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nomical observations on two columns, one made of bricks, which should resist the fire that was to consume the world; the other of stones, which would remain uninjured by the water that was to drown it. But what thought the Romans, when a few slaves talked to them about an Adam and a Seth unknown to all the world besides ? They smiled.
Josephus adds, that the column of stones was to be seen in his own time, in Syria.
From all that has been said, we may conclude that we know exceedingly little of past events
-that we are but ill acquainted with those present—that we know nothing at all about the future-and that we ought to refer every thing relating to them to God, the master of those three divisions of time and of eternity.
ENTHUSIASM. This Greek word signifies “emotion of the bowels, internal agitation." Was the word invented by the Greeks to express the vibrations experienced by the nerves, the dilation and shrinking of the intestines, the violent contractions of the heart, the precipitous course of those fiery spirits which mount from the viscera to the brain whenever we are strongly and vividly affected ?
Or was the term enthusiasm, after painful affection of the bowels, first applied to the contortions of the Pythia, who, on the Delphian tripod, admitted the inspiration of Apollo in a place apparently intended for the receptacle of body rather than of spirit ?
What do we understand by enthusiasm? How many shades are there in our affections ! Approbation, sensibility, emotion, distress, impulse, passion, transport, insanity, rage, fury. Such are the stages through which the miserable soul of man is liable to pass.
A geometrician attends at the representation of an affecting tragedy. He merely remarks that it is a judicious, well-written performance. A young man who sits next him is so interested by the performance that he makes no remark at all; a lady sheds tears over it; another young man is so transported by the exhibition, that to his great misfortune he goes
home determined to compose a tragedy himself. He has caught the disease of enthusiasm.
The centurion or military tribune, who considers war simply as a profession by which he is to make his fortune, goes to battle coolly, like a tiler ascending the roof of a house. Cæsar, wept at seeing the statue of Alexander.
Ovid speaks of love only like one who understood it. Sappho expressed the genuine enthusiasm of the passion; and if it be true that she sacrificed her life to it, her enthusiasm must have advanced to madness.
The spirit of party tends astonishingly to excite enthusiasm; there is no faction that has not its “energumens," its devoted and possessed partisans. An animated speaker, who employs gesture in his addresses, has in his eyes, his voice, his movements, a subtle poison which passes with an arrow's speed into the ears and hearts of his partial hearers. It was on this ground that queen Elizabeth forbade anyone to preach, during six months, without an express license under her sign manual, that the peace of her kingdom might be undisturbed:
St. Ignatius, who possessed very warm and susceptible feelings, read the lives of the fathers of the desart after being deeply read in romances. He becomes, in consequence, actuated by a double enthusiasm.
He constitutes himself knight to the virgin Mary; he performed the vigil of arms; he is eager to fight for his lady patroness; he is favoured with visions; the virgin appears and recommends to him her son, and she enjoins him to give no other name to his society than that of the “ Society of Jesus.”
Ignatius communicates his enthusiasm to another Spaniard, of the name of Xavier. Xavier hastens away to the Indies, of the language of which he is utterly ignorant; thence to Japan, without knowing a word of Japanese. That, however, is of no consequence; the flame of his enthusiasm catches the imagination of some young jesuits, who at length make themselves masters of that language. These disciples, after Xavier's death, entertain not the shadow of a doubt that he performed more miracles than ever the apostles did, and that he resuscitated seven or eight persons, at the very least. In short, so epidemical and powerful becomes the enthusiasm, that they form in Japan what they denominate a Christendom (une Chretientè). This Christendom ends in a civil war, in which a hundred thousand persons are slaughtered : the enthusiasm then is at its highest point, fanaticism; and fanaticism has become madness.
The young fakir, who fixes his eye on the tip of his nose when saying his prayers, gradually kindles in devotional ardour, until he at length believes that if he burdens himself with chains of fifty pounds weight, the Supreme Being will be obliged and grateful to him. He goes to sleep with an imagination totally absorbed by Bramah, and is sure to have a sight of him in a dream. Occasionally, even in the intermediate state between sleeping and waking, sparks radiate from his eyes; he beholds Bramah resplendent with light; he falls into extacies, and the disease frequently becomes incurable.
What is most rarely to be met with, is the combination of reason with enthusiasm. Reason consists in constantly perceiving things as they really are. He, who under the influence of intoxication, sees objects double, is at the time deprived of reason.
Enthusiasm is precisely like wine, it has the power to excite such a ferment in the blood vessels, and such strong vibrations in the nerves, that reason is completely destroyed by it. But it may also occasion only slight agitations, so as not to convulse the brain but merely to render it more active, as is the case in grand bursts of eloquence, and more especially in sublime poetry. Reasonable enthusiasm is the patrimony of great poets.
This reasonable enthusiasm is the perfection of their art. It is this which formerly occasioned the belief that poets were inspired by the gods; a notion which was never applied to other artists.
How is reasoning to controul enthusiasm ? A poet should, in the first instance, make a sketch of his design. Reason then holds the crayon. But when he is desirous to animate his characters, to communicate to them the different and just expressions of the passions, then his imagination kindles, enthusiasm is in full operation, and urges him onward like a fiery courser in his career. But his course has been previously traced with coolness and judgment.
Enthusiasm is admissable into every species of poetry which admits of sentiment: we occasionally find it even in the eclogue; witness the following lines of Virgil (Eclogue x. v. 58.)
Jam mihi per rupes videor lucosque sonantes
Aut deus ille malis hominum mitescere discat !
The style of epistles and satires represses, enthusiasm; we accordingly see little or nothing of it in the works of Boileau and Pope.
Our odes, it is said by some, are genuine lyrical enthusiasm ; but, as they are not sung with us, they are in fact rather collections of verses, adorned with ingenious reflections, than odes.
Of all modern odes, that which abounds with the noblest enthusiasm, an enthusiasm that never abates, that never falls into the bombastic or the ridiculous, is Timotheus, or Alexander's Feast, by Dryden. It is still considered in England as an inimitable masterpiece, which Pope, when attempting the same stile and the same subject, could not even approach. This ode was sung, set to music; and if the musician had been worthy of the poet, it would have been the masterpiece of lyric poesy;
The most dangerous tendency of enthusiasm in this connection is that of urging on the poet to bombast, rant, and burlesque. A striking example of this occurs in an ode on the birth of a prince of the blood royal:
Où suis-je ? quel nouveau miracle
Descendre du peuples de heros. J. B. ROUSESAU.-Ode on the Birth of the Duke of Bretagne. Here we find the poet's senses enchanted and alarmed at the appearance of a prodigy—a vast and magnificent spectaele-a new birth, which is to reform the universe, and redeem it from a state of chaos, &c. all which means simply that a male child is born to the house of Bourbon. This is as bad as, 66 Je chante les vainqueurs, des vainqueurs de la terre."
We will avail ourselves of the present opportunity to observe, that there is a very small portion of enthusiasm in the Ode on the Taking of Namur.
ENVY. We all know what the ancients said of this disgraceful passion, and what the moderns have repeated. Hesiod is the first classic author who has spoken of it.
“ The potter envies the potter, the artisan the artisan, the poor
the musician the musician, (or, if any one chuses to give a different meaning to the word avidos) the poet the poet.”
Long before Hesiod, Job had remarked, “Envy destroys the little-minded.”
I believe Mandeville, the author of the Fable of the Bees, is the first who has endeavoured to prove that envy is a very good thing, a very useful passion. His first reason is, that envy was natural to man as hunger and thirst; that it may be observed in all children, as well as in horses and dogs. If you wish your children should hate one another, caress one more than the other; the prescription is infallible.
He asserts, that the first thing two young women do