« AnteriorContinuar »
it was ascending from the sea, the water in the Titanic vase, an exquisite pale green, spouted in all directions from the corrugated brim, and the waves leaped up and covered its pedestal and stem with a drift of sparkling foam. While in the process of painting this almost magical and beautiful apparition, nearly one half of the bowl burst off with the crack of a rifle, and fell with a heavy plunge into the sea. How much in olden times would have been made of this! In the twilight of truth it is easy to see that there is but a step, an easy and a willing step, from plain facts into wild and fanciful forms of superstition."- pp. 226, 227.
"If you would look upon the perfectly white and pure, see an iceberg between you and the day's last red heavens. To all appearance it will burn and scintillate like a crown of costly gems. In all its notched, zigzag, and flowing outline, it palpitates and glitters as if it were bordered with the very lightning." - pp. 232, 233.
"Icebergs, to the imaginative soul, have a kind of individuality and life. They startle, frighten, awe; they astonish, excite, amuse, delight, and fascinate; clouds, mountains and structures, angels, demons, animals and men spring to the view of the beholder. They are a favorite playground of the lines, surfaces, and shapes of the whole world, the heavens above, the earth and the waters under: of their sounds, motions, and colors also. These are the poet's and the painter's fields, more than they are the fields of the mere naturalist, much as they are his."- pp. 244, 245.
The book gives a pleasant impression of Church as companion and artist; persevering, enthusiastic, and light-hearted, — charming away his friend's sea-sickness with laughter from the recital of his own misfortunes in travel; running wild risks and working patiently in cold and danger to finish a sketch, and then throwing down pencil and sketch-book to make gingerbread in the cabin, boil salmon, and stir raisins into the rice to entertain their guests withal.
"Pricking above the horizon, the peak of a berg sparkles in the glowing daylight of the west like a silvery star. C has painted with great effect, notwithstanding the difficulty of lines and touches from the motion of the vessel. If one is curious about the troubles of painting on a little coaster, lightly ballasted, dashing forward frequently under a press of sail, with a short sea, I would recommend him to a good, stout swing. While in the enjoyment of his smooth and sickening vibrations, let him spread his palette, arrange his canvas, and paint a pair of colts at their gambols in some adjacent field.".
The friends both have an appreciation for the gastronomic and the droll, as well as the beautiful; the goodly salmon which they find, and the shoals of glistening little capulin, would inspire an epicure with rapture; while we do not often read a pleasanter bit of fun than that word-painting of the cabin in a storm. Indeed, after quoting to such audacious length, we have but given glimpses of the charm hid in this little volume. To comfort critics, also, it has a few faults; too much is said of sea-sickness, and the style is sometimes too colloquial.
But why criticise such a live book? We would as soon complain that pine-trees have pitch on their bark, which may, if we reach after it, defile us. We turn from book and picture both, not wearied as from the drop-curtain of a theatre, but with minds cheered, freshened, charmed; - turn with such regret as lures us to look back at sunset woods about a lake, our whole heart lingering there behind.
At morning, in the freshness of his joy, our author exclaims, "Give me the sea, I say, now that I am on the sea. Give me the mountains, I say, when I am on the mountains! Henceforth when I am weary with the task of life, I will cry, Give me the mountains and the sea." Give us the picture, we say, as we stand in the Athenæum. Give us the book, we say, as reluctantly we close its covers. Give us the picture and the book; but by all means the book. Find more such friends as Theodore Winthrop and Noble, Mr. Church; write more such books as "After Icebergs with a Painter," Mr. Noble: go to Terra Del Fuego, go to the Caribbees or Mountains of the Moon; - everywhere shall float before you the gleaming wings of beauty;-go then, and report to us lagging mortals of the fine radiance which they shed!
ART. V. - PUBLIC PRAYER.
1. Prayers. By THEODORE PARKER. Boston: Walker, Wise, & Co.
2. North American Review, January, 1862, Article IX.
WE presume that few people, outside of the regular attendance upon the services at the Music Hall and the narrow circle of personal acquaintance, ever imagined Theodore Parker to be a man of prayer, whose utterances were of a nature to be remembered and embodied in the printed page for the edification and comfort of those who have a taste for devotional literature. The character by which he was generally known to the community was that of a reformer, doing battle with real or imaginary superstition in the realm of theology and the Church, and exposing the abuses of morality and religion in social life. But his efforts in this relation did not denote him truly; certainly did not reveal the best part of his strength and his influence. It was not by his preaching and his speeches alone that he attracted admirers and won personal friends and confidants. Highly as we valued him as a scholar and a thinker, we could not always assent to his method, nor follow him to the result of his investigations; and his strictures upon men and manners carried with them an air of extravagance which dulled the edge of their application, while the tone of his sarcasm awakened a feeling of personal animosity towards himself amongst those whose spirit and principles he boldly rebuked. It was his method of dealing with what he esteemed great public errors, that afforded the chief attraction to those who were not members of his society, but were infrequent attendants at the Music Hall as opportunity allowed. There were many of this class, — many who, coming to the city for purposes of business or pleasure, availed themselves of the privilege, when they would hardly be willing to acknowledge that they had been there.
But we apprehend very many of this class were more deeply moved while there by the offerings of the priest than by the words of the preacher. When with reverence and simplicity he invoked an entrance into the Divine presence for that wait
ing congregation, and with the assurance of humble piety laid the offering of thankfulness and supplication on the altar of religion, we can easily believe that some at least, who had gathered there as to a place of entertainment, went down to their homes again with new and deeper impressions of the reality and the value of religious faith. The stillness of that large assembly was a sincerer response to the sentiments of the speaker, than any loud-voiced answer of a liturgical service; the irreverent were rebuked, the thoughtless were arrested in their wayward reverie, and the hearts of all were touched by the sacredness of the place and the service. We are free to confess, that we deemed it worthy a long walk to enjoy that communion of worship. The preaching might satisfy, or not, but the prayer awakened the deepest emotions, and, like the eloquence of music, it soothed and refreshed the troubled spirit.
It never occurred to us that those prayers could be given. to us again in a form so gratifying as we now have them presented here. To those who knew Mr. Parker as a minister, we hardly think a more acceptable memorial could be afforded than this little volume, though it should only remind them of the great loss they sustained when he was taken away, and his voice could no longer be heard inviting and leading them in the sacrifice of devotion. But the book has a value as a testimonial of sentiments and convictions that were denied to him by those who knew him only through report, and estimated his opinions and purposes by the narrow and artificial standard of prejudice. We think some of his defamers will be surprised to find one whom they believed to be so great a heretic and offender against the truths of the Gospel religion, could' yet give utterance to sentiments so plainly inconsistent with infidelity as the following:
"We thank thee for the triumphs which attend the name of Jesus, for the dear blessedness which his life has bestowed upon us, smoothing the pathway of toil, softening the pillow of distress, and brightening the way whereon truth comes down from thee, and life to thee goes ever ascending up. Father, we thank thee for the blessings which this great, noble soul has widely scattered throughout the world, and most of all for this, that his spark of fire has revealed to us thine own divin33
VOL. LXXII. 5TH S. VOL. X. NO. III.
ity, enlivening this mortal, human clod, and prophesying such noble future achievement here on earth and in thine own kingdom of heaven with thee."
"We thank thee for that noblest ornament and fairest revelation of the nature of man, whom thou didst once send on the earth to seek and to save that which was lost."
"Father, we thank thee that he lifted up that which was fallen down, and bound that which was bruised, and was a father to the fatherless, and the Saviour of us all. Yea, Lord, we thank thee for his temptations and his agonies, for his trials and his bloody cross, and for all his perils so manfully borne, and the crown of human homage and divine reverence which thou didst set on his head, defiled once by a crown of thorns." "We bless thee for all the various denominations on the earth, thanking thee that their several faith whether Heathen, or Greek, or Jew, or Christian - is to them of such infinite worth. We bless thee for all of truth which we may have gathered from the various religions of the world, and most of all, for what we have learned of thyself, in the calm and still communing of our own heart with thee."
But we can hardly think of a book so readily adapted to meet the necessities of those whose minds have been perplexed and confused by the wranglings of sectarianism, until they know not which way to turn for relief; of those whose faith has been disturbed by intellectual conceits that have come as a cloud between the soul and the great truths of Divine Providence and a Father's infinite love. Though presented only as a memorial, we think it is destined to have a wider influence, and to become a messenger of light and guidance and consolation to many who for various reasons find no attraction and no help in the usual ministrations of religion.
The publication of this little volume affords an opportunity for uttering some brief thoughts upon the subject of public prayer; a subject which has not often, we believe, been made the theme of remark, or criticism, in this, or any other similar journal. While all the other ministrations of the Church and the Pulpit are freely commented upon, there is a general avoidance of this, as though it were privileged by its very nature from similar remark. While we appreciate the delicacy that creates this reserve, we see no reason for adherence to the example, when criticism is tempered with reverence.
The journal to which we have referred, in connection with