« 이전계속 »
literature, there arose also the spirit of historical and philosophical criticism, which has been the theme of this paper and which has largely contributed to the many sided, and in general, the elevated literature of the present generation. Of this literature we need not write, for to attempt to characterize it would lead us beyond our limits.
This English literature is our heritage, and to study it should be our delight and occupation. That it may be a delight, it must be, in some sense, an occupation. If we are to judge of it in a truly critical :-pirit,—if we are to understand historically its authors and the times in which they lived—if we are to judge of it philosophically, and to read intelligently its graver writers of the past, or the more novel and fresher of the present,—we must read it earnestly and comprehensively; we must make it our study—not a study that is painful or repulsive—but one that is patient, systematic, and earnest.
English literature when once it has become a familiar field of intelligent study, brings this advantage, that it is a field which the student will never be able and never will desire to desert. To him who has learned to read aright, every week will bring some fresh tale, or poem, or essay, or history; every season will introduce some fresh author, who summons the reader to a new feast of delight, which will be none the less keenly enjoyed, because it is enjoyed with a chastened taste, and is judged with critical appreciation. All the life-long, amid its cares and its sorrows, its employments and its leisure, there will be at hand a capacity and a taste for these satisfying and elevating pleasures,—which instruct while they delight,— which lead us upwards to heaven, while they make us content with the earth. No class of habits that are purely intellectual can possibly enter so largely into our happiness for life, as those habits of reading with discrimination and with ardor, which are formed by abundant studies in the history and criticism of English literature.
Article VIII.—NOTICES OF NEW BOOKS.
THEOLOGICAL AND RELIGIOUS.
The End Of The World, And The Day Of Judgment.*—We are informed that some two thousand, more or less, of our fellowbeings, of fair average intellect, are accustomed to attend upon the weekly ministrations of Rev. William Rounseville Alger. In order that outsiders, who do not attend upon those ministrations, may not be at disadvantage with these two thousand select, progressive souls, on the two subjects, The End of the World, and The Day of Judgment, we give in brief the doctrine of the above discourses.
Our preacher affirms that the notion of the End of the World is a vulgar, traditional superstition, common to all nations— Hindus, Polynesians, Greeks, Scandinavians, and Persians, included.
Then comes a portrayal of the Hebrew scenic Eschatology, treated with that high local coloring peculiar to certain advanced artists at the " Hub," and closing with the inquiry and conclusion, "Is there any more reason for believing this doctrine, than for believing other kindred schemes? No! not a whit."
Next follows a comparison of the ecclesiastical and scientific doctriues of the End of the World, and we learn that both are objectionable, the scientific being the least so, because, as our preacher naively remarks, "we can contemplate the scientific prophecy of the End of the World with a peace of mind which the traditional prophecy does not permit;" aud, he adds, "We shrink in fright from the wrath and power of the personal Judge, the inexorable Foe of the Wicked," which constitutes the principle objection, in the mind of the preacher, to the ecclesiastical doctrine.
The scientific End of the World may be contemplated with calmness, because, in the first place, it is extremely doubtful whether it will ever occur at all. "A billion of centuries hence," says our preacher, "the world may, perhaps, come to an end," and then, on the other hand, it may not, but if it does, we are not left wholly at a loss even in that contingency. Collective Humanity and Science combined may ward off the fatal crisis.
* The End of the World, and the Day of Judgment. Two Discourses prcnched to the Music Hall Society by their Minister, the Rev. William Rounskvillk Alov.ii. Published by request. Boston: Roberts Brothers. 1870.
We quote:—" A brilliant French writer has suggested that even if the natural course of evolution does of itself necessitate the final destruction of the world, yet our race, judging from the magnificent achievements of science and art already reached, may, within ten thousand centuries, which will be long before the foreseen end approaches, obtain such a knowledge and control of the forces of nature, as to make collective humanity master of this planet, able to shape and guide its tendencies, ward off every fatal crisis, and perfect and immortalize the system as now sustained. It is an audacious fancy. But like many other incredible conceptions which have forerun their own still more incredible fulfillment, the very thought electrifies us with hope and courage."
Is the brain of Boston softening?
The conclusion from the preceding "investigation," as our preacher terms it, is "that the world is to last, and our race to flourish on it, virtually forever."
We have then a discourse upon The Day of Judgment, wherein that "catastrophic myth" is treated with the same warm, local coloring, although the execution might be characterized, in high art, as "spotty." The doctrine, so far as it hangs together at all, may be set forth in the preacher's illustration of the orthodox view. Here it is:
"The Judge will say to the orthodox on his right, 'You may have been impure and cruel,—lied, cheated, hated your neighbor, rolled in vice and crime, —but you have believed in me, in my divinity; therefore, come ye blessed, inherit my kingdom.' To the heretical on his left he will say, 'You may have been pure and kind,—sought the truth, self-sacrificingly served your fellow men, fulfilled every moral duty in your power,—but you have not believed in me, in my deity, and my blood; therefore, depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.'"
But the chief folly of the orthodox is in believing in any judgment of the wicked at all. "It is," says the preacher, "a direct transference into the Godhead of the most egotistical and hateful feelings of a bad man. No good man, who had been ever so grossly misconceived, vilified, and wronged, if he saw his enemies prostrate in submissive terror at his feet, perfectly powerless before his authority, could bear to trample on them and wreak vengeance on them. He would say, 'Unhappy ones, fear not; you have misunderstood me; I will not injure you; if there be any favor which I can bestow on you, freely take it.' And is it not an incredible blasphemy to deny to the deified Christ a magnanimity equal to that. which any good man would exhibit?"
The doctrine of the preacher would rather require the Judge should say to the heretical on his right,—" You may have been pure and kind, sought the truth, self-sacrificingly served your fellow-men, fulfilled every moral duty in your power,—but you are not one whit better off than our friends of the left wing."
To the orthodox on his left he should say,—" You may have been impure and cruel,—lied, cheated, hated your neighbor, rolled in vice and crime,—but, unhappy ones, fear not; you have misunderstood me; I will not injure you; if there be any favor which I can bestow on you, freely take it."
The above is a true bill of the whole doctrine; and the discourse ends in a grand feu dejoie over the disappeaiance of these dreadful incubi which have so long sat upon the breast of man.
"Away, then, monstrous horrors, bred in the night of the past!" exclaims our preacher, "The cock-crow of reason has been heard, and it is time ye were gone."
Sage of Concord thou hast triumphed !—Cast thy bread upon the waters and thou shalt find it after many days. See first the blade, then the ear, and, last of all, the full corn in the ear, of that little germ thou didst cast upon the waters a quarter of a century ago.
"Man, though in brothelt, orjailt,
He that goeth forth weeping, and bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
Origin And Development Of Religious Belief.*—The author, in his preface to this book, affirms his aim to be "an attempt on purely positive grounds, to determine the religious instincts of humanity;" his "purely positive ground" being Comparative Anatomy, out of which he proposes to develop a "Comparative Theology."
* Origin and Development of Religious Belief. By S. Bahino Gould, M. A. Parti. Heathenism and Mosaiam. New York: D. Appleton A Co. 1870. VOL. IXTX. 21
According to our author, the absorption of force and matter through the assimilation of food, and their after liberation by the human organism, develops a variety of results. This resultant variety is effected through the polarity of the spinal column, the structure of man being axial, one end in the stomach producing vitality, the other through the oxidation of the gray matter of the cerebrum, ideas, and in the cerebellum, religion. Here is his statement of the province of religion:
"To coordinate the mind and the sentiment, to unite subjectivity and objectivity in a common work, to develop equally and harmoniously the cerebrum and the sensory ganglionic tract, and to subordinate to the domination of the reason and the feelings, acting conjointly, the actions of the body—this is what religion undertakes to perform.
"Philosophy, the cultivation of logic, the abstract sciences tend to raise the pitch of the intelligence.
"Solidarity, politics, social life, give tone to the feelings; but religion claims as its special prerogative to develop equally and justly both the mind and the affections, to hold the balance between reason and sentiment, to direct the spontaneous life-force to the development and oxidation of cerebric and sensory tissue."
In this mode of treatment all mental and moral ideas and emotions and esthetical precepts are simply resolutions and transformations of mechanical forces. It may be interesting to know the physical result of the contemplation of a great work of art by a connoisseur. V\ e quote:
"The perception of pleasure or pain is a resolution of force. This is evident in the life of the animal. Where there is no pleasurable or painful sensation, there is no arrest and disintegration of force. A. clown placed before a painting by Raphael, is insensible to its beaut;. The waves of light pass through his brain as through a sheet of clear glass. But a connoisseur before it is sensible of delight, because the pulsations of light are stopped and resolved in his mind, which, like a convex mirror, focuses and refracts the force, and like a lens resolves it. The formation of an idea, as has already been said, is au assimilation and alteration of force, and a stream of ideas passing through the brain leaves evidence of its material action in the excretion of alkaline phosphates by the kid neys. The resolution of muscle, on the contrary, produces lithates."
Out of his physical structure of man, our author proceeds to develop the religious instincts of humanity, returning ever to the "wild bog of savageism " for the springs of religious thought. Many of his discussions and comparisons are interesting, and not without value. The fundamental difficulty is the subject matter