« AnteriorContinuar »
spot in the middle of a crowded aisle – 'cabined, cribbed, confined, bound in' - with the thermometer at ninety. When once fully engrossed with his subject, (the progress and effects of the Christian faith, and the arguments in favor of its promulgation) every eye in the congregation was upon the speaker, and each heart beat quicker, as the glowing thoughts dropped from his tongue. His similes are vivid and striking, to a degree; his impressions of nature, and the comparisons which he draws from her external aspects, are not minute and in detail. They are upon a noble scale — 'taking in whole continents and seas.' Such was the character of that portion of his discourse, wherein he spake of the past ages, to whom the great volume of nature was a sealed book; who saw no God in the works of his hand; who could read the starry rhythm of the lieavens, survey the towering mountains, the rivers sweeping to the main ; who could hear the roar of the great ocean, and the far-sounding cataract, and see in all these no evidences of the Power who spake, and they existed. He was scarccly less effec. tive, in describing the origin and spread of the Christian faith. The good seed had been sown, and for eighteen hundred years it had, in one way or another, been producing fruit. The germ expanded, and the tree had arisen and spread, until the nations of the world sat under its branches. Efforts had often been made to root it out, and to destroy it. The lightnings of persecution had scathed it — the axe of the wicked had sought to lop its boughs — the wild boar of the forest had whetted its tusk against its time-worn trunk — yet still, in living green, it spread its inviting arms abroad, every where overshadowing evil with good. Kingdom aster kingdom had arisen, flourished, and fallen. The wrecks of dead empires — the long labors of emperors and kings, of principalities and powers — had passed away on that deluge-flood of earthly grandeur, ever rolling onward to the ocean of eternity; yet still afar widened the blessings of christianity. Like the beams of the sun, each ray had radiated in separate streams of light; but they were soon swallowed up in one glad effulgence, blessing all upon whom it fell, even as the common light of heaven. These remembrances can afford the reader little save a faint idea of the general character of one or two of his positions and illustrations. The nervous style, the appropriate gesture, the beaming eye, may be imagined, but must be seen to be realized. The very hesitation, which our orator occasionally manifests, in making a selection from thoughts which are pressing for utterance, is in itself an essential feature of eloquence; for when the key-word unlocks the treasure, the intellectual flood rolls on with a resistless force, the greater from having been pent up and kept back; while the speaker's language illustrates and adorns his thoughts, 'as light, streaming through colored glass, heightens the object it falls upon.' Such are our impressions of the pulpit efforts of Mr. Bascom; and we belive them to be faithful counterparts of those entertained by all who heard the discourse to which we have alluded. On a subsequent occasion, at the Broadway Tabernacle, he was less successful — and no marvel. He was placed before an immense auditory, as a clerical lion of the west,' of whom wonders were anticipated, and he was to roar by contract, at so much a head, from his hearers. This was 'doing evil that good might come,' beside being in very bad taste ; and the result, so far as the speaker was concerned, was a perfectly natural one. We had intended, in this connection, to have spoken of the Rev. Mr. Taylor, of the Seamen’s Bethel, Boston, who is celebrated for a species of effective pulpit eloquence; but our limits will only permit us to say, that in our judgment, as well as in that of many of his friends and fellow Christians, he greatly diminishes his usefulness, by a certain air of unique drollery, vasily amusing, indeed, but inappropriate, as it seems to us, to the sacred desk. One can scarcely think that preacher in earnest, who seeks occasion to be facetious, in reasoning of 'righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come.' We may refer to the subject of pulpit eloquence, in other points of view, at no distant day; and in the mean time we invite our correspondents to aid us, by such suggestions, or brief examples, as may serve to illustrate the importance of, or exhibit the varieties embraced in, the general theme.
A SECOND LEAP FROM OUR NOTE-Book. — Let us hope that those who have approved of the 'sample' we have already furnished -- if happily any such there are- of what may be anticipated from our unpremeditated note-book extracts, will manifest some little enterprise, and take the lot,' for better or for worse.
Some months since, to fill up a vacant space in a waiting 'form,' we threw off a hurried paragraph of 'MATHEWSIANA,' touching that fine actor's impression of how long it generally took to 'do things' in this country. Since that fragment has been honored with a wide circulation abroad, and has come back upon, and is now going the rounds of, the American newspaper press, we will proceed to sketch another, 'in about twenty minutes. During Mathews' last visit to this country, he was for the most part, in ill health. Aches and pains, incident to his years, together with an exquisitely nervous temperament, kept bim a good portion of the time in hot water. His manner, at such periods, was querulous in the extreme. Every trifling annoyance was construed into a personal affront, or intentional persecution. The courteous and accomplished chief of the Tremont House, at Boston, was called in hot haste to his apartment, late of a dull March afternoon — the wind east. He found the inimitable mime limping about the room, in a state of great agitation. 'Mr. S-' said he, 'I'm a miserable dog. You know it - every body knows it. Nerves out of order'-—- here he described a semicircle with his game leg, and drew down the sloping corner of his mouth -nobody thinks any thing of annoying poor Mathews. Look here - look there -- THERE!' he conunued, as he drew his companion to the window, and pointed to a servant, who was cracking walnuts for the next day's dessert, in the court-yard. “There's a fellow for you! 'Click! click!' for an hour together, and looking up to me, (miserable dog!) with that infernal grin. There — there he goes again! An explanation followed, the servant was ordered away, and the excited drôle became comparatively calm. But hardly had Mr. S-reached the 'office,' before he was again violently recalled. Some one had entered the house by the private entrance, and by a slight rap or two at the door of a neighboring room, was 'pulling the wires' of the unstrung actor's nervous system. This time, it was with much difficulty that he could be pacified. From divers indige nous annoyances, he finally widened to the people in general' of this country. 'Every body delights to vex me,' said he every body. Sometimes I'm bored to death with impertinent questions; and then again I can't get more than a word from any body, and that always of the shortest. I asked a passenger at table, on board the steamer, coming on, what I should carve for him, (we had waited 'twenty minutes' for a servant,) from two meats before me, but beyond his reach. 'Mutton!' said he. What shall I give you, Sir ?' said I, to his neighbor. 'Beef!' was the reply, sent to me like a projectile. 'Just reach me that salt,' said the taciturn fellow to a man opposite. "There's salt by you, he replied. 'I did n't see it’ rejoined the other. "Who said you did ? answered the amiable gourmand, keeping his eye on a plate of green peas, and exclaiming, at the same time, to a man near him, who was ' looking out for number one,' 'Halves, Mister! - halves! 'f you please!' When they had nearly bolted their meal, (you eat like pigs in America,) I ventured to observe to the first specimen, the weather behaving ridiculous, that it was getting roughish. 'Humph!' said he. I repeated the remark. Humph!' again. "Do n't you think the weather rather roughish ?' I perseveringly inquired of his grum counterpart. I leave it entirely to you!' said he, picking his teeth with an iron fork, and rising from the table. They call the Americans a ciril people" continued Mathews, in the very tone of 'Mr. Samuel Coddle,' complaining of the wind whistling round his 'corner house ;' 'civil! — well, sometimes they are. Then they are bores. But generally, the Yankees are as short as a ship-biscuit. One night last week, I said to a man in New York, as I was groping along somewhere near my lodgings- (no lights— lamps half out — could n't find the way)— 'Friend, I wish to go to Murray-street.' 'Well,' said ke, taking a long, ill-Aavored cigar from hig
mouth, (nine inches long, and nine for a penny,)' well, why in h-11 do n't you go to Murray-street ? -- nobody hinders you!' That now was polite! Ask a Frenchman what's o'clock, and he answers: 'Half past nine - much obliged to you.' There's a contrast for you! And thus the irritable comedian ran on, until Mr. S grew a-weary, when he paused, as we do, and his auditor escaped - like the reader.
That was a beautiful picture, which we recently heard painted by an eloquent clergyman, of the revelation of God in childhood. 'Look,' said he, in substance, ‘at that revelation, in the first opening form of humanity; at that infant being — that childangel; all innocency, gladness, loveliness. There it is, quite helpless, and almost unconscious; and yet it filleth the whole dwelling, to the very roof-tree, with music and joy. No toy for childhood like that; no treasure for parental affection - no treasure of wishes, like that. There it lies, in the narrow space of an infant's cradle, and yet it filleth the whole house with its presence. There is resort to it, from time to time, as if it were something enshrined. Childhood, and age, and manly hope, and matronly beauty, bend over it. I could almost fancy,' added the speaker, 'it were in worship at that fair, pure shrine of the all-creating goodness.' We could not but think, as we heard these admirable and touching sentences, and saw the warm tear start to the eyes of a bereaved young mother, sitting near us, of the Roman line, 'Quam Deus amat, moritur adolescens ;' and of that kindred thought of BULWER: "Why mourn for the young? Better that the light cloud should fade away in the morning's breath, than travel through the weary day, to gather in darkness, and end in storm.' Who should lament, when 'child-angels' are taken from the evil to come,' and translated from their infant cradles to heaven?
Where, with day-beams round them playing,
They their Father's face shall see,
Little children, come to me!''
The toils, the trials, the pains, of a long life, often find their end only in a larger coffin – that cradle in which our second childhood is rocked to sleep. How much truth is conveyed in that simple stanza, carved by a fond parent upon the humble head-stone of his child's grave:
He tasted of life's bitter cup,
What strange ideas of poetry and imagination some people have! While a certain matter-of-fact class contemn them, because they cannot be sold by the bale, or bought by the cargo, and counted as so much immediately convertible merchandise, another class deem them commodities of easy acquisition, and only to be called for, to be 'constantly on hand.' 'Come, Mr. -, said a simple, but very romantic young woman, to a poetical friend of ours, not long since, 'won't you sit down now, and write a nice piece of poetry? Do! I should so like to see you make a sweet-pretty piece, right out o' your head! My cousin saw Mr. M — make a very handsome piece, one night. He did it amazingly quick. Come! — do make me some!' This young person was akin to the ‘literary young lady,' so well described in 'The Young Ladies' Book,' who kept a small collection of hand-writings, and three or four old half-pence, which she called her 'coins,' and who addressed a male friend, whom she was 'button-holding' from dinner, 'Do n't you remember that you promised to write down for me, in this album, one of your poetical effusions? Sit down, there's a good man. Here's the pen, and every thing. You need ’nt fill more than four pages, but mind you write clear! This may seem exaggerated; but we purpose, ere long, to endeavor to amuse the reader with a portraiture of character in this kind, which we can aver to be by no means a 'fancy sketch.'
Reader, were you ever wakened, in the small hours of the morning, by a confused din of instruments and voices – all cracked ? If so, you know how to commiserate that penurious English nobleman, who, in desperation, threw a sixpence to an organ-grinder and his vocal spouse, under his window, and bade them pass on, in God's name. We never goes on, short of a shillin'!' was the consoling reply, and they continued to grind and squall, until the remaining sixpence was extracted. What a bore it is, to be sure, a bald, unripe serenade! But the operators in these entertainments are not always at ease, in pursuing their melodious avocations, as a short story, which we have from 'a friend in the service,' will show. We suspect it must have been related of midshipman 'Dandy Pof whom our agreeable correspondent speaks, in his 'Log-Book,' who acquired the guitar, (after incessant study, having no native talent for music,) sufficiently to accompany his cracked voice, when he would 'execute' solo serenades, and roll up his eyes“ like a duck in a thunder-storm,' under any pretty damsel's window. One charming moonlight night, our naval exquisite left the ship, then anchored in a South-American port, to serenade a lovely brunette, whom he had repeatedly seen on shore, and whom he already fancied to be one of his numerous conquests. Dressed like a gay cavalier, and accompanied by an honest tar, he 'sought the maiden's lattice,' and underneath it began to ply his lungs, and the strings of his instrument. But he had been on double duty for the two previous nights, and notwithstanding the fire which burned in his bosom, his voice gradually died away, and the serenader was presently fast asleep. At this juncture, the lattice opened, and a plump female head and shoulders looked out, as if reconnoitering the premises below. That promising artist, Hooper, has well represented this scene, in the accompanying engraving from a clever sketch by G. L. Brown. Jack, who was waiting at a little distance for his officer, began to grow tired of the sport, when the lattice again suddenly opened, and down came a terrent of water upon the head of the 'sleeping beauty,' followed with a request from the young lady's maid, that the romantic recumbent would take himself away. 'If there was n't a whole hogshead,' said Jack, as he encountered the drenched hero, 'I'll be d-d! The musical midshipman related, subsequently, that he was dreaming of standing on the spouting horn,' at Koloa, one of the Sandwich Islands, at which his ship had touched, where the waves roll into an awful cavern, and find their only escape through a narrow fissure of the rock, rising to the height of sixty or seventy feet, and falling in sheets of spray and foam, with the noise of thunder. Under this flood he stood in fancy, and when he awoke, he nothing doubted that it was reality, and no vision. But his dream was ended; and this was his last serenade.
War, so long the favorite amusement, and often the sole employment of men, has been for many years gradually growing unpopular. Peace societies are not alone of the opinion, that
• Too long at clash of arms, amid her bowers,
And pools of blood, the earth hath stood aghast.' NAPOLEON, were he to revisit now the glimpses of the moon, would find his occupation, and a good deal of his reputation, gone. He has strutted his hour upon the stage, where he was once 'accounted a very great actor.' True, the tragedies in which he performed, were got up in stupendous style, 'with music of cannon volleys, and the murder-shrieks of a world; his stage-lights were the fires of conflagration; his rhyme and recitative were the tramp of embattled hosts, and the sound of falling cities.' Whole hecatombs of men whiten the gray sands of Egypt, bleach in the snows of Russia, or are garnered on the plains of Italy, who assisted, as nameless and fameless supernumeraries, in his renowned performances. Ah, reader! did you ever consider what was the net purport and upshot of war? Let that imaginary German, (whom once, we confess it with shame-facedness, we condemned before we understood,) paint you the picture :
"To my own knowledge, there dwell and toil, in the British village of Dumdrudge, usually some five hundred souls. From these, by certain natural enemies' of the French, there are successively selected, during the French war, say thirty able-bodied men. Dumdrudge, at her own expense, has suckled and nursed them; she has, not without difficulty and sorrow, fed them up to manhood, and even trained them to crafts, so that one can
weave, another build, another hammer, and the weakest can stand under thirty stone avoidupois. Nevertheless, amid much weeping and swearing, they are selected; all dressed in red, and shipped away, at the public charges, some two thousand miles, or say only to the south of Spain; and fed there till wanted. And now, to that same spot in the south of Spain, are thirty similar French artisans, from a French Dumdrudge, in like manner wending i till at length, after infinite effort, the two parties come into actual juxta-position; and thirty stands fronting thirty, each with a gun in his hand. Straightway the word ' Fire! is given; and they blow the souls out of one another; and in place of sixty brisk, useful craftsmen, the world has sixty dead carcasses, (shells of men, out of which all the life and virtue has been blown,) which it must bury, and anew shed tears for. Had these men any quarrel ? Busy as the devil is, not the smallest! They lived far enough apart ; were the entirest strangers; nay, in so wide a universe, there was even, unconsciously, by commerce, some mutual helpfulness between them. How then? Simpleton! their governors had fallen out ; and, instead of shooting one another, had the cunning to make these poor blockheads shoot.'
Turn from this sketch, to the falling-out governor a BONAPARTE, perchance, luxuriating in his warm bath in Italy, and there, by a word, giving orders to force a distant march, wherein the foot are directed to be driven forward by the horse with such cruel violence, that thousands perish by the way! Or look back upon the desolate track the army has traversed, and pause at the hospitals, where the numbers of the wounded render assistance impracticable; where novices in surgery serve the apprenticeship of their art amidst hurry and interruption, and the agonizing cries of their suffering patients. All these, as well as the envied dead, who, by a happier fate, were sent suddenly into eternity, are linked by ties of affection to hearts which as yet know not their own bitterness!
One morning, during the 'rabid stage' of the late 'pressure,' while looking over some new publications, in the fashionable magasin of one skilled in bibliography, there enters us a middle-aged specimen of humanity, who from crown to heel bore the marks of a decayed gentleman. He looked as if he had been 'spending the night in a stablo, and taking his breakfast at a pump.' 'Sir,' said he, bowing condescendingly to the shopman, and speaking with studied precision of diction, 'you see before you an unfortunate individual; one who, as the poet remarks, is greatly
in want of ready rhino, Like many hereabout that you,
And some perhaps that I, know!' Permit me, therefore, my dear Sir, to ask, could you oblige me with the loan of a fip? 'No Sir, I could not ! replied the shopman, sarcastically.' 'Ah!' responded the solicitor, 'I had no idea that the times were so hard here. I thought they were hard enough in Philadelphia, but — nothing like it – noth-ing like it! I feel for you,' he added, laying his hand, with a philanthropic air, upon his breast, 'I feel for you all!'