The Atlantic Monthly, Volume V, Number 29, March, 1860

Part 4 out of 5

the acute reviewers; but he will be abridged for the use of schools, and
not a fiction about William Penn, or John of Marlborough, or Grahame of
Claverhouse, be left out.

Can you plant a garden with weeds and then pull them up again in secure
trust that no lurking burdocks and Canada thistle shall remain? Dear
model mothers and prudent papas, be not afraid of wholesome fiction,
as such, duly labelled and left uncorked. It will be far better to
administer plenty of "Robinson Crusoe" and "Sinbad" and "Arabian
Nights," good ringing old ballads with a healthy sentiment at bottom of
manly honor and womanly affection, fairy stories and ancient legends,
than all the mince-meat histories and biographies that nurse-wise have
been chewed soft for the use of tender gums. Let us all, for the benefit
of ourselves, keep clear of cant; but if cant we must, why let it be for
those who will cant back again, laughing in their sleeves the while, and
not for the dear little faces so solemnly upturned to ours, whose
honest blue eyes (black or green, if you please, as you take your tea)
confidingly meet ours.

American education, especially home education, is wanting not in
quantity so much as quality; in that it _is_ fearfully lacking, and we,
the educators, are the ones to blame for it.




It was a comfort to get to a place with something like society, with
residences which had pretensions to elegance, with people of some
breeding, with a newspaper, and "stores" to advertise in it, and with
two or three churches to keep each other alive by wholesome agitation.
Rockland was such a place.

Some of the natural features of the town have been described already.
The Mountain, of course, was what gave it its character, and redeemed
it from wearing the commonplace expression which belongs to ordinary
country-villages. Beautiful, wild, invested with the mystery which
belongs to untrodden spaces, and with enough of terror to give it
dignity, it had yet closer relations with the town over which it brooded
than the passing stranger knew of. Thus, it made a local climate by
cutting off the northern winds and holding the sun's heat like a
garden-wall. Peach-trees, which, on the northern side of the mountain,
hardly ever came to fruit, ripened abundant crops in Rockland.

But there was still another relation between the mountain and the town
at its foot, which strangers were not likely to hear alluded to, and
which was oftener thought of than spoken of by its inhabitants. Those
high-impending forests,--"hangers," as White of Selborne would have
called them,--sloping far upward and backward into the distance, had
always an air of menace blended with their wild beauty. It seemed as
if some heaven-scaling Titan had thrown his shaggy robe over the bare,
precipitous flanks of the rocky summit, and it might at any moment slide
like a garment flung carelessly on the nearest chance-support, and, so
sliding, crush the village out of being, as the Rossberg when it tumbled
over on the valley of Goldau.

Persons have been known to remove from the place, after a short
residence in it, because they were haunted day and night by the thought
of this awful green wall piled up into the air over their heads. They
would lie awake of nights, thinking they heard the muffled snapping of
roots, as if a thousand acres of the mountain-side were tugging to break
away, like the snow from a house-roof, and a hundred thousand trees were
clinging with all their fibres to hold back the soil just ready to peel
away and crash down with all its rocks and forest-growths. And yet, by
one of those strange contradictions we are constantly finding in human
nature, there were natives of the town who would come back thirty or
forty years after leaving it, just to nestle under this same threatening
mountain-side, as old men sun themselves against southward-facing walls.
The old dreams and legends of danger added to the attraction. If the
mountain should ever slide, they had a kind of feeling as if they ought
to be there. It was a fascination like that which the rattlesnake is
said to exert.

This comparison naturally suggests the recollection of that other source
of danger which was an element in the everyday life of the Rockland
people. The folks in some of the neighboring towns had a joke against
them, that a Rocklander couldn't hear a bean-pod rattle without saying,
"The Lord have mercy on us!" It is very true, that many a nervous old
lady has had a terrible start, caused by some mischievous young rogue's
giving a sudden shake to one of these noisy vegetable products in her
immediate vicinity. Yet, strangely enough, many persons missed the
excitement of the possibility of a fatal bite in other regions, where
there were nothing but black and green and striped snakes, mean
ophidians, having the spite of the nobler serpent without his venom,--
poor crawling creatures, whom Nature would not trust with a poison-bag.
Many natives of Rockland did unquestionably experience a certain
gratification in this infinitesimal sense of danger. It was noted that
the old people retained their hearing longer than in other places. Some
said it was the softened climate, but others believed it was owing to
the habit of keeping their ears open whenever they were walking through
the grass or in the woods. At any rate, a slight sense of danger is
often an agreeable stimulus. People sip their _creme de noyau_ with a
peculiar tremulous pleasure, because there is a bare possibility that it
may contain prussic acid enough to knock them over; in which case they
will lie as dead as if a thunder-cloud had emptied itself into the earth
through their brain and marrow.

But Rockland had other features which helped to give it a special
character. First of all, there was one grand street which was its chief
glory. Elm Street it was called, naturally enough, for its elms made
a long, pointed-arched gallery of it through most of its extent. No
natural Gothic arch compares, for a moment, with that formed by two
American elms, where their lofty jets of foliage shoot across each
other's ascending curves, to intermingle their showery flakes of green.
When one looks through a long double row of these, as in that lovely
avenue which the poets of Yale remember so well,--

"Oh, could the vista of my life but now as bright appear
As when I first through Temple Street looked down thine espalier!"--

he beholds a temple not built with hands, fairer than any minster, with
all its clustered stems and flowering capitals, that ever grew in stone.

Nobody knows New England who is not on terms of intimacy with one of its
elms. The elm comes nearer to having a soul than any other vegetable
creature among us. It loves man as man loves it. It is modest and
patient. It has a small flake of a seed which blows in everywhere and
makes arrangements for coming up by-and-by. So, in spring, one finds a
crop of baby-elms among his carrots and parsnips, very weak and small
compared to those, succulent vegetables. The baby-elms die, most of
them, slain, unrecognized or unheeded, by hand or hoe, as meekly as
Herod's innocents. One of them gets overlooked, perhaps, until it has
established a kind of right to stay. Three generations of carrot and
parsnip-consumers have passed away, yourself among them, and now let
your great-grandson look for the baby-elm. Twenty-two feet of clean
girth, three hundred and sixty feet in the line that bounds its leafy
circle, it covers the boy with such a canopy as neither glossy-leafed
oak nor insect-haunted linden ever lifted into the summer skies.

Elm Street was the pride of Rockland, but not only on account of its
Gothic-arched vista. In this street were most of the great houses, or
"mansion-houses," as it was usual to call them. Along this street,
also, the more nicely kept and neatly painted dwellings were chiefly
congregated. It was the correct thing for a Rockland dignitary to have a
house in Elm Street.

A New England "mansion-house" is naturally square, with dormer windows
projecting from the roof, which has a balustrade with turned posts round
it. It shows a good breadth of front-yard before its door, as its owner
shows a respectable expanse of clean shirt-front. It has a lateral
margin beyond its stables and offices, as its master wears his white
wrist-bands showing beyond his coat-cuffs. It may not have what can
properly be called grounds, but it must have elbow-room, at any rate.
Without it, it is like a man who is always tight-buttoned for want of
any linen to show. The mansion-house which has had to button itself up
tight in fences, for want of green or gravel margin, will be advertising
for boarders presently. The old English pattern of the New England
mansion-house, only on a somewhat grander scale, is Sir Thomas Abney's
place, where dear, good Dr. Watts said prayers for the family, and
wrote those blessed hymns of his that sing us into consciousness in
our cradles, and come back to us in sweet, single verses, between the
momenta of wandering and of stupor, when we lie dying, and sound over
us when we can no longer hear them, bringing grateful tears to the hot,
aching eyes beneath the thick, black veils, and carrying the holy calm
with them which filled the good man's heart, as he prayed and sung under
the shelter of the old English mansion-house.

Next to the mansion-houses, came the two-story, trim, white-painted,
"genteel" houses, which, being more gossipy and less nicely bred,
crowded close up to the street, instead of standing back from it with
arms akimbo, like the mansion-houses. Their little front-yards were very
commonly full of lilac and syringa and other bushes, which were allowed
to smother the lower story almost to the exclusion of light and air, so
that, what with small windows and small windowpanes, and the darkness
made by these choking growths of shrubbery, the front parlors of some of
these houses were the most tomb-like, melancholy places that could be
found anywhere among the abodes of the living. Their garnishing was apt
to assist this impression. Large-patterned carpets, which always look
discontented in little rooms, hair-cloth furniture, black and shiny as
beetles' wing-cases, and centre-tables, with a sullen oil-lamp of the
kind called astral by our imaginative ancestors, in the centre,--these
things were inevitable. In set piles round the lamp was ranged the
current literature of the day, in the form of Temperance Documents,
unbound numbers of one of the Unknown Public's Magazines with worn-out
steel engravings and high-colored fashion-plates, the Poems of a
distinguished British author whom it is unnecessary to mention, a volume
of sermons, or a novel or two, or both, according to the tastes of the
family, and the Good Book, which is always Itself in the cheapest and
commonest company. The father of the family with his hand in the breast
of his coat, the mother of the same in a wide-bordered cap, sometimes a
print of the Last Supper, by no means Morghen's, or the Father of his
Country, or the old General, or the Defender of the Constitution, or an
unknown clergyman with an open book before him,--these were the usual
ornaments of the walls, the first two a matter of rigor, the others
according to politics and other tendencies.

This intermediate class of houses, wherever one finds them in New
England towns, are very apt to be cheerless and unsatisfactory. They
have neither the luxury of the mansion-house nor the comfort of the
farm-house. They are rarely kept at an agreeable temperature. The
mansion-house has large fireplaces and generous chimneys, and is open
to the sunshine. The farm-house makes no pretensions, but it has a good
warm kitchen, at any rate, and one can be comfortable there with the
rest of the family, without fear and without reproach. These lesser
country-houses of genteel aspirations are much given to patent
subterfuges of one kind and another to get heat without combustion. The
chilly parlor and the slippery hair-cloth seat take the life out of the
warmest welcome. If one would make these places wholesome, happy, and
cheerful, the first precept would be,--The dearest fuel, plenty of it,
and let half the heat go up the chimney. If you can't afford this, don't
try to live in a "genteel" fashion, but stick to the ways of the honest

There were a good many comfortable farm-houses scattered about Rockland.
The best of them were something of the following pattern, which is too
often superseded of late by a more pretentious, but infinitely less
pleasing kind of rustic architecture. A little back from the road,
seated directly on the green sod, rose a plain wooden building, two
stories in front, with a long roof sloping backwards to within a few
feet of the ground. This, like the "mansion-house," is copied from an
old English pattern. Cottages of this model may be seen in Lancashire,
for instance, always with the same honest, homely look, as if their
roofs acknowledged their relationship to the soil out of which they
sprung. The walls were unpainted, but turned by the slow action of sun
and air and rain to a quiet dove- or slate-color. An old broken mill-
stone at the door,--a well-sweep pointing like a finger to the heavens,
which the shining round of water beneath looked up at like a dark
unsleeping eye,--a single large elm a little at one side,--a barn twice
as big as the house,--a cattle-yard, with

"The white horns tossing above the wall,"--

some fields, in pasture or in crops, with low stone walls round them,--a
row of beehives,--a garden-patch, with roots, and currant-bushes, and
many-hued holly-hocks, and swollen-stemmed, globe-headed, seedling
onions, and marigolds, and flower-de-luces, and lady's-delights, and
peonies, crowding in together, with southernwood in the borders,
and woodbine and hops and morning-glories climbing as they got a
chance,--these were the features by which the Rockland-born children
remembered the farm-house, when they had grown to be men. Such are the
recollections that come over poor sailor-boys crawling out on reeling
yards to reef topsails as their vessels stagger round the stormy Cape;
and such are the flitting images that make the eyes of old country-born
merchants look dim and dreamy, as they sit in their city palaces, warm
with the after-dinner flush of the red wave out of which Memory arises,
as Aphrodite arose from the green waves of the ocean.

Two meeting-houses stood on two eminences, facing each other, and
looking like a couple of fighting-cocks with their necks straight up in
the air,--as if they would flap their roofs, the next thing, and crow
out of their upstretched steeples, and peck at each other's glass eyes
with their sharp-pointed weathercocks.

The first was a good pattern of the real old-fashioned New England
meeting-house. It was a large barn with windows, fronted by a square
tower crowned with a kind of wooden bell inverted and raised on legs,
out of which rose a slender spire with the sharp-billed weathercock at
its summit. Inside, tall, square pews with flapping seats, and a gallery
running round three sides of the building. On the fourth side the
pulpit, with a huge, dusty sounding-board hanging over it. Here preached
the Reverend Pierrepont Honeywood, D.D., successor, after a number of
generations, to the office and the parsonage of the Reverend Didymus
Bean, before mentioned, but not suspected of any of his alleged
heresies. He held to the old faith of the Puritans, and occasionally
delivered a discourse which was considered by the hard-headed
theologians of his parish to have settled the whole matter fully and
finally, so that now there was a good logical basis laid down for
the Millennium, which might begin at once upon the platform of his
demonstrations. Yet the Reverend Dr. Honeywood was fonder of preaching
plain, practical sermons about the duties of life, and showing his
Christianity in abundant good works among his people. It was noticed by
some few of his flock, not without comment, that the great majority of
his texts came from the Gospels, and this more and more as he became
interested in various benevolent enterprises which brought him into
relations with ministers and kind-hearted laymen of other denominations.
The truth is, that he was a man of a very warm, open, and exceedingly
_human_ disposition, and, although bred by a clerical father, whose
motto was "_Sit anima mea cum Puritanis_," he exercised his human
faculties in the harness of his ancient faith with such freedom that
the straps of it got so loose they did not interfere greatly with the
circulation of the warm blood through his system. Once in a while he
seemed to think it necessary to come out with a grand doctrinal sermon,
and then he would lapse away for while into preaching on men's duties to
each other and to society, and hit hard, perhaps, at some of the actual
vices of the time and place, and insist with such tenderness and
eloquence on the great depth and breadth of true Christian love and
charity, that his oldest deacon shook his head, and wished he had
shown as much interest when he was preaching, three Sabbaths back, on
Predestination, or in his discourse against the Sabellians. But he was
sound in the faith; no doubt of that. Did he not preside at the council
held in the town of Tamarack, on the other side of the mountain, which
expelled its clergyman for maintaining heretical doctrines? As presiding
officer, he did not vote, to be sure, but there was no doubt that he was
all right; he had some of the Edwards blood in him, and that couldn't
very well let him go wrong.

The meeting-house on the other and opposite summit was of a more modern
style, considered by many a great improvement on the old New England
model, so that it is not uncommon for a country parish to pull down its
old meeting-house, which has been preached in for a hundred years or so,
and put up one of these more elegant edifices. The new building was in
what may be called the florid shingle-Gothic manner. Its pinnacles and
crockets and other ornaments were, like the body of the building, all of
pine wood,--an admirable material, as it is very soft and easily worked,
and can be painted of any color desired. Inside, the walls were stuccoed
in imitation of stone,--first a dark-brown square, then two light-brown
squares, then another dark-brown square, and so on, to represent the
accidental differences of shade always noticeable in the real stones of
which walls are built. To be sure, the architect could not help getting
his party-colored squares in almost as regular rhythmical order as those
of a chess-board; but nobody can avoid doing things in a systematic and
serial way; indeed, people who wish to plant trees in natural clumps
know very well that they cannot keep from making regular lines and
symmetrical figures, unless by some trick or other, as that one of
throwing up into the air a peck of potatoes and sticking in a tree
wherever a potato happens to fall. The pews of this meeting-house were
the usual oblong ones, where people sit close together with a ledge
before them to support their hymn-books, liable only to occasional
contact with the back of the next pew's heads or bonnets, and a
place running under the seat of that pew where hats could be
deposited,--always at the risk of the owner, in case of injury by boots
or crickets.

In this meeting-house preached the Reverend Chauncy Fairweather, a
divine of the "Liberal" school, as it is commonly called, bred at that
famous college which used to be thought, twenty or thirty years ago, to
have the monopoly of training young men in the milder forms of heresy.
His ministrations were attended with decency, but not followed with
enthusiasm. "The beauty of virtue" got to be an old story at last.
"The moral dignity of human nature" ceased to excite a thrill of
satisfaction, after some hundred repetitions. It grew to be a dull
business, this preaching against stealing and intemperance, while he
knew very well that the thieves were prowling round orchards and
empty houses, instead of being there to hear the sermon, and that the
drunkards, being rarely church-goers, get little good by the statistics
and eloquent appeals of the preacher. Every now and then, however,
the Reverend Mr. Fairweather let off a polemic discourse against his
neighbor opposite, which waked his people up a little; but it was a
languid congregation, at best,--very apt to stay away from meeting in
the afternoon, and not at all given to extra evening services. The
minister, unlike his rival of the other side of the way, was a
down-hearted and timid kind of man. He went on preaching as he had been
taught to preach, but he bad misgivings at times. There was a little
Roman Catholic church at the foot of the hill where his own was placed,
which he always had to pass on Sundays. He could never look on the
thronging multitudes that crowded its pews and aisles or knelt
bare-headed on its steps, without a longing to get in among them and
go down on his knees and enjoy that luxury of devotional contact which
makes a worshipping throng as different from the same numbers praying
apart as a bed of coals is from a trail of scattered cinders.

"Oh, if I could but huddle in with those poor laborers and
working-women!" he would say to himself. "If I could but breathe that
atmosphere, stifling though it be, yet made holy by ancient litanies,
and cloudy with the smoke of hallowed incense, for one hour, instead of
droning over these moral precepts to my half-sleeping congregation!"
The intellectual isolation of his sect preyed upon him; for, of all the
terrible things to natures like his, the most terrible is to belong to a
minority. No person that looked at his thin and sallow cheek, his sunken
and sad eye, his tremulous lip, his contracted forehead, or who heard
his querulous, though not unmusical voice, could fail to see that his
life was an uneasy one, that he was engaged in some inward conflict. His
dark, melancholic aspect contrasted with his seemingly cheerful creed,
and was all the more striking, as the worthy Dr. Honeywood, professing a
belief which made him a passenger on board a shipwrecked planet, was
yet a most good-humored and companionable gentleman, whose laugh on
week-days did one as much good to listen to as the best sermon he ever
delivered on a Sunday.

A few miles from Rockland was a pretty little Episcopal church, with a
roof like a wedge of cheese, a square tower, a stained window, and
a trained rector, who read the service with such ventral depth of
utterance and rrreduplication of the rrresonant letter, that his own
mother would not have known him for her son, if the good woman had not
ironed his surplice and put it on with her own hands.

There were two public-houses in the place: one dignified with the name
of the Mountain House, somewhat frequented by city-people in the summer
months, large-fronted, three-storied, balconied, boasting a distinct
ladies'-drawing-room, and spreading a _table d'hote_ of some
pretensions; the other, "Pollard's Tahvern," in the common speech,--a
two-story building, with a bar-room, once famous, where there was a
great smell of hay and boots and pipes and all other bucolic-flavored
elements,--where games of checkers were played on the back of the
bellows with red and white kernels of corn, or with beans and
coffee,--where a man slept in a box-settle at night, to wake up early
passengers,--where teamsters came in, with wooden-handled whips and
coarse frocks, reinforcing the bucolic flavor of the atmosphere,
and middle-aged male gossips, sometimes including the squire of the
neighboring law-office, gathered to exchange a question or two about the
news, and then fall into that solemn state of suspended animation which
the temperance bar-rooms of modern days produce on human beings, as the
Grotta del Cane does on dogs in the well-known experiments related
by travellers. This bar-room used to be famous for drinking and
story-telling, and sometimes fighting, in old times. That was when there
were rows of decanters on the shelf behind the bar, and a hissing vessel
of hot water ready, to make punch, and three or four _loggerheads_ (long
irons clubbed at the end) were always lying in the fire in the cold
season, waiting to be plunged into sputtering and foaming mugs of
flip,---a goodly compound, speaking according to the flesh, made with
beer and sugar, and a certain suspicion of strong waters, over which a
little nutmeg being grated, and in it the hot iron being then allowed to
sizzle, there results a peculiar singed aroma, which the wise regard as
a warning to remove themselves at once out of the reach of temptation.

But the bar of Pollard's Tahvern no longer presented its old
attractions, and the loggerheads had long disappeared from the fire. In
place of the decanters, were boxes containing "lozengers," as they were
commonly called, sticks of candy in jars, cigars in tumblers, a few
lemons, grown hard-skinned and marvellously shrunken by long exposure,
but still feebly suggestive of possible lemonade,--the whole ornamented
by festoons of yellow and blue cut fly-paper. On the front shelf of the
bar stood a large German-silver pitcher of water, and scattered about
were ill-conditioned lamps, with wicks that always wanted picking, which
burned red and smoked a good deal, and were apt to go out without any
obvious cause, leaving strong reminiscences of the whale-fishery in the
circumambient air.

The common school-houses of Rockland were dwarfed by the grandeur of the
Apollinean Institute. The master passed one of them, in a walk he was
taking, soon after his arrival at Rockland. He looked in at the rows of
desks and recalled his late experiences. He could not help laughing, as
he thought how neatly he had knocked the young butcher off his pins.

"'A little _science_ is a dangerous thing.'

as well as a little 'learning,'" he said to himself; "only it's
dangerous to the fellow you try it on." And he cut him a good stick and
began climbing the side of The Mountain to get a look at that famous
Rattlesnake Ledge.



The virtue of the world is not mainly in its leaders. In the midst of
the multitude which follows there is often something better than in the
one that goes before. Old generals wanted to take Toulon, but one of
their young colonels showed them how. The junior counsel has been known
not unfrequently to make a better argument than his senior fellow,--if,
indeed, he did not make both their arguments. Good ministers will tell
you they have parishioners who beat them in the practice of the virtues.
A great establishment, got up on commercial principles, like the
Apollinean Institute, might yet be well carried on, if it happened to
get good teachers. And when Master Langdon came to see its management,
he recognized that there must be fidelity and intelligence somewhere
among the instructors. It was only necessary to look for a moment at
the fair, open forehead, the still, tranquil eye of gentle, habitual
authority, the sweet gravity that lay upon the lips, to hear the clear
answers to the pupils' questions, to notice how every request had the
force without the form of a command, and the young man could not doubt
that the good genius of the school stood before him in the person of
Helen Darley.

It was the old story. A poor country-clergyman dies and leaves a widow
and a daughter. In Old England the daughter would have eaten the bitter
bread of a governess in some rich family. In New England she must keep
a school. So, rising from one sphere to another, she at length finds
herself the _prima donna_ in the department of instruction in Mr. Silas
Peckham's educational establishment.

What a miserable thing it is to be poor! She was dependent, frail,
sensitive, conscientious. She was in the power of a hard, grasping,
thin-blooded, tough-fibred, trading educator, who neither knew nor cared
for a tender woman's sensibilities, but who paid her and meant to have
his money's worth out of her brains, and as much more than his money's
worth as he could get. She was consequently, in plain English,
overworked, and an overworked woman is always a sad sight,--sadder a
great deal than an overworked man, because she is so much more fertile
in capacities of suffering than a man. She has so many varieties of
headache,--sometimes as if Jael were driving the nail that killed Sisera
into her temples,--sometimes letting her work with half her brain while
the other half throbs as if it would go to pieces,--sometimes tightening
round the brows as if her cap-band were Luke's iron crown,--and then her
neuralgias, and her back-aches, and her fits of depression, in which she
thinks she is nothing and less than nothing, and those paroxysms which
men speak slightingly of as hysterical,--convulsions, that is all, only
not commonly fatal ones,--so many trials which belong to her fine and
mobile structure,--that she is always entitled to pity, when she is
placed in conditions which develop her nervous tendencies. The poor
teacher's work had, of course, been doubled since the departure of Mr.
Langdon's predecessor. Nobody knows what the weariness of instruction
is, as soon as the teacher's faculties begin to be overtasked, but those
who have tried it. The _relays_ of fresh pupils, each new set with its
exhausting powers in full action, coming one after another, take out
all the reserved forces and faculties of resistance from the subject of
their draining process.

The day's work was over, and it was late in the evening, when she
sat down, tired and faint, with a great bundle of girls' themes or
compositions to read over before she could rest her weary head on the
pillow of her narrow trundle-bed, and forget for a while the treadmill
stair of labor she was daily climbing.

How she dreaded this most forlorn of all a teacher's tasks! She
was conscientious in her duties and would insist on reading every
sentence,--there was no saying where she might find faults of grammar or
bad spelling. There might but have been twenty or thirty of these themes
in the bundle before her. Of course she knew pretty well the leading
sentiments they could contain: that beauty was subject to the accidents
of time; that wealth was inconstant, and existence uncertain; that
virtue was its own reward; that youth exhaled, like the dew-drop
from the flower, ere the sun had reached its meridian; that life was
o'ershadowed with trials; that the lessons of virtue instilled by our
beloved teachers were to be our guides through all our future career.
The imagery employed consisted principally of roses, lilies, birds,
clouds, and brooks, with the celebrated comparison of wayward genius to
a meteor. Who does not know the small, slanted, Italian hand of these
girls'-compositions,--their stringing together of the good old
traditional copy-book phrases, their occasional gushes of sentiment, the
profound estimates of the world, sounding to the old folks that read
them as the experience of a bantam-pullet's last-hatched young one
with the chips of its shell on its head would sound to a Mother Cary's
chicken, who knew the great ocean with all its typhoons and tornadoes?
Yet every now and then one is liable to be surprised with strange
clairvoyant flashes, that can hardly be explained, except by the
mysterious inspiration which every now and then seizes a young girl and
exalts her intelligence, just as hysteria in other instances exalts the
sensibility,--a little something of that which made Joan of Arc, and the
Burney girl who prophesied "Evelina," and the Davidson sisters. In the
midst of these commonplace exercises which Miss Darley read over so
carefully were two or three that had something of individual flavor
about them, and here and there there was an image or an epithet which
showed the footprint of a passionate nature, as a fallen scarlet feather
marks the path the wild flamingo has trodden.

The young lady teacher read them with a certain indifference of manner,
as one reads proofs,--noting defects of detail, but not commonly
arrested by the matters treated of. Even Miss Charlotte Ann Wood's poem,

"How sweet at evening's balmy hour,"

did not excite her. She marked the inevitable false rhyme of Cockney and
Yankee beginners, _morn_ and _dawn_, and tossed the verses on the pile
of those she had finished. She was looking over some of the last of them
in a rather listless way,--for the poor thing was getting sleepy in
spite of herself,--when she came to one which seemed to rouse her
attention, and lifted her drooping lids. She looked at it a moment
before she would touch it. Then she took hold of it by one corner and
slid it off from the rest. One would have said she was afraid of it,
or had some undefined antipathy which made it hateful to her. Such odd
fancies are common enough in young persons in her nervous state. Many of
these young people will jump up twenty times a day and run to dabble
the tips of their fingers in water, after touching the most inoffensive

This composition was written in a singular, sharp-pointed, long,
slender hand, on a kind of wavy, ribbed paper. There was something
strangely suggestive about the look of it,--but exactly of what, Miss
Darley either could not or did not try to think. The subject of the
paper was The Mountain,--the composition being a sort of descriptive
rhapsody. It showed a startling familiarity with some of the savage
scenery of the region. One would have said that the writer must have
threaded its wildest solitudes by the light of the moon and stars as
well as by day. As the teacher read on, her color changed, and a kind
of tremulous agitation came over her. There were hints in this strange
paper she did not know what to make of. There was something in its
descriptions and imagery that recalled,--Miss Darley could not say
what,--but it made her frightfully nervous. Still she could not help
reading, till she came to one passage which so agitated her that the
tired and overwearied girl's self-control left her entirely. She sobbed
once or twice, then laughed convulsively, and flung herself on the bed,
where she worked out a set hysteric spasm as she best might, without
anybody to rub her hands and see that she did not hurt herself.
By-and-by she got quiet, rose and went to her bookcase, took down a
volume of Coleridge and read a short time, and so to bed, to sleep and
wake from time to time with a sudden start out of uneasy dreams.

Perhaps it is of no great consequence what it was in the composition
which set her off into this nervous paroxysm. She was in such a state
that almost any slight agitation would have brought on the attack, and
it was the accident of her transient excitability, very probably, which
made a trifling cause the seeming occasion of so much disturbance.
The theme was signed, in the same peculiar, sharp, slender hand, _E.
Venner_, and was, of course, written by that wild-looking girl who had
excited the master's curiosity and prompted his question, as before

The next morning the lady-teacher looked pale and wearied, naturally
enough, but she was in her place at the usual hour, and Master Langdon
in his own. The girls had not yet entered the schoolroom.

"You have been ill, I am afraid," said Mr. Bernard.

"I was not well yesterday," she answered. "I had a worry and a kind of
fright. It is so dreadful to have the charge of all these young souls
and bodies! Every young girl ought to walk, locked close, arm in arm,
between two guardian angels. Sometimes I faint almost with the thought
of all that I ought to do, and of my own weakness and wants--Tell me,
are there not natures born so out of parallel with the lines of natural
law that nothing short of a miracle can bring them right?"

Mr. Bernard had speculated somewhat, as all thoughtful persons of his
profession are forced to do, on the innate organic tendencies with which
individuals, families, and races are born. He replied, therefore, with
a smile, as one to whom the question suggested a very familiar class of

"Why, of course. Each of us is only footing-up of a double column of
figures that goes back to the first pair. Every unit tells,--and some of
them are _plus_, and some _minus_. If the columns don't add up right, it
is commonly because we can't make out all the figures. I don't mean to
say that something may not be added by Nature to make up for losses and
keep the race to its average, but we are mainly nothing but the answer
to a long sum in addition and subtraction. No doubt there are people
born with impulses at every possible angle to the parallels of Nature,
as you call them. If they happen to cut these at right angles, of course
they are beyond the reach of common influences. Slight obliquities are
what we have most to do with in education. Penitentiaries and insane
asylums take care of most of the right-angle cases.--I am afraid I have
put it too much like a professor, and I am only a student, you know.
Pray, what set you--"

The next morning the lady-teacher took to asking me this? "Any strange
cases among the scholars?"

The meek teacher's blue eyes met the luminous glance that came with the
question. She, too, was of gentle blood,--not meaning by that that she
was of any noted lineage, but that she came of a cultivated stock, never
rich, but long trained to intellectual callings. A thousand decencies,
amenities, reticences, graces, which no one thinks of until he misses
them, are the traditional right of those who spring from such families.
And when two persons of this exceptional breeding meet in the midst of
the common multitude, they seek each other's company at once by the
natural law of elective affinity. It is wonderful how men and women know
their peers. If two stranger queens, sole survivors of two ship-wrecked
vessels, were cast, half-naked, on a rock together, each would at once
address the other as "Our Royal Sister."

Helen Darley looked into the dark eyes of Bernard Langdon glittering
with the light which flashed from them with his question. Not as those
foolish, innocent country-girls of the small village did she look into
them, to be fascinated and bewildered, but to sound them with a calm,
steadfast purpose. "A gentleman," she said to herself, as she read his
expression and his features with a woman's rapid, but exhausting glance.
"A lady," he said to himself, as he met her questioning look,--so brief,
so quiet, yet so assured, as of one whom necessity had taught to read
faces quickly without offence, as children read the faces of parents,
as wives read the faces of hard-souled husbands. All this was but a few
seconds' work, and yet the main point was settled. If there had been any
vulgar curiosity or coarseness of any kind lurking in his expression,
she would have detected it. If she had not lifted her eyes to his face
so softly and kept them there so calmly and withdrawn them so quietly,
he would not have said to himself, "She is a _lady_," for that word
meant a good deal to the descendant of the courtly Wentworths and the
scholarly Langdons.

"There are strange people everywhere, Mr. Langdon," she said, "and I
don't think our school-room is an exception. I am glad you believe in
the force of transmitted tendencies. It would break my heart, if I did
not think that there are faults beyond the reach of everything but
God's special grace. I should die, if I thought that my negligence or
incapacity was alone responsible for the errors and sins of those I have
charge of. Yet there, are mysteries I do not know how to account for."
She looked all round the school-room, and then said, in a whisper, "Mr.
Langdon, we had a girl that _stole_, in the school, not long ago. Worse
than that, we had a girl that tried to set us on fire. Children of good
people, both of them. And we have a girl now that frightens me so"----

The door opened, and three misses came in to take their seats: three
types, as it happened, of certain classes, into which it would not have
been difficult to distribute the greater number of the girls in
the school.--_Hannah Martin_. Fourteen years and three months old.
Short-necked, thick-waisted, round-cheeked, smooth, vacant forehead,
large, dull eyes. Looks good-natured, with little other expression.
Three buns in her bag, and a large apple. Has a habit of attacking her
provisions in school-hours.--_Rosa Milburn_. Sixteen. Brunette, with
a rare ripe flush in her cheeks. Color comes and goes easily. Eyes
wandering, apt to be downcast. Moody at times. Said to be passionate,
if irritated. Finished in high relief. Carries shoulders well back and
walks well, as if proud of her woman's life, with a slight rocking
movement, being one of the wide-flanged pattern, but seems restless,--a
hard girl to look after. Has a romance in her pocket, which she means to
read in school-time.--_Charlotte Ann Wood_. Fifteen. The poetess before
mentioned. Long, light ringlets, pallid complexion, blue eyes. Delicate
child, half unfolded. Gentle, but languid and despondent. Does not go
much with the other girls, but reads a good deal, especially poetry,
underscoring favorite passages. Writes a great many verses, very fast,
not very correctly; full of the usual human sentiments, expressed in the
accustomed phrases. Undervitalized. Sensibilities not covered with their
normal integuments. A negative condition, often confounded with genius,
and sometimes running into it. Young people that _fall_ out of line
through weakness of the active faculties are often confounded with those
that _step_ out of it through strength of the intellectual ones.

The girls kept coming in, one after another, or in pairs or groups,
until the school-room was nearly full. Then there was a little pause,
and a light step was heard in the passage. The lady-teacher's eyes
turned to the door, and the master's followed them in the same

A girl of about seventeen entered. She was tall and slender, but
rounded, with a peculiar undulation of movement, such as one sometimes
sees in perfectly untutored country-girls, whom Nature, the queen of
graces, has taken in hand, but more commonly in connection with the
very highest breeding of the most thoroughly trained society. She was a
splendid scowling beauty, black-browed, with a flash of white teeth that
was always like a surprise when her lips parted. She wore a checkered
dress, of a curious pattern, and a camel's-hair scarf twisted a little
fantastically about her. She went to her seat, which she had moved a
short distance apart from the rest, and, sitting down, began playing
listlessly with her gold chain, as was a common habit with her, coiling
it and uncoiling it about her slender wrist, and braiding it in with her
long, delicate fingers. Presently she looked up. Black, piercing eyes,
not large,--a low forehead, as low as that of Clytie in the Townley
bust,--black hair, twisted in heavy braids,--a face that one could not
help looking at for its beauty, yet that one wanted to look away from
for something in its expression, and could not for those diamond eyes.
They were fixed on the lady-teacher now. The latter turned her own away,
and let them wander over the other scholars. But they could not help
coming back again for a single glance at the wild beauty. The diamond
eyes were on her still. She turned the leaves of several of her books,
as if in search of some passage, and, when she thought she had waited
long enough to be safe, once more stole a quick look at the dark girl.
The diamond eyes were still upon her. She put her kerchief to her
forehead, which had grown slightly moist; she sighed once, almost
shivered, for she felt cold; then, following some ill-defined impulse,
which she could not resist, she left her place and went to the young
girl's desk.

_"What do you want of me, Elsie Venner?_" It was a strange question to
put, for the girl had not signified that she wished the teacher to come
to her.

"Nothing," she said. "I thought I could make you come." The girl spoke
in a low tone, a kind of half-whisper. She did not lisp, yet her
articulation of one or two consonants was not absolutely perfect.

"Where did you get that flower, Elsie?" said Miss Darley. It was a rare
alpine flower, which was found only in one spot among the rocks of The

"Where it grew," said Elsie Venner. "Take it." The teacher could not
refuse her. The girl's finger-tips touched hers as she took it. How cold
they were for a girl of such an organization!

The teacher went back to her seat. She made an excuse for quitting the
school-room soon afterwards. The first thing she did was to fling the
flower into her fireplace and rake the ashes over it. The second was to
wash the tips of her fingers, as if she had been another Lady Macbeth. A
poor, overtasked, nervous creature,--we must not think too much of her

After school was done, she finished the talk with the master which had
been so suddenly interrupted. There were things spoken of which may
prove interesting by-and-by, but there are other matters we must first

To answer this question intelligently, we must first glance at the
characteristics of the age. It is an age of remarkable activity. There
have been industrious men in other days; there have been nations of whom
it might be truly said, They were an industrious people, they lost no
time in idleness: but their rate of speed was low. Such a people could
hardly be deemed enterprising. They might continue uncomplainingly in
their accustomed round of labors, but would lack impulse to attempt
anything new. Circumstances did not compel them to unwonted efforts,
and their capabilities lay dormant. The world was wide, the population
comparatively sparse, and the means of subsistence not difficult of

Our age is very unlike to that. People begin to crowd one another. There
is competition. The more active and ingenious will have the advantage;
they do have the advantage; and this fact is a constant stimulus. It has
been operating for thirty years past with ever-increasing power. We seem
to be approaching a climax,--a point beyond which flesh and blood cannot
go. The enterprise of the more active spirits of our day is astounding;
we begin to ask, "Will they stop at anything? What will they not
undertake?" There are a great many unsuccessful attempts; but these are
not necessarily observed, they pass quietly into obscurity, while we
hasten to observe the successes, which are wonderful, and so numerous
as to keep us ever on tiptoe, looking for new wonders. Having seen the
railways, the magnetic telegraph, and Hoe's press, in full operation,
and having been brought to accept these as a common measure of time and
motion, we find ourselves indisposed for older usages. We find our
age an age of daring and of doing. We are ready to discard the word
_impossible_; from our vocabulary; we deny that anything is the less
probable because of being unprecedented. For doing new things we look
about for new means,--being full charged with the belief that for all
worthy or desirable ends there must be adequate and available means.
In this regard, it is an age of unprecedented faith, of expectation of
success; and we all know the natural and necessary influence of such
an expectation. Sanguine expectation lights up the fires of genius;
invention is quickened for the attainment of the highest speed and the
greatest momentum. In no former age has there been anything to compare
in rapidity and power of movement with the every-day achievements of
this age. The relation of books to men, and the sphere assigned to
books, are materially modified by the characteristics of the age. Books,
as books, are no longer a charm to conjure with. The few really superior
books have a wider and greater influence than ever before; while
the great mass of common books have less, and pass more easily into
oblivion. Good books may and must help us; but books cannot make us men
of the nineteenth century, and a power in it. A thorough knowledge of
the world within us, as it stands related to the world without us, is
something quite different from mere book-knowledge. This is an element
of influence not only not confined to the bookmen, but often possessed
in a transcendent degree by those whose devotion to books is altogether
subordinate to other avocations. Our common-school education may be said
to bring the entire people upon a common plane. We are no longer the
esoteric and the exoteric; we understand our rights in the common fund
of sense and truth very well. We are not very patient with those who
affect to know better than ourselves what we want and what we ought to
desire. Most men are exceedingly in earnest, and determined to be heard
in their own cause, and well able to make themselves understood. Scribes
and Pharisees compassing sea and land to make one proselyte are
a good and bad type of our activity in the pursuit of our own ends.
Innumerable and infinitely varied are the shifts employed to secure
attention, to effect the sale of merchandise, and to increase income.
Nor are the learned professions much behind the men of merchandise. The
contest of life thickens. Competition for the fruits of labor waxes
continually more fierce. Mother Earth is too moderate in her labors; the
ranks of the producers suffer from desertion; the plough is forsaken;
the patient ox is contemned; silence, seclusion, and meditation are a
memory of the past. The world's axis is changed; there is more heat in
the North. The world has advanced, in our age, from a speed of five
miles an hour, to twenty or thirty, or more.

Whatever may be thought of the advantages and disadvantages accruing
from these movements, there can be no question of the fact, that they
have greatly affected the position and the relations of speakers and
hearers. The million have been driven to do so much for themselves, that
they are in no little danger of jumping to the conclusion, that they no
longer need teachers of religion. A conclusion so fraught with mischief
to the race will not be arrested by a pertinacious adhesion to modes of
preaching which men under the old-time training could be made to endure,
but which latter-day contrasts have rendered intolerable.

It is just here, if anywhere, that a special backwardness on the part of
the clergy to meet the religious wants of the age may, without injustice
or unkindness, be alleged. It comes about very naturally; the training
of the clergy is not in harmony with the exigencies of the position they
are intended to occupy. The endeavors of the preparatory schools are
not to be depreciated. It is scarcely possible to say too much of the
fundamental importance of thoroughness and of minute accuracy in the
rudiments of learning. But that extreme zeal in this behalf has produced
an unnatural divorce of the practical from the critical, it is vain
to deny. The devotion to the latter, which is inaugurated in the
preparatory school, is by the college inflamed to the utmost, and
the young man reaches his climax when he receives the appointment of
valedictorian; that is his end; he reaches it, and we may say it is
the death of him. He may, indeed, enter the theological seminary,
industriously resolved on more of the same supremacy; but, in most
instances, the great practical ends of a Christ-like life of doing good
have been already lost from his view, and the ways and means by which
alone such ends can be reached have become offensive to him. The
student, as he delights in calling himself, has become greatly more
interested in knowledge than in the people for whom he is to use his
knowledge. A certain unknown God, an idol, in short, quite unsuspected,
whose name is _Critical Dignity_, is installed in his heart, in
the place of the Son of God. And the man endures the trials of his
ministerial life under the mistaken impression that he is a martyr for
Christ. He compels himself to be satisfied with a measure of attention
to his utterances, which would content no sane and sensible man in any
other department of teaching. He will tell you that it is one of the
inevitable infelicities of his vocation, that to nothing are men such
unwilling listeners as to religious truth; than which nothing can
be more untrue; for to nothing are men so prepared to listen as to
religious truth, properly presented.

In order to a more generally happy and successful prosecution of the
duties of a minister of Christ, a preliminary fact requires to be
considered. That a man is found or finds himself in any calling is no
evidence whatever that he is fitted for that calling. This is just as
true of the ministry as of any other vocation. Every man-of-business
knows this. The clergy seem to us behind the age in being astonishingly
blind to it. Men-of-business know that only a very small fraction of
their number can ever attain eminent success. They know, that, in a term
of twenty years, ninety-seven men in a hundred _fail_. Here and there
one develops a remarkable talent for the specific business in which he
is engaged. The ninety-and-nine discover that they have a weary contest
to maintain with manifold contingencies and combinations which no
foresight can preclude.

The application of this general truth to their profession the clergy are
backward to perceive. The consequences of this backwardness are very
hurtful to their interests. Because of this, we have an indefinite
amount of puerile and undignified complaint from disappointed men, of
disingenuous misrepresentation from incompetent men, who have entered
upon labors they were never fitted to accomplish. Such men undertake
their labors in ways that want and must want the Divine sanction; and
they are tempted to ward off a just verdict of unsuitableness and of
incompetency by bringing many and grievous charges against their
flocks. "A mania for church-extending"; "a hankering for architectural
splendor"; "or for discursive and satirical preaching"; "or for
something florid or profound": these and the like imputations have
been put forward, as a screen, by many an unsuccessful preacher, who
failed,--simply failed,--not in selling horns or hides, shirtings or
sugars,--but failed to recommend Christ and his gospel,--failed for want
of head, or heart, or industry, or all three.

The man who embarks his all in hardware, drugs, or law, runs the risk
of failure. If his neighbor can rise earlier, walk faster, talk faster,
work harder, and hold on longer, he will get the avails that might
suffice for both. This unalterable fact every business-man accepts.

Do you inquire, To what good purpose do you thrust the possibility of
failure upon the attention of the candidate for the ministry? Would you
utterly discourage those who are already more alive to the perils of
their undertaking than we could wish them?

We answer, It is no kindness to encourage men to enter a ministry whose
inexorable requirements and whose incidental possibilities they may
not look in the face. It is no kindness to represent to them that the
qualities which they possess _ought_ to engage attention; and that
their talents will command respect, or else it will be the fault of the

Men go into business in the face of a possibility of failure through
uncontrollable circumstances; not in defiance of an ascertainable,
insufferable incompetency. They toil on, accepting adversity with such
equanimity as God gives them, so long as they are permitted to believe
that their misfortunes are not chargeable upon their incapacity or
self-indulgence. But when it is made apparent that they are not in their
proper sphere, they think it no shame to say so, to withdraw, and
to apply their energies to something suited to their tastes and
capabilities. And it should be with the ministry; but as things now are,
with the conceptions of the ministry now entertained, pride interposes
to forbid the rectification of the most serious mistakes. It is a
question of dignity and of scholarship; whereas it should be a question
of love to God and man, and of real ability and conscious power to bring
them together,--to reconcile man to God.

Our age is an age of great devotion to secular affairs,--of men who are
great in the conduct of such affairs,--in every department in life. To
counterbalance this, our ministry must be filled with an equally earnest
devotion to God and salvation. In real ability our ministers ought to be
not a whit behind. But ability is not necessarily scholarship; though it
may, and as far as possible should, include that, and a great deal more.
Let it be fully understood, once for all, that we have no disparaging
remark to make of scholarship; a man must be foolish beyond expression,
who pretends to argue that the highest scholarship is less than a most
important and almost indispensable auxiliary to the minister of Christ.
All our concern in the matter, just here, is, that it shall be fully
understood that piety and real ability make the minister of Christ,
and not scholarship; in the words of Augustine, "the heart makes the
minister";--but we may safely assume that he meant the heart of a really
able man; otherwise we can accord but a qualified respect to this

The prevailing impression among the ministry appears to be, that the man
who cannot write "an able doctrinal discourse" is but an inferior man,
fit only to preach in an inferior place; and that it would be a great
gain to the Church, if scholarship were only so general that the
standard of the universities could be applied, and only Phi-Beta-Kappa
men allowed to enter the ministry. No doubt, those who incline to this
view are quite honest, and not unkindly in it. But those who think this
grievously misunderstand the necessities of the age in which we live.
Reading men know where to find better reading than can possibly be
furnished by any man who is bound to write two sermons weekly, or
even one sermon a week; and to train any corps of young men in the
expectation that any considerable fraction of them will be able to win
and to maintain a commanding influence in their parishes mainly by the
weekly production of learned discourses is to do them the greatest
injury, by cherishing expectations which never can be realized. Why
do our educated men of other professions so seldom and so reluctantly
contribute to the addresses in our religious assemblies? Precisely
because they understand the difficulty of meeting the popular
expectation which is created by the prevailing theory; a theory which
demands that sermons, and not only that sermons, but also that all
religious addresses, should be chiefly characterized as learned, acute,
scholastic even. An Irish preacher is reported in an Edinburgh paper as
saying lately, that "he had been led to think of his own preaching and
of that of his brethren. He saw very few sermons in the New Testament
shaped after the forms and fashion in which they had been accustomed to
shape theirs. He was not aware of a sermon there, in which they had
a little motto selected, upon which a disquisition upon a particular
subject was hung. The sort of sermons which the people in his locality
were desirous to hear were sermons delivered on a large portion of the
Word of God, carrying through the ideas as the Spirit of God had done."
And it is, in part at least, because of the prevailing disregard of this
most reasonable desire, that parishes so soon weary of their ministers.

It need not discourage ministers to accept the fact that there will be
failures in the ministry,--and a great many failures among those who
rely for their success mainly upon the weekly production of learned
disquisitions. Discouragement is not in accepting a fact that accords
with all just theories of truth, but in adopting a theory which is sure
to be invalidated by the almost universal experience of men in, as well
as out of, the ministry. A right-minded minister _may_ have many falls
in struggling up his Hill of Difficulty; but the Lord will lift him
up, and will save him from adding to the temperate grief proper to any
measure of short-coming the intolerable poignancy that comes of cheating
by false pretences,--of assuming to do what he knows or should know that
he cannot do, namely, produce any considerable number of great sermons.

Let it, then, be frankly owned, that men, very good men, very capable
men, have failed in the ministry. A. failed, because he did not study;
B., because he did not visit his people; C., because he could not talk;
D., because he was too grave; E., because he was too frivolous; F. could
not, or would not, control his temper; G. alienated by exacting more
than he received; and all of them because of not having what Scougal
calls "the life of God in the soul of man."

It is not worth while for any man to go into the ministry who cannot
relish the Apostle's invitation, running thus:--"I beseech you,
therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your
bodies _a living sacrifice_, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your
reasonable service." If that seem not reasonable, ay, and exceedingly
inviting too, better let it alone. All men cannot do all things. Better
raise extraordinary potatoes than hammer out insignificant ideas. You do
not see the connection? you were a Phi-Beta-Kappa man in college, and
know that you can write better than many a man in a metropolitan pulpit?
Very likely; but we of the few go to church to be made better men, and
not by fine writing, but by significant ideas, which may come in a
homely garb, so they be only pervaded with affectionate piety, but which
can come to us only from one who has laid all ambitious self-seeking on
the altar of God. There is a power of persuasion in every minister who
follows God as a dear child, and who walks in love, as Christ loved
us, which the hardest heart cannot long resist,--which will win the
congregation, however an individual here and there may be able to harden
himself against it. You think that the great power of the pulpit is in
high doctrine, presented with metaphysical precision and acuteness. We
have no disparagement to offer of your doctrinal knowledge, nor of your
ability to state it with metaphysical precision and hair-splitting
acuteness. But we know, from much experience, that there is a divine
truth, and a fervor and power in imparting it, with which God inspires
the man who is wholly devoted to Him, in comparison with which the
higher achievements of the man who lacks these are trumpery and rubbish.
Many, _many_ men have failed in the ministry, are failing in the
ministry every day, because their principal reliance has been upon what
they deem their thorough mastery of the soundest theories of doctrine
and of duty. They were confident they could administer to minds and
hearts diseased the certain specific laid down in the book, admeasured
to the twentieth part of a scruple. Confident in their theoretical
acquisitions, they could not comprehend the indispensable necessity of a
large experience in actual cases of mental malady. And for the want of
such experience, it was absolutely impossible that they should be _en
rapport_ with the souls they honestly desired to benefit. Can you heal a
heart-ache with a syllogism? There is no dispensing with the precept and
prescription,--"Weep with those that weep!" "Be of the same mind one
toward another!"

Theories of doctrine and of practice are not without their value; but
the minister who is merely or chiefly a theorist, whether in doctrines
or in measures, is an adventurer; and the chances against him are as
many as the chances against the precise similarity of any two cases
presented to his attention,--as many as the chances against the
education of any two men of fifty years being precisely alike, in every
particular and in all their results. The soul's problems are not to be
solved by theories. Such was not the practice of the Great Physician;
"_surely, He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows._" Theories
shirk that. "_In all their affliction, He was afflicted; in His love and
in His pity, He redeemed them._" And precisely in this way his ministers
are now to follow up his practice. Our age is growing less and less
tolerant of formality,--less and less willing to accept metaphysical
disquisition in place of a warm-hearted, loving, fervent expansion of
the Word of God, recommended to the understanding and to the sensibility
by lively illustrations of spiritual truth, derived from all the
experience of life, from all observation, from all analogies in the
natural world,--in short, from every manner of illumination, from the
heavens above, from the earth beneath, and from the waters which are
under the earth. God is surely everywhere, and hath made all things, and
all to testify of Him; and the innumerable voices all agree together.

And when this is both understood and felt, what rules shall be given to
guide and control the construction and the delivery of discourses? Shall
we say, The people must be brought back to the old-time endurance--ay,
_endurance_, that is the word--of long-drawn, laborious ratiocinations,
wherein the truth is diligently pursued for its own sake, with an
ultimate reference, indeed, to the needs and uses of the hearer, but so
remote as rarely to be noticed, except by that very small fraction of
any customary congregation who may chance to have an interest in
such doings,--some of whom watch the clergyman as they would the
entomologist, running down a truth that he may impale it, and add one
more specimen to his well-ordered collection of common and of uncommon
bugs? Our neighbors in the South do better than this; for they hunt with
the lasso, and never throw the noose except to capture something which
can be harnessed to the wheels of common life.

No, the people are not going back to the endurance of any such misery.
They have found out that still-born rhetoric is by no means the one
thing needful, and care far less for the _art_ of speech than for the
_nature_ of a holy heart. They want a man to speak less of what he
believes and more of what he feels. The expectation of bringing the
people again to endure prolonged metaphysical discriminations, spun out
of commonplace minds, cobwebs to cloak their own nakedness and universal
inaptitude, if indulged, is absurdly indulged. The whole Church is sick
of such trifling. She knows well that it has made her most unsavory to
those who might have found their way into the temples of God, or kept
their places there, but for the memory of an immense amount of wearisome
readings from the pulpit,--too often a vocabulary of words seldom or
never found out of sermons,--a manner of speech which, when tried by the
sure test of natural, animated conversation, must be pronounced absurd
and abominable. It is a wonder of wonders, that, in spite of such
drawbacks, an individual here and there has been reclaimed from
worldliness to the love and service of God.

The student-habits of the clergy most naturally lead them to prefer the
formal statement, the studied elaboration of ideas, which their own
training cannot but render facile and dear to them. And there is here
and there a man who, in virtue of extraordinary genius, can infuse new
life into worn-out phrases,--a man or two who can for a moment or for an
hour, by the very weight and excellence of their thoughts, and because
they truly and deeply feel them, arrest the age, and challenge and
secure attention, in spite of all the infelicities of an antiquated
style and an unearthly delivery. But in this age, more than ever before,
we are summoned to surrender our scholastic preferences and esoteric
honors to the exigencies of the million. And the men of this generation
have, without much conference, come with great unanimity to the
determination that they will not long endure, either in or out of the
pulpit, speakers who are dull and unaffecting, whether from want of
words, ideas, or method and wisdom in the arrangement of them, or
lack of sympathies,--and especially that they will not endure dull
declamation from the pulpit.

If any man really wish to know how he is preaching, let him imagine
himself conversing earnestly with an intelligent and highly gifted,
but uneducated man or woman, in his own parlor, or with his younger
children. Would any but an idiot keep on talking, when, with half an
eye, he might discern TEDIOUS, wrought by himself, upon the uncalloused
sensibilities of his hearers?

How long ought a sermon to be? As long as you can read in the eye of
seven-eighths of your audience, _Pray, go on_. If you cannot read that,
you have mistaken your vocation; you were never called to the ministry.
The secret of the persuasive power of our favorite orators is in their
constant recognition of the ebb and flow of the sensibilities they are
acting upon. Their speech is, in effect, an actual conversation,
in which they are speaking for as well as to the audience; and the
interlocutors are made almost as palpably such as at the "Breakfast-
Table" of our dramatic "Autocrat" In contrast with this, the dull
preacher, falling below the dignity and the privilege of his office,
addresses himself, not to living men, but to an imaginary sensibility
to abstract truth. The effect of this is obvious and inevitable; it
converts hearers into doubters as to whether in fact there be any such
thing as a religion worth recommending or possessing, and preachers into
complainers of the people as indifferent and insensible to the truth,--a
libel which ought to render them liable to fine and punishment. God's
truth, _fairly presented_, is never a matter of indifference or of
insensibility to an intelligent, nor even to an unintelligent audience.
However an individual here and there may contrive to withdraw himself
from the sphere of its influence, truth can no more lose her power than
the sun can lose his heat.

The people, under the quickening influences characteristic of our age,
are awaking to the consciousness, that, on the day which should be the
best of all the week, they have been defrauded of their right, in having
solemn dulness palmed upon them, in place of living, earnest, animated
truth. Let not ministers, unwisely overlooking this undeniable fact,
defame the people, by alleging a growing facility in dissolving the
pastoral relation,--a disregard of solemn contracts,--a willingness to
dismiss excellent, godly, and devoted men, without other reason than the
indisposition to retain them. Be it known to all such, that capable men
very department of life were never in such request as at this very hour;
and never, since the world began, was there an audience so large and so
attentive to truth, well wrought and fitted to its purpose, as now.


_Ludwig van Beethoven. Leben und Schaffen._ Herausgegeben von Adolph
Bernhard Marx. 2 vols. 8vo. Berlin, 1859. pp. 379, 339.


Beethoven died March 26, 1827, and thirty years passed away without any
satisfactory biography of him. The notices and anecdotes of Seyfried,
(1832,) Wegeler, and Ries, (1838,) the somewhat more extended sketch by
Schindler, (1840, second edition 1845,) and what in various forms, often
of very doubtful veracity, appeared from time to time in periodical
publications, musical and other, remained the only sources of
information respecting the great master, and the history of his works,
available to the public, even the German public. Wegeler's "Notizen"
are indispensable for the early history of the composer; Schindler's
"Biographie," for that of his later years. Careful scrutiny has failed
to detect any important error in the statements of the former, or
in those of the latter, where he professedly speaks from personal
knowledge. Schindler is one of the best-abused men in Germany,--perhaps
has given sufficient occasion for it,--but we must bear this testimony
to the value of his work, unsatisfactory as it is. Seyfried and Ries
give little more than personal reminiscences of a period ending some
twenty-five or thirty years before they wrote. The one is always
careless; the other died too suddenly to give his hastily written
anecdotes revision. Both must be corrected (as they may easily be, but
have not yet been) by contemporaneous authorities. Their errors are
constantly repeated in the biographical articles upon Beethoven which we
find in the Encyclopaedias, with one exception, the article in the "New
American," published by the Appletons.

A life of Beethoven, founded upon a careful digest of these writers,
combined with the materials scattered through other publications,--even
though no original researches were made,--was still a desideratum,
when the very remarkable work upon Mozart, by the Russian, Alexander
Oulibichef, appeared, and aroused a singular excitement in the German
musical circles through the real or supposed injustice towards Beethoven
into which the hero-worship of the author had led him. We had hopes that
now some one of the great master's countrymen would give us something
worthy of him; but the excitement expended itself in pamphlets and
articles in periodicals, in which as little was done for Beethoven's
history as was effected against the views of Oulibichef.

Another Russian, however, Wilhelm von Lenz, came to the rescue in two
works,--"Beethoven et ses trois Styles," (2 vols. 8vo, St. Petersburg,
1862,) and "Beethoven, eine Kunststudie" (2 vols. l2mo, Cassel, 1855). A
very feeble champion, this Herr von Lenz. The first of his two works--in
French, rather of the Strat-ford-at-Bow order,--consists principally of
an "Analyse des Sonates de Piano" of Beethoven, in which these works are
indeed much talked about, but not analyzed. The author, an amateur, has
plenty of zeal, but, unluckily, neither the musical knowledge nor the
critical skill for his self-imposed task. We mention this took
only because the second volume closes with a "Catalogue critique,
chronologique et anecdotique," in which the author has, with great
industry and care, and for the first time, brought together the
principal historical notices of Beethoven's works, scattered through the
pages of the books above noticed and the fifty quarto volumes of the
"Leipziger Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung."

The first volume of "Beethoven, eine Kunststudie" is a "Leben
des Meisters," a mere sketch, made up from the same works as the
"Catalogue," with a very few additions from other sources. As a
biographer, Lenz fails as signally as in his capacity of critic. Much
original matter, from one living so far away, was not to be expected;
but he has made no commendable use of the printed authorities which
he had at hand. His style is bombastic and feeble; there is neither a
logical nor a chronological progress to his narrative; moreover, he is
not always trustworthy, even in matters personal to himself;--at
all events, a very interesting account of a meeting between him
and Mendelssohn, at the house of Moscheles in London,--apropos of
nothing,--has called--out a letter from the latter in a Leipzig musical
journal, in which the whole story is declared to be without foundation.
In our references to Lenz, we shall consider his "Catalogue" and his
"Leben des Meisters" as complements to each other, and forming a single

Lenz's "Beethoven et ses trois Styles" was avowedly directed against
Oulibichef, and called out a reply from that gentleman, with the title,
"Beethoven, ses Critiques et ses Glossateurs," (8vo. Paris and Leipzig,
1857,) in which poor Lenz is annihilated, but which makes no pretensions
to biographical value. It contains, indeed, a sketch of the master's
life; it is but a sketch, so highly colored, such a mere painting of
Beethoven as lie existed in the author's fancy,--not in real life,--as
to convey a most false idea of him and of his fortunes. The introduction
is an admirable sketch of the progress of music during the first
twenty-five years of the present century,--a supplement to his famous
view of modern music in his work upon Mozart. His analyses of such of
Beethoven's works as met his approbation are masterly and unrivalled,
save by certain articles from the pens of Hoffmann and our own writer
Dwight. With the later works of the composer Oulibichef had no sympathy.
Haydn and Mozart had given him his standards of perfection. _We_ can
forgive Beethoven, when at times he rises above all forms and rules in
seeking new means of expression; Oulibichef could not.

But it is not endless discussions of Beethoven's works which the
public--at all events, our public--demands. We wish his biography,--the
history of his life. What has been given us does but whet the appetite.
We wish to have the many original sources, still sealed to us, explored,
and the results of this labor honestly given us. None of the writers
above-mentioned have been in a position to do this, and their
publications are but materials for the use of the true biographer, when
he shall appear.

It was therefore with a pleasure as great as it was unexpected, that we
saw, some months since, the announcement of the volumes named at the
head of this article. They now lie before us. We have given thorn a very
careful examination, and shall now endeavor to do them full justice,
granting them much more space than has yet been accorded to them in
any German publication which has come under our notice, because out
of Germany the reputation of the author is far greater than at
home,--whether upon the old principle, that the "prophet is not without
honor," etc., we hope hereafter to make clear.

Some particulars respecting Dr. Marx may find place here, as proving
that from no man, perhaps, have we the right to expect so much, in
a biography of Beethoven, as from him. We draw them mostly from
Schilling's "Encyclopaedie der gesammten musikalischen Wissenschaft,"
Vol. IV., Stuttgart, 1841,--a work which deserves to be better known in
our country. It is worthy of note, that in this work, of which Mozart
fills eight pages, Handel, Bach, Haydn, and Beethoven seven to seven and
a half each, Gluck six and a quarter, Meyerbeer four, and Weber four and
a half, Marx, eighteen years since, occupied five.

Adolph Bernhard Marx was born at Halle, Nov. 17, 1799, and, like so many
of the distinguished musicians of recent times, is of Jewish descent. He
studied at the University of his native city, choosing the law for his
profession, but making music the occupation of his leisure hours,--the
well-known contrapuntist, Tuerk, being his instructor in musical theory
and composition. "He [Tuerk] soon saw whom he had before him, and told
Marx at once that he was born to be a musician."[1]

Soon after finishing his legal studies, Marx removed to Berlin, as the
place where he could best enjoy the means of artistic culture. "For one
quite without fortune, merely to live in a strange city demands great
strength of character; but to go farther and fit one's self for a career
and for a position in the future, which even under the best auspices
is of very difficult attainment, and, beside all this, to have others
dependent upon him for the necessaries of life,--what a burden to bear!
..... By a very intellectual system of instruction in singing and in
composition, and, at a later period, (1824-81,) by editing the 'Berliner
Allgemeine Musikzeitung,' and several theoretical and practical musical
works, he earned the means of subsistence. Never was a periodical more
conscientiously edited. It was for Marx like an official station, and
his seven years upon that paper were in fact a preparation for the
position of Public Teacher, to which in 1830 he was appointed, in the
University at Berlin, after having declined a judicial position offered
to him, with a fair salary, in one of the provinces. Honorably has he
since that period filled his station, however great the pains which
have been taken in various quarters that it should not be said of him,
'Virtus post nummos!'"[2]

"The diploma of Doctor of Music Marx received from the University at
Marburg; and thereupon (?) obtained the greatest applause for a course
of lectures, in part strictly scientific for the musician, and in part
upon the history of music, its philosophy, etc.; also, as Music-Director
of the University, he has brought (1841,) the academic choir into such
a flourishing state, both as to numbers and skill, as to be adequate to
the most difficult music."[3]

Again we read,--"We remember, that, some time since, Fetis, at Paris,
pointed out Marx as the one who had introduced the philosophy of Kant
into music." Were this so, so much the more credit to Marx, who, at that
time, we are informed, had never studied the works of the philosopher
of Koenigsberg, and his basing music upon the Kantian philosophy is
therefore but a proof of the profundity of his genius.

From the same article we extract the following list of his
productions:--1. A work on Singing, in three parts; the second and third
of which "contain throughout admirable and novel remarks." 2. "Maigruss"
(Maygreeting). "This pamphlet, humorous and delicate, yet powerfully
written," calls attention to certain novel views of its author in regard
to music. 3. Articles in the "Caecilia," a musical periodical. 4. Essay
on Handel's works. 5. A work on Composition. 6. Several biographies and
other articles in Schilling's Encyclopaedia,--"indeed, all the articles
signed A. B. M." 7. Editions of several of Bach's and Handel's works.
To these we may now add his extensive treatise upon Musical Science, in
four volumes, his "Music in the Nineteenth Century," and the work which
is now before us.

Of musical compositions we find the

[Footnote 1: Article in Schilling]

[Footnote 2: Article in Schilling]

[Footnote 3: Ibid.] following noticed:--1. Music to Goethe's "Jery und
Baetely,"--which, in theatrical parlance, was shockingly _damned_;--but
then "its author had made many enemies as editor of the 'Musikalische
Zeitung,'" and the singers and actors embraced this opportunity of
revenge. 2. Music to the melodrama, "Die Rache wartet," (Vengeance
waits,) by Willibald Alexis, the scenes of which are laid in Poland at
the time of Napoleon's fatal Russian expedition. "This background was
the theme of the music, which consisted of little more than the overture
and _entr'actes_, but was held by musicians of note to be both grand and
profound. The character of the campaign of 1812, especially, was given
in the overture with terrible truth of expression. Still, however, the
work _did not succeed_." 3. "Undine's Greeting," text by Fouque, with
a festive symphony, composed on occasion of the marriage of the present
Prince Regent of Prussia. This was also damned,--but then, it was badly
executed! 4. Symphony,--"The Fall of Warsaw,"--still manuscript. "The
music paints most touchingly the rash, superficial, chivalrous character
of the Poles, their love of freedom amid the thunder of cannon, their
terrible fall in the bloody defeat, their solitary condition on strange
soil, the awful judgment that fell upon that people." We are sorry to
add, that the Berlin orchestras will not play this work,--preferring
Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven. 5. A Choral and Organ Book,--"one of Marx's
most interesting works." 6. "Nahib,"--a series of songs, the music of
which "is gentle, tender, and full of Oriental feeling." 7. "John the
Baptist," an oratorio,--twice performed by the University choir in one
of the churches of Berlin. "A great charm is found in the peculiar
sharpness of characterization which distinguishes this music. The solos
and choruses, being held throughout in spirited declamation,--the
music not being aggregated in conventional tone-masses, but developed
vigorously after the sense of the text,--are distinguished from those
in the works of recent composers." Unfortunately for Marx, the public
preferred the solos and choruses of such recent composers as Meyerbeer,
Mendelssohn, and Schumann to his. A few songs and hymns completed the
list of his works at that time.

"At present," (1841,) says our authority, "Marx is laboring upon an
oratorio, 'Moses,' for which he long since made studies, and which in
its profound conception of character will have but few equals."

The "Moses" was long since finished, and was performed in several
places; but the public has not proved alive to its merits, and it fares
no better than did Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in its nonage.

We have perhaps quoted somewhat too largely from the article in
Schilling; but have thought so much necessary to give the reader the
basis of the great reputation which Marx has, particularly in England
and the United States;--for, singular as the fact may appear, we are
unable to recall the name of any young composer who has appeared and
gained any considerable degree of success, since Marx began to teach,
whom he can claim as his pupil. Most of the younger generation are from
the schools of Hauptmann, Haupt, Dehn, the Schneiders, and the Vienna
and Prague professors. Marx's reputation, then, is that of an author,--a
writer upon music.

There is one fact, however, worthy of mention in regard to the article
from which we have quoted, which, while it exhibits the modesty of
Marx,--modesty, the ornament of true greatness,--may (or may not) add
weight to the extracts we have made from it,--namely, that the article
was written for Schilling by Marx himself.

We have, then, a man of three-score years, whose youth and early manhood
fell in the period of Beethoven's greatest efforts and fame; a musician
by profession, and composer, but, through "the opposition of singers and
musicians and the scandalous journalism" of Berlin, forced from the path
of composition into that of the science and literature of the art; for
thirty years lecturer on the history and philosophy of music; professor
of the art in the first of German universities, a position, both
social and professional, which gives him command of all the sources of
information; dweller in a city which possesses one of the finest musical
libraries in the world, that, too, in which the bulk of the Beethoven
papers are preserved,--a city, moreover, in which more than in any
other the more profound works of the master are studied and publicly
performed. Certainly, from no man living have we the right to expect so
much, as biographer of Beethoven, as from this man.

We have no extravagant ideas of the value of the so-called
Conversation-Books of Beethoven. We are aware that they seldom contain
anything from the hand of the master himself,--being made up, of course,
of what people had to say to him; but one hundred and thirty-eight such
books--though in many cases but a sheet or two of foolscap doubled
together, generally filled with mere lead-pencil scribbling, now by his
brother, now by the nephew, then by Schindler or the old housekeeper,
upon money matters and domestic arrangements, but often by artists,
poets, and literary men, not only of Vienna, but in some cases even from
England, and in one from America--must contain a great mass of matter,
which places one amidst those by whom the master was surrounded, makes
one to "know his goings-out and his comings-in," and occasionally facts
of high importance in the study of his character, and the circumstances
in which he spent his last years. For some twelve years these books
have been in Berlin and at the disposal of Marx. The numerous files of
musical periodicals and the mass of musical biography and recent musical
history preserved in the Royal Library must be of inestimable value to
the writer on Beethoven,--a value which Marx must fully appreciate,
both from his former labors as editor, and his more recent onus as
contributor of biographical articles to Schilling's Encyclopedia.

As we take up this new life of Beethoven, then, the measure of our
expectations is the reputation of the author, plus the means, the
materials, at his command. And certainly the first impression made
by these two goodly volumes is a very favorable one; for, making due
allowance for the music scattered through them with not too lavish a
hand, by way of examples, we have still some six hundred solid pages of
reading matter,--space enough in which to answer many a vexed question,
clear up many a dark point, give us the results of widely extended
researches, and place Beethoven the Man and the Composer before us in
"Leben und Schaffen,"--in his life and his labors.

In the first cursory glance through the work, we were struck by an
apparent disproportion of space allotted to different topics, and have
taken some pains to examine to how great an extent this disproportion
really exists. We find that in the first volume, four works,--the First,
Second, and Third Symphonies and the opera "Leonore" or "Fidelio" occupy
136 of the 875 pages; in the second, that the other five Symphonies and
the "Missa Solemnis" fill out 123 of the 330 pages. Bearing in mind that
the works of Beethoven which have _Opus_ numbers--not to speak of the
others--amount to 137, and that, in some cases, three and even six
compositions, so important as the Rasoumowsky Quartetts, for instance,
are included in a single _Opus_, the disproportion really appears
very great. We notice, moreover, that just those works which are most
familiar to the public, which have for thirty years or more been
subjects of never-ending discussion, and which one would naturally
suppose might be dismissed in fewest words,--that these are the works
which occupy so much space. What is there so new to be said of the
"Heroic Symphony" that fifty pages should be allotted to it, while the
ballet "Prometheus," still strange to nearly every reader, should be
dismissed in three?

We find it also somewhat remarkable that Marx thinks it necessary to
give his own notions of musical form to the extent of nineteen pages,
(Vol. I. pp. 79 _et seq_.,) preparatory to his discussion of the
greater works of the master, and yet is able to condense the history of
Beethoven's first twenty-two years--the period, in our view, the most
important in making him what he was--in sixteen! We have not space to
follow this out farther, and only add, that, were this work a mere
catch-penny affair by an unknown writer, we should suspect him of
"drawing out the thread of his verbosity" on topics where materials are
plenty and talk is easy, in preference to the labor of original research
on points less known.

In reading the work carefully, two points strike us in relation to his
printed authorities: first, that the list of those quoted by Lenz in his
"Catalogue" and "Leben des Meisters" comprises nearly all those cited by
Marx; the principal additions being the works of Lenz, Oulibichef, and
A. B. Marx,--the latter of which he exhibits great skill in finding
and making opportunities to advertise;--and secondly, that, where the
Russian writer, through haste, carelessness, or the want of means
to verify facts and correct errors, falls into mistakes, the Berlin
Professor generally agrees with him. As it is impossible to suppose that
a gentleman who for nearly thirty years "writes himself, in any bill,
warrant, quittance, or obligation," Extraordinary Professor of a great
German University, should simply adopt the labors of an obscure Russian
writer without acknowledgment, we can only suppose these resemblances to
be coincidences. These coincidences are, nevertheless, so numerous,
that we may say in general, what Lenz knew of the history of the man
Beethoven and his works is known to Marx,--what was unknown to the
former is equally unknown to the latter. Marx, however, occasionally
quotes passages from Schindler, Wegeler, and Ries at length, to which
Lenz only gives references. We will note a few of the coincidences
between the two writers.

Here is the first sentence of the biography:--

"Ludwig van Beethoven was born to his father, a singer in the chapel of
the _Elector Max Franz_, Archbishop of Cologne, Dec. 17, 1770." (Marx,
Vol. I. p. 4.) Beethoven was fourteen years old when this Elector
came to Bonn. Max Franz is confounded with Max Friedrich,--a singular
mistake, since Wegeler writes the name in full. It may, however, be a
typographical error, or a _lapsus pennae_ on the part of Marx. We give
him all the benefit of the doubt; but, unluckily, we read on p. 12, that
the Archbishop, "brother of Joseph II.," called the Protestant Neefe
from the theatre to the organ-loft of the Electoral Chapel,--this
appointment having in fact been made four years before the "brother of
Joseph II." had aught to do with appointments in that part of the world.
Lenz confounds the two Electors in precisely the same manner.

Both Lenz and Marx (p. 9) relate the old exploded story of the child
Beethoven and the spider. The former found it in the "Leipziger
Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung," and probably had not authorities
at hand to correct it. Had Marx sent to the Library for Disjouval's
"Arachnologie," the work which he gives as _his_ authority, he would
have found, that, not Beethoven, but the French violinist Berthaume, was
the hero of the anecdote,--as, indeed, is also related in Schilling's
Encyclopaedia, not many pages after Marx's own article on Beethoven in
that work.

That Lenz should misdate Beethoven's visit to Berlin is not strange;
that Marx, a Berliner, should, is. Nor is it remarkable that Lenz knows
nothing of Beethoven's years of service as member of the Electoral
orchestra at Bonn; but how Marx should have overlooked it, in case he
has made _any_ researches into the composer's early history, is beyond
our comprehension.

Schindler has mistaken the date of certain letters written by Beethoven
long before he had any personal intercourse with him,--the notes to
Julia Guicciardi,--which he dates 1806. Both Lenz and Marx follow him
in the date; both quote Beethoven's words, that the lady in question
married Count Gallenberg before the departure of the latter to Italy;
both coincide in overlooking the circumstance related in the "Leipziger
Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung," that, _before_ June, 1806, a grand
performance of music, composed and directed by Gallenberg, took place at
Naples in honor of Joseph Bonaparte;--proof sufficient that Beethoven
could not in July of that year have addressed the lady in these terms:
"Mein Engel, mein Alles, mein Ich!"

Both Marx and Lenz relate the following anecdote. Haydn, meeting
Beethoven, praised the Septett of the latter; upon which the young man
exclaimed, deprecatingly, "Ah, it is far from being a 'Creation'!" To
which Haydn replied, "_That_ you could not have written, for you are an

That the absurdity of making Beethoven, then a man of thirty and
supposed to be possessed of common sense, hint at any comparison of a
piece of chamber-music with one of the grandest of oratorios, and that,
too, to the author himself, should not have struck Marx, is strange; nor
is it less so, that, in the course of his researches, he has not met
with the correction of the story, by the late Alois Fuchs of Vienna.

In fact, the ballet "Prometheus," in which the progress of man from a
state of rude nature to the highest culture and refinement is depicted,
and the "Creation," were both given for the first time within a few
weeks of each other. The affinity of the subjects is clear, and the
remark of the young man, "Ah, dear papa, it is far from being a
'Creation'!" is only natural. "No," said Haydn, "it is indeed not a
'Creation,' nor do I think its author will ever reach that!"

In the dates given by Marx to Beethoven's compositions he generally
coincides with Lenz, in his "Catalogue," particularly when the latter is
wrong,--and when he differs from him, he is as apt to be wrong as right.
Any person who has both works at command may easily verify this remark.

But we cannot dwell longer on this point.

_Reminiscences of Rufus Choate, The Great American Advocate_. By EDWARD
G. PARKER. New York: Mason Brothers. 1860.

We think it our duty to state our judgment of this book, because it
professes to give personal reminiscences, by a familiar friend, of a
remarkable and distinguished man of our own time and country, has been
much read and discussed, and has gained a good deal of popularity of a
certain sort; it therefore belongs _somewhere_ in the literature of the
day. Perhaps it would have been for the good of some of our readers, if
we had done this sooner. But, indeed, to treat with entirely condign
justice a book which deals very freely and flippantly with the literary
and even the personal character of one who, though an eminent and to
some extent a public man, was still only yesterday a private gentleman
among us, a neighbor and a friend, is a matter of some delicacy. By the
extraordinary alacrity with which this book was produced the author got
a little the start of criticism, perhaps; but we should fail in our duty
as reviewers, if he altogether escaped it. In all charity, we are bound,
for that matter, to give him the full benefit of the speed he has
exhibited, in so far as it may serve to explain, if it cannot extenuate,
the wretched manner in which he has performed his self-appointed task.

For the purposes of the bookseller, nothing could have been happier than
the publication, within a few months after the death of Mr. Choate, of
such a book as this promised to be. Throughout the country his name had
been generally accounted the synonyme of all that was most original,
mysterious, and fascinating, in the arts of the advocate and the
scholar. Perhaps we have none of us ever known a man in regard to whom
a greater degree of _curiosity_ existed among his countrymen. Those
who saw him every day never ventured to believe that they quite ever
understood him, so various and so peculiar were the aspects he exhibited
even here at home. Those who attempted to study him were as much
perplexed as charmed. The avidity with which a cheap book, easily read,
professing to give personal recollections of such a man, would be seized
upon by the mass of reading people, was not overestimated.

It is not the purpose of this notice to discuss Mr. Choate,--his
eloquence, his wit, his scholarship, or his personal characteristics.
Our office is simply to examine the manner of Mr. Parker's performing
what he set out to perform. Our business is with the book, not with the
subject of it. And, in our judgment, the book is the very worst that
could well be written on such a subject. It is done with bad taste, bad
judgment, bad style, It is precisely the book to mortify and disgust Mr.
Choate's admirers, and to fix more firmly than ever such unfavorable
notions of him as may have existed in the minds of others.

Mr. Parker does not appear to have considered what he undertook, when he
stepped so lightly into the position of the biographer of such a man.
We will not dwell upon the fact, that a really just and discriminating
account of him demanded, as it certainly did, much acuteness of
perception and dexterity of delineation, together with a high degree of
scholarship. What we are now specifying against the author is, that
he took no care whatever to set any wise or modest bounds to his
enterprise. He did not bear in mind how much had been _said_, as well as
how little was _known_ about Mr. Choate; what wonderfully loose and idle
notions of him had got abroad; how the most essential and notable points
of his character and genius had been so clumsily handled by flippant or
careless critics, that the popular impression of him was, to a great
degree, extravagant and absurd. Remembering all this, and properly
_respecting_ the subject in which he appears to have interested himself
so ardently, Mr. Parker should have applied to his task a somewhat
gentle hand; gratifying, if that must be done, the curiosity of his
readers as far as he safely could, but refraining altogether from those
aspects of Mr. Choate's mind and character which he must have known
could not be intelligently discussed in a book so swiftly and lightly
executed. No such notion seems to have occurred to him. He has rattled
off his "Reminiscences" with a confidence which may be justly called
indecent and impertinent. The result is what might have been expected.
We have so many pages of voluble, superficial, and exceedingly tedious
talk about Mr. Choate,--and that is the whole of it. For our own
part, we have been not at all profited by the reading, and the little
amusement it has afforded us was probably not exactly designed by the

We would fain be excused from the duty of remarking upon the merely
literary character of the book, but that may not be. As we said before,
the book is somewhere in the literature of the day, and its place must
be ascertained. The following gems of rhetoric it will be useful, for
that end, to notice:--"With me, as with every young man of a taste
that way, he talked," etc.; "he was always booked up on all the fresh
topics," etc.; "the sparkle and flash produced by a battle of brains";
"newspaper topics of erudition and magnificence"; "convulsive humor";
"severity sweetening all the courts through which he revolved"; "the
maiden-mother,"--alluding to an unfortunate female witness who was a
mother, though never married; "two names, chiefs at the bar, _facile
princeps_"; not to forget an extraordinary quotation from the title,
which the author says he found at the head of one of Mr. Choate's
manuscript plans for daily study, in these words, "_faciundo ad munus
nuper impositum_." Now it must really in justice be said that to write
a biography of Mr. Choate in such a lingo as this is an insult to the
subject. We believe we are fair with Mr. Parker's style. Indeed, where
it is not relieved by such barbarisms as we have quoted, it purls along
with a certain weak smartness which is inexpressibly tiresome.

A much more tolerable book, however, would be spoiled by such arrant
egotism as our author displays on every page. We are never rid of _Mr.
Parker_ for a moment. Wherever Mr. Choate is visible, Mr. Parker is
strutting by his side. He exhibits, indeed, all the intrusiveness of
Boswell, without any of that honest, self-forgetting, simple-hearted
admiration of his distinguished friend which makes Boswell positively
respectable. A single illustration of this weakness is so apt that we
quote it. "Mr. Choate said, 'Some one should write a History of the
Ancient Orators. There is no book in all my library where I can find
all there is extant about any ancient orator.' He earnestly advised
the author to undertake it. In pursuance of the idea, an article
on 'Hortensius' appeared in a Review as a beginning. He spoke with
enthusiasm of the satisfaction it gave him; saying it was a new
revelation to him, for he never _knew_ Hortensius before."

Again, Mr. Parker is continually assuring us, in more or less direct
terms, of the intimacy which existed between himself and Mr. Choate. In
a matter of this sort, once telling is enough; and then it should
be done with modesty, and so as simply to assure the reader of the
genuineness of the reminiscences. All beyond that is vulgar. One more
remark upon Mr. Parker's _behavior_ as an author. He permits himself to
speak of individuals of decided personal and public dignity with quite
too much familiarity. This is, of course, nothing more than an offence
against good taste. But it is so prevalent in his pages that we cannot
omit it from anything like a summary of the faults which they display.
And none of our young authors, actual or potential, can find anywhere
else a more striking and salutary example of the harm which such a one
can do to himself by indulging in this very unbecoming practice.

We have yet to notice Mr. Parker's book in respect to its success as an
attempt at biography. We suppose he intended to draw the portrait of
a man of wit, eloquence, and scholarship. He constantly assures us in
terms that Mr. Choate _was_ such a man; an assurance which certainly
was not necessary to so extensive and brilliant a reputation. If he
had stopped there, he would at least have done no harm. But the
illustrations which he gives us are so very far from satisfactory, that,
unless Mr. Choate's reputation in these particulars be surrendered, for
which we are not quite prepared, it must be upon the ground that his
biographer has failed entirely to appreciate him. That Mr. Choate was,
for instance, a man of singularly keen and delicate wit, everybody
knows. But we believe that any brother advocate who ever sat at the same
courtroom table with him for three days, or any cultivated person who
ever passed an evening in his company, was likely to hear from his lips,
in that space of time, more real wit than Mr. Parker repeats in his
whole book. A few old jokes of his, current in Court Street any time in
the last twenty years, and some odd and extravagant expressions which
Mr. Choate may have permitted himself to use in the courtroom to divert
a sullen juror,--such turns of speech as _he_ certainly never thought
were witty, though they raised the desired laugh at the time,--to which
he resorted only as a necessary, but to himself unpalatable part of the
business of carrying the verdict, and which he of all men would desire
to have forgotten,--make up pretty much the sum of Mr. Parker's
illustrations in the matter of wit. One faculty which Mr. Choate
possessed in a remarkable degree, that of ready, elegant, and telling
quotation, of which many interesting instances will occur to every
one, and which in the hands of an appreciative biographer would have
furnished a topic of rare entertainment, Mr. Parker scarcely mentions.
As he regards, or at any rate describes, Mr. Choate's oratory, it would
seem to have consisted altogether in "unearthly screams," "jumping up
and down," tangled hair, sweating brow, glaring eyes, etc., etc. Upon
these things, which his discriminating admirers were glad to overlook as
mere matters of temperament and constitution, and in spite of which they
were charmed with his graceful and truly vigorous speech, his biographer
loves to dwell. He has much to say of the length and complexity of
the sentences, but nothing of the often exquisite elegance of their
structure; much of the number and size of the words of which they
consisted,--nothing of the extreme delicacy and dexterity of their use,
the wonderful completeness with which they were made to express every
particle of the orator's meaning. As to Mr. Choate's scholarship, we
certainly learn nothing satisfactory from this unfortunate book. In the
conversations which the author, clumsily, indeed, but, we are bound to
believe, faithfully, details, we should expect to find something of
the rich fruitage of a life-long cultivation in letters. But so poor a
result does Mr. Parker show in this part of his work, that he drives us
to the dilemma either of placing Mr. Choate in quite an unworthy rank as
a scholar, or of concluding, that, in the case of these conversations,
he bestowed upon his listener very little of any particular
preciousness, or that what else was bestowed was not understood or
remembered so as to be recorded.

We cannot dismiss this book without noticing the extremely unhappy
treatment which the personal and professional character of Mr. Choate
has received at the author's hands. That he should have introduced into
it, as he has done, such stories, or jokes, or anecdotes, or whatever
else they may be called, as the commonest good taste or good sense
should have told him to exclude, we suppose ought in charity to be
attributed to mere uncontrollable garrulity. But he has also completely
missed some of the most obvious and familiar characteristics of Mr.
Choate, and his description of others which he professes to have
perceived he spoils by unseemly and unintelligent illustration. We have
not the patience to follow him through this part of his performance. It
is enough to say that none who knew Mr. Choate would ever recognize the

We regret extremely that Mr. Parker felt himself called upon to write
and print his "Reminiscences." He has done himself no credit whatever;
but that is comparatively a small matter. The book is in every way an
injurious and indecorous one. And if he really respects the fame of the
distinguished man whom he has attempted to describe, he must agree with
us in the hope that his own work may be forgotten as soon as possible.

_A History of the Whig Party_. By R. Mc KINLEY ORMSBY. Boston: Crosby
Nichols, & Co.

The duties of an historian, always difficult, are peculiarly so when he
attempts to treat of recent events. In such a case, the historian whose
mind is not so warped by sympathies and antipathies as to make him
utterly incompetent to his task must possess a rare impartiality of
judgment and extraordinary keenness of insight, all assisted by candid
and painful research. To what extent these qualities are united in Mr.
Ormsby, we propose to inquire.

We are at first favorably impressed. Mr. Ormsby's Preface is most
striking,--uniting not only touching candor, but innocence absolutely
refreshing. The duties of historian, which we just now called so
weighty, rest lightly upon his conscious strength. The historian
remarks, that "he is aware that his outlines are very imperfect, and
in many things may be erroneous. He has had no access to libraries or
public documents; and his statistics are sometimes given from general
recollection, and are but approximations to accuracy. But, feeling
that some history of the parties of this country is needed, he has the
temerity to offer this, till its place shall be supplied by one more
reliable and satisfactory."

Any man's apology for deficiencies in his book may be accepted, provided
he be able to make good the suppressed premise upon which, after all,
the whole depends, namely,--that there was need of his writing at all.
Mr. Ormsby seems to think there was, but gives no reasons in support of
his opinion. Supposing it proved, however, it might be gravely debated
whether the fortunate owner of this book would have any advantage over
the man so unlucky as not to possess it.

We have all heard of the man who planned a house on so magnificent a
scale, that, when the porch was finished, the funds were found to be
nearly exhausted, and the main body of the house had to be built much
smaller than the porch. Mr. Ormsby has avoided this error. His porch
is _not_ half of the whole structure. His book contains 377 pages; of
these, only 188 (actually less than half!) are devoted to porch, or
introductory matter. This part is richly studded with blunders of every
description, and written in language which for copiousness and clearness
rivals the fertilizing inundations of the Nile.

The decorous appearance of impartiality, necessary to an historian,
is well preserved by such choice language as "crusade against the
institutions and people of the South,"--"fratricidal hand in sectional
warfare,"--"first to arouse jealousy and hatred,"--"the South at
the mercy of the North,"--"shriek for freedom,"--"political
mountebank,"--"and it is to the stunted, obtuse, bigoted, fanatical,
ignorant, jaundiced, self-righteous, and self-conceited millions of such
in the North, that Mr. Seward, and others of his kidney, address,"
etc., etc.,--"British gold," (a favorite phrase,)--"cant of British
philanthropy,"--etc., etc.

Mr. Ormsby devotes some little space to what may be called the
legitimate object of his work,--that is, the vindication of the
distinctive tariff policy of the Whigs,--and here advocates a good cause
in a singularly illogical, bungling way. Most of his book, however, is
given up to foolish invective against British machinations in the United
States,--an idea which may have been plausible in Jefferson's time,
but has long been abandoned to minds of our author's calibre,--and
to arguments against the Republican party which show only that he
is entirely ignorant of the doctrines of that party, and entirely
incompetent to understand them, if he were not ignorant.

We can present only a few specimens, taken almost at random from the
pages of this book. The author's ignorance (omitting the frequent
instances of error in the names) may be shown by his ranking R. M.
Johnson of Kentucky and Davy Crockett among the eminent statesmen of
their time! He says of Mr. Clay, "When, in 1825, as a Senator from
Kentucky, he sustained Mr. Adams (in the House) for the Presidency, he
acted," etc. Now Henry Clay was not in the Senate at any time between
March 3, 1811, and March 4, 1831. Moreover, if he had been, he could
not have voted for Adams, as Mr. Ormsby would have known, had he known
anything of the Constitution to which he professes such entire devotion.
Of the Missouri Compromise he says, "It was an arrangement by which the
South made concessions, and gained nothing"! If we are to adopt the
principle, that slavery is to be fostered, not discouraged, the South
did make concessions. The essential principle of the Republican party
is, that slavery is a great evil and brings in its train many other
evils, and that the legislation of the United States is not to be warped
by vain attempts to save the slave-holding interest from inevitable
disaster by systematic injustice to the other interests of the country.
If we adopt this view, which is admitted even by so ardent a pro-slavery
leader as Senator Mason of Virginia to have been the view of the framers
of the Constitution, then the South gave up what she never owned, and
was paid for so doing. And taking either view, we must admit that she
has since, by the Kansas-Nebraska act, revoked the grant, without
refunding the pay.

Mr. Ormsby mentions "the significant and highly encouraging fact," that
many leading Democrats, including Mr. Hallett, (whose name, of course,
he spells incorrectly,) declared for Protection in the campaign of
1856. His taking courage from so insignificant a fact as any of these
gentlemen declaring for any serviceable doctrine in a campaign shows
Mr. Ormsby to be by no means intimately acquainted with Massachusetts

It is commonly thought that General Taylor's nomination kept the Whigs
from sinking in 1848, and that the Whig party died in 1852 "of trying to
swallow the Fugitive Slave Law." But Mr. Ormsby thinks Taylor hurt them,
and that the Baltimore Platform was too anti-slavery. He frequently
alludes to Garrison and Phillips as Republicans, although nearly every
other adult in the country knows that they are bitter opponents of that
party,--says that Mr. Seward can rely only upon the Abolitionists in the
North,--misunderstands, of course, the "irrepressible conflict,"--says
that no Northern editor ventures to speak or write against Personal
Liberty bills, although probably not a day passes without their being
assailed by a dozen in New England alone,--that slaves never can be
carried into New Mexico, although they have been carried thither, and
slavery has even been declared perpetual by enactment of the Territorial
Legislature,--and, speaking of Kansas, that President Buchanan's "best
endeavors to secure the people of that Territory equal rights were
thwarted by factionists"!--in other words, "factionists" declined to
admit Kansas under the pro-slavery Lecompton constitution, forced by
gross frauds upon a loathing and reluctant people. He adds, that "no one
denies Mr. Buchanan eminent patriotism and statesmanship." Now, whether
the President possesses these qualities or not, there can be no doubt
that a great many deny them to him. And so Mr. Ormsby continues, heaping
blunder upon blunder, to a greater length than we can follow him.

On p.79, he makes this following unorthodox statement: "We have a right
to hate and detest slavery, and should belie our natures, were we not to
do so." Elsewhere, however, he dwells rapturously upon the happy lot of
the slave. The apparent inconsistency is explained on p. 318: "We will
not insult our understandings by doubting the great enormity of so foul
a thing as human bondage." "In regard to detestation of slavery, there
is no difference between the people of the North and South." "But these
two people (!!) differ widely in their feelings in regard to negro
servitude." Oh, that is it, then? Vast is the difference between "human
bondage" and "negro servitude!"

Mr. Ormsby's argument is aimed against the Republicans. Accordingly, he
assails the Abolitionists! Now we do not find fault with him because his
arguments are pitiably silly,--because an intelligent Abolitionist would
refute them instantly,--but because, even if they were sound, they
have no bearing upon his point. They are not only nonsensical, but

"For the ignorance of the Southerners," says our author, "we should pity
them, and send them our schoolmasters, who, in happy years past, have
ever found a cordial reception." Exactly so,--"in happy years _past_."
He then innocently asks, Is it strange that the South should think it
necessary that she should have the ascendency in at least one branch
of the national government? Oh, no,--not at all,--but as Republicans
_don't_ consider it necessary, is it strange that they should, vote as
they think?

Here is a sample of most eminently logical reasoning: "The powerful
efforts made by the British government to suppress the slave-trade have
been far from successful. The exportation of negroes from Africa has not
been discontinued, but the sufferings of the middle passage have been
increased twofold; _showing that an attempt to thwart by legislation the
decrees of Providence is of but little avail_." If murder were frequent
in New York, and an insufficient force called out to suppress it, the
consequence being only more bloodshed, Mr. Ormsby, to be consistent,
would have to say it was not well to try to suppress murder, the event
showing it to be only a futile legislative attempt to thwart the decrees
of Providence!

"Not that any Whig was more in favor of the extension of slavery into
the Territories, by the general government, than Mr. Fremont, or the
best Republican at his back; but the idea of the formation of a party
based on the slavery question could not be entertained for a moment by
any one imbued with genuine Whig sentiments." pp. 357-8.

There is precisely the old argument of timid conservatism, although its
champions are seldom unskilful enough to advance it in a form so easily
dealt with. You may be bitterly opposed, forsooth, to the extension of
slavery; but you must not organize or even vote against it! Where, then,
is the good of being opposed to it?

The object of all this bad logic, bad history, and bad language is
to attack the Republicans, and advocate the claims of modern
Democracy,--not the Democracy of Jefferson and Silas Wright, but of
Cushing and Buchanan. And what is the conclusion? What is the mission of
the surviving Whigs?

"The existence of a conservative, enlightened, and patriotic opposition
party is the necessary condition of the existence of the Democracy as a
national party." p. 355.

"The slightest reflection, after even a superficial observation of the
condition of our country, will satisfy any candid person, of ordinary
ability, that the reconstruction of the Whig party is indispensable to
the perpetuity of the Union. The Democratic party, though now national,
if left to the sole opposition of the Republican, which is a sectional
party, must inevitably, sooner or later, itself degenerate into
sectionalism. This must be the necessary result of such antagonism. But
a party based upon intelligence and moral worth _must, most of the time,
be in the minority of the country, and much of the time exceedingly
small. This the Whigs see, and readily accept the conditions of their
existence_." pp. 363-4.

This, then, is the banquet to which we are invited! The mission of the
resuscitated Whig party is to be--not gaining any victory, but--being
beaten by the Democrats! It is important to the nationality of the
Democratic party that they have a sound and national opposition for them
to defeat regularly, year after year,--and this want the Whigs are to be
so obliging as to supply!

After all, is there anything very strange in silly men writing silly

_The West Indies and the Spanish Main_. By ANTHONY TROLLOPE, Author of
"Barchester Towers," "Doctor Thorne," "The Bertrams," etc. London. 1859.
8vo. pp. 395.

This entertaining volume has already reached a second edition in
England. It is made up, in great part, of a series of lively sketches
of the West Indies, British Guiana, and some parts of Central America,
taken on a hasty tour during the winter and spring of last year. Its
style is by no means so good as that of which Mr. Trollope has
shown himself the master in his popular novels; it is disfigured by
Carlylisms, and other inelegancies, and bears many marks of negligence
and haste. With a little pains, Mr. Trollope might have made his book
much better, and of much more permanent value. In spite of a sense of
real humor, he sometimes falls into heavy attempts at smartness and fun;
and although he has a quick eye for the essential traits of character,
he not infrequently runs into trivial details. In travelling with
him, one is not quite certain whether his companion is a gentleman.
Breakfasts, lunches, and dinners hold a great place in his thoughts. He
gives far too much attention to rum-and-water, brandy-and-water, and the
varieties of drinking and eating in general. He has neither the ease nor
the self-restraint which mark the thoroughly well-bred man of the world;
but he is, nevertheless, good-natured, amusing, and likable. The chief
merit of his book arises from the fact that he has seen much and many
parts of the world, has been a student of life and manners, and thus
has acquired skill in observation and facility of comparison. The
conclusions which he draws from what he sees may be right or wrong; but


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