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Drum sol kein papst, kein kardinal
Kein sünder nie verdammen;
Kan Gottes gnad erlangen.
*No priest shall ever venture more
To shake man's trust in heaven,
Can be by God forgiven.'* And now, from divers puzzled but none the less stern, or disposed to sit in judgment critics, comtes the question: What does all this Tannhäuser story mean?' Very grimly and misgivingly do they put the query, for the ill-temper of all judges, and especially of all self-appointed judges, is in exact ratio to their ignorance.
Do not understand me as advocating literal heathenism, O judges ! be it of ancient or modern times. I have no idea of sacrificing to Jupiter or Juno in the back-parlor, as did the Platonist Taylor, or of stealthily stabbing at the form in which any good man chooses to clothe his faith. Deeper than the outer Reformation-form, or moral, of the ballad, lies the romantic sentiment that love is all-levelling, all-sanctifying; that its intense earnestness is absolute, and may reconcile and blend a ray of light shot from hell with the gleam of a saint's glory. The occult theological sense of the ballad is that of redemption through love, human love of heart for heart being strangely blended with the sentiment of divine love, as we so often find it, not merely in the wild lays of the Eastern Sufis, or of Hafiz, but even in rapt monkish hymns to the Virgin. 'A remarkable peculiarity of Oriental poetry,' says Alger, “is the most unrestricted use of erotic phraseology to describe the religious life.'*
*THERE's never a spot in this wildered world
Where His glory shines so dim,
And lips are sweet from Him.' 'God is the infinite bodiless beauty and love, whose attributes darken and shimmer through the veils and illusions of nature, and whose embrace, uniting the soul to himself, is speechless bliss and endless rest.' This persuasion of the wonderful force and truth and beauty of love in every form; this Oriental identification of earthly and divine love, is the true and only key to the marvellous 'Shirhashirim,' the song of Solomon, whose claim to be a divinely inspired' or even 'religious' poem, has been so fiercely disputed from the days of Theodore of Mopsuestiæ down to these of Eichhorn and De Wette. Foolish theologians, not to remember that at the court of Solomon itself there was much coquetting not only with gazelle-eyed dames of the Moabites, Ammonites and Sidonians, but also with those other belles, Ashtoreth and Milcom ; those lorette goddesses, not exactly of the demi-monde, but very truly of the mezzoluna!
* TAE great popularity which this curious ballad (first printed A.D. 1500) enjoyed, may be inferred from the fact that three different versions of it, in as many different dialects, were current during the Reformation,
+ The Poetry of the East. By WILLIAM ROUNSEVILLE ALGER.
But there is a third and deepest meaning of this Tannhæuser song, which is the one I have endeavored to follow not only in this work, but in my deepest and most earnest view of life, and which I trust, dear reader, may be as pleasant and as serious to you, be you of the present day, or of future days far distant, when that which I now grasp at dimly and yearningly will be fully and clearly cried to all the world. It is the stern protest by some great heart, who passed away forgotten in the dark cruel age which knew him not, against that devilish blindness which would not recognize that the beautiful and joy. ous, and all which is most truly gratifying to a purely natural and honest mind, is not and cannot be wicked. He who wrote it, felt in his heart of hearts that there is in Beauty, in every form, as in integrity or love, a soundness and purity which identifies itself with absolute truth. And this Beauty which combines every thing true or attractive, is something great, highly important, a matter to rank with duty.
From the second century down to the present day, man has always protested directly or indirectly in a thousand ways, that the beautiful and pleasant is the chosen garb and form of all that is devilish, sinful and vicious! Nay, never deny it, man, for prevaricate as you will, that much rises above all quibbling to the knowledge of the impartial mind, and all denial will not prevent a future age from writing it down in history in more burning and glowing letters than are these poor words of mine. I have read Pharisaical cant on the 'immorality' of art, I have heard it time and again that Satan makes all his attacks under the seductive wiles of grace and tenderness and beauty, I have seen it set down that all loveliness is 'vanity.' But I have, in spite of all this, almost invariably found Vice ugly and loathsome, and her efforts to be beautiful only resulting in a tattered, be-rouged, pitiful parody, fascinating only those whom no true beauty would ever allure. And if I have sometimes seen Selfishness, Slavishness, Innate Falsehood, Thievishness and Vulgarity shrewdly cloak themselves under the beautiful, I have found on reflection that that beauty is generally artificial, and that the great majority of those fascinated are either ignorant, or themselves sympathetically inclined to falsehood. And after all, what is it but a tribute to Beauty that Vice strives to use it ? Certain it is, that Vice is not nearly so successful in such hypocrisy as when it puts on the dark robes of Religion.
Could any one man combine in his own experience the knowledge of human rascality and guile possessed by an old Detective, an Austrian diplomatist, a Parisian father-confessor, a Russian tschinovnik, or a Pennsylvania or Washington Member of the Third House, (and we must strike below earth's surface to find one more familiar with mean rascality than that,) he would confess that all knaves have a natural and instinctive repugnance for the truly beautiful. They may parade pictures, vaunt their taste; it is all but a cracked varnish, a shallow lie.
Reader, have you in your experience found that knaves, hypocrites, cruel wretches and liars are deeply penetrated by a love of the beautiful or of the healthy enjoyment of the best blessings of life? Have you found that sordidly avaricious, selfishly ambitious men are often penetrated by that genial sense of loveliness and love, without which no true joyousness exists? And finally, do you not understand that while such bad men could never have lived in the rosy Fairy land of our sovereign and noble Queen of all Beauty and Art and Song, of dear Dame Venus, they might have flourished ripely at the court of Urban, among the intrigues and poisonings and gloomy horrors of Rome in the dark ages ?
Every man who lives in the cultivation of his higher nature, be it as artist, poet, scholar, reformer, inventor, philanthropist, lover, friend, teacher, or welldoer of any kind ; so that he do all from deeply-seated interest in what he does, is opening little by little the way to that golden Venusberg and to an eternal life of Love!
À STOR M-PICTURE.
The trees are rocking to-and-fro,
Which they looked on,
A moment gone.
Before the blast
To ruin fast.
Over the waves,
Through ocean's caves,
With terror white
From childhood I have always been fond of dogs, and I may add, the affection has been reciprocal. Instinctively they know who their friends are. The more sagacious of them will pass through a company and select in a moment their sympathizers. So human in their tastes and attachments are dogs, that one can scarcely help being interested in their canine developments. The eye, the ear and the tail are their vocal organs. How expressive of affection and intelligence are they, never uttering a sentiment which they do not sincerely feel, and evincing their gratitude for the smallest favor. Even a kind look is at once reciprocated. Hard must be that heart which repels their approach by a stamp or a frown.
But all dogs are not equally attractive. There is an analogous difference between them and their superiors of the human family. Some are ferocious, others gentle; some have a dull and stolid look, and others seem almost instantly to read your countenance and comprehend your emotions. I always disliked bull-dogs and blood-hounds. Their very name, as well as their look, is forbidding. The large round head, protruding under-jaw and projecting eyes of the bull species, are indicative only of ferocity. So, also, the blood-hound, with his sinister look and stealthy gait, as if meditating an angry plunge, is to be feared rather than loved. These I would place, in the same relation to the more gentle and affectionate breeds, as I would the ferocious savage to the civilized and cultivated gentleman. I have no particular fancy, either, for lapdogs or poodles. I give them over to the mawkish affection of spinsters and French madams. But the mastiff! Who can withhold admiration from him, the nocturnal guard of your premises. His large but symmetrical head ; his broad, strong chest; his calm, collected manner, which speaks of a latent power it would not be safe to rouse; his majestic port and recumbent gracefulness, are characteristics of strength and beauty. When this noble animal lays his head gently on the knee of his mistress, and asks the touch of her soft hand, does she not feel that she has a friend who would risk his life in her defence ?
The gray-hound, clipper-built, to cut the air with the least possible resistance; the line of beauty running from nose to tail; the long, taper limbs, and bead-like eyes — mutual auxiliaries in the chase — is, even when at rest, an object of interest and admiration, How much more so when bounding like the rein-deer after his prey. The Newfoundland — that member of the human society whose quiet manner puts him among the contemplative of his species ; who needs an occasion to rouse him to the full measure of his influence; observing, even when himself not observed; taking under his special protection the children of the family, and ready, if any accident occur, to interpose in their behalf; this dog-angel — pardon the expression — cannot but. command our human reverence. The sleek little terrier, too, so affectionate, so sportive, and we may add, so useful; the household pet; admitted to the hearth-stone, and sharing in the sympathies of the whole family circle ; may also be classed among the canine aristocracy. Never can I look upon these animals, so kin: dred to humanity, without an affectionate interest.
I have been fond, also, of studying their physiognomy, so various in its expression and in the amount of its intelligence. No two are alike, any more than is the expression of two human faces. In one you will see playfulness predominating, in another affection, in another pluck or courage. But all have this one trait, unwavering attachment to their owners and masters. Providence has put in them this sympathy with and adherence to human beings for purposes of security and pleasure. It is a link between the brutal and the human, which operates to the benefit of both, and serves to keep alive a set of feelings needful for the development and exercise of the kindlier affections. I have little doubt that many a hard, ferocious human nature has been greatly mellowed by the constant influence of his more gentle and affectionate dogcompanion. And in the family, how often have individuals been tacitly reproved for their selfishness and their petulance by the quiet demeanor and generous love of the pet dog of the household.
From these remarks, it will be inferred that the writer has had his pets. This is true, and their peculiarities are worthy of being the subject of a few additional statements. Whoever may take the trouble to read this memorial of household pets — and I have no doubt some dog-lovers will — may find something interesting and perhaps instructive.
When the writer was a little boy, a bright-eyed, playful young terrier was presented to his older brother, and soon became the pet of the house. The name was, in regard to the sex, inappropriate ; it should have had a feminine appellative. But what's in a name? She was a beauty ; very knowing and very cunning, as we children said ; and all of us became strongly attrached to her. She was black and tan, with eyes bright as diamonds, and ears cropped, so as to give them, when erect, a most knowing and earnest look. It were superfluous to state how many caresses she daily received, while her favors were in return distributed freely and impartially. The first inquiry on coming from school was, where is Carlo ? Then commenced a system of caresses, accompanied by a dog-colloquy, which she seemed to understand, at least, so we thought, and which, to the best of her ability, she reciprocated. Playful as a kitten, she bounded about the house, up-stairs and down, seeking one here and another there, invading even our bed-rooms to greet us in the morning and to say good-night to us at evening. We were not accustomed to take her abroad, fearing some mishap, especially as she had not yet attained her full size. We feared she might be lost in the street, or set upon by other and larger dogs. But that which we feared came upon us.
One afternoon my mother, having some errands in the dry-goods line, took me with her, partly to keep me out of mischief and partly as company, and when we reached the place of dry-goods stores, which was a considerable dis