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to have shrunk from the task in dismay, for 'tis only in the Eddas that we learn of the giant gods and goddesses. It is only in the vivid pictures of the Skalds and Lagas, that we see arise before us the massive walls of the great Talhalla. It is only from their lays that we learn of the great and powerful Odin ; that we hear the mighty voice of Thor, the Thunderer; the lonely tread of Heinedall, the Watchman, slowly pacing the bounds of Heaven, or see the flashes of the armor of the Talkquiore, the “ Choosers of the Slain.” Why has Art looked so coldly upon this belief, we ask. The whole mythology seems full of incident, picturesqueness and beauty, most striking in its impersonations of the visible workings of physical nature, utterly devoid of that sensuous imagery of the Greeks, while in all the legends can be traced the workings of rare and mighty thought, not meriting the neglect it has received.
The years roll on and a change ensues. The mind of man arises from the gloom and darkness in which it was so deeply plunged. The glorious, transcendent light of revelation shed its hallowing beams over the world, and the soul finds a fit object for its aspirations, an omnipresent God, a Saviour, and Redeemer. Upon the dark and gloomy walls of the Catacombs we see drawn, in rude, ungarnished figures, the first symbolic pictures of Christianity. It was within these subterranean chapels and tombs that the first Christian artists drew their primitive sketches, which must ever be interesting as the expressive symbols of adherence to their religious faith in defiance of the most cruel oppressions and persecutions. Finally Art spreads its wings, and, soaring from out the loathsome dungeons, exhibits a purity, simplicity and grandeur typical of its future destiny. On the frescoes in the paintings of the Sacred Churches are seen the four Evangelists, the twelve Apostles still enthroned as depositaries of the Divine Truth. Far up above the long, winding aisles they seem to bend, with their white robes draped around their forms, with looks of graciousness and love. Beside them, side by side, we see the Fathers and Confessors of the Church, the palm-sceptered martyrs, glorified and humble penitents and virgin patronesses. With devout, tender and melancholy expression, the Christian artist has portrayed the sweet Saint Cecilia, patroness of song and music, of which the subject of the refrain we may readily conceive to be, “ Thy will, O Lord, not mine, be done.” Another face gleams forth before us in calm and trusting simplicity. It is the countenance of the fair and young St. Agnes.
In swift review the various eras of her experience flit before us. We see her bearing, with all meekness, persecutions, threatenings and even death for the sake of her unfaltering love for Christ, still and always remaining faithful unto the end. Full of religious fervor is portrayed the life of another saint, Elizabeth of Hungary, that short, sad life, so full of spiritual peace, quiet and joy, so replete with outward agony and suffering. She appears now ministering to the sick and helpless, to the leper boy, to the diseased beggar; now seen holding to her husband's view the folds of her robe containing three red and white roses so miraculously produced. Here was a life of holiness.
Other forms shine out from beneath the hands of the earnest, grave old masters transcending all the others in their glory. They are those of the Virgin Mother and her Divine Son. In all their different phases we find them delineated in their holy lives while upon this earth, presenting for us eternal examples of Divine mercy and goodness.
Slowly the different forms and features pass, a saddening train, before our imaginations. More slowly yet they go. What see we as they glide before us? In Grecian art we see the personification of beauty the chief and almost exclusive object, a ruling passion, the object of their religious idolatry, an end to which everything else was sacrificed. In Italian, Christian art-beauty is a subordinate element; let one who doubts gaze upon the wan, attenuated forms and features of the pious monks and hermits, or the faces of those holy saints and martyrs, so full of intense pain and suffering, so devoid of external beauty. Grecian works are utterly without spiritual aspiration or life, they exhibit passionless perfection and repose, while in the other is seen the existence and workings of a soul. “ It is the apotheosis of the moral sentiments colored by the passions and sufferings of the times.” Look upon a Venus, the ancient goddess of love and beauty, then upon a Madonna, in whom the “gladness of accomplished prom ises and sorrow of the sword-pierced heart are gathered into one human lamp of ineffable love.” Look upon a Jupiter, the supreme deity of the Grecian nation, then upon our Ecce Homo, with its heaven-turned glances of forgiveness and love from beneath the piercing crown of thorns, and say as your feelings change, as they must change, which furnishes the best, the holiest subject for art. · We feel as we gaze that “no mass nor might, nor beauty of execution can outweigh one grain or fragment of pure reverential thought.”
Ancient art never teaches me deep or holy lesson, never touches with awe, never prompts to devotion. With Christian art the heart is stirred to its very depths, the soul is moved with strong, irresistible and mighty impulses, while the purest, noblest and holiest feelings are aroused within us. As we gaze, our hearts are in Heaven with the souls of those heavenly forms portrayed before us. It stands alone in its native majesty and holiness, a sacred art, a holy of holies, speaking in ever-sounding tones to the listening multitudes, like the voice of the mighty prophets. Its voice will still go on through countless ages yet to come, onward still and onward, teaching them the same pure lesson of Divinity that it has taught us. Our hearts truly sympathize with that great artist who says of Christian art, “ This is the sculpture, this the painting for Eternity!”
LAUS DEO! On hearing the Bells ring for the Constitutional Amendment Abolishing Slavery in the United States.
BY JOHN G. WHITTIER,
It is done!
How the belfries rock and reel,
Did we dare
When was ever His right hand
Over any time or land
Ring O bells!
Ring for every listening ear
How they pale,
When the cruel rod of war
Blossoms white with righteous law, And the wrath of man is praise !
Let us kneel;
That our eyes this glory see,
Freer breathe the universe
As it rolls its heavy curse
For the Lord
The iron wall asunder,
It is done!
It shall bid the sad rejoice,
It shall give the dumb a voice, It shall belt with joy the earth!
Loud and long
Ring and swing
With a sound of broken chains
Tell the nation that He reigns, Who alone is Lord and God !
From the Illinois Teacher.
HISTORY is full of its lessons. “ The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done ; and there is no new thing under the sun.” A most accomplished writer of history declares that the record of the past, however completely mastered, can be comprehended by him only who studies it in the light of the present. This course marks the true historian, and distinguishes him from the mere antiquarian. So, too, the present is understood only as it is viewed in the light of the past. Men and nations pass away; principles live ever. Like causes produce like results. The actors and the stage may be changed, but the drama, be it tragedy or comedy, is ever repeated. Take a story of old Greece or Rome, change the names of men and places, and how wonderfully is it like a story of modern time!
The first lesson, then, that we learn from history is that it is both external and internal,—it has a body and a spirit. The outward manifestations — its wars, its dynasties, its architecture, its engineering - are its body. They are only the expression of its thought, its spirit. It is a mistake, then, when the pen of the historian, or the mind of his reader, has these things for its only or chief subject. Has not this mistake been frequently-yes, generally — made? How often, and how truly, is it said that History tells only of kings and of their wars! It seems to me that Gibbon had a very low estimate of his profession, when he wrote of the reign of Antoninus Pius that “ It is marked by the rare advantage of furnishing few materials for history; which is, indeed, little more than a record of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind.”
As the soul is more valuable than the body, which is, or ought to be, only its expression or instrument — so the great economical, social, political and religious opinions and questions which have possessed and agitated the minds of men at any point are more important, can we but grasp them, than the actions or institutions which they produced. They do not, however, lie upon the surface, — they are less
* An Essay, by Prof. Ç. C. Hewett. Read before the Illinois State Teachers' Association, at Monmouth, December 29th, 1864. Published by request of the Association. tangible ; indeed, it will often happen that we can learn nothing of them except through their outward manifestation. The oak is the expression of subtle forces which are working all about us night and day, how mightily, and yet how silently! Still, to study the laws and philosophy of vegetable growth is a deeper and nobler pursuit than mere “botanizing”. And, if we should fortunately become familiar with one of those subtle principles, it will help us to explain, and remember, more facts than we can learn in a whole summer.
I think history also teaches that honesty, justice, patriotism, philanthropy, truth,– in short, what we call the right,- is always really successful “in the long run’. Carlyle says: “Give a thing time; if it can succeed, it is a right thing.” The proverb that · Honesty is the best policy’expresses a belief in the same proposition. Bryant's declaration :
“ Truth crushed to earth shall rise again ;
is prophecy,— as the true poet's words often are,— and not mere sound. Humanity has a capacity to see, and a disposition to exalt and reverence, truth and rectitude, when it can look with eyes unclouded by the selfishness and prejudice of the present. Hence, nothing is more true than the proverb “ Vox populi vox Dei”, if we take the voice of the people for all time, while nothing is likely to be more false at any given moment.
Now, if it is true that history justifies the belief that noble aims and straight-forward measures succeed better than selfish aims and crooked ways; that honesty, sincerity and integrity are more likely to win than chicanery, injustice, and fraud; nothing can be more important than that this belief should be a living faith, especially in these times, when so many seem to think that the schemes of the selfish and shrewd commonly triumph over the purposes of the just. Let us see if history will allow us to believe that the world's ambitious warriors and butchers of their kind succeeded. We will instance the four greatest warriors, perhaps, of all time. When Alexander, the pretended son of Jupiter, after his meteor-like career, was about to sink a victim to his vices, and, foreseeing with his keen eye how his mighty empire would crumble in blood, exclaimed, “Give my kingdom to the worthiest,” did he feel that he had succeeded? His fabled grief for more worlds to conquer is not to be compared to his