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tised the excesses of partisan spirit, and curbed the domineering audacity of personal ambition. In medieval Europe, the drama served to seize the public attention, and fasten it upon the great topics of Christian duty, Christian faith, and Christian hope. It was a coarse instrument, doubtless, and did its work coarsely enough; but, after all, it did do its work, it did prove itself efficient, and vindicated to itself a capacity of usefulness which is hardly, we think, to be overlooked in a world where so much is to be done, and neither tools nor laborers do exuberantly and superfluously abound. modern Europe, and particularly in Catholic Europe, the drama has proved itself the secret lever of suppressed reform. When the tide of passionate thought, which passed over Europe in the sixteenth century, was stemmed in the Latin world by successful and centralized tyranny, and seemed to have been quite rolled back upon the northern nations, many a wave still found its way beneath the barrier, and flashed and surged upon the stage, forerunning the second and mightier and more terrible deluge which our own days have seen and see.
But the true and permanent justification of the theatre-the true and permanent reason which should command for it the intelligent and carnest support of all right-minded and public-spirited persons in a community like our ownis not to be sought for in the history of the stage. It exists in the idea of the stage-in the dramatic instinct out of which the stage took its origin-the instinct on which those, who have wielded the drama in the interest of church or
state, have relied for the efficiency of their instrument. And this was the distinguishing merit of the address delivered upon this subject by the Rev. Dr. Bellows-that he firmly seized and fearlessly proclaimed this truth. He accepted the theatre as a fact, with all its adventitious evils to be deplored and combated, and with all its inherent good to be recognized and encouraged; and he rested his plea, for a graver consideration and a more thoughtful support of the theatre, on the solid basis of the necessity of amusement to human nature's weal and peace.
Precisely this impregnable fortress of his position, is the point upon which the most desperate assaults will be
made, and upon this fortress we do not hesitate to declare that all assaults, however impetuous and ardent, and led on by whatever honest and high-minded crusaders, will be made in vain.
No reverence for the righteous fathers of the Republic, no respect for the sincere disciples of the faith which they professed, should withhold us from examining carefully and dispassionately the theory of social life and of human education in which they had themselves been trained, and which they bequeathed to their posterity.
To the Puritan mind, life was one long exodus. The true believer was a soldier on the march through an enemy's country. Before and behind he was beset by open foes and secret snares. To lay aside his armor, to relax in his wary discipline, to subside into a mood of confidence, good-humor, and indolent gayety, was to risk everything, and to violate his loyal duty to his Leader. The early legislation of New England resembles the "Articles of War," so peremptory is it, and so full of prohibitions. One would say that the pervading spirit of these theocratic lawgivers, who organized the strongest English colonies in America, and their ever-present aim, were the spirit of Moses in the desert, and the aim of Joshua in Canaan. The discipline of persecution in England, of poverty in Holland, and of privation on the shores of the New World, would seem to have been thrown away on the rebellious and stiff-necked Puritans. Banded together, as we are taught to believe they were, by the strongest faith in the principles of their religion, and the deepest mutual sympathy, they yet required the most constant supervision, and the most strenuous exercise of an almost despotic authority on the part of their spiritual leaders, to keep them in decent order, and to crush the everaspiring manifestations of the "old man" in their natures and their lives. The "Livre Noir" of the French secret police does not more teem with evidences of governmental espionage and uneasiness, than do the early records of the New England colonies. The ordinary and by no means agreeable tendencies of village life were erected into social duties and patriotic virtues. Everybody kept an eye on his neighbor, and the whole land seems to have groaned beneath a régime which is only
to be described, in the words of John Milton, as a "tyrannical duncery, within which no free and splendid arts could flourish."
What were the consequences of this system? A singular degree of municipal vigor, a quite military efficiency of organization and all the good that grows out of hardihood and obedience. But not these alone. With the good no little ill was developed. The poignant revelations of the Scarlet Letter," and the desperate devices of the "Total Abstinence" movement. are the sharp and stinging criticism of Puritan life and Puritan theories in the eyes of all thinking men beyond the pale of the Puritan influences. Beside the uncompromising virtues of New England, grew up an array of furtive and secretive vices, which are not less characteristic of the New England civilization than its excellences are. From the earliest period of our national annals, we find the Dutch colonists of New York, and the liberal colonists of the south, continually assuming an attitude of quasi-repugnance to the Yankees" of New England, and speaking of them very much as Shakespeare and Ben Jonson, Raleigh and Sidney, spoke of their Puritan predecessors in the times of stout "Queen Bess." The Puritan did not commend himself to his fellow-subjects by the more amiable and genial qualities of human nature. He figures, in our early history, rather in a Jewish than in a Christian character, and appears to have modeled himself rather upon the type of Peter than of Paul.
If the result of the Puritan theory and practice, upon the character and the happiness of New England itself, had been to convert the Eastern States of the Union into an earthly Paradise of sinless peace and plenty, we might still question the legitimacy of a system which had done so much, at the same time, to impair the external influence of the communities in which it prevailed. But, as we have said, no such miracle has been wrought in New England. The favorite city of the Pilgrims, the capital of Massachusetts, enjoys no exemption from the pestilence of moral corruption which desolates all the great hives of the world, while it stands out conspicuously among American cities for the peculiar atrocity which marks its periodical explosions of social iniquity. In no part of the Union, indeed,
in no country of the world, excepting. perhaps, Sweden and the Lowlands of Scotland. has the habit of drunkenness prevailed to so alarming an extent as in the States which have clung most tenaciously to the doctrines of repression, and have insisted upon extinguishing human nature's capacity of excess.
But the efflorescence of positive criminality which is a certain consequence of the unnatural compression of man's lighter and freer instincts, is by no means the worst consequence of that compression. The virtues which this system blights are not less admirable than the vices which it evokes are detestable. Hilarity, joyousness, delight in the mere pleasure of living and laughing, are essential to the growth of frankness, sincerity, and amiable candor. A man, who is forever haunted by a "sense of duty," let him be never so genially organized by nature, cannot fail to become, in the end, self-conscious, suspicious, and, therefore, intrinsically unjust. How much these attributes detract from a man's power of usefulness, by diminishing his personal magnetism and personal influence, we need not say; and it is a noteworthy fact that, among the public men of this country, the personal value of party leaders and political chieftains, has always been found to be in an inverse ratio to the degree in which they had undergone the influence and imbibed the temper of New England.
How much our national character has suffered from the depressing atmosphere of Puritan opinion, it would be impossible for us within the limits of this paper adequately to estimate-how much of the nervous over-excitability and consequent deficiency of muscular persistence-how much of the impressionability as distinguished from impressibility, which belongs to us, and makes it more easy to inaugurate a popular movement, and more difficult to achieve a popular object, in America than in any other country tolerably free, may be traced to the action of this atmosphere, is a question worthy of the most careful and elaborate examination. It cannot be answered by declamations about Plymouth Rock and Bunker Hill, and it will force itself most earnestly upon the attention of those who most fairly compute and most heartily acknowledgo the benefits which America owes to the fathers of New England.
But, one thing is certain. The weight which so long held down the vivid and elastic nature of man in this country no longer presses upon it with such predominaut force. The restraints of Puritanism are giving way; and it becomes not only all sagacious statesmen, but all intelligent divines, to take notice of the fact, and to consider very carefully their duty in the premises. The people will be amused and must be amused. The relation between the laity and the clergy, even of the straitest denominations, is no longer what it was fifty, or even twenty, years ago. The ancient theories of church discipline are no longer tenable, and the practical issue presented by the spirit of the times is simply this: "Will the clergy and the religious world put themselves into closer and freer communication with the world not technically religious-will they admit that man's need of recreation and amusement is in itself a lawful and sacred thing, and lend their influence to such needed reforms or suggestions as shall tend to make the recreations and amusements of the public as wholesome as the need itself is lawful-or will they not?" This is the issue presented by Dr. Bellows in his discourse on the theatre, and we repeat that it is an issue which cannot be evaded. To assume, in the middle of the nineteenth century, and in the United States of America, that any body of men, bound, together by any ties whatever, have a right to claim for themselves a sanctity of character and a probity of life which make them superior to the intelligent and respectable mass of their fellowcitizens, not technically associated with them, is a ridiculous absurdity which was practically condemned by public opinion long before it was assailed by the independent clergyman whose course has suggested these remarks to us. The clergymen of the United States, and the members of their churches, know perfectly well that they no longer occupy the same position, relatively, to the rest of the community which they formerly held-and that they can never resume that position. If they are really 'convinced that their own lives are regulated by a stricter regard to duty, and a higher standard of right than the lives of those who do not "profess" such a specific absorption in spiritual aims, they know that they must prove their position by throwing themselves into
the movement of the times, and by doing their share to elevate the tone of the amusements, as well as to regulate the character of the occupations, of society.
If the "profession of religion" means anything serious and manly, it surely means one of two thingseither, that the persons so professing propose to withdraw altogether from the world and its ways, as the "religious" of the middle ages did; or, that they propose to mingle with the world, bringing into its life their own higher life, and influencing its aims by their own nobler aims. Now, it is very clear that the Protestant "professor" does not conceive himself called upon to withdraw from the world. He wastes muob of the time which his Catholic prototypo bestowed upon prayers, and fastings, and meditations, in the sordid cares of business. He is to be seen in the public thoroughfares, with knitted brows and anxious face. He cons the shipping-lists, and the prices current, with no abstracted eye. He turns the leaves of his ledger with sufficient concern. In the market-house, he is not indifferent, either to the quality or to the price of the provisions which are to nourish his mortal body; nor does his tailor find him altogether careless of the texture of cloths, and the cut of trowsers. On what ground, then, of consistency and common sense, we ask, does he pretend to find a sanctity in the sharp collisions of Wall street, which vanishes at the doorway of Wallack's theatre, and flees from the profane harmonies of the Academy orchestra? Grant that the outskirts of amusement in the world are haunted by disreputable persons, indulging in disreputable praotices, are the outskirts of business, then, free from reproach? If the character of a "professor" of religion will not comport with his presence in the parquet of a respectable theatre, because of the possible presence in the gallery of professors of shame and sin, how, we ask, does that character comport with his presence on the steps of the Exchange in the company of notorious swindlers, and unquestionable sharpers? If he countenance vice by lending his countenance to lawful amusements, doo8 he not equally countenance vice by lending his countenance to lawful busi
In truth, the time has come when the
pretensions of the Church must be abated, in order that its usefulness may be extended. The vast and increasing number of honorable, upright, and respectable citizens who compose the "world," can no longer be terrified into a senseless disregard of the first laws of human life, and human society, by the spectres of antiquated prejudice, and of venerable blundering. The professional Church" has no monopoly of Christian truth, Christian feeling, or Christian character; and all who belong to it must come forward to do yeoman's service, humbly and decently, in the great work of Chistianizing our civilization, if they mean to retain the cordial respect and sympathy of their fellow-citizens.
Whether the theatre be, or be not,
the best form of social amusement in a metropolis, we have not undertaken to consider. That is a question for separate discussion. Our aim has been, specifically to put on record our hearty approbation of a movement which promises to subject the whole question of public amusements to examination by the community, in a form at once distinct, tangible, and comprehensive; and to utter our profound conviction, that any man, or any set of men, who shall undertake to dismiss this question with faded assumptions, or decrepit dogmatism, will find that facts are stubborn things, and that that hackneyed phrase, "the spirit of the age," after all, does mean something, and something too real, too passionate, and too powerful to be trifled with or set aside.
was long ago settled, that a woman wrote " Jane Eyre," and, in MRS. GASKELL'S Life of Charlotte Brontë, we have the master-key of that novel and its companions, "Shirley," and "Villette." The work has been long delayed, for it is not easy to write of those who are still living, and there seems too mercantile and gossiping an eagerness in recording the events of a friend's life before the date of his death is carved upon a tomb-stone. But that name has now been carved. Around the communion-table of the old church of Haworth, in Yorkshire, are many mural tablets bearing the same peculiar family name; and the most recent of all commemorates that: "Adjoining lie the remains of Charlotte, wife of the Rev. Arthur Bell Nicholls, A. B., and daughter of the Rev. P. Brontë, A. B., incumbent. She died March 31st, 1855, in the 39th year of her age."
We remember when the news of that last day of March came, two years ago, and the cloud of doubt and uncertainty which had always shrouded the life of Currer Bell seemed only deepened.
During her brief literary career, very few personal details had ever come to the knowledge of the public. A cu
rate's daughter-a governess-a small, shy woman, living lonely among bleak moors in a sad parsonage, nursing sisters who died early, and were buried under her windows-these were all the facts we knew, and they were only such as she had thought fit to tell us in a preface to a posthumous edition of her sister Emily's "Wuthering Heights." In all her books, there was nothing whining or sentimental, although much that was morbid. Like shrouded statues bending with veiled faces, but with an air of the suppressed movement of acute suffering, so those books appealed with mute pathos to the reader. Now the veil is lifted, and the art is seen to be only nature. Now the reader knows that, under the story he reads, another story is written; that the page before him is a palimpsest on which the lines he sees follow faintly and remotely the meaning of the lines erased.
Fielding did not put himself into his stories more entirely than Mrs. Bronte ; and, certainly, the results are as different as "Tom Jones" and "Jane Eyre." Mrs. Gaskell's "Life" completes the life which the books suggested. There are few eminent authors of whom the world will ever know as much as it will of
The Life of Charlotte Brontë. By Mrs. GASKELL, author of "Cranford," "Mary Barton,' "Ruth," etc. D. Appleton & Co., New York.
Miss Brontë; for few authors, when they have spoken for themselves, in their works, have ever such a friend to write their biographies. One hero places the laurel upon the dead brow of another. One hearty, religious, resolute woman comes to do womanly justice to another; womanly in its tenderness, its sympathy, and its power. The work displays an exquisite appreciation of its subject-a delicate perception of the swaying moods of a morbid temperament. The impression is not of a eulogist, or apologist, but simply that of a friend speaking of a friend, seeing clearly, and judging truly, and over all the portrait shines the light of love-the only light which can show life truly. Mrs. Gaskell has written many a melancholy page, but she has never told a story more tragical than the life of Charlotte Bronte.
She was born in the year 1816, in the little, dreary town of Haworth, which is built upon a steep street, among the sad moors and barren hills of Yorkshire. Her father was curate of the parish; her mother came from Cornwall, and never returned thither-a mild, pious, gentle woman, who bore her husband six children in rapid succession, then died; and lived only in their vague memories and nursery traditions. So early the home seems to be cleared of the only gracious influence which might have modified the hard life of the children, for hard life it was.
The Rev. Patrick Brontë was an Irishman, and a very remarkable character. He makes a kind of grandiose impression, whenever he appears in the book-a vast, savage nature—an abortive Titan. Mewed up in the moors at a time when Yorkshire was the roughest part of England; relieving his anger by firing off pistols, in rapid succession, at his back door; or stuffing the hearth-rug into the fire until it smouldered away, obstinately staying in all the stench; or sawing away the backs of chairs; riding and walking about, upon his parochial visits, with a loaded pistol, which was his inseparable companion; cutting his wife's silk dress to shreds; putting his children's gay shoes into the fire, and feeding them upon potatoes, because he wished them to be hearty and to have no high-flown notions. The Rev. Patrick Brontë, with this fierce, passionate nature, was not likely to be the most tender of parents
when dyspepsia set in, and he resolved to eat alone in his room, which he did to the end.
But with all these savage traits, he had a wild love of nature; walked far and wide, in all weathers, over the hills and heaths; was faithful in visiting the sick, diligent in his care of the schools, and was, evidently, a great misplaced and wasted force in the humble curacy of Haworth.
While the dyspeptic father was firing pistols out of the back door, and eating alone in his study, the mother was dying slowly of a cancer, and the house, on the very edge of the grave-yard and damp with its death-dews, was hushed. Six poor, little children sat grave and silent in the little kitchen of the parsonage, or climbed the stone staircase and looked out of the windows upon the church-yard. They had few children's books: the Rev. Patrick Bronte would foster no nonsense; but, Emily, the oldest, read the newspapers aloud to them, and they discussed the comparative merits of Hannibal and Bonaparte. They gave preternatural answers to their father's preposterous questions; and when, instead of putting on nice little red shoes, and sending her out to run and play, he asked his youngest girl, Anne, what such a child most wanted, she, instead of reveling in childhood, answered, age and experi
The gentle mother died-why did the wild Irish curate ever tempt her from Cornwall?-and then began the reign of an aunt, with strong prejudices and a distaste for Yorkshire, who went clicking up and down the stone stairs in pattens, lest she might take cold, and at length took her meals, also, in her bedroom. The children recited to their father and browsed upon all kinds of books; but at length the two oldest were sent to a school for the daughters of clergymen, a Do-the-girls Hall, at Cowan's Bridge. Here they were starved and stunted, exposed to every hardship and disease, with all the heartless carelessness of charity foundations. The story of their sufferings is piteous; it is as sad in the history as it is in the burning indignation of the description of the school in "Jane Eyre." Maria, the oldest, died in consequence of this school, and Elizabeth contracted the disease which soon swept her after.
The father removed them from school,