« AnteriorContinua »
ness—that ideas will there flow directly from mind to mind, and the soul be continually exhilarated by breathing a pure congenial atmosphere, inhaling feeling, poetry, and knowledge.
This conjecture derives a further plausibility, from the consideration that our present language seems especially adapted to things material, that in the purely physical sciences we can communicate ideas with great accuracy and precision—that the difficulty of doing this increases in proportion as our feelings and the qualities of mind enter into the subject to which we endeavor to apply it, and when they become exclusively its objects, it almost entirely fails. Poetry has accomplished much more than the other forms in portraying the passions, sentiments, and all the more striking and complicated mental phenomena, but even that has shed but a feeble light over a small portion of this interesting field of research, or in bright but fitful gleams, shown the undefined vastness not yet explored. Our present language, then, is wholly inadequate to a subject, which of all others must most interest a world of spirits, as if it were intended only to carry us to the point from which we are there to start—to give us a glimpse of the infinite regions, which imagination has not yet traversed--the exhaustless sources of thought which mind still possesses, while the language of ideality has here accomplished just enough in the exhibition of the subjects of our internal consciousnesss, to assure us that it also possesses the elements of a power, which when matured, may become the fitting instrument to gather the treasures of that unexplored immensity. But may we not go farther, and say that we have even here a foretaste, or at least a nearer approach to this angelic pleasure? Have we not witnessed the soul in all its purity and vigor, throwing off the trammels which words impose on its highest action, and, as if anticipating its conscious destiny, in a transport of impassioned thought and feeling, almost entirely discarding the usual mode of expressing them, when the eloquence of the eye anticipates the tongue, when every feature kindles with emotion, and the whole countenance is as a transparency lighted with its glowing conceptions ? It is then that terms are most nearly dispensed with, and it is in this sympathetic mingling of thought and sentiment that we enjoy the purest poetry which warms the soul in its earthly tabernacle. Those who have known the raptures of such converse and have felt its exalting influence, will regard it as worthy a place in a higher sphere, and be willing to admit it to their most entrancing reveries of elysian
bliss. Does not this view lend a delightful confirmation to our hypothesis? But the argument derives yet additional strength from the consideration that this faculty, this power of silent, yet vivid expression, seems somewhat proportioned to moral excellence, or increases as the spiritual predominates over the material part of our natures—that in most men it is at best but dimly visible—that in those of the finer grade of intellect, whose feelings have been cultivated, whose purity has never been sullied by corroding care and ignoble pursuits, nor their sensibility blunted by too rude collision with the world, it becomes more apparent; while in the sex of finer mould, who are elevated above these degrading influences—whose feelings are more pure—whose sentiments are more refined—and whose spirits are more etherial, it manifests itself with a softened splendor, to which that of angels, may well be supposed, only another step in the scale of a magnificent progression. It is to the superiority which woman has in this expressive language ; to her command of this direct avenue to the finer feelings, that we must attribute her influence in refining and softening the asperities of our nature. And it is owing to the possession of this element of moral elevation, that while the finest and strongest reasoning of
philosophy has, in this respect, acccomplished so little, that woman has accomplished so much. She possesses not the strength which has been exhibited by some masculine minds, nor perhaps even the brilliancy which has emanated from others; but the influence which they respectively exert on society appears in strange disproportion to the apparent
The one is as the sun, which sheds his strong beams upon the waters, and the waves proudly reflect his dazzling brilliancy; the other, as the moon, whose milder light melts into the ocean ; glows through all its depths ; heaves its mighty bosom, and elevates it above its common level.
The refined subtleties of an Aristotle, or the glowing sublimities of a Plato, though presented to us with all the fascinations of a high-toned morality, and clothed in the imposing grandeur of a lofty and commanding eloquence, are dim and powerless to that effusion of soul, that seraphic fervor, which with a glance unlocks the avenues to our tenderness, which chides our errors with a tear, or winning us to virtue with the omnipotence of a charm, irradiates its path with the beaming eye, and cheers it with the approving smile of loveliness. And hence, too, it is, that the degree in which this influence is felt, and its source appreciated, is justly considered as the test of civilization and refinement.
Is there not in this mild, gentle, silent, persuasive, yet dissolving and resistless influence, a charm which bears witness to its celestial character ? Do we not recognize in it a similarity to that of heaven, and if we have ascribed it to its proper cause, does not this similarity at once stamp our speculation, if not with the seal of a moral certainty, at least with the impress of a cheering probability ?
BY WILLIAM J. HOPPIN.
" Yet one doubt
[PARADISE Lost, B. X.
I DREAMED that Death had froze
Had fled away
From his half-slain prey And left the conscious Soul bound to the mouldering clay.