Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

now.

is resolved into It was and It shall be. cessive cycle of human history, as we reThus by our analysis do we retreat into alize more completely the great Ideal, the ideal. In the deepest reflection, all our appreciation of the Past increases, that we call external is only the mate- and our hope of the Future. The difrial basis upon which our dreams are ference lies not in the data of history, but built; and the sleep that surrounds life in what we make of the data. swallows up life — all but a dim wreck of We cannot see too clearly that the matter, floating this way and that, and great problem of life, in Philosophy, Art, forever evanishing from sight. Complete or Religion, is essentially the same from the analysis, and we lose even the shad- the beginning Like Nature, indeed, it ow of the external Present, and only the repeats itself under various external phasPast and the Future are left us as our es, in different ages and under different sure inheritance. This is the first initia

skies. History whispers from her antetion,— the veiling of the eyes to the ex- diluvian lips of a race of giants; so does ternal. But, as epopła, by the synthesis the earth reveal mammoths and stupenof this Past and Future in a living na- dous forests. But the wonder neither of ture, we obtain a higher, an ideal Pres- Man nor of Nature was greater then than ent, comprehending within itself all that We say much, too, of Progress. can be real for us within us or without. But the progress does not consist in a This is the second initiation, in which is change of the fundamental problem of unveiled to us the Present as a new birth the race; we have only learned to use from our own life.

our material so that we effect our changes Thus the great problem of Idealism is more readily, and write our record with symbolically solved in the Eleusinia. For a finer touch and in clearer outline. The us there is nothing real except as we re- progress is in the facility and elaboration, alize it. Let it be that myriads have and may be measured in Space and Time; walked upon the earth before us,— that but the Ideal is ever the same and imeach race and generation has wrought its measurable. Homer is hard to read; but change and left its monumental record when once you have read him you have upon pillar and pyramid and obelisk; set read all poetry. Or suppose that Orpheaside the ruin which Time has wrought us, instead of striving with his mythic both

upon the change and the record, lev- brother Cheiron, were to engage in a muelling the cities and temples of men, di- sical contest with Mozart, and you, readminishing the shadows of the Pyramids, er, were to adjudge the prize. Undoubtand rendering more shadowy the names edly you would give the palm to Mozart. and memories of heroes, — obliterating Not that Mozart is the better musician; even its own ruin ;- set aside this obliv- the difficulty is all in your ear, my friend. ion of Time, still there would be hiero- If you could only hear the nice vibrations glyphies -- still to us all that comes from of the “ golden shell,” you might reverse this abyss of Time behind us, or from the your decision. abyss of Space around us, must be but So in Religion ; the central idea, if you dim and evanescent imagery and emp- can only discern it, is ever the same. She ty reverberation of sound, except as, be- no longer, indeed, looks with the bewilcoming a part of our own life, by a new dered gaze of her childhood to the mounbirth, it receives shape and significance. tains and rivers, to the sun, moon, and Nothing can be unveiled to us till it is stars, for aid. In the fulness of time the born of us. Thus the epople are both veil is rent in twain, and she looks becreators and interpreters. Strength of yond with a clearer eye to the surer signs knowledge and strength of purpose, lying that are visible of her unspeakable glory. at the foundation of our own nature, be- But the longing of her heart is ever the come also the measure of our interpretation of all Nature. Therefore in each suc- What remains to us of ancient systems

same.

of faith is, for the most part, mere name connection that they receive their most and shadow. It is even more difficult for general significance; for this riddle is the us to realize to ourselves a single cere- riddle of the race, and the problem which mony of Grecian worship, - for instance, it involves can be adequately realized a dance in honor of Apollo, -in its sub- only in the life of the race.

To Greece, tile meaning, than it would be to appre- as peculiarly sensitive to all that is tragiciate the “ Prometheus” of Eschylus. cal, the Sphinx connected her questions This ignorance leads oftentimes to the most intimately with human sorrow, either most shocking profanation; and from mere in the individual or the household. lack of vision we ridicule much that should “ Who is it,” thus the riddle ran, “ who call forth our revesence.

is it that in the morning creeps upon allThus many Christian writers have fours, touching the earth in complete desought to throw ridicule upon the Eleu- pendence,--and at noon, grown into the sinia. But we must remember, that, to fulness of beauty and strength, walks Greece, throughout her whole history, erect with his face toward heaven, - but they presented a well-defined system of at the going down of the sun, returns faith,—that, essentially, they even serv- again to his original frailty and depended the function of a church by their in. ence ?" herent idea of divine discipline and pu- This, answered Edipus, is Man; and rification and the hope which they ever most fearfully did he realize it in his own held out of future resurrection and glory. lite! In the mysteries of the Eleusinia Why, then, you ask, if they were so pure there is the same prominence of human and full of meaning, why was not such a sorrow,-only here the Sphinx propounds man as Socrates one of the Initiated ? her riddle in its religious phase; and in The reason, reader, was simply this : the change from the mystæ to the epopWhat the Eleusinia furnished to Greece, , in the revelation of the central self, that Socrates furnished to himself. That

was the great problem symbolically realman who could stand stock-still a whole ized. day, lost in silent contemplation, what was Greece had her reckoning; and to her the need to him of the Eleusinian veil ?

eye the Sphinx long ago seemed to plunge The most self-suflicient man in all Greece, herself headlong into precipitate destrucwho could find the way directly to him- tion. But this strange lady is ever reself and to the mystery and responsibility appearing with her awful alternative : of his own will without the medium of they who cannot solve her riddle must external rites, to whom there were the die. It is no trilling account, reader, ever-present intimations of his strange which we have with this lady. For now Divinity,—what need to him of the Eleu- her riddle has grown to fearful proporsinian revealings or their sublime self-in- tions, connecting itself with the rise and tuition (avtorbic)? He had his own sep- fall of empires, with the dim realm of arate tragedy also. And when with his

superstition, with vast systems of philast words he requested that a cock be losophy and faith.

And the answer is sacrificed to Esculapius, that, reader, always the same: " That which hath was to indicate that to him had come the been is that which shall be ; and that eighth day of the drama, in which the which hath been is named already,- and Great Physician brings deliverance, - it is known that it is Man." and in the evening of which there should What is it that shall explain the differ. be the final unveiling of the eyes in the ence between our map of the world and presence of the Great Hierophant! that of Sesostris or Anaximander? Geo

Such were the Eleusinia of Greece. logical deposits, the washing away of But what do they mean to us? We have mountains, and the change of riveralready hinted at their connection with courses are certainly but trifling in such the Sphinx's riddle. It is through this an account.

But an Argonautic expe19

VOL. IV.

n

66

This person,

dition, a Trojan siege, a Jewish exodus, craft was very far from being a humbug. Nomadic invasions, and the names of They are all true,— the gibbering ghost, Hanno, Cæsar, William the Conqueror, the riding hag, the enchantment of wizand Columbus, suggest an explanation. ards, and all the miracles of magic, none It is the flux of human life which must of which we have ever seen with the account for the flowing outline of the eye, but all of which we believe at heart. earth's geography. As with the terres- But who is it that weirdly draws aside trial, so with the celestial. The heavens the dark curtain ? Who is this mystic change by a subtiler movement than the larly, ever weaving at her loom - wearprecession of the equinoxes. In Job, Be- ing long ago, and weaving yet, - singing hold the height of the stars, how high with unutterable sadness, as she interthey are !” but to Homer they bathe weaves with ber web all the sorrows and in the Western seas; while to us, they shadowy fears that ever were or that are again removed to an incalculable dis- ever shall be? We know, indeed, that tance,— but at the same time so near, she weaves the web of Fate and the curthat, in our hopes, they are the many tain of the Invisible ; for we have seen mansions of our Father's house, the step- her work. We know, too, that she alone ping-stones to our everlasting rest. can show the many-colored web or draw

But there is also another map, reader, aside the dark curtain ; for we have seen more shadowy in its outline, of an invisi- her revelations. But who is she ? ble region, neither of the heavens nor of Ay, reader, the Sphinx puts close questhe earth,— but having vague relations to tions now and then; but there is only one each, with a secret history of its own, of answer that can satisfy her or avert death. which now and then strange tales and tra

the only real mystery ditions are softly whispered in our ear,- which can exist for you, - of all things where each of us has been, though no the most familiar, and at the same time two ever tell the same story of their wan- the most unfamiliar,- is yourself! You derings. Strange to say, each one calls need not speak in whispers. It is true, all other tales superstitions and old-wives' this lady has a golden quiver as well as a fables ; but observe, he always trembles golden distaff; but her arrows are all for when he tells his own. But they are all those who cannot solve her riddle. true; there is not one old-wife's fable on Protagoras, then, was right; and, lookthe list. Necromancers have had private ing back through these twenty-two centuinterviews with visitors who had no right ries, we nod assent to his grand proposito be seen this side the Styx. The Witch tion: “Man is the measure of all things, of Endor and the raising of Samuel were - of the possible, how it is,- of the imliteral facts. Above all others, the Ne- possible, how it is not” In the individual mesis and Eumenides were facts not to life are laid the foundations of the unibe withstood. And, philosophize as we verse, and upon each individual artist may, ghosts have been seen at dead of depend the symmetry and meaning of night, and not always under the conduct the constructed whole. This Master-Artof Mercury ; * even the Salem witch- ist it is who holds the keys of life and

death; and whatsoever he shall bind or * This function of Mercury, as Psycho

loose in his consciousness shall be bound Pompos, or conductor of departed souls to Hades, is often misunderstood.

He was a

or loosed throughout the universe. Apart Pompos not so much for the safety of the dead

from him, Nature is resolved into an in(though that was an important consideration) tangible, shapeless vanity of silence and as for the peace of the living. The Greeks darkness,— without a name, and, in fact, had an overwhelming fear of the dead, as is evident from the propitiatory rites to their qualifications point to this office, by which he shades; hence the necessity of putting them defends the living against the invasions of the under strict charge, - even against their will. dead. Hence his craft and agility; – for who (Horace, I. Ode xxiv. 15.) All Mercury's so fleet and subtle as a ghost?

a

no Nature at all. To man, all Nature must be human in some soul. God himself is worshipped under a human phase; and it is here that Christianity, the flower of all Faith, furnishes the highest answer and realization of this world-riddle of the Sphinx, — here that it rests its eternal Truth, even as here it secures its unfailing appeal to the human heart !

The process by which any nature is realized is the process by which it is humanized. Thus are all things given to us for an inheritance. Let it be, that, apart from us, the universe sinks into insignificance and nothingness; to us it is a royal possession ; and we are all kings, with a dominion as unlimited as our desire.

Ubi Cæsar, ibi Roma ! Rome is the world ; and each man, if he will, is Cæsar.

If he will ; - ay, there's the rub! In the strength of his will lie glory and absolute sway. But if he fail, then becomes evident the frailty of his tenure," he is a king of shreds and patches !”

Here is the crying treachery; and thus it happens that there are slaves and craven hearts. This is the profound pathos of history, (for the Sphinx has always more or less of sadness in her face,) which enters so inevitably into all human triumphs. The monuments of Egypt, the palaces and tombs of her kings - revelations of the strength of will,- also by inevitable suggestions call to our remembrance successive generations of slaves and their endless toil. Morn after morn, at sunrise, for thousands of years, did Memnon breathe forth his music, that his name might be remembered upon the earth ; but his music was the swell of a broken harp, and his name was whispered in mournful silence! Among the embalmed dead, in urn-burials, in the midst of catacombs, and among the graves upon our hillsides and in our valleys, there lurks the same sad mockery. Surely “purple Death and the strong Fates do conquer us !” Strangely, in vast solitudes, comes over us a sense of desola

tion, when even the faintest adumbrations of life seem lost in the inertia of mortality. In all pomp lurks the pomp of funeral ; and we do now and then pay. homage to the grim skeleton king who sways this dusty earth, — yea, who sways our hearts of dust!

But it is only when we yield that we are conquered. " The dæmon shall not choose

us,

but we shall choose our mon.”* It is only when we lose hold of our royal inheritance that Time is seen with his scythe and the heritage becomes a waste.

This is the failure, the central loss, over which Achtheia mourns. Happy are the epoptæ who know this, who have looked the Sphinx in the face, and escaped death! They are the seers, they the heroes!

But “Conx Ompax !

And now, like good Grecians, let us make the double libation to our lady, toward the East and toward the West. That is an important point, reader; for thus is recognized the intimate connection which our lady has with the movements of Nature, in which her life is mirrored, - especially with the rising, the ongoing, and the waning of the day; and you remember that this also was the relief of the Sphinx's riddle, - this same movement from the rising to the setting

But prominently, as in all worship, are our eyes turned toward the East, toward the resurrection. In the tomb of Memnon, at Thebes, are wrought two series of paintings; in the one, through successive stages, the sun is represented in his course from the East to the West, --and in the other is represented, through various stages, his return to the Orient. It was to this Orient that the old king looked, awaiting his regeneration.

Thus, reader, in all nations, - by no mere superstition, but by a glorious symbolism of Faith, - do the children of the earth lay them down in their last sleep with their faces to the East.

* Plato's Republic, at the close.

sun.

THE MINISTER'S WOOING.

[Continued.]

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER XXII.

erations which he had in hand for the

day. MARY returned to the house with her Solomon was a tall, large-boned man, basket of warm, fresh eggs, which she set brawny and angular; with a face tanned down mournfully upon the table. In by the sun, and graven with those conher heart there was one conscious want siderate lines which New England so and yearning, and that was to go to the early writes on the faces of her sons. friends of him she had lost, — to go to his Ile was reputed an oracle in matters mother. The first impulse of bereave- of agriculture and cattle, and, like orament is to stretch out the hands towards cles generally, was prudently sparing of what was nearest and dearest to the de- his responses. Amaziah was one of those parted.

uncouth over-grown boys of eighteen Her dove came fluttering down out of whose physical bulk appears to have so the tree, and settled on her hand, and suddenly developed that the soul has began asking in his dumb way to be no- more matter than she has learned to recticed. Mary stroked his white feathers, ognize, so that the hapless individual is and bent her head down over them till always awkwardly conscious of too much they were wet with tears. Oh, birdie, limb; and in Amaziah's case, this conyou live, but he is gone!” she said. Then sciousness grew particularly distressing suddenly putting it gently from her, and when Mary was in the room.

Ile liked going near and throwing her arms around to have her there, he said, “but, someher mother's neck,—“ Mother,” she said, how, she was so white and pretty, she “I want to go up to Cousin Ellen's." made him feel sort o' awful-like.” (This was the familiar name by which she Of course, as such poor mortals alalways called Mrs. Marvyn.) Can't ways do, he must, on this particular you go with me, mother ?”

morning, blunder into precisely the “My daughter, I have thought of it. wrong subject I hurried about my baking this morning, “ S'pose you've heerd the news that and sent word to Mr. Jenkyns that he Jeduthun Pettibone brought home in needn't come to see about the chimney, the • Flying Scud,' 'bout the wreck o' because I expected to go as soon

the · Monsoon'; it's an awful providence, breakfast should be out of the way. So, that 'ar' is,-a'n't it? Why, Jeduthun hurry, now, boil some eggs, and get on says she jest crushed like an egg-shell”; the cold beef and potatoes; for I see Sol- - and with that Amaziah illustrated the omon and Amaziah coming in with the fact by crushing an egg in his great milk. They'll want their breakfast im- brown hand. mediately."

Mary did not answer. She could not The breakfast for the hired men was grow any paler than she was before; a soon arranged on the table, and Mary dreadful curiosity came over her, but her sat down to preside while her mother lips could frame no question. Amaziah was going on with her baking - introducing various loaves of white and “Ye see, the cap'en he got killed with brown bread into the capacious oven a spar when the blow fust come on, and by means of a long iron shovel, and Jim Marvyn he commanded; and Jedudiscoursing at intervals with Solomon, thun says that he seemed to have the with regard to the different farming op- spirit of ten men in him ; he worked

as

went on:

« AnteriorContinua »