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In 1827, Dr. Spring was on board the Oliver Ellsworth when an explosion caused the death of his friend Stephen Lockwood. The circumstances were remarkable, and the Reverend Doctor might well regard his own escape as “a mysterious providence.” When the cholera first appeared in New York, in the summer of 1831, the Doctor nobly resolved to stay with and to stand by his flock. He kept his family with him, saw much of the grim visitant, and, though constantly exposed, passed the terrible ordeal unharmed.
Dr. Spring has visited Europe more than once. His first trip, in 1822, was very brief. He saw a little of London, a little of Paris, and seems to have been disgusted, rather than delighted. In 1835, he went again, and this time as a delegate from the American Presbyterians to the English Congregationalists. He was also empowered to carry greetings from the American Bible Society to its sisters in London and Paris. Thus accredited, he determined to address the French Society in the French tongue. He knew nothing of the language, and he had but three months for the acquisition. To most men at his age such a task would have presented insuperable difficulties. He put himself under tuition, and at the end of the quarter could read, write, and speak the language with ease and correctness. When the time came, he addressed in French a Parisian audience, “ without mistake and without embarrassment”! We shall not follow the Doctor over the customary and familiar route of European travel. We cannot, however, leave unnoticed the following statement of an incident at Rouen in France :
A little circumstance occurred here that was somewhat amusing. Mr. Van Rensselaer, in order to procure some relio of the place, instead of gathering some flowers, broke off the nose of one of the marble saints! He hoped to escape the detection of the guide, but unfortunately, on leaving the Cathedral, we had to pass the mutilated statue, and were charged with the sacrilege. It was a lady saint whose sanctity our gallantry had thus violated, and we had to meet the most terrific volleys of abuse. A few glittering coins, however, obtained absolution for us, but neither entreaty nor cash could procure the nose."
There is some difference between that grand old edifice which has stood for centuries on the banks of the Seine, and the trim box on Murray Hill known as the Brick Church, with its Fifth Avenue adornments, painting, gilding, and upholstery. If in either structure a visitor could forget that respect which should always be accorded to places consecrated to God and dear to his worshippers, such indecency would certainly appear less strange in the latter than in the former. Let us suppose (though it is hardly supposable) that a party of French people, happening to be in New York, are led by curiosity to look at VOL. CIII. - No. 212.
the Doctor's nice church ; and, wishing to carry away some memento of the place, pocket a hymn-book, or sever a few tassels from the cushioned pulpit, or slyly detach from a Corinthian capital one of its acanthus-leaves. Will the Reverend Doctor tell us in what point of propriety or morality the supposed transaction differs from the actual transaction? In such a case would he not have felt insulted by the proffer of a “few glittering coins " as satisfaction for the sacrilegious larceny? Would he have seen anything amusing in such an incident? No right-thinking person can have any other opinion of Mr. Van Rensselaer’s conduct than that it was ungrateful, barbarous, dishonest, and disgraceful. And must we not regard his clerical companion, who acquiesced in the attempt, and who now relates it as a funny affair, and without a disapproving word, as being clearly particeps criminis ?
In the uniform, uninterrupted course of his life and ministry, for many years past, the venerable reminiscent finds very little of actual event, or of variety, to insert in his memoir. He has been connected with many religious and benevolent associations, and has, no doubt, done his part as founder or associate to make them effective and useful. But while his labors in this line are entitled to a distinct mention in a record of his life, the long and minute accounts which he has given of those societies and their doings are quite out of place. Ten pages would have been enough, and we have more than a hundred.
In that famous contest of doctrine and polity which finally rent the Presbyterian Church in twain, Dr. Spring adhered to the Old School side. And yet the Rescinding Acts, which were the immediate cause of the separation, did not receive his approval. While we could not ex pect a man of the Doctor's faith to join the New School body, we are glad to perceive that he feels kindly toward them.
He gives us two chapters on the Southern Rebellion. On this great theme the Doctor's utterances are sound and patriotic. During the uneasy years which preceded the grand outbreak, Dr. Spring had been known as a stanch conservative. By reformers of the radical type he was often denounced as timid, timeserving, and pro-slavery, — how undeservedly the result showed when at last the true test and trial came.
Of matters merely personal, little more remains to be gathered from these pages.
A few years since, the Doctor became blind, or nearly 80; but though obliged to give up his written notes, he did not stop preaching From this affliction he was relieved by a surgical operatim. In 1856, the Brick Church on Beekman Street, or rather its Hround-lease, was sold for a large sum, and the society proceeded to ereet their present edifice on Murray Hill. In 1860, this society com
memorated with special ceremonial the fiftieth anniversary of the Doctor's pastorate. It took a volume of three hundred pages to give the doings and sayings of that occasion. Two months before this celebration, Dr. Spring lost his wife. Of this woman his early love, and the mother of his fifteen children — he has a good deal to say. She must have been a pleasing person ; but not quite equal, perhaps, to Lyman Beecher's naive and charming Roxana, though well suited, we imagine, to the grave and dignified pastor of the Brick Church. The good Doctor mourned for her very much, and married again as soon as the year was out. The curious public will be pleased to know that the present Mrs. Spring has an ample property in her own right, and that she regularly pays her part of the butcher's and grocer's bills.
Among other peculiarities of the memoir before us, its author has introduced extracts from his private journal. So far as these are a statement of daily occurrences, or comments on those occurrences, it is all well enough. But is it not something new for a man to put in print those entries of emotional and inner experience which he is supposed to make solely for his own edification ? Records of this sort have, indeed, often been published after the death of the person who made them. But to such publication it is, not without reason, objected, that diaries of this sort have little interest or value unless we can believe them to have been perfectly honest confessions, penned in the assurance that no eye but the writer's would ever 'rest on them. If the idea that a man, when recording what he has breathed rather than uttered in the sacred confessional of his soul, has been influenced ever so little by an expectation that it may be read when he shall have passed away, - if this suspicion is sufficient to vitiate it as a perfectly truthful, honest utterance, — what shall be said of him who, while yet alive, parades his confessions before the whole world ? Verily, that “ co-presbyter” who advised our venerable Doctor to put his entire diary into the “Life and Times" must be a very weak brother or a very wicked wag.
Dr. Spring has no patience with the “ New Haven theology.” Indeed, we have already seen that he places Nathaniel Taylor among the great heresiarchs, writing his name in the same list with Whitby and Priestley and Channing. He devotes an entire chapter to the exposure and denunciation of this dangerous heresy, giving us (into the bargain) a long letter from one Henry Sewall, whom he calls a profound theologian, but whose claim to that high praise must rest on other ground than this epistle. The men who are thus a sailed count in clergymen by hundreds and in laymen by thousands. In ability and in standing not a few among them may safely be compared with the learned pastor of the Brick Church. If they make no effort to repel the assault, we shall infer that they regard it as harmless.
"Sic fatus senior, telumque imbelle sine ictu
Conjecit." The great lessons of charity, and mutual respect, and mutual forbearance, how slow and hard to be learned! At the age of thirty, Gardiner Spring, a man of fine abilities and accomplishments, a man of piety and promise, goes down from New Haven to New York, and becomes the pastor of a large and influential society. He is fresh from the teachings of Dwight, Stuart, and Woods, and doubtless represents the New Haven theology of that day. At first, everything seems smooth and fair. But it is not long before the orthodoxy of the young minister begins to be doubted. He is suspected of having some Yankee notions. Suspicion once begun soon ripens to belief, and then the storm-cloud of ignorance and bigotry breaks and roars and rattles round the head of the innocent yet undismayed intruder. Those good Presbyterians, those reverend doctors, thought they were right, they had not a doubt of it; they verily believed that they would be doing good service to religion and humanity, if they should put down or drive out the pestilent New England heresy. How small and narrow, how blind and ignorant, how uncharitable and unkind, those men then seemed to him whom they thus attacked and abused! And now, at the ripe age of fourscore, when drawing near the close of an unusually long and prosperous career, the Rev. Dr. Gardiner Spring - But enough, it is quite unnecessary to complete the parallel or to apply the lesson.
We should do the Doctor an, injustice should we make no mention of him as an author. His published works amount to twenty-two goodsized volumes, and the profits from their sale have undoubtedly been considerable ; but neither as a preacher nor as a writer of books can he be considered a brilliant or very profound or highly interesting man.
4.- Narrative of a Year's Journey through Central and Eastern
Arabia (1862-63). By WILLIAM GIFFORD Palgrave. Second Edition. London and Cambridge: Macmillan & Co. 1865. 2 vols. 8vo.
THERE is scarcely any part of the globe of which so little is generally known as Arabia ; and there is no other part of the world concerning which there is so much misconception. This is due chiefly to the extreme isolation of the Arabian peninsula, especially the central portion of it, which is much greater now than it was in very ancient times, when communication between India and the Mediterranean was neither through Egypt nor around the Cape of Good Hope, but up the Red Sea and across to the great cities of Phænicia. Until recently, modern Europe has known much less of Arabia than was known by the Greeks and Romans, whose knowledge of it, nevertheless, was very
Niebuhr, Burckhardt, Wellsted, and others, who have published accounts of travel and observation in Arabia, visited only some of the provinces on the coast. They tell us nothing of the interior. Lieutenant Wellsted travelled in Oman, and explored nearly the whole coast line of the peninsula; and yet his book begins with a comparison of Arabia to a coat of frieze bordered with gold, “ since,” as he says, “ the only cultivated or fertile spots are found on its confines, the
ú intermediate space being filled with arid and sandy wastes.”
The chief interest of the volumes before us is in the very interesting account they give of what Mr. Palgrave found in the central regions of Arabia, which was as new to him as it will be to his readers. Speaking of his outfit for the journey, he says it would have been very different if he could have foreknown the real nature of the countries” before him; but he supposed, “ like most people, that Arabia was almost exclusively the territory of nomads, and that the fixed population must be proportionally small and unimportant.” He found, on the contrary, that Central Arabia consists of an elevated and extensive table-land, surrounded by a circle of deserts, occupied by a settled and civilized population, and now divided into two kingdoms, Shomer and Nejed. Throughout nearly the whole of his journey he found a fixed population, with cities, towns, tillage, and regular governments, where “ Bedouins stand for little or nothing.” He estimates that this central tableland constitutes nearly half of the peninsula, and that the nomads amount to less than one seventh of the whole population. He urges with much emphasis that the wandering Bedouins must not be taken as a true sample of the Arabian race; for “ they are only a degenerate branch of that great tree, not its root or main stalk.” In a word, they are a degenerate, roving population, “ grown out of and around the fixed nation,” and very far from resembling the fancy-formed " sages and noblemen of the desert” shown us in the portrayals of French and other romance.
Our traveller went first from Gaza to Ma'an ; and then, on the 16th of June, 1862, having engaged a company of Bedouins as guides, he started for the Djowf, a valley, or oasis, sixty or seventy miles long and ten or twelve broad, which he describes as “ a kind of porch or Vestibule” of inhabited Central Arabia. This journey occupied nearly two weeks. He had engaged as a travelling companion a young Syr