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spect for any religion in particular. This school pride themselves on their superior insight; and here they carry their penetration so far as to discover that there is about equal truth in all religions ! Carlyle brings out this idea very distinctly in his volume on Heroes, aud the Heroic in history. He gives the impression that all religions are true to those who believe in them; and therefore ihat Mahomedanism and Paganism are almost as good as Christianity. The point of view taken is wholly subjective. Anything is true to the man who sincerely believes it. Religious truth is not an absolute and objective reality, but merely the impression which objects make upon the mind. We will not deny that this representation is partially correct. Some portion of truth is doubtless to be found in all religions. It is also true that, so vague and uncertain a medium of thought is human language, so various are the meanings which different men attach to the same words, that they may be mentally conscious of the same truths, and acknowledge the same obligations to a Supreme Being, while they express their faith in very opposite formulas. But to go farther than this, and represent that all religions are equally good; that there is no difference between heathenisin which makes men vile, and Christianity which makes them pure, is to utter a doctrine which is as dangerous as it is absurd.
The followers of Carlyle, as is usual with the disciples of great men, have gone much beyond their master, and seem disposed to upturn the foundations of everything in philosophy and religion. Thus Einerson gives out somewhere this brave confession :"Do not set the least value on what I do, as if I intended to settle anything as true or false. I unsettle all things. No facts are to me sacred; none are profane; I simply experiment, an endless seeker, with no Past at my back.” Did more utier fatuity ever fall from the lips of man? This is chaos indeed !- confusion as fatal to sound philosophy as it is to every form of Christianity.
There is not an idea so important in philosophy nor so vital in religion, as this of the absolute nature of truth. Truth has nothing to do with the belief or unbelief of man. It has an independent existence of its own—a reality as objective as that of the mountains on our globe. Error, falsehood, is never truth, believe it who may. The Ptolemaic astronomy was believed by its teachers as sincerely as Galileo believed in the Copernican system. Was it therefore equally true? Or what use were the discoveries of Newton and the voyages of Columbus, if they have not added something to the absolute knowledge of mankind? So Christianity is a revelation of absolute truth, a disclosure as real as the Newtonian astronomny, of what are actual realities of the universe. The eye of religions faith, illumined by a teacher from God, discerns realities of the invisible world, as infallibly as the telescope of the astronomer causes the white zone of the Milky Way to rush asunder into worlds and systems. What the Copernican astronomy was to the notion of the ancients that the earth was the center around which the heavenly bodies revolved, that Christianity was to the vague philosophical and religious systems which preceded it. It was a discovery of absolute truth, immense as the universe itself, and bright and shining as the stars.
We had intended to say more than we have room to write of the followers of Carlyle in this country. We have by no means as high an opinion of the disciples as of their master. It is the fate, good or bad, of every original writer to be followed by a host of imitators, who, destitute of his genius, can only paraphrase his thoughts, repeat his illustrations, and copy his style. This has been particularly the case with Carlyle. The eccentricities of his manner have furnished an easy peculiarity for imitation ; and accordingly we have seen a herd of pigmies waddling in the tracks of the giant.
The influence of Carlyle is very perceptible in the style of a class of writers about Boston. And, plainly enough, his influence has been bad. It has produced a vague, misty way of writing, which always indicates a second rate order of minds. These men have aped the idioms of their master, and even exaggerated them as if in burlesque. We have no patience with this class of writers. In reading them patience ceases to be a virtue. If a man has anything to say, why not say it naturally? If indeed he has nothing to say, there is no way to conceal the vacuum of thought, more hopeful than by raising such a cloud of words that the absence of ideas shall not be perceived. Vain hope! For after all, the affectation is too likely to betray the poverty of thought which it would conceal. It is with style as it is with manners. A man of real force can afford to be simple. But he who, if he took the place which nature assigned him, would be nobody, has no resort but to strut to attract attention. So a writer, who, if he wrole plain English, could not enchain readers by force of thought, must use inverted phrases, and be oracular, to get the reputation of originality.
Originality! There is nothing more easy to get a reputation for. Let a man take the most simple truisms, and dress them up in high-sounding metaphors; let him open his lips in brief oracular phrases, (in “Orphic Sayings" such as “ Truth is dual ;" sentences which may mean anything or nothing,) always avoiding a common mode of expression ; especially let him delight in paradoxes; and, in some quarters, he will pass for the eighth wonder of the world.
We have said that the first qualification for a great writer was a clear mind, and the second, a clear style. The two generally go together. If a man sees a truth clearly, he can state it clearly. We never meet with an obscure style, but we instantly suspect
that the writer does not understand clearly what he is talking about. Judged by this test, perspicuity, we should set down the transcendentalists of this country as very indifferent writers. Emerson may be cited as a brilliant exception ; but he is a poet, and we should judge bis writings purely as poetry. Others among them have written some pretty verses, but as a class, they have inflicted on the public—through the Dial and elsewhere--much of the most miserable twattle we have ever seen in print. And at one time-we think the crisis is now past--they threatened to vitiate the general style of writing in this country.
The moral influence of Carlyle's writings, we think, is good. It is impossible to tell the amount of good or evil a man does till he has passed from the world, and often not even then. But the moral qualities of Carlyle are such as can not but inspire confidence. He is an honest man. No one can read a page of his writings without discovering his frank and dauntless sincerity. He is earnest after truth. " Truth !" Teufelsdröckh cries, "though the heavens crush me for following her!” He is a champion of free thought pushed to the utmost limit of human inquiry. He sees that the world is full of evil, and his mission is to fight against it. Always and everywhere he stands up for the right. He battles against all oppression and wrong. His sympathies are with the poor and the down-trodden. Aud one of his dearest hopes is to diffuse a more kiudly feeling among all classes of society; to restore the Brotherhood of Man.
We believe too that he has a religions design in his writings. Conscious that the religious state of the world is bad, he breaks forth at times into lamentations over it such as might have fallen from the lips of his friend, Edward Irving :-"It is the Night of the World, and still long till it be Day: we wander amid the glimmer of smoking ruins, and the Sun and the Stars are as if blotted out for a season; and two immeasurable Phantoms, HYPOCRISY and ATHEISM, with the gowle, SENSUALITY, stalk abroad over the earth, and call it theirs: well at ease are the sleepers for whom existence is a hollow dream." “In such winter seasons of denial it is for the nobler-minded perhaps a comparative misery to have been born." But, born in such a period, he feels that it is his mission to preach TRUTH in an age of falsehood; to preach sincerity and friendship in an age of selfishness ; lo unite men at once in affection for each other and in reverence for their Creator.
Much therefore as we admire Carlyle for his genius, for his wild and fiery eloquence, we honor bim still more for his manly heart. The inan is even greater than the writer. We honor him that in an age of selfishness, he has an ear for others' woe, and a sont in sympathy, with a groaning world.
The religious people of England and of this country have been suspicious of Carlyle; and not altogether without reason; for • Vol. VIII.
they have seen that the effect of his writings in some instances has been to unsettle the religious faith of his readers. For young men they are perhaps not the most safe reading. They are calculated to excite the mind powerfully, and unless it be well groinded in the first principles of philosophy and religion, and able to discriminate between truth and the semblar.ces of truth, and to bring fresh accessions of knowledge into harmony with established truths, the shock of a new way of thinking may easily drift it away from its old beliefs. But for a mind strong in itself, these views taken from a new stand-point, like a wind blowing from a new quarter of the heavens, will be fresh and invigorating.
A man who is laboring so earnestly in favor of humanity deserves a generous confidence from the religious public. As he is better known he will be more highly appreciated. Good men everywhere will honor him for his sincerity, his courage, his sympathy with man, and the high moral designs of his writings. This change of feeling is already taking place in Great Britain. Many years ago, it is said, that Chalmers and Carlyle met and parted with mutual disgust. But just before his death Chalmers was in London, and called at Carlyle's house; and after a long and friendly conversation, the two noble Scotchmen parted with mutual admiration. They understood each other better.
We believe nothing is farther from the mind of our author than to unsettle the faith of any man in the Christian religion. Indeed Teufelsdröckh refers to it with gratitude, as "an altogether invaluable service," that the kind mother who took care of him in childhood, “taught him her own simple version of the Christian faith."
Carlyle sometimes speaks bitterly of priests and churches, which show little of the spirit of Christianity. But he speaks in indignation at hypocrisy, and “more in sorrow than in anger.” Perhaps his indignant spirit here leads him beyond strict justice. It is possible to carry so far our detestation of cant, as to sneer at sincere religion, and to clamor so loudly for freedom of thought, as to set the world afloat on an ocean of doubt and infidelity. Eminent writers, especially those whose voice is heard throughout two hemispheres, should beware of any tendency to exaggeration or ridicule, lest they wound the cause of truth and virtue, even when most zealous for both.
“ The evil that men do lives after them."
ART. IV.-PROFESSOR FISKE.
Memoirs of Rev. Nathan W. Fiske, Professor of Intellectual
and Moral Philosophy in Amherst College; with selections from his sermons and other writings. By Heman HUMPHREY, D.D. Amherst: J. S. and C. Adams. 1850.
It is a beautiful instance of God's goodness in our mental constitution, that our sorrows are gradually mellowed by time, and a soothing tenderness in the remembrance of departed friends siicceeds the agony of bereavement. Thus our very afflictions, under the sostening touch of memory, minister a subdued and sacred satisfaction, and our sorrows are transmuted into the most hallowed and cherished of our joys; and so, in the lapse of years, the blackened ruin of our hopes is grown over and hidden by the ivy of tender and pleasant recollections. And this action of memory veiling the sadness of the past in beauty, like that of hope adorning the future, seems to indicate the snperiority of the sonl to its present condition. The light which dawning hope flings forward to crimson the yet untraversed landscape, and, when our joys have sunk to the setting, the radiance which memory pours back on the past, flooding its most dismal scenes with beality, are but the diverse outgnishings of the light which the sonl, as a spirit of the skies, has within itself, and by which it instinctively strives to illumine the dull realities of earth to some semblance of its own brightness.
When, therefore, the society and counsel of our friends cease in death, we will bless the beneficent author of our being, that the memory of the loved grows with every passing year more mellow in its beauties and more pleasant to the thought.
Of this nature are the feelings with which we have read the Memoirs and Writings of Prof. Fiske, a volume which brings before us in new freshness the memory of a departed friend, and permiis iis again to drink in the spirit of his piety and the fruits of his wisdom. As such it will be welcomed by hundreds who rerered him as an instructor and loved him as a friend.
We have loug felt it was due to him as a man of superior powers, of true scholarship, and devoted piety, and due to the world, that the treasures accumulated by his active inind should not be buried. In common with many who have shared these feelings, we welcome the book as one, the publication of which had been extensively and earnestly demanded. And it is with peculiar satisfaction that we sit down to commend it to our readers, and to present our simple and affectionate tribute to the memory of its subject. Would it were worthy of him.