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wisdom, the holy sympathy with the holiest childhood, and the sweet imaginings, of the author of Mrs. Leicester's School—soften and brighten the literary aspect of the age. These indications of female talent are not only delightful in themselves, but inestimable as proofs of the rich intellectual treasures which are diffused throughout the sex, to whom the next generation will owe their first and their most sacred impressions.
But, after all, the best intellectual sign of the present times is the general education of the poor. This ensures duration to the principles of good, by whatever political changes the frame of society may be shaken. The sense of human rights and of human duties is not now confined to a few, and, therefore, liable to be lost, but is stamped in living characters on millions of hearts. And the foundations of human improvement thus secured, it has a tendency to advance in a true geometrical progression. Mean while, the effects of the spirit of improvement which have long been silently preparing in different portions of the globe, are becoming brilliantly manifest. The vast continent of South America, whether it continue nominally dependent on European states, or retain its own newly-asserted freedom, will teem with new intellect, enterprize, and energy. Old Spain, long sunk into the most abject degradation, has suddenly awakened, as if refreshed from slumber, and her old genius must revive with her old dignities. A bloodless revolution has just given liberty to Naples, and thus has opened the way for the restoration of Italy. That beautiful region again will soon inspire her bards with richer strains than of yore, and diffuse throughout the world a purer luxury. Amidst these quickenings of humanity, individual poets, indeed, must lose that personal importance which in darker periods would be their portion. All selfism—all predominant desire for the building up of individual fame—must give way to the earnest and single wish to share in, and promote, the general progress of the species. He is unworthy of the name of a great poet, who is not contented that the loveliest of his imaginations should be lost in the general light, or viewed only as the soft and delicate streaks which shall usher in that glorious dawn, which is, we believe, about to rise on the world, and to set no more!
ON PULPIT ORATORY.
WITH REMARKS ON THE REVEREND ROBERT HALL.
The decline of eloquence in the Senate and at the Bar is no matter of surprise. In the freshness of its youth, it was the only medium by which the knowledge and energy of a single heart could be communicated to thousands. It supplied the place, not only of the press, but of that general communication between the different classes of the state, which the intercourses of modern society supply. Then the passions of men, unchiUed by the frigid customs of later days, left them open to be inflamed or enraptured by the bursts of an enthusiasm, which would now be met only with scorn. In our courts of law occasions rarely arise for animated addresses to the heart; and even when these occur, the barrister is fettered by technical rules, and yet more by the technical habits and feelings, of those by whom he is encircled. A comparatively small degree of fancy, and a glow of social feeling, directed by a tact which will enable a man to proceed with a constant appearance of directing his course within legal confines, are now the best qualifications of a forensic orator. They were exhibited by Lord Erskine in the highest perfection, and attended with the most splendid success. Had he been greater than he was, he had been nothing. He ever seemed to cherish an affection for the technicalities of his art, which won the confidence of his duller associates. He appeared to lean on these as his stays and resting-places, even when he ventured to look into the depth of human nature, or to catch a momentary glimpse of the regions of fantasy. When these were taken from him, his powers fascinated no longer. He was exactly adapted to the sphere of a court of law—above his fellows, but not beyond their gage—and giving to the forms which he could not forsake, an air of venerableness and grandeur. Any thing more full of beauty and wisdom than his speeches, would be heard only with cold and bitter scorn in an English court of justice. In the houses of parliament, mightier questions are debated; but no speaker hopes to influence the decision. Indeed the members of opposition scarcely pretend to struggle against the "dead eloquence of votes," but speak with a view to an influence on the public mind, which is a remote and chilling aim. Were it otherwise, the academic education of the members—the prevalent disposition to ridicule, rather, that to admire—and the sensitiveness which resents a burst of enthusiasm as an offence against the decorum of polished society—would effectually repress any attempt to display an eloquence in which intense passion should impel the imagination, and noble sentiment should be steeped in fancy. The orations delivered on charitable occasions,—consisting, with few exceptions, of poor conceits, miserable compliments, and hackneyed metaphors,— are scarcely worthy of a transient allusion.
But the causes which have opposed the excellence of pulpit oratory in modern times, are not so obvious. Its subjects have never varied, from the day when the Holy Spirit visibly descended on the first advocates of the Gospel, in tongues of fire. They are in no danger of being exhausted by frequency, or changed with the vicissitudes of mortal fortune. They have immediate relation to that eternity, the idea of which is the living soul of all poetry and art It is the province of the preachers of Christianity todevelope the connexion between this world and the next—to watch over the beginnings of a course which will endure for ever—and to trace the broad shadows cast from imperishable realities on the shifting scenery of earth. This sublunary sphere does not seem to them as trifling or mean, in proportion as they extend their views onward; but assumes a new grandeur and sanctity, as the vestibule of a statelier and an eternal region. The mysteries of our being—life and death—both in their strange essences, and in their sublimer relations, are topics of their ministry. There is nothing affecting in the human condition, nothing majestic in the affections, nothing touching in the instability of human dignities,—the fragility of loveliness, —or the heroism of self-sacrifice—which is not a theme suited to their high purposes. It is theirs to dwell on the eldest history of the world—on the beautiful simplicities of the patriarchal age—on the stern and awful religion, and marvellous story of the Hebrews—on the glorious visions of the prophets, and their fulfillment—on the character, miracles, and death of the Saviour—on all the wonders, and all the beauty of the Scriptures. It is theirs to trace the spirit of the boundless and the eternal, faintly breathing in every part of the mystic circle of superstition, unquenched even amidst the most barbarous rites of savage tribes, and all the cold and beautiful shapes of Grecian mould. The inward soul of every religious system—the philosophical spirit of all history—the deep secrets of the human heart, when grandest or most wayward—are theirs to search and to develope. Even those speculations which do not immediately affect man's conduct and his hopes are theirs, with all their high casuistry; for in these, at least, they discern the beatings of the soul against the bars of its earthly tabernacle, which prove the immortality of its essence, and its destiny to move in freedom through the vast etherial circle to which it thus vainly aspires. In all the intensities of feeling, and all the regalities of imagination, they may find fitting materials for their passionate expostulations with their fellow men to turn their hearts to those objects which will endure for ever.
It appears, therefore, at first observation, strange, that in this country, where an irreligious spirit has never become general, the oratory of the pulpit has made so little progress. The ministers of the Established Church have not, on the whole, fulfilled the promise given in the days of its early zeal. The noble enthusiasm of Hooker—the pregnant wit of South —the genial and tolerant warmth of Tilotson—the vast power of reasoning and observation of Barrow—have rarely been copied, even feebly, by their successors. Jeremy Taylor stands altogether alone among churchmen. Who has ever manifested any portion of that exquisite intermixture of a yearning love with a heavenly fancy, which enabled him to embody and render palpable the holy charities of his religion in the loveliest and most delicate images 1 Who has ever so encrusted his subjects with candied words; or has seemed, like him, to take away the sting of death with "rich conceit;" or has, like him, half persuaded his hearers to believe that they heard the voice of pitying angels 1 Few, indeed, of the ministers of the church have been endued with the divine imagination which might combine, enlarge, and vivify the objects of sense, so as, by stately pictures, to present us with symbols of that uncreated beauty and grandeur in which hereafter we shall expatiate. The most celebrated of them have been little more than students of vast learning and research, unless, with Warburton and Horseley, they have aspired at once boldly to speculate, and imperiously to dogmatize.
It cannot be doubted, that the species of patronage, by which the honours and emoluments of the Establishment are distributed, has tended to prevent the development of genius within its pale. But, perhaps, we may find a more adequate cause for the low state of its preaching in the very beauty and impressiveness of its rites and appointed services. The tendency of religious ceremonies, of the recurrence of old festivals, and of a solemn and dignified form of worship, is, doubtless, to keep alive tender associations in the heart, and to preserve the flame of devotion steady and pure, but not to incite men to look abroad into their nature, or to prompt any lofty excursions of religious fancy. There have, doubtless, been eloquent preachers in the church of Rome,— because in her communion the ceremonies themselves are august and fearful, and because her proselyting zeal inspired her sons with peculiar energy. But episcopacy in England is by far the most tolerant of systems ever associated with worldly power. Its ministers, until the claim of some of them, to the exclusive title of evangelical, created dissensions, breathed almost uniformly a spirit of mildness and peace. Within its sacred boundaries, all was order, repose, and charity. Its rites and observances were the helps and leaning-places of the soul, on which it delighted to rest amidst the vicissitudes of the world, and in its approach to its final change. The fulness, the majesty, and the dignified benignities of the Liturgy sunk deep into the heart, and prevented the devout worshipper from feeling the want of strength or