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was answered. On the 13th of July he was seized by an apoplectic fit, which deprived him of his senses. He lingered along unconsciously till the 19th, when peacefully and without a struggle he expired.
For two days the coffin was permitted to remain in the church, where all ranks and conditions crowded round to see for the last time the features of him who had been the father and the friend of all; and as they stood, with eyes fixed on his marble countenance, their sobs were interrupted only by broken words of grateful affection.
It is good for us to dwell on an example like this. It gives enlargement to our minds, breaking away the little party feelings that sometimes gather round us. When we see, in the most corrupt church on earth, such men as Sir Thomas More, and Fenelon, and Cheverus, --- when we see such men as Hooker, Herbert, and Leighton, Sir Henry Vane, John Milton, and William Penn, men who belong to the whole world, scattered through different religious denominations, we feel how unnatural are those distinctions, that would shut up all goodness within a single sect; and we feel, too, the richness of the Divine mercy, which, under every form of worship, brings to honest and devout hearts all that is essential to their life. Veil the truth as you may, beneath the clouds of human error, pinion it down as you can, by lifeless forms, when the true and large heart comes, these clouds become transparent, and dead forms, instinct with life. There men gather together, and go away enriched by a new revelation of the Divine love. Not the place or the form, -it is the soul, that speaks. Forms and creeds, churches and appointed meetings, language, tones and looks, are but the changing instruments through which the unchanging “word” is to be impressed upon the human soul. Where the truth is struggling for utterance, there it will be heard; and were no other lesson than this taught by his life, we should receive with joy the memorial of every good man. Examples of genius we view afar off, as objects of admiration; but an example of simple, unaffected goodness, is within the reach of all, and calls upon us all to be what we admire.
J. H. M.
ART. VII.- REMARKS ON THE CHARACTER AND GENIUS OF
SIR WALTER SCOTT.
Of all branches of literature Biography awakens the deepest and most universal interest. It begins earliest, and continues longest. It is the delight of our childhood, the study of maturer years, and the amusement and solace of declining life. And there is good reason why it should be so. Man cannot be an object of indifference to man. Nature asserts and maintains her rights over the coldest and most selfish. “ One touch of nature makes the whole world kin;" and this strong instinctive sense of community and kindred has bound the world together from the days of Adam until now. Brutal ignorance, and its offspring, inveterate prejudice, fierce war, and savage passion, have been able to modify or pervert, but never to extinguish it. The problem of human life is one of deep and fearful interest to every man that lives; and the life even of the humblest, could we but catch the right point of view, has in it an epic dignity and grandeur, that well entitle it to our study and regard. Our sympathies are with man - with individual man; not with masses; still less with philosophical abstractions and generalizations. This is the reason why history generally is so cold, dull, and unprofitable. The spirit of philosophy, as it is called, is not a life-giving spirit. In its investigation of abstract truth, of general causes, it loses sight of living agents, till its historical personages become thin, shadowy, and unaffecting. They stir not our passions and affections, because they have none of their own. We regard them much in the manner of algebraic characters, that are expected, of course, to work out certain results; and we cherish a certain degree of curiosity to see what these results shall be, and to note the process as it goes on; but little of heartfelt interest, and true sympathy. Nor can we. Pure reason is not the medium in which sympathy works. It is by the imagination and affections, that the will is moved, the active energies controlled, and the character formed; and these are conversant with individualities alone. When Sterne wished to make an indelible impression of the horrors of slavery, he wisely selected a single figure, and, by portraying this, produced a more eloquent and effective appeal than he could have done by a hundred volumes of abstract reasoning.
Our sympathies, we repeat, are with individual man ; our interest revolves round beings like ourselves. We speculate, indeed, on universal truths; and the scientific man doubtless enjoys a high degree of satisfaction, often, in the discovery and contemplation — though principally in the former of the abstractions of pure science. For the reason is a legitimate and essential faculty of the soul, and its exercise and cultivation are accompanied by their appropriate pleasures. But, after all, the deep, living, and moving interest of man, turns on the practical weal or wo, the struggle, the success, the disappointments, the hopes and fears, the loves and hatreds, of his fellows on the great arena of human life. Thus do we regard the history of an individual. It is to general history what, in physical science, experiment is to theory, at once its illustration and its
It fixes and exemplifies general principles, and enables us, by seeing their, action, to perceive their uses. It is a law of our mental constitution, that practical truths — those that are capable of being shown in action are held, as it were, with a doubting and imperfect conviction, till they are so seen.
And this serves to explain the interest we feel in biography, which portrays causes in their effects, and principles in their actual results; and, at the same time, it illustrates its usefulness. There is that in the experience of the most obscure individual, could it be brought out, and presented in its proper light, which is worthy the regard of the highest and most cultivated mind. For life and death, the business and concernment of the lowliest, are likewise the business and concernment of the loftiest; and their respective courses are only different solutions of the same problem. But when an individual passes away, who has filled the world with his name, who has awed at once and elevated our spirits by the exhibition of high powers of thought or of action, our desire is naturally so much the more intense and eager to learn how it was done. It is a study to which the public attention may be called again and again, by different minds, and never without profit. And such a man, in our opinion, was Sir Walter Scott.
The childhood and boyhood of Scott seem to have been very much like those of other men in similar circumstances of life. No very striking indications of peculiar genius, or genius of any sort, so far as we can perceive, were visible in his earlier years. The beautiful anecdote of the thunderstorm, when he was found, while yet almost an infant, lying on the ground, and clapping his hands with delight at the successive flashes of lightning, crying "bonny, bonny,” may, perhaps, be alleged as an exception to the truth of this remark. We shall not question its application, though, as it strikes us, the mind of Scott, in mature life, was less remarkable for deep sympathy with the grand sublimities of nature, than for a lively perception and keen sense of beauty. Had the anecdote been told us of Burns, we should have felt that it was in perfect keeping, and hailed it as an appropriate augury and foreshowing of a Bruce's Address.”
But we are free to say, that we have, generally, no very implicit faith in these prophetic indications of childhood. They are very liable to be read with partial eyes, and recorded in very accommodating memories. The child is, we doubt not, as Wordsworth says, the father of the man; but we apprehend this is a truth learned rather by general reasoning, and on psychological principles, than by a careful induction of facts. And, moreover, we are of opinion that these indications are very frequently ex post facto discoveries. We read the character of the child by light reflected from that of the man. Till brought to this test, its impress, like characters traced in sympathetic ink till held to the fire, is apt to remain illegible.
Remarkable children, we believe, are mostly so in consequence of some morbid and premature development, that gives a disproportionate prominence to some faculty; and, to the eye of sober judgment, betokens anything rather than a full and rich maturity of high and well balanced powers. And where this is not the case, children, that we are apt to regard as of the highest promise, are generally such as are noted for a certain pliancy of disposition, which we misname docility, such as yield most readily to external impressions, to the influence of those about them; soft clay, that readily takes the form of the mould into which it is cast.
There is such a love of power inherent in the human character, so much gratification in perceiving the ascendancy of our own judgment, that even the wisest and the best are apt to over-estimate the endowments of a child of the character we have described. For the same reason we seldom do full justice to those of a firmer and more decided bent, whose will is made of sterner stuff, and therefore less easily controlled; and who early manifest a certain satisfaction in stemming the current of authority. And yet, an element very much akin to what we
call obstinacy, and capable, by mistreatment, of fatal perversion, is, perhaps, an essential ingredient in every vigorous and energetic character. Temperament has much to do — we know not how much — in determining the form and the course of the intellectual development. And temperament never changes. So far, then, as this is concerned, the indications of childhood, read aright, may be safely trusted. The temperament of Scott, though a genial and kindly one, was of a firm and decided character. Not that he was self-willed and headstrong; but he early manifested, that he had within him a resolute and self-sustaining power, upon which, when occasion required, he could quietly fall back, and from which it was no easy matter to dislodge him. This is substantially his own statement of the case; and it is verified in the whole course of his subsequent life. And this habitude, we think, was cherished and strengthened by a circumstance in his condition, which, on a temperament less genial, might have wrought the most disastrous effects. We allude to his lameness. This defect would have been very likely to sour the temper and pervert the affections, as in the case of Lord Byron, else to break down the spirit, of one less favorably constituted. In his case it did neither. It only threw him more entirely on his own resources; and thus tended to strengthen and concentrate his powers. As the occasion, too, of his being withdrawn for a time from the city, and placed amid the wild scenery of the country, it gave opportunity and scope for his young imagination to expand its powers, and become familiar with the beauties of nature, at a time of life when the impressions of outward objects form themselves readily into permanent elements of the character.
Here, too, were first opened to his mind those fountains of traditionary lore and wild minstrelsey, from which his genius, in after times, was destined to draw so copiously for the wonder and delight of the world. So that it would not, perhaps, be too much to say, that to this accident we are mainly indebted for the greatest novelist the world has ever seen. A striking instance of that beautiful moral alchemy, by which a well ordered spirit transmutes evil into good, and out of weakness educes strength! Had the boy Walter Scott been furnished with two sound feet, he might have made his way on them no farther than to the Parliament Close; the future Author of Waverley might have attained, perhaps, to the distinction of sitting