Page images

proportion to its general culture and growth. The tree of evil is not destroyed by pruning away a branch here, and a branch there. So long as its root remains in the earth, so long will it live, and flourish. All classes of reformers see and deplore its growth. One class thinks all evils come from the breach of the seventh commandment, another class ascribes them all to the eating of flesh or fish, to the drinking of rum, wine, or cider; this class fancies the world would move on as it should, if women were but allowed equal civil and political rights with men; that class is sure all things will be restored to primitive innocence, love, and harmony, the moment negroes are declared to be no longer slaves; and this other class, when nations shall no longer appeal to arms to decide their disputes. Each of these classes of reformers mounts its hobby and rides away, condemning all as children of the Past, as wedded to old abuses, as the enemies of truth and virtue, who will not do the same. But not one or another of these classes shall succeed. All these classes of evils are mutually connected, and no one of them can be cured separately. The cause of them all lies deep in human nature, as now developed, and they must be regarded as inseparable from the present stage of human progress. The doctors, who are vaunting their skill to cure them, are merely prescribing for the symptoms, not the disease. War is a melancholy thing. Philanthropy cannot but weep over its doings. But as long as the passions of the human heart remain as th are, and the interests of the world continue in their present complicated state, it is perfectly idle to talk of the cessation of war. Everything manly in our nature rises indignant at the bare name of slavery; but should the negroes be declared free, and all other things remain as they were, slavery would not be abolished. One of its forms might be slightly changed, but its substance would continue the same. Give woman equal civil and political rights with man, and if her present tastes and culture remain, her influence will be just what it now VOL. I. NO. III.


is. Intemperance is not a mother-evil. It is the symtom, not the disease. Temperance lectures will not cure it. It will remain in spite of Temperance Societies, in spite of law, in spite of religion, till the causes producing it are removed, and men are able to find an innocent source of the excitement they crave. Chastity may be commended, but it will not be universal, till the whole community is so trained that it can find more pleasure in sentiment than in sense. The object of each class of reformers is, we are willing to admit, good, and praiseworthy; but it can in no case be insulated and gained as a separate object.

The work of reforming the world is a noble one. The progress of Man and society goes on. But it goes on slowly, much more so than comports with the desires of our one-idea reformers. These reformers, with one idea, are no doubt worth something. Each class of them may contribute something to aid on the work. But no one of them can do much, or run far ahead of the general average of the race. The evils of life rise as lofty mountains in our path. We cannot go over them, nor turn our course around them. They rise alike before all of our race, and form the same barrier to the onward march of all. We must remove them. If we take ourselves to the work with faith and energy, we can remove them. But we can do it only a little by little. Our generation works its brief day at the task, and worn out gives way to another; another comes and removes its portion, and gives way to yet another. Thus do generations labor, and yet centuries elapse before we can perceive that they have made any impression on the mountain. Ever and anon a company may undermine a portion of rock and earth, which come down with thundering noise and raise much dust, and some of the spectators may fancy the work is done. But when the noise has subsided, and the wind has brushed away the dust and smoke, it is seen that many of their number have been crushed under the falling masses, and that fragments have rolled back and blocked up the path which had

already been cleared. There may be something sad and depressing in this view. Life is full of deep pathos to the wise man. Sorrow springs from experience. He, who knew most of man and his trials, was said to be a “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Man's path from the cradle to his union with God, is not of smooth and easy ascent, strewed with flowers, and shaded by groves from which the sweet songsters are ever warbling their wild notes. It is steep and rugged, and we ascend not without labor and difficulty. Yet is there no cause for complaint. Man has some strength; let him use it, and not murmur because he has also some weakness. Something he can do; let him do it, and complain not that there is something he cannot do. Each generation has its allotted work; let it take itself cheerfully to its performance. The race is immortal; and as one generation does its work and passes off to receive its reward, a new generation comes on to take up the work where its predecessor left it. The work shall then go on, and the race be ever achieving its destiny. What is it then, though this generation cannot do so much as to leave nothing to its succes


We have no fellowship with the philosophy, that teaches us to regard with indifference the efforts of a single individual, however puny, to advance the cause of humanity. True philosophy teaches us to find a sufficient reason for whatever occurs, and to see good in everything. We ought therefore never to condemn outright any class of reformers, or plan of reform, we may meet; but we cannot refrain from regarding most of the reformers who fill our age and country as extremely short-sighted, and their plans as most wofully defective. We would not make war upon them, nor in our sober moments treat them otherwise than with great tenderness; but we cannot bring ourselves to act with them. Whoever would pass for a man of correct feelings, and of some degree of philosophic wisdom, must see and deplore the ills that afflict himself and brethren; he must labor with all his might to cure them; but he will proceed always calmly, with chastened hopes, and with the conviction that the only way to cure many evils is to bear them. The lesson, To Bear, though difficult to learn, and one that many of us never do learn, is one of the lessons most essential to man in his earthly pilgrimage. Even these evils, of which we complain, may be made the ministers of our virtues and the means of our spiritual growth.

The human race makes its may through the centuries, step by step, to its destiny. The evils we now see and feel will one day be removed. But new evils we know not of will doubtless spring up, new mountains arise whose highest peaks are not yet seen in the distant horizon. The lessons of the reformer will be ever repeated, and his trials, labors, sufferings, martyrdom, ever renewed. Well, be it so. The brave spirit will not shrink from the prospect. Life is a struggle. Who would that it should not be? It is from this struggle that Humanity derives her strength, obtains possession of her powers ; in it she finds her life; in it she lives; by it she fulfils her destiny. Let us accept it as our heritage, and go forth with strong arms and stout hearts, — and yet not with over sanguine expectations of wonders to be achieved,- to the work that lieth nearest us in time and space, and leave the result to Him in whose hands we and all things are, and with whom it rests to grant or withhold success.

[blocks in formation]

Observations on the Growth of the Mind; with Remarks on some other Subjects. By Sampson REED. Boston: Otis Clapp. 1838. 12mo. pp. 192. — This is a valuable little work. Little work, we may call it in its dimensions, but in no other sense. Its author, Mr. Reed, is a profound, and in some respects an original thinker. He has a mind of a high order, and might, if his ambition led him that way, be one of the first metaphysicians of the country. His Observations on the Growth of the Mind prove him familiar with the psychological phenomena of human nature, and they deserve to be read by all who are disposed to know themselves.

Mr. Reed is a member of the New (Swedenborgian) Church, - a Church making rather too great pretensions for our taste, but which counts among its members some of the best men our country affords,

- men remarkable for their quiet demeanor, and unaffected piety. It is the custom of many to laugh at the New Church, to ridicule its pretensions to frequent intercourse with the Spirit-world; but a Church which can commend itself to such minds as the author of this volume, and many others of the same stamp, must needs make the laughter of those who would laugh at it appear exceedingly sad. We are not prepared to receive all its doctrines; but we confess that we find in the works of Emanuel Swedenborg much sound philosophy, many original and striking views of religion in general, and much just appreciation of Christianity in particular. Swedenborg was too exclusively a mystic for our temper; but we believe the study of his works would do not a little to enlighten Christians of all denominations, and advance the cause of scientific theology and rational piety. We say the same of all the works we have seen of the receivers of his doctrines, and therefore it is we welcome the appearance of this little volume, and commend it to the serious attention of all who are willing to read and think on spiritual subjects.

Emancipation in the West Indies. A Six Months' Tour in Antigua, Barbadoes, and Jamaica, in the year 1837. By Jas. A. Thome, and J. HORACE KIMBALL. New York : 1838. 12mo. pp. 489. — This is a work which can hardly be expected to have any authority out of the ranks of the Abolitionists. Messrs. Thome and Kimball, two redhot abolitionists as they were, and not over and above stocked with those qualities which are most essential to judicious observers, might indeed write a book which would commend itself to the tastes and judgment of their employers; but they were the last men in the world to be employed to write a book on the West Indies. Men of sober feelings, calm judgment, and in no way previously committed, were the men, that should have been sent out to make observations on the working of Emancipation in those Islands. The book before us we have read attentively; but we judge ourselves as ignorant of the real condition of the Negroes in the West Indies as we were

« PreviousContinue »