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Genius and Writings of Paschal
ENERGY was the predominant quality of Luther's genius : beauty of Paschal's. The rugged German, under the hand of Luther, is compelled to yield to an irresistible application of force: it is the lightning splitting oak and granite. The French, undèr - that of Paschal, assumes forms of beauty by a still and noiseless movement, and, as by a sort of enchantment; it is “ the west wind ungirding the bosom of the earth, and calling forth bud and flower at its bidding.” *
We think of Cæsar as the great warrior and the great statesman:. of Shakspeare as the great poet: of Newton as the great philosopher : when the Christian thinks of his Master, though he belieres him to be possessed of immeasurably greater power and wisdom than theirs,-his first, last thought is, that he is the Good.
He who made us, and who tutors us, alone knows what is the exact measure of light and shade, sun and cloud, storm and calm, frost and heat, which will best tend to mature those flowers which are the object of this celestial husbandry: and which, when transplanted into the paradise of God, are to bloom there in amaranthine loveliness for ever. On the whole, in contemplating the richly diversified characteristics of Paschal,--of his exalted genius in its different moods and phases,—the combination of sublimity and depth with lightness and grace-of the noblest aptitudes for abstract speculation with the most exquisite delicacy of taste, and the utmost sensibility of feeling--of profound melancholy with the happiest and the most refined humour and raillery—the grandeur of many aspects of his character and the loveliness of others, we seem to be reminded of the contradictory features of Alpine scenery, where all forms of sublimity and beauty, of loveliness and terror, are found in singular proximity : where upland valleys of exquisite verdure and softness lie at
the foot of the eternal glaciers: where spots of purest pastoral repose and beauty smile under the very shadow of huge snowy peaks : and from the entrance of those gorges, in which reign perpetual sterility and desolation : in which the very silence is appalling—broken only by the roar of the distant cataract, and the lonely thunder of the avalanche.
Motto and Crest.
I KNEW her in her brightness, a creature full of glee,
Yet deem not for a moment, that her life was free from care, She shared the storms and sorrows, that others sigh to bear : But she met earth's tempests meekly, in the hope of Heaven's
rest, She gave not up her motto, nor cast away her crest!
Alas! the many frowning brows, and eyes that speak of woe, And hearts that turn repining by, from every chastening
blow: But our paths might all be smoother, and our hearts would all
be blest, With - Contentment” for our motto, and a « Heart's Ease" for
Whittiers Estimate of Byron.
I ADMIRE the sublimity of his genius. But I have feared, and do still fear the consequences—the inevitable consequences of his writings. I fear, that in our enthusiastic admiration of genius, our idolatry of poetry, the awful impiety, and the staggering unbelief contained in those writings, are lightly passed over, and acquiesced in, as the allowable abberations of a master intellect, which had lifted itself above the ordinary world, which had broken down the barriers of ordinary mind, and which revelled in a creation of its own : a world, over which the sunshine of imagination lightened at times with an almost ineffable glory, to be succeeded by the thick blackness of doubt, and terror, and misanthropy, relieved only by the lightning flashes of terrible and unholy passion.
The blessing of that mighty intellect-the prodigal gift of Heaven-became in his possession, a burthen and a curse. He was wretched in his gloomy unbelief, and he strove, with the selfish
purpose which too often actuates the miserable, to drag his fellow beings from their only abiding hope—to break down, in the human bosom, the beautiful altar of its faith, and to fix in other bosoms, the doubt and despair which darkened his own : -to lead his readers—the vast multitude of the beautiful, the pure and the gifted, who kpelt to his genius, as to the manifestations of a new divinity,—into that ever darkened path, which is trodden only by the lost to hope—the forsaken of Heaven-and which leads from the perfect light of holiness, down to the shadows of eternal death.
If ever man possessed the power of controlling at will the passions of his readers, that man was Lord Byron. He knew and felt the mightiness of his power:—and he loved its exercise :to kindle in a thousand bosoms the strange fire which desolated WHITTIER’S ESTIMATE OF BYRON.
his own. He loved to shake down with a giant's strength, the strongest pillars of human confidence--to unfix the young and susceptible spirit from its allegiance to virtue and the dearest ties of nature. No man ever drew finer and more enchanting pictures of the social virtues—and love and friendship never seem more beautiful than when made the subject of his vivid and graphie delineation. bun
Genius! the pride of genius! What is there in it after all, to take the precedence of virtue? Why should we worship the hideousness of vice, although the drapery of angels be gathered about it? In the awful estimate of eternity, what is the fame of a Shakspeare, to the beautiful humility of a heart, sanctified by the approval of the Searcher of all bosoms? The lowliest taster of the pure and living waters of religion is a better and wiser man than the deepest quaffer at the fount of Helicon: and the humble follower of that sublime philosophy of Heaven, which the pride of the human heart accounteth foolishness, is greater and worthier than the skilled in human science, whose learning and glory only enable them “ Sapienter ad infernam descendere !"
Who can tell the power, for good or for evil, of but one sentence, falling on a fellow creature's ear: or estimate the mighty series of emotions, purposes and actions, of which one articulate breath may be the spring? A word spoken in season, how good it is! All words are winged, and imagination can ill track their flight. Evil words may seem light or trivial things : yet, if light, they are like the filiaments of the thistle-down, each feathery tuft floating on the slightest breeze bears with it the germs of a noxious weed.