« PreviousContinue »
also a very small number will be early life, as the misanthropist, found to have fixed the altention, the man destitute of mental exand to have made the indelible ertion, the man of mere genius, impression. The scenes of na- . the projector, the antiquary, and ture will have been laid under the petty tyrant of a family and contribution by here and there a a neighbourhood. mind, like Beattie's in his own The progress of the atheist is Minstrel, and to have yielded an delineated, in the next letter, hourly revenue of beauty and with a rare degree of conviction grandeur, to enrich the charac- and eloquence. Were we ignoter, and ennoble the conceptions. rant of inankind, wonderful in. But from the world of men we deed would seem the means, by shall find we have borrowed the which the atheist knows there is most of what we are. The feel
no God. ings, excited by a scene of op
“For unless he is omnipresent, unpression, of atrocity, or of ex
less he is at this moment in every treme distress ; of the extrava
place in the universe, he cannot know gance of wealth, or the frivolity but there may be in some place manof dissipation, if revived again ifestations of a Deity by which even at intervals, may have formed a he would be overpowered. If he does Draco or a Montbar, a philan- the universe, the one that he does
not know absolutely every agent in thropist or a cynic, a miser or a
not know may be God. If he is not philosopher. A conviction too himself the chief agent in the uni. will be forced from us of the · verse, and does not know what is so, far greater frequency and facility that which is so may be God. If he of bad impressions, than of good propositions that constitute universal
is not in absolute possession of all the We shall also find among truth, the one which he wants may be, the millions of objects, which that there is a God. If he cannot have assailed us, that most have with certainty assign the cause of all failed in their attack; while a
that he perceives to exist, that cause
may be a God. If he does not know few, no more powerful elsewhere
every thing that has been done in the than the rest, have gained over immeasurable ages that are past, some us a commanding control. This things may have been done by a God. must have been owing to some
Thus, unless he knows all things, that capital bent of the mind, early is, precludes another Deity by being
one himself, he cannot know that the received and lastingly felt; the Being whose existence he rejects, origin of which will be the great does not exist.” secret of our character. Few of these influences will be found con- The progress of atheism is solatory, except those of religion. represented as gradual. The
“ Were a hundred men,” says causes of it are original indifferour author, “ to read you their
ence ; professions of liberality; memoirs, you would often, dur. the pride of differing from othing the disclosure, regret to ob- ers; the sophistry of the man, serve how many things may be the of his friends, and of his books; causes of irretrievable mischief.” the rejection of revelation, and
He then proceeds to uace, in the consequent darkness of the a masterly manner, the bent mind; the gratification of pride which a few of them received in as he advances; the progress in
guilt ; the desire of freedom hung themselves up to infamy from that restraint on indul by their “ Histories” and “ Congence, which the belief of a God fessions." imposes ; and lastly the herding The next Essay is on “ Deci. of a band of profligates, to hard- sion of Character," a quality bolden and destroy each other : er than is usually believed, and, where, having dared to exclaim in spite of the frequency of obtogether, “ What is the Almigh- stinacy, rarely to be met with. ty, that we should serve him,” The importance of it is happily each individual is emboldened to illustrated in some of the ordinasubjoin, “ Who is the Lord, that ry occurrences of "fe. A man, I should obey his voice?" destitute of it, never belongs
The ensuing letter is one con- to himself; but depends on tinued strain of sublime elo others for his opinions and his quence. After expressing his purposes. Events shape the iramazement, that a rational being resolute man, but in a wonderful can live daily in the sight of the manner bend to him who is reso. Infinite Mind, and yet daily be- lute. The latter never wavers, come more and more regardless he only deliberates; and as soon and unconscious of his presence; as he resolves, is expected to be, Mr. F. arraigns him in judg- and is found, busily employed. ment, and summons the number Such a man never wastes his pasless objects, animate and inani- sions ; but gives their undivided mate, those within his own mind force to the purposes of his mind. and those without it, which He is exempted from the interwere every hour proclaiming to ference and opposition of others him, with a silent, but irresisti- with respect to his plans; and if ble oratory, the existence, the his manners are gentle, he usually presence, the ineffable glory of compels those about him to fall the Great and Lofty One, as in with them, and further their swift witnesses of his amazing accomplishment ; and he crushblindness, of his stupendous es opposition by inflexible obstiguilt. Gladly would we tran- nacy. This quality is representscribe the whole letter, would ed as depending much on the our limits permit, and nothing organization of the body. As short of the whole will do it jus- the frame of the lion gives him tice.
a courage, an impetuosity, and a In the 7th letter, Mr. F. determination, superior to those cludes with some miscellaneous of larger animals; and as women observations on the extreme ver- in these respects are far surpasssatility of the mind in changing ed by men; so the man of resoits opinions; on the style, in lution will usually be found, in which the Memoirs should be the firmness of his frame, equal. written, which should be as sim« ly to excel the mass of men. ple as possible; on their minute. The first element of this characDess, depending on the fact how ter is declared to be a complete far they are to be circulated ; confidence in one's own judg. and lastly, on the unblushing im- ment. The man possessed of it pudence, with which Rousseau, will listen to information from all and others of both sexes, have quarters, but will set his own
value upon it. The next requisite totally the reverse of any thing like is an inflexible resolution to pur
turbulence or agitation. It was the
calmness of an intensity kept uniform sue, without delay or indifference by the nature of the human mind forwhat the mind has once resolved bidding it to be more, and by the char. es proper to be accomplished. acter of the individual forbidding it to Indolence, debility or caprice be less. The habitual passion of his
mind was a measure of feeling al. never check the exertions of such
most equal to the temporary es. a mind; on the contrary, it is tremes and paroxysms of common linked to its determination with minds: as a great river, in its customiron bands ; its purpose becomes ary state, is equal to a small or mod. its fate, and it must and will ac
erate one when swollen to a torrent.
“ The moment of finishing his complish it unless arrested by ca
plans in deliberation, and commenclamity or death. In such a mind ing them in action, was the same. I the passions and the reason act wonder what must have been the with one united effort. A ruling amount of that bribe in emolument
or pleasure, that would have detained passion is also one capital feature
him a week inactive after their final of a decisive character, as all the
adjustment. The law which carries others learn to submit to its water down a declivity, was not more guidance, and by habit it becomes unconquerable and invariable than the invincible. The utmost powers the main object. The importance of
determination of his feelings toward of the mind are thus forced
this object held his faculties in a state into the service of the favourite of excitement which was too rigid to cause by this passion, which be affected by lighter interests, and
on which therefore the beauties of sweeps away as it advances all the trivial objections and little
nature and of art had no power. He
had no leisure feeling which he could opposing motives, and seems
spare to be diverted among the innu. almost to open a path through merable varieties of the extensive impossibilities. Wherever this scene which he traversed; all his subquality is found, it can give dig- ordinate feelings lost their separate nity to the worst of men. Even
existence and operation, 'by falling
into the grand one. There have not Satan, in Paradise Lost, com
been wanting trivial minds, to mark mands a degree of admiration, by this as a fault.in his character. But his invincible resolution). But, the mere men of taste ought to be si. when connected with virtue, it lent respecting such a man as How
ard; he is above their sphere of judg. exalts its possessor to an eleva
The invisible spirits, who fultion in the scale of being, which fil their commission of philanthropy man seems otherwise incapable among mortals, do not care about picof obtaining
tures, statues, and sumptuous build.
ings; and no more did he, when the “ In this distinction," says our au- time in which he must have inspected thor, “no man ever exceeded, or ever and admired them, would have been will exceed, the late illustrious How- taken from the work to which he had ARD.
consecrated his life. The curiosity “The energy of his determination which he might feel was reduced to was so great, that if instead of being wait till the hour should arrive, when habitual, it had been shewn only for its gratification should be presented a short time on particular occasions, by conscience, which kept a scrupu. it would have appeared a vehement lous charge of all his time, as the impetuosity; but by being uninter- most sacred duty of that hour. If he mitted, it had an equability of manner was still at every hour, when it came, which scarcely appeared to exceed the fated to feel the attractions of the fine tone of a calm constancy, it was so arts but the second claim, they might
be sure of their revenge ; for no moned to the diet of Worms, of other man will ever visit Rome un: Daniel, of Shadrach, Meshech, der such a despotic consciousness of duty as to refuse himself time for sure and Abednego, are mentioned as veying the magnificence of its ruins. sublime specimens of elevated Such a sin against taste is very far decision. The good man, posbeyond the reach of common saint. sessed of this character, says our ship to commit. It implied an incon: author, should take care to preceivable severity of conviction, that he had one thing to do, and that he vent it from becoming unamiable. who would do some great thing in It is usually accompanied with this short life, must apply himself to reserve, with sternness, and with the work with such a concentration incompliance; with an alienaof his forces, as, to idle spectators, tion of feelings and of interests ; who live only to amuse themselves, looks like insanity.
with an impatience of correction, His attention was so strongly and a tone of authority, and an untenaciously fixed on his object, that yielding dogmatism; with an even at the greatest distance, like intolerance to the prejudices and the Egyptian pyramids to travellers, it appeared to him with a luminous
weaknesses of others, and a real distinctness, as if it had been nigh, insensibility to the tender and and beguiled the toilsome length of gentle feelings of the heart. labour and enterprise by which he Yet Lycurgus and Timoleon, was to reach it. It was so conspicu- Alfred' and Gustavus Adolphus, ous before him, that not a step deviated from the direction, and every
are glorious examples of the uns moment and every day was an ap
ion of these apparently opposite proximation. As his method refer- excellencies. red every thing he did and thought Various circumstances, says to the end, and as his exertion did not relax for a moment, he made the Mr. F. will confirm this charactrial, so seldom made, what is the ut.
ter. One of these is opposition. most effect which may be granted to Let such a man be opposed in the last possible efforts of a human the general tenor of his actions, agent : and therefore what he did
and opposition will render him not accomplish, he might conclude to be placed beyond the sphere of mor
the service of an ally, by corrobotal activity, and calmly leave to the rating his inflexibility. Anothimmediate disposal of Omnipotence." er is desertion.
er is desertion. Many a inan Who, after reading this short has become resolute by being sketch, will not repine, that it left friendless in early life. was not filled up, till the last Another is success, and another stroke was given to the finished the habit of associating with inportrait ?
feriors. The man not possessed Courage is another essential
of decision may,
our author requisite of the decisive charac- thinks, acquire it in a measure ler. This will be often and se- by the following steps. He verely tried, by the disapproba- should first gain a clear and comtion of friends, and the contempt prehensive knowledge of the and ridicule of others; some concerns before bim. He should times by evils of a darker aspect, cultivate a conclusive manner of by serious sufferings, and by the reasoning. Reasoning should prospect of death itself. The be his ordinary process of think. conduct of Luther when sum. ing. He should never leave Vol. III. No. 8.
any question, which occurs to the authors of which, we think, him, undecided. When the judg should long since have been sent ment is formed the man should to the isle of Anticyra, had they commit himself, by doing some- not pitched their tents on the thing which will compel him to borders of Lethe. do more.
The objects which en- The third letter commences gage the mind should be digni- with the following remark : fied, and the course proposed “ One of the most obvious disshould meet the approbation of tinctions of the works of romance conscience.
is an utter violation of all the reIn the first letter of the next lations between means and ends." Essay, Mr. F. remarks, that “ This is illustrated by various exthoughtful judge of sentiments, amples. One of these is the books, and men, will often find plan, which many benevolent perreason to regret, that the lan- . sons entertain, of civilizing savaguage of censure is so easy and
ges without the aid of conquest. undefined. It costs no labour, Mr. F. allows that a few such and needs no intellect, to pro- instances have been unaccountanounce the words foolish, stupid, bly successful, but insists that dull, odious, absurd, ridiculous.” those, who build their hopes on There is a competent number these, lay just claims to the of words for this use of cheap character of romance. Had he censure. Among these are the lived in o:ir own country, he words Puritan, Methodist, and would not have thought this so Jacobin. Like these the epithet hopeless measure. Romantic has become a vehicle of Creeks and the Cherokees would unmeaning reproach. He is have turned his eye to the unromantic, whose imagination strung bow and broken arrow, to has the ascendency over his the scattered wampum and the judgment; whose fancy throws falling wigwam, as indications its colours where reason ought that the character of the savage to draw its lines ; accumulates was dropping off. They would metaphors where reason ought then have pointed to their houses to deduce its arguments; and and their barns, to their ploughs presents images instead
of and their harvests; to their Bithoughts, and scenes instead of bles and their schools ; and told disquisitions. That this should him in good English, “ See in all be the case in youth is not an un- these things, which are ours, promising symptom; but if it is and procured by ourselves, one so in maturer life, the mind is additional proof of the success of unfortunately constructed. Va- benevolence.” The truth is, rjous operations of the imagina- that, although romantic feelings tion, when it has gained this as- are often indulged on this subcendency, are unfolded in the ject, yet the philosopher, in bis next letter, and a censure de- closet, can conjure up snow servedly severe is cast on the storms and rivers, mountains wretched garbage, daily disgorg- and deserts, in quite as thick ed upon the public, in the shape succession, and make them as of plays, novels, and romances; cold and as wide, as inaccessible