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them; and also to a reputation the family has acquired for eccentricity. As public speakers they are far above mediocrity; not graceful, but eloquent, with a lively scorn of the mean and perception of the comic, which overflow in pungent wit and withering satire; and sometimes, in the heat of extemporaneous speaking, in biting
Their style of oratory would often seem, to a staid, church-going Englishman, to contrast too strongly with the usual decorum of the pulpit.
Nine of the Beechers are authors. They are known to the reading and religious public of the United States, by reviews, essays, sermons, orations, debates, and discourses on a great variety of subjects, chiefly of local or momentary interest. All of these productions are marked by vigorous thought; very few by that artistic excellence, that conformity to the laws of the ideal, which alone confer a lasting value on the creations of the brain. Many of them are controversial, or wear an aggressive air which is unmistakable. Those which are of durable interest, and of a high order of literary merit, are six temperance sermons by Dr. Beecher; a volume of practical
sermons by the same; the “ Virgin and her Son," an imaginative work by Charles Beecher, with an introduction by Mrs. Stowe; some articles on Biblical literature, by Edward Beecher; “Truth stranger than Fiction,” and other tales, by Miss Catharine Beecher; “Domestic Economy," by the same; “ Twelve Lectures to Young Men," by Henry Ward Beecher; “An Introduction to the Works of Charlotte Elizabeth," by Mrs. Stowe, being a collection of stories originally published in the newspapers; and “Uncle Tom's Cabin.” I am sorry not to be able to place in this category many letters, essays, and addresses on Education, and particularly those from the pen of Catharine Beecher. Before Mrs. Stowe's last book, her celebrity was hardly equal to her maiden sister's. Catharine had a wider reputation as an authoress, and her indefatigable activity in the cause of education had won for her very general esteem. I may add in this connection that it is to her the United States are indebted for the only extensively useful association for preparing and sending capable female teachers to the west. She had the energy and the tact to organize and put it in successful operation.
Such is the family, in the bosom of which Mrs. Stowe's character has been formed. We cannot dismiss it without pausing before the venerable figure of the father, to whom the honour of determining the bent of the children properly belongs. Dr. Lyman Beecher is now seventy-eight years old. Born before the American Revolution, he has been, until recently, actively and ably discharging duties which would be onerous to most men in the prime of life. He was the son of a New England blacksmith, and was brought up to the trade of his father. He had arrived at mature age when he quitted the anvil, and began his collegiate studies at Yale College, New Haven. Ten years later, we find him pastor of the church at Litchfield, and rising into fame as a pulpit orator. His six sermons on temperance extended his reputation through the United States ; I might say through Europe, for they ran rapidly through several editions in England, and were translated into several languages on the Continent. Being now favourably known, he was called to the pastoral charge of the most influential Presbyterian Church at Boston, where he remained until 1832. In that year, a project long
entertained by that portion of the Presbyterian Church, whose active and enlightened piety and liberal tendencies had gained for it the name of New School, was put into execution; the Lane Theological and Literary Seminary was founded. Its object being to prepare young men for the gospel ministry, such facilities for manual labour were offered by it, as to make it feasible for any young man of industry to defray, by his own exertions, a large part of the expenses of his own education. Dr. Beecher had long been regarded as the only man competent to direct an institution which, it was fondly hoped, would demonstrate the practicability of educating mind and body at the same time, infuse new energy into the work of domestic and foreign missions, and revolutionize the Presbyterian church. A large corps of learned and able professors was selected to aid him. The Doctor removed to his new home in the immediate neighbourhood of Cincinnati, and remained there until 1850, and with what success in his chief object we shall hereafter see.
A certain eccentricity of manner and character, and sharpness of repartee, have given rise to
hundreds of amusing anecdotes respecting Dr. Beecher. Some of them paint the man.
His lively sense of the comic elements in everything, breaks out on the most unlikely occasions. One dark night, as he was driving home with his wife and Mrs. Stowe in the carriage, the whole party was upset over a bank about fifteen feet high. They had no sooner extricated themselves from the wreck, than Mrs. Beecher and Mrs. Stowe, who were unhurt, returned thanks for their providential escape. “Speak for yourselves," said the doctor, who was feeling his bruises, “I have got a good many hard bumps, any how.”
In many matters he is what Miss Olivia would have called "shiftless." None of the Goldsmith
. family were more so. No appeal to him for charity, or a contribution to a good cause, ever goes unresponded to, so long as he has any money in his pockets. As the family income is not unlimited, this generosity is sometimes productive of inconvenience. One day his wife had given him from the common purse twenty-five or thirty dollars in bills, with particular instructions to buy & coat, of which he stood in need. He went down to the city to make the purchase, but stop