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is witty. Wit can coexist with fierce and malignant passions; but humor demands good feeling and fellow-feeling, —feeling not merely for what is above us, but for what is around and beneath us.
THE LITERATURE OF MIRTH.
The ludicrous side of life, like the serious side, has its literature; and it is a literature of untold wealth. Mirth is a Proteus, changing its shape and manner with the thousand diversities of individual character, from the most superficial gayety, to the deepest, most earnest humor. Thus, the wit of the airy, featherbrained Farquhar glances and gleams like heat-lightning; that of Milton blasts and burns like the bolt. Let us glance carelessly over this wide field of comic writers, who have drawn new forms of mirthful being from life's ludicrous side, and note, here and there, a wit or humorist. There is the humor of Gočthe, like his own summer morning, mirthfully clear; and there is the tough and knotty humor of old Ben Jonson, at times ground down at the edge to a sharp cutting scorn, and occasionally hissing out stinging words, which seem, like his own Mercury's, “steeped in the very brine of conceit, and sparkle like salt in fire.” There is the lithe, springy sarcasm, the hilarious badīnage, the brilliant, careless disdain, which sparkle and scorch along the glistening page of Holmes. There is the sleepy smile that sometimes lies so benignly on the sweet and serious diction of old Isaak Walton. There is the mirth of Dickens, twinkling now in some ironical insinuation,-and anon winking at you with pleasant maliciousness, its distended cheeks fat with suppressed glee,_and then, again, coming out in broad gushes of humor, overflowing all banks and bounds of conventional decorum. There is Sydney Smith, sly, sleek, swift, subtle, a moment's motion, and the human mouse is in his paw There, in a corner, look at that petulant little man, his features working with thought and pain, his lips wrinkled with a sardonic smile; and, see the immortal personality has received its last point and polish in that toiling brain, and, in a strait, luminous line, with a twang like Scorn's own arrow, hisses through the air the unerring shaft of Pope, to
“Dash the proud gamester from his gilded car,
There, moving gracefully through that carpeted parlor, mark that dapper, diminutive Irish gentleman. The moment you look at him, your eyes are dazzled with the whizzing rockets and hissing wheels, streaking the air with a million sparks, from the pyro. technic brain of Anacreon Moore. Again, cast your eyes from that blinding glare and glitter to the soft and beautiful brilliancy, the winning grace, the bland banter, the gliding wit, the diffusive humor, which make you in love with all mankind, in the charming pages of Washington Irving.
Let us now turn to the benevolent mirth of Addison and Steele, whose glory it was to redeem polite literature from moral depravity, by showing that wit could chime merrily in with the voice of virtue, and who smoothly laughed away many a vice of the national character, by that humor which tenderly touches the sensitive point with an evanescent grace and genial glee. And here let us not forget Goldsmith, whose delicious mirth is of that rare quality which lies too deep for laughter; which melts softly into the mind, suffusing it with inexpressible delight, and sending, the soul dancing joyously into the eyes to utter its merriment in liquid glances, passing all the expression of tone. And here, though we cannot do him justice, let us remember the name of Nathaniel Hawthorne, deserving a place second to none in that band of humorists, whose beautiful depth of cheerful feeling is the very poetry of mirth. In ease, grace, delicate sharpness of satire, in a felicity of touch which often surpasses the felicity of Addison, in a subtlety of insight which often reaches farther than the subtlety of Steele, the humor of Hawthorne presents traits so fine as to be almost too excellent for popularity, as, to every one who has attempted their criticism, they are too refined for statement. The brilliant atoms flit, hover, and glance before our minds, but the subtle sources of their ethereal light lie beyond our analysis,
“And no speed of ours avails
And now let us breathe a benison on these our mirthful benefactors, these fine revellers among human weaknesses, these stern, keen satirists of human depravity. Wherever Humor smiles away the fretting thoughts of care, or supplies that antidote which cleanses
wherever Wit riddles folly, abases pride, or stings iniquity,+ there glides the cheerful spirit, or glitters the flashing thought, of these bright enemies of stupidity and gloom. Thanks to them, hearty thanks, for teaching us that the ludicrous side of life is its wicked side, no less than its foolish; that in a lying world there is still no mercy for falsehood; that Guilt, however high it may lift its brazen front, is never beyond the lightnings of scorn; and Ü lo
that the lesson they teach agrees with the lesson taught by all experience, that life in harmony with reason is the only life safe from laughter; that life in harmony with virtue is the only life safe from contempt.
JOSIAH GILBERT HOLLAND,
The author of Timothy Titcomb's Letters, whose fame has suddenly become so wide-spread, was born in Belchertown, Massachusetts, July 24, 1819. When he had partially completed his studies preparatory to entering college, his health became enfeebled by too severe application, and he concluded, after a period of relaxation, to study medicine, which he did, in the mean time engaging in teaching as a means of support. In 1845, he took his degree of M.D., at the Berkshire Medical College, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and removed to Springfield to practise his profession, and shortly afterwards was married to Elizabeth L. Chapin, of that city. But, his practice for the first two years not being adequate to his wants, he accepted the offer of a situation as teacher of a private school at Richmond, Virginia. After being there three months, he received the appointment of Superintendent of Public Schools in Vicksburg, Mississippi, which he accepted. While there, he wrote frequently for the press; but, after discharging the duties of his office to great satisfaction for a year and a half, he received the offer of the editorial department of the “Springfield Republican,” which he accepted, and at that post he has remained ever since, discharging its duties with such singular tact and ability, that that journal is without precedent or parallel in our land as a successful country paper. In 1854, Dr. Holland wrote for the “Republican,” in successive numbers, the history of the four western counties of Massachusetts, which was afterwards published in two volumes. In 1857 appeared The Bay Path, a novel founded on the colonial history of his previous work, which was well received here, and warmly commended in the London “Athenaeum.” But the work which has given Dr. Holland most fame, and which we rejoice to know has put “more money in his purse,” (having gone through nine editions in twelve weeks,) is the volume entitled Timothy Titcomb's Letters to Young People, published in 1858. These Letters first appeared in the “Republican,” under the signature of Timothy Titcomb, and attracted universal attention for their beauty of style, purity of English, and sound common sense. The advice contained in them is excellent. entirely practical, sufficiently minute, and eminently judicious, intended to make, not angels, but useful and happy men and women; and they richly deserve all the popularity they have received. The same year, outside of his laborious editorial duties, he wrote Bitter Sweet, which was published by Scribner. It is a sort of pastoral poem, unique in its structure, and has been well received. The scene of this poem is a New England Thanksgiving, at which the gathered family, after the bountiful repast and the pleasantries of the evening, talk far into the night upon questions of theology, in connection with their personal experiences of the joys and sorrows of life."
THE TRUE TRACK.
Go with me, if you please, to the next station-house, and look off upon that line of railroad. It is as straight as an arrow. Out run the iron lines, glittering in the sun, out, as far as we can see, until, converging almost to a single thread, they pierce the sky. What were those rails laid in that way for Ž It is a road, is it? Try your cart or your coach there. The axletrees are too narrow, and you go bumping along upon the sleepers. Try a wheelbarrow. You cannot keep it on the rail. But that road was made for something. Now go with me to the locomotiveshop. What is this We are told it is a locomotive. What is a locomotive * Why, it is a carriage moved by steam. But it is very heavy. The wheels would sink into a common road to the axle. That locomotive can never run on a common road; and the man is a fool who built it. Strange that men will waste time and money in that way ! But stop a moment. Why wouldn't those wheels just fit those rails? We measure them, and then we go to the track and measure its gauge. That solves the difficulty. Those rails were intended for the locomotive, and the locomotive for the rails. They are good for nothing apart. The locomotive is not even safe anywhere else. If it should get off, after it is once on, it would run into rocks and stumps, and bury itself in sands or swamps beyond recovery.
Young man, you are a locomotive. You are a thing that goes by a power planted inside of you. You are made to go. In fact, considered as a machine, you are very far superior to a locomotive. The maker of the locomotive is man; your maker is man's Maker. You are as different from a horse, or an ox, or a camel, as a locomotive is different from a wheelbarrow, a cart, or a coach. Now, do you suppose that the being who made you— manufactured your machine, and put into it the motive power— did not make a special road for you to run upon 2 My idea of religion is that it is a railroad for a human locomotive, and that just so sure as it undertakes to run upon a road adapted only to animal power, will it bury its wheels in the sand, dash itself among rocks, and come to inevitable wreck. If you don't believe this, try the other thing. Here are forty roads: suppose you choose
* “We mean it as very high praise when we say that Bitter Street is one of the few books that have found the secret of drawing up and assimilating the juices of this New World of ours.”—Atlantic Monthly, May, 1859.
one of them, and see where you come out. Here is the dramshop road. Try it. Follow it, and see how long it will be before you come to a stump and a smash-up. Here is the road of sensual pleasure. You are just as sure to bury your wheels in the dirt as you try it. Your machine is too heavy for that track altogether. Here is the winding, uncertain path of frivolity. There are morasses on each side of it, and, with the headway that you are under, you will be sure, sooner or later, to pitch into one of them. Here is the road of philosophy, but it runs through a country from which the light of Heaven is shut out; and while yo may be able to keep your machine right side up, it will only e by feeling your way along in a clumsy, comfortless kind of style, and with no certainty of ever arriving at the heavenly station-house. Here is the road of skepticism. That is covered with fog, and a fence runs across it within ten rods. Don't you see that your machine was never intended to run on those roads 2 Don't you know that it never was, and don't you know that the only track under heaven upon which it can run safely is the religious track 7 Don't you know that just as long as you keep your wheels on that track, wreck is impossible 7 Don't you know that it is the only track on which wreck is not certain I know it, if you don't; and I tell you that on that track, which God has laid down expressly for your soul to run upon, your soul will find free play for all its wheels, and an unobstructed and happy progress. It is straight and narrow, but it is safe and solid, and furnishes the only direct route to the heavenly city. Now, if God made your soul, and made religion for it, you are a fool if you refuse to place yourself on the track. You cannot prosper anywhere else, and your machine will not run anywhere else.
There is no better relief to study than the regular performance of special duties in the house. To feel that one is really doing something every day, that the house is the tidier for one's efforts, and the comfort of the family enhanced, is the surest warrant of content and cheerfulness. There is something about this habit of daily work—this regular performance of duty—which tends to regulate the passions, to give calmness and vigor to the mind, to impart a healthy tone to the body, and to diminish the desire for life in the street and for resort to gossiping companions.
Were I as rich as Croesus, my girls should have something to do regularly, just as soon as they should become old enough to do any thing. They should, in the first place, make their own bed and take care of their own room. They should dress each other. They should sweep a portion of the house. They should learn,