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Scept. Perhaps this may be as you argue; but^there is another sympathy, that between mind and mind, which cannot be attributable to the same cause. I have heard it maintained that the mind, if its power over the nerves be electric, may at will, by a conduction of this fluid from one body to another, raise an emotion in a person when in contact or at small distances.
Thko. That is quite visionary. Sympathy between mankind is exclusively mental. It is one of the kind ordinances of Providence, that emotions tend to awaken their counterparts, and as virtuous feelings possess greater attractions than vicious, as beauty has a fascination denied to deformity, we should look upon this arrangement as the noblest branch of the social system. But this sympathy most usually demands similar instruments to extract harmony. The coward and the brave have no affinity. You might as well assimilate the war-cry to the whinings of the wretch craving for mercy. To effect unison, the harps must be tuned alike; then it is they respond in perfect melody. How rarely do we find this exact similitude! There is, most always, some broken chord, some dissonant sound to interrupt the melody. But let them be accorded, then touched by the same hand, they will be awaked to music. This is the sympathy of individuals. Time may wither the affections, misfortune scathe or vice steel the heart; yet this emotion will survive and even rise more beautiful from the ruins of kindness and of virtue. It is a wand which opens the rock for the flowing waters of feeling, softens the obdurate, and impels the hardened criminal to share his slender pittance with his more innocent and unfortunate fellow-prisoner.* In crowds where we cannot discover such similarity, there is often some one feeling possessed in common. These are the weapons of the orator; with them he sways the populace of Athens by appeals to their vanity, or the Romans by apostrophes to their glory. These are fearful sympathies, for as they strike to every heart, and inspire every spirit, they act in a mass; and though when good, course on to great and beneficent results, when bad, burst into a blaze, to be quenched only by exhaustion of materials, or by rivers of blood. Do you stand in the French convention, the voice of Marat and Robespierre urging on the hounds of death may be heard reechoed with shouts of acclamation. Are you at Clermont, before a superstitious audience, excite them by hopes of chivalric fame and eternal happiness, and Deus Vult runs from mouth to mouth, and seals their enterprise. There is a power in the union of a vast assembly almost irresistible, and cries of applause have often changed disapprobation into approval, and the judgment of condemnation into mercy.
Scept. If you do not believe that sympathy between individuals is produced by physical causes, I presume you attach as little faith to the existence of a power by which we can annihilate distance, and introduce ourselves into the presence of the absent. You remember the story of the English lady whose lover was engaged in the wars of the Peninsula. She would tell her friends of conversations and interviews which could have existed but in her fancy. One day, while immersed in thought, she suddenly shrieked and fell senseless, exclaiming, ' He is dead!' Her own death soon ensued, but not before the news of a late battle confirmed the decease of her lover, at the very time she had stated. Theo. Perhaps sympathy, or rather its effect —a desire to be with those we love — may be an intensifier of the senses. Enthusiasts have asserted this. They reason thus: Mind affects mind only through the senses: distance is no barrier to sympathy, if sense can overleap it. Thus as far as the eye can penetrate, or the voice be heard, we can be influenced by objects. The sigh of the lover breathing in the ear of his mistress, may cause no more emotion than his voice heard from afar; his form near by raise no stronger feeling than when seen from the watch-tower. Sense, then, is the only measure of sympathy. The moon, though thousands of miles distant, and stars far away in space, thus affect us. If, too, habit or excitement sharpen sense— if the ear of the anxious wife catches her husband's footsteps, when unheard by others — if the Indian hears the tread of a being when all is silence to the white man — if the most delicate sounds and motions reach the sense of the blind, why cannot an intensity of mental action so magnify the power of sense as to bring the most distant objects in our presence f As the lens displays sattelites without the range of ordinary vision, so may the vivid power of a heated imagination act as the lens of sight, and hearing, and feeling, beat down the barriers of space, and extend the powers of sense to the extremity of the universe. 'Tis thus the visionary has dreamed. In the account of Caspar Hauser, there is an instance of a partial extension of hearing and seeing by certain habits of body. So also in the case of Mr. Petit, who was magnetized before the French Committee, and who was said to have been able to distinguish objects, and even play accurately at cards, with his eyes shut, or heavily bandaged.* But allow all these to be facts, we must conclude that though sense may be enlarged to some extent, yet its power cannot be increased beyond a certain point. The ideal may often so preponderate over the real, as to assure us of the possibility of this sympathy; but reason, my friend, dissolves at a touch this fairy castle. The whole of this subject is of engrossing interest, but has been so much the victim of wild speculation as to induce a dread of approaching it, lest the mania of theorizing should carry us beyond the region of reason. The late discoveries in electricity and magnetism are, however, slowly conquering this disposition; and from the new light they have imparted, the curious analogies they have unfolded between the human frame and the rest of the material world, will eventually turn the stream of inquiry into this channel, and must result in a complete explication of most of the phenomena of our existence. There is no reason why the probe of observation should not be applied here fearlessly, nor why we should not reach by its means such an acquaintance with our own mechanism as will lay open to view each part of the machinery, be it ever so delicate, excepting the connecting link between the body and mind, which must everlie beyond cognizance. Experiment and a patient attention to facts will in time insure the reward, and at the same moment we exult in our triumph, we shall rejoice in the utility of the discovery. The advantages to result from it shall be unbounded, and the most grateful incense to Him who gave us the capacity to discover, will be in the suc
* At Bristol, in the prison, the debtors are compelled to support themselves, while the criminals receive but a small allowance. The latter frequently share their meal, hardly sufficient for one, with those debtors who have been deserted by their friends.
cessful endeavor to promote our physical and moral happiness by the use of the gift. As in ancient philosophy yujfli stat>ro» was the key to perfection, so in modern physics the brightest gem of the diadem of knowledge will be in the Knowledge Of Ourselves.* A.
THE DYING POET.t
The fn 11 cup of my days breaks in my grasp —
Nor tears nor prayers can stay it more: Death's wing
Am I to weep 1 — or shall I smgt
Til sing! — for yet my hand is on the lyre;
With voice of music, now that on my view
A song divine be its adieu!
The breaking harp yields a sublimer sound —
A momentary ray, more pure and deep;
To count his days, and o'er them weep. •
And what are days, that I should now deplore?
The coming, like the one that has ta'en flight—
Such is the day, then comes the night.
Oh! bid whose hands around the wreck of years
Whose hope's consum'd by the first gaze of Death;
Like the light leaf by Evening^ breath.
The poet's like the wild birds of the main,
Nor 'mid the leaves their dwellings ever poise;
Of them nought knowing save their voice.
My novice hand no artful guide e'er led,
Man teacheth not what the kind Heavens instil:
Its sweets the wild bee to distil.
* We read of a Leyden professor discoursing 'on the management and cure of the disorders of the mind by application of remedies to the body.' Ina few years the subject may not seem quite so German as it now appears.
I Of several popular fragments from Lamartine, which have appeared under an English garb in some of the higher periodicals of the United States, few are so eminently poetical as' Lt Poete Mourant.' In presenting the above translation, which has been lying by the writer for three years past, he is actuated by the desire of communicating to others a little portion of that inexpressible delight which he has experienced in perusing the inspired melodies of one who may justly be pronounced the greatest lyrist of the age.
Responsive to the stroke, amid the gales,
By turns to tell of human death or birth;
A sound that seemed not of this earth.
Thus in the night, the ^olian harp its plaint.
Sounds, by the breeze s breath o'er earth that flies:
Are wafted those celestial sighs.
Oft did my tears my plaintive harp imbue;
The heart ne'er ripens 'neath a cloudless sky;
The balm its fragTance sends on high.
My soul it pleased th' Eternal to inspire
O fatal gift! — I die by love o'erpower'd!
Expires, when all around's devoured.
But time! — time is no more! But glory! — what?
Vain toy for children of a future day!
Ah! the winds have swept it away!
Yea, I obtest the gods! — my tongue did ne'er,
That great word, offspring of man's phrenzied brain;
My wearied lip would press in vain. i
Man, in the barren hope of doubtful fame,
On the fleet stream that bears him casts a name,
Which less'neth daily as it speedelh on:
To oblivion's deepest depths 'tis gone!
Another name I hurl upon that sea,
Which laves no shore — and shall I greater be,
Whether it sink or ride upon the surf'(
Fling yet their shade o'er the earth-turf 7
'Why sanest thou then 1' Ask Philomela why,
Blendeth she with the hush of rushing nil?
As wails the cascade on the hill.
My life was only love, and prayer, and song;
Nought at the farewell hour with grief I part —
Of a heart prest into my heart.
At Beauty's feet to wake the trembling lyre,
Flow with the sound, and pass into her breast;
When the winds' breath hath wak'd its rest.
Behold the modest virgin sadly raise
Up to the heaven's blue vault her pensive gaze,
As thither with the sound to wing her flight —
Like a quiv'ring fire in the night.
Mark o'er her brow how flits the shadow'd thought,
And hear— bursting the spell of ecstacy —
Oh!—'tis this that were worth a sigh!
A sigh! — a sad regret! — no, no! My soul,
Upon which Instinct fixed my ardent eye;
Whither hath sped my every sigh!
Like to the bird which seeth in Night's dark womb,
My fate's reveald by her prophetic power:
Anticipating the death-hour!
No name inscribe on my dark earthen bed;
I envy not a mound of mouldering clay:
May sink, ere he pursue his way!
Oft in the mystery of still and shade,
And findeth Hope reclining upon Death;
With flight less cumber'd, towereth.
Break — give to the winds my lute! — its sound
A seraph's lyre shall vibrate to my song,
Attentive on my descants hung.
Erewhile — but ah! hath touched my fond lyre's strings
A stifled, mournful sound upon the breeze:
Ascend with your faint melodies!