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a group of school-boys have piled their little books upon a grave, to strike them off with stones. So do we play with the words of the dead that would teach us, and strike them far from us with our bitter, reckless will, little thinking that those leaves which the wind scatters had been piled, not only upon a grave-stone, but upon the seal of an enchanted vault-nay, the gate of a great city of sleeping kings, who would awake for us, and walk with us, if we knew but how to call them by their names. How often, even if we lift the marble entrance-gate, do we but wander among those old kings in their repose, and finger the robes they lie in, and stir the crowns on their foreheads; and still they are silent to us, and seem but a dusty imagery; because we know not the incantation of the heart that would wake them; which, if they once heard, they would start up to meet us in their power of long ago, narro
rrowly to look upon us, and consider us; and as the fallen kings of Hades meet the newlyfallen, saying, “ Art thou also become weak as we-art thou also become one of us?” so would these kings, with their war-dimmed, unshaken diadems, meet us, saying, “ Art thou also become pure and mighty of heart as we? art thou also become one of us ?”
Mighty of heart, mighty of mind magnanimous - to be this, is indeed to be great in life; to become this increasingly, is, indeed, to “advance in life," — in life itself — not in the trappings of it. My friends, do you remember that old Scythian custom, when the head of a house died ? How he was dressed in his finest dress, and set in his chariot, and carried about to his friends' houses; and each of them placed him at his table’s head, and all feasted in his presence? Suppose it were offered to you, in plain words, as it is offered to you in dire facts, that you should gain this Scythian honor, gradually while you yet thought yourself alive. Suppose the offer were this: “You shall die slowly; your blood shall daily grow cold, your flesh petrify, your heart beat at last only as a rusted group of iron valves. Your life shall fade from you, and sink through the earth into the ice of Caina ; but, day by day, your body shall be dressed more gayly, and set in higher chariots, and have more orders on its breast crowns on its head, if you will. Men shall bow before it, stare and shout round it, crowd after it up and down the streets; build palaces for it, feast with it at their tables' heads all the night long; your soul shall stay enough within it to know what they do, and feel the weight of the golden dress on its shoulders, and the furrow of the crown-edge on the skull;
Would you take the offer, verbally made by the death-angel? Would the meanest among us take it, think you? Yet
practically and verily we grasp at it, every one of us, in a measure; many of us grasp at it in its fulness of horror. Every man accepts it, who desires to advance in life without knowing what life is; who means only that he is to get more horses and more footmen, and more fortune, and more public honor, and—not more personal soul. He only is advancing in life, whose heart is getting softer, whose blood warmer, whose brain quicker, whose spirit is entering into Living peace. And the men who have this life in them are the true lords or kings of the earth — they, and they only. All other kingships, as far as they are true, are only the practical issue and expression of theirs; if less than this, they are either dramatic royalties,-costly shows, with real jewels instead of tinsel -the toys of nations; or else, they are no royalties at all, but tyrannies, or the mere active and practical issue of national folly; for which reason I have said of them elsewhere, “Visible governments are the toys of some nations, the diseases of others, the harness of some, the burdens of more.”
Beauty is an all-pervading presence. It unfolds to the numberless flowers of the spring. It waves in the branches of the trees and the green blades of grass. It haunts the depths of the earth and the sea, and gleams out in the hues of the shell and the precious stone. And not only these minute objects, but the ocean, the mountains, the clouds, the heavens, the stars, the rising and setting sun, all overflow with beauty. The universe is its temple; and those men who are alive to it, cannot lift their eyes without feeling themselves encompassed with it on every side. Now, this beauty is so precious, the enjoyments it gives are so refined and pure, so congenial with our tenderest and noblest feelings, and so akin to worship, that it is painful to think of the multitude of men as living in the midst of it, and living almost as blind to it as if, instead of this fair earth and glorious sky, they were tenants of a dungeon. And infinite joy is lost to the world by the want of culture of this spiritual endowment. Suppose that I were to visit a cottage, and see its walls lined with choicest pictures of Raphael, and every spare nook filled with statues of the most exquisite workmanship, and that I were to learn that neither man, woman, nor child ever cast an eye at these miracles of art, - how should I feel their privation; how should I want to open their eyes, and to help them to comprehend and feel the loveliness and grandeur which in vain courted their notice! But every husbandman is living in sight of the works of a diviner Artist; and how much would his existence be elevated could he see the glory which shines forth in their forms, hues, proportions, and moral expression! I have spoken only of the beauty of nature, but how much of this mysterious charm is found in the elegant arts, and especially in literature ? The best books have the most beauty. The greatest truths are wronged if not linked with beauty, and they win their way most surely and deeply into the soul when arrayed in this, their natural and fit attire. Now, no man receives the true culture of a man, in whom the sensibility to the beautiful is not cherished; and I know of no condition in life from which it should be excluded.
ESSENTIAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MAN AND WOMAN.
On reaching home yesterday evening, I took down Liebig's “Chemistry,” and found that the ultimate elements of organic bodies are principally four, viz., carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen. That is, the difference between hair, flesh, bone, and between skin, bark, wood, &c., is caused not so much by their being composed of different elements as by the different proportions in 'which these four chief ones are mixed up.
In the visions of the night a dream presented itself, mingling this information with the subjects of our conversation, and the question whether woman is merely an unemancipated negro, as you say, her powers and qualities in all respects like those of men, only uncultivated, or, as I say, a being spiritually as well as physically different, - having, if you will, all the elements, moral and intellectual, the same in number that man has, only differing in the proportions in which they are mixed up; that difference, however, constituting a difference of nature as real as the difference between leaf and flower, wood and fruit. As you say, Woman is to Man what the gristle of a child is to the hard skull of an adult; as I say, what the brain is to the skull, or the flesh to the ribs.
Methought I overheard the muscular fibre, i. e., the flesh, of the human body, enviously grumbling against the bones. The flesh averred that it was essentially identical with bone, wanting only a different position and a harder education. That great muscle in the centre of the body, the heart, took upon herself the office of cham. pion of the rights of oppressed flesh, and spoke, “ Feeble and degraded muscles ! after six thousand years of abject inferiority, I summon you in the sacred name of abstract principles. Are we not
identically the same as the bones ? What are the bones ? — Carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen. What are we? - The same, minus & few pinches of phosphate of lime. The elements of our nature are identically those of bone. And yet for these long centuries we have been treated as if we were of a softer and feebler nature, condescendingly, insultingly protected from outward injury, as if we could not protect ourselves; looked upon as the ornament and living beauty of the bones; treated-I blush with shame to say it—as the cushions on which the bones repose, as if we were merely existing for their solace and relaxation. Even I, of bonier texture than you, poor slaves! I am bone-locked and hemmed in on every side, unable to expand, cabined, cribbed, confined, forbidden from the development of my noble nature by the coercion of a horrid, jealous rib!”
(For it may be remarked that the heart, albeit proud of being less soft and less sensitive than other muscles, was yet unable to restrain the use of certain spasmodic dashed words, like “horrid," which betrayed the existence of more nervous substance and sensibility than she would willingly have admitted. And the occurrence of these, in the midst of slang-like and bonier expressions, produced sometimes an odd confusion.)
Some very tender muscles, situated at the extremity of the fin-. gers, spoke in reply to the swelling heart thus:- .“ Wondrous sister ! Thy words are full of awe; and we have been thrilled with the mighty conceptions which thou hast suggested to us of being as the bones! But let us take sweet counsel together. Dost not thou sit in the centre of the body, determining the quality of every atom of carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen, before it passes into the bones ? Are not we, then, through thee our great mother, arbiters of the destiny of those bones, whom thou, with divine indignation, callest horrid ? We know that thou art less feebly sensitive than many of us, for we recollect how, in the days of Charles II., thou wast handled alive by a surgeon, and didst not flinch any more than if thou hadst been bone. But we pray thee to consider what would be our fate were we to change our nature. Should we not wear out by our friction, instead of elastically rebounding? Does not our very shrinking save us. Nay, would not the bones be harder still than we, and instead of, as now, loving forbearing pressure, come through us, if we did not feel? Besides, some of us have a secret liking for those bones, feel their support, and cling with great affection to our ribs. Thou speakest of great principles which we do not understand, - oxygen and hydrogen. Thou art very wise, and
we are very foolish, we only know that flesh is flesh, and bone is bone. Thou sayest flesh is bone; but we cannot help thinking that we are as nature made us, and better so. Thou meditatest, mighty philosopheress! on nitrogen and carbon. To us bones are dear. We think that all the discipline which thou recommendest would make us only firmer and healthier flesh, but flesh still, and that only by destruction of our nature could we become bone. We do not wish the bones ever to forget that we are flesh, or to treat us as bone treats bone. We should as soon expect a gentleman in the course of conversation to forget the difference of sex,- to consider only mind versus mind, and, smiting the feminine possessor of the mind upon the shoulder, to say, Come, hold your jaw, old fellow!' Most magnanimous heart! We are very tender, and do not like to have it forgotten that we are made of flesh and blood.”
Methought the heart heaved with scorn, and replied: “ Ye concrete feeblenesses! I am then, not as ye are. The abstract principles of my nature are identical with those of the tyrants. I will alter the proportions; I will appropriate a little of the lime which the heartless bones monopolize. I, too, will be a bone.” (“ Heartless bones.” N. B.—This was the last touching inconsistency of the flesh of which the heart was ever guilty.)
She persisted in her resolve. By degrees her eloquent and throbbing utterance became stilled in silence. She got harder and harder, and knocked against the ribs, blow for blow, giving knocks and receiving them with interest. The last wish she expressed was to be made acquainted with Anatomy practically, being certain that she should be as callous to the knife as any bone.
She got her wish; but it was not until she had become ossified.
Upon the post-mortem examination, I could not, however, but remark that, even denaturalized as her discipline had made her, she did not look like genuine, healthy bone, but a sort of gristle, neither red nor white, neither hard nor soft, but tough — altogether an unnatural, morbid, amorphous mass, like unprepared caoutchouc when you cut it through, only not so elastic.
The surgeon shrugged his shoulders, and dropped her into a jar of spirits of wine, to take her place amongst the monstrosities of an anatomical museum, observing that she was too hard for a feminine pin-cushion, and too soft for a masculine cannon-ball.
Glenara, Glenara, now read me my dream.