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punishments, and wavered on the borders of friendly fellowship; and the lot of those Arianism. Although a Baptist by associa- who:e privilege it was frequently to entertion, he never administered, nor (in mature tain them, may be innocently envied. The life) witnessed the ceremony of immersion. brilliant conversational powers of the one, His views on ecclesiastical matters became and the sober, ponderous, but ever interestcontemptuously lax. "I have long felt," he ing and attractive calculations of the othersays, “an utter loathing of what bears the both distinguished for their intelligence, degeneral denomination of the Church, with all | votion, benevolence, and mutual admirationits parties, contests, disgraces, or honors. would constitute such a concert of mingled My wish would be little less than the disso-wit, wisdom, and worship as any of us would lution of all church institutions, of all orders be glad to listen to. And yet these two men and shapes; that religion might be set free, were essentially dissimilar in constitutional as a grand spiritual and moral element, no faculty, in modes of thought, and in prevaillonger clogged, perverted, prostituted, by ing disposition. If they are associated togecorporation forms and principles.” He re- ther, it is rather by way of antithesis than moved to Chichester in 1797, where he labor comparison. Mr. Hall had imagination, so ed without being appreciated, and therefore bad Mr. Foster; the one, however, revelled without success, for two years and a half. in remote speculations; wandered grandly in In 1799 he took up his residence with the the grand unseen; drew pictures of heaven Rev. J. Hughes, * at Battersea, where he act- and portraits of God: the other was more ed as a sort of voluntary missionary around minutely poetic; picked up a flower and the metropolis, and where he endeavored to traced its history; sought the shelter of a instruct twenty-one black boys brought over great old oak, and dreamed over all that had from Sierra Leone! He was in later years happened on the spot encompassed by its variously occupied as preacher and writer, sombre shade; would conceive a long history, and finally removed to the beautiful village of which a groan would be the suggestive of Stapleton, near Bristol, where he passed circumstance and the central chapter. Mr. his time in regular labors for the press, (chief- Hall's mind ran naturally into elaboration ; ly for the "Eclectic Review,”) in select but Mr. Foster's into comprehensive analysis. very honorable and warmly attached friend- While the orator would celebrate the wonships, and in such public ministrations as ders of the universe, the essayist would inmight offer. In May, 1808, he married vestigate one of its commonest and most triMiss Maria Snooke, the lady lo whom the fing objects. The former was at home in “Essays" were originally addressed. About the vast;, the latter in the minute. The the beginning of 1843 he had several at- adoration of the one was caught by general lacks of indisposition; in September of the effects; that of the other was arrested by same year he took to his room. At about contributory features. Whilst Mr. Hall six o'clock on Sunday morning, October 15, would descunt with elated ease on a topic, a faithful and long-trusted domestic entered Mr. Foster would gravely take it to pieces. his chamber and found him dead, with his The majesty of the panegyrist in the one case, arms extended, and his countenance tranquil, was supplemented with the discrimination of as if in pleasant repose.
the expositor in the other. This dissimilariNo two names are more frequently asso-ty, however, would be the principal charm ciated together than those of Robert Hall and of their society. The impetuosity of the one John Foster. In certain circles, where their side would be suitably checked by the sobrieliterary remains are more familiarly known, ty of the opposite ; and the entire respect by and where the reminiscences of their accom- which the great souls were bound together, plishments and their piety are more fondly would save the conversation from acrimony cherished, they are but seldom spoken of or impatience; whilst the unusual abilities of apart. This may be, perhaps, accounted for both would unite to enhance its fascination by the fact that they were contemporaries; and its instructiveness. Mr. Hall was unthat they labored in the same cause ; that doubtedly more rapid, versatile, and magnifor a considerable period they were near ficent than his friend ; but Mr. Foster, we neighbors; and that they were intimate and can imagine, would put in ever and anon dear companions. It is interesting to con. words of wondrous import and immense ceive of two such men dwelling in close and practical suggestiveness, which the intelli
gent listener would ponder over, whilst the The founder of ritish and Foreign Bible more glowing talker on the other side of the Society.
fire-place would be pronouncing upon it a superb eulogy, or meeting it with a splendid | zling grandeur of the scene; he counted the refutation. Neither Mr. Foster nor Mr. Hall pillars, measured the throne, enumerated the aspired to the questionable reputation of population, discovered the occupations, and being irresistibly great in monologue; but guessed the experiences of the kingdom we have no doubt Mr. Hall would (in more on which his speculations were intent; and senses than one) be the more absorbing talker when he spake of his vision, it was with the of the two. Words would flow from his lips clearness of information as well as with the like a stream of meridian light and glory. solemnity of worship. And he was not obWisdom would drop' from Mr. Foster in liged thus to ascend above the visible and the thoughts and fancies, bright, profound, and mortal for the indulgence of his capacious innumerable-like stars with spaces of unem- and active power. In things that others bodied reflection between them. How sel- deemed trivial, he saw the greatness which dom can we get the gorgeousness of such a could
overawe, and the beauty which could day and the sacred splendor of such a night captivate. If he lived in the immense, it was at one vision; star responding to suubeam, because nothing to him was small. A dewand sunbeam responding to star; grand in- drop was a world; and the experience of a terchanges of heavenly light; contests of Ay he could not dissociate from the history greatness without any jealousy; alternations of the universe. Passages of providence of glory without any eclipse !
which the common reader would flippantly We have said that Mr. Foster's imagina-skip over, caused him adoring musings; for tion was chiefly distinguished for the quick were they not extracts from the records of ness with which he detected, and the keen-eternity ? How natural was it that he ness with which he relished, the striking should be thus qualified, bis habits being details of the objects on which his mind rest- what they were! And how natural that his ed. We would not be supposed to insinuate habits should be what they were, constituted that it was, therefore, beneath the stupend. as be was! Writing from Newcastle-onous and the vast. Tuere was nothing in Tyne, he says: heaven or on earth wbich he could not adore, if it were venerable; and the devotedness of Tosten walk into the fields, where I contemplate his spirit was fully equalled by the capacity horses and cows, and birds and grass ; or along of his fancy. He was accurately describing the river, where I observe the motions of the tide, his earlier experience when he wrote, in his the effect of the wind, or, if 'tis evening, the moon
When inclined beautiful “Essay on the Epithet
, Roman- and stars reflected in the water. tic :" - “The iendency to this species of I am in the habit of musing, I can shut iyself in
to read, I am amply furnished with books. When romance may be caused, or may be greatly my solitary chamber, and walk over the floor, augmented, by an exclusive taste for what is throw myself in a chair, or recline on a table; or grand, a disease to which some few minds if I would dream, I extend myself on the bed. are subject. All the images iu their intellect. When the day is fled, I lie down in the bosom of ual scene must be colossal and mountainous. night, and sleep soundly till another arrives; then They are constantly seeking what is animated I wake solitary and still; I either rise to look at into heroics, what is expanded into immen- my watch, and then lay myself awhile on the bed
looking at the morning skies, or ..... in a sity, what is elevated above the stars. But
magic reverie behold the varied scenes of life, and for great empires, great battles, great enter-poise myself on the wings of visionary contemprises, great convulsions, great geniuses, plation over the shaded regions of futurity. . : great rivers, great temples, there would be Such, my friend, are the situation and the train in nothing worth naming in this part of the which I pass life away. creation.” The peculiarity of his own imagination, however, was, that he did not merely It is possible that some of our readers are recognize the outside proportions of great saying to themselves : "Oh, there is nothing things, but caught the finer elements which at all remarkable in this. Thousands thus contributed to the general effect, and pene- muse. Thousands walk in the fields and by trated into the inner soul of that which only the river; retire into solitude when they are served to excite a giddy astonishment in most weary; dream when they can think no longer; persons. Far from mechanical in his taste, sleep when night comes; and stare at the he was eminently sagacious, particular, and sky, harboring silly fancies the while in the profound in bis observations. He soared morning." True ; but the question is, with aloft often enough; scaled the sky, and gazed what eyes do they look on grass, and beast, out upon the eternal; but he did not remain and wave, and tree? With what children of stupefied by the awful unlimitedness and daz-I the imagination do they people their solitude ?
Are the companions of their isolation wooden a star twinkled, he was happy; when the sun toys painted to please their infantile minds; was setting, he felt as proud, as opulent, and or are they sons of God, come to honor, in- as impartial as the great monarch of the sky. struct, and sanctify the godly soul? Do When a spider caught a fly in its web, be ex. they read sermons in the stones they pick perienced a revulsion kindred with that which up? Do they hear music made by the hap- was occasioned by the barbarities of despotpy spheres in that silence they observe ? | ism or the horrors of war. In short, he felt, Do they dream out the poetry of the universe as we all should feel, that God had made in those darkened hours of meditation they nothing in vain ; that the life which circusteal from time? Do they see splendor in- lated through all this universe was one comeffable in those morning skies on which they plete and indissoluble thing; that, therefore, gaze? And when they “ poise themselves life was sacred; that every line in nature on the wings of visionary contemplation," are was a stroke of beauty, and every particle a they as angels wise and holy, or as geese 'nonument of wisdom; that a glory worthy who fly awkwardly and cackle stupidly, and of God belonged to all created things, and are good only for sportsmen to make game that they should be esteemed with a reveof ? Pshaw! These thousands of whom rence worthy of the God who made them; you speak can never really meditate, because that responsibility was a real, unceasing, and their souls are shallow. They stare, and universal attribute of life; and, finally, that wander, and dream, because their vision is the power to think, to love, to pray, to act, too dull to detect beauty, and their hearts to rule, was a dreadful possession, the mulare too hard to be moved by any strong or tiform abuses of whose sanctity should awagenerous emotions,
They have eyes, but ken the profound remorse of men, and the they see not : ears have they, but they hear common depreciation of whose privileges conot.' If they take the book of nature into vered his own most sensitive spirit with a their hands, they hold it upside down, and gloom almost as dark as despair! How few soil its fair pages with their unclean fingers. observe thus keenly ! how very few yield to Their meditations are vanity; and with all emotions so just, even when they thus obtheir studies, they learn nothing. Indeed, serve! In these respects, at least, Jobn there is no character so seldom to be met Foster was “ one of a thousand.” with as the man of observation. There are Observation is the best aid to reflection. plenty who take passing glimpse of the super- The question of “innate ideas” may be safeficies of objects, and who exclaim,“Good ly left to the metaphysicians; the fact that lawk-us-heart alive!” at any unusual pheno- all natural phenomena are infinitely suggestmenon; but the intent and intelligent ob- ive, even the metaphysicians will not disserver sees mystery in the commonest things, pute. It is impossible for an intelligent and will comprehend the most mysterious; being to look on nature or on life without finds fulness in vacancy and vastness in thinking. Astonishment will lead to curiosiatoms; considers the crawl of a worm to be ty; curiosity will dictate endless formal spea marvel of ingenuity, and the arrogance of culations; and speculations will end in what a monarch a ridiculous blunder. He follows originated them — profound astonishment. the windings of every curve, and hears wis- Reflectiveness may lead to observation; obdom in every sound. To him there is no servation must lead to reflectiveness. In the monotony, no insignificance, no nonentity. case of John Foster, the influence was reSpace is as substantial as matter; a daisy as ciprocal, and, therefore, was doubly strong. wonderful as the sun. Every thing has a A constitutional tendency led to the habit ; meaning, and there is no spot which does not the habit fostered a constitutional tendency. contain something wbich may at once aston- When very young, he was notorious for the ish and instruct the mind.
constancy and absorbedness of his musings. Of these, John Foster was one of the most These led him out into the great field of nasuccessful, and deserves to be one of the ture. There he found every thing to satisfy most illustrious. In all his walks he found his passion for meditation. A somewhat new scenes; in all his thoughts new truth. amusing instance of the force of bis solitary He could not hear the chirp of a bird, the thoughts, and of the necessity of practical squeak of a mouse, the roar of a lion, or the observation to settle and content them, may terrible explosion of a thunder-cloud, with be gathered from his biography. When as out pausing to reflect on what caused the yet only a young man, whilst on a visit to his mysterious sound, and what it sigoified. parents, he suddenly quitted the house, and When a flower drooped, he felt sad; when I started off in a heavy shower to look at a waterfall in the neighborhood, of which he meanings she does not convey, constitute the had often heard; and on his return he ex- poet, certainly he was no poet.
He was claimed, " I now understand the thing, and neither philosopher nor poet. He was too have got some ideas on the subject with which practical for the latter, and too spiritual for I should not like to part.” It seems to us that the former. He read phenomena, but he in this simple incident we have a key to the plainly read them, neither reducing them to character of his mind, and an explanation of the requirements of a system he had himself his whole literary and public life. He could invented, nor expanding them to proportions not hear what others said without interest; he they would not naturally support
. He was could not know that there was any thing which too much of a poet to be a philosopher, and he had not seen, which he could see, and which too much of a philosopher ever to be a poet. was worth seeing, but he would run to look The philosopher interprets nature and life by at it: when he got near, he did not merely the faculty of the understanding; the poet glance at it, but he inspected it, be compre- by the faculty of the imagination. Foster hended it, and from it he gathered ideas, the saw nature as it was, and he would speak value and satisfaction of which he himself en- of it only as he found it. As far as he tirely appreciated. He would understand comprehended it, he was clear; and when it even a waterfall; and from the spray and became mysterious, he confessed the mysthe foam it made in the stream, from the tery in words of adoration. Therefore, he mystic melody of its constant murmur, from supplemented nature with no suppositions, the sunbeams that quivered on its surface, either of fancy or of mechanical inference. as on the surface of a moving mirror, or He consolidated his raptures by intelligence, from the surrounding scenery which it adora- and illuminated his intelligence by fine refleced, he would get ideas.
More than vague
tion. The arrogance of the understanding impressions were made upon his soul by all and of the imagination, he equally checked; these things. They were so many forms of he sought to know, and when he knew, he intelligence; they had the significance of felt accordingly. He knew much; and he books and the dearness of friends to him; felt deeply. The philosopher has no indiviand he could not leave them till he compre: duality of his own. He sees nature apart hended them. And so it was with every from himself. It is all objective. With the thing which came before his eye. His writ- poet, it is just the contrary. He has a life ings, therefore, are rather like descriptions vast, ramified, glorious as the life he sees all of life and records of experience, than mere around him. He knows nothing but himself; theories of social systems, or balances of op- and in bimself all he knows is included. posing creeds. He saw; he thought on what Experience is his inspiration, even though he saw; and he has given to the world the the universe be his theme. Here all is subresults of his observations, in the consistency, jective. Foster felt the burden of immense definiteness, and fulness of the reflections subjectivity. He was conscious of profound they suggested. He was a meditator. We individuality. But he did not absorb the have spoken of his imagination. In truth, universe, so to speak; he conversed with it, however, he made but a subordinate use of and treasured up in his heart what it told this faculty. It served him in his interpret- him. It was to him as a friend with whom ation of what he bebeld, but he beheld so he had communion. It honored him with much, and with such reverential interest, many confidences, “for the secret of the that he had neither the opportunity nor the Lord is with them that fear hiin.” He realnecessity of attempting new creations. To ized a true love and|sympathy from its mighty bim the universe was infinite in its compass, soul. His emotions were very deep as he and was crowded with objects. It had no held his high spiritual fellowship; but it was limits and no vacancies. To know what it a fellowship, not a solitude.
There was a was and what it contained, was to know all being, a power, a stupendous system, outthings. His imagination was but the servant side himself, and on this he gazed ; with this of his curiosity-his curiosity was but the be conversed ; in silence he spake unto it; agent of bis knowledge—his knowledge was in silence he heard its sombre and its grand but the minister of his awe. If to form ideal responses. It was not a mere self-worship, systems, and to elaborate original theories that strange, pensive, absorbed life of his ; of science and of life, constitute the philoso- but a true worship of the Infinite of which pher, he certainly could not lay claim to he was but a portion; but 'of which he was that character. If to invest nature with a a portion; a worship, however, so true that obe she never wears, and to attribute to her l it brought actual
dering, trembling, aspiring enjoyment to his except for one small section, and that section heart.
itself a no less flagrant proof of the desperate corMr. Foster's observations of human nature ruption of the nature—ihe ultimate grand remewere as constant and as keen as his observa- dial visitation, Christianity, laboring in a very
difficult progress and limited extension, and soon tions of“ inanimate" nature, (to use a very perverted from its purpose into darkness and stupid and incorrect phrase.) He saw into superstition, for a period of a thousand years. the hearts of men. He read the history of at the present period known and even nominally his race, with a fearful application of its les- acknowledged by very greatly the minority of the sons. The deceit and ferocity and selfish- race, the mighty mass remaining prostrate under ness of this world—oh, it was no foreign, tions of their ancestors have been the slaves and
the infernal dominion of which countless generaremote, indifferent thing to him! And he the victims-a deplorable majority of the people saw it all around him. He found it within in the Christian nations strangers to the vital himself. The picture was very dark ! Groans power of Christianity, and a large proportion and sighs, and oaths of fierce malevolence, directly hostile to it; and even the institutions and shouts of horrid blasphemy-tears where pretended to be for its support and promotion there was no remorse, shame where no pity, being baneful to its virtue-its progress in the distress where no sympathy, prayers where work of conversion, in even the most favored part no faith, persecutions where no zeal, anathe- of the population, so that even there (but to a mas where no intelligence-butcheries with fearful 'extent if we take the world at large) the out provocation, tyrannies without majesty, disproportion of the faithful to the religious is revolutions without patriotism — friendships continually increasing—the sum of all these melwithout esteem, marriages without love, com- ancholy facts being, that thousands of millions merce without honesty-Aattery spoken to have passed, and thousands every day are passing delude, and yet received with gratification, out of the world, in no state of fitness for a pure candor but the mask of fouler dissimulation and happy state elsewhere - oh, it is a most con
founding and appalling contemplation ! -hypocrisy in worship, ingratitude in prosperity, slavish superstition when death ap
Indeed, it is. There may be another picproached—such was life! And on this life ture whose brightness shall equal the gloom he looked, not as we look on tragedies at a
of this, but this is true; and one can well theatre, with an excitement indulged as pas, imagine what an impression it must have time, but as the veritable being, doing, and produced upon a nature never too sanguine, suffering of this human race of which he was and constitutionally pensive. Some of Mr, a member. Well might a shadow of melan. Foster's critics have so misunderstood the choly steal over bis spirit! And what was there to relieve him of this sadness? Chris- with cynicism and misanthropy. Nothing
charge bim tianity? The Church ?
Alas! his estimate could be wider of the mark. His estimate of the evil is not less exaggerated than his of human nature was not unkind, even if it estimate of the cure. Hear what he says in must be admitted that it was unjust. He a letter to his friend, Dr. Harris, on the sub- looked much on the darker side of life, but ject of missions to the heathen:
never was a man more anxious that life should
become light and gladsome all round than I hope, indeed may assume, that you are of a cheerful temperament; but are you not some
was he. In his gloom he was ever pitiful. times invaded by the darkest visions and reflections Misanthropy is born of conceit, and expresses while casting your view over the scene of human itself in morose ill-will, in the restlessness existence, from the beginning to this hour? To of suspicion, the severity of a rude censoriousme it appears a most piysteriously awful economy, ness, the bitterness of envy, and the unscruoverspread by a lurid and dreadful shade. I pray pulousness of pride. It is eminently a selffor the piety to maintain a humble submission of
ish principle. It combines the arrogance of thonght and feeling to the wise and righteous vanity with the peevishness of habitual ill. created in purity, qualified for perfect and endless temper. It is malevolent, saucy, obstinate, felicity, but ruined at the very origin, by a disas- self-willed. It is not only predisposed to ter devolving fatally on all the race-to see it, in exaggerate the miseries of men; it is indisan early age of the world, estranged from truth, posed to contribute any thing to their mitigafrom the love and fear of its Creator, from that, tion. If it weeps, it is from the sorrow of therefore, without which existence is to be de- self-pily, rather than from a tender sympathy plored—abandoned to all evil till swept away by a
with others; and it more frequently indulges deluge—the renovated race revolting into idolatry and iniquity, and spreading downward through
a cruel joy over the griefs it delights to ages in darkness, wickedness, and misery- no depict. Its laugh is hoarse with malice. Divine dispensation to enlighten and reclaim it, It blasphemes God, whilst it maligns man