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viously endeavored, as far as possible, that the dogmatism is right, and go to conciliate prejudice. But the truth avoid the trouble of examination, while is, that it does not fall in with the thought can only address itself to views of any party or sect; and, as thought, and truth be won only by even an honest party, or a liberal sect, those who will toil to gain her. if cares more for the thread which sepa- Mademoiselle le Normand and Mr. rates it from mankind than for the ca- Coleridge would each of them adverbles which unite it to them, it will not tise to answer questions at the Egypdo anything towards spreading the po- tian Hall, we would wager that the pularity of a work which deals much lady would be as generally visited as in matters of universal concernment if she had a pig-face or a Hottentot and agreement, and scarcely treats at protuberance ; and that, after the first all of particular and accidental differ- three days, the teacher would be as
No one can read these little completely deserted as if he were realvolumes without feeling more sensibi- ly inspired. Those who, like the aulity to beauty, more reverence for thors of the “ Guesses at Truth," truth, more love for man, more devo- make it their great object to set free tion towards God. But, as it is not their own minds and those of their one of its objects to enter into the fellow-men, to feel as deeply and question of infant baptism or episco- think as earnestly as they can, and to pacy, it can never become the manual teach others to do so,-who would of those who, like the religious people bring us to truth, not by tumbling us of England, think such questions of into a stage-coach, (none of which more importance than the deepest travel that road, and) which would principles of the human mind. When certainly take us wrong, but by lendmen coalesce into sects and parties, ing us a staff and a lantern, and setthey club together the folly of all to ting us forward on our way for ourestablish a power which shall be selves—such persons as these, whether stronger than the reason of any. in Rome, London, or Cambridge, are
Another reason why the “ Guesses very certain to meet at first with but at Truth” have not become more fash- scanty audiences, jealous reception, ionable is, because they do not profess and niggard entertainment. to be a system. The fault is not that We have said that this work has they are “guesses,” but that they do not found its due level, because it does not profess to be anything else. If you not put forth opinions after the aptell a man you are guessing, you leave proved manner of sectarians and parhim the labor of thinking whether you tisans, and because it does not pretend are right or wrong; and labor takes to be code or a system. It is also time and trouble, both of which are comparatively unrenowned for two reserved by our generation for their opposite, though not contrary, reasons. counting-houses and dinner-tables. The authors do not chime in with the Write a system, and your readers weary “ ding-dong-bell” of class dochave nothing to do but learn it by trines; but they have strong convicrote, and they are saved from thought, tions of their own.
They do not put the curse of enjoyment, with regard forward a system, but they think systo the whole subject of your book. tematically. If we had it in our choice to establish Society has a natural dislike to an in London a School of Wisdom or a earnest belief of any mind on any subDelphic Oracle, a Socrates or a Sibyl, ject. It has no such belief itself, and though we believe the one to be the has an antipathy to all who have : for means of arriving at truth and know they rouse the slumbers, or interrupt the other to be an imposture, we the business, of the crowd, and in eishould instantly choose the divination ther case are equally disagreeable. If and reject the philosophy, because we a man feel deeply the truth of that may cheat ourselves into a persuasion which is only held in words, only seen
in shadows, by the mob, he will utter tates and frightens the crowd ; its nait with an energy which is as startling ture is like that of the beasts who hate and painful to them, as if it were the light, merely because it is light; and expression of some dangerous heresy it never becomes reconciled to the or evident falsehood. Where they torch which any philosopher has kinare accustomed to mutter and lisp, he dled, until time has rendered it such speaks with boldness and emphasis ; a feeble, fluttering, and dim illuminawhere they dogmatise with indiffer- tion, as alone its weak and bat-like ence, he reasons with zeal and reso- eyes can bear without annoyance. So lution; where they decide in their fresh and bright a flame as burns over dreams, he inquires with all the best the pages of the “ Guesses at Truth,” and most awakened faculties of his is almost always sure to be made the nature. This is worse to them than mark, like the light held by the Duc the curled rose-leaf to the Sybarite,- D’Enghien, at which the bullets of it is as if he had been transferred from the vulgar will be aimed. his luxury to “ Damien's bed of steel," Again, we have said that a great or to the spiked couch of an Indian obstacle to the wide circulation of this devotee. The world, till the innova- book is the unhappy circumstance that tor who dares to feel and to think has its authors think systematically. This been justified by success, never for- is an immense drawback from its gives the disturbance he causes. The chance of boudoir and circulatingonly excusable case is when some old- library celebrity; for, though people accustomed persuasion, which has like to have systems—no matter on been in the mind till it no longer what principles founded,-meaning by breaks the rest thereof, has been systems things that entitle their readbrought into dispute, and some “ air ers to pronounce opinions upon every from heaven, or blast from hell,” has point connected with a subject-works shaken the dulness of “ the fat weed, which none but men of the highest that rots itself in ease on Lethe's genius are fit to write,-yet they do wharf,” some mole, working beneath, not at all like, that in a book, not prehas stirred its roots, or some lark from tending to settle the omne scibile of his airy poise has sunk upon its leaves, dress or political economy, cookery, and thrilled them with the tremblings or Christianity, there should be eviof his song. Then, as a mere expe dence of its writer having thought with dient for preserving as far as possible fixed principles; and for this obvious the previous insensibility, some mo reason, that a principle, like the flying mentary exertion is permitted till the horse of the “ Arabian Nights,” is an invasion has been repelled. The Hea unmanageable power, which will not thens combated Christianity by ration stop when it is bidden, or go on when alising and spiritualising Paganism. it is whipped. It is true that many a The Roman Catholic Church endured man who thinks that he is mounted upa small reform, to prevent the success on a principle, and careering among the of the great one, and permitted a fee stars, is, in fact, seated, like Don Quixble development of energy to keep offote, on a wooden hobby, which does not the impulse begun by Wickliffe and stir an inch. But, on the other hand, Luther; and, at this moment, in India, no one is more unhappy than a vulgar Brahminism is strengthened against man,-a man of moderation, and comthe missionaries by a modification or promise, and “sound practical sense,' interpretation of its doctrines, of who has long ago “ made up his mind” which, about fifty years ago, there out of the parings of this orthodoxy, was scarcely a glimmering to be dis- and that prejudice, and the dust shaken covered. Except in such circum- from the feet of the wise,—when he stances as these, the bold and eager finds himself suddenly mounted on enforcement of any principle, the out- some master truth, which, instead of breaking of any powerful feeling, agi- taking him a quiet amble along the
9 ATHENEUM, vol. 1, 3d series.
turnpike-road he has been accustomed sense and wit. We must even be alto all his life, dashes away through lowed to say, that the book contains puddles which he has always believed some sentences ludicrously and despito be an unfathomable abyss, and cably trivial, and some in which, overleaps a hundred mounds and though one may trace the thought that hedges which the unfortunate eques- the authors had in their minds, it is trian has been accustomed to consider yet utterly worthless, and very ill exas impassable as were the walls of pressed. As to the particular acquireEden to fallen Adam. Now, such a ments, tenets, and characters of the John Gilpin in philosophy is one of writers, we shall only say, that they those persons who are accustomed, by are evidently scholars, gentlemen, and virtue of having read“ The Spectator,” Christians, in no small degree converand “ The Book of the Church,” to sant with literature, nature, and the 6 Give the nod,
human mind, among the best critics The stamp of fate, and fiat of the god,” of our day, enthusiastic admirers of
all things admirable, and profound rein most English coteries, when he by
verers of Mr. Coleridge. accident falls in with some such truths
We shall now make some extracts as are scattered in scores through these almost at random. The best things volumes. They take their rise in ad- in the book—such as the inimitable mitted reasonings, or outward revela
essay on poetry and sculpture—are tions, but however do not stop at the too long to be quoted, and too good ordinary conclusions which most men
to be curtailed. of cultivated minds would perhaps
“ Some people would have us love, agree with. They hold on their course
or rather obey God, chiefly because desolating the after-dinner homily of he outbids the devil.” the rector, and annulling the warrant
The next seems to us very odd and like dictum of the justice. They
amusing. humble the pride of the attorney, and
Many nowadays write what may lay waste his shrubbery of quibbles, be called a dashing style. Unable to and teach the philosophy of the mer- put much meaning into their words, chant to prop itself no more upon they try to eke it out by certain marks “ The Westminster Review.”
which they attach to them, something Some of the qualities which we
like pigtails sticking out at right anwould attribute to the “Guesses at gles to the body. The perfection of Truth,” may be inferred from the this style is found in the articles by preceding observations. Besides their the Editor of · The Edinburgh Refreedom from the spirit of party, and view,' and in Lord Byron's Poems, their inculcation of great universal above all in “The Corsair,'deservprinciples, they are written through- edly his most popular work, seeing out with a vividness of style which is that all his faults came to a head in it. now very rarely found in connection A couplet from “ The Bride of Abydos' with so little of conceit or affectation.
may instance my meaning : We also meet in every page the touch
'A thousand swords—thy Selim's heart and es of as picturesque a pencil as has ever been at work except in first-rate Wait-wave--defend—destroy—at thy com
mand!' poetry. There is often an earnest, sometimes a quaint, conciseness, which How much grander this is, than if gives exceeding character and strength there had been nothing between the to the style ; but this quality fre- words but commas! even as a pigtail quently degenerates, especially in the is grander than a curl, or at least has shorter“ Guesses,” into obscurity and been deemed so by many a German far-fetchedness. There is also in some prince. Tacitus himself, when transinstances evidence of a tendency to lated, is drest after the same fashion, substitute a mere jingle of words for with a skewer jutting out of him here
and there. The celebrated sentence him before he is old enough to know of Galgacus becomes :
the sense of it!
“ Since the generality of persons •He makes a solitude—and calls it-peace !'
act from impulse, and not from prinThe noble poet places a flourish after ciple, men are neither so good nor so every second word, like a vulgar writ- bad as we are apt to imagine them. ing master. But perhaps they are “ Beauty is perfection unmodified only marks of admiration, standing by a predominating expression. prostrate, as Lord Castlereagh would “ The progress of knowledge is have termed it. Nor are upright ones slow, like the march of the sun. We spared.”
cannot see him moving, but after a “ How easy it is to pass sentence time we may perceive that he has against a work! All we understand moved onward. in it, is common-place : all we under “ Too much is seldom enough. stand not, is nonsense.
Pumping after your bucket runs over “A mother should give her child- prevents its keeping full. ren a superfluity of enthusiasm, that “ The mind is like a trunk: if well after they have lost all they will lose packed, it holds almost everything ; if on mixing with the world, enough may ill packed, next to nothing. still remain to prompt and support “ We hurry through life fearful, as them through great actions. A cloak it would seem, of looking back, lest should be of three-pile, to keep its we should be turned, like Lot's wife, gloss in wear.
into pillars of salt. And, alas ! if we “ The best criterion of an enlarged did look back, very often we should mind, next to the performance of great see nothing but the blackened and actions, is their comprehension. smouldering ruins of our vices, the
“Fickleness is in women of the smoking Sodom and Gomorrah of the world the fault most likely to result heart. from their situation in society. The Many persons seem to keep their weaknesses which they know are the hearts in their eyes : you come into most severely condemned, and the both together, and so you go out of them. good qualities which they feel to be “ The history of philosophy is the most highly valued, in the female cha- history of a game at cat's cradle. racter, by our sex as well as their One theory is taken off ; and then the own, have alike a tendency to render taker off holds out a second to you, of them generally obliging, to the exclu- the same thread, and very like the sion, so far as nature will permit, of first, although not quite the same. strong and durable, unmixed, uncoun- According to the skill of the players, tenanced attachment to individuals. the game lasts through more or fewer Well! we deserve no better of them. changes : but mostly the string at And after all, the Aame is only smo- length gets entangled, and you must thered by society, not extinguished : begin afresh, or give over; or at best give it free ventilation, and it will the cat's cradle comes back again, and blaze.
you have never a cat to put into it. Poetry is to philosophy what the “ Men harm others by their deeds, sabbath is to the rest of the week. themselves by their thoughts.
“ It is well for us that we are born “ Heliogabolus is said to have calbabies in intellect. Could we under- culated the size of Rome from ten stand and reflect upon one half of thousand pounds weight of cobwebs what most mothers at that time say amassed within it. Mr. Colquhoun and do to us, we should draw conclu- and the Reports of the Police and sions in favor of our own importance Mendicity Committees have furnished which would render us insupportable us with similar materials for estimat
Happy the boy whose ing the grandeur of our own metropomother is tired of talking nonsense to lis. Only the dirt is moral.
"A man's errors are what renders old church : the worn stones are halhim amiable,' says Goethe, in the last lowed by the feet which have trod, number of his Journal on Art, that is, and the knees which have knelt, on in his seventy-seventh year. I said them : so much in it has been changed one day to a girl of fourteen : - If you by time, that it is become more like a were but as good as your brother!' house not made with hands : nobody Well ! she replied, with something now living can make anything like it; of a bashful sullenness, ' I don't care. its architect is forgotten—it is the You would not be so fond of me, if I work not of a man but of an age. A was.'
new church, on the contrary, was “I love to gaze on a breaking wave. built by such a man, fitted up by such It is the only thing in nature which is another: everything about it is so neat most beautiful in the moment of its and so modern ; it is almost as smart dissolution.
as a theatre : there was no such thing “ Seeking is not always the way to five years ago, and what has been so find ; or Altamira would have found a short-lived can never seem to have husband long ago.
any permanent reason for its existence, “ A great man commonly disap- or indeed to have anything permanent points those who visit him. They about it; and instead of the odor of are on the look-out for his thundering sanctity, one finds only the smell of and lightning, and he speaks about paint. It has no atmosphere of prayer; common things much like other peo- it is not a treasure-house of the dead. ple; nay, sometimes he may even be My feelings on this subject I should seen laughing. He proportions his have conceived would have been alexertions to his excitements : having most universal, had not an American been accustomed to converse with deep gentleman once expressed to me his and lofty thoughts, it is not to be ex- surprise, that we let our churches in pected that he will flare or sparkle in England, especially the cathedrals, ordinary chit-chat. One sees no peb- grow so old and dirty. He had seen bles glittering at the bottom of the the minsters of York and Lincoln, and Atlantic.
assured me that, if they stood in Ame“ The tower of Babel could never rica, the outside of them would be have been built in a mountainous coun white-washed every ten years ; such try : nature there awes and defies ri- being the American way of showing valry.
their reverence for the house of God. “ The worst thing of all is a new How far his statement is correct, I church. I love to say my prayers in know not. A nation of yesterday a place where my fathers and fore-. may perhaps be destitute of sympathy fathers have prayed. It may be idle- with the day before : but we in Engness and vanity to think so, but some- land, I trust, should as soon think of how God seems to be nearer in a white-washing Helvellyn.” building where he has long been more Accurate and feeling, the passages immediately present. There is an quoted above are favorable speciodor of sanctity breathing about an
THE PLACE OF REST.
I am weary of life, I am tired of the earth, I sought in a land far beyond the sea,
die, Of its dreams that delude the youthful That clouds would o'ershadow the heabreast :
ven's blue breast; -Would I could find me a place of rest! And I left it,-for me twas no place of rest!