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As Dr. Bushnell was no longer a pastor, his new work could not provoke any ecclesiastical action; but even if he had been one, he would probably have been let alone. The failure of the previous prosecution had very greatly strengthened his general position in the church. Most of the points now made at large and explicitly, had been put forward more briefly in his God in Christ. And above all, in the New England churches, as contrasted with the other Calvinistic bodies, there had been a half-way surrender of the orthodox position on this very question, so that the few, who held the old form of the doctrine would certainly have been outvoted if they had raised issue on that; and the many who had given up half of it would have found it awkward to frame an indictment against him for throwing over the remaining half. But his book provoked many replies. It was, like most of his later works, reprinted in England, and commanded much attention there.
In 1868 he collected out of a New York magazine a series of essays on The Moral Uses of Dark Things, and in 1869 he published a vigorous and very characteristic attack on the Woman's Rights Movement-Woman Suffrage, the Reform Against Nature, -which is certainly the most readable piece which that controversy has evoked. The dedication to his wife is one of the most beautiful specimens of that species of writing to be found in any languagebut the strong-minded assert that both his wife and daughters are ardent advocates of Woman Suffrage, and that it was well said “a man's foes shall be they of his own household.” He says:
“For once I will dare to break open one of the customary seals of silence, by inscribing this little book to the woman I know best and most thoroughly; having been overlapped, as were, and curtained in the same consciousness for the last thirty-six years. If she is offended that I do it without her consent, I hope
I she may get over the offense shortly, as she has a great many others that were worse. She has been with me in many weaknesses and some storms, giving strength alike in both; sharp enough to see my faults, faithful enough to expose them, and considerate enough to do it wisely; shrinking never from loss or blame, or shame to be encountered in anything right to be done; adding great and high instigations—instigations always to good, and never to evil mistaken for good; forecasting always the things bravest and best to be done, and supplying inspirations enough to have made a hero, if they had not lacked the timber. If I have done anything well, she has been the more really in it that
she did not know it, and the more willingly also, that having her part in it known has not even occurred to her, compelling me thus to honor not less, but more, the covert glory of the womanly nature, even as I obtained a distincter and more wondering apprehension of the divine meanings and moistenings, and countless unbought ministries it contributes to this otherwise very dry world.”
In 1870 he contributed to Scribner's a remarkable essay on “Free Trade and Protection," in which, after conceding the economic force of the Free Traders' arguments, he showed the necessity of Protection on purely national grounds.
In 1872 appeared his third volume of sermons Sermons on Living Subjects—and in 1875 his new treatise on the atonement, already referred to. This closes the list of his published works, making twelve stout volumes, besides uncollected articles and discourses. And in no other twelve volumes of American literature, unless it be Emerson's, is there such a wealth of thought on great themes.
That the man was still greater than his works, is the testimony that all his friends bear to him. Behind all his work lay one of the loveliest and tenderest of souls—a sweetness and a patience that had been deepened and purified by half a life-time of suffering. In all who were personally associated with him, he awakened the warmest affection; and no difference of opinion on even the weightiest matters could alienate those who came within the reach of his influence. In his outer person there was something leonine and massive, combined with a certain careless abandon. Rev. W. L. Gage, well known for his translations from the German, thus describes him in an account of a visit to the Hartford Ministers' Meeting:
“First in eminence and first, perhaps, in general influence, is Dr. Bushnell. As varied in the play of his mind as the colors of the clouds, he rises at times no higher than the average level of thought, and at other times he towers up like a great three-decker of the old time. The diction less studied than in his writings, often studiously inelegant and inexact, as for example in his frequent .it don't' and it ain't,' is always rugged, nervous and energetic, and almost always fringed by some quaint word that takes his utterance clear right home and becomes unforgettable. No one would fail to pick out Dr. Bushnell. At any rate I guessed him at a glance. That fine head, with its lion-like mane of iron-gray hair, tossed about in a disorderly regularity, those beetling brows and piercing eyes, that energetic angularity of movement—these, taken apart from the decision of voice and massive thought, indicate instantly this American Colossus. Yet he is very unequal here; sometimes
he is tender and spiritual, sometimes silent, and lets his turn pass without a word; sometimes sharp and cutting, and once in a while, when waked up by opposition, or better still, when inspired by the subject, he comes out in a manner which no adjective can describe but magnificent."
In his mental cast he was essentially poetical and imaginative“the Tennyson of theologians," somebody has called him. While not devoid of ratiocinative power, and even keen to detect the logical as well as the moral fallacies of the theories he opposed, he was greatest in the gifts of divination and intuition. But he possessed a robust good sense and a natural acuteness which served him well for ballast. There is a fine vein of delicate humor in his best literary work, and he bad the mental alertness which helps a man to an impromptu retort. He once, for instance, got a subscription for building a new church from an avowed and miserly infidel by asking him to consider what real estate would be worth in Sodom.
His limitations and shortcomings as a theologian and an author are easily got at. We shall specify but two.
Bushnell's theology, like Beethoven's music, came short of the highest perfection for want of the thorough discipline, the complete learning, which gives Mozart his place above his rival. All sound progress must be in the line of what has already been effected; every to-day in science begins where yesterday left off. Dr. Bushnell's work is much of it defective and temporary, much of it merely reactionary, because it lacked this historic continuity. He did not always see his way to doing full justice to his predecessors; could not always discern how the people around him could be carried forward by simply using their present views as premises which led on to conclusions not yet reached. He did not discern the value of what he opposed; he set himself to destroy and overturn what we believe to precious convictions deeply rooted in the minds of his countrymen and contemporaries, with with they could ill dispense.
As a writer he had not that filial reverence for his mother tongue, and her established usages, which we would have rejoiced to discern in him. He let his powers of invention take the turn of coining new phrases, and devising new refinements, which greatly detract from the merits of his really great and splendid eloquence. And these innovations were not in the line of the language's historical growth; they were often alien to its whole genius and established character. And smaller men, unable to follow him in anything that he had of great or noble, ape and imitate this unhappy peculiarity just as small men imitated Napoleon's strut, Candlish's awkwardness, or Grant's cigar. And here also is what will be a great weakening of the man's just influence; for these imitations will ere long so associate his name with verbal and phrasal affectations, that those who have not already made acquaintance with his books will not be easily induced to do so.
But take him for all in all, we shall not soon see the like of Horace Bushnell.
A FEW THOUGHTS ON SUBJECTS OF PRESENT
HE cause of the present depressed condition of business gene
rally in the United States, is to be traced mainly to the discovery of the precious metals in California in the year 1848, and their subsequent discoveries elsewhere. The telegraph, the railroad, and steam in its varied applications, have had their powers intensified, and their activity quickened by them, and other agencies under the same influences have so contributed their parts that the whole universe may now be made to quiver when touched at any point.
This depression is by no means peculiar to this country. Whereever the stimulus produced by the large additions to the stores of the precious metals extended, activity in all the departments of industry was carried to its highest pitch, and in the year 1873, the climax our production having been reached, the natural results have followed, and they are now felt in all parts of the world in the proportion in which the stimulus was distributed among them.
The United States, as a new country, became a centre of emigration. Improvements of all kinds were made as if by a magical touch, countless railways on a scale of grandeur never before contemplated,' even to the spanning of the continent, were constructed, and expansions of every imaginable mode of industry were common everywhere; so that in no previous twenty-five years in the world's history known to us did any country grow in population, productiveness and wealth, like unto our own. Great Britain and its colonies felt the influence of this new state of things to a very great extent, and their condition at this moment varies but little from that of the United States. The continent of Europe, saving those parts of it whose relations with the gold-producing countries are very limited, has been scarcely less affected. The great wars in Europe and the United States have materially increased the debts of several nations, and for a time stayed their productiveness; but those disturbances have had less to do with the peculiar circumstances now prevalent than are attributed to them.
1 By John Welsh, President of the Philadelphia Board of Trade.
? The product of the precious metals since 1848 is four thousand millions.Journal of Commerce, N. Y.
3 In 1850 the product of pig-iron in the United States was 563,755 tons, and in 1875 it was 5,439,230 tons.
If it be maintained because of the inactivity of capital, the unproductiveness of labor, and the numerous commercial and other failures here, that the United States are the greatest sufferers, and that the suffering is to be attributed to our late war; or, on the other hand, that these evils are the legitimate fruits of an irredeemable paper currency; then how is it that in Great Britain and her colonies, which have all the while been at peace, and have a currency free from the features which are charged as objectionable in our currency, the same phenomena are observable; whilst France, which has suffered from a most destructive war, and has had an irredeemable paper currency, is comparatively free, and Germany, after being largely compensated for all her expenditure in the war, and having a redeemable currency, is the subject of very considerable depression ?
Nothing is more natural than the existing condition of the industries of the world. Excessive stimulus has caused injudicious direction to be given to them, and on every side is to be seen such an increase of machinery that with six months' continuous action the product would equal a year's consumption. It may not be extravagant to say as an approximation that of the investments in railroads alone in this country one thousand millions are unproductive ; and what vast sums might be added to this were the other interests in
4 In 1848 there were in the United States 5,996 miles of railroads, costing $420,000,000. In 1874 72,643 miles, costing $4,221,763,594, or twice the amount of the debt of the United States, which on ist of June, 1875, was $2,130,119,975.