Abbildungen der Seite

when mainly confined to the province of literature, and thus vitally partaking of that good name which such a literature is presumed to bear. We, therefore, urge a prompt resistance of this dangerous tendency, on the part of all who have literary influence, and a decided endeavor to reinstate satirical style in its earlier prominence as a distinctively scholarly art. In one or another of its legitimate forms, every student of style and letters should seek to cultivate and express it, in the course of his literary life. Based to some degree on an innate sense of the ludicrous and an innate abhorrence of the evil, its cultivation as an art is feasible, founded, as it is, on the further cultivation of the faculty of observation; on an ever-widening knowledge of the world; on a discerning study of policies and systems and a conscientious desire to conserve the interests of truth. Some follies can

not be corrected and some wrongs cannot be righted by the ordinary methods of address and appeal. They must be reached and remedied by unique procedure. Satire is as old as the world in which it lives and the sins and follies it rebukes. As civilization advances in right directions and Christianity has sway over men, its area ought to be perceptibly narrowed and its forms and function limited.

For its final and complete abolition, however, we cannot rationally look till truth and righteousness come to their universal supremacy in the faroff days of millennial glory; till Beauty triumph over the Beast, and Satan succumb to Christ.



One great advantage proposed by the abolishing of Christianity is, that it would very much enlarge and establish liberty of conscience. . . . which is still too much limited by priestcraft. For it is confidently reported that the young gentlemen of real hopes, bright wit and profound judgment who, upon a thorough examination of causes and effects, and by the mere force of natural abilities. . . . having made a discovery that there was no God, generously communicated their thoughts for the good of the public, were, some time ago, and I know not upon what obsolete law, broke for blasphemy. As it has been wisely observed, if persecution once begins, no man alive knows how far it may reach or where it will end.—Swift's "Argument Against Abolishing Christianity."

I will venture to give to the reader two little pieces of advice. The first is, by no means to credit the widespread report that these seventeenth century Puritans were superstitious, crack-brained persons. . . . Cant was not fashionable at all; that stupendous invention of "Speech for the purpose of concealing thought," was not yet made. A man wagging the tongue of him, as if it were the clapper of a bell to be rung for economic purposes. . . . would at that date have

awakened all the horror in men's minds. The use of the human tongue then was other than it now is.-Carlyle's "Cromwell."

Here is now an argument to prove the matter against the preachers. Here was preaching against covetousness all the last year and, the next summer, followed rebellion. Ergo, preaching against covetousness was the cause of the rebellion-a goodly argument. Well then, quoth Master More, what think you to be the cause of these shelves and flats that stop up Sandwich haven? Forsooth, sir, quoth he, I am an old man. I think that Tenterton steeple is the cause of Goodwin Sands. Before that Tenterton steeple was in building, there was no manner of speaking of any flats or sands that stopped the haven; therefore I think that Tenterton steeple is the cause of the decay of Sandwich haven. So, to my purpose, is preaching of God's word the cause of rebellion.Hugh Latimer's "Sermons."

As I grew up and observed the actions of men, I thought I met with many who gave too much for the whistle. When I saw any one too ambitious of court favor, I have said to myself—This man gives too much for his whistle. If I see one fond of fine clothes, fine furniture, fine equipages, all above his fortune, for which he contracts debts and ends his career in prison-alas, says I, he has paid dear, very dear, for his whistle.-Benjamin Franklin's "Works."



(The Humorous Style.)

THE necessity of the humorous element in what Mr. Whipple calls, literature and life, is at once apparent. We pass, by natural and unavoidable transitions, from "grave to gay; from lively to severe." The "Il Penseroso" of Milton demanded his "L'Allegro." As Mr. Emerson expresses it, in his readable paper on, "The Comic," "A taste for fun is almost universal in our species, which is the only joker in nature. A perception of the comic appears to be an essential element in a fine character. Wherever the intellect is constructive, it will be found. We feel the absence of it as a defect in the noblest and most oracular soul. It is a tie of sympathy with other men, a pledge of sanity, and a protection from those perverse tendencies and gloomy insanities in which fine intellects sometimes lose themselves. A rogue alive to the ludicrous is still convertible."

This is suggestive language from such a philosophical writer as Emerson, and reveals the fact, which it is important to emphasize, that the grounds of humor, in man and in authorship, lie back of the man and the book, in the original construction of things; arising, as dramatic representation arises, by a primal and an irresistible necessity. There is a philosophy of humor as well as of sobriety, and of the one because of the other. As has been truthfully said-"The ludicrous side of life, like the serious side, has its literature, and it is a literature of untold wealth." There is a "time to laugh and to dance," just as assuredly as there is a "time to weep and to mourn." The one is, moreover, just as essential to the expression and maintenance of character as the other.

In this respect, at least, the English Puritans of the days of the Commonwealth were wrong, as developing but one side of the double nature of man, and Lord Macaulay must be partly sanctioned in his stringent criticism of their method and spirit. Eliminate humor from any society or literature, and a factor so supremely vital has been removed that no other possible substitute can fill its place. It is as old as human nature and as new, and, if not allowed scope and function along the lines of its natural manifestation, will avenge its suppression in multiplied abnormal forms.

I. If we inquire as to the final and paramount object that humor has in view, as one of the ele

« ZurückWeiter »