網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

Christian ministry, it would seem, are sufficient to make any one ardent in this calling, and to excite and cultivate those emotions, which are the beauty and excellency of an intelligent mind.

The subject of the Memoir before us furnishes an illustration and confirmation of the preceding remarks. He laid the foundations of his mind in severe and patient study. It was his custom, in his early literary pursuits, to search out the principles of what he learned, in a systematic and thorough manner. In after life, when ill health prevented a severe application to books, he realized the benefit of his early selfdiscipline ; for the cursory perusal of a book excited his active and well-trained thoughts, and led him to reflections, which were far different from the dreams of desultory thinkers.

“From this period Mr. Stearns resided, most of the time, for several years, with his parents at Bedford. In the mean while, he was not idle. Retired, in a great measure, from the world, by strict attention to diet and exercise, and by occasional travelling excursions, he was able to give up his mind, with much constancy, to his favorite studies and musings. He projected a work on the Moral Nature of Man, to be comprised in three parts. The subject of the first was Conscience; of the second, The History of Man as a Religious Being; and of the third, the Doctrines and Economy of Revelation, The outlines of the first, after long and patient investigation, were sketched. The subjects of the other two parts were to be, it is presumed, among the principal topics of study in after life.”

Such occupations as these, by their effect in making bim contented in the places where Providence called him to labor or suffer, illustrate the beneficial tendency of systematic, intellectual pursuits to promote the permanency of the pastoral relation. The valuable works, in theology, of our distinguished divines, would not, and could not, we believe, have been produced, if the modern habits of change in the ministry had prevailed in their day.

Mr. Stearns's power, in his ministerial performances, consisted very much in the moral feelings which were prominent in almost every thing that he said or did. These gave an unction to his performances, which made his public ministrations unusually acceptable and profitable. He seemed to act fully on the principle which we have illustrated in our remarks. Self-cultivation, intellectual and moral, was a prominent object of his life. The following resolution, amongst others, was written just before he left the Theological Seminary ;

“Why should we be for ever undoing the work of life ? Why should we wish to be just like everybody else? I will be myself, and make the best of it. God grant that I may grow better.”

In this resolution is undoubtedly contained the secret of all true greatness in mind and character. It is the only principle upon which self-cultivation will result in original, independent power. All the great works in nature, and all those individuals of a family amongst her products which attract our notice, illustrate this principle. But the reason why so many educated minds have so little individuality, no doubt is, an extreme haste to enter upon professional life. Youth and inexperience catch at the nearest examples and helps. In after life, it is difficult to begin the work of original self-cultivation. There is need, that teachers should, to a greater extent, be teachers of the individual, rather than of classes ; and that the pupil, who is past the season of youth, should have a sense of his separateness of character from other minds. We are glad to see, of late, instances in which provision has been made to instruct those who wish to delay their entrance upon the ministry. The result of it, we trust, will be more minds who will shine by their own light.

There seldoin has been a deceased friend, of whom we felt more restrained in speaking descriptively and critically, than of Mr. Stearns. There was such individuality of character about him, such a distinctness of feature in his mind, that we retain, to an unusual degree, an impression of his presence with us. What a strange liberty the grave yields us concerning its inmate! Had a departed friend merely gone across the ocean, though entirely separated from the knowledge of him, we should not think of publishing his life and character. But while we believe him to be, though dead, as fully conscious and active as ever, and perhaps nearer to us than though an ocean were between us, we generally speak as freely of him as though he had ceased to exist. If we felt inclined to do this, on the present occasion, it would be unnecessary, on account of the excellent Memoir, to which we have again called the attention of our readers. It is rendered still more valuable, by the addition of a letter from the Rev. Robert Baird of Paris, who saw much of Mr. Stearns while abroad, and particularly within a short time before his death.

We dismiss our notice of the Memoir with strong impressions of the subject of it, as now engaged in pursuing that exalted standard of excellence which he formed on earth. We feel that, with all his generous love for others and admiration of their greatness, he still retains, in a peculiar degree, an individuality of character and of enjoyment, which makes him " a particular star" in the firmament of heaven.

Art. VIII. The Adventures of Robin Day, by the Author

of “Calavar,” “ Nick of the Woods,” &c. Philadelphia : Lea & Blanchard. 12mo. 2 vols. pp. 249 and

267.

We noticed Dr. Bird's romance of “Calavar” at the time of its appearance, at some length, and in terms of strong commendation. * Since then, we must needs take shame to ourselves for not having made our due contribution to his rising fame. He has been one of the most prolific of our writers, and we take him to be one of the most popular. “ Calavar” has, we believe, gone to a third edition, while it has been followed by at least four other publications of equal size and pretension, previous to that which is now before us.

If we were to undertake to discuss the merits of “Robin Day” as a work of art, nobody probably would be more amused by our simplicity than the author. Its plot embraces love, delay, and trouble, misunderstanding, mystery, murder, and at last marriage ; and so far it is a novel. But the writer seems to have set himself about it with no more definite plan, than that of getting his hero into a succession of serious and at the same time ridiculous scrapes, each a little worse than the last, and then getting him out of them with as little violation of probability as the limited machinery he has allowed himself admits. There is a competent pro

* North American Review, Vol. XL. pp. 232, et seq.

vision of mutes and make-weights ; but the business of the piece is transacted by three characters, or rather by two characters and a hero. The scene, opening in New Jersey, is shifted through Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and Tennessee, to Florida, the Creek nation, the Gulf, and Cuba. “ Modò me Thebis, modò ponit Athenis.” But whithersoever the fated Robin Day betakes himself, to wild or city, camp or blue sea, there is already the haunting demon, Captain Brown, to help him into trouble, and the tutelary demon, Dickey Dare, to help him out of it. With such scant resources as the capacities of these two contraries afford, it cannot be supposed that every thing belonging to the repeated embarrassments and extrications of the hero can be brought about in such a manner as to seem to the reader entirely natural. But we must do the author the justice to say, that he has moved his few pieces admirably well. The reader sees, from the beginning, that he has undertaken to accompany a very unlucky person ; but the details of the plot are so well managed, that each new perplexity (at least we can speak for ourselves) takes him by surprise. They come in the proper time and place, but without casting their shadows before.

This is a great charm of the work. Other things in it are excellently well done. The dialogue, with occasional exaggerations in parts designed to be particularly characteristic of the speakers, is on the whole sustained with ease, spirit, and effect. Here and there we find a strain of good-natured satire upon besetting follies of the country and time. As far as we know, the two characters, upon whom alone the writer seems to have bestowed any pains (unless M'Goggin, who appears only in an interlude, is to be considered another of his favorites) are, in some respects, originals. We do not happen to remember, within the range of this department of writing, any other example of a bullying, tyrannical schoolboy, grown up into an adventurer, hot-headed, vain, “ jealous in honor,” with intelligence enough for the common purposes of a soldier's life, and with no pretensions to any more, like the militia-captain Dare ; nor of a scoundrel as unredeemed as any of Lord Byron's worthies, but at the same time lighthearted, taking the world comfortably as he finds it, and ready to do a neighbour a service when nothing is to be got by robbing or murdering him, like the pirate-captain Brown. Some of the descriptions are full of life, and several scenes, particularly towards the close, very effectively wrought up. And, what is extremely pleasant to observe, there appears none of that straining after something better than is to be easily had, which in “Calavar” really detracts considerably from the reader's enjoyment. On the contrary, the writer seems everywhere conscious of possessing plenty of such materials as he wants, and bounds joyously through his work.

Robin Day, who lives to tell his own story, is a human waif, who, after a shipwreck on the coast of New Jersey, falls to the share of Mother Moll, a distinguished matron of a neighbourhood of wreckers, he being then an infant about a year old. As soon as he attained to an age to be useful, he was sent out, in stormy nights, to regulate the performance of a decayed horse, who, with his legs tied together, was driven up and down a beach, that, for the benefit of mariners on a lee-shore, his stumbling motion might give to the lantern, hung to his side, the appearance of a light in a vessel in the offing. Such honest employments, together with the retribution which waited upon any remissness in them occasioned by fatigue, cold, or hunger, caused Robin to lead an uncomfortable life ; so that, at seven years of age, he was glad to be first stolen, and then bought, from his adopted mother, by a hard character of the name of Day, whose name he consequently took.

Day, otherwise called Duck, was the skipper and owner of a shallop, called the Jumping Jenny, a wrecker and smuggler, and how much worse, few people knew but himself. His ship's company consisted, already, of himself and another; and Robin, advanced to be their cook, to his great joy, (for he had that notion of food, which is expressed in the proverb, “ Omne ignotum pro magnifico,”) found, before long, that he had no great reason to congratulate himself on the promotion. Five years did he endure all sorts of brutality, till he became, in mind and body, a sort of boy Orson ; "a wretched little stunted thing, to appearance not more than nine years old ; a picture of raggedness, emaciation, and misery ; a creature with no more knowledge, intelligence, or spirit, than a ferryman's horse, or a sick ape.” The account of the incident, which brought about his release from this thraldom, is a striking thing in its way. As he sat, one day, upon the bowsprit of the little craft, which lay at anchor, and in which he

« 上一頁繼續 »