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Whenever a man of genius speaks to the public, in proportion as he is true to his own nature he must offend theirs. It is not possible to serve God and mammon: equally impossible is it to preach against the prevalence of error, and not to rouse the priests of Baal, and their crowds of believers. This has been the history of the human mind. As the poet says:
"The truth for which some great-souled martyr died
Any book that rouses no discussion is needless; it is in fact an impertinence. Why stop the public in Broadway to tell them what they know, or echo some old opinion?
It is evidently the wish of Miss Fuller to join issue with the common-place, and to speak out her own nature firmly, though with a becoming deference to the old worn-out creeds of humanity. It is a striking proof of the blindness of the world, that, although it owes every blessing to those men who boldly in bygone times spoke out new opinions, it nevertheless precisely imitates the conduct of those persecutors, whom they are in the constant habit of branding as bigoted and sanguinary fiends. Do these shortsighted human bats never reflect that in a few years their own children will be compelled to regard them in the same odious light? Let the public reflect ere they draw down the anathema of posterity.
These remarks have been forced from us by the charge we have heard brought against our gifted authoress of being a socialist and a sceptic! Of all egotisms that which denies to another the right of forming and holding an opinion either in morals, politics, religion, or taste, is the most ignorant and diabolical. Were it not for the fatal effects of such arrogance, it would be too ludicrous for anything save contempt; but it unfortunately happens that the innate love of cruelty which so marks man from the rest of the brute creation, is enabled, by appealing to this egotism, to select some of the noblest of God's creatures for victims. Man is cruel by nature; it is reflection that modifies him into humanity. A modern poet, in some verses, has made a parallel between a cruel boy and the grown-up world. Alluding to the favorite pastime of youth to impale an insect on a pin, and then enjoy its flutterings, he says:
"I hardly know, dear reader, which is safer,
The slightest reflection must convince the most bigoted person that it is the height of profanity and danger to deny to any man his birthright of thought. In the first place, who gave the bigot a patent to act the Omniscient on earth? He is as likely to be wrong as his fellow-man! For every one is equally certain that he is right! It is dangerous, for the bigot becomes responsible for the faith of the man he coerces! It is profane, because the bigot usurps the throne of God, to whom we are alone responsible for our conscience! We shall not dwell on this point, for those who refuse assent to the first article of freedom, will not be persuaded though "one rise from the dead!" We cannot, however, help one closing remark that of all nations the American ought to be the most tolerant since it owes its existence to those noble-minded men who fled from persecution to find freedom and toleration in the New World; and who, in after years, when tyranny followed them to their new home, went forth to battle, and with the pebble of Truth in the sling of Freedom laid low at their feet the giant Goliah of the world.
We conclude our notice of Miss Fuller by confessing that she is one of those few authors who have written too little. We hope to read more of her prose, so thoughtful and vigorous; and of her poetry, at once so graceful, yet so strong and simple.
We regret that the scope of this volume will not allow us to consider her as a politician. In this character, however, she is familiar to all those who read the "Tribune"—a journal which has of late sullied its high reputation for dignity and forbearance by indulging in personal attacks, and suffering itself to be converted from a great organ of truth to a vehicle of individual malignity.
MRS. C. M. KIRKLAND.
America has produced few women superior to the authoress of "Western Clearings," "A New Home, Who'll Follow?" "Forest Life," and " Holidays Abroad." There is a clear, bright intellect displayed in her writings generally, which inevitably compels us to respect her conclusions, however much we may differ from them. This we do in many points, and in some to a great extent.
We shall commence with her last work, " Holidays Abroad," and present to our readers those parts which seem to illustrate most pointedly those peculiarities which constitute the individuality of Mrs. Kirkland.
Nature seems to possess the faculty of the kaleidoscope in never producing the same aspect twice. However much men and women may appear to resemble each other, the difference is as distinct as though they belonged to separate races. This is a conclusive reason why a man of intellect never despises the lowest of his fellow creatures. Every one is an undiscovered world, infinitely more wonderful than a new planet. When we remember into how few elements human nature is resolved, the imagination is not capable of realizing the countless variety of individuals produced by a different combination of the passions. We may illustrate this in a faint degree by observing that out of twenty-five letters Shakspeare and the poets have produced all those marvellous creations which constitute the realm of thought.
When we take into account the variety of human passions, the senses, the modifications of climate, the different ages of the world, the disturbing influences of creeds, whether of religion, politics, or taste, and then multiply all these by the countless accidents of circumstances, we shall find a numerous alphabet of creative facts and elements, out of which nature can form that great dictionary of men—the human race—that wonderful language of which every word is a living and immortal being.
We met with some verses lately in a manuscript poem, which reverse this illustration. Without vouching for the philosophy they embody, we quote them:
"'Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,' this knells
The fate of those who sing, and those who think.
Mrs. Kirkland is one of the few travellers who have avoided the old stereotyped plan of diluting the "Guide Book," and plagiarizing the " Catalogues of Art." In her preface she says: "I was obliged to make a compromise with modesty, by secretly vowing to resist all temptations to put anything in my book