Слике страница

And the attendants who may throng around me
Shall want the flatteries which may basely warm
The sceptral thing they circle. Dark and cold
Stretches the path, which, when I wear the crown,
I needs must enter;-the great gods forbid
That thou shouldst follow in it!


O unkind!
And shall we never see each other?
ION. [After a pause.]

I have ask'd that dreadful question of the hills
That look eternal; of the flowing streams
That lucid flow for ever; of the stars,
Amid whose fields of azure my raised spirit
Hath trod in glory all were dumb; but now,
While I thus gaze upon thy living face,
I feel the love that kindles through its beauty
Can never wholly perish ;-we shall meet
Again, Clemanthe!



Bless thee for that name;

Call me that name again;-thy words sound strangely,
Yet they breathe kindness. Shall we meet indeed?
Think not I would intrude upon thy cares,

Thy councils, or thy pomps;-to sit at distance,
To weave, with the nice labor which preserves
The rebel pulses even, from gay threads
Faint records of thy deeds, and sometimes catch
The falling music of a gracious word,
Or the stray sunshine of a smile, will be
Comfort enough :-do not deny me this;
Or if stern fate compel thee to deny,
Kill me at once!


No; thou must live, my fair one;
There are a thousand joyous things in life,
Which pass unheeded in a life of joy

As thine hath been, till breezy sorrow comes
To ruffle it; and daily duties paid
Hardly at first, at length will bring repose
To the sad mind that studies to perform them.
Thou dost not mark me.


Oh, I do! I do!


If for thy brother's and thy father's sake
Thou art content to live, the healer Time
Will reconcile thee to the lovely things
Of this delightful world,-and if another,
A happier-no, I cannot bid thee love
Another!-I did think I could have said it,
But 'tis in vain.


I am thine own!

Thou art mine own then still? thus let me clasp thee; nearer; O joy too thrilling and too short!" pp. 97-101.

[ocr errors]

The mind of Mr. Talfourd is, we should judge, highly philosophical; his idea of excellence must be lofty, and we are far from denying, that he gives in his Ion abundant proofs of true genius. But still, reflection must be more predominant in his mind than strong and controlling feelings, or than genuine ardor and single-heartedness. Hence, there is too much describing and too little acting in the piece, too much analysis, and too little working of the mind and heart. It accords with this character of reflection which we are disposed to attribute to Mr. Talfourd, that every part of the work manifests care and labor. The language itself is much elaborated,-occasionally intricate, and involved, through fullness of thought and through an unfortunate propensity of the author, to pursue a reflection or a figure to a wearisome extent. An instance of this, for which a good plea may be put in, is the following, where Ion is alone, and has a right to muse:


O winding pathways, o'er whose scanty blades
Of unaspiring grass mine eyes have bent
So often-when by musing fancy sway'd,
That craved alliance with no wider scene
Than your fair thickets bordered, but was pleased
To deem the toilsome years of manhood flown,
And, on the pictured mellowness of age
Idly reflective, image my return
From careful wanderings, to find ye gleam
With unchanged aspect on a heart unchanged,
And melt the busy past to a sweet dream
As then the future was ;-why should ye now
Echo my steps with melancholy sound
As ye were conscious of a guilty presence?
The lovely light of eve, that, as it waned,
Touch'd ye with softer, homelier look, now fades
In dismal blackness; and yon twisted root
Of ancient trees, with whose fantastic forms
My thoughts grew humorous, look terrible,
As if about to start to serpent life,

And hiss around me ;-whither shall I turn?—
Where fly-I see the myrtle-cradled spot
Where human love instructed by divine
Found and embraced me first; I'll cast me down
Upon that earth as on a mother's breast,
In hope to feel myself again a child.' p. 57.

But when Adrastus attempts the same thing, it amounts to rant. The most faulty passage, perhaps in the play, is the one where twenty-two lines are employed in describing a burning pine-tree, which is to illustrate the manner in which the "royalty of Argos shall pass in festal blaze to darkness!" This comparison comes from the mouth of a man out of breath with anger, and seated in a public assembly amid his enemies. Mr.

Talfourd clearly does not understand action or strong passion as well as eloquence and sentiment.

On the whole this is a very admirable play, whatever defects a strict or impartial eye may see in it; and reflects the highest credit upon its author. It becomes therefore the more important-especially since Ion seems destined to please the unthinking many as well as the reflecting few-to ask what its moral influence is likely to be? how far it is calculated to subserve the great cause of moral education, which literary men are so apt to overlook. We trust, that we can carry our readers along with us in this inquiry, for we presume, that none of them have adopted that German notion, that it is of little importance for a work of taste to have a good moral tendency, as though these two departments were as distinct as algebra and politics. Ion, then, viewed as representing a character actuated by the highest benevolence cannot but be useful. Benevolence looked at in its higher displays tends to raise the standard of feeling and action in the mind. Still more useful is it in this world of sorrow and sin to have examples of suffering benevolence placed before us, for that is the hardest part for human nature to act. But here the good effect of the play ends. Mr. Talfourd has stolen the fire of benevolence from christianity, but he has forgotten to carry it in the reed which could keep its flame alive. He has represented an impossible virtue; we do not mean one in itself impossible, but impossible under the government of a rewarding God. Even such heathen as Socrates could not have made their actual attainments in morals without God and without hope. But Ion looks forward to no joy set before him; he has respect to no recompense of reward; his moral power, unaided by such considerations, is strong enough to enable him to rival martyrs. Their virtue, then, was of an inferior order. The best possible virtue is that which needs no heaven and no God. It is sufficient for itself. Such we conceive may be the reflections of a mind morally undisciplined, as it contemplates this beautiful but unreal virtue of Ion. And such may have been the proud virtue of the Stoics; such may now be the virtue of a certain romantic school, but it is not that of the scriptures; it cannot be that of a moral system, in which there is seated upon the throne one who judges right. Still less can it be the virtue of feeble mortals, who-under the pressure of all the motives that appeal to the sense of right and the love of happiness can hardly be induced to rouse themselves to virtuous action. The truth is, that many persons of more than the ordinary depth of mind, and who have a high standard of excellence,

conceive of virtue without God, and independent of him. And this tendency is encouraged by the fashion of the day, of resolving all virtue into benevolence,-a mode of statement which may be theoretically true, but, as we conceive, practically of pernicious tendency. For the mind has need, above all things else, of feeling, that true virtue consists in its connection with God, in its right recognition of him in all his relations. There might have been but one creature made, and then good will in the lower sense of the term would have been impossible, but there cannot be no God, and the duty of piety can never cease to be necessary. That idea of goodness, then, which is formed without taking him into consideration, is far more incomplete than that which includes no one else. Further, the tendency of our mechanical philosophy, is, perhaps, unavoidably to shut God out of his own world; to throw up a thick wall of second causes before him; so that it is hard, very hard, to see and feel God in nature-here, then, atheism has the advantage; but if the soul can be made to recognize a moral law, we need not fear the atheism of the natural philosopher. But here a new and more dangerous kind of atheism invades the mind of this age. We have a moral universe framed and put into motion with no God in it. The idea, the sentiment of virtue, is to be our law, and to guide us onward to excellence without a sense of obligation to obey a holy moral governor, and without another world urging its motives upon us. Thus God is put aside in both worlds, the outer and the inner. In the outer the atheists show themselves; we see where the mine lies, and can suspect that all is not right, but in the inner they gain their point without noise and in secret, under the form of elegant literature; and minds that would scorn the imputation of having an atheistical notion of virtue are poisoned before they are aware. In many instances the conception of virtue which our popular writers express is so imperfect, or so much at variance with human nature, that they carry their antidote with them, or at least the poison is not very strong; so much the greater is the danger, when a man of true genius, like Mr. Talfourd, succeeds in constructing a beautiful and exalted character, and in making it seem to rest on a solid basis, when there is nothing in truth or nature to support it. That others are far more worthy of blame in this respect than our author, we readily concede; but we are not excused, for that reason, from raising a note of warning concerning this error so dangerous because so much overlooked, and so insidious.


An Inquiry respecting the Self-determining Power of the Will; or contingent volition. By JEREMIAH DAY, President of Yale College. New Haven: Herrick & Noyes. 1838.

WE hail with pleasure the appearance of this volume on so important a subject by its venerated author. As it comes to us just at the moment we are closing our present number, we have been able to give it but a cursory perusal, and our notice of it must of necessity be brief. We can assure our readers, however, that it will amply repay the trouble and expense of purchase and examination; and we rejoice to point to so valuable an auxiliary in the defense of important truth. Those who are acquainted with Pres. Day's habits of thought and writing, will scarcely need be told, that the work is neither a hasty production, nor wanting in perspicuity. The style is peculiarly neat and simple, and the illustrations and reasoning familiar and easy to be understood. Our space will not allow us to say much, but we shall give as full a view of the work as our limits will permit.

Pres. Day, as our readers may know, wrote for the Christian Spectator, of 1835, a review of Cousin's Psychology. In that article he was unable to consider at length the French philosopher's opinion on the subject of the will; and this omission has led to the publication of the present volume. His chief object is to combat the notion of the self-determining power of the will. President Edwards, in his discussion of this subject, considered the doctrine of self-determination, as involving the alternative," that every volition is determined either by a preceding volition, or by nothing at all. The latter is contingent self-determination." "This appeared to him," as Pres. Day remarks, "so obviously absurd, as not to call for a logical statement, expanded into the form of a regularly constructed demonstration. To the other branch of the subject he has done such ample justice, that the question concerning it may be considered as definitively settled. This may be the reason why the advocates of a self-determining power of the will, adhere so tenaciously to that form of the doctrine which implies contingence, as being the only ground left on which they can hope to maintain their position." pp. 10, 11. It is to this view of the sub

« ПретходнаНастави »