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this character, distinguishing him from all his contemporaries. Nowhere does it appear more conspicuous, than in the structure of his verses. He has an ear for melody, as every true poet, and every finely organized person has. But how different his rhythm from the monotonous, mechanical movement of modern versifiers which reminds one of a hand-organ. It is the free, gushing, careless, live melody of an elder age. It smacks of Milton and of Marvell.
Whether poetry or prose, force of statement is always a distinguishing trait in his writings. It constitutes their highest merit, rhetorically considered. The merit is not mechanical, — a trick of speech that can be copied. Many of the characteristics of his style have been imitated, but not this. It results from a vividness of conception peculiar to himself. To perceive a truth, with him, is to be on fire with it, is to blaze with it: it bursts from him in flashes of intense illumination. With most writers there is a certain distance between the thought and the word. The union is not complete. The thought is wedded, as well as may be, to a given vocabulary, or the vocabulary to the thought; but it is not always a perfect match. But Mr. Emerson's thoughts seem to make their own words. Thought and word hang together, like the lightning and the thunder in a summer cloud. It was said of Walter Scott, that no writer who has produced so much, is so little quoted or has so little that is “ quotable.” The reverse is true of Mr. Emer-, son. We know not the writer who offers so much quotable matter, within the same compass. No writer compresses more meaning in fewer words. His sentences are compact and portable, like proverbs and axioms. They often take that form. For example: “God loveth not size." fact is the end of spirit.” - We can love nothing but nature.” “ Action is the perfection of thought.” “ The eye is the best of artists."
We concede, to a certain extent, the euphuism charged upon these volumes. The prevailing style of them is, certainly, very far from being a model of good English. It could not be that and, at the same time, be what we have just said of it, and what we consider a greater merit. The excellences which constitute a model in style are negative. To serve this purpose, a style must not be distinguished by
anything idiomatic or striking. The words must be colorless and suggest no associated thought or fancy. They must approach, as nearly as possible, the character of algebraic signs. Every violation of this rule is an approach to euphuism; and Mr. Emerson violates it to such an extent, as almost to make the rule the exception. The question is, does he compensate for these transgressions by high and higher excellences of his own? We could wish indeed, that he had not seen fit to adopt so frequently an unusual collocation of words, and had placed his parts of speech in the order in which nature and Murray designed that they should go; but we can pardon some conceits where there is so much force; and, if we must either have both or lose both, are willing to put up with his mannerism for the sake of his originality. The worst of that mannerism is not its awkwardness in the original, but the facility with which it is copied and the temptation to copy it. What is most peculiar in his writing, is also most excellent and cannot be transferred. His imitators may out-do the contortions of his syntax, but they will never be able to wriggle themselves into the secret of his inspiration.
Perhaps we ought to go deeper than the syntax, while speaking of the vices of his rhetoric, and attack the peculiarities of his logic and his philosophy, to which these vices are, in part, referrible. Much may be said, and has been said of the strange quirks and freaks of thought, the heresies and paradoxes, the love of the “novum, audax, indictum ore alio," with which these Essays abound.
We grant it all and offer no justification of that, which, if there is any justice in it, will one day justify itself, and cannot be made to appear just if there is not. But neither are we disposed to hold it up for reprobation, and to add another vote to the full-voiced censure so distinctly pronounced. After all that has been said on this subject, we could offer nothing so superfluous as blame. The gravest charge has already been considered; the rest we leave to the archcritic Time, whose long-pending and unpurchaseable verdict all books and philosophies must abide. To be frank, the beauties and merits of Mr. Emerson's writings — the much that is true and good in them - so preponderate, in our estimation, over their defects, that it seems to us a littleness and an ingratitude to lean with all the weight of exact criti
cism upon these latter, and to make light of the rest. We love a bold and original thinker too well, not to extend some indulgence to the vagaries and extravagances which we have come to regard as inseparable from this kind. Such intellects are gracious gifts of the Most High, to be received with due thankfulness by a world not over-rich in that line, and needing all the varied lights which the Fountain and Father of all intelligence may see fit to shed on the unsolved problems of its perplexed life.
• But this light is of too meteorous and flashy a nature to be trusted with safety. Well, then, view it as a meteor and enjoy it as such. Do not regard the author as a teacher at all, nor the book as a doctrine. It does not claim to be. that. Regard it as a book of confessions; as a piece of beautiful egotism, than which nothing is more charming when it is sincere and without vanity or littleness. Viewed in this light, too, the book possesses great merit. A more sincere one was never written. A true record of a true soul; the rarest of all literary phenomena! There occur to us, in the whole history of literature, but two or three instances of the kind. Montaigne is one, and Jean Paul, perhaps, is another. Augustine and Rousseau are not in this category. The first was possessed, and viewed all things, himself among the rest, in the light of one masterthought which colored all his revelations. The other was not a true soul. Goethe's autobiography would belong here, were there not in it, as in all his writings, something incommensurable that defies classification. As a book of confessions then, these volumes offer, to those who can find nothing else in them, the peculiar interest of a marked individuality, which belongs to works of this kind.
It is folly to expect all things from all men. Moderation is good, and caution is good, and a correct syntax is good; we prize them all, and, if it lay with us, no book or discourse should lack these virtues. But the dulness and mediocrity, which often accompany them, are not good; they are sore trials. If it lay with us, they should altogether cease from the earth. Nevertheless, we are willing to bear with them for sweet charity's sake; knowing that all things are not to be expected of all men. So, when there appears among us a great and original writer, fresh from the Father of lights, with new and rare gifts, an eye that looks crea
tion through, a heart that clasps creation round, and a voice of melody that surprises us out of our long sleep, piercing through all the folds of custom and indifference that were wrapped about our spirits, when such an one comes and spreads for us an entertainment like that which these Essays provide, we will take what he brings and give God thanks, “asking no questions for conscience sake ;” and not lose the good which we have, in fretting for that which we have not; knowing that all things are not to be expected of all men. Nor is it a mere transient entertainment, which these authors provide. They do great service to the cause of truth; were it only by the stimulus which they give to inquiry, and the opportunity which they furnish, of settling anew, on new and higher grounds, the ancient faith. Whether they fight against the truth or for it, every way the truth is preached; and we “ therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice." We rejoice that this spirit has been sent among us to live and work in our midst. We rejoice in being his contemporaries. We rejoice in the indications we perceive, of a growing appreciation of his works abroad. We believe that they are destined to carry far into coming time their lofty cheer and spirit-stirring notes of courage and of hope. We dare to predict for them a duration coetaneous with the language in which they are composed. They are books, the world “will not willingly let die.” We do not think they will ever have an extensive circulation. Popular books they can never be. They will number but few readers at any one period; but every period will renew that number, and so long as there are lovers of fine discourse and generous sentiment in the world, they will find their own.
F. H. H.
ART. VIII. – RELIGION.
What is religion? 'Tis a chain that binds
'Tis Jacob's ladder, by which angels come
It is the fount which gushed when Moses' rod
0 may I always feel the heavenly fire,
Aur. IX. - DOCTRINAL PREACHSélece
ART. IX. - DOCTRINAL PREACHING.*
We had supposed that every argument bearing on the Trinity, as well as every mode in which it could be treated, had been exhausted. But Mr. Burnap has presented the subject in a new form, and his work contains many, to us, new and valuable suggestions. The object of the Lectures is, to explain the meaning of the principal passages, on which reliance has been placed in the Trinitarian controversy. It is one of their merits that they are precisely what they profess to be. They are not exhortations, nor discussions of moral questions, but expository lectures. The question, to which the author closely adheres, is: - what do the Scriptures teach respecting the nature of God, of Christ, and the Holy Spirit ? All the texts of any importance relating to these topics are brought forward under appropriate heads, and their true sense exhibited. It is a thorough Scriptural and critical discussion of the subject. And here we may
* 1. Expository Lectures, on the Principal Passages of the Scriptures, which relate to the Doctrine of the Trinity. By GEORGE W. BURNAP, Pastor of the First Independent Church of Baltimore. Boston: James Munroe & Co. 1845. 12mo. pp. 348.
2. Lectures on Christian Doctrine. By ANDREW P. PEABODY, Pastor of the South Church, Portsmouth, N. H. Second Edition. With an Introductory Lecture on the Scriptures. Boston: James Munroe & Co. 1844. 12mo. pp.