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I love to steal away from a group of system-worshippers, and commune awhile with some solitary, uncourted being, whose scope of thought is unlimited by any artificial bounds, and the play of whose feelings is as free as the mountain wind. It is like leaving the smoky precincts of a highland hut, on a summer morning, to stand beneath the open sky and look forth upon the hills. There is something as refreshiug to the mind's eye in broad views of life and man, of art and literature, of facts and individuals, of nature and society, as there is to the bodily sense in majestic and boundless scenery. Broad views are characteristic of mental elevation. To the eagle's eye, when he hangs poised among the clouds, a common arena and universal atmosphere blend the aspect of earth and her myriads. By as certain a law, does the human universe present a general and softened picture to the intellect, sublimated by love and enlarged by cul. ture.
It was once my privilege to walk through a renowned repository of art, with a man of genius. I had scrutinized the various objects there preserved with companions of less calibre, who evidently prided themselves upon detecting discrepancies of style and errors of execution. My new cicerone, on the contrary, desiguated beauties in works, which, as wholes, are held in light es. timation, and was continually directing my attention to the lesser excellencies of the more celebrated productions. This was the genuine spirit of noble criticism. Broad views are as naturally taken by gifted men, as limited ones by those of subordinate intelligence. You never hear an ardent lover of art or literature commenting con amore, upon the minor blemishes of a production in which genius is dominant. How do the aspirants for a reputation for gentility err by continually mooting the narrow topic of rank; and how do the would-be critics mistake their vocation by anxiously discussing etymologies ! Broad views are the legitimate result of experience and general knowledge.
The author of some modern farce makes one of his heroes, an accomplished Parisian duellist, console a for. eign coxcomb whom he has challenged, by promising to have him neatly packed up and directed.' Somewhat after this fashion, men appear to be dealt with in society. Because an individual sees fit to connect himself with a certain association, manifest an interest in a specific object, or temporarily display, with more than ordinary force, a particular principle of his nature, he is at once classed, newly baptized with a party name, enrolled, severed by an artificial distinction—in a word, packed
up and directed.' An imaginary badge is affixed to him as significant as the philaetery of the pharisee, the star of courtly honour, or the colored ribbon denoting academic or knightly preferment. To all the general interests and purposes of social life, he is proscribed. The usual method of answering the question, What sort of a person is
?' is to designate the body political, scientific or other. wise, to which the individual is attached. A fashionable votary refers you to the circle,' a religionist to the sect,' and an intellectualist, to the school ;' each packs up and directs’ that most diverse, spontaneous, and free of human results—character, according to his whim.
Classification is doubtless very applicable to minerals and plants, and labels have been found very useful in pharmacy. The inert, unalterable, fixed qualities of matter may be designated by a specific or generic name,
packed up and directed :' but the idea of so disposing of human beings--of indicating the endless modifications of feeling, imagination and thought, by any epithet referring only to opinions, is preposterous in the extreme. We have two brief, but most expressive terms for the two most sublime objects in the universe; we speak of sea and sky; but whoever thinks of taking pro. found cognizance of a particular wave, or devoutly following through the horizon a single, shifting cloud ? We regard the various movements of the deep and the ever changing aspect of the heavens, with perfect confidence that the calm etherial canopy of the one still stretches in beauty above, and the fathomless depths of
the other still sound on their way below. Why should we be less just to man? Why believe that the deep at. tributes, the great elements of his nature, are invaded by the aspects his versatile being presents in a world of circumstances? Why fix our eye upon the temporary wave or the passing cloud, when there is an infinite depth below and a glorious expanse above, which shall endure when the currents of opinion and the breezes of circumstance have died away on an illimitable shore ?
If Madame de Staël did not grievously err in her idea that mankind are never alike but through affectation or design, then this system of classifying is especially unjust, and to form any definite notion of an individual from the party.title affixed to him, is altogether unphilosophical. Yet how perversely we cut ourselves off from society calculated to inspire the deepest interest or to exert a most auspicious influence, by the dominion of some foolish antipathy! Hundreds are avoided or but casually known because they. labor under the imputation of being antiquarians, phrenologists, or littérateurs, as if each and all of these characters might not be cul. tivated without absording humanity! Yet being packed up and directed' under these or equally effective terms, men, ay, and women too, are rendered obnoxious to no small portion of their fellow creatures. Why do you not converse with Miss A—?' I enquired of a very sensible lady at a party the other evening. "Oh, I'm terribly afraid of literary ladies,' she replied, with an ill. suppressed shudder at my suggestion. Now the lady in
question had merely given to the public some lively sketches of common life, such as would have been very appropriate epistolary matter wherewith to entertain an absent friend; and she was in the habit of talking well of every thing in the whole range of topics, except literature, about which she knew and cared no more than was absolutely necessary to vindicate her claims to ordinary cultivation. Yet was she thus unceremoniously packed up' in that peculiarly odious box marked "BLUES.'
This miserable habit of our times is vividly illustrated by the manner in which those next most sacred things to mortals, books are treated. Celsus reprobates the idea of a fixed system of diet, on the ground that men are exposed to every variety of influence and condi. tion of body; and if books have been justly considered as mental food, then may we, on the same ground, advantageously vary our reading. Yet there is scarcely an individual who has not .packed up and directed' numberless works, of the true value of which he is altogether unaware ; packed them up in the iron casket of prejudice, and directed them to the far distant region of neglect.
It is the spirit of the soul's natural piety,' says a British divine, "to alight on whatever is touching or beautiful in every faith, and take thence its secret draught of pure and fresh emotion.' And so is it the spirit of him accustomed to broad views, to recognize man, as such, however artificially displayed, to blot out, at a glance, the label society has attached to