« AnteriorContinuar »
Of the Discourse from the perusal of that proud column of freedom, which gives which we have just risen, more cannot the traveller and the sun their earliest be said, and less ought not to be said, welcome and their last farewell, from anthan that it is well worthy both of its other of thy heights suddenly falls a nobler occasion and theme, and of the rising and more costly pillar of thy glory and thy and rapidly maturing promise of its strength-visible beyond oceans, and a accomplished author. “Mr. Bellows Pharos to the world! speaks evidently from a mind deeply he is quick to perceive that his imbued with a sympathetic compre- heightened voice is out of accord with hension of what it was his noble the more subdued and sober tone of though mournful task to describe. language and of mind appropriate to Earnest and conscientious, his sole aim the occasion; and remarking that “this seems to be to utter the true thought is not the way in which he would be and the true feeling with which mind spoken of,” he invites us 10 proceed and heart are filled in the contempla- with him to “ more calmly contemtion of the memory of the great dead, plate the character of this great and in an unaffected and uueinbellished good man." manner,-a manner in harmony with Dr. Channing passed from the prethe spirit of his subject, simple while sent mode of existence on the aftersolemn, strong while subdued, and noon of the second of October, of a alike free from ambition of eloquence typhus fever-at the same hour at and exaggeration of excited enthu. which the calm glory of an unclouded siasm. If he glows, he does not seek Sabbath sunset seemed to be a reflecto glitter. If he satisfies the reason, tion of that higher sublimity which it and calls out a full flow of the sympa- looked upon, in the departure from the thies of his hearer or reader, he makes earth of a still mightier, a still diviner no attempt to charm his fancy or court light. In our present notice of this event his admiration. Or if ever his step wedesire thai no reader will connect our betrays a tendency to stray from the remarks with any reference to such line of a severer simplicity of style by opinions with which Dr. Channing which he evidently strives to walk, he stood identified, as are foreign to the promptly checks and recalls it, seem- general scope of this Review; and es. ing to remember that the ground he pecially is it proper for us to disclaim treads upon is holy. If ever he indul. allusion to the peculiar theology of ges for a moment any rhetorical tempt, which he was for many years the head ation, as when he exclaims-
and representative in this country. We “ City of the Pilgrims! Eye and heart refer to him as a great moralist, reof New England ! how art thou spoiled of former, philanthropist, and Democrat. thy beauty! As on one of thy battle- “ A calamity," says Mr. Bellows, "has crowned hills rises at length to its capital befallen our faith, our country, the
• A Discourse occasioned by the Death of William Ellery Channing, D.D., pronounced before the Unitarian Societies of New York and Brooklyn, in the Church of the Messiah, October 13th, 1842. By Henry W. Bellows. Published by request. New York: Charles S. Francis and Company. 1842.
church, and the world.” A calamity, the mountain summit is the first to we add, has befallen the cause of those catch the direct ray, there is already, great moral principles of freedom, pro- even then, considerable light diffusing gress, love, and truth, to which this itself, through a common and all-perReview has always declared its devo vading atmosphere, over the humblest tion; and which, more or less truly depth of the valley, and presently the and efficiently, through all the move- full flood of the heavenly radiance will ment and machinery of the politics of be equally poured over all alike. The the times, it has always aimed to pur diadem that crowns the crest of the sue. It is fitting and right, therefore, hill does not bring the light, though it that we should not allow such an may be the earliest manifestation and event to pass-the event of the year reflection of it, flaming across the - without at least a brief record in plain, to the upturned eyes of men, as these pages, and a brief tribute of the a signal of its coming, of its arrival algrateful and affectionate reverence due ready come. So, therefore, we do not to the memory of such a man, from agree with some whose enthusiasm every friend of the high and holy truths would elevate Dr. Channing to a posiwhich he wrote, wrought, lived, and tion above his rightful claim, as a creawas. In a future Number we will en- tor and cause of that of which he was deavor to give our readers an engraved so glorious an effect and example. Had portrait of Dr. Channing, believing that he not risen up in the midst of our as. There will be found few among them, semblage, with his sweet voice of however widely separated from him on apostolic fervor and power, the same any particular points of opinion, for spirit that kindled its tones as with a whom it will not possess an interest coal from the altar, would have poured and value, to contemplate and preserve, out the necessary, the irrepressible ute second to none other within the whole terance of itself through other lips, range of contemporaneous selection. the cloven tongue of fire would have
More than any other individual desceaded upon another head,-and writer, speaker, or actor of the age, Dr. there were many, doubtless, ripe and Channing may, we think, be regarded ready for its reception, and for the misas the highest embodiment, the most sion which Providence made his. So, complete expression and organ, of its too, do we differ from those whose sorspirit,-we mean that spirit of a free, row exaggerates the importance of the bold, hopeful, and progressive Human- loss we have sustained in him. He ity, which is now beginning to manifest had spoken and acted himself out, with itself, at the saine time so deeply and a completeness not often, it seems to so widely, in the new and growing ci- us, to be declared of other men. He vilisation of the epoch, the Christian- had done his work; all that he was v Democratic. We shall not attempt allotted to do—all, probably, that he the impossible calculation of how far could do ; and he has laid himself behe ought to be regarded as an active side it to rest, in a venerable maturity influence and power is the creation of of years. He had a word given him to this young school of a new political speak, and he has spoken it over and and religious philosophy, whose im- over again; in many variations and press is already to be seen marking applications. He might perhaps have itself so deeply upon the mould of the continued to repeat it in other modes, times; or how far rather himself a re- and on fresh occasions as they might sult and effect of the existence of arise, but it would have been still the ils spirit, already widely distributed same thing. While in his writings through the mass of the moral intelli- his voice yet speaks to his age, as sweet gence of the age, and working strongly and as strong as though it still issued upward, though scarcely yet to any from his living tongue. great extent apparent on the surface That we should protest against being until it embodied and uttered itself in understood, in these remarks, in any him. We are not of those who are sense at all depreciating to Dr. Chanprone to exaggerate the relative power ning's real power and influence, cannot of individual minds over the collective be necessary. It is precisely because mind of their time. Few among the they were so great that many persons “ great men” of any epoch are, after are apt now to run into the error of an all, much in advance of their age. If exaggeration in their estimate of them.
We only desire to reduce it within the an obligation due to him, as a spiritual just bounds of reason and truth. He parent, far outweighing the natural most undoubtedly did exert a vast debt of gratitude for the mere boon of though quiet power. He spoke the great common existence ? ideas of the age so persuasively and But we wrong our readers in withso powerfully that men could not con- holding from them such extracts as tinue insensible to them; he illustrated our limits permit, from Mr. Bellows's them so beautifully in his own daily fine analysis of Dr. Channing's moral walk of life that we could not refuse and mental character and life. Alto them our admiration and love; he though it is not easy to make satisfacexhibited in himself so pure and per- tory selections from a production which fect a model of what they could and we would strongly recommend in its ought to make a man, that none who entireness to the perusal of all within witnessed it could fail to become alike whose reach it may fall, we gladly wiser and better by the contemplation enrich our pages-in preference to of such example, and cheered by it to giving them to the reflections thronga more hopeful striving forward and ing on our own mind in association upward along the shining track of his with the luminous name at their footsteps. Upon the rising generation head--with all for which we are at particularly, the young men just now present able to make rooin. The folin the act of coming forward upon the lowing present a comprehensive porbroad stage of life, did this moral in- traiture of his personal history and fluence exerted by his life and writings private life, in which no others will operate most strongly. In his hopeful- see an exaggeration of coloring, but ness, in his enthusiasm, in his faith in those who have not enjoyed the opporgood and in God, he was as one of them. tunity of seeing and knowing personHis word went direct to the deepest seat ally, that of which the recollection of all their best sympathies and noblest remains like one of the most precious aspirations. Many such a one has he of memories in the hearts of his rescued from the spiritual perdition of friends: doubt and despair. From before many a young eye has his hand rolled away “Of his personal history, there is little the cloud of darkness which had begun to be said. He is known to the world to settle as a death-pall upon the har. not by the variety of ways in which he mony and grandeur of the moral crea- has appeared upon the stage, not by tion around it. And many a young
having provoked incessant attention, or man, we doubt not, has been at once
having acted upon many points, or pub
lished many books. He has neither run stimulated and strengthened by him to
the usual career of a great preacher nor record the vow, at the inmost and holiest shrine of his own soul, to be, toi
a great author, nor a great philanthropist.
10 He has done what he has done, in the make himself, a true man--not utterly process of a calm, common, and uneventunworthy of the glorious possibility of ful life. He has been chiefly instrumental his own better semi-angelic nature; in great changes in public sentiment, to cast from him with a noble scorn without leading any party. He is the the fetters of selfishness and sensuality acknowledged head of a religious denomiwith which a false and bad society so nation, without ever having heartily cobasely enslaves us, and to devote him- operated with any organized sect. He self, even though it yield him no other has set thousands of minds into excited reward than the happiness of the mar- activity without a particle of bustle in his tyr, lo good, to truth, to liberty, and to
own life. For thirty years the unprelove. Who, who, we repeat, can num
tending pastor of a church in Boston, he
devoted himself without any other interber the young souls, scattered through
mission than feeble health demanded, to the length and breadth of the land,
the teaching of Christian truth as he felt -already perhaps unconsciously and
and knew it in his own heart, to the corvaguely stirred with an undeveloped
rection of erroneous theological views tendency toward this direction, derived and opinions, which conflicted with the from the spreading influence of the spiritual growth of his own people. spirit of the age—which have been thus Preaching rarely anywhere but at home, quickened and brought forth by him not seeking notoriety, nor anxious to into the light of a new moral life, for widen, so he might deepen his influence, which they ever after will recognize using no tricks of oratory to attract the popular attention, and producing at no of them. Both are simple, grand, and time any outward excitement, he led as inspiring. retired and unassuming a career as his humbler brethren. His talents did not dazzle, his eloquence intoxicate, his pecu “Dr. Channing's public character vas liarities attract. His church, though his private character. He knew no disusually full, was never thronged. There tinction between public and private mowas nothing there to please the common rality. As you saw him abroad, such he ear, nor excite the popular passions. His was at home, conducting the smallest ministry was not attended by showy re- details of his life upon the broadest and sults; his people as a people, were not loftiest principles. His natural temper specially spiritual, his society by no means must have been sweet, for I cannot learn the pattern society of the place. And yet that it ever improved, and no one saw at this very time, and on these unmarked that it was capable of improvement. An occasions, and in this quiet way, he was undisturbed serenity reigned over his saying that which went down deeper into soul. He would not allow himself to the hearts open to his influence, than any read or hear the attacks that were someword that had been uttered from the times made upon him, abroad and at pulpit for centuries. In the patient and home, He carried on public controversy painful thoughtfulness of his secluded with the same angelic temper with which life, he was in high and close communion he managed private and friendly discuswith God and his truth. And it was the sions. light and life that were in his discourse “His stature was small, and his frame that vivified and illuminated the best slight. There seemed only enough body minds that approached him. He did not to anchor his soul among us. His health move or enlighten masses in his earlier was extremely feeble, and he had led the life, but he mightily moved, and, as it life of an invalid for thirty years. This were, recreated a few. . . . It doubtless made him more contemplative is by the instruments he has created, than he might otherwise have been. It that the palpable influence of Dr. Chan- narrowed his activity in one kind only to ning must be measured. He stands widen it in another. Had he been better alone in the reverence and gratitude of able to labor as a parochial minister, he many men, equal among themselves in might have been less a philanthropist and ability and usefulness, and none of them philosopher, and the world have lost what second to any but him. He is a class by his people gained. The slenderness and himself, both in the mode and the kind of debility of his frame gave an increased his influence. It is of a higher order, and expressiveness to his character and disa more profound depth. It is nearer the course. His head was so full and finely centre of moral motion. It is this which turned, that no sense of diminutiveness accounts for the nature of his reputation, disturbed you, and least of all in the pulwhich is as great abroad as at home, and pit. His countenance was surpassingly no greater, if as great in his own city, beautiful. Heavenly-mindedness, truth, than wherever the English language is compassion, love, and peace, reposed in known. His influence is not diminished his features. His voice, tremulous always, by distance, because its seat is the mind was melodious and melting beyond any and soul of those who receive his spirit. parallel; and his articulation distinct and There is no more enthusiasm about him, elegant, but simple, slow, and slightly felt by those who know him, than by delayed, had the effect of those notes in those who intelligently read him, because music which reluctantly give way to each his greatness resides in the grandeur of other. His eloquence was persuasive, the truth he embodies alike in his writings but not he, but truth and love took you and his character. You do not need to captive. He had no peculiarities of see that he is what he preaches or writes, manner. There was nothing oratorical For the truths he reveals, the emotions he in his discourses; for they read as well as awakens, attest their own genuineness, they sounded, which can never be true of and leave yon not only without suspicion, artificial eloquence. His gesture you but without thought of him. His pre- neither minded nor missed. He left you sence neither disappoints nor heightens full of the subject and not of himself. your idea of him. You expect to see a And if an occasional hearer only, you man of uniform elevation of mind, and went from his discourse with a feeling dignified simplicity of manners, and such that it was an era in your moral life. He he is found. He converses about things was rarely heard by any aspiring mind always with reference to principles, and without the inward thought, I could not the same principles. His conversation is have done without that help, and it is by as great as his writings, and as if a part the special providence of God that I am