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To the Editors of the Evening Post :
Has draped the woods with yellow leaves ; orated in the heroic song of Homer, and have They told us victory should be won been eagerly caught and honored in every age
Ere Autumn bound her harvest sheaves. by the human heart. They bid us hope, too, Our struggling nation groans and strives ! that the present contest grows, in part, out of
Brave hearts who never knew retreat mutual misapprehension of the spirit of the two sections of the country arrayed Upon her altars lay their lives,
And still our record stands, Defeat. against each other.
The following lines were written by a lady of We give our treasures, silver, gold,
And wealth is poured, a shining flood,
From battle's red baptism of blood. known.
Colonel Mulligan refused his parole at Lex- Yet trail disgraced our Stripes and Stars ! ington, and his wife resolved to share his cap- In vain our heroes strive and die; tivity. Accordingly she left her infant, fourteen Exultant wave the odious bars, months old, in the care of one of the strongest And traitors shout the victor-cry. Becessionist women in the town. That woman assumed the charge of the little child, and We give our gold ! we keep our sin! dressed it in the captured American flag.
We turn the hunted bondman back!
We fast and pray that freedom win,
God calleth such a fast" accursed !”
Strike the bold stroke of duty first, When voice was heard of sore lament,
And trusting, leave results to thee ! A mother o'er her baby bent,
-Independent. And fast the bitter tears were shed That fell upon his little head :
EARL RUSSELL. “Thy father yields his post and sword, But rebels shall not have his 'word;
At grimy Newcastle, the city of coal, In prison rather ling'ring lie,
Where diggers of Wallsend to opulence hasThan yield the right to fight and die !
They think it a capital thing on the whole “And faithful love shall follow there,
To get up a festival sacred to Russell. His hard captivity to share : But thee, my boy ! such fate for thee! In autumn all manner of animals bray hard, Like fettered cherub thus to be!
Just while there's a lull of political bustle,
But, though good on gorillas are Spurgeon and “ To pine in loathsome, poisoned air,
Layard, To dwell in dungeon damp and bare,
You'll admit they are not at all equal to Ras
sell. Oh! better far, for thee, my blest, Beneath the daisied turf to rest.”
Delightful to hear his “tall talk” on Reform
How well he remembers that terrible tussle ! The words her lips are scarcely past, When round her, arms are kindly cast;
He was either the pilot that weathered the
storm, A foeman's wife, with pitying face,
Or the fly on the wheel. Now, which was it, The mother and the child embrace.
Earl Russell ? With glowing cheek, with brimming eyes,
He grieves that America wont take advice, “Give me thy son!” she earnest cries;
Which he's ready to give,—and he fears that “And haste thee! for the moments press
the fuss 'll They spare thee but a brief caress!
End in catastrophes not at all nice,
Unless they will listen to clever Earl Russell. She's gone ! and other care shall shield The all-unconscious happy child;
Let England rejoice, for the “old Russell Who laughs when glitt'ring foemen come,
stump And shouts at roll of hostile drum.
(See the rhymes of Tom Moore) gives us
statesmen of muscle ; But still his friend with instinct true
And no one need care for the future a dnmp Has robed him in his red and blue !
While our Foreign Affairs are directed by And-mantle fit-has o'er him thrown
Russell. The flag 'neath which the boy was born !
From The National Review. would occupy a distinguished rank in any DR. OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES AND literature. American life is essentially pracELSIE VENNER.
tical ; and literature with a bearing on afElsie Venner; a Romance of Destiny. By fairs, has at once scope and stimulus. The
Oliver Wendell Holmes. Cambridge and first business of a young society is to organLondon: Macmillan and Co.
ize itself; the great work of a free and selfIn one of his earlier essays, Mr. Marti- governing society is administration. Studneau illustrates the shadowy and inchoate ies, therefore, which have to do with social perceptions which in many minds supply the organization, and with the institutions and place of fixed and definite convictions, by laws, which are the channels and regulators reference to the stage direction in a certain of social life, will flourish in such a people. German drama, in which Adam is repre- The habits of local self-government which sented as crossing the stage, “ going to be the parish, municipal, state, and federal increated.” We have much the same feeling stitutions of the country foster, afford the in the perusal of many American works. materials and create the necessity of judicial The literature of the United States has as science. Acquaintance with modern politiyet scarcely a substantive existence: it cal life throws essential light upon past polpasses before us“ going to be created.” Its itics, that is, on history, and receives light best works are scarcely more than a promise from it in return. To this circumstance of excellence, the precursors of an advent, probably, acting upon an hereditary characshadows cast before ; and, like most shad- ter formed in the English struggles for freeows, they are too vague and ill-defined, too dom, America owes its really great jurists fluctuating and easily distorted into gro- and its respectable historians, no less than tesque forms, to enable us to discriminate its orators and statesmen. For we must not accurately the shape from which they are allow Polk and Buchanan and Marcy and flung. We speak especially of creative and Cass to lead us into forgetfulness that, at no original literature, of poetry and fiction, of distant date, America had its Clay and Calart in its widest sense, and of criticism which houn and Webster. Oratory, statesmanship, can no more exist apart from the contempo- jurisprudence, and history,—these are the raneous production of great works of art natural product of the action of American than vision can exist without light. Indeed, circumstances and inherited character upon the absence of great critics in America the higher intellect of the nation. The would of itself furnish sufficient indirect strongly marked speculative and religious evidence—if direct evidence were wanting- tendencies of the American mind are in part of the absence of creative literary genius. the contrasted effects of the same cause. According to Dr. Holmes, “ Nature, when The first settlers, Puritans to start with, and she invented, manufactured, and patented thrown face to face with nature and its wonher authors, contrived to make critics out of derful forces, compelled to strive with and the chips that were left.” Authors, there- subdue the forest and the torrent, felt themfore, are the necessary condition of critics. selves very near to God,-startled by his The latter are chips of the same block; and presence. They were religious, as the if the material be sound and good in the mountaineer and sailor, and those who lead one, it will be so also in the other. They a life encompassed by perils and deliverare homoousian, to adopt a theological word. ances, are religious. The same feeling still When criticism is at a low ebb, in any com- characterizes the Western settler. On the munity that has attained the reflective stage, other hand, in the great cities of New Engit is because art is not at a high one. The land and the Northern States, religion is a stream cannot ascend higher than its source. relief sought from the wearing monotony In other departments than the belles lettres, of business, or a counter-excitement against American literature shows to less disadvan- its excitements. Where religion is, philosotage. In law, in history, in divinity, in even phy, in some form or other, is sure to be ; speculation, she occupies a respectable place. just as where art is, we shall find, when the The names of Kent and Story and Wheaton, first stage of instinctive creation is past, of Prescott, Bancroft, and Motley, of Chan- criticism. Philosophy, indeed, is the crining and Parker, of Bushnell and Emerson, tique of religion. Both are engaged on the same transcendent themes, before which the more say, “Go to; I will make a great one bows down in reverent humility, ex- poem, or fiction, or painting,” than he can claiming, “ Such knowledge is too wonder- say, “Go to; I will make a religion." ful for me," while the other seeks with not Leisure and tranquil contemplation are esless reverence, to know. Speculation and sential ; and it is for these that American worship have alike their origin in won- life affords the least scope. Nor does the der, exciting awe and stimulating curiosity. country possess those associations on which The cherubim and the seraphim render their the imagination loves to feed. As Dr. differing homage to Him who, while He is Wendell Holmes himself more than half Love, is also Light in which there is no dark- hints, the “common New England life " is a ness.
“ lean, impoverished life, in distinction from These causes, which have naturally and a rich and suggestive one.” “There is no obviously given Americans an honorable sufficient ilavor of humanity in the soil out place in law, in oratory, and in history, and of which we grow." What America has of which have as naturally, though not so ob- romantic interest runs back to other and viously, conspired, with the accidents of in- perishing races. With a single illustrious dividual genius, in the production among exception, the only fictions which are indigher of great divines and acute and original inous to the country, which are in any sense thinkers--the causes which have so operated racy of the soil, are Cooper's stories of the have been fatal, or at least have militated red men. The only poem of which the against the growth of imaginative literature same can be predicated, with any plausibilof the brightest order. That the poet is ity even, is Longfellow's Hiawatha. They born, and not made, is, as it is commonly confirm what we have said ; for though these understood, a far more questionable saying stories and the poem are American in scenthan that poetry grows, and is not made. It ery and incident, they are American in the is a spontaneous product, requiring, indeed, ethnologist's sense, and not Anglo-American. pruning and culture, not a manufacture. They might have been written on either side The hurry and bustle in which the Ameri- of the Great Lakes. Once clear of the cans, as a nation, live, the rough conflict hunting-grounds and the wigwam, Mr. with outward things in which, of necessity, Cooper sinks to the level of Mr. G. P. R. they are engaged, do not allow them to wait James as an imitator of Scott; and Mr. for the germination and unfolding of those Longfellow-we will not say to that of Dr. seeds of thought from which every great Charles Mackay—but to that of an ingenious imaginative work must spring. The ground experimenter in verse, filled with graceful must lie fallow to be productive, and the European culture, and fresh from the EuroAmericans never let their ground lie fallow. pean schools. The greatest of American A poetic conception must have lain long in novelists-Nathaniel Hawthorne-confesses, the mind before it develops its own intrinsic or rather complains, that America will not character, and surrounds itself with suita- grow romances. He feels or fancies himself ble external relations. It is first there as a obliged to transport even his fertile genius faint suggestion of a truth in, or soon as- to a foreign soil, before it will bring forth suming, symbolic form,-parable, allegory, its maturest fruit. He may indeed be cited narrative,-surrounding itself, by a sort of against his own theory. The Scarlet Letter, elective affinity of ideas, with appropriate The House with Seven Gables, The Blytheimagery, circumstances, and action. The dale Romance rise up in protest against his thought and its outward shape grow together: doctrine. But Mr. Hawthorne is the prothey are one and inseparable; the idea being verbial “one swallow." He is the solitary apprehended only as it slowly bodies itself exception to his own rule ; and he may very forth, and then only complete when its outer well, under the circumstances, stand excused habitation is complete. For this, as for all for having, with characteristic modesty, things which involve the operation of facul- overlooked that exception. The only other ties in a great degree independent of the illustrious name which could be appealed will, time is necessary. Pressure cannot be to against us is that of Washington Irving. put on to hasten the work. Hence it is that But Washington Irving was not an Ameria man, even of the highest faculties, can no can. We admit that, by an accident which
we cannot account for, and for which we are few cultivated English readers to whom The not responsible, he was born in America. Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table requires an He was really, however, an Englishman; introduction. The book so named, with its and not even a modern Englishman, but an successor, The Professor at the BreakfastEnglishman of the time of Queen Anne, a Table, has been widely read and much adcontemporary of Addison and Steele; and mired in this country. They have, we bein tastes, culture, and style, belongs to the lieve, achieved an unbounded popularity at Kit-Cat Club. In poetry, the case is even home, not without reason. Dr. Holmes is
The names of Longfellow, Bryant, indisputably and above all an entertaining Lowell, and Whittier, bring to our minds writer. He thinks, and he can express his much touching or generous sentiment, and thought articulately. He flashes upon you satiric or fantastic humor, clothed in fitting an ingenious suggestion, or a whimsical parverse; but they only prove that America as adox, clothed in fantastic guise, and without yet caret vate sacro. Edgar Allan Poe, in- giving you time to pause upon the truth it finitely lower in many respects, exceeds contains, or to reflect even whether what them all in intensity, and makes the nearest seems so plausible is true presents you with approach to genius. The truth is, tha another and another in endless sequence. American literature, apart from that of Eng- The general effect is somewhat kaleidoscopic. land, has no separate existence; any more It suits, we suppose, the rapid hurry of the than Belgian or Swiss literature has a sepa- American mind, which cannot delay upon rate existence as distinguished from that of anything, but which glances quickly over a France. The United States have yet to sign thousand things ; which is curious, but has their intellectual Declaration of Indepen- its curiosity easily sated; which propounds dence. They are mentally still only a prov- countless questions, and is contented with ince of this country. They import their lit- the first plausible reply. Another source of erature ready made. Any one who will look Dr. Holmes' American popularity lies, no at the columns of almost any American doubt, in the circumstance that he is a man newspaper will see how completely this is of varied culture, accomplished in no ordithe case. The stories of Bulwer and Dick- nary degree; and that he addresses a peoens, of Thackeray and Trollope, even of the ple among whom a certain low average of thrilling authors who supply the London education is universal, but among whom a Journal or Family Herald with its weekly high order of cultivation is rare. His writbanquet of horrors, fill the broadsheets of ings abound in pleasant hints, stimulative to the United States. This circumstance co-curiosity, of regions of thought and literaoperates with the others which we have de- ture into which his readers have never penscribed to depress home talent. The mar- etrated; and they agreeably enlarge, though ket is glutted with better and cheaper (be- by fitful glimpses, which rapidly close in, the cause stolen) articles from abroad. In the mental horizon of the great body of subscribend, however, honesty would be the better ers to the Atlantic Monthly. But though policy. In literature, the principle of pro- enriched with European culture, Dr. Holmes tection to native industry has a proper appli- is essentially an American. Rub the varcation. A law of international copyright nish off the Russian, and the Tartar is seen would do something to give America a na- beneath. There is the exaggerated provintional literature, the natural outcome and cialism of sentiment, the confusion of extent feeder of a vigorous national life.
of territory with national greatness, of demBefore speaking briefly of the work which ocratic equality with personal freedom, which is named at the head of this article, we must characterize the typical American. There say a few words of Dr. Holmes himself
. If, are few Englishmen who will be able to read as some advocates of the doctrine of hered- such passages as the following without a itary transmission maintain, it is impossible smile. The professor speaks at the breakto understand a man without having known fast-table. his ancestors up, at least, to the second gen
“A young fellow, born of good stock, in eration backwards, it is impossible thor- one of the more thoroughly civilized portions oughly to appreciate a work of art without of these United States of America, bred in knowing something of the artist. There are good principles, inheriting a social position which makes him at his ease everywhere, plosive steamboats, and a vast territory to means sufficient to educate him thoroughly traverse in these insecure conveyances. We without taking away the stimulus to vigorous may also grant that his “chief danger," as exertion, and with good opening in some with all half-educated persons, lies in that honorable path of labor, is the finest sight boastful self-exaggeration, which is the reour private satellite has had the of inspecting on the planet to which she be sult of complete ignorance, or only superfilongs.'
cial knowledge of past history and foreign After pointing out the great superiority of lands. But we deny the justice of the adthe young American over the young Greek, vantage attributed to America in the followmuch in the spirit in which Mr. Hannibal ing passage :Chollop combated the assertion of the Spar- « • I doubt if we have more practical freetan Portico (a tri-weekly journal) that the dom in America than they have in England,' ancient Athenians went ahead of the
I said. • An Englishman thinks as he likes ent Loco-foco Ticket, Dr. Holmes proceeds in religion and politics. Mr. Martineau specwith almost lyrical enthusiasm :
, and Mr. Bright is as independent as Mr. “ Never since man came into this atmos- Seward.' phere of oxygen and azote was there anything “Sir,' said he, it isn't what a man thinks like the condition of the young American of or says, but when and where and to whom the nineteenth century. Having in posses- he thinks and says it. A man with a flint sion, or in prospect, the best part of half a and steel striking sparks over a wet blanket world, with all its climates and soils to choose is one thing, and striking them over a tinderfrom ; equipped with wings of fire and smoke box is another. The free Englishman is born that fly with him day and night, so that he under protest; he lives and dies under procounts his journey, not in miles, but in de- test,--tolerated but not a welcome fact. grees, and sees the seasons change as the Is not freethinker a term of reproach in Engwild fowl sees them in his annual flight; land ? The same idea in the soul of an Engwith huge leviathans always ready to také lishman, who struggled up to it and still holds him on their broad backs, and push behind it antagonistically, and in the soul of an them with their pectoral or caudal fins the American to whom it is congenital and sponwaters that seam the continent or separate taneous, and often unrecognized save as an the hemispheres ; heir of all old civiliza- element blended with all his thoughts,-a tions, founder of that new one which, if all natural movement like the drawings of his the prophecies of the human heart are not breath, or the beatings of his heart,-is a lies, is to be the noblest as it is to be the last; very different thing.' isolated in space as from the races that are governed by dynasties whose divine right
A quasi-conservative like Mr. Seward is grows out of human wrong, yet knit into the certainly not an appropriate parallel to Mr. most absolute solidarity with mankind of all Bright. Mr. Sumner would be more to the times and places by the one great thought point. If Mr. Bright, after one of his tirades he inherits as his national birthright; free against the aristocracy in the House of Comto form and express his opinions on almost * every subject, and assured that he will soon mons, were smitten down from behind with acquire the last franchise which men with
a leaded cane,—say by Lord John Manners, hold
from men,—that of stating the laws of —we might admit that liberty of speech in his Spiritual Being, and the beliefs he ac- England and America were on the same level. cepts without hindrance, except from clearer Mr. Martineau speculates a great deal more views of truth,-he seems to want nothing freely than ever Dr. Channing did. To step for a large, wholesome, noble, beneficent life. outside the recognized sects, we doubt whethIn fact, the chief danger is that he will think the whole planet is made for him, and forget that same complication of petty annoyances
er Professor Newman has ever experienced that there are some possibilities left in the débris of the Old-World civilization which and persecutions which Theodore Parker dedeserve a respectful treatment at his hands.” scribes in the sermons in which he gives We grant the young American “ the wings against himself in that ougaads vîs, that centre
“Some Account of his Ministry," as directed of fire and smoke" and "huge leviathans" with “ broad backs” and “ pectoral or cau- oake, on the whole, has had an easier time of it
of the universe, Boston, Mass. Mr. Holydal fins,"—that is, ill-made railroads and ex- than Elijah Lovejoy. The two thinkers who * The italics are our own.
have most widely influenced cultivated Eng.