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should be given not to a few kings, a few priests, a few initiated into 'mysteries,' as of old, but to the whole world, for Christianity was the first Republicanism. It was no poverty of invention in HIM whose genius was beyond all conception, precedent or subsequent example, which prompted this calling from ancient myths. It was done that men should continue to revere what was good in their old religion and retain its true earthly enjoyments. And it indicates a degree of magnanimity and charity which may well put to shame those bigots who would root out every trace of rival sects; who did not in bygone times spare fire or fagot, and who would not spare them now could they use them to advance their paltry isms and mole-hill doctrines.
Christianity, as taught by our LORD JESUS CHRIST, was eminently healthy, brave-hearted and joyous. It did not commend celibacy, that devil's own device, nor excess of fasting, nor too long prayers, nor righteousness over-much. It did not approve of growing fat in wealth, to the neglecting the culture of intellect and morals and our higher faculties; in fact, this is practically more decried in the New Testament than are other sins, on which the much popular preaching of the present day lays infinitely greater stress. It does not approve of any excess of care, even in daily duties, when carried so far as to induce neglect of that 'one thing needful' to elevated humanity, or of that 'better part which distinguishes us from mere ants or bees. Christianity would never have prohibited youths and maidens from dancing around May-poles because the ' ungodly' did so, or hack them down because some foul-minded old canter had discovered that they were ancient Phallus-symbols: a fact of which youths and maidens were probably ignorant till he told them. CHRIST retained many a weightier fragment of the old worship than this. Christianity, in fact, if we make due allowance for the age and people in which it manifested itself, and the enormous iniquities against which it then had to make front, gives no warrant for the endless miseries and melancholy dirges, the wails and howls and agonizing groans which are continually raised in its name by men whom JESUS would have been the first to reprove. It was a religion of life and of beauty, of friendship and temperate mirth, of love, truth and manliness; one which opposed neither feasting at weddings nor 'going a-fishing.'
It is very true that Christianity soon became synonymous with melancholy and strife, as CHRIST HIMSELF predicted it would. Such a tremendous transition as the transfer of the equal rights given by Nature, from a few to the many, could not be effected without fearful tornadoes of wrath, death-struggling and confusion, over all which must rise again and again wails and sharp cries of agony. For eighteen hundred years that transfer of rights from the few to the many has lasted, and even now, all that we can boast is, that within the memory of man it has become a generally recognized truth among the great thinking minds of Europe and America that all mankind will gradually progress. Fortunately, the great mass of intellectual strength does at length recognize this, and having recognized it, is working to realize it. We may draw a free breath, for man's Rights are now only a question of time. But it has cost eighteen hundred years of agony, and now we just see light. worse before.
Well, it was
I may be pardoned if, when looking out in the world and seeing so much suffering, which requires cheerful encouragement and vigorous labor, with undaunted heart and merry mood, I hear all around nothing but doleful cries, soft, beautiful wails or monastic monodies, decrying the world and advocating seclusion from its sorrows and from contact with its coarseness, I become impatient. Oh! you sing very sweetly, you prove very musically that 'the rose goes with the wind, but the thorns remain behind,' and with true Tennysonian opium or lotus charm, with a yearning passion which exquisitely poisons and mortally enervates, do you wail to the wind-harp melodies of sorrow or of salvation!
'GOOD singers, 't is a saintly theme,
And very saintly sung;
But hold, I pray ye, though it stream
So smoothly off the tongue.
He who would show his name enrolled,
His flag for GOD unfurled,
Had better ply like wrestler bold
This froward, wicked world.'*
Young writer, young artist, whoever you be, I pray you go to work in this roaring, toiling, machine-clanking, sunny, stormy, terrible, joyful, commonplace, vulgar, tremendous world in downright earnest. By all the altars of Greek beauty themselves, I swear it to you; yes, by all that Raphael painted and Shakspeare taught; by all the glory and dignity of all art and of all Thought! you will find your most splendid successes not in cultivating the worn-out romantic, but in loving the growing Actual of life. Master the past if you will, but only that you may the more completely forget it in the present. He or she is best and bravest among you who gives us the freshest draughts of reality and of Nature. It lies all around you—in the foul smoke and smell of the factory, amid the crash and slip of heavy wheels on muddy stones, in the blank-gilt glare of the steam-boat saloon, by the rattling chips of the faro-table, in the quiet, gentle family-circle, in the opera, in the six-penny concert, the hotel, the watering-place, on the prairie, in the prison. Not as the poor playwright and little sensation-story-grinder see them, not as the manufacturers of Magdalen-elegies and mock-moral and mock-philanthropical tales skim them, but in their truth and freshness as facts, around and through which sweep incessantly the infinite joys and agonies, the dreams and loves and despair of humanity. Heavens! is not LIFE as earnest and as mysterious and as well worth the fierce grapple of Genius, here and now, in this American nineteenth century, as it ever was under the cedars of Italy, the olives of Greece, the palms of Morning Land? Is there not as much, or more vigor and raciness in the practical souls of the multitude and in their never-ending strife with Nature, as among the spoiled and dainty darlings of fortune and among the nerveless, mind-emasculated Victims of Society who sing us their endless Miserere from the Sistine chapels of fashionable novels? You know there is, and if you watch the time, you may see that it is the warm truth from real life, which is most eagerly read and which goes most directly to the hearts of all. Never
*UHLAND. Translated by ALEXANDER PLATT.
yet in history was there an age or a country so rich in great ideas, in great developments, or which offered such copious material to the writer as these of ours. Be bold and seize it with a strong hand. Those who are to live after us will wonder as we now do of the great eras of the past, that there were so few on the spot to picture them. Yet, why speak of great scenes, when humanity and Nature are always great-great in small things even, far beyond our utmost power of apprehension? Forget the spirit of the past, live in the present, and thus—and thus only—you will secure a glorious and undying reward in the future.
Of course I have a story to tell, else I should not be here. And yet I feel so unacquainted, and am so particularly bashful before you, gentle reader, I must say, that very large doubts rest on my mind, as to the most appropriate method of introducing myself. Shall I go back to that immensely early period of history, when my excellent ancestor, Timothy de Chikwede, attended the primary school, as a playmate and favorite of William the Conqueror? I say commencing there, shall I trace the line down to myself, telling you who were famous for good or evil in the Chickweed family, who were hanged, and who ought to have been, but by some hocus-pocus were not? And shall I honestly confess that, like many another 'old family,' owing to some one's carelessness in the matter of records, we are compelled to supply a few links from our imagination? Or shall I simply hand you my card, 'Mr. Orestes Chickweed,' 'Good Public,' and requesting said public to imagine me, hat in hand, very gracefully making my bow?
I think I'll try the latter. There is so little that is really reliable occurring now-a-days, that if I tell you a long story on the first plan, I entertain serious doubts whether you would believe it. I judge you a good deal by myself. In fact, as you may have noticed, that mode of forming an opinion is quite prevalent in the world. So, as a general thing, when I hear people boasting of their 'ancient family,' I quietly close my lips, and execute an inward whistle.
But now you see by the second plan, being in possession of my card, you have only to send down to the Mercantile Agency of Messrs. Know 'em and Black'em, and you will be supplied with an accurate (more or less) description of my financial standing, personal character, my age, whether I am married or not, and whether at the last Presidential election, I cast my vote for the excellent gentleman who now dwells in the White House, or threw it away on the late Mr. Bell, (politically late, I mean,) at least very possibly. I have noticed the agency clerks are very minute in their descriptions sometimes.
I can save you a good deal of trouble, I suppose, by saying — but hold, I'll go on with my story, and you can satisfy your curiosity, if you choose to go with me.
I may say this much, however. I am a junior partner in a hardware concern, down-town. If you wish to find us, I will say, our store is between Broadway and the East River; at the same time, below Canal-street. In fact, considerably so. Quite a walk, I may add. Last summer, quite early in June, I rose from a sick-bed, where by reason of over-exertion and exposure, while travelling westward, I had been a prisoner for rather more than a month, and thought I would go home to New-England, recruit, and visit what few relations I could find.
Of course I stopped a day or two in Newport, but 't was too early to find any one there, and I was soon off for the North.
A few miles out of one of New-England's best cities, I had several aunts, who lived together in a fine old place, in the village of Ashland. Thither I went, received a hearty greeting, after an absence of five years, and was soon sufficiently at home to see what changes had occurred since my previous visit. The village had increased greatly; and when I went to meeting of Sunday, I was surprised to find how very few people comparatively I could recognize, though I could not but feel gratified at the amount of attention bestowed upon myself.
Of course a vast amount of calling and tea-drinking followed. I evaded what I could, for I found myself entirely too weak for the incessant talking that was required of me; and a walk in the woods, with old Towser only to talk with, was undoubtedly much more for my physical benefit.
As I came home, just at dusk, one night, I found sitting on the door-step, talking with my aunt Keziah, a young lady and gentleman, whom I found, by an introduction, to be Miss Nannie H and her brother Ned knew by the name that the family were rather new-comers, who occupied a fine house, about half-a-mile distant, and were reputed wealthy. Only that very morning my aunt Keziah had said I should certainly like Miss Nannie. As for the young lady, it was hardly light enough for me to particularize, but I concluded she was pretty. Her figure was slender, and her features apparently good. Her voice was gentle and clear, her language elegant, and she seemed familiar with society. A very pleasant conversation was kept up, mostly by Miss H and myself, until my aunt Elizabeth, who had assumed my physical care, issued the most positive orders that we must come in out of the dampness.
It is a good thing' to have a careful aunt, especially in the country, where the night-air is so chilly and damp. But still I hardly appreciated her kindness, I am afraid, that night, because it reminded our visitors that it was getting late, and I was consequently deprived of further intercourse with my fair friend that evening. But they left an invitation to tea, of course, which was duly honored, and our acquaintance and friendship progressed rapidly. My physical condition speedily improved under her gentle nursing, and my inventive mind was sorely taxed to keep my partners under the impression that my health still required a few weeks' delay.
Sweet Nannie! How well to-night thy bright face comes up before me! Thy clear blue eye I seem to see, looking affectionately up to mine. Thy gentle head is leaning on my shoulder, and I feel thy warm breath on my sunburnt cheek.
But I am getting ahead of my story. Day after day our friendship strengthened. Idler as I was, I learned that the H mansion was a pleasant place, and I was cordially welcomed there. I took interest in the old man's beautiful trees and flowers, the brother's youthful plans, and Nannie's kind mother I loved as my own. Nannie brought out her sketch-book, and taught me what she knew; and piece by piece, I believe we copied almost every thing on the