« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
on meeting him after many years, that he is where we left him, or that he has made great strides.
But besides that Nature and the hints we draw from man suggest a true and lofty life, a household equal to the beauty and grandeur of this world, - especially we learn the same thing from those best relations to individual men which the heart is always prompting us to form. Happy will that house be in which the relations are formed from character ; after the highest, and not after the lowest order ; the house in which character marries, and not confusion and a miscellany of unavowable motives.
Then shall marriage be as it should be : be a covenant to secure to either party the sweetness and handsomeness of being a calm, continuing, inevitable benefactor to the other. Yes, and the sufficient reply to the skeptic who doubts the power of man to elevate and to be elevated, is in that desire and power to stand in joyful and ennobling intercourse with individuals which makes the faith and the practice of all reasonable men.
The ornament of a house is the Friends who frequent it. There is no event greater in life than the appearance of new persons about our hearth, except it be the progress of the character which draws them. It has been finely added by Mr. Landor to his definition of the great man—" It is he who can call together the most select company when it pleases him."
A beautiful verse of the old Greek Menander remains, which runs in translation
“ Not on the store of sprightly wine,
Nor plenty of delicious meats,
To court us with perpetual treats, –
So much as on the sbadow of a Friend." It is the happiness which, where it is truly known, postpones all other satisfactions, and makes politics and commerce and churches cheap. For we figure to ourselves—do we not ?—that when men shall meet as they should, as states meet, each a benefactor, a shower of falling stars, so rich with deeds, with thoughts, with so much accomplishment, that it should be the festival of Nature, which all things symbolize : and perhaps Love is only the highest symbol of friendship, as all other things seem symbols of love.
In the progress of each man's character, his relations to the best men, which at first seem only the romances of youth, acquire a graver importance, and he will have learned the lesson of life who is skilful in the ethics of friendship.
Beyond its primary ends of the conjugal and parental relation, the household should cherish the beautiful arts and the sentiment of veneration.
1. Whatever brings the dweller into a finer life, what educates his eye, his ear or his hand, whatever purifies and enlarges him, may well find place there. And yet let him not think that a prop erty in beautiful objects is necessary to his apprehension of them, and seek to turn his house into a museum. Rather let the noble practice of the Greeks find place in our society, in whose country, it would seem, every statue and painting was public, it being considered absurd and profane to pretend a property in a work of art, which belonged to whosoever could see it.
A better era may organize in our community so just a way of thinking, and the creations of the plastic arts may be collected with care in galleries by the piety and taste of the people, and yielded as freely as the sunlight to all. Meantime, be it remembered, we are artists ourselves, and competitors each one with Phidias and Raphael in the production of what is graceful or grand. The fountain of beauty is the heart, and every generous thought illustrates the walls of
chamber. Why should we owe our power of attracting our friends to pictures and vases, to cameos and architecture ? Why should we convert ourselves into showmen and appendages to our fine houses and our works of art ? If by love and nobleness we take up into onrselves the beauty we admire, we shall spend it again on all around us.
The man, the woman, needs not the embellishment of canvas and marble, whose every act is a subject for the sculptor, and to whose eye the gods and nymphs never appear ancient, for they know by heart the whole instinct of majesty.
In this connection I have a suggestion to offer. As is the house, so is the neighborhood and the town. It seems to me that our communities, or towns of houses, ought to yield each other more solid benefit than we have yet learned to draw from them ; for example, the providing the single individual with the means and apparatus of science and of the elegant arts. There are a great many articles of the highest value for occasional inspection which few men are able to own, and which really few men, or perhaps no man wishes to own ; for instance, a telescope. Every man, every child wishes to see the ring of Saturn, the belts of Jupiter and Mars, the mountains and craters in the moon ; yet how few can buy a telescope, and of these, scarcely one would wish the trouble of keeping it in order and exhibiting it. The same remark applies to electrical and to chemical apparatus. There are a great many books which every man sometimes wishes to consult, which he neither is able nor desirous to possess; such as encyclopædias, dictionaries, charts, maps ; pictures of birds, beasts, shells, trees, flowers, whose names he desires to know, but which he only wants for occasiorral reference, and by no means wishes to own.
Especially is this true of works of the fine arts, such as pictures, and prints, and sculptures. There is an influence from these works on a prepared mind that is as positive as the influence of music — indescribably pleasing and refining, and not to be supplied from any other source. But who can own such things as pictures, and engravings, and statues, and casts? They are a very costly kind of property, and immediately entail new expenses, as of framing, and rooms for their exhibition ; and the use which any man can make of them is only rare, and their value is greatly enhanced by the numbers of men who can share the enjoyment of them. I go to Rome and see on the walls of the Vatican the Transfiguration, painted by Raphael, reckoned the first picture in the world; or in the Sistine Chapel I see the grand sibyls and prophets, painted in fresco by Michael Angelo,—which have every day now for three hundred years inflamed the imagination and exalted the piety of what vast multitudes of men of all nations. I wish to bring home to my children and my friends copies of these admirable forms, which I can find in the shops of the engravers : but I do not wish the vexation of owning them. I wish to find in my own town a library and museum which is the property of all the town, where I can deposit this precious treasure, where I and my children can see it from time to time, and where it has its proper place among hundreds of such donations from all the other citizens who have also brought thither whatever articles they have judged to be in their nature rather a public than a private property.
A collection of this kind, the property of each neighborhood, of each town, would dignify each town ; it would draw the bonds of neighborhood closer; a town would then be a town for an intellectual and humane purpose also, and we should love and respect our neighbors more. Obviously, it would be very easy for every town to discharge this truly municipal duty. Every one of us would gladly contribute his share ; and the more gladly, the more considerable the institution had become.
In Europe, where the feudal form of society secures the permanence of wealth in certain families, those families in each town buy and preserve these things and throw them open to the public. That is the reason why our own countrymen of taste and education desire to go to Europe - to visit the galleries and libraries that are there preserved in a hundred palaces. But in America, where democratic institutions regularly divide every great estate into small portions again after a few years, it is necessary that the public should step into the place of these permanent proprietors, and a lyceum, a public library, a public gallery, should exist in every town and village for the education and inspiration of all the individuals.
2. Certainly, not aloof from this homage to beauty, but in strict connexion therewith, the house will come to be esteemed a Sanctuary. The language of a ruder age has given to common law the maxim that every man's house is his castle: the progress of truth will make every house a shrine. Will not man one day open his eyes
and see how dear he is to the soul of Nature - how near it is to him ? Will he not rise above the fogs that blind him, and see that Law prevails forever and ever; that his private being is a part of it ; that its home is in his own unsounded heart ; that his economy, his labor, his good and bad fortune, his health and manners, are all a curious and exact demonstration in miniature of the Genius of the Eternal Providence ?
When he perceives the Law, he ceases to despond.
Whilst he sees it, every thought and act of his is raised, and becomes an act of religion. Does the consecration of Sunday confess of the desecration of the entire week ? Does the consecration of the church confess the profanation of the house? Let us read the incantation backward. Let the man stand on his feet. Let religio occasional. And the pulses of thought that go to the borders of the universe, let them proceed from the bosom of the Household. These are the consolations these are the ends to which the household is instituted, and the rooftree stands.
cease to be
If these are sought, and in any good degree attained, can the State, can commerce, can climate, can the labor of many for one, yield anything better, or half as good ? Beside these aims, Society is weak and the State an intrusion. I. think that the heroism which at this day would make on us the impression of Epaminondas and Phocion must be that of a domestic conqueror. He who shall bravely and gracefully subdue this Gorgon of Convention and Fashion, and show men how to lead a clean, handsome and heroic life amid the beggarly elements of our cities and villages ; whoso shall teach me how to eat my meat, and take my repose, and deal with men, without any shame following, will restore the life of man to splendor, and make his own name tear to all history.
BY J. A.
She lies at length along the scented ground,
One hand lost in a cloud of falling hair,
Nor motion in the air.
Her parted lips move not, but ever seem
Like one who, sleeping, hears not, breathes not,
And make his bliss forgot.
She reads the story which the Sibyl kept,
Ere, in her anger at the world's disdain,
The scroll of Saturn's reign.
Beside me sat one of the few, one gifted