was incapable of this, but of a settled of it included, is destined to mend. The sovereign vindictiveness-an implacable, undistinguishing re
Ruler over all has declared so. And the present sentment, of which all existing institutions, civil 'extraordinary diffusion of knowledge, accompanied, and ecclesiastical, and all persons in high places we may hope, by augmentation of religion, the all holders of rank, wealth, power-all “ dignities, mobility so visible in the state of the world, the thrones, principalities," were the luckless objects. trembling and cracking of parts of the old fabric, That animosity of which POWER and OFFICE were the the prostration of some of the inveterate tyrannies; butt, was, with him, little short of a monomania. To these are surely signs that the changing and me- an extent of which we were not aware previously liorating process is at last beginning. When our to the perusal of these volumes, such were unhaprace arrive at such a state as prophecy unquestion-pily the tendencies of this great, and, by constituably predicts, what will they, can they, think of lion, of this benignant mind. Alas! our brother! the preceding ages, and of ours ?!?— Vol. ii., But it is evident that a mind thus accustomed to p. 163.
trace all the ills of life to the wicked selfishness of If Foster had only mixed in general society rulers, and which could never entertain the thought enough to find out the simple fact, that all peers of domination, especially of irresponsible dominaare not stupid scoundrels, and that some tories are tion, apart from the recollection of those complicaamiable, benevolent men, and that a few such are ted woes to which humanity is liable, and of which in a moderate degree wise, (of course not so wise tyrants are assumed to be, directly or indirectly, as whigs!) he would not merely have corrected the authors—such a mind, we say, will not aphis views of political parties and events, but have proach, without extreme peril, those deeper sublearned to think more soberly, and more cheerfully jects of religious meditation that were, in fact, only 100, and in a manner more in accordance with the too familiar to Foster's solitary musings. We tone of the Scriptures, on subjects of greater diffi- need not pursue this painful subject further, and culty than are any mundane revolutions. Alas! will only add an expression of our strong feelingthat dusty attic at Stapleton, how much of sophis- a feeling already hinted at in this article--that good try, and how much of despondency has it to taste, generous feeling toward a great mind departanswer for!
ed, together with a calm and philosophic considera"I have little hope of any material good for tion of Foster's « case," and of his personal hiseither nation from the present parliament, or from tory, will avail to screen a name so dear to all of the new monarch about whom there is so mad a us, on the one hand, from the mockery of any rant in fashion. What is such a man likely to who might, by aid of these letters, endeavor to know or care about the good of the nation, whose hold up his opinions, extreme as they were, to cononly notion of kingship, as far as yet appears, is tempt, and on the other, from the worse mistake of that of enjoying himself at his ease (and putting those who would strive to bolster doctrines such as other people at their ease with him) in a jolly, Foster's with a reputation such as his. dashing, gadding sort of hilarity? Think of such Of Foster's literary course, or of his standing as a character, and then of the stupid baseness that, an author, we do not think it incumbent on us to even in parliament, is calling him the best king say much. Few circumstances of a marked or anthat ever ascended the British throne.' It would imated kind attended the production and appearance be quite enough to say, that it is to be hoped he is of his several works. They made a powerful imbetter than the last, and there could not well be a pression at the time, and procured for him a widely cheaper praise.
extended and an undisputed fame ; nor can we "I am sure you cannot fail to contemplate, with doubt that his essays will hold a permanent place great and serious interest, the portentous aspect of in English literature ;--they will always continue the affairs of the nations. There is coming into ac- to nurture thought among the thoughtful. As a tion, on a vast scale, a principle of change and com- writer too, Foster has, in a very special manner, motion-of hostility, hatred, and defiance to the aided in bringing about that revolution, as to style, old established “ order of things," which absolutely which signalizes the present era. Discarding at can never be quieted nor quelled-which must be once, or cutting his way through that net-work of progressive with augmenting knowledge (“knowl- conventional phraseology which had embarrassed edge is power,') but which in pervading and actu- English literature, he took hold of the English ating a mass so dreadfully corrupt as mankind is in language with an energetic grasp-wielded it as an every nation, must inevitably, while a righteous implement of mind-bent it, this way and that, at Governor presides over the world, be accompanied his pleasure, and compelled it to convey, so far as in its progress by awful commotions and inflictions. any symbols can convey, the mind of a writer to the My settled impression is, that the rising generation mind of a reader. Just what he was thinking-pen in hand—that, and nothing more, nothing less, / when I know that the volume is all printed. Less Foster compelled words and sentence to make of this kind of loss, however, would be sustained in known: he is one of a few who have brought the making another volume; the long revision which I English tongue back from a sapless conventionality, have now finished having given me a most excelto a vital actuality. He has helped to render lent set of lessons in composition, in consequence of words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, a medium which I should much better execute the first writof intercourse between mind and mind, in the most ing, in the case of producing other works. You abbreviated form possible. If his sentences are will forgive this egotism ; none of it appears in the long and complicated, and his paragraphs cum- book."-Vol. i., p. 308. brous, it is because they are for brevity sake-! Foster has not, however—such is our humble overcharged with meaning.
opinion-in any permanent or very appreciable “ Holdsworth sent me the British Review, in manner, controlled the world of opinion. He has which, in the terms · exquisite precision of lan- not visibly swayed a sceptre in the realm, either of guage,' I fancy I see a recognition and the only thought or of action. Beside that he needed-for one I ever have seen or heard) of that which I con- fulfilling any such function-a more solid structure sider as the advantageous peculiarity of my diction ; of the reasoning faculty, as well as more of discipamely, if I may use such a phrase, its verity to the pline and breadth ;-more working force—more ideas-its being composed of words and construc- spring-more appliance-he must, before attempttions merely and distinctly fitted to the thoughts, ing the task which his eminent powers might seem with a perfect disregard of any general model, and to impose upon him-he must have mastered the a rejection of all the set and artificial formalities of despondency of his nature :--he must have known phraseology in use, even among good writers: I may how to entertain hope, apart from excitement; add, a special truth and consistency in all language hope, as the mind's moving force and guide. He involving figure. If you are beginning to say, must, moreover, have laid aside absolutely-he • Let another praise thee, and not thyself,' I may inust have handed over to the inferior spirits of his ask whether it should not be an excepted case party that congeries of preposterous prejudices, in when that other' has not sense to see anything in the midst of which, as if stifled and choked, he me to praise. Quite enough, however, of the sub- rather gasped than breathed ;-struggled, rather ject." - Vol. ., p. 35.
than moved! "I am very glad, not that indolence has so long One great quality, however, and a true mark of kept me from being an author, but glad of the fact a great mind, and which, had other faculties and of having not become an author sooner. A more dispositions been congenial, would have fitted him advantageous impression will be made by the first for office as a master of his times-as a leader of production of so mature a character, than I should the people ; and better, as a servant of God, disprobably have made by a progressive improvement charging an arduous function ; was his superiority to the present intellectual pitch from such an infe- to the egotism, the petty solicitude about literary rior commencement as I should have made, even six reputation, the small ambition of the "author." or seven years since. I am gratified in feeling that On this ground, Foster must be allowed to stand my mind was reserved, either in consequence of higher than Robert Hall, and he was, we think, something in its essential constitution, or from the more capable of an act, or a course of self-sacrifice defectiveness of its early discipline, for a late-a than he. If the alternative had even boen distinctvery late maturity. It is yet progressive; if I ly placed before Hall of throwing the universe shall live six or ten years, and can compel myself overboard, or of risking his fame as an accomplished to a rigorous, especially if to a scientific, discipline, master of sentences, there is no doubt he would I am certain it will think much better then than it have risked it ; and yet not without an effort; does now; though in the faculty of invention it has whereas Foster would have done so with little or probably almost reached its limit.
none. Great, not merely in mind, but in soul ; yet “My total want of all knowledge of intellectual he would have been greater if at all times Robert philosophy, and of all metaphysical reading, I ex- Hall could have forgotten" Robert Hall ;" but the ceedingly deplore. Whatever of this kind appears day he lived in offered trying temptations to a mind in these letters is from my own observation and re- such as his-a mind exquisitely sensible of the very flection, much more than from any other resource. finest qualities of style, as well as alive to the But everything belonging to abstraction has cost grandest conceptions. He lived through the closme inconceivable labor; and many passages which ing years of the era, gone probably forever, in even now may appear not very perspicuous, or not, which a bright fame might engage much of men's perhaps, even true, are the fourth or fifth labored attention. The era of genius is past; and we live forin of the ideas. I like my mind for its necessity amid things, amid events, amid interests, amid of seeking the abstraction of every subject ; but, at masses, and in the midst of "the public welfare." the same time, this is, without more knowledge Thirty and forty years ago personal fame was at a and discipline, extremely inconvenient, and some-premium; now, it is at a discount. times the work is done very awkwardly or erro- As to the breadth and the depth of his soul, as to neously. How little a reader can do justice to the his sense of the urgency of whatever touches the labors of an author, unless himself also were an au- well-being of man, as to his constitutional mindfulthor! How often I have spent the whole day in ness of eternity, and his "conscience towards adjusting two or three sentences amidst a perplexity God," Foster might have done that which at the about niceties, which would be far too impalpable present moment is so much needed to be done. He to be even comprehended, if one were to state was personally capable of resolving to compromise thera, by the greatest number of readers. Neither his literary status, if by doing so he might have is the reader aware how often, after this has been woke the dull ear of his fellow-men, and have predone, the sentences or paragraphs so adjusted were, vailed with them to listen to the things pertaining after several hours' deliberation the next day, all to their peace." He might have dared to sound blotted out. The labor of months lies in this dis- heaven's trumpet, although forecasting the probable tarded state in the manuscripts, which I shall burn consequence that the wearers of nice ears would