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preposition thus I And to select the word law itself, with which to force it into this lawless connection! Secondly, romance and allies are constantly written by him with the accent on the first syllable. These be heinous offences! A poet, of all men, should cherish the liquid consonants, and should resist the tendency of the populace to make trochees of all dissyllables. In a graver tone we might complain that he sometimes — rarely — writes, not by vocation of the ancient Muses, who were daughters of Memory and immortal Zeus, but of those Muses in drab and scoop-bonnets who are daughters of Memory and George Fox. Some lines of the " Brown of Ossawatomie " we are thinking of now. We can regard them only as a reminiscence of his special Quaker culture.

With the " Home Ballads," published in 1863, dawns fully his final period,— long may it last! This is the epoch of Poetic Realism. Not that he abandons or falls away from his moral ideal. The fact is quite contrary. He has so entirely established himself in that ideal that he no longer needs strivingly to assert it, — any more than Nature needs to pin upon oak-trees an affirmation that the idea of an oak dwells in her formative thought. Nature affirms the oak-idea by oaks; the consummate poet exhibits the same realism. He embodies. He lends a soul to forms. The real and ideal in Art are indeed often opposed to each other as contraries, but it is a false opposition. Let the artist represent reality, and all that is in him, though it were the faith of seraphs, will go into the representation. The sole condition is that he shall select his subject from native, spontaneous choice, — that is, leave his genius to make its own elections. Let one, whose genius so invites him, paint but a thistle, and paint it as faithfully as Nature grows it; yet, if the Ten Commandments are meantime uttering themselves in his thought, he will make the thistle - top a Sinai.

It is this poetic realism that Whittier has now, in a high degree, attained. Calm and sure, lofty in humility, strong

in childlikeness, — renewing the play-instinct of the true poet in his heart,—younger now than when he sat on his mother's knee,—chastened, not darkened, by trial, and toil, and time, — illumined, poet-like, even by sorrow,—he lives and loves, and chants the deep, homely beauty of his lays. He is as genuine, as wholesome and real as sweet-flag and clover. Even when he utters pure sentiment, as in that perfect lyric, "My Psalm," or in the intrepid, exquisite humility — healthful and sound as the odor of new-mown hay or balsam-firs — of," Andrew Rykman's Prayer," he maintains the same attitude of realism. He states God and inward experience as he would state sunshine and the growth of grass. This, with the devout depth of his nature, makes the rare beauty of his hymns and poems of piety and trust. He does not try to make the facts by stating them; he does not try to embellish them; he only seeks to utter, to state them; and even in his most perfect verse they are not half so melodious as they were in his soul.

All perfect poetry is simple statement of facts, — facts of history or of imagination. Whoever thinks to create poetry by words, and inclose in the verse a beauty which did not exist in his consciousness, has got hopelessly astray.

This attitude of simple divine abiding in the present is beautifully expressed in the opening stanzas of " My Psalm."

"I mourn no more my vanished years:

Beneath a tender rain,
An April rain of smiles and tears,
My heart is young again.

"The west winds blow, and, singing low,

I hear the glad streams run;
The windows of my soul I throw
Wide open to the sun.

"No longer forward nor behind

I look in hope and fear;
But. grateful, take the good I find,
The best of now and here. ^

"I plough no more a desert land,

To harvest weed and tare;
The manna dropping from God'a hand
Rebukes my painful care.

"I break my pilgrim-staff, I lay

Aside the toiling oar;
The angel sought Bo far away
I welcome at the door."

It is, however, in his ballads that Whittier exhibits, not, perhaps, a higher, yet a rarer, power than elsewhere, — a power, in truth, which is very rare indeed. Already in the "Panorama" volume he had brought forth three of these, — all gnod, and the tender pathos"of that 6ne ballad of sentiment, "Maud Muller," went to the heart of the nation. In how ninny an imagination does the innocent maiden, with her delicate brown ankles,

"Rake the meadow sweet with hay," and

"The judge ride slowly down the lane "!

But though sentiment so simple and unconscious is rare, our poet has yet better in store for us. He has developed of late years the precious power of creating homely beauty,* — one of the rarest powers shown in modern literature. Homely life-scenes, homely old sanctities and heroisms, he takes up, delineates them with intrepid fidelity to their homeliness, and, lo! there they are, beautiful as Indian corn, or as ploughed land under an October sun I He has thus opened an inexhaustible mine right here under our New-England feet . What will come of it no one knows.

These poems of his are natural growths; they have their own circulation of vital juices, their own peculiar properties; they smack of the soH, are racy and strong and aromatic, like ground-juniper, sweet-fern, and the arbor rilcc. Set them out in the earth, and would they not sprout and grow ? — nor would need vine-shields to shelter them from the weather! They are living and local, and lean toward the west from the pressure of east winds that blow on our coast. "Skipper Ireson's

• A taste for this had been early indicated, especially in the essays on Bunyan and Kobert Dinsmore. in "Old Portraits and Modern Sketches," and in passages of " Literary Recreations." Whitticr's prose, by the way, is all worth reading.

Ride," — can any one tell what makes that poetry? This uncertainty is the highest praise. This power of telling a plain matter in a plain way, and leaving it there a symbol and harmony forever, —it is the power of Nature herself. And again we repeat, that almost anything may be found in literature more frequently than this pure creative simplicity. As a special instance of it, take thrve lines which occur in an exquisite picture of natural scenery,—and which we quote the more readily as it affords opportunity for saying that Whittier's landscape-pictures alone make his books worthy of study, — not so much those which he sets himself deliberately to draw as those that are incidental to some other purpose or effect. "I see far southward, this quiet day, The hills of Newbury rolling away, With the many tints of the season gay, Dreamily blending in autumn mist Crimson and gold and amethyst. Long and low, with dwarf trees crowned,' Plum Island lies, like a whale aground, A stone's toss over the narrow sound. Inland, as far as the eye can go, The hills curve round, like a bended bow; A silver arrow from out them sprung, I seo the shine of the Quasycung; And, round and round, over talley and hHi, Old roads winding, at old roads will, .Here to a ftrry, and there to a wM."

Can any one tell what magic it is that is in these concluding lines, so that they even eclipse the rhetorical brilliancy of those immediately preceding?

Our deep-hearted poet has fairly arrived at his poetic youth. Never was he so'strong, so ruddy and rich as today. Time has treated him as, according to Swedenborg, she does the angels, — chastened indeed, but vivified. Let him hold steadily to his true vocation as a poet, and never fear to be thought idle, or untrue to his land. To give imaginative and ideal depth to the life of the people, —what truer service than that? And as for war-time, — does he know that "Barbara Frietche" is the true se^ quel to the Battle of Gettysburg, is that other victory which the nation asked of Mcade the soldier and obtained from Whitticr the poet'/

THE CONVULSIONISTS OF ST. MEDARD.

SECOND PAPER.

Having, in a previous number, furnished a brief sketch of the phenomena, purely physical, which characterized the epidemic of St. Medard, it remains to notice those of a mental and psychological character.

One of the most common incidents connected with the convulsions of that period was the appearance of a mental condition, called, in the language of the day, a state of eestasy, bearing unmistakable analogy to the artificial somnambulism produced by magnetic influence, and to the trance of modern spiritualism.

During this condition, there was a sudden exaltation of the mental faculties, often a wonderful command of language, sometimes the power of thought-reading, at other times, as was alleged, the gift of prophecy. While it lasted, the insensibility of the patients was occasional!y so complete, that, as Montgeron says, " they have been pierced in an inhuman manner, without evincing the slightest sensation " ; * and when it passed off, they frequently did not recollect anything they had said or done during its continuance.

At times, like somnambulism, it seemed to assume something of a cataleptic character, though I cannot find any record of that most characteristic symptom of catalepsy, the rigid persistence of a limb in any position in which it may be placed. What was called the "state of death," is thus described by Montgdron: —

"The state of death is a species of ecstasy, in which the convulsionist, whose soul seems entirely absorbed by some vision, loses the use of his senses, wholly or in part. Some convulsionists have remained in this state two or even three days at a time, the eyes open, without any movement, the face very pale, the whole body insensible, immovable, and

• Montgi'ron, Tom. IL l'Ue 'k TKtat da Cmmltionnairet, p. 104.

stiff as a corpse. During all this time, they give little sign of life, other than a feeble, scarcely perceptible respiration. Most of the convulsionists, however, have not these eestasies so strongly marked. Some, though remaining immovable an entire day or longer, do not continue during all that time deprived of sight and hearing, nor are they totally devoid of sensibility; though their members, at certain intervals, become so stiff that they lose almost entirely the use of them."*

The "state of death," however, was much more rare than other forms of tLis abnormal condition. The Abbe' d'Asfeld, in his work against the convulsionists, alluding to the state of eestasy, defines it as a state "in which the soul, carried away by a superior force, and, as it were, out of itself, becomes unconscious of surrounding objects, and occupies itself with those which imagination presents "; and he adds, — " It is marked by alienation of the senses, proceeding, however, from some cause other than sleep. This alienation of the senses is sometimes complete, sometimes incomplete." f

Montgdron, commenting on the above, says, — " This last phase, during which the alienation of the senses is imperfect, is precisely the condition of most of the convulsionists, when in the state of eestasy. They usually see the persons present ; they speak to them ; sometimes they hear what is said to them; but as to the rest, their souls seem absorbed in the contemplation of objects which a suporior power discloses to their vision." J

And a little farther on he adds,— "In these eestasies the convulsionists aro

• Montgeron, Tom. IL /*> de tKtat, etc., p. 104.

t Vains F.ffnrtt rTfs Dtsctrnaru, p. 36.

{ Montgeron, Tom. IL Idee dc tKtat, etc., p. 66.

struck all of a sudden with the unexpected aspect of some object, the sight of which enchants them with joy. Their eyes beam; their heads are raised toward heaven; they appear as if they would fly thither. To see them afterwards absorbed in profound contemplation, with an air of inexpressible satisfaction, one would say that they are admiring the divine beauty. Their countenances are animated with a lively and brilliant fire; and their eyes, which cannot be made to close during the entire duration of the eestasy, remain completely motionless, open, and fixed, as on the object which seems to interest them. They are in some sort transfigured; they appear quite changed. Even those who, out of this state, have in their physiognomy something mean or repulsive, alter so that they can scarcely be recognized It is during these ecstasies that many of the convulsionists deliver their finest discourses and their chief predictions,—that they speak in unknown tongues,—that they read the secret thoughts of others,—and even sometimes that they give their representations." •

A provincial ecclesiastic, quoted by Montgdron, and who, it should be remarked, found fault with many of the doings of the convulsionists, admits the exalted character of these declamations. He says, — " Their discourses on religion

• Montgeron, Tom. IL Iitte de FEtat, etc., . p. 67. The latter part of the quotation alludes to crucifixion and other symbolical representations, to which the convulsionists were much given.

This stnte of eestasy is one which has existed, probably, in occasional instances, through all past time, especially among religious enthusiasts. The writings of the ancient fathers contain constant allusions to it. St. Augustine, for example, speaks of it as a phenomenon which he has personally witnessed. Referring to persons thus impressed, he says, — " I have seen sonic who addressed their discourse sometimes to the persons around them, sometimes to other beings, as if they were actually present; and when they came to themselves, some could report what they had seen, others preserved no recollection of it whatever." — Dt Gc*. ad IMttr. Lib. XIL c. 13.

are spirited, touching, profound,—delivered with an eloquence and a dignity which our greatest masters cannot approach, and with a grace and appropriateness of gesture rivalling that of our best actors One of the girls who pronounced such discourses was but thirteen years and a half old; and most of them were utterly incompetent, in their natural state, thus to treat subjects far beyond their capacity." *

Colbert, already quoted, bears testimony to the same effect. Writing to Madame de Coetquen, he says,—" I have read extracts from these discourses, and have been greatly struck with them. The expressions are noble, the views grand, the theology exact. It is imlxissible that , the imagination, and especially the imagination of a child, should originate such beautiful things. Sublimity full of eloquence reigns throughout these productions." f

To judge fairly of this phenomenon, we must consider the previous condition and acquirements of those who pronounced such discourses. Montgcron, while declaring that among the convulsionists there were occasionally to be found persons of respectable standing, adds,—" But it must be confessed that in general God has chosen the convulsionists among the common people; that they were chiefly young children, especially girls; that almost all of them had lived till then in ignorance and obscurity; that several of them were deformed, and some, in their natural state, even exhibited imbecility. Of such, for the most part, it was that God made choice, to show forth to us His power." {

The staple of these discourses — wild and fantastic enough—-may be gathered from the following : —

"The Almighty thus raised up all of a sudden a number of persons, the greater part without any instruction; He op

• Montge>on, Tom. IL Idtc Je tElat, etc., p. 77.

t Ltttn de M. CuKcrl, du 8 Fe-vrier, 1733, it Madnme de Coetquen.

} Montgeron, Tom. IL

ened the mouths of a number of young girls, some of whom could not read; and He caused them to announce, in terms the most magnificent, that the times had now arrived, — that in a few years the Prophet Elias would appear, — that he would be despised and treated with outrage by the Catholies, — that he would even be put to death, together with several of those who had expected his coming and had become his disciples and followers, — that God would employ this Prophet to convert all the Jews, — that they, when thus converted, would immediately carry the light unto all nations, — that they would reestablish Christianity throughout the world,—and that they would preach the morality of the gospel in all its purity, and cause it to spread over the whole earth." *

Montgeron, commenting (as he expresses it) upon "the manner in which the convulsionists are supernaturally enlightened, and in which they deliver their discourses and their predictions," says, —

"Ordinarily, the words are not dictated to them; it is only the ideas that are presented to their minds by a supernatural instinct, and they are left to express these thoughts in terms of their own selection. Hence it happens that occasionally their most beautiful discourses are marred by ill-chosen and incorrect expressions, and by phrases obscure and oadly turned ; so that the beauty of some of these consists rather in the depth of thought, the grandeur of the subjects treated, and the magnificence of the images presented, than in the language in which the whole is rendered.

"It is evident, that, when they are thus left to clothe in their own language the ideas given them, they are also at liberty to add to them, if they will. And, in fact, most of them declare that they perceive within themselves the power to mix in their own ideas with those supernaturally communicated, which suddenly seize their minds; and they are obliged to be extremely careful not to confound

• Montgeron, Tom. IL Idee de I'OSuvre, etc., p. 123.

their own thoughts with those which they receive from a superior intelligence. This is sometimes the more difficult, inasmuch as the ideas thus coming to them do not always come with equal clearness.

"Sometimes, however, the terms are dictated to them internally, but without their being forced to pronounce them, nor hindered from adding to them, if they choose to do so.

"Finally, in regard to certain subjects, — for example, the lights which illumine their minds, and oblige them to announce the second coming of the Prophet Ellas, and all that has reference to that great event, — their lips pronounce a succession of words wholly independently of their will; so that they themselves listen like the auditors, having no knowledge of what they say, except only as, word for word, it is pronounced." *

Montgeron appears, however, to admit that the exaltation of intelligence which is apparent during the state of ecstasy may, to some extent, be accounted for on natural principles. Starting from the fact, that, during the convulsions, external objects produce much less effect upon the senses than in the natural state, ho argues that " the more the soul is disembarrassed of external impressions, the greater is its activity, the greater its power to frame thoughts, and the greater its lucidity." f He admits, further,— "Although most of the convulsionists have, when in convulsion, much more intelligence than in their ordinary state, that intelligence is not always supernatural, but may be the mere effect of the mental activity which results when soul is disengaged from sense. Nay, there are examples of convulsionists availing themselves of the superior intelligence which they have in convulsion to make out dissertations on mere temporal affairs. This intelligence, also, may at times fail to subjugate their passions; and I am convinced that they may occasionally make a bad use of it." J

• Montgeron, Tom. IL Hie de f £tat, etc. p. 82. t Kid. p. 17. } Ibid. p. 19.

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