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tised the excesses of partisan spirit, made, and upon this fortress we do not and curbed the domineering audacity hesitate to declare that all assaults, of personal ambition. In mediæval however impetuous and ardent, and led Europe, the drama served to seize the on by whatever honest and high-minded public attention, and fasten it upon the crusaders, will be made in vain. great topics of Christian duty, Chris- No reverence for the righteous fathers tian faith, and Christian hope. It was of the Republic, no respect for the sina coarse instrument, doubtless, and did cere disciples of the faith which they its work coarsely enough; but, after all, professed, should withhold us from exit did do its work, it did prove itself amining carefully and dispassionately efficient, and vindicated to itself a ca- the theory of social life and of human pacity of usefulness which is hardly, education in which they had themselves we think, to be overlooked in a world been trained, and which they bequeathed where so much is to be done, and to their posterity. neither tools nor laborers do exuber- To the Puritan mind, life was one antly and superfluously abound. In long exodus. The true believer was a modern Europe, and particularly in soldier on the rch through an eneCatholic Europe, the drama bas proved my's country. Before and behind he itself the secret lever of suppressed was beset by open foes and secret reform. When the tide of passionate snares. To lay aside his armor, to thought, which passed over Europe in relax in his wary discipline, to subside the sixteenth century, was stemmed in into a mood of confidence, good-humor, the Latin world by successful and cen- and indolent gayety, was to risk everytralized tyranny, and seemed to have thing, and to violate his loyal duty to been quite rolled back upon the north- his Leader. The early legislation of ern nations, many a wave still found its New
England resembles the “ Articlos way beneath the barrier, and flashed of War,” so peremptory is it, and so and surged upon the stage, forerunning full of prohibitions. One would say the second and mightier and more ter- that the pervading spirit of these therible deluge which our own days have ocratic lawgivers, who organized the seen and see.
strongest English colonies in America, Bat the true and permanent justifica- and their ever-present aim, were the tion of the theatre- the true and per- spirit of Moses in the desert, and the manent reason which should command aim of Joshua in Canaan. The disci. for it the intelligent and carnest support pline of persecution in England, of of all right-minded and public-spirited poverty in Holland, and of privation persons in a community like our own- on the shores of the New World, would is not to be sought for in the history of seem to have been thrown away on the the stage. It exists in the idea of the rebellious and stiff-necked Puritans. stage in the dramatic instinct out of Banded together, as we are taught to which the stage took its origin-the in- believe they were, by the strongest faith stinct on which those, who have wielded in the principles of their religion, and the drama in the interest of church or the deepest mutual sympathy, they yet state, have relied for the efficiency of required the most constant supervision, their instrument. And this was the and the most strenuous exercise of an distinguishing merit of the address de- almost despotic authority on the part livered upon this subject by the Rev. of their spiritual leaders, to keep them Dr. Bellows—that he firmly seized and in decent order, and to crush the everfearlessly proclaimed this truth. He aspiring manifestations of the “old accepted the theatre as a fact, with all man" in their natures and their lives. its adventitious evils to be deplored and The “ Livre Noir" of the French secret combated, and with all its inherent good police does not more teem with evi. to be recognized and encouraged; and dences of governmental espionage and ho rested his plea, for a graver consider- uneasiness, than do the early records ation and a more thoughtful support of of the New England colonies. The the theatre, on the solid basis of the ordinary and by no means agreeable necessity of amusement to human na- tendencies of village life wero erected ture's weal and peace.
into social duties and patriotic virtues. Precisely this impregnable fortress Everybody kept an eye on his neigbof his position, is the point upon which bor, and the whole land seems to have the nost desperate assaults will be groaned beneath a régime which is only to be described, in the words of John in no country of the world, excepting, Milton, as a " tyrannical duncery, with perhaps, Sweden and the Lowlands of in which no free and splendid arts could Scotland. has the habit of drunkenness flourish.”
prevailed to so alarming an extent as in What were the consequences of this the Stutes which have clung most tenasystein ? A singular degree of munici- ciously to the doctrines of repression, pal vigor, a quite military efficiency of and have insisted upon extinguishing organization and all the good that grows human nature's capacity of excess. out of bardihood and obedience. But But the efflorescence of positive crinot these alone. With the good no lit- minality which is a certain consequence tle ill was developed. The poignant of the updatural compression of man's revelations of the Scarlet Latter," and lighter and freer instincts, is by no the desperate devices of the - Total means the worst consequence of that Abstinence” movement. are the sharp compression. The virtues which this and stinging criticism of Puritan life and systein blights are not less admirable Puritan theories in the eyes of all think- than the vices which it evokes are de. ing men beyond the pale of the Puritan testable. Hilarity, joyousness, delight influences. Beside the uncompromis- in the mere pleasure of living and ing virtues of New England, grew up an laughing, are essential to the growth of array of furtive and secretive vices, frankness, sincerity, and amiable can. which are not less characteristic of the dor. A man, who is forever haunted New England civilization than its ex- by a “sense of duty," let him be never cellences are. From the earliest period so genially organized by nature, cannot of our national annals, we find the Dutch fail
to become, in the end, self-conscious, colonists of New York, and the liberal suspicious, and, therefore, intrinsically colonists of the south, continually as- unjust. How much these attributes de suming an attitude of quasi-repugnanco tract from a man's power of usefulness, to the Yankees" of New England, and by diminishing his personal magnetism speaking of them very much as Shake- and personal influence, we need not speare and Ben Jonson, Raleigh and say; and it is a noteworthy fact that, Sidney, spoke of their Puritan predo- among the public men of this country, cessors in the times of stout “Queen the personal value of party leaders and Bess."
The Puritan did not commend political chieftains. has always been biinself to his fellow-subjects by the found to be in an inverse ratio to the more amiublo and genial qualities of degreo in which they had undergone buman nature. He figures, in our early · the influence and imbibed the temper history, rather in a Jewish than in a of New England. Christian character, and appears to
How much our national character has have modeled himself rather upon the suffered from the depressing atmostype of Peter than of Paul.
phere of Puritan opinion, it would be If the result of the Puritan theory impossible for us within the limits of and practice, upon the character and the this paper adequately to estimate—how happiness of New England itself, had much of the nervous over-excitability been to convert the Eastern States of and consequent deficiency of muscular the Union into an earthly Paradise of persistence-how much of the impressinless peace and plenty, we might still sionability as distinguished from impresquestion the legitimacy of a system sibility, which belongs to us, and makes which had done so much, at the same it moro easy to inaugurate a popular time, to impair tho external influence movement, and more difficult to achieve of the communities in which it pre- a popular object, in America than in any vailed. But, as we have said, no such other country tolerably free, may be miracle has been wrought iu New Eng. traced to the action of this atmosphere, land. The favorite city of the Pilgrims, is a question worthy of the most carethe capital of Massachusetts, enjoys no ful and elaborate examination. It canexemption from the pestilence of moral not be answered by declamations about corruption which desolates all the great Plymouth Rock and Bunker Hill
, and bives of the world, while it stands out it will force itself most oarnestly upon conspicuously among American cities the attention of those who most fairly for the peculiar atrocity which marks compute and most heartily acknowledgo its periodical explosions of social ini. the benefits which America owes to quity. In no part of the Union, indeed, the fathers of New England.
liut, one thing is certain. The weight the movement of the times, and by which so long held down tho vivid and doing their share to elevate the tone of elastic naturo of man in this country nu the amusements, as well as to regulato longer presses upon it with such predom- the character of the occupations, of inuut force. The restraints of Puritan. society. ism are giving way; and it becomes not If the “profession of religion only all sagacious statesmen, b'it all means anything serious and manly, intelligent divines, to take notice of the it surely means ono of two thingsfact, and to consider very carefully their either, that the persons so professing duty in the premises. The proplo will propose to withdraw altogether from the bc umused and must be amused. The world and its ways, as the “ religious" relation between the laity and the clergy, of the middle ages did; or, that they even of the straitest denominations, is propose to mingle with the world, bringno longer what it was fifty, or even ing into its life their own higher life, twenty, years ago. The ancient theo. and influencing its aims by their own ries of church discipline are no longer nobler aims. Now, it is very clear that tenable, and the practical issne pre- the Protestant " professor does not sented by the spirit of the tiines is conceive himself called upon to with simply this : “Will the clergy and the draw from the world. He wastes muob religious world put themselves into of the time which his Catholic proto closer and freer communication with the typo bestowed upon prayers, and fastworld not technically religious—willings, and meditations, in the sordid they admit that man's weed of recreation cares of business. He is to be seen in and amusement is in itself a lawful and the public thoroughfares, with knitted sacred thing, and lend their influence to brows and anxious face. Ho cons the such needed reforms or suggestions as shipping-lists, and the prices current, shall tend to make the recreations and with no abstracted eye. He turns the amusements of the public as whole- leaves of his ledger with sufficient consome as the need itself is lawful-or cern. In the market-house, he is not will they not?”. This is the issue pre. indifferent, either to the quality or to the sented loy Dr. Bellows in his discourse price of the provisions which are to on the theatre, and we repeat that it is nourish his mortal body ; nor does his an issue which cannot be evaded. To tailor find him altogether careless of the assume, in the middle of the nineteenth testure of cloths, and the cut of trowsers. century, and in the United States of
On what ground, then, of consistenoy America, that any body of men, bound , and coinmon sense, wo ask, does he together by any ties whatever, have a pretend to find a sanctity in tho sharp right to claim for themselves a sanctity collisions of Wall street, which vanishes of character and a probity of life which at the doorway of Wallack's theatre, make them superior to the intelligent and flees from the profano barmonies and respectable mass of their fellow of the Academy orchestra ? Grant citizens, not technically associated with that the outskirts of amusement in the them, is a ridiculous absurdity which world are haunted by disreputable perwas practically condemned by public sons, indulging in disreputablo praoopinion long before it was assailed by the tices, are the outskirts of business, then, independent clergyman whose course frec from reproach ? If the character has suggested these remarks to us. The of a
of a "professor" of religion will not clergyinen of the United States, and comport with his presence in the parthe members of their churches, know quet of a respectablo theatre, because perfectly well that they no longer oc- of the possible presence in the gallery cupy the same position, relatively, to of professors of shame and sin, how, the rest of the community which they we ask, does that character comport formerly held—and that they can never with his presence on the steps of the resume that position. If they are really Exchange in the company of notorious 'convinced that their own lives are regu- swindlers, and unquestionable sbarpers ? lated by a stricter regard to duty, and If he countenanco vice by lending his a higher standard of right than the lives countenance to lawful amusements, doos of those who do not profess" such a he not equally countenance vice by specific absorption in spiritual aims, lending his countenance to lawful basta they know that they must prove their ness? position by throwing themselves into In truth, the time has come when the pretensions of the Church must be the best form of social amusement in a abated, in order that its usefulness may metropolis, we have not undertaken to be extended. The vast and increasing consider. That is a question for sepanumber of honorable, upright, and re- rate discussion. Our aim has been, spectable citizens who compose the specifically to put on record our hearty "world,” can no longer bo terrified into approbation of a movement which prom. a senseless disregard of the first laws ises to subject the whole question of of human life, and human society, by public amusements to examination by the spectres of antiquated prejudice, the community, in a form at once disand of venerable blundering. The pro- tinct, tangible, and comprehensive ; fessional “ Church” has no monopoly and to utter our profound conviction, of Christian truth, Christian feeling, or that any man, or any set of men, who Christian character; and all who belong shall undertake to dismiss this question to it must come forward to do yeoman's with faded assumptions, or decrepit service, humbly and decently, in the dogmatism, will find that facts are stubgreat work of Chistianizing our civil- born things, and that that hackneyed ization, if they mean to retain the phrase, “the spirit of the age," after cordial respect and sympathy of their all, does mean something, and somefellow-citizens.
thing too real, too passionate, and too Whether the theatre be, or be not, powerful to be trifled with or set aside.
IT was long ago settled, that a woman rate's daughter-a governess--a small,
wrote" Jane Eyre," and, in MRS. shy woman, living lonely among bleak GASKELL'S Life of Charlotte Brontë, moors in a sad parsonage, nursing siswe have the master-key of that novel ters who died early, and were buried and its companions, “Shirley," and "Vil- under her windows-these were all the lette." The work has been long delay- facts we knew, and they were only such ed, for it is not easy to write of those as she had thought fit to tell us in a who are still living, and there seems too preface to a posthumous edition of her mercantile and gossiping an eagerness in sister Emily's "Wuthering Heights." recording the events of a friend's life In all her books, there was nothing before the date of his death is carved whining or sentimental, although much upon a tomb-stone. But that name has that was morbid. Like shrouded statnow been carved. Around the com- ues bending with veiled faces, but with munion-table of the old church of Ha- an air of the suppressed movement of worth, in Yorkshire, are many mural acute suffering, so those books appealed tablets bearing the same peculiar family with mute pathos to the reader. Now name ; and the most recent of all com- the veil is lifted, and the art is seen memorates that: “ Adjoining lie the re- to be only nature. Now the reader mains of Charlotte, wife of the Rev. knows that, under the story be reads, Arthur Bell Nicholls, A. B., and daugh- another story is written ; that the page ter of the Rev. P. Brontë, A. B., before him is a palimpsest on which the cumbent. She died March 31st, 1855, in lines he sees follow faintly and remotethe 39th year of her age."
ly the meaning of the lines erased. We remember when the news of that Fielding did not put himself into his last day of March came, two years ago,
stories more entirely than Mrs. Bronte ; and the cloud of doubt and uncertainty and, certainly, the results are as differwhich had always shrouded the lifo of ent as “ Tom Jones” and “ Jane Eyre.” Currer Bell seemed only deepened. Mrs. Gaskell's “Life” completes the life
During her brief literary career, vory which the books suggested. There are few personal details had ever come to few eminent authors of whom the world the knowledge of the public. A cu- will ever know as much as it will of
• The Life of Charlotte Bronle. By Mrs. GASKELI., author of "Cranford," “ Mary Barton,' “Rath,” etc. D. Appleton & Co., New York.
Miss Brontë; for few authors, when they when dyspepsia set in, and he resolved have spoken for themselves, in their to eat alone in his room, which he did works, have ever such a friend to write to the end. their biographies. One hero places the But with all these savage traits, he laurel upon the dead brow of another. had a wild love of nature ; walked far One hearty, religious, resolute woman and wide. in all weathers, over the hills comes to do womanly justice to another; and heaths; was faithful in visiting the womanly in its tenderness, its sym- sick, diligent in his care of the schools, patby, and its power. The work dis- and was, evidently, a great misplaced plays an exquisite appreciation of its and wasted force in the humble curacy subject—a delicate perception of the of Haworth. swaying moods of a morbid tempera- While the dyspeptic father was firing ment. The impression is not of a pistols out of the back door, and eating eulogist, or apologist, but simply that alone in his study, the mother was of a friend speaking of a friend, seeing dying slowly of a cancer, and the house, clearly, and judging truly, and over all on the very edge of the grave-yard and the portrait shines the light of love—the damp with its death-dews, was hushed. only light which can show life truly. Six poor, little children sat grave and Mrs. Gaskell has written many a mel- silent in the little kitchen of the parancholy page, but she has never told a sonage, or climbed the stone staircase story more tragical than the life of and looked out of the windows upon the Charlotte Brontë.
church-yard. They had few children's She was born in the year 1816, in the books: the Rev. Patrick Bronte would little, dreary town of Haworth, which is foster no nonsense; but, Emily, the built upon a steep street, among the oldest, read the newspapers aloud to sad moors and barren hills of Yorkshire. them, and they discussed the comparaHer father was curate of the parish; tive merits of Hannibal and Bonaparte. her mother came from Cornwall, and They gave preternatural answers to never returned thither—a mild, pious, their father's preposterous questions ; gentle woman, who bore her husband and when, instead of putting on nico six children in rapid succession, then little red shoes, and sending her out to died; and lived only in their vague run and play, he asked his youngest memories and nursery traditions. So girl, Anne, what such a child most early the home seems to be cleared of wanted, she, instead of reveling in the only gracious influence which might childhood, answered, “ age and experihave modified the hard life of the chil. ence." dren, for hard life it was.
The gentle mother died-why did the The Rev. Patrick Brontë was an wild Irish curate ever tempt her from Irishman, and a very remarkablo char- Cornwall ?-and then began the reign of acter. He makes a kind of grandioso an aunt, with strong prejudices and a impression, whenever he appears in the distaste for Yorkshire, who went clickbook-a vast, savage nature—an abor. ing up and down the stone stairs in tive Titan. Mewed up in the moors pattens, lest she might take cold, and at time when Yorkshire was the at length took her meals, also, in her roughest part of England; relieving his bedroom. The children recited to their anger by firing off pistols, in rapid suc- father and browsed upon all kinds of cession, at his back door; or stuffing books; but at length the two oldest were the hearth-rug into the fire until it sent to a school for the daughters of smouldered away, obstinately staying clergymen, a Do-the-girls Hall, at in all the stench; or sawing away the Cowan's Bridge. Here they were starved backs of chairs ; riding and walking and stunted, exposed to every hardship about, upon his parochial visits, with a and disease, with all the heartless careloaded pistol, which was his inseparable lessness of charity foundations. The companion; cutting his wife's silk dress story of their sufferings is piteous; it is to shreds ; putting bis children's gay as sad in the history as it is in the shoes into the fire, and feeding them burning indignation of the description upon potatoes, because he wished them of the school in “ Jane Eyre.” Maria, to be hearty and to have no high-flown the oldest, died in consequenco of this notions. The Rev. Patrick Brontë, with school, and Elizabeth contracted the this fierce, passionate nature, was not disease which soon swept her after. likely to be the most tender of parents The father removed them from school,