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is speaking out the earnest faith of a life, and who, to make that faith known and to do what good he can to strengthen others, springs — wildly at times it may be, here and there — to call as many as he can in the crowd of this great noisy Vanity Fair to his wares. And I speak to women, because I believe in women — in some as they are, in all as they will be. I believe, because I have seen it, that when honest women are truthfully and intellectually educated, they grow up truthful, intellectual beings. I believe, that were they in girlhood brought up less for show, less according to empty rules or forms, and more according to that self-reliance so much inculcated on boys, they would be self-reliant as are those of the other sex, and as gifted in the works of genius, without losing a single real charm or grace. I believe that women might be so educated that they would be earnest, natural creatures, no longer comediennes in society; and that if this were effected, many men would follow their example. I believe that if a girl of average intelligence and healthy constitution were like “Mademoiselle de Choisy' in the droll French comedy, brought up as a boy, and by extraordinary fortune kept in ignorance - I do not say of her sex, but of the thousand coquetteries and minauderies which now characterize the relations of the sexes, she would develop in more graceful form the intellectual energy of the boy, master the same studies, and be nearly as 'selfreliant.' And finally, since I believe all this, and because I know that many women, despite the present 'accomplishment' system of forming girls' minds, are earnest and reflecting persons, not rejecting every thing because it is new, I have spoken so pointedly to you, lady-reader, that pleasant reality and cheering presence to a writer of the present day; you, fair Woman, who have for two or three centuries taken the place of the 'O Muse !’ of early days.
You told me, reader, in the earlier lines of this chapter, that to you pathos is tender, and tenderness exquisite. And in like manner I can remember to have once heard from one whose beautiful and peculiar soul always awakened in me a most earnest and loving curiosity, that beauty was never so beautiful as when melancholy, for that then it seemed most refined.
In that last word we have the secret mystery of the attraction. It is truly the refinement, the dignity; the being lifted above vulgar and common-place daily feelings which is most fascinating to every mind, and of all delight, all rapture, there is nothing like feeling ourselves exalted. Love, intoxication, strife — all that excites owe their deepest charm to this, that by them SELF is in one strange way or the other lifted up, out of self, to something superior to the last station occupied.
You women, dear lady-reader, are naturally more aristocratic than men ; fonder of realizing more refined positions, be it in the eyes of others or in your own consciousness, and consequently you are more prone to take refuge in those impregnable fortresses of nature, the feelings. In sincere tears the duchess and the peasant-girl are alike elevated to truth. They recal that fountain of youth in Holbein's picture, in which old women and young girls, queens and beggar-maids are all stripped of distinction, all of one age, and from whose waters all are going up equal in beauty. Decidedly, Dame Reader, so far you are right. Tears are refining, are æsthetically aristocratic, and it is true that
melancholy often gratifies (even while it embitters) the deepest yearning of our nature — the desire to realize a higher ideal position.
But unfortunately, tears are like brandy or opium : they bring a reäction. The luxury of woe has its surfeit, and prostrates and weakens. There are times when bodily ailments require brandy, and when spiritual sorrows call for tears; but neither are needed when we are in health. To make melancholy – as most writers have done — the highest test or phase of beauty, is like making intoxication the pleasantest and most desirable state of mind. That it is not, I know, for I never felt even from Veuve Clicquot - no, nor after the opening of those stupendous yellow seals which reveal apocalypses of Johannisberg, such exhilaration as one feels from simple, sober, perfect health on a fine Indian-summer morning. I have tried both — the one in Schloss Johannisberg itself, and the other every where. and of the two, the best excitement was that of my own bounding life-blood. So with that melancholy which in the long run is like yellow-seal Hock —'ve-ry expensive.'
But health is better than wine, and strength --joyous, noble, high-toned strength — is more refined ; more commanding; ay, more exquisitely aristocratic than melancholy. Tears ! — why, they dry involuntarily before that serene, self-reliant Beauty in whose presence all melancholy, be it never so delicate and refined, appears weak and pitiful. Even in the luxury of grief itself, you may find this proved. Is it not true that in sorrow the mind is gathered upon one emotion, lifted as it were by a strange strength into the intoxication of feeling? And now reflect. What is it that gives to Beauty its most exquisite fascination, its most delicious and enviable charm, if it be not power ; the power to influence and lead and move? You may say that Melancholy and Strength are different of kind but equal in fascination. It is not so. Let there be brought before man or woman a beauty most exquisitely refined by melancholy, most tenderly subdued by pathos, and let the poetry of her tenderness act upon the beholders until they deem that enchantment can no further go, and lo! the whole charm will be rapt up and absorbed in a higher fascination, inconceivably nobler, when that beauty awakes to intellectual STRENGTH, soaring on angel-pinions to lands of light, where the pure dwellers are. Onward through the blue, above snowy clouds, go the white, broad wings how the world worships ! Oh! how more exquisitely, more infinitely rapturous to the keenest sense of loveliness, is the upward flight of the angel than the sorrowful stillness of the earth-bound weeper !
Beauty! you are very lovely, when you are sad, exquisitely charming; and to kiss the tears from your eyes would be nectarean. But when your soul rises in vigorous intellect, when you display cultivation and strength of character, then I see the white wings flash out and the upward, onward flight of the angel.
There is but one mystery of mysteries on earth or in heaven, and its name is STRENGTH
* Disse allora Biondello; Bene, isvo verso là, is gli faro motto.'—BOCCACIO, IL DECAMERONE GIOR. LX.
I WANTED a motto to this chapter, one of those curt abridgments or little overtures expressing either the subject-matter in brief, after the manner of Spenser, or the feeling which lies, obscurely it may be, in the heart. Greater minds than even Spenser's have not disdained the motto — is not the scale or gamut of colors which Leonardo da Vinci painted over his Last Supper one ? And opening the first work at hand, that noble book " Margret Howth,' by the great-hearted REBECCA HARDING, I found the following:
"The self-existent soul! stopped in its growth by chance; this omnipotent deity — the chance burning of a mill!' Knowles muttered to himself, looking at Holmes. With a dim flash of doubt, as he said it, whether there might not, after all, be a Something - some deep of calm, of eternal order, where he and Holmes, these coarse chances, these wrestling souls, these creeds, Catholic or Humanitarian, even that namby-pamby Kitts and his picture, might be unconsciously working out their part. Looking out of the hospital-window, he saw the deep of the stainless blue, impenetrable, with the stars unconscious in their silence of the maddest raging of the petty world. There was such calm, such infinite love and justice! it was around, above him; it held him, it held the word — all Wrong! all Right! For an instant the turbid heart of the man cowered, awe-struck, as yours or mine has done when some swift touch of music or human love gave us a cleaving glimpse of the great I Am. The next he opened the newspaper in his hand. What part in the eternal order could that hold ? or slavery, or secession, or civil war ? No, harmony could be infinite enough to hold such discords, he thought, pushing the whole matter from kim in despair. Why, the experiment of self-government, the problem of the ages, was crumbling in ruin! So he despaired, just as Tige did the night the mill fell about his ears, in full confidence that the world had come to an end now without hope of salvation, crawling out of his cellar in dumb amazement when the sun rose as usual the next morning!'
I HAVE asserted that the genial and fearless cosmopolite spirit which I hope may be disseminated in Art and Literature, instead of the debilitating tenderness which is now their predominant characteristic, has not, as I understand it, been set forth by any writers; not even by those whom the world regards as most cheerful. It is true that the desire to make philosophy cheer and invigorate, has inspired many thousands of souls. Coleridge detected this in Rabelais, when he spoke of him as one of the deepest as well as boldest thinkers of his age,' when he asserted that his buffoonery was not merely Brutus's rough stick which contained a rod of gold, it was necessary as an amulet against the monks and legates,' and most of all when he asserted that
never was there a more plausible, and seldom, I am persuaded, a less appropriate line, than the thousand times quoted:
* RABELAIS laughing in his easy-chair'
of Mr. Pope.' This is all true enough. But the inspiring philosophy of Rabelais, as I have asserted, was not for the world, and therefore by its very conditions, was far from being perfect. It differed as much from the genial universal spirit now dawning on the world as branches of natural science shut up in the 'mysteries' and tradesmen's guilds of the Middle Ages, differed from the same when enlarged and published by the true science of the nineteenth century. Indeed I must admit that it was cherished by all the daring independent thinkers of early ages under the name of Philosophy. Epicurus set it forth very distinctly, Socrates lived practically in it, Democritus — in fact, all who sought to school the mind against misfortune and superstition and to rise to health — believed more or less in it. Lucretius touches the point with a needle :
O WRETCHED minds of men ! O bosoms blind!
And fearless mind of calm and happy vein.' But, unluckily, through all the golden array of the ancient brotherhood, among all the sages who walked in groves or amid porticoes, there was no recognition of the fact that Philosophy must be imperfect until universal; that the cup could never taste sweetest until it should be tasted by all the world — by all the sons and daughters of affliction. No, divine Philosophy, consolation and fearless laughing strength, was for the Initiated alone. The superb old Initiated! With what a hearty good will they hated the dirty multitude and the barbarian ; with what intense relish they enjoyed the thought of being apart reserved, adepti ; eating pleasant feasts in secret, unknown to the outsiders.' It is true that I speak as a man, for universal philosophy was as yet impossible, and all things were following then, as now, the tremendous and inevitable laws of historical development. Remember that I am neither praising nor blaming, but earnestly answering the question in what the Hilariter philosophy (so much needed by the melancholy men of the present day) differed from the practical philosophy so often called divine by those of the early age.
But there came an era, or a being; sublime, universal, loving beyond all power of human conception ; under whose teaching philosophy became indeed truly divine, for it became infinite, and was thrown open to all. that I mean JESUS of Nazareth! I know the difficulties of the position; I know well the acute wit of many of this day, who deserve the highest respect for their courage and love of freedom, but I must confess that though regarded from a material and historical point alone, that is a poor cowardly soul which does not feel the deepest earnestness of truth in acknowledging the Wonderful One, JESUS CHRIST, as the LORD and Saviour of the whole world. He, first of all, cherished the doctrine of throwing open the consolations of free thought, of freedom from old superstition, of love and strength and genial joyousness to ALL mankind. No narrow limits of Judaism or Romanism cramped Him, the first great Cosmopolite. If, as the translation of Egyptian Books of the Dead and works of art sufficiently show, the Mosaic religion was a reform of the old
Need I say
Egyptian ; what an inconceivable reform of Judaism, and of that which was best in all the old philosophies, was the doctrine taught by Christ!
I lose myself in admiration at the infinite adaptability, at the universal knowledge of humanity, at the incredible tact every where manifest in the original Christian philosophy of life. I am not speaking here for the delectation of those narrow-minded men who are, though they know it not, the creatures of all others inimical to the humane doctrines of JESUS, doctrines which are so infinitely progressive and expansive in their nature. Nor for the serious' Pharisees, who make life bitter by their avoidance of the world;' who disgrace our whole Anglo-Saxondom by their vindictive Hebrew psalming and cursing ; who calumniate the dear Christ who loved little children, by making life a hell for the young in constantly limiting and again limiting all pleasure and amusement and merriment. I have known professed atheists, who had more of Christ's spirit in them than these hyenas of faith. There is no greater hypocrisy than when such men profess to regard Christianity as the most glorious development of infinite power. And so all the world will some day speak, when Christianity shall be taught as Christ taught it, as it once existed, before it was defiled with all the Oriental corruptions and forms and miseries which it gathered up in the second century.'
That Christianity was to a certain degree on its secular side a reform; or rather, that it judiciously and eclectically retained all that was good in the old faith, especially its joyousness and love of what was pleasant and healthy in Nature, is to me also a matter of faith. Why is it that many divines pass over so gingerly, as though giving a hold to infidel speculation, the fact, which must sooner or later be known to all the world; that the cup with the bread and wine were primævally ancient symbols, typical of life and regeneration; borrowed from early rites? With the Hindu Yoni goblet, with the golden can of Northern races, with the tazza-shaped beaker forming the central point of every heathen 'mystery' and secret rite of old, are we to suppose that it was adopted in the sacrament, without reference to early associations or meanings ?* No, it was a recognition of the life, flowing through eternity and all its changes, of reviving wine, of human love and birth and death, of bounteous, beautiful nature, with its joys and continually renewed strength — the whole given not in funeral guise, not with fasting, but as a joyous feast.
The whole New Testament abounds in symbols, myths and proverbs, taken from heathen antiquity, but carefully stripped of all the ethnic-consecrated vileness and cruelty and tyranny which had gathered around them. Thus they are delicately and beautifully woven into a purer and more liberal faith, whose object was that the healthy joys of life, and all knowledge of divine TRUTH,
* ACCORDING to JUSTIN MARTYR this use of the cup and other coïncidences between the old religion and the new were due to diabolical anticipation — the devils knowing that the sacrament and baptism would be used in the cause of truth in after-years, cunningly introduced them into religion thousands of years in advance, in order to detract from their value and originality when their time should come. It is amusing to find Roman Catholics writers, down even to Father Huc, accounting for the identity of the Buddhist forms of religion with those of their own church, by attributing every thing to the direct agency of the devil. Cela coute si peu. There was always among the patres of Justin's stamp a strong tendency to curse those fellows who said our good things before we uttered them.'