Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

But thus Hesiod, after speaking of the golden age:

"When in the grave this guiltless race were laid,
Soon was a world of holy demons made;
Aërial spirits, by great Jove designed
To be on earth ihe guardians of mankind;
Invisible to mortal eyes, they go,
And mark our actions, good or bad, below;
The immortal spies with watchful care preside,
And ihrice ten thousand round their charges glide;
They can reward with glory or with gold,

A power they by divine permission hold.' Instances of these interesting resemblances of classic fable to sacred story might be greatly multiplied.

Thus it is, that in studying the character and opinions of him for whom unassisted reason did the most, we are the most convinced of the necessity of revelation. All that he knew, which was valuable, was derived from it; and he was himself most fully persuaded, that what he desired yet to know, he could only learn from a heavenly instructor. Alas! that many who profess such a veneration for the sage of Athens, should neglect to learn from him this most important lesson which he taught! It is not necessary to take from So. crates the due credit for virtue and wisdom which the candid scholar must award him, to prove that we need a better wisdom than man can teach. Socrates in the height of his fame is one of the best witnesses that the apologist for Christianity can summon to his cause.

THE 'STONE CHURCH.'

A DEEP, CAVERNOUS RAVINE, IN A MOUNTAIN-SIDE, IN DOVER, DUTCHESS CO., NEW-YORK.

"The groves were God's first temples' — so bas sung
The noblest of our poets; one who holds
Communion oft with nature, in her forms
Grand and majestic, but delights to dwell
Amid her scenes of quiet beauty more.
And hallowed be the sentiment, as one
Which purity alone could prompt; but yet,
Were the groves God's first temples? Who can doubt,
Whether of Science or Religior's self
We ask to know, that this primeval fane
Bears earlier date? its deep foundations laid
By the great architect; its arches hewn,
Ils massive walls reared upward, pile on pile;
Its altars pillared in the living rock,
Long ere the groves were planted ? Ay, and though
Ages have since rolled by, and man is born,
The crowning work of his Creator's hand,
Yet, even at this late day, we seek in vain
Ainong the various altars man has reared,
From St. Sophia's or St. Peter's dome,
From Britain's gothic ivy-cinctured towers,
Through many a pile of less pretension, down
To yon rude roof that tops the neighboring ridge,
For fitter place to bow and worship God,
Than here, mid these unfaltering witnesses

Of power divine, of human nothingness!
Milvale, (N. Y.) 1836.

T. A. G.

[blocks in formation]

Slight events sometimes make important eras in our life. My meeting with William Garrets, and his subsequent hospitality, his pains to explain to me the principles of his belief, my admiration of those principles, and my impression that they would assist me to recover my self-control, and calm down my excitable character, all followed on in course, and decided me upon what I was to do.

At the earnest solicitation of William, I remained a few days in his house. We spent the time in walking in the fields, and sitting down in the shade, enlightening one another upon the doctrines in which we had been educated. He had never before seen an Unitarian; and when I came to explain to him our doctrine, he wondered why he had never heard of it before ; and could never cease from introducing it as a topic of discourse.

He got hold, too, of my own history, without any feeling of idle curiosity showing itself, and invited me to remain in his house as long as I could make it agreeable and useful to myself. It was agreed that I should set about making such arrangements as pleased me, and that I was to become an inmate of his house.

He asked not for any letters; it was enough for him to know that I needed quiet and seclusion — that he could be of assistance to me. So I wrote to my friends, and made my intentions known. They

seemed gratified with my determination, and I felt pleased, because my mode of life was to be something new and untried.

And here, at the age of twenty, I was without any fixed plan of life, after having exhausted all the pleasures of the world, (meaning dissipations,) guided by a kind Providence, who never ceases to care for his children, to a haven of rest, in the bosom of the pleasantest Quaker family in the country.

William Garrets was a Hicksite, a follower of Elias Hicks, a celebrated preacher of liberal opinions, claiming them as the tenets of Penn, and Barclay, and other leaders of their class. Hicks is too well known to need comment here. He opened the eyes of many during his natural life, and has now gone to test the truth of his sentiments in eternity. With the highest tone of honorable feeling, the most charitable temper and disposition, the most open-handed hospitality, and the nicest refinement of plain manners, he has lived and died in the eyes of this people to the best purposes.

Probably no man among their order ever did so much good. At the time he began to preach, there were many scattered through their ranks, who were dissatisfied at the leaning of the society toward rank Hopkinsianism. Many had become tinged with the doctrines of this school, and the work of set revivals, a kind of proceeding so foreign to the whole tenor of their creed, began to be aimed at. Dissatisfaction crept in among them, and they were losing their individuality as a people.

Hicks wrote, and talked, and preached up a party to stay this backsliding; and the quiet meeting-houses of the Friends, time out of mind the abodes of peace, the sanctuaries of holy thought, became the theatres of violent polemical discussion. The humble receivers of a creed and manner of worship- in which all was plain and easily understood — from their fathers, they began first to reason, and then to doubt. Confusion and disorder troubled the breasts of the old, and the young ran astray, because their guides had become lost from the path of their religion; and the strange sight was seen of Quakers openly hating each other.

Elias Hicks went abroad and explained to the bewildered multitude what were the tenets of their founders. He collected the scat. tered bands, and they organized into a party; which once done, with cool and deliberate determination, they ceased from their wranglings — ceased from contention on his side, and the meetings once more sat in silence, and offered up pure and secret prayers in the temples of their souls to the one only and true God.

I lived with William Garrets more than a year, without any object as to the future. I seemed to have imbibed a love of quiet and solitude, and the long, hot summer noons, when not a sound broke the stillness, were seasons of enjoyment to me. The turmoil of my life, the restlessness of dissipation, and the pursuit of novelty, had wearied out my capacity for enjoyments, which depended upon great animal spirits, and bodily force, and I craved stillness and soberness, as the body craves rest from fatigue.

Himself something of a philosopher, I joined him in his scientific researches. We studied entomology and astronomy together. We rambled over the country in pursuit of curious bugs and plants, car

rying our bug-box and basket; and in the clear summer nights, we sat on the house-top with our telescope and globe, and I listened to strains of natural eloquence, and bursts of devout feelings, which shame all studied arrangements of words.

I could easily obtain from him, too, all the books I wished, upon the subject of the Friends. I read diligently, but observed more. I adopted, in part, the Quaker garb, and found it very convenient and easy. It is not improbable that the fashions of the world may come round to this garb, at some distant day. The broad hat is certainly more useful, in rain or sunshine, than the narrow sugar-loaf of the present day. The neckcloth is easier than the stock. The collar of the shirt is already discarded, as an useless incumbrance. The color of drab is more durable, and more neat, than any other ; and the coat, with its single row of buttons, and large pockets, and standing collar, unites the conveniences of the frock-coat, and the succinctness of the 'straight-body.' Square-toed boots are now adopted, and so on with other particulars. Each has some good reason for its adoption and continuance. Their dress was adopted, not as a badge, as many suppose, but it has been the dress of the sect from the time of its origin; at which time it was the dress of all plain people, who were opposed to the tawdriness and extravagance of the followers of the court of Charles. They have seen no good reason to alter it, and if it is conspicuous, it has become so more from the changes of others, than of themselves.

I have ever been led to view the garb of the Quakers as having a high moral influence upon their lives. By it they are constantly reminded of the virtue of consistency. A plain garb begets plain thoughts and meek manners. They must rely upon other sources, with strangers, than external effect. They feel themselves shut out from the empty vanities of the world, and bearing with them in their dress a sign to that effect.

One can hardly meet a more interesting character than a Quaker gentleman of easy fortune, who lives upon the estate of his father, in the country. His house and grounds are the pattern of neatness. There is a venerable and respectable air in the large shade trees, and well-trodden walks that surround his antique dwelling. He rides in a square-topped chaise, drawn by a sleek, fat horse, which has never been abused, and looks as contented, and patient, and well satisfied, as his master. His salutation is cordial and independent. He has a dignity of deportment which flows from an internal peace of mind. You may rely in perfect confidence upon what he says. You will find him well acquainted with agriculture, and with general science. He reads more than men of his rank among the world's people, and is better versed in governments. His children, being constantly surrounded by such examples, are well educated by the mere act of keeping their eyes open; for every point of conduct is a bright lesson to them of what is right. If this character does not approach to the true diguity and honor of man, I should like to know what does.

The Quakers read but little poetry. They worship nature. Their poetry is 'unwritten. They drink in their inspiration from the fountain head. They worship God in the stars and in the sun. They regard him in the storm. They see him in his majesty, and glory,

and bounty, spreading the earth with plenty, and adorning the abode of man with pure streams, and pleasant pastures. In the shade they thank Him — by the way side, and in the woods. In peace, is his home to them; and they retire to think, alone, upon his goodness.

This is their poetry, and they teach it to their children. It is not a well-spring of bitterness to them, as high-wrought poetry often is to the sensitive scholar; filling his heart full of dreams of imaginary bliss - a bliss he can never possess or realize in this world; making his life, as he lives on, one series of disappointments : for

charm by charm unwinds
Which robed our idols, and we see to sure
Nor worth nor beauty dwells from out the mind's.

Ideal shape of such.' I know something about this sentiment, for I have felt it. It is not a ridiculous subject; its victims are not common men; but they are cursed with too nice a sensibility, and they yield to the influences of a literature, now common in all the towns and villages in our country - thanks to our patriotic booksellers! — as common as the Bible.

Young men and young women get thoughts that belong to the age of chivalry, and the land of song, and poetry, and romance; the plains of Italy, the orange groves of Spain, and the 'vine-clad hills of France, and they expect an Eden will spring up about themselves, in this every-day working country. They are ushered into the world with these high hopes, and their airy castles fall, and they are desolate. Educated out of, and away from, the standard of things as they are, they are not calculated to excite the sympathies of the people among whom they live. They belong either to the age gone by, or the one to come, or to none at all, and they look in vain for the realization of their hopes.

CHAPTER XVII.

"Could I escape the guilt of having stopped
The pulse of hope in the most innocent soul

That ever passion ruffled ! I HAD now lived with this quiet family for more than a year, when an event occurred which changed all my plans, and threw me once more into the bustle of the world. But I went forth strong in my own estimation. My time had been devoted to reflection; and, retracing the steps of my life, I could see the rock on which I had split — irresolution, or the yielding to impulse. I had thought more than I had read, and conversed much with men, the very antipodes of myself, in babits of action and thinking. From them I drew large stores of wisdom. I learned to distinguish the false from the true, the alluring from the useful. The familiarity of Quaker habits, and a taste of the sweetness of its simple life, had won me from love of passion and excitement, as I thought. But I afterward discovered that this very quietness was excitement of a different order. I had been, all the time that I prided myself so much upon my change of VOL. XI.

52

« PoprzedniaDalej »