Imagens das páginas

Secularism teaches man to forget that he is a religious being by constitution, and so far from cultivating this sublime capacity, in the which his destiny is involved, prostitutes it to forgetfulness of that immortality which is written on all his experience. Secularism teaches that it is man's highest wisdom, and consequent happiness, to consecrate upon earth and time his first and last thoughts, and all his capacities and sublime energies. Now, we maintain that reason, unguided by divine teachings, altogether opposes this, and that all human experience proves that earth with its glory, and time with its delusive charms, can give no true happiness to the destitute spirit of man, i. e., "without God and hope" in this life. "Vanity of vanities," cries the experience-taught heart of humanity, is written upon the serenest prospects of earth or most delusive shows of time! The elements of happiness date from eternity, are indissolubly allied to it; and only in the possession of that religious life, which casts the shadow of eternity and its sublime realities over this life-this dawning of infinite duration, can man be happy. If, indeed, it were a dubious point whether man is in reality an immortal being, and the grave the goal of life-then might Secularism with apparent plausibility thus dictate to men concerning their present life and conduct. But even then it would be the highest wisdom to cultivate the religious character during all the days of our pilgrimage on earth, since nothing less can satisfy the soul or cheer the throbbing heart. This alone can disarm death of his terror, and make our dying blissful under the full consciousness that, while

"The sun is but a spark of fire,
A transient meteor in the sky-
The soul, immortal as its Sire,
Can never die."

misery, wide-spreading in its tendency, and beyond all human estimate as to its end. True happiness may be defined as the grand result of man's restoration to that state from which sin removes him; in which state he lives, thinks, and acts in harmony with the beautiful laws of his being, physical, moral, and spiritual, and in which he becomes reconciled in heart and practice to the moral and eternal principles of the divine government, so clearly set forth in the christian creed of the New Testament. Nothing less than this, we maintain, can restore happiness, which the soul can lastingly approve, to man and society. Man, to be truly happy, must be not only familiar with the grand laws of his twofold and intricate nature, but in harmony with them; he must not only apprehend virtue, God, and truth, but be inseparably wedded to them; in fine, his happiness consists in knowing, loving, serving, and enjoying God.

Beyond this the soul cannot pass; within this is a vast latitude of bliss which immortality shall pronounce exhaustless, because embracing the infinite perfection. Less than this is unworthy of the soul; and to seek it is delusive and vain.

True happiness, either individual or social, has its basis on great principles, the open or secret violation of which must result in

There is no element in the mortal that can give nourishment to the immortal; there is no elixir or nepenthe in the evanescent, however beautiful or enchanting, which can bless man with true joy!

Reader! does Secularism, either in theoretic pretension, much less than in its social workings and results, come up to this high standard of character, as the spring of human happiness? Is this the fountainhead of "everlasting waters" to which Secularism, as a guide on the highway of life, is ever directing thirsting, agonizing, wailing humanity; from which men universally may drink and be happy? Oh, no! This is the standard which Secularism rejects; and this is the fountain whose streams alone can bless man: Secularism seeks to turn men from this! ROLLA.

FIRST UNDERSTAND-THEN WORK MANFULLY.-It is the sense of ineffectual effort, the striving to reconcile ourselves with an ill-understood task stretching before us day after day, that wears out the heart-life of man. If we once could discern what was required of us exactly to do, it is not the greatness of the task that would frighten us (for we are capable of immense drudgery of labour); but it is left to us to discover our own work, and set our hands to it as best we can, and this makes the weariness of life. We spend half our strength in beating the air.-Miss Jewsbury.

The Essayist.



ONE of the most cheering signs of our time is the number of poets springing up from the labouring class, and giving expression to what is bravest and truest, as well as what is saddest, in the English heart. They are the real expositors of the New England. They afford evidence that while our national history strikes root in far off centuries, and some of the boughs creak mournfully and threateningly in the fresh breezes, others are growing, green with life, and redolent of beauty. All honour to the New England, rising up in the midst of venerable Old England! He is worthy of all that was heroic in the olden time-the tombs where the good and valiant sleep well-and the swords which won freedom for us, which flash in the sunshine of fame for ever He starts on his way, strong and lusty, full of ardour and hope. Our expectations are not likely to be disappointed, resting on the manly qualities which belong to our national character, and have been displayed in our past history. The New England, sung by Hood, Mackay, and Massey, and led by Carlyle and Maurice, is something genuine; destined, we trust, for a nobler influence on the cause of freedom than has distinguished, for a long time, our diplomatic history;-for a summer of centuries, in which a true household love will be fostered as of old; labour will ply his task with kingly dignity and orient hope; religion, broad and manly, yet full of meekness and soft dewy pity, will be enshrined again in the people's heart, and the priest be their leader once more.

We have now to speak of England's youngest poetic child, Gerald Massey. He says, "Who would not pity the poor versifier at the outset of his career? Who would not also rejoice with him in the end, when the world crowns him a Poet, with pæans of acclaim?" We ask, who should not do so? Our rising poets, to whom we have referred, are workmen in the New England. They write not to amuse, and make their country

"The Ballad of Babe Christabel, with other Lyrical Poems," by Gerald Massey. Fourth Edi


idler, but to give expression to experiences wrought out in the depths of society, and to awaken noble aspirations amid toil and pain; and they should be welcomed with sympathy to the martyr-task before them. For ourselves, we desiderate a high standard of poetical literature. We rejoice that while in other departments works, in no sense distinguished, are sold and read, many a smooth versifier meets with a rough reception, and his volume is pitched away into the ocean of oblivion, though it may contain here and there a thought wrung from the parsimonious immortals. The shrine of poetry is thus kept free from a multitude of commonplace persons, who would render it prosaic and uninteresting. It would be high treason against poetic genius that any should be beckoned to fame who have not its rare consecration. They must not be enrolled among the venerable names who make the poetry of our country so varied, and yet so unique;-soaring aloft Miltonic, on the airiest heights of the poetical-or Shaksperian, immortalizing, the many-coloured splendour and gloom of our humanity-blazing forth, as in Byron, the scorching volcanic fire which lies deep in every heart-or uttering, as in Wordsworth, a gospel with plenary inspiration of the woods and hills; at the same time marked out by the broadest lines from the poetry of any other country; budding and blooming from the English intellect and affections, and impervious to the fervid spirits of southern climes. We are glad, however, that the office of criticism is not now regarded as the repression or discouragement of genius;-to collar and shake the aspirant, till his youthful life succumbs to the fiery ordeal. While faults are pointed out, it is that they may be amended; and if he does show genius, he is cheered on to yet nobler efforts, his glancing gems early blazoned, by loving hands, in a setting of fame's richest gold, worn near the English heart, and not allowed to pale away in shades of deep neglect. We thus expect the gratitude of our rising poets;-that the day will broaden, worthy of so dewy and so fair a dawn. Criticism is not confined to a

times lying ill, unable to assist each other. He is in a terrible school, probably as bad as the one of Yorkshire; the lessons are of the hardest kind, and the teacher is abject, hopeless misery; a school around which there is no playground, with its laughter and games. Oh, England! hast thou no better school, no happier system of education, for thy poorer children? Even there, Gerald is developing. A few books awaken within him the desire to know more. When fifteen years of age, he arrives in London as a message-boy; and the world of books opens more widely upon him, as well as the world of men. "I used" he remarks, "to read at all possible times, and at all possible places; up in bed till two or three in the morning, nothing daunted by once setting the bed on fire. Greatly indebted was I, also, to the bookstalls, where I have read a great deal, often folding a leaf in a book to continue the subject; but sometimes the book was gone, and then great was my grief. When out of a situation, I have often gone without a meal to purchase a book." The muse of our poet is awakened by youthful love. As an errand boy, he feels many of the hardships of life, and broods over the inequalities of society. Various republican books give intensity to his discontent, and certain principles with which to arm himself; and the French Revolution of 1848, flashing on the world, rebuking with its scorching flames the smooth mercenaries of the times, exhibiting those views in action-glorious, though brief-was a powerful element in his political culture. He had published a volume of poems in his native town; and in 1849 became the editor of a periodical, called the "Spirit of Freedom," on account of which he lost five situations in the course of a year. His views have since been becoming clearer and nobler; and the truest spirits of the time may now recognize in him a high and honourable mission. Such is Gerald Massey's past history. He is now but twenty-six years of age, yet there has been crowded into those few years experiences soaked in tears, and brooded over by his deep and earnest nature. Like Burns, he has had to fashion laboriously the

Gerald Massey's father was a canal boatman, with only ten shillings per week when employed, which was not always the case. He had a family, whose poor earnings helped to eke out the household subsistence. He and Gerald's mother were entirely uneducated; but the latter, in particular, possessed many amiable and energetic qualities. They lived in a hut, near Tring, in Hertfordshire, at a weekly rent of one shilling; and there Gerald was born. For a short time he was at "a penny a week school," where he learnt to read. When eight years of age he became a factory boy; going to the mill in the morning at five, and returning at half-past six o'clock in the evening. The mill was burnt

down, and the poor child was put to straw-tools with which to perform such work as he plaiting. In consequence of want of exer- has to do. Carlyle says, that true poetry cise, he pined away with ague for three springs not from any special faculty, but years. During that period several members from minds powerfully yet finely organized; of the family, including Gerald, were some- and that our Miltons and our Shaksperes had

few, whom we term critics. We cannot but criticise. Each of us is called to the office of the critic—and it is one of high responsibility and honour-to bestow, as we will, the wreaths of fame. The English people have often sought out from obscurity, and crowned with immortality, men whom those who professed to criticise for them had consigned to neglect, and even followed with ridicule and laughter, the last sounds of which have pointed the way to the true poet's retirement. It is to the broad and genuine criticism of the English people to which its poets appeal. That criticism will not keenly separate a man's life from his genius; but where there is genius displayed in heroic and poetic action, as well as burning and everlasting words, it will be regarded as doubly glorious and intense, lived out well, effulging from a starless night. Such is the kindly spirit of criticism with which we regard Gerald Massey's poems. They do not need a poetical life to throw a brilliancy upon them, in order that they may flash out again, with a borrowed radiance; but, read in the light of his bitter and sad experience, they have a new and profounder meaning, and a more touching pathos, than if his history were unknown We sympathize with a brother's burning verse-a mild yet radiant light rising up amidst rocky paths and hopeless gloom-words glowing from affliction's furnace, and bedewed, as written, with tears of love and pity.

to us.

in them capacities for governing kingdoms and fighting battles. This theory appears forcible in such instances as Burns and Massey. We think none can read the correspondence of Burns, abounding with moral reflections of an unusual kind, and containing the germs of theological disputes, without being impressed with his intellectual strength, his stalwart nature. Massey has risen by the force of his character, which is only another expression for the energy of his mind. He has reproduced, in fragrant and melodious verse, thoughts of justice, truth, and progress, extending over England, and embracing the world—ideas which are a constant presence and a power, only to the highest minds. These views are confirmed by the modest yet manly preface to the third edition of his poems. He remarks, in one part, "When Christ says, ' 'Blessed are they who suffer, he did not speak of those who suffer from want and hunger." "Such suffering brutalizes. True; natures ripen and strengthen in suffering, but it is that suffering which chastens and ennobles-that which clears the spiritual sight not the anxiety lest work should fail, and the want of daily bread. The beauty of suffering is not to be read in the face of hunger." Here is one who glances at the true life of things, and who has strength enough to resist every kind of cant whatever.

Some of Massey's political lyrics are imperfect; but this may be excused, considering the early age at which they were written. All of them are distinguished by strength, enthusiasm, and impressiveness. His volume as a whole contains varied manifestations of

practical power. His verses generally exhibit the finish and nicety of language which may be called poetic art, the usual result of long experience and severe culture alone. The conception of his poems is excellent, and, what is a characteristic of the best lyrical poetry, they have no appearance of being strained from a shallow stream, but gush out a fountain-living, sparkling, and free, as if issuing from exhaustless depths of thought. Nothing can be finer than the following:

"Ah! 'tis like a tale of olden
Time, long, long ago;
When the world was in its golden
Prime, and love was lord below!
Every vein of earth was dancing

With the Spring's new wine! 'Twas the pleasant time of flowers, When I met you, love of mine!

Ah! some spirit sure was straying Out of heaven that day, When I met you, sweet, a-Maying In that inerry, merry May. "Little heart! it slyly open'd

Its red leaves' love-lore, Like a rose that must be ripen'd To the dainty, dainty core. But its beauties daily brighten, And it blooms so dearTho' a many winters whiten, I go Maying all the year. And my proud heart will be praying Blessings on the day, When I met you, sweet, a-Maying In that merry, merry May." Massey commences his poems grandly, and there is no falling away as we go on, but the song is as thrilling in its full swell, and when it reaches its close, as when it breaks gloriously and rapturously the still profound. The following are introductory verses of two of his poems:

"Heaven hath its crown of stars; the earth
Her glory-robe of flowers-
The sea its gems-the grand old woods
Their songs and greening showers;
The birds have homes, where leaves and blooms
In beauty wreathe above;
High yearning hearts, their rainbow-dream-
And we, sweet! we have love."
"Now, glory to our England,

As she rises, calm and grand,
With the ancient spirit in her eyes,-
The good sword in her hand!
Our royal right on battle ground
Was aye to bear the brunt;
Ho! brave heart! for one passionate bound,
And take thy place in front!

Now, g.ory to our England,
As she rises calm and grand,
With the ancient spirit in her eyes,-
The good sword in her hand!

It is rare to find fine images in lyrical poetry, but Massey's poems have many such, appropriately placed, and harmonizing with the design of his effusions, without the crowding and jostling of all kinds of images, natural and hideous, which appear on the pages of the life drama. We cannot multiply instances, nor is that necessary, as we trust our readers, many of whom are young men struggling for their own elevation, will sympathize with our poet sufficiently to read his


"In white arms of love she wound me,
And I lookt up in her smile:
In warm arms of love she bound me,
As the sea takes some blest isle."

"Nearest to my heart I wear her;

As a bark the waves above,
O so proudly do I bear her

On the bosom of my love!"

[blocks in formation]

Not merely does Massey excel in fresh and manly strains, the outbursts of a courageous heart, and in the gallant and tender utterances by which the fair are wooed and won, but he has within him trains of reflection radiant with the mystic golden light of the spiritual world. The ballad of " Babe Christabel," the story of a child taken away from the tender love of earth to the bosom of the Divine, and for the glorious growth of heaven-the most touching and tender, as well as highly finished poem in the volume,-has about it the haze in which the mysterious and spiritual looms grandly before us, which we can only half behold, yet be enriched with a blessing in our life, of wonder and adoration. We have only to add that our poet is successful both in blank verse and rhyme.

As before remarked, political agitation has stirred up Massey; and we think he requires no apology for the introduction of his political lyrics. We understand he now

looks to the elevation of his class by industry, temperance, and education, rather than by violent political change; but we trust he will never be ashamed of effusions which are sincere utterances of what stood for him as truth, and which will be an essential verity, luminous to the world, long after the poor, feverish struggles with which it has been connected are forgotten, or remembered, not for themselves, but for the surged up, amidst their foamy strife, here and there, a flashing gem of genius, worthy to irradiate, as with a Nimbus-glory, a crown of the immortals. It is well, too, that his brave battle-words should ring in our ears, nerving us in our fights, and leading us to victory. The tendency of his verse we think pure and ennobling. His object is to write " some songs that may become dear to the hearts of the people, cheering them in their sorrows, voicing their aspirations, lighting them on the way up which they are groping, and saluting their triumphs with hymns of victory." His love strains purify our minds, and elevate our views of woman. They impress us with the value of domestic ties, strengthened by affection, and hallowed by religion, among the educational influences of our country; and they intensify our desire and prayer that the homes of the labouring classes of England may stand out modest and fair from the gloom of care-worn toil and the dust of poverty. We commend this great subject to Mr. Massey as the guiding star of his inspiration. It is one of the lessons taught by Mr. Kingsley's chaste and elaborate "Saint's Tragedy," and his novel of "Hypathia," and there are others labouring in the same cause. Here is a mine from which may be brought to light an exhaustless wealth of ore-lustrous and perennial.

T. U.


(Concluded from page 71.)

WE have given the previous illustrations of the incongruities of the present mode of procedure that our readers may see we are not advocating a change without the existence of a "stern necessity" for change. We

have quoted Mr. Adams' report, first on account of its impartiality, and, secondly, that the example of the Americans may not be lost sight of, but that, before proceeding to make a change, we may look around at


« AnteriorContinuar »