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sion of the seminary, the new students are called up, not alpha
, betically, but just as they happen to be known to the professors, to record their names in the matriculation book. The next day after having heard the names thus called off, he has taken a sheet of paper, and, from memory, written them down alphabetically, giving the first, middle, and surname of each student, without hesitation and without mistake.
Not less marked was his power of analysis and of orderly or logical arrangement. This was evinced in his lectures on biblical history, in his introductions to his commentaries, especially in that on the prophecies of Isaiah, in his sermons, and in his essays and reviews. Few men equalled him in the power of argument. He was never weak, illogical, or sophistical. Every thing was clear, valid, pertinent, and exhaustive.
His imagination was brilliant and chaste. This is clearly evinced in many of his sermons, which those who heard will never forget. We specify the discourses on the text, “Not as though I had already attained or were already perfect; “ The last state of that man was worse than the first; “Awake thou that sleepest, and Christ shall give thee life; and, “ Remember Lot's wife.” The same power is evinced in
“ his fugitive pieces of poetry, of which enough are preserved to show that he might have attained eminence as a poet had he devoted himself to that difficult vocation.
One of the most marked characteristics of Dr. Alexander as a man, was integrity. No one ever did, or ever could suspect him of any thing like disingenuousness. There was nothing of designing or indirectness in any thing he said or did. He was frank, open, and always trustworthy. He was kind and tender in his feelings, and lenient in his judgments. Although his temper was irritable, yet he never gave way to it without compunction and atonement. If betrayed into any momentary severity in the class room, the next time he ofticiated at prayers, there was sure to be something to indicate his regret; so that the students on leaving the oratory would often ask one of another, “What has Dr. Addy been doing now?” We never saw in him the slightest manifestation of malignity, or envy, or of vanity. He was singularly impatient
of commendation. He was of course conscious of his strength and of his superiority. But he never displayed the one for the sake of attracting attention, and never asserted the other. No one ever thought of disputing it.
One of the most marked traits of his character was his fondness for children. He always had them about him. A selected few had free access to his study. With them he would unbend himself; devise things for their amusement. He would narrate to them, sing to them, play with them, write for them. The productions of his pen designed for the amusement of children, would make a little library, and are among the most characteristic, and, in one view, among the most creditable, of his literary works. They were often executed with wonderful beauty, as to penmanship. They were in prose, in poetry, rhyme, and blank verse; filled with wit, humor, knowledge, and good sentiments. He would carry this on for years with the same set of delighted auditors. This was his relaxation. Dr. Alexander's temperament was nervous.
The effect of temperament on the social life and on the conduct, are obvious and undeniable. These effects are variable and are not under the control of the will. They, to a greater or less extent,
. dominate the man. Some men are constitutionally hypochondriac. Such persons are not always in a state of depression. One day they are bright and cheerful; another, they are in the depths of melancholy. And when depressed, it is impossible for them either to feel or act cheerfully. This was not the case with Dr. Alexander. He was not subject to low spirits ; nor were his feelings much under the influence of the state of the weather. Nevertheless, he was very nervous. There were states in which all society was irksome to him; when he was indisposed to talk or to be talked to. These states were so frequent and so continuous as to give rise to the impression that he was a complete recluse, shunning society whenever he could. To this impression his biographer frequently refers, and endeavors to remove or counteract it by adducing the testimony of numerous witnesses from all parts of the country, that they had found him a cheerful and delightful companion. The number of such witnesses might be increased indefinitely. There is no doubt, as none knew so well as those most intimate with him, that he could be, and very often was, full of animation and cheerfulness, overflowing in conversation, abounding in humor and wit. The other side of the picture, however, is no less true. He was often in such a state that he avoided all society. He would sometimes come into our study after his lecture day after day for weeks in succession; and then, perhaps, would not come for a month. Sometimes, when visiting him, nothing could be more cordial and courteous than his manner. At other times it was at once apparent that he wished to be alone. He would remain perfectly silent, or answer only in monosyllables. There was nothing in this to take umbrage at, any more than if one should at one time find a friend shaking with a chill, and at another burning with a fever. It was an involuntary nervous state as painful to the subject of it, as it was trying to others.
To this same peculiarity of temperament we are disposed to refer the impatience which Dr. Alexander often manifested. Some men's sensations are more acute than others. A false note in music will make some men’s flesh crawl. So a false pronunciation, a blunder in recitation, a typographical mistake, would affect him much more sensibly than others whose nerves were less finely strung.
To the same cause in a great measure is to be referred his impatience of sameness. He did not like to live long in the same bouse; to have his library in the same room; or his books arranged in the same way; or to teach the same thing, or the same subject in the same manner. His department in the seminary was changed three times, and always at his own request. And his method of instruction was constantly varied. This temperament may have been the necessary condition of some of his excellences. It was nevertheless in other respects very unfortunate. It led him to undertake too many things; to take up and throw aside first one thing and then another and thus bring to completion far less than with the same amount of labor he might easily have accomplished.
Having graduated in the College of New Jersey, in 1827, he devoted two years to laborious and diversified study. We do not propose to indulge in extracts froin a book which we hope will find its way to the hands of all of our readers. But as a specimen of his daily work, we select at hazard the record for Jan. 15, 1828. “ Read a part of the 29th chapter of Isaiah in Hebrew; the 4th chapter of Louis XV.; the 4th chapter of the 2d section of Condillac's Essai sur les connaissances Humaines, in French, and the 12th chapter of Don Quixote, in Spanish ; then read about a hundred lines in the Clouds of Aristophanes; then read about the same number in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales; then went to the Philological Hall, to attend a meeting of the Board of Criticism of the Philological Society, and received from the president an anonymous translation of Horace's Book 1, ode 22, to criticise. Read in the Hall the 14th canto of Dante's Inferno, and finished the article on Arabian Literature in the Foreign Quarterly Review; returned home and examined the anonymous translation aforesaid, noting down some observations on the same; then read a review of Hase's Dogmatic and Gnosis in the Theologische Studien ; then read the remainder of Isaiah 29th in Hebrew; then read De Sacy's Arabic Grammar; then read Genesis 22, 23, in Hebrew; then wrote a sheet of French exercises and to bed."
Under date of Feb. 10, is found the following critique on Aristophanes and Shakespeare:
"I have finished the famous Clouds of Aristophanes, but can scarcely say what my feelings and opinions are as I close the book. Such a combination of extremes, intellectual and moral, I have never before known. Such transitions from earth to heaven, from Parnassus to the dunghill, are to me new and start. ling. Shakespeare is unequal, but his inequalities are nothing to the fits and starts of Aristophanes. The English poet never dives so deep into pollution, nor rises, in point of artifical elegance, so high as the Athenian. Shakespeare's genius iš okviously untutored. His excellences and his faults are perhaps equally attributable to his want of education. It is altogether probable that many of these original and most significant and poetic modes of expression which he has introduced into our language, arose entirely from his ignorance of grammar and of foreign tongues. Had he been familiar with technical distinctions and etymological analogies, his thoughts would have been distracted between words and things. The dread of committing solecisms, and the ambition to e-Riit that sort of elegance which results from the formal rules of an artificial rhetoric, would have cooled his ardor. His muse of fire' would never have reached the heaven of invention,' but would have stayed its flight amidst the clouds and mists of puerile conceit. I never read any of Shakespeare's real poetry (for much of his verse is most bald prosing) without feeling, in my very soul, that no man
could write thus, whose heart was fixed on propriety of diction, as a principal or even a secondary object. He seems to have let his imagination boil, and actually to have taken the first words which bubbled up from its ebullition. Hence his strange revolt from authority in the use of ordinary words (in senses] as far removed from common practice as from etymology. And that reminds me of another circumstance. In the common blank verse (f his dialogue, not only is he habitually careless, but seems not to know (in many cases) the method of constructing an harmonious verse; and perhaps his broken measure is more dramatie than one smoother would be; certainly more so than the intolerable tin. tinnabulum of the Théâtre Français. But let him rise into one of his grand flights, and his numbers are as musical as the .harp of Orpheus.' I defy any man to bring forward any specimen of heroic blank verse, where the rhytlım is as melodious as in some passages of Shakespeare, and the sense at the same time within sight-I mean comparably good in any degree. Milton, you say, etc. But who can read the Paradise Lost without thinking of the square and compass ? Even when we admire, we admire scientiíically--we applaud the arrangement of the cæsuras and pauses, and are forever thinking of iambuses and trochees and hypercatalectics, and all the hard words that Milton himself would have dealt forth in lecturing upon his own versification. Whereas, I do verily believe, that Shakespeare knew no more of Prosody, than of Animal Magnetism or Phrenology. Thomson, again, is among our finest specimens of rich and musical blank verse, but Thomson is labored too; not in Milton's way, by weight and measure, but in a way no less artificial and discernible. He is always laboring to make his lines flow with a luscious sweetness: everybody knows that he succeeds, but everybody, alas, knows how. He does it by presenting words in profusion, which are at once dulcet to the ear and exciting to the imagination. The method is the only true one, but he carries it too far. One strong proof that Shakespeare was a genius and a unique one, is that his excellence is not sustained and equal. Moonlight and candlelight shed a uniform lustre, but who ever saw or heard of a continuous flash of lightning ? Our bard trifles and proses and quibbles, and whines (but always without affectation) till something (whether accident or not I cannot tell) strikes a spark into his combustible imagination, and straightway lie is in a blaze. I think a good rocket is a capital illustration of his muse of fire. First we have a premonitory whiz--then a delicate but gorgeous column of brilliant scintillations, stretching away into the bosom of lieaven and at last dying away in a shower of mimic stars and comets of tenfold-of transcendent brightness. What then? Why then comes darkness visible, or at best a beggarly gray twilight. But in talking thus to myself, I forgot what I am about. I began with Aristophanes, and have been raving about Shakespeare. All I have to say, however, about the former, is, that he is a perfect contrast to the English
He is evidently a master of the art of versifying, but he knows how to temper the formality of systematic elegance with the charm of native poetry. Compared with the Greek tragedians, his flights of choral and lyrical inspiration appear to great advantage. More coherent and intelligible than Æschylus, more vigorous and nervous and significant than Sophocles, more natural and spirited than Euripides; he, notwithstanding, excels them all in the music of his numbers, and the Attic purity and terseness of his diction."
" February 17.—The historical style of the Arabs is very curious. It varies indeed, in different cases. Some of their histories are florid, inflated, and verbose. VOL. XLII. --NO. I.