Imatges de pàgina

what seems to be permanent, we natu- smack our lips to obtain it. Indeed, it rally accept as a physical fact; and yet may be questioned whether the whole we can understand that our senses may, of taste may not lie in the capabilities in many instances, be the sport of ap- of different substances for great subpearances which, because permanentdivision of particles. If quartz could we conceive to be reality. Thus color be made to dissolve into excessively is a cerebral sensation only, and grass minute particles as readily as sugar, it is not green.

might have its own special flavor. Is sugar sweet? That sugar has cer- Some odors are offensive in dense tain chemical constituents which go to quantities which are highly agreeable make up a saccharine compound we when wafted to us in delicate atoms, know. But what evidence have we of — musk, for instance. The rose seits sweetness, except that the nerves cretes a volatile oil, the wonderfully of taste are peculiarly affected when small atoms of which, on touching the brought in contact with it. Its sweet- nerves of smell, communicate a peculiar ness is not measurable in the chemist's sensation. This odor, like the sweetscales. It can be analyzed, and its con- ness, exists only in the nerves affected; stituent elements accurately defined. and a trifling disaffection of the nerves But sweetness is not one of those ele- suffices to destroy it entirely. The ments. The test of that is the tongue. chemist can also analyze the oil, but he Pure sugar of milk has scarce any does not enumerate in its elements sweetness at all ; nevertheless, it is pure odor. In fact, we have no words to exsugar. The influence which it has on press the sensation of smell. We say the nerves of taste is only different sweet, sour, bitter ; but have no terms from that of cane-sugar. Destroy the to express the differing sensations pronice nervous connection between the duced on us by the rose, lily, violet, and tongue and the brain, and sweetness pink. Their oily atoms awaken differdisappears. A severe cold will accom- ent sensations in the delicate nerves plish this, and while the touch of the they touch. The sensation awakened sugar is felt, the delicate sympathy may be due to chemical action induced which is awakened by the sugar and is by them in the system. But whether felt in the brain as sweetness is de- chemical or physical, the result of their stroyed. The sweetness, like the color, touch is a motion of matter, an impulse is a nervous sensation. We can con- communicated to the brain, the sensaceive of a development of the nerves tion of the organ being — the reception of taste which might receive a host of of this initiative force being - what we new'impressions from contact with ob- designate as odor. The fragrance of jects now tasteless. The saccharine the rose lies, then, in the contractions compound does exist as a chemical of special nerves, which thus respond quantity, and has a special effect on the to the touch of the oily particles that nerves of taste, exciting them peculiar- are blown against them. ly, the result of the excitement being Does the trumpet sound ? A vibrathe idea of sweetness.

tion of matter causes the surrounding Is the rose fragrant? The sense of air to vibrate in consonance with it; smell is indeed only a continuation of and the waves of air thus created, breakth of taste. In smelling, the nerves ing against the auditory nerve, awak are touched by only infinitesimally small a peculiar sensation which we call sound. particles of the substances reaching The trumpet, vibrating variously, as the them, and are only able to receive an valves are moved and the air forced impression from this excessive distri- through it, initiates waves of air of difbution. This is also true of taste, to a ferent lengths; and as they are comcertain degree, as it is impossible to municated to the surrounding air with fully perceive a flavor until the sub- amazing rapidity, they successively stance is tolerably comminuted, as we strike the listener's ear. As the waves of light touch the optic nerve, so do the cumscribed limits of magnitude to awagrosser waves of air touch the audi- ken that sensation at all. The greater tory nerve. But sound is only a rec- or less violence with which they strike ognized sensation when the waves of the ear causes them to appear loud or air are within a certain measurement, soft. We can imagine a development a maximum and minimum of length. of the nerves, or of the ear apparatus, The rush of a whirlwind has no sound, which might allow them to be influenced except when arrested by some object, by waves of greater volume and less and smaller waves of the vast billows rapid flow, and also by those of diminof rolling air are created. We say that ished size and accelerated movement. the wind roars. But the tremendous The trumpet then does not sound ; the currents above us, which sweep along ear sounds, and in the ear alone lies the the vast masses of vapor, are noiseless music that it makes. The deaf man, until they touch the earth, and some whose auditory nerves are not sensitive little trifling eddies are made in their to air-waves, sees the clouds move and lower sweep by hills and trees and the trees sway, the brook ripple and houses. It is then only noise. The the trumpeter with his tube at his lips; ear requires yet smaller waves of air to but the air-waves they all create pass by experience the sensation of tone. The him, and sound is inconceivable. That lowest note of a piano has barely sound is a mere nervous sensation is enough of it to give a definite idea. further proved by the fact that we have As the waves become shorter, the ear disturbances of the auditory nerve which begins to be pleasantly affected, and the we call singing in the ears. No waves realm of music is reached. Within a of air create this disagreeable music. certain restricted length of air-waves It arises from some affection of the lies all of the pleasurable sensation nerve, which irritates it to a vibration which we call musical tone. But as we similar to that which it undergoes when rise in the scale the tone begins to be- air-waves of a certain intensity reach it. come uncertain, until the highest note We say the sound rolled on, the odor of the instrument is again indefinite was wafted, the color was printed, our noise. The attenuated tone-waves of language and our thoughts implying Nature are also inappreciable by the that the sound, the odor, the color, are auditory nerves, and an obscure hum things, when in reality they are all mere or buzz is all that can be perceived, sensations, answering to the touch of until, finally, the eye detects motion physical agents. All sensation is nervewhich the ear utterly fails to perceive as motion. Outer stimulus, applied to the sound. The results of the air-waves are nerves, causes contractions which, comappreciable by sight and feeling; but municating with the brain, give the idea the waves which are heard are not those of color or taste or sound. which create the disturbance in nature The sense of feeling is a recognition we see and feel. The wild gust which of the existence of objects by a duller seizes a tree and bows it to the earth perception than the others, though all is only heard when the branches it of the senses attain their perceptions sways, or the leaves which it rustles, by feeling, in the strict meaning of the give out a secondary and far more at- word. We say things feel hard or soft, tenuate series of waves. A locust, on the varying density of the objects being a warm, sunny day, will agitate the air the cause of the varying sensations around him with a series of waves they awaken. Smoothness and roughwhich affect the ear far more powerfully ness are varying outlines of surface, than the wind which sighs in the wav- existing as physical conformation ; the ing trees above him. Thus sound is pleasurable or disagreeable sensations the answering sensation of the auditory awakened in us by contact being due nerve to the touch of air-waves; and to the greater or less irritation of the these waves must be within certain cir- nerves of feeling that attrition with it occasions. Motion is absolutely neces One of the ancient philosophies mainsary to give us an idea of the density tained that all Nature is but the phanor configuration of an object. The tasm of our senses. Had it, after first mere touch of that object is insufficient granting that the senses themselves to possess us with its nature. Iron and were evidences of matter and motion, down are indistinguishable, unless we, maintained that Nature was only evito a certain extent, manipulate them. dent to us through them, it would have Glass would be indistinguishable from been simple truth. Our perceptions sand-paper did we not to a certain ex- of Nature are limited to the capacity tent pass our fingers over the different of our nervous structure. We fresurfaces. Mere touch would not suf- quently make the mistake of endowing fice. We have the evidence of all of our matter with attributes which it does senses to prove to us the nature of an not possess, and which are resident object. It tastes or smells or vibrates only in the impression communicated or is colored; the varied sensations to us by forces emanating from it, the thus awakened combining to give us forces being we know not what. And our totality of conception. The rose we can understand that there may be reflects light-waves which the eye feels forces in nature as powerful as those red; it emits oil-particles which the which we perceive by our senses, but nose feels fragrant; it touches our which are utterly unrecognized by them. tongue, and feels pleasantly; it touches We can understand that it were posour fingers, and feels soft and smooth. sible for organized beings to possess It exists in nature as a physical struc- fifty instead of five senses, which might ture, and its existence is evident to us receive from nature other impressions through the various sensations it cre- and awaken other emotions as beautiates in different nerves of our bodies, ful and as beneficent as those arising and through them alone.

from sight and hearing.


ATHER, my people, let thy youths parade

Their woolly flocks before the rising sun;
With curds and oat-cakes, when their work is done,

By frugal handmaids let the board be laid ;
Let them refresh their vigor in the shade,

Or deem their straw as down to lie upon,
Ere the great nation which our sires begun

Be rent asunder by hell's minion, Trade!
If jarring interests and the greed of gold,

The corn-rick's envy of the minéd hill,

The steamer's grudge against the spindle's skill, –
If things so mean our country's fate can mould,

O, let me hear again the shepherds trill
Their reedy music to the drowsing fold !


J. H. Higginson.


S one looks forward to the America of fifty years hence, the main source of anxiety appears to be in a probable excess of prosperity, and in the want of a good grievance. We seem nearly at the end of those great public wrongs which require a special moral earthquake to end them. Except to secure the ballot for woman, a contest which is thus far advancing very peaceably, there seems nothing left which need be absolutely fought for; no great influence to keep us from a commonplace and perhaps debasing


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There will, no doubt, be still need of the statesman to adjust the details of government, and of the clergyman to keep an eye on private morals, including his own. There will also be social and religious changes, perhaps great ones; but there are no omens of any very fierce upheaval. And seeing the educational value to this generation of the reforms for which it has contended, and especially of the antislavery enterprise, one must feel an impulse of pity for our successors, who seem likely to have no convictions that they can honestly be mobbed for.



Can we spare these great tonics? is the experience of history that all religious bodies are purified by persecution, and materialized by peace. amount of accumulated virtue has thus far saved the merely devout communities from deteriorating, when let alone, into comfort and good dinners. This is most noticeable in detached organizations, - Moravians, Shakers, Quakers, Roman Catholics, they all go the same way at last; when persecution and missionary toil are over, they enter on a tiresome millennium of meat and pudding. To guard against this spiritual obesity, this carnal Eden, what has the next age in reserve for us? Suppose forty million perfectly healthy and virtuous Americans, what is to keep

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them from being as uninteresting as so many Chinese ?

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I know of nothing but that aim which is the climax and flower of all civilization, without which purity itself grows dull and devotion tedious,— the pursuit of Science and Art. Give to all this nation peace, freedom, prosperity, and even virtue, still there, must be some absorbing interest, some career. That career can be sought only in two directions, more and yet more material prosperity on the one side, Science and Art on the other. Every man's aim must either be riches, or something better than riches. Now the wealth is to be respected and desired, nor need anything be said against it. And certainly nothing need be said in its behalf, there is such a vast chorus of voices steadily occupied in proclaiming it. The instincts of the American mind will take care of that; but to advocate the alternative career, the striving of the whole nature after something utterly apart from this world's wealth, it is for this end that a stray voice is needed. It will not take long; the clamor of the market will re-absorb us to-morrow.

It can scarcely be said that Science and Art have as yet any place in America; or if they have, it is by virtue of their prospective value, as with the bonds of a Pacific railway. I use the ordinary classification, Science and Art, though it is literature only of which I now aim to speak. For under one of these two heads all literature must fall; it may be either a contribution to science through its matter, or to art through its form. The form of literature is usually called style; and of the highest kind of literature, called poetry or belles-lettres, the style is an essential, and almost the essential part. It is in this aspect that the matter is now to be considered, literature as an art.

The latest French traveller, Ernest Duvergier de Hauranne, says well, that,

for what he calls the academic class - or class devoted to pure literature there is as yet no place in America. Such a class must conceal itself, he says, beneath the politician's garb, or the clergyman's cravat. We may observe that, when our people speak of literature, they are very apt to mean a newspaper article, or perhaps a sermon, or a legal plea. One editor said that it could be no more asserted that literature was ill paid in America, since Governor Andrew received ten thousand dollars for an argument against the prohibitory liquor law. Even in our largest cities, there are scarcely the rudiments of a literary class, apart from the newspapers. Now, journalism is an invaluable outlet for the leisure time of a literary man; but his main work must be given to something else, or his vocation must change its name. He needs the experience of journalism, as he needs that of the lyceum and the caucus, nay, as he needs the gymnasium and the wherry, to keep himself healthy and sound. But when he gives the main energy of his life to either, though he may not cease to be useful, he ceases to be a literary man.

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It is useless to complain that, in America, Science is preceding Art; that is inevitable. As yet there is a shrinking even from pure science, that is, from all science which is not directly marketable; and while this is so, art must be still further postponed. We have hitherto valued science for its applications, natural history as a branch of agriculture, mathematics for the sake of life-assurance tables, and even a college education as a training for members of Congress. Just so far as any of these departments have failed of these ends, there is a tendency to disparage them. We are a little like the President Dupaty of the French Assembly, who told the astronomer Laplace that he considered the discovery of a new planet to be far less important than that of a new pudding, as we have already more planets than we know what to do with, while we never can have puddings enough. We are now outgrowing this

limited view of science, but in regard to literature the delusion still remains; if it is anything more than an amusement, it must afford solid information; it is not yet owned that it has value for itself, as an art. Of course, all true instruction, however conveyed, is palatable; to a healthy mind the Mécanique Céleste is good reading; so is Mill's "Political Economy," or De Morgan's "Formal Logic." But words are available for something which is more than knowledge. Words afford a more delicious music than the chords of any instrument; they are susceptible of richer colors than any painter's palette ; and that they should be used merely for the transportation of intelligence, as a wheelbarrow carries brick, is not enough. The highest aspect of literature assimilates it to painting and music. Beyond and above all the domain of use lies beauty, and to aim at this makes literature an art.

A book without art is simply a commodity; it may be exceedingly valuable to the consumer, very profitable to the producer, but it does not come within the domain of pure literature. It is said that some high legal authority on copyright thus cites a case: "One Moore had written a book which he called Irish Melodies,'" and so on. Now, as Aristotle defined the shipbuilder's art to be all of the ship but the wood, so the literary art displayed in Moore's Melodies was precisely the thing ignored in this citation.

To pursue literature as an art is not therefore to be a mathematician nor a political economist; still less to be a successful journalist, like Greeley, or a lecturer with a thousand annual invitations, like Gough. These careers have really no more to do with literature than has the stage or the bar. Indeed, a man may earn twenty thousand dollars a year by writing "sensation stories," and have nothing to do with literature as an art. But to devote one's life to perfecting the manner, as well as the matter, of one's work; to expatriate one's self long years for it, like Motley; to overcome vast physical obsta

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