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heard of Thee with the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth Thee!"
With its new sense of God, the afflicted and humbled spirit attains also a better knowledge of itself. The essential worth of a human soul is effectually taught by the process which takes all its dross away. Life in the sick room is existence stripped of its factitious adornments, from which all pomp and pride and festal shows, the glory of man, have departed. Whatever had been fuel to vanity is consumed in that furnace; all that was beautiful to the eye of a fond self-esteem is marred there; but beneath these is disclosed what outvies them by an infinite value. It is when man has seen all distinctions but moral ones reduced to nothing, and has learned how unavailing are riches and titles and pleasures to meet life's sorest exigence, and prepare for death's severing blow, that he begins to know in what his own worth consists. And in the penitent endeavor to repair what by the frailty of his nature and his own sinfulness has been lost of that true worth, he has a consolation which beguiles him of all that is bitter in the thought of other losses, which he wants power to make good again.
To the better knowledge of himself, and more intimate communion with God, the discipline of his peculiar lot will add, for the invalid's solace, a more adequate appreciation of his fellow-beings. They who minister to his wants, give him the daily blessing of their sympathy, and lavish their affection upon him, are understood now and valued as they deserve. His dependence upon their assistance and care for the alleviations which his suffering state admits, makes him feel how little he deserves in comparison with the much which he receives. Their sacrifices of rest and ease and enjoyment for his sake, teach him the disinterestedness which he requires to have constantly in exercise, if he would not sink from wretchedness to self-contempt and despair. How the voices penetrate us, which " whisper of peace" to our sick hearts! What a beauty is there in the smile that beams within our close apartment! How we welcome the kind ones, who come to break the long stillness of our solitary room with their pleasant words! Then are love's divinest offices made known to the soul. And to the help of our purer purposes and humbler efforts to
improve the fruit of the sharp teachings of pain, comes the strong impulse which is imparted by the virtues in others which have so redounded to our good.
Yet another element in the spiritual process which is going on amidst the sorrows of sickness, is the deeper conviction obtained through them of the value of our Christian faith and hope. It is when the night of life's direst experience has fallen upon us, when the true light pours down upon a mind bewildered and fainting in an untried, unimagined way, that the Gospel proves itself divine. "He that believeth hath," then, "the witness in himself." The conviction produced in life's best and happiest hours, cherished amidst every vicissitude, having borne the soul onward in peace "through all time of its prosperity and all time of its tribulation," remains to cheer and strengthen it in the season of desolation, decay, and death. In the methods which God employs to deepen and secure such a faith in himself, in the Redeemer, and in immortality, the lingering agony which belongs to an invalid's experience has its place. The endurance is more than compensated by the unutterable feeling of the preciousness of those promises and hopes, which is obtained by the fiery trial.
E. Q. S.
ART. III. MISS BREMER'S NOVELS.*
ALTHOUGH the translator of one of Miss Bremer's tales informs us that it closes the series of her published works, we are aware that she considers herself but upon the threshold of her literary career. She speaks of these works as only forming an introduction to others meditated or in progress. At this late period, after so much favor has been shown to her, we deem it not necessary to enter into a critical discrimination of her merits as a novelist, but would propose merely to notice some of the peculiarities which make her stories, in our estimation, invaluable.
We can truly say that it has been with unfeigned gratification, that, in the deluge of light literature which has been poured upon us from all lands, our eyes have from
* Fredrika Bremer's Novels. New York: Harper & Brothers. 1844. VOL. XXXVIII. -4TH S. VOL. III. NO. II. 15
time to time fallen upon one of the goodly succession of narratives from this amiable and accomplished writer. If the system of cheap publication will oftener afford us such works, however much we may regret the seeming injustice to the foreign author, we should dislike the interference of any circumstance which would prevent their wide-spread circulation. The sudden and general popularity of Miss Bremer's books, (while others with more captivating titles are passed by,) carrying with them as they manifestly do such genial influences, goes far to invalidate an opinion, too prevalent, that it is not safe to trust the general reader even to make a selection from that kind of literature of which so large a proportion is worthless, and a larger still detrimental.
Miss Bremer has come to us in good time, and we greet her most cordially. She has come with a warm heart to take all to her sisterly affections, and her musical voice chants sweetly those strains that compose the tune of every day life. It is preeminently her good fortune to have mingled the genuine elixir of life, for she has offered us that beverage which will ensure perpetual youthfulness of soul. The providence of God, nature and its changes, the human race under all circumstances, earth and heaven, all things are viewed with a serious, religious philosophy, and all overflow with poetry, the poetry that in its spirit breathes that calm influence which tends to make us content with our situation in life. Seldom have we found a writer who will better bear Shelley's test of the true poet : —
"Poetry turns all things to loveliness, it exalts the beauty of that which is most beautiful, and it adds beauty to that which is most deformed; it marries exultation and horror, grief and pleasure, eternity and change; it subdues to union, under its light yoke, all irreconcilable things. It transmutes all that it touches, and every form moving within the radiance of its presence is changed, by wondrous sympathy, to an incarnation of the spirit which it breathes; its secret alchemy turns to potable gold the poisonous waters which flow from death through life; it strips the veil of familiarity from the world, and lays bare the naked and sleeping beauty, which is the spirit of its forms."*
Those of our readers who have been delighted by the perusal of that book which with such witchery touches upon
* Essays. Vol I. p. 58.
all things on earth and in heaven, and is so unambitiously entitled "Letters from New York," will recognise in our authoress that same observing and kindly spirit, carried out into a broader and more general life, which is such a remarkable quality in the genius of our own Mrs. Child.
The first peculiarity that we would notice in Miss Bremer's novels, is their deep religious tone. It is not that superficial, sickly sentimentalism, which is found infused without measure into most of the, so called, religious novels. It has not been derived from the creeds and customs of bigoted, fanatical men. She has evidently listened to the deep-toned truths of the revelations of the Almighty God. She catches the rebounding echoes, as nature's wonders, in perfect concord, give back the sound. She lists as it falls in soft music, or direful thunders, down into the depth of the souls of men. The Divine goodness gleams over all earthly scenes, and is reflected into, and lights up the dark desert of the benighted mind. After feeling our way uncertainly through the will-o'-the-wisp vagaries of many of the popular novelists of the day, it is no slight relief to give ourselves up to the guidance of one who we feel cannot go astray. We have, moreover, no confidence in any views of human life, or in any speculations upon it, which do not in the outset recognise a religious capacity and require sternly its development. The only solution of the mystery of man's nature and destiny, and the only legitimate mode of translating the language of Providence, we are convinced, are to be found in the Christian faith. In our estimation of books and authors how often are we reminded of this truthful sentiment of Channing;
"Religion, if it be true, is central truth, and all knowledge which is not gathered round it, and quickened and illuminated by it, is hardly worthy the name. Men of the highest intellect should feel that if there be a God, then his character and our relation to him throw all other subjects into obscurity, and that the intellect, if not consecrated to him, can never obtain its true use, its full dimensions and its proper happiness."*
Another of the peculiarities of Miss Bremer's writings we find in her unsophisticated and enthusiastic admira
tion of nature. This she evinces when she attempts to paint that ever varying change which the material world presents. Upon her page the bright morning breaks upon us with its silvery, sparkling dews, and we feel the bracing breeze laden with the fragrance of all the flowers. We hear the "shrill, cheerly notes" of the skylark, "soaring and singing higher and fainter" until the lessening tones melt into the ethereal distance. We then turn to the merry chirps of the swallows, as they "circle hither and thither," and skim with their tiny wings the cool, glistening waters. And anon there breaks upon us the full chorus of all the voices of the morning. The noon of a summer's day comes on with its "grey, cloudy heaven," "its yellow, dry earth," "its languidness and silence," making us to feel its oppressiveness. The calm twilight hour succeeds, after the sun has gilded the hill-sides, shaded the vales, and lighted up gorgeously the canopy of cloud, when darkness is lowered so gently down. We then feel that "unnumbered spirits walk the earth," and are hushed at the solemn scene and awful presence in which we meditate. The change of the seasons is as faithfully portrayed; the gentle approach of spring, with its "airy leafgarlanded grottos" where the birds nestle, its song and fragrance, and its resuscitating influences; the summer, with its heat, its tempests, and its ripening fruits; the autumn, when earth's drapery fades and falls away; the winter, — and such a winter as she describes in Norway, where "nature proudly wraps herself in sterile repose," disposes us to rejoice in our more temperate clime.
In her description of scenes and changes, we have a consciousness that we are in the company of one who observes and appreciates all of nature's fitful moods. In the mild and gentle no fairy spirit could revel more joyously, but when the fury of the storm comes on, with the rolling thunders, the dark cloud chariots which "career over the pinnacles of the rocks and abysses of the vallies," she assumes the deep Norse tone of Ossian, and moves in a befitting sphere to direct and rule the tumultuous ele
Miss Bremerto notice one other of her peculiar excellencies is not less successful in describing the aspects of human life, and especially those domestic scenes in which