Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE ACCURSED.
He sitteth at a stranger's hearth,

Unwelcomed and alone;
Ile groweth grey in alien lands,

An outcast from his own;
He is a watched and hated thing,

Wherever he may dwell:
Who art thou, Exile ?—“ One who loved

His country's peace too well.”
And thou-upon whose trampled heart

The seal of scorn is set;
Whom the pure-minded and the fond

Endeavour to forget;
Whose life hath worn a fiendish curse,

Since the first angel fell :-
What art thou, Pariah ?—“One who loves

The truth of God too well."

Why look'st thou earthward !-thou art bowed

With the burthen of thy pain;
Lash after lash doth rend thy heart;-

Yet dost thou not complain :
Yet neither pride nor strength of frame

That agony repel :
Why art thou tortured ?_“I have loved

The truth of God too well.

Why art thou pale and sunken-eyed;

Why is thy beauty spoiled;
Why homest thou with infamy ;

What evil unassoyled
Hath chained Pain in thy drear heart,

A maniac in his cell:
Why art thou Desolation's Wife?

“Because I loved too well.”

There was a Curse came down from Heaven,

A fearful Destiny:
Woe to the Loving, death in life,

Contempt and injury !
But the Titan-heart reviveth still :

The far-world echoes tell,
That Love, the eldest-born of Truth,

Loveth his servants well.

z.

Truth and Error.-We need not fear any sinister consequences, from the subversion of error, and introducing as much truth into the mind as we can possibly accumulate. All those notions by which we are accustomed to ascribe to any thing a value which it does not really possess, should be eradicated without mercy; and truth, a sound and just estimate of things, which is not less favourable to zeal or activity, should be earnestly and incessantly cultivated.-Godwin.

Freedom of Opinion.- Let all have full liberty to teach and maintain whatever opinions they may choose to teach and maintain.-Melancthon.

[blocks in formation]

“And what do you believe?" was the question put by a teacher at a Sunday school to one of his rough-headed and ragged pupils.

“ Please, Sir! I believe in nothing."

“Surely," --said the catechizer :-"you forget-you believe in the Holy Ghost.”

“No indeed, Sir! I don't: the boy that believes in the Holy Ghost, is at home, ill o'the measles; and I have only got his place.”

The teacher seemed' horribly disconcerted; declared that he “had never been so disgusted,” as at this frank avowal of infidelity, and in one so young; he thought a severe flogging might do good; it might perhaps drive the Holy Ghost into the heart of this sinful little heathen; at all events it would impress it upon his memory—I did not rightly understand which, the Holy Ghost or the flogging. I confess I was much shocked at the unfortunate child's want of religion. It is very dreadful to believe in nothing. I never before was fully aware of what an infidel really is. But yet, it struck me, that it would have been far worse, if the boy had told a lie, and said "I believe in the Holy Ghost,” while, in truth, he believed in nothing. And then it occurred to me, how many men there are, old enough to know better, who, when their fathers go to their “long home” ill o'the gout or dropsy, or some other of the many “ills that flesh is heir to,” step into their places, and unblushingly avow a belief in the Holy Ghost or any thing else, when, if they spoke truth, they would reply—“Our fathers have gone home; they had their creeds and opinions : we have only taken their place; we must have a belief of our own, or we believe in nothing." I recollect a little story very applicable.

Ram Sing was one of a tribe of savages who lived somewhere, a great way off, beyond America. He was the best man of his tribe: every body loved him. He cured diseases; he taught the people the uses of many different herbs; he invented a number of serviceable tools; he was wiser than the rest of the people, and gave every one the benefit of his knowledge. Ram Sing was loved by every body except the priests : they hated him. The priests told the people that one of their Gods was born in a pig-sty; that he put on a pair of linen breeches; and went about the country, cutting wood and threatening to make a great fire and burn nearly all the people. Ram Sing laughed at them, and said it was all nonsense. The people began to laugh too, and said, they would no longer give the priests the best share of their harvest and their hunting, unless

they could tell them something better than these sorry stories, (they were very absurd certainly.) Then the priests found that they were getting poor, and, as they did not like work, they grew very furious, and told the people, that if they did not bring them enough sacrifice (for they said, all was for the service of the Gods), their Gods would be angry, and would 'blight their corn and cross the trail of the deer, so that

they would starve, and when they died, they should not be admitted into the pleasant land of spirits, among their fathers and chiefs, but be shut up for ever in the burning desert, to be hunted by wild beasts; and the stupid people were frightened, and, though they knew that the priests had lied to them before, they believed them now, and asked them what they should do to pacify their Gods. And the priests told them to take Ram Sing, the man who had done them so much good, who had laughed at the priests' lies; and to beat him; and to fasten him to a high tree, and let him hang there till he died. It was in vain that Ram Sing reminded them that he had never done them harm, but always good, teaching them to love one another, and that he had never asked any reward' but their love for his services, and therefore could have no object in deceiving them; it was to no purpose that he showed them how the priests would tell any lies to live in laziness, and begged them to require some proof of what was told them and not to believe without any reason; the people were so ignorant and so cowardly that they would have killed themselves at the priests' bidding. So they beat Ram Sing, and hanged him on a tree; and shouted round him, and mocked him, and said it served him quite right for he was an Infidel. And the priests laughed too, for they knew that now there was no one to prevent them from robbing the people And the poor savages crawled on in their old ignorance.

Mr. Sunday-school-teacher! do you mean to say that the little boy who believes in nothing and tells truth, is likely to be such a man as Ram Sing, the Infidel? If so, I think he will be a much better member of society than the men who believe in the Holy Ghost and don't mind about robbing and murdering their fellow-creatures : but, if he does what he thinks right, and no harm to any one, I can't see what you and I have to do with his belief, or his want of belief. The Apostle James says, “Faith without works is dead," so that all those poor savages believed (if taking another man's word without any reason, is worth calling belief) was but a dead faith, producing no good works-like many people who profess belief in Christianity, and do nothing christian-like; and the same Apostle says, “Show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works,” so that Ram Sing, who was accused of believing in nothing, proved by his works that he had abundant faith, and more belief in good than his persecutors; and those who have only an unproductive faith, are, after all, the real Infidels.

The World ought to be ashamed of its lies.

Atheism.- In the necessary ascending progress of the understanding to divest the infinitely perfect Being of all resemblance to imperfection, he at length approaches a very faint and imperfect personality. I acknowledge indeed that the heart has an equally inevitable ascending progress, in which the Divinity is more and more individualized, brought nearer and made liker to ourselves, that he may be more the object of affection. But to confine myself to speculation; a person commonly called an Atheist, might certainly feel the most ardent moral enthusiasm, or the warmest love of perfect virtue; he consequently has the feeling, of which devotion is a modification or another name. This perfect virtue he must often personify. How small is the difference in pure speculation between the evanescent individuality to which the reasonings of the Philosophical Theist reduce or exalt the 'Divinity, and the temporary mental reality into which the imagination of him who is called an Atheist brightens his personification of virtue !-Sir James Mackintosh.

Protestantism. I am for tearing off every mask, for managing nothing, for extenuating nothing, for shutting the eyes to nothing, that truth may be transparent and unadulterated, and may have a free course.-- Martin Luther.

SHELLEY.

Holy and mighty Poet of the Spirit
That broods and breathes along the Universe!
In the least portion of whose starry verse
Is the great breath the sphered heavens inherit-
No human song is eloquent as thine;
For, by a reasoning instinct all divine,
Thou feel'st the soul of things, and thereof singing,
With all the madness of a skylark, springing
From earth to heaven, the intenseness of thy strain,
Like the lark's music all around us ringing,
Laps us in God's own heart, and we regain
Our primal life etherial! Men profane
Blaspheme thee : I have heard thee Dreamer styled-
I've mused upon their wakefulness—and smiled.

Wade.

His way

THE LIFE OF SHELLEY. PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY was the son of Sir Timothy Shelley, Bart., of Castle-Goring, Sussex. He was born at Field-Place, in Sussex, on the 4th of August, 1792. At the customary age, he was sent to Eton school; and before he completed his seventeenth year had published two novels, The Rosicrucian and Zasterozzi. He was taken from Eton before the usual time of leaving school : his unconventional spirit, penetrating, sincere, and demanding the reason and justice of things, was found to be inconvenient. He was removed to University College, Oxford: Logic was there put into his hands; and he used it in the most uncompromising manner. The more important the proposition, the more he thought himself bound to investigate it: the greater the demand upon his assent, the less he thought himself bound to grant it. The result was expulsion. He was now thrown upon society, with no better experience than this, of the kindness and sincerity of those whom he had perplexed, to form his own judgments, and pursue his own career. of proceeding was entirely after the fashion of those guileless, but vehement hearts which, not being well replied to by their teachers, and finding them hostile to inquiry, add to a natural love of truth all the passionate ardour of a generous and devoted protection of it. He resolved to square all his actions by what he conceived to be the strictest justice, without regard to the opinions of those whose little consideration towards himself ill fitted them, he thought, for teachers, and as ill warranted him in deferring to the opinions of the world whom they guided. Many anecdotes are recorded of his generosity and highmindedness. The sincerity of his professions was well proved by his rejection of a large estate in Sussex, rather than comply with the condition of becoming a truckling member of the House of Commons: his family were of the compromising class : Whig Aristocrats. At the age of eighteen he married a Miss Harriet Westbrooke, the daughter of a retired coffee-house keeper. By this marriage he so irritated his father, that he was entirely abandoned by him; but his father-in-law allowed him £200 a year. The wife he took was not of a nature to appreciate his understanding, or, perhaps, to come from contact with it uninjured in what she had of her own. They separated by mutual consent, after the birth of two children. In the spirit of Milton's doctrines, Shelley now paid his addresses to the daughter of Godwin (the author of Political Justice) and Mary Wollstonecraft (authoress of the Rights of Woman.) In 1814 he visited Switzerland, accompannied by Miss Godwin; but soon returned to England, and resided with her at Bath. There he received intelligence of the death of his wife, who destroyed herself on the 10th of November, 1816. This was a heavy blow to Shelley : for a time it tore his being to pieces. Shortly after he married Miss Godwin, at the solicitation of ner father; and went to reside at Great Marlowe, in Buckinghamshire, where he wrote the Revolt of Islam. In consequence of his heterodox opinions, his family took legal proceedings to deprive him of the guardianship of his two children by his first wife. In this unprovoked aggression they succeeded ; and his children were transferred to the safe keeping of an old clergyman of the established church, to be instructed in the proprieties of orthodoxy. Shelley was terribly affected by this inhuman separation. The younger of these two children, a boy, is since dead. While at Marlowe, Shelley published a Proposal for putting Reform to the vote throughout the country, for which purpose he offered to subscribe £100. In 1817 he left England, never to return to it; and bent his course to Italy, where he resided partly at Venice, and partly at Pisa, and on the neighbouring coast. In Italy were written the Prometheus Unbound, The Witch of Atlas, Adonais, The Cenci, The Triumph of Life, &c. In June, 1822, he was an occasional resident at a house on the Gulph of Lerici, where he kept a boat, and was in the habit of cruising along the coast. On the 7th of July, accompanied by a friend, Mr. Williams, and one seaman, he set sail from Leghorn (where he had been to welcome his friend Leigh Hunt to Italy) with the intention of returning to Lerici. In a day or two the voyagers were missed. The afternoon of the 8th was stormy; and succeeded by a tremendous night. A dreadful interval of suspense took place. Nothing could be heard of them for eight days. At the end of that period, the bodies of Shelley and his friend were found, washed on shore, near Via Reggio. In Shelley's jacket-pocket was a volume of Keat's poems, of which a turned-down leaf indicated the place where he had probably been reading at the moment of the boat's going down: he had evidently sunk without making an attempt to save himself. His body was burnt on the spot where it was found, by his friends, Leigh Hunt, Mr. Trelawney, and Lord Byron; and his ashes were buried in the Protestant burial-ground at Rome, near the grave of his divine fellow-poet, Keats, and that of a son, an infant (by his second wife) whom he had lost in that city. Another son, by her, survived him, and will succeed to the baronetcy; the daughter by his first wife has been lately married. Shelley was in his thirtieth year when he died. He was rather tall and slender; with fair complexion, and brown hair. His eyes were large and expressive, with a dash of wildness in them; and his aspect had a certain seraphical character, that would have suited a portrait of John the Baptist. He was a first-rate scholar, an excellent metaphysician, and no slight adept in natural philosophy. His favourite books were Plato, Homer, the Greek tragedians, Shakspere, and the Bible. The leading-feature of his character may be said to have been a natural piety. He was pious towards nature, towards his friends, towards the whole human race, towards the meanest insect of the forest. He set his face, not against a mystery, nor a self-evident proposition, but against whatever he conceived to be injurious to human good. In this light he viewed the “ received” degrading notions of the Deity, and therefore reprobated them, attacking the Gods of man's creation. His bravery was remarkable; he would have lost his life with pleasure, to set an example of disinterestedness. Those who best knew him speak of him as “a man absolutely without selfishness." Joined with this was a great deal of will, but will that was sympathetic. He was naturally irritable and impetuous, but had schooled his temper to gentleness; and in his whole behaviour he evinced the sweetest and noblest disposition. He scorned advice as little as he scorned any other help to what was just and good : be could both give and take it with an exquisite mixture of frankness and delicacy, that formed one of the greatest evidences of his superiority to common "virtue." His whole life, was spent in the

« PreviousContinue »