What we want now is a strong purpose; the purpose of Luther, when he said, in repeating his Pater Noster, fiat voluntas MEA,—let my will be done; though he considerately added, quia Tua,—because my will is Thine. We want the virile energy of determination which made the oath of Andrew Jackson sound so like the devotion of an ardent saint that the recording angel might have entered it unquestioned among the prayers of the faithful.
War is a grim business. Two years ago our women's fingers were busy making "Havelocks." It seemed to us then as if the Havelock made half the soldier; and now we smile to think of those days of inexperience and illusion. We know now what War means, and we cannot look its dull, dead ghastliness in the face unless we feel that there is some great and noble principle behind it. It makes little difference what we thought we were fighting for at first; we know what we are fighting for now, and what we are fighting against.
We are fighting for our existence. We say to those who would take back their several contributions to that undivided unity which we call the Nation; the bronze is cast; the statue is on its pedestal; you cannot reclaim the brass you flung into the crucible! There are rights, possessions, privileges, policies, relations, duties, acquired, retained, called into existence in virtue of the principle of absolute solidarity,—belonging to the United States as an organic whole, which cannot be divided, which none of its constituent parties can claim as its own, which perish out of its living frame when the wild forces of rebellion tear it limb from limb, and which it must defend, or confess self-government itself a failure.
We are fighting for that Constitution upon which our national existence reposes, now subjected by those who fired the scroll on which it was written from the cannon at Fort Sumter, to all those chances which the necessities of war entail upon every human arrangement, but still the venerable charter of our wide Republic.
We cannot fight for these objects without attacking the one mother cause of all the progeny of lesser antagonisms. Whether we know it or not, whether we mean it or not, we cannot help fighting against the system that has proved the source of all those miseries which the author of the Declaration of Independence trembled to anticipate. And this ought to make us willing to do and to suffer cheerfully. There were Holy Wars of old, in which it was glory enough to die, wars in which the one aim was to rescue the sepulchre of Christ from the hands of infidels. The sepulchre of Christ is not in Palestine! He rose from that burial-place more than eighteen hundred years ago. He is crucified wherever his brothers are slain without cause; he lies buried wherever man, made in his Maker's image, is entombed in ignorance lest he should learn the rights which his Divine Master gave him! This is our Holy War, and we must fight it against that great General who will bring to it all the powers with which he fought against the Almighty before he was cast down from heaven. He has retained many a cunning advocate to recruit for him; he has bribed many a smooth-tongued preacher to be his chaplain; he has engaged the sordid by their avarice, the timid by their fears, the profligate by their love of adventure, and thousands of nobler natures by motives which we can all understand; whose delusion we pity as we ought always to pity the error of those who know not what they do. Against him or for him we are all called upon to declare ourselves. There is no neutrality for any single true-born American. If any seek such a position, the stony finger of Dante's awful muse points them to their place in the antechamber of the Halls of Despair,—
"—With that ill band Of angels mixed, who nor rebellious proved, Nor yet were true to God, but for themselves Were only."
"—Fame of them the world hath none Nor suffers; mercy and justice scorn them both. Speak not of them, but look, and pass them by."
We must use all the means which God has put into our hands to serve him against the enemies of civilization. We must make and keep the great river free, whatever it costs us; it is strapping up the forefoot of the wild, untamable rebellion. We must not be too nice in the choice of our agents. Non eget Mauri jaculis,—no African bayonets wanted,—was well enough while we did not yet know the might of that desperate giant we had to deal with; but Tros, Tyriusve,—white or black,—is the safer motto now; for a good soldier, like a good horse, cannot be of a bad color. The iron-skins, as well as the iron-clads, have already done us noble service, and many a mother will clasp the returning boy, many a wife will welcome back the war-worn husband, whose smile would never again have gladdened his home, but that, cold in the shallow trench of the battle-field, lies the half-buried form of the unchained bondsman whose dusky bosom sheathes the bullet which would else have claimed that darling as his country's sacrifice.
We shall have success if we truly will success, not otherwise. It may be long in coming,—Heaven only knows through what trials and humblings we may have to pass before the full strength of the nation is duly arrayed and led to victory. We must be patient, as our fathers were patient; even in our worst calamities, we must remember that defeat itself may be a gain where it costs our enemy more in relation to his strength than it costs ourselves. But if, in the inscrutable providence of the Almighty, this generation is disappointed in its lofty aspirations for the race, if we have not virtue enough to ennoble our whole people, and make it a nation of sovereigns, we shall at least hold in undying honor those who vindicated the insulted majesty of the Republic, and struck at her assailants so long as a drum-beat summoned them to the field of duty.
Citizens of Boston, sons and daughters of New England, men and women of the North, brothers and sisters in the bond of the American Union, you have among you the scarred and wasted soldiers who have shed their blood for your temporal salvation. They bore your nation's emblems bravely through the fire and smoke of the battle-field; nay, their own bodies are starred with bullet-wounds and striped with sabre-cuts, as if to mark them as belonging to their country until their dust becomes a portion of the soil which they defended. In every Northern graveyard slumber the victims of this destroying struggle. Many whom you remember playing as children amidst the clover-blossoms of our Northern fields, sleep under nameless mounds with strange Southern wild-flowers blooming over them. By those wounds of living heroes, by those graves of fallen martyrs, by the hopes of your children, and the claims of your children's children yet unborn, in the name of outraged honor, in the interest of violated sovereignty, for the life of an imperilled nation, for the sake of men everywhere and of our common humanity, for the glory of God and the advancement of his kingdom on earth, your country calls upon you to stand by her through good report and through evil report, in triumph and in defeat, until she emerges from the great war of Western civilization, Queen of the broad continent, Arbitress in the councils of earth's emancipated peoples; until the flag that fell from the wall of Fort Sumter floats again inviolate, supreme, over all her ancient inheritance, every fortress, every capital, every ship, and this warring land is once more a, United Nation!
CINDERS FROM THE ASHES.
The personal revelations contained in my report of certain breakfast-table conversations were so charitably listened to and so good-naturedly interpreted, that I may be in danger of becoming over-communicative. Still, I should never have ventured to tell the trivial experiences here thrown together, were it not that my brief story is illuminated here and there by a glimpse of some shining figure that trod the same path with me for a time, or crossed it, leaving a momentary or lasting brightness in its track. I remember that, in furnishing a chamber some years ago, I was struck with its dull aspect as I looked round on the black-walnut chairs and bedstead and bureau. "Make me a large and handsomely wrought gilded handle to the key of that dark chest of drawers," I said to the furnisher. It was done, and that one luminous point redeemed the sombre apartment as the evening star glorifies the dusky firmament. So, my loving reader,—and to none other can such table-talk as this be addressed, —I hope there will be lustre enough in one or other of the names with which I shall gild my page to redeem the dulness of all that is merely personal in my recollections.
After leaving the school of Dame Prentiss, best remembered by infantine loves, those pretty preludes of more serious passions; by the great forfeit-basket, filled with its miscellaneous waifs and deodauds, and by the long willow stick by the aid of which the good old body, now stricken in years and unwieldy in person could stimulate the sluggish faculties or check the mischievous sallies of the child most distant from his ample chair,—a school where I think my most noted schoolmate was the present Bishop of Delaware, became the pupil of Master William Biglow. This generation is not familiar with his title to renown, although he fills three columns and a half in Mr. Duyckinck's "Cyclopaedia of American Literature." He was a humorist hardly robust enough for more than a brief local immortality. I am afraid we were an undistinguished set, for I do not remember anybody near a bishop in dignity graduating from our benches.
At about ten years of age I began going to what we always called the "Port School," because it was kept at Cambridgeport, a mile from the College. This suburb was at that time thinly inhabited, and, being much of it marshy and imperfectly reclaimed, had a dreary look as compared with the thriving College settlement. The tenants of the many beautiful mansions that have sprung up along Main Street, Harvard Street, and Broadway can hardly recall the time when, except the "Dana House" and the "Opposition House" and the "Clark House," these roads were almost all the way bordered by pastures until we reached the "stores" of Main Street, or were abreast of that forlorn "First Row" of Harvard Street. We called the boys of that locality "Port-chucks." They called us "Cambridge-chucks," but we got along very well together in the main.
Among my schoolmates at the Port School was a young girl of singular loveliness. I once before referred to her as "the golden blonde," but did not trust myself to describe her charms. The day of her appearance in the school was almost as much a revelation to us boys as the appearance of Miranda was to Caliban. Her abounding natural curls were so full of sunshine, her skin was so delicately white, her smile and her voice were so all-subduing, that half our heads were turned. Her fascinations were everywhere confessed a few years afterwards; and when I last met her, though she said she was a grandmother, I questioned her statement, for her winning looks and ways would still have made her admired in any company.
Not far from the golden blonde were two small boys, one of them very small, perhaps the youngest boy in school, both ruddy, sturdy, quiet, reserved, sticking loyally by each other, the oldest, however, beginning to enter into social relations with us of somewhat maturer years. One of these two boys was destined to be widely known, first in literature, as author of one of the most popular books of its time and which is freighted for a long voyage; then as an eminent lawyer; a man who, if his countrymen are wise, will yet be prominent in the national councils. Richard Henry Dana, Junior, is the name he bore and bears; he found it famous, and will bequeath it a fresh renown.
Sitting on the girls' benches, conspicuous among the school-girls of unlettered origin by that look which rarely fails to betray hereditary and congenital culture, was a young person very nearly of my own age. She came with the reputation of being "smart," as we should have called it, clever as we say nowadays. This was Margaret Fuller, the only one among us who, like "Jean Paul," like "The Duke," like "Bettina," has slipped the cable of the more distinctive name to which she was anchored, and floats on the waves of speech as "Margaret." Her air to her schoolmates was marked by a certain stateliness and distance, as if she had other thoughts than theirs and was not of them. She was a great student and a great reader of what she used to call "naw-vels." I remember her so well as she appeared at school and later, that I regret that she had not been faithfully given to canvas or marble in the day of her best looks. None know her aspect who have not seen her living. Margaret, as I remember her at school and afterwards, was tall, fair complexioned, with a watery, aqua-marine lustre in her light eyes, which she used to make small, as one does who looks at the sunshine. A remarkable point about her was that long, flexile neck, arching and undulating in strange sinuous movements, which one who loved her would compare to those of a swan, and one who loved her not to those of the ophidian who tempted our common mother. Her talk was affluent, magisterial, de haut en bas, some would say euphuistic, but surpassing the talk of women in breadth and audacity. Her face kindled and reddened and dilated in every feature as she spoke, and, as I once saw her in a fine storm of indignation at the supposed ill-treatment of a relative, showed itself capable of something resembling what Milton calls the viraginian aspect.
Little incidents bear telling when they recall anything of such a celebrity as Margaret. I remember being greatly awed once, in our school-days, with the maturity of one of her expressions. Some themes were brought home from the school for examination by my father, among them one of hers. I took it up with a certain emulous interest (for I fancied at that day that I too had drawn a prize, say a five-dollar one, at least, in the great intellectual life-lottery) and read the first words.
"It is a trite remark," she began.
I stopped. Alas! I did not know what trite meant. How could I ever judge Margaret fairly after such a crushing discovery of her superiority? I doubt if I ever did; yet oh, how pleasant it would have been, at about the age, say, of threescore and ten, to rake over these ashes for cinders with her,—she in a snowy cap, and I in a decent peruke!
After being five years at the Port School, the time drew near when I was to enter college. It seemed advisable to give me a year of higher training, and for that end some public school was thought to offer advantages. Phillips Academy at Andover was well known to us. We had been up there, my father and myself, at anniversaries. Some Boston boys of well-known and distinguished parentage had been scholars there very lately, Master Edmund Quincy, Master Samuel Hurd Walley, Master Nathaniel Parker Willis,—all promising youth, who fulfilled their promise.
I do not believe there was any thought of getting a little respite of quiet by my temporary absence, but I have wondered that there was not. Exceptional boys of fourteen or fifteen make home a heaven, it is true; but I have suspected, late in life, that I was not one of the exceptional kind. I had tendencies in the direction of flageolets and octave flutes. I had a pistol and a gun, and popped at everything that stirred, pretty nearly, except the house-cat. Worse than this, I would buy a cigar and smoke it by instalments, putting it meantime in the barrel of my pistol, by a stroke of ingenuity which it gives me a grim pleasure to recall; for no maternal or other female eyes would explore the cavity of that dread implement in search of contraband commodities.
It was settled, then, that I should go to Phillips Academy, and preparations were made that I might join the school at the beginning of the autumn.
In due time I took my departure in the old carriage, a little modernized from the pattern of my Lady Bountiful's, and we jogged soberly along,—kind parents and slightly nostalgic boy,—towards the seat of learning, some twenty miles away. Up the old West Cambridge road, now North Avenue; past Davenport's tavern, with its sheltering tree and swinging sign; past the old powder-house, looking like a colossal conical ball set on end; past the old Tidd House, one of the finest of the ante-Revolutionary mansions; past Miss Swan's great square boarding-school, where the music of girlish laughter was ringing through the windy corridors; so on to Stoneham, town of the bright lake, then darkened with the recent memory of the barbarous murder done by its lonely shore; through pleasant Reading, with its oddly named village centres, "Trapelo," "Read'nwoodeend," as rustic speech had it, and the rest; through Wilmington, then renowned for its hops; so at last into the hallowed borders of the academic town.
It was a shallow, two-story white house before which we stopped, just at the entrance of the central village, the residence of a very worthy professor in the theological seminary,—learned, amiable, exemplary, but thought by certain experts to be a little questionable in the matter of homoousianism, or some such doctrine. There was a great rock that showed its round back in the narrow front yard. It looked cold and hard; but it hinted firmness and indifference to the sentiments fast struggling to get uppermost in my youthful bosom; for I was not too old for home-sickness,—who is: The carriage and my fond companions had to leave me at last. I saw it go down the declivity that sloped southward, then climb the next ascent, then sink gradually until the window in the back of it disappeared like an eye that shuts, and leaves the world dark to some widowed heart.
Sea-sickness and home-sickness are hard to deal with by any remedy but time. Mine was not a bad case, but it excited sympathy. There was an ancient, faded old lady in the house, very kindly, but very deaf, rustling about in dark autumnal foliage of silk or other murmurous fabric, somewhat given to snuff, but a very worthy gentlewoman of the poor-relation variety. She comforted me, I well remember, but not with apples, and stayed me, but not with flagons. She went in her benevolence, and, taking a blue and white soda-powder, mingled the same in water, and encouraged me to drink the result. It might be a specific for seasickness, but it was not for home-sickness. The fiz was a mockery, and the saline refrigerant struck a colder chill to my despondent heart. I did not disgrace myself, however, and a few days cured me, as a week on the water often cures seasickness.
There was a sober-faced boy of minute dimensions in the house, who began to make some advances to me, and who, in spite of all the conditions surrounding him, turned out, on better acquaintance, to be one of the most amusing, free-spoken, mocking little imps I ever met in my life. My room-mate came later. He was the son of a clergyman in a neighboring town,—in fact I may remark that I knew a good many clergymen's sons at Andover. He and I went in harness together as well as most boys do, I suspect; and I have no grudge against him, except that once, when I was slightly indisposed, he administered to me,—with the best intentions, no doubt,—a dose of Indian pills, which effectually knocked me out of time, as Mr. Morrissey would say,—not quite into eternity, but so near it that I perfectly remember one of the good ladies told me (after I had come to my senses a little, and was just ready for a sip of cordial and a word of encouragement), with that delightful plainness of speech which so brings realities home to the imagination, that "I never should look any whiter when I was laid out as a corpse." After my room-mate and I had been separated twenty-five years, fate made us fellow-townsmen and acquaintances once more in Berkshire, and now again we are close literary neighbors; for I have just read a very pleasant article, signed by him, in the last number of the "Galaxy." Does it not sometimes seem as if we were all marching round and round in a circle, like the supernumeraries who constitute the "army" of a theatre, and that each of us meets and is met by the same and only the same people, or their doubles, twice, thrice, or a little oftener, before the curtain drops and the "army" puts off its borrowed clothes?
The old Academy building had a dreary look, with its flat face, bare and uninteresting as our own "University Building" at Cambridge, since the piazza which relieved its monotony was taken away, and, to balance the ugliness thus produced, the hideous projection was added to "Harvard Hall." Two masters sat at the end of the great room,—the principal and his assistant. Two others presided in separate rooms, one of them the late Rev. Samuel Horatio Stearns, an excellent and lovable man, who looked kindly on me, and for whom I always cherished a sincere regard, a clergyman's son, too, which privilege I did not always find the warrant of signal virtues; but no matter about that here, and I have promised myself to be amiable.
On the side of the long room was a large clock-dial, bearing these words:
YOUTH IS THE SEED-TIME OF LIFE.
I had indulged in a prejudice, up to that hour, that youth was the budding time of life, and this clock-dial, perpetually twitting me with its seedy moral, always had a forbidding look to my vernal apprehension.
I was put into a seat with an older and much bigger boy, or youth, with a fuliginous complexion, a dilating and whitening nostril, and a singularly malignant scowl. Many years afterwards he committed an act of murderous violence, and ended by going to finish his days in a madhouse. His delight was to kick my shins with all his might, under the desk, not at all as an act of hostility, but as a gratifying and harmless pastime. Finding this, so far as I was concerned, equally devoid of pleasure and profit, I managed to get a seat by another boy, the son of a very distinguished divine. He was bright enough, and more select in his choice of recreations, at least during school hours, than my late homicidal neighbor. But the principal called me up presently, and cautioned me against him as a dangerous companion. Could it be so? If the son of that boy's father could not be trusted, what boy in Christendom could? It seemed like the story of the youth doomed to be slain by a lion before reaching a certain age, and whose fate found him out in the heart of the tower where his father had shut him up for safety. Here was I, in the very dove's nest of Puritan faith, and out of one of its eggs a serpent had been hatched and was trying to nestle in my bosom! I parted from him, however, none the worse for his companionship so far as I can remember.
Of the boys who were at school with me at Andover one has acquired great distinction among the scholars of the land. One day I observed a new boy in a seat not very far from my own. He was a little fellow, as I recollect him, with black hair and very bright black eyes, when at length I got a chance to look at them. Of all the new-comers during my whole year he was the only one whom the first glance fixed in my memory, but there he is now, at this moment, just as he caught my eye on the morning of his entrance. His head was between his hands (I wonder if he does not sometimes study in that same posture nowadays!) and his eyes were fastened to his book as if he had been reading a will that made him heir to a million. I feel sure that Professor Horatio Balch Hackett will not find fault with me for writing his name under this inoffensive portrait. Thousands of faces and forms that I have known more or less familiarly have faded from my remembrance, but this presentment of the youthful student, sitting there entranced over the page of his text-book,—the child-father of the distinguished scholar that was to be,—is not a picture framed and hung up in my mind's gallery, but a fresco on its walls, there to remain so long as they hold together.
My especial intimate was a fine, rosy-faced boy, not quite so free of speech as myself, perhaps, but with qualities that promised a noble manhood, and ripened into it in due season. His name was Phinehas Barnes, and, if he is inquired after in Portland or anywhere in the State of Maine, something will be heard to his advantage from any honest and intelligent citizen of that Commonwealth who answers the question. This was one of two or three friendships that lasted. There were other friends and classmates, one of them a natural humorist of the liveliest sort, who would have been quarantined in any Puritan port, his laugh was so potently contagious.
Of the noted men of Andover the one whom I remember best was Professor Moses Stuart. His house was nearly opposite the one in which I resided and I often met him and listened to him in the chapel of the Seminary. I have seen few more striking figures in my life than his, as I remember it. Tall, lean, with strong, bold features, a keen, scholarly, accipitrine nose, thin, expressive lips, great solemnity and impressiveness of voice and manner, he was my early model of a classic orator. His air was Roman, his neck long and bare like Cicero's, and his toga,—that is his broadcloth cloak,—was carried on his arm, whatever might have been the weather, with such a statue-like rigid grace that he might have been turned into marble as he stood, and looked noble by the side of the antiques of the Vatican.
Dr. Porter was an invalid, with the prophetic handkerchief bundling his throat, and his face "festooned"—as I heard Hillard say once, speaking of one of our College professors—in folds and wrinkles. Ill health gives a certain common character to all faces, as Nature has a fixed course which she follows in dismantling a human countenance: the noblest and the fairest is but a death's-head decently covered over for the transient ceremony of life, and the drapery often falls half off before the procession has passed.
Dr. Woods looked his creed more decidedly, perhaps, than any of the Professors. He had the firm fibre of a theological athlete, and lived to be old without ever mellowing, I think, into a kind of half-heterodoxy, as old ministers of stern creed are said to do now and then,—just as old doctors grow to be sparing of the more exasperating drugs in their later days. He had manipulated the mysteries of the Infinite so long and so exhaustively, that he would have seemed more at home among the mediaeval schoolmen than amidst the working clergy of our own time.
All schools have their great men, for whose advent into life the world is waiting in dumb expectancy. In due time the world seizes upon these wondrous youth, opens the shell of their possibilities like the valves of an oyster, swallows them at a gulp, and they are for the most part heard of no more. We had two great men, grown up both of them. Which was the more awful intellectual power to be launched upon society, we debated. Time cut the knot in his rude fashion by taking one away early, and padding the other with prosperity so that his course was comparatively noiseless and ineffective. We had our societies, too; one in particular, "The Social Fraternity," the dread secrets of which I am under a lifelong obligation never to reveal. The fate of William Morgan, which the community learned not long after this time, reminds me of the danger of the ground upon which I am treading.
There were various distractions to make the time not passed in study a season of relief. One good lady, I was told, was in the habit of asking students to her house on Saturday afternoons and praying with and for them. Bodily exercise was not, however, entirely superseded by spiritual exercises, and a rudimentary form of base-ball and the heroic sport of football were followed with some spirit.
A slight immature boy finds his materials of though and enjoyment in very shallow and simple sources. Yet a kind of romance gilds for me the sober tableland of that cold New England hill where I came in contact with a world so strange to me, and destined to leave such mingled and lasting impressions. I looked across the valley to the hillside where Methuen hung suspended, and dreamed of its wooded seclusion as a village paradise. I tripped lightly down the long northern slope with facilis descensus on my lips, and toiled up again, repeating sed revocare gradum. I wandered' in the autumnal woods that crown the "Indian Ridge," much wondering at that vast embankment, which we young philosophers believed with the vulgar to be of aboriginal workmanship, not less curious, perhaps, since we call it an escar, and refer it to alluvial agencies. The little Shawshine was our swimming-school, and the great Merrimack, the right arm of four toiling cities, was within reach of a morning stroll. At home we had the small imp to make us laugh at his enormities, for he spared nothing in his talk, and was the drollest little living protest against the prevailing solemnities of the locality. It did not take much to please us, I suspect, and it is a blessing that this is apt to be so with young people. What else could have made us think it great sport to leave our warm beds in the middle of winter and "camp out,"—on the floor of our room,—with blankets disposed tent-wise, except the fact that to a boy a new discomfort in place of an old comfort is often a luxury.
More exciting occupation than any of these was to watch one of the preceptors to see if he would not drop dead while he was praying. He had a dream one night that he should, and looked upon it as a warning, and told it round very seriously, and asked the boys to come and visit him in turn, as one whom they were soon to lose. More than one boy kept his eye on him during his public devotions, possessed by the same feeling the man had who followed Van Amburgh about with the expectation, let us not say the hope, of seeing the lion bite his head off sooner or later.
Let me not forget to recall the interesting visit to Haverhill with my room-mate, and how he led me to the mighty bridge over the Merrimack which defied the ice-rafts of the river; and to the old meetinghouse, where, in its porch, I saw the door of the ancient parsonage, with the bullet-hole in it through which Benjamin Rolfe, the minister, was shot by the Indians on the 29th of August, 1708. What a vision it was when I awoke in the morning to see the fog on the river seeming as if it wrapped the towers and spires of a great city!—for such was my fancy, and whether it was a mirage of youth or a fantastic natural effect I hate to inquire too nicely.
My literary performances at Andover, if any reader who may have survived so far cares to know, included a translation from Virgil, out of which I remember this couplet, which had the inevitable cockney rhyme of beginners:
"Thus by the power of Jove's imperial arm The boiling ocean trembled into calm."
Also a discussion with Master Phinehas Barnes on the case of Mary, Queen of Scots, which he treated argumentatively and I rhetorically and sentimentally. My sentences were praised and his conclusions adopted. Also an Essay, spoken at the great final exhibition, held in the large hall up-stairs, which hangs oddly enough from the roof, suspended by iron rods. Subject, Fancy. Treatment, brief but comprehensive, illustrating the magic power of that brilliant faculty in charming life into forgetfulness of all the ills that flesh is heir to,—the gift of Heaven to every condition and every clime, from the captive in his dungeon to the monarch on his throne; from the burning sands of the desert to the frozen icebergs of the poles, from—but I forget myself.
This was the last of my coruscations at Andover. I went from the Academy to Harvard College, and did not visit the sacred hill again for a long time.
On the last day of August, 1867, not having been at Andover, for many years, I took the cars at noon, and in an hour or a little more found myself at the station,—just at the foot of the hill. My first pilgrimage was to the old elm, which I remembered so well as standing by the tavern, and of which they used to tell the story that it held, buried in it by growth, the iron rings put round it in the old time to keep the Indians from chopping it with their tomahawks. I then began the once familiar toil of ascending the long declivity. Academic villages seem to change very slowly. Once in a hundred years the library burns down with all its books. A new edifice or two may be put up, and a new library begun in the course of the same century; but these places are poor, for the most part, and cannot afford to pull down their old barracks.
These sentimental journeys to old haunts must be made alone. The story of them must be told succinctly. It is like the opium-smoker's showing you the pipe from which he has just inhaled elysian bliss, empty of the precious extract which has given him his dream.
I did not care much for the new Academy building on my right, nor for the new library building on my left. But for these it was surprising to see how little the scene I remembered in my boyhood had changed. The Professors' houses looked just as they used to, and the stage-coach landed its passengers at the Mansion House as of old. The pale brick seminary buildings were behind me on the left, looking as if "Hollis" and "Stoughton" had been transplanted from Cambridge,—carried there in the night by orthodox angels, perhaps, like the Santa Casa. Away to my left again, but abreast of me, was the bleak, bare old Academy building; and in front of me stood unchanged the shallow oblong white house where I lived a year in the days of James Monroe and of John Quincy Adams.
The ghost of a boy was at my side as I wandered among the places he knew so well. I went to the front of the house. There was the great rock showing its broad back in the front yard. I used to crack nuts on that, whispered the small ghost. I looked in at the upper window in the farther part of the house. I looked out of that on four long changing seasons, said the ghost. I should have liked to explore farther, but, while I was looking, one came into the small garden, or what used to be the garden, in front of the house, and I desisted from my investigation and went on my way. The apparition that put me and my little ghost to flight had a dressing-gown on its person and a gun in its hand. I think it was the dressing-gown, and not the gun, which drove me off.
And now here is the shop, or store, that used to be Shipman's, after passing what I think used to be Jonathan Leavitt's bookbindery, and here is the back road that will lead me round by the old Academy building.
Could I believe my senses when I found that it was turned into a gymnasium, and heard the low thunder of ninepin balls, and the crash of tumbling pins from those precincts? The little ghost said, Never! It cannot be. But it was. "Have they a billiard-room in the upper story?" I asked myself. "Do the theological professors take a hand at all-fours or poker on weekdays, now and then, and read the secular columns of the 'Boston Recorder' on Sundays?" I was demoralized for the moment, it is plain; but now that I have recovered from the shock, I must say that the fact mentioned seems to show a great advance in common sense from the notions prevailing in my time.
I sauntered,—we, rather, my ghost and I,—until we came to a broken field where there was quarrying and digging going on,—our old base-ball ground, hard by the burial-place. There I paused; and if any thoughtful boy who loves to tread in the footsteps that another has sown with memories of the time when he was young shall follow my footsteps, I need not ask him to rest here awhile, for he will be enchained by the noble view before him. Far to the north and west the mountains of New Hampshire lifted their summits in along encircling ridge of pale blue waves. The day was clear, and every mound and peak traced its outline with perfect definition against the sky. This was a sight which had more virtue and refreshment in it than any aspect of nature that I had looked upon, I am afraid I must say for years. I have been by the seaside now and then, but the sea is constantly busy with its own affairs, running here and there, listening to what the winds have to say and getting angry with them, always indifferent, often insolent, and ready to do a mischief to those who seek its companionship. But these still, serene, unchanging mountains,—Monadnock, Kearsarge,—what memories that name recalls!—and the others, the dateless Pyramids of New England, the eternal monuments of her ancient race, around which cluster the homes of so many of her bravest and hardiest children,—I can never look at them without feeling that, vast and remote and awful as they are, there is a kind of inward heat and muffled throb in their stony cores, that brings them into a vague sort of sympathy with human hearts. It is more than a year since I have looked on those blue mountains, and they "are to me as a feeling" now, and have been ever since.
I had only to pass a wall and I was in the burial-ground. It was thinly tenanted as I remember it, but now populous with the silent immigrants of more than a whole generation. There lay the dead I had left, the two or three students of the Seminary; the son of the worthy pair in whose house I lived, for whom in those days hearts were still aching, and by whose memory the house still seemed haunted. A few upright stones were all that I recollect. But now, around them were the monuments of many of the dead whom I remembered as living. I doubt if there has been a more faithful reader of these graven stones than myself for many a long day. I listened to more than one brief sermon from preachers whom I had often heard as they thundered their doctrines down upon me from the throne-like desk. Now they spoke humbly out of the dust, from a narrower pulpit, from an older text than any they ever found in Cruden's Concordance, but there was an eloquence in their voices the listening chapel had never known. There were stately monuments and studied inscriptions, but none so beautiful, none so touching, as that which hallows the resting-place of one of the children of the very learned Professor Robinson: "Is it well with the child? And she answered, It is well."
While I was musing amidst these scenes in the mood of Hamlet, two old men, as my little ghost called them, appeared on the scene to answer to the gravedigger and his companion. They christened a mountain or two for me, "Kearnsarge" among the rest, and revived some old recollections, of which the most curious was "Basil's Cave." The story was recent, when I was there, of one Basil, or Bezill, or Buzzell, or whatever his name might have been, a member of the Academy, fabulously rich, Orientally extravagant, and of more or less lawless habits. He had commanded a cave to be secretly dug, and furnished it sumptuously, and there with his companions indulged in revelries such as the daylight of that consecrated locality had never looked upon. How much truth there was in it all I will not pretend to say, but I seem to remember stamping over every rock that sounded hollow, to question if it were not the roof of what was once Basil's Cave.
The sun was getting far past the meridian, and I sought a shelter under which to partake of the hermit fare I had brought with me. Following the slope of the hill northward behind the cemetery, I found a pleasant clump of trees grouped about some rocks, disposed so as to give a seat, a table, and a shade. I left my benediction on this pretty little natural caravansera, and a brief record on one of its white birches, hoping to visit it again on some sweet summer or autumn day.
Two scenes remained to look upon,—the Shawshine River and the Indian Ridge. The streamlet proved to have about the width with which it flowed through my memory. The young men and the boys were bathing in its shallow current, or dressing and undressing upon its banks as in the days of old; the same river, only the water changed; "The same boys, only the names and the accidents of local memory different," I whispered to my little ghost.
The Indian Ridge more than equalled what I expected of it. It is well worth a long ride to visit. The lofty wooded bank is a mile and a half in extent, with other ridges in its neighborhood, in general running nearly parallel with it, one of them still longer. These singular formations are supposed to have been built up by the eddies of conflicting currents scattering sand and gravel and stones as they swept over the continent. But I think they pleased me better when I was taught that the Indians built them; and while I thank Professor Hitchcock, I sometimes feel as if I should like to found a chair to teach the ignorance of what people do not want to know.
"Two tickets to Boston." I said to the man at the station.
But the little ghost whispered, "When you leave this place you leave me behind you."
"One ticket to Boston, if you please. Good by, little ghost."
I believe the boy-shadow still lingers around the well-remembered scenes I traversed on that day, and that, whenever I revisit them, I shall find him again as my companion.
THE PULPIT AND THE PEW.
The priest is dead for the Protestant world. Luther's inkstand did not kill the devil, but it killed the priest, at least for us: He is a loss in many respects to be regretted. He kept alive the spirit of reverence. He was looked up to as possessing qualities superhuman in their nature, and so was competent to be the stay of the weak and their defence against the strong. If one end of religion is to make men happier in this world as well as in the next, mankind lost a great source of happiness when the priest was reduced to the common level of humanity, and became only a minister. Priest, which was presbyter, corresponded to senator, and was a title to respect and honor. Minister is but the diminutive of magister, and implies an obligation to render service.
It was promised to the first preachers that in proof of their divine mission they should have the power of casting out devils and talking in strange tongues; that they should handle serpents and drink poisons with impunity; that they should lay hands on the sick and they should recover. The Roman Church claims some of these powers for its clergy and its sacred objects to this day. Miracles, it is professed, are wrought by them, or through them, as in the days of the apostles. Protestantism proclaims that the age of such occurrences as the apostles witnessed is past. What does it know about miracles? It knows a great many records of miracles, but this is a different kind of knowledge.
The minister may be revered for his character, followed for his eloquence, admired for his learning, loved for his amiable qualities, but he can never be what the priest was in past ages, and is still, in the Roman Church. Dr. Arnold's definition may be found fault with, but it has a very real meaning. "The essential point in the notion of a priest is this: that he is a person made necessary to our intercourse with God, without being necessary or beneficial to us morally,—an unreasonable, immoral, spiritual necessity." He did not mean, of course, that the priest might not have all the qualities which would recommend him as a teacher or as a man, but that he had a special power, quite independent of his personal character, which could act, as it were, mechanically; that out of him went a virtue, as from the hem of his Master's raiment, to those with whom his sacred office brought him in contact.
It was a great comfort to poor helpless human beings to have a tangible personality of like nature with themselves as a mediator between them and the heavenly powers. Sympathy can do much for the sorrowing, the suffering, the dying, but to hear God himself speaking directly through human lips, to feel the touch of a hand which is the channel of communication with the unseen Omnipotent, this was and is the privilege of those who looked and those who still look up to a priesthood. It has been said, and many who have walked the hospitals or served in the dispensaries can bear witness to the truth of the assertion, that the Roman Catholics know how to die. The same thing is less confidently to be said of Protestants. How frequently is the story told of the most exemplary Protestant Christians, nay, how common is it to read in the lives of the most exemplary Protestant ministers, that they were beset with doubts and terrors in their last days! The blessing of the viaticum is unknown to them. Man is essentially an idolater,—that is, in bondage to his imagination,—for there is no more harm in the Greek word eidolon than in the Latin word imago. He wants a visible image to fix his thought, a scarabee or a crux ansata, or the modern symbols which are to our own time what these were to the ancient Egyptians. He wants a vicegerent of the Almighty to take his dying hand and bid him godspeed on his last journey. Who but such an immediate representative of the Divinity would have dared to say to the monarch just laying his head on the block, "Fils de Saint Louis, monte au ciel"?
It has been a long and gradual process to thoroughly republicanize the American Protestant descendant of the ancient priesthood. The history of the Congregationalists in New England would show us how this change has gone on, until we have seen the church become a hall open to all sorts of purposes, the pulpit come down to the level of the rostrum, and the clergyman take on the character of a popular lecturer who deals with every kind of subject, including religion.
Whatever fault we may find with many of their beliefs, we have a right to be proud of our Pilgrim and Puritan fathers among the clergy. They were ready to do and to suffer anything for their faith, and a faith which breeds heroes is better than an unbelief which leaves nothing worth being a hero for. Only let us be fair, and not defend the creed of Mohammed because it nurtured brave men and enlightened scholars, or refrain from condemning polygamy in our admiration of the indomitable spirit and perseverance of the Pilgrim Fathers of Mormonism, or justify an inhuman belief, or a cruel or foolish superstition, because it was once held or acquiesced in by men whose nobility of character we heartily recognize. The New England clergy can look back to a noble record, but the pulpit has sometimes required a homily from the pew, and may sometimes find it worth its while to listen to one even in our own days.
From the settlement of the country to the present time, the ministers have furnished the highest type of character to the people among whom they have lived. They have lost to a considerable extent the position of leaders, but if they are in our times rather to be looked upon as representatives of their congregations, they represent what is best among those of whom they are the speaking organs. We have a right to expect them to be models as well as teachers of all that makes the best citizens for this world and the next, and they have not been, and are not in these later days unworthy of their high calling. They have worked hard for small earthly compensation. They have been the most learned men the country had to show, when learning was a scarce commodity. Called by their consciences to self-denying labors, living simply, often half-supported by the toil of their own hands, they have let the light, such light as shone for them, into the minds of our communities as the settler's axe let the sunshine into their log-huts and farm-houses.
Their work has not been confined to their professional duties, as a few instances will illustrate. Often, as was just said, they toiled like day-laborers, teasing lean harvests out of their small inclosures of land, for the New England soil is not one that "laughs when tickled with a hoe," but rather one that sulks when appealed to with that persuasive implement. The father of the eminent Boston physician whose recent loss is so deeply regretted, the Reverend Pitt Clarke, forty-two years pastor of the small fold in the town of Norton, Massachusetts, was a typical example of this union of the two callings, and it would be hard to find a story of a more wholesome and useful life, within a limited and isolated circle, than that which the pious care of one of his children commemorated. Sometimes the New England minister, like worthy Mr. Ward of Stratford-on-Avon, in old England, joined the practice of medicine to the offices of his holy profession. Michael Wigglesworth, the poet of "The Day of Doom," and Charles Chauncy, the second president of Harvard College, were instances of this twofold service. In politics their influence has always been felt, and in many cases their drums ecclesiastic have beaten the reveille as vigorously, and to as good purpose, as it ever sounded in the slumbering camp. Samuel Cooper sat in council with the leaders of the Revolution in Boston. The three Northampton-born brothers Allen, Thomas, Moses, and Solomon, lifted their voices, and, when needed, their armed hands, in the cause of liberty. In later days, Elijah Parish and David Osgood carried politics into their pulpits as boldly as their antislavery successors have done in times still more recent.
The learning, the personal character, the sacredness of their office, tended, to give the New England clergy of past generations a kind of aristocratic dignity, a personal grandeur, much more felt in the days when class distinctions were recognized less unwillingly than at present. Their costume added to the effect of their bodily presence, as the old portraits illustrate for us, as those of us who remember the last of the "fair, white, curly" wigs, as it graced the imposing figure of the Reverend Dr. Marsh of Wethersfield, Connecticut, can testify. They were not only learned in the history of the past, but they were the interpreters of the prophecy, and announced coming events with a confidence equal to that with which the weather-bureau warns us of a coming storm. The numbers of the book of Daniel and the visions of the Revelation were not too hard for them. In the commonplace book of the Reverend Joel Benedict is to be found the following record, made, as it appears, about the year 1773: "Conversing with Dr. Bellamy upon the downfall of Antichrist, after many things had been said upon the subject, the Doctor began to warm, and uttered himself after this manner: 'Tell your children to tell their children that in the year 1866 something notable will happen in the church; tell them the old man says so.'"
The "old man" came pretty near hitting the mark, as we shall see if we consider what took place in the decade from 1860 to 1870. In 1864 the Pope issued the "Syllabus of Errors," which "must be considered by Romanists—as an infallible official document, and which arrays the papacy in open war against modern civilization and civil and religious freedom." The Vatican Council in 1870 declared the Pope to be the bishop of bishops, and immediately after this began the decisive movement of the party known as the "Old Catholics." In the exact year looked forward to by the New England prophet, 1866, the evacuation of Rome by the French and the publication of "Ecce Homo" appear to be the most remarkable events having Special relation to the religious world. Perhaps the National Council of the Congregationalists, held at Boston in 1865, may be reckoned as one of the occurrences which the oracle just missed.
The confidence, if not the spirit of prophecy, lasted down to a later period. "In half a century," said the venerable Dr. Porter of Conway, New Hampshire, in 1822, "there will be no Pagans, Jews, Mohammedans, Unitarians, or Methodists." The half-century has more than elapsed, and the prediction seems to stand in need of an extension, like many other prophetic utterances.
The story is told of David Osgood, the shaggy-browed old minister of Medford, that he had expressed his belief that not more than one soul in two thousand would be saved. Seeing a knot of his parishioners in debate, he asked them what they were discussing, and was told that they were questioning which of the Medford people was the elected one, the population being just two thousand, and that opinion was divided whether it would be the minister or one of his deacons. The story may or may not be literally true, but it illustrates the popular belief of those days, that the clergyman saw a good deal farther into the councils of the Almighty than his successors could claim the power of doing.
The objects about me, as I am writing, call to mind the varied accomplishments of some of the New England clergy. The face of the Revolutionary preacher, Samuel Cooper, as Copley painted it, looks upon me with the pleasantest of smiles and a liveliness of expression which makes him seem a contemporary after a hundred years' experience of eternity. The Plato on this lower shelf bears the inscription: "Ezroe Stiles, 1766. Olim e libris Rev. Jaredis Eliot de Killingworth." Both were noted scholars and philosophers. The hand-lens before me was imported, with other philosophical instruments, by the Reverend John Prince of Salem, an earlier student of science in the town since distinguished by the labors of the Essex Institute. Jeremy Belknap holds an honored place in that unpretending row of local historians. And in the pages of his "History of New Hampshire" may be found a chapter contributed in part by the most remarkable man, in many respects, among all the older clergymen preacher, lawyer, physician, astronomer, botanist, entomologist, explorer, colonist, legislator in state and national governments, and only not seated on the bench of the Supreme Court of a Territory because he declined the office when Washington offered it to him. This manifold individual was the minister of Hamilton, a pleasant little town in Essex County, Massachusetts,—the Reverend Manasseh Cutler. These reminiscences from surrounding objects came up unexpectedly, of themselves: and have a right here, as showing how wide is the range of intelligence in the clerical body thus accidentally represented in a single library making no special pretensions.
It is not so exalted a claim to make for them, but it may be added that they were often the wits and humorists of their localities. Mather Byles's facetie are among the colonial classic reminiscences. But these were, for the most part, verbal quips and quibbles. True humor is an outgrowth of character. It is never found in greater perfection than in old clergymen and old college professors. Dr. Sprague's "Annals of the American Pulpit" tells many stories of our old ministers as good as Dean Ramsay's "Scottish Reminiscences." He has not recorded the following, which is to be found in Miss Larned's excellent and most interesting History of Windham County, Connecticut. The Reverend Josiah Dwight was the minister of Woodstock, Connecticut, about the year 1700. He was not old, it is true, but he must have caught the ways of the old ministers. The "sensational" pulpit of our own time could hardly surpass him in the drollery of its expressions. A specimen or two may dispose the reader to turn over the pages which follow in a good-natured frame of mind. "If unconverted men ever got to heaven," he said, "they would feel as uneasy as a shad up the crotch of a white-oak." Some of his ministerial associates took offence at his eccentricities, and called on a visit of admonition to the offending clergyman. "Mr. Dwight received their reproofs with great meekness, frankly acknowledged his faults, and promised amendment, but, in prayer at parting, after returning thanks for the brotherly visit and admonition, 'hoped that they might so hitch their horses on earth that they should never kick in the stables of everlasting salvation.'"
It is a good thing to have some of the blood of one of these old ministers in one's veins. An English bishop proclaimed the fact before an assembly of physicians the other day that he was not ashamed to say that he had a son who was a doctor. Very kind that was in the bishop, and very proud his medical audience must have felt. Perhaps he was not ashamed of the Gospel of Luke, "the beloved physician," or even of the teachings which came from the lips of one who was a carpenter, and the son of a carpenter. So a New-Englander, even if he were a bishop, need not be ashamed to say that he consented to have an ancestor who was a minister. On the contrary, he has a right to be grateful for a probable inheritance of good instincts, a good name, and a bringing up in a library where he bumped about among books from the time when he was hardly taller than one of his father's or grandfather's folios. What are the names of ministers' sons which most readily occur to our memory as illustrating these advantages? Edward Everett, Joseph Stevens Buckminster, Ralph Waldo Emerson, George Bancroft, Richard Hildreth, James Russell Lowell, Francis Parkman, Charles Eliot Norton, were all ministers' boys. John Lothrop Motley was the grandson of the clergyman after whom he was named. George Ticknor was next door to such a descent, for his father was a deacon. This is a group which it did not take a long or a wide search to bring together.
Men such as the ministers who have been described could not fail to exercise a good deal of authority in the communities to which they belonged. The effect of the Revolution must have been to create a tendency to rebel against spiritual dictation. Republicanism levels in religion as in everything. It might have been expected, therefore, that soon after civil liberty had been established there would be conflicts between the traditional, authority of the minister and the claims of the now free and independent congregation. So it was, in fact, as for instance in the case which follows, for which the reader is indebted to Miss Lamed's book, before cited.
The ministerial veto allowed by the Saybrook Platform gave rise, in the year 1792, to a fierce conflict in the town of Pomfret, Connecticut. Zephaniah Swift, a lawyer of Windham, came out in the Windham "Herald," in all the vehemence of partisan phraseology, with all the emphasis of italics and small capitals. Was it not time, he said, for people to look about them and see whether "such despotism was founded in Scripture, in reason, in policy, or on the rights of man! A minister, by his vote, by his single voice, may negative the unanimous vote of the church! Are ministers composed of finer clay than the rest of mankind, that entitles them to this preeminence? Does a license to preach transform a man into a higher order of beings and endow him with a natural quality to govern? Are the laity an inferior order of beings, fit only to be slaves and to be governed? Is it good policy for mankind to subject themselves to such degrading vassalage and abject submission? Reason, common sense, and the Bible, with united voice, proclaim to all mankind that they are all born free and equal; that every member of a church or Christian congregation must be on the same footing in respect of church government, and that the CONSTITUTION, which delegates to one the power to negative the vote of all the rest, is SUBVERSIVE OF THE NATURAL RIGHT OF MANKIND AND REPUGNANT TO THE WORD OF GOD."
The Reverend Mr. Welch replied to the lawyer's attack, pronouncing him to be "destitute of delicacy, decency, good manners, sound judgment, honesty, manhood, and humanity; a poltroon, a cat's-paw, the infamous tool of a party, a partisan, a political weathercock, and a ragamuffin."
No Fourth-of-July orator would in our day rant like the lawyer, and no clergyman would use such language as that of the Reverend Moses Welch. The clergy have been pretty well republicanized within that last two or three generations, and are not likely to provoke quarrels by assertion of their special dignities or privileges. The public is better bred than to carry on an ecclesiastical controversy in terms which political brawlers would hardly think admissible. The minister of religion is generally treated with something more than respect; he is allowed to say undisputed what would be sharply controverted in anybody else. Bishop Gilbert Haven, of happy memory, had been discussing a religious subject with a friend who was not convinced by his arguments. "Wait till you hear me from the pulpit," he said; "there you cannot answer me." The preacher—if I may use an image which would hardly have suggested itself to him—has his hearer's head in chancery, and can administer punishment ad libitum. False facts, false reasoning, bad rhetoric, bad grammar, stale images, borrowed passages, if not borrowed sermons, are listened to without a word of comment or a look of disapprobation.
One of the ablest and most conscientiously laborious of our clergymen has lately ventured to question whether all his professional brethren invariably give utterance to their sincerest beliefs, and has been sharply criticised for so doing. The layman, who sits silent in his pew, has his rights when out of it, and among them is the right of questioning that which has been addressed to him from the privileged eminence of the pulpit, or in any way sanctioned by his religious teacher. It is nearly two hundred years since a Boston layman wrote these words: "I am not ignorant that the pious frauds of the ancient, and the inbred fire (I do not call it pride) of many of our modern divines, have precipitated them to propagate and maintain truth as well as falsehoods, in such an unfair manner as has given advantage to the enemy to suspect the whole doctrine these men have profest to be nothing but a mere trick."
So wrote Robert Calef, the Boston merchant, whose book the Reverend Increase Mather, president of Harvard College, burned publicly in the college yard. But the pity of it is that the layman had not cried out earlier and louder, and saved the community from the horror of those judicial murders for witchcraft, the blame of which was so largely attributable to the clergy.
Perhaps no, laymen have given the clergy more trouble than the doctors. The old reproach against physicians, that where there were three of them together there were two atheists, had a real significance, but not that which was intended by the sharp-tongued ecclesiastic who first uttered it. Undoubtedly there is a strong tendency in the pursuits of the medical profession to produce disbelief in that figment of tradition and diseased human imagination which has been installed in the seat of divinity by the priesthood of cruel and ignorant ages. It is impossible, or at least very difficult, for a physician who has seen the perpetual efforts of Nature—whose diary is the book he reads oftenest—to heal wounds, to expel poisons, to do the best that can be done under the given conditions,—it is very difficult for him to believe in a world where wounds cannot heal, where opiates cannot give a respite from pain, where sleep never comes with its sweet oblivion of suffering, where the art of torture is the only science cultivated, and the capacity for being tormented is the only faculty which remains to the children of that same Father who cares for the falling sparrow. The Deity has often been pictured as Moloch, and the physician has, no doubt, frequently repudiated him as a monstrosity.
On the other hand, the physician has often been renowned for piety as well as for his peculiarly professional virtue of charity,—led upward by what he sees to the source of all the daily marvels wrought before his own eyes. So it was that Galen gave utterance to that psalm of praise which the sweet singer of Israel need not have been ashamed of; and if this "heathen" could be lifted into such a strain of devotion, we need not be surprised to find so many devout Christian worshippers among the crowd of medical "atheists."
No two professions should come into such intimate and cordial relations as those to which belong the healers of the body and the headers of the mind. There can be no more fatal mistake than that which brings them into hostile attitudes with reference to each other, both having in view the welfare of their fellow-creatures. But there is a territory always liable to be differed about between them. There are patients who never tell their physician the grief which lies at the bottom of their ailments. He goes through his accustomed routine with them, and thinks he has all the elements needed for his diagnosis. But he has seen no deeper into the breast than the tongue, and got no nearer the heart than the wrist. A wise and experienced clergyman, coming to the patient's bedside,—not with the professional look on his face which suggests the undertaker and the sexton, but with a serene countenance and a sympathetic voice, with tact, with patience, waiting for the right moment,—will surprise the shy spirit into a confession of the doubt, the sorrow, the shame, the remorse, the terror which underlies all the bodily symptoms, and the unburdening of which into a loving and pitying soul is a more potent anodyne than all the drowsy sirups of the world. And, on the other hand, there are many nervous and over-sensitive natures which have been wrought up by self-torturing spiritual exercises until their best confessor would be a sagacious and wholesome-minded physician.
Suppose a person to have become so excited by religious stimulants that he is subject to what are known to the records of insanity as hallucinations: that he hears voices whispering blasphemy in his ears, and sees devils coming to meet him, and thinks he is going to be torn in pieces, or trodden into the mire. Suppose that his mental conflicts, after plunging him into the depths of despondency, at last reduce him to a state of despair, so that he now contemplates taking his own life, and debates with himself whether it shall be by knife, halter, or poison, and after much questioning is apparently making up his mind to commit suicide. Is not this a manifest case of insanity, in the form known as melancholia? Would not any prudent physician keep such a person under the eye of constant watchers, as in a dangerous state of, at least, partial mental alienation? Yet this is an exact transcript of the mental condition of Christian in "Pilgrim's Progress," and its counterpart has been found in thousands of wretched lives terminated by the act of self-destruction, which came so near taking place in the hero of the allegory. Now the wonderful book from which this example is taken is, next to the Bible and the Treatise of "De Imitatione Christi," the best-known religious work of Christendom. If Bunyan and his contemporary, Sydenham, had met in consultation over the case of Christian at the time when he was meditating self-murder, it is very possible that there might have been a difference of judgment. The physician would have one advantage in such a consultation. He would pretty certainly have received a Christian education, while the clergyman would probably know next to nothing of the laws or manifestations of mental or bodily disease. It does not seem as if any theological student was really prepared for his practical duties until he had learned something of the effects of bodily derangements, and, above all, had become familiar with the gamut of mental discord in the wards of an insane asylum.
It is a very thoughtless thing to say that the physician stands to the divine in the same light as the divine stands to the physician, so far as each may attempt to handle subjects belonging especially to the other's profession. Many physicians know a great deal more about religious matters than they do about medicine. They have read the Bible ten times as much as they ever read any medical author. They have heard scores of sermons for one medical lecture to which they have listened. They often hear much better preaching than the average minister, for he hears himself chiefly, and they hear abler men and a variety of them. They have now and then been distinguished in theology as well as in their own profession. The name of Servetus might call up unpleasant recollections, but that of another medical practitioner may be safely mentioned. "It was not till the middle of the last century that the question as to the authorship of the Pentateuch was handled with anything like a discerning criticism. The first attempt was made by a layman, whose studies we might have supposed would scarcely have led him to such an investigation." This layman was "Astruc, doctor and professor of medicine in the Royal College at Paris, and court physician to Louis XIV." The quotation is from the article "Pentateuch" in Smith's "Dictionary of the Bible," which, of course, lies on the table of the least instructed clergyman. The sacred profession has, it is true, returned the favor by giving the practitioner of medicine Bishop Berkeley's "Treatise on Tar-water," and the invaluable prescription of that "aged clergyman whose sands of life"——but let us be fair, if not generous, and remember that Cotton Mather shares with Zabdiel Boylston the credit of introducing the practice of inoculation into America. The professions should be cordial allies, but the church-going, Bible-reading physician ought to know a great deal more of the subjects included under the general name of theology than the clergyman can be expected to know of medicine. To say, as has been said not long since, that a young divinity student is as competent to deal with the latter as an old physician is to meddle with the former, suggests the idea that wisdom is not an heirloom in the family of the one who says it. What a set of idiots our clerical teachers must have been and be, if, after a quarter or half a century of their instruction, a person of fair intelligence is utterly incompetent to form any opinion about the subjects which they have been teaching, or trying to teach him, so long!
A minister must find it very hard work to preach to hearers who do not believe, or only half believe, what he preaches. But pews without heads in them are a still more depressing spectacle. He may convince the doubter and reform the profligate. But he cannot produce any change on pine and mahogany by his discourses, and the more wood he sees as he looks along his floor and galleries, the less his chance of being useful. It is natural that in times like the present changes of faith and of place of worship should be far from infrequent. It is not less natural that there should be regrets on one side and gratification on the other, when such changes occur. It even happens occasionally that the regrets become aggravated into reproaches, rarely from the side which receives the new accessions, less rarely from the one which is left. It is quite conceivable that the Roman Church, which considers itself the only true one, should look on those who leave its communion as guilty of a great offence. It is equally natural that a church which considers Pope and Pagan a pair of murderous giants, sitting at the mouths of their caves, alike in their hatred to true Christians, should regard any of its members who go over to Romanism as lost in fatal error. But within the Protestant fold there are many compartments, and it would seem that it is not a deadly defection to pass from one to another.
So far from such exchanges between sects being wrong, they ought to happen a great deal oftener than they do. All the larger bodies of Christians should be constantly exchanging members. All men are born with conservative or aggressive tendencies: they belong naturally with the idol-worshippers or the idol-breakers. Some wear their fathers' old clothes, and some will have a new suit. One class of men must have their faith hammered in like a nail, by authority; another class must have it worked in like a screw, by argument. Members of one of these classes often find themselves fixed by circumstances in the other. The late Orestes A. Brownson used to preach at one time to a little handful of persons, in a small upper room, where some of them got from him their first lesson about the substitution of reverence for idolatry, in dealing with the books they hold sacred. But after a time Mr. Brownson found he had mistaken his church, and went over to the Roman Catholic establishment, of which he became and remained to his dying day one of the most stalwart champions. Nature is prolific and ambidextrous. While this strong convert was trying to carry us back to the ancient faith, another of her sturdy children, Theodore Parker, was trying just as hard to provide a new church for the future. One was driving the sheep into the ancient fold, while the other was taking down the bars that kept them out of the new pasture. Neither of these powerful men could do the other's work, and each had to find the task for which he was destined.
The "old gospel ship," as the Methodist song calls it, carries many who would steer by the wake of their vessel. But there are many others who do not trouble themselves to look over the stern, having their eyes fixed on the light-house in the distance before them. In less figurative language, there are multitudes of persons who are perfectly contented with the old formulae of the church with which they and their fathers before them have been and are connected, for the simple reason that they fit, like old shoes, because they have been worn so long, and mingled with these, in the most conservative religious body, are here and there those who are restless in the fetters of a confession of faith to which they have pledged themselves without believing in it. This has been true of the Athanasian creed, in the Anglican Church, for two centuries more or less, unless the Archbishop of Canterbury, Tillotson, stood alone in wishing the church were well rid of it. In fact, it has happened to the present writer to hear the Thirty-nine Articles summarily disposed of by one of the most zealous members of the American branch of that communion, in a verb of one syllable, more familiar to the ears of the forecastle than to those of the vestry.
But on the other hand, it is far from uncommon to meet with persons among the so-called "liberal" denominations who are uneasy for want of a more definite ritual and a more formal organization than they find in their own body. Now, the rector or the minister must be well aware that there are such cases, and each of them must be aware that there are individuals under his guidance whom he cannot satisfy by argument, and who really belong by all their instincts to another communion. It seems as if a thoroughly honest, straight-collared clergyman would say frankly to his restless parishioner: "You do not believe the central doctrines of the church which you are in the habit of attending. You belong properly to Brother A.'s or Brother B.'s fold, and it will be more manly and probably more profitable for you to go there than to stay with us." And, again, the rolling-collared clergyman might be expected to say to this or that uneasy listener: "You are longing for a church which will settle your beliefs for you, and relieve you to a great extent from the task, to which you seem to be unequal, of working out your own salvation with fear and trembling. Go over the way to Brother C.'s or Brother D.'s; your spine is weak, and they will furnish you a back-board which will keep you straight and make you comfortable." Patients are not the property of their physicians, nor parishioners of their ministers.
As for the children of clergymen, the presumption is that they will adhere to the general belief professed by their fathers. But they do not lose their birthright or their individuality, and have the world all before them to choose their creed from, like other persons. They are sometimes called to account for attacking the dogmas they are supposed to have heard preached from their childhood. They cannot defend themselves, for various good reasons. If they did, one would have to say he got more preaching than was good for him, and came at last to feel about sermons and their doctrines as confectioners' children do about candy. Another would have to own that he got his religious belief, not from his father, but from his mother. That would account for a great deal, for the milk in a woman's veins sweetens, or at least, dilutes an acrid doctrine, as the blood of the motherly cow softens the virulence of small-pox, so that its mark survives only as the seal of immunity. Another would plead atavism, and say he got his religious instincts from his great-grandfather, as some do their complexion or their temper. Others would be compelled to confess that the belief of a wife or a sister had displaced that which they naturally inherited. No man can be expected to go thus into the details of his family history, and, therefore, it is an ill-bred and indecent thing to fling a man's father's creed in his face, as if he had broken the fifth commandment in thinking for himself in the light of a new generation. Common delicacy would prevent him from saying that he did not get his faith from his father, but from somebody else, perhaps from his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice, like the young man whom the Apostle cautioned against total abstinence.
It is always the right, and may sometimes be the duty, of the layman to call the attention of the clergy to the short-comings and errors, not only of their own time, but also of the preceding generations, of which they are the intellectual and moral product. This is especially true when the authority of great names is fallen back upon as a defence of opinions not in themselves deserving to be upheld. It may be very important to show that the champions of this or that set of dogmas, some of which are extinct or obsolete as beliefs, while others retain their vitality, held certain general notions which vitiated their conclusions. And in proportion to the eminence of such champions, and the frequency with which their names are appealed to as a bulwark of any particular creed or set of doctrines, is it urgent to show into what obliquities or extravagances or contradictions of thought they have been betrayed.
In summing up the religious history of New England, it would be just and proper to show the agency of the Mathers, father and son, in the witchcraft delusion. It would be quite fair to plead in their behalf the common beliefs of their time. It would be an extenuation of their acts that, not many years before, the great and good magistrate, Sir Matthew Hale, had sanctioned the conviction of prisoners accused of witchcraft. To fall back on the errors of the time is very proper when we are trying our predecessors in foro conscientace: The houses they dwelt in may have had some weak or decayed beams and rafters, but they served for their shelter, at any rate. It is quite another matter when those rotten timbers are used in holding up the roofs over our own heads. Still more, if one of our ancestors built on an unsafe or an unwholesome foundation, the best thing we can do is to leave it and persuade others to leave it if we can. And if we refer to him as a precedent, it must be as a warning and not as a guide.
Such was the reason of the present writer's taking up the writings of Jonathan Edwards for examination in a recent essay. The "Edwardsian" theology is still recognized as a power in and beyond the denomination to which he belonged. One or more churches bear his name, and it is thrown into the scale of theological belief as if it added great strength to the party which claims him. That he was a man of extraordinary endowments and deep spiritual nature was not questioned, nor that he was a most acute reasoner, who could unfold a proposition into its consequences as patiently, as convincingly, as a palaeontologist extorts its confession from a fossil fragment. But it was maintained that so many dehumanizing ideas were mixed up with his conceptions of man, and so many diabolizing attributes embodied in his imagination of the Deity, that his system of beliefs was tainted throughout by them, and that the fact of his being so remarkable a logician recoiled on the premises which pointed his inexorable syllogisms to such revolting conclusions. When he presents us a God, in whose sight children, with certain not too frequent exceptions, "are young vipers, and are infinitely more hateful than vipers;" when he gives the most frightful detailed description of infinite and endless tortures which it drives men and women mad to think of prepared for "the bulk of mankind;" when he cruelly pictures a future in which parents are to sing hallelujahs of praise as they see their children driven into the furnace, where they are to lie "roasting" forever,—we have a right to say that the man who held such beliefs and indulged in such imaginations and expressions is a burden and not a support in reference to the creed with which his name is associated. What heathenism has ever approached the horrors of this conception of human destiny? It is not an abuse of language to apply to such a system of beliefs the name of Christian pessimism.
If these and similar doctrines are so generally discredited as some appear to think, we might expect to see the change showing itself in catechisms and confessions of faith, to hear the joyful news of relief from its horrors in all our churches, and no longer to read in the newspapers of ministers rejected or put on trial for heresy because they could not accept the most dreadful of these doctrines. Whether this be so or not, it must be owned that the name of Jonathan Edwards does at this day carry a certain authority with it for many persons, so that anything he believed gains for them some degree of probability from that circumstance. It would, therefore, be of much interest to know whether he was trustworthy in his theological speculations, and whether he ever changed his belief with reference to any of the great questions above alluded to.
Some of our readers may remember a story which got abroad many years ago that a certain M. Babinet, a scientific Frenchman of note, had predicted a serious accident soon to occur to the planet on which we live by the collision with it of a great comet then approaching us, or some such occurrence. There is no doubt that this prediction produced anxiety and alarm in many timid persons. It became a very interesting question with them who this M. Babinet might be. Was he a sound observer, who had made other observations and predictions which had proved accurate? Or was he one of those men who are always making blunders for other people to correct? Is he known to have changed his opinion as to the approaching disastrous event?
So long as there were any persons made anxious by this prediction, so long as there was even one who believed that he, and his family, and his nation, and his race, and the home of mankind, with all its monuments, were very soon to be smitten in mid-heaven and instantly shivered into fragments, it was very desirable to find any evidence that this prophet of evil was a man who held many extravagant and even monstrous opinions. Still more satisfactory would it be if it could be shown that he had reconsidered his predictions, and declared that he could not abide by his former alarming conclusions. And we should think very ill of any astronomer who would not rejoice for the sake of his fellow-creatures, if not for his own, to find the threatening presage invalidated in either or both of the ways just mentioned, even though he had committed himself to M. Babinet's dire belief.