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its own rhythm, and sing it over again, so that the ear and soul are roused by a double vibration. This is some effect of the wind, causing echoes to the thundering anthem. It is very sublime, giving the effect of a spiritual repetition through all the spheres.”
Although we have never seen Niagara, nor listened to its deafening anthem, we feel the truth of this description; and that is the gift of genius, to enable us to feel the presence of a great man, a stirring heroic event, or sublimity of nature, by means of the poet's soul.
How vigorously she portrays the sentiment which all have felt in the presence of beautiful or sublime scenery!
“But all great expression, which, on a superficial survey, seems so easy as well as so simple, fornishes, after a while, to the faithful observer its own standard by which to appreciate it. Daily these proportions widened and towered more and more upon my sight, and I got at last a proper foreground for these sublime distances. Before coming away, I think I really saw the full wonder of the scene. After awhile it so drew me into itself as to inspire an undefined dread, such as I never knew before, such as may be felt when death is about to usher us into a new existence."
Miss Fuller, in her desire to dip the plummet down to the very depths of human nature, has, with her usual boldness, seized upon a presentiment which, no doubt, at particular seasons, has impressed every mind. We pause over her remark in italics, as it affords us an opportunity of noticing that love of psychological illustration which seems to be so natural to her.
This is hardly a place to discuss the mysteries of life and death, but we may perhaps be allowed to remark that this allusion to the vague intimation of a future state is a favorite illustration with our fair writer.
How far these presentiments are based on truth, it is not permitted for the intellect, in its present state, to ascertain. It may be that every birth is a death, and every death a birth; and that, as year succeeds to year, carrying the human race forward in its progress towards its ultimate destiny, so may what we call birth and death be only a process of each individual mind in its journey to perfection. One would think that curiosity alone would enable us to welcome death, seeing that it is the portal to a greater sphere of existence.
While Miss Fuller has a spirit capable of feeling the vastness of her subject, she has also an eye ready to detect the minuter traits of character. After her speculations on the metaphysical parts of our nature, the following, coming immediately after it, reads somewhat outre :
“Once, just as I had seated myself there, a man came to take his first look. He walked close up to the fall, and after looking at it a moment, with an air as if thinking how he could best appropriate it to his own use, he spat into it."
This spitting into a cataract is no mean illustration of the insults occasionally offered to men of genius by the low-minded. The latter act is more frequently indulged in, but it is quite as contemptible an act in one case as the other, and covers the spitter, and not the cataract, with contempt.
This insensibility to grandeur is a common defect, or perhaps we ought to say that the susceptibility to beauty and sublimity is the gift of only the superior nature.
It is related that an English merchant travelling to Mount Vesuvius was so indignant at its not vomiting forth torrents of flame, as he had seen it in pictures, that he snapped his fingers at it, crying, “ Vesuvius, you're a humbug !” We prefer the Utilitarian who declared that Etna was a famous place to light a cigar at. It was a similar want of the power of appreciation that induced a Londoner to pronounce that Humboldt was an overrated man, and when asked for evidence to support this novel opinion, he said, with the self-satisfied air of a man who fancies he is settling a disputed point—“Why, you must know, that I dined with him at a friend's the other day, and so long as he was allowed to talk about the Andes, the Himalaya, and places nobody had ever heard of, and in whose existence I don't believe, of course Humboldt had it all his own way; but I settled him. I asked him if he knew where Turnham Green was, and, would you believe it—he didn't know-he was dumbfoundered. I never saw a man look like such a fool before. He is a pretty traveller, to be sure !”
We fear this is the way with the world. They select their own confined local knowledge, or rather ignorance, to test the intellect of a man whose mind grasps a world.
This confounding the squabbling gossip of their own parish with the enlarged politics of the world is a common case with too many.
We need hardly say that to the men who recognise Niagara as only a great water power for turning mills, or as the tailor did, as a first-rate place for sponging a coat, the writings of Miss Fuller are so much Greek; her mind is of a far different order. She flies higher and dives deeper than those who float upon the surface. There is likewise a great power of association in her nature; she generally brings together one fact to throw light upon another, or to fix it more firmly on the mind by the force of contrast :
“ No less strange is the fact that in this neighborhood (of Niagara) an Eagle should be chained for a plaything. When a child, I used often to stand at a window from which I could see an eagle chained in the balcony of a museum. The people used to poke at it with sticks, and my childish heart would choke with indignation as I saw their insults, and the mien with which they were borne by the monarch bird. Its eye was dull, and its plumage soiled and shabby, yet in its form and attitude all the king was visible, though sorrowful and dethroned ! I never saw another of the family till when passing through the Notch of the White Mountains. At that moment, striving before us in all the panoply of sunset, the driver shouted, “Look there ! and following with our eyes his upward pointing finger, we saw, soaring slow in majestic poise above the highest summit, the Bird of Jove! It was a glorious sight, yet I know not that I felt more in seeing the bird in all its natural freedom and royalty, than when imprisoned and insulted, he had filled my early thoughts with the Byronic 'silent rays of misanthropy! Now again I saw him a captive, and addressed by the vulgar with the language they seem to find most appropriate to such occasions that of thrusts and blows. Silently, his head averted, he ignored their existence, as Plotinus and Sophocles might that of a modern reviewer. Probably he listened to the voice of the cataract, and felt that congenial powers flowed free, and was consoled, though his own wing was broken.”
We once heard of a tradesman who had lived to a moderate age without having seen the ocean. He had read about it in the papers, as though it had been an advertisement, and his curiosity was roused to see it, just as he had a desire to know how far Warren's blacking came up to the description of its wonderful powers. A glowing account of a tempest on the coast determined him to judge of the sea by his own senses. Being a cheesemonger, he was accustomed to test everything by the taste. On his arrival at Brighton he wrapt himself up carefully, and proceeded to the beach. By degrees he ventured to approach as near to the foam-crested waves as was prudent, and after running after, and then receding from the billows, he cautiously dipped his finger into a wave, and tasted it. Making a wry face, as he would over a dose of physic, he returned to his inn, and departed next day for London, with a complete knowledge of the world of waters.
There is also a quiet power about some of Miss Fuller's comic descriptions, which are as effective as any of the absurd distortions of Dickens. The former reaches her object by the quiet force of her humor, the other attempts to succeed by the unexpected blow of gross caricature! The true comedian is one who delights his audience with the comic expression of his countenance ; it is the clown who raises a laugh with the chalk and red ochre, depending chiefly on an enormous nose, highly painted, and with a fictitious mouth, stretching apparently from ear to ear. We are glad, however, to perceive that this false taste is rapidly declining on both sides the Atlantic. We quote a description of Miss Fuller's evening adventure.
“ With us was a young lady who showed herself to have been