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Mademoiselle Mori: A Tale of Modern Rome. Boston: Ticknor & Fields.
Cincinnati: G. S. Blanchard. 1860.
Certainly, in Literature at least, Rome is the eternal city. The natural refrain of the reader of books in these days is, “ I've been roaming, I've been roaming." Hawthorne, Story, Norton and other agreeable writers have opened the year with books about Rome, and their success in discovering matters of profound and universal interest in the old ruins seems likely to inaugurate a Layardism in Letters which shall exhume the whole of the social epoch buried there under the lavas of the advanced and living world.
The present work would have had much more interest if it had preceded "The Marble Faun." Not that the stories are at all alike, or the descriptions at all identical; but there is a limit even to Rome. Yet there was room for a graphic tale founded on the revolutions which inaugurated the reign of Pio Nono — when the rockets mounting up from the popular joy, fell back upon Italy as a rain of fiery arrows. This tale gathers much of its interest from its theme, and from the high view taken of Italian character and destiny; but it has too many threads, too much spun out; it is too much trouble to hold them all. Take from it some ten graphic delineations, and one would be glad to dismiss the rest of it. It is rare that any satisfactory English view of Mazzini and Garibaldi is found; but here it is : they are interpreted, too, not in fine sentiments, but in living, walking characters.
The Pioneers, Preachers and People of the Mississippi Valley. By W. H.
MULBURN. New York: Derby & Jackson. Cincinnati: For sale by Rickey, Mallory & Co. 1860.
This is much the best work which Mr. Milburn has yet given the public. It is to a great extent without the conceit and affectation which were so insufferable in “ The Rifle, Axe and Saddle Bags," and still more in " Ten Years of Preacher Life." The accounts given in this work of the noble Catholic pioneers of the West are, without adding anything new, remarkable for some fresh and bold outlines not to be met with elsewhere. We are not sure but that the tendency of Mr. Milburn's mind is toward the mythic in our Western Annals; one or two of his stories sound quite Booneish, if not Munchausenish ; but men are delineated by their fabulous, no less than their real monuments; and we assure the reader that he will find in this work the most spirited and interesting sketches of De Soto, La Salle, and Marquette; and still more valuable ones of heroes less known.
ORIGIN OF SPECIES-DARWIN'S THEORY.
(We have already given our views of this work. The following sensible criticism has been sent us by a correspondent.--Ed.]
No objection should be made to Mr. Darwin's theory that it contemplates, in the origin of species by means of what he calls natural selection, the manifestation of law as unvarying as in their subsequent perpetuation. I can not doubt, however circumscribed our present view, however profound our ignorance, that system and order lie at the foundation of all, as the action of the Creator's will.
Each step in the progress of Science approaches nearer to proving that it is only ignorance which names the phenomena of Nature chance or accident; or would isolate them from a preestablished system of order. We seem to discover, in the distance, that Science will yet prove that there has been no cataclysm in Nature.
Mr. Darwin's theory leaves a God in the material world; for here we see the prevalence of law,— and, as Butler says, “what is fixed as much requires and presupposes an intelligent agent to render it so — i. e., to effect it continually, or at stated times—as what is supernatural, or miraculous, does to effect it for once." But the defect of Mr. Darwin's theory, which it has in common with all systems of materialism, is, that it supposes that everything which does not serve a material purpose, is subject only to chance or accident; or, perhaps, that there is nothing existing but that which is of material use. Mr. Darwin states, distinctly, that on the theory of natural selection the various forms of life which we now see are the aggregate of qualities which have been, at some period of the existence of the race, of use in preserving its life; qualities which have been added up through the long process of ages, till they have produced the forms of organic life which we now find in the world. He says: "Nature cares nothing for appearances, except in so far as they may be useful to any being." But we find that Nature does care for appearances, preěminently; often at the expense of material use. The highest types of beauty most often combine with forms least able to withstand the fierce struggle for existence. Over all the world, the effort of creative skill seems as manifest in the production of qualities beautiful, as in those of simply material use. "Nature puts some kind of pleasure," says Thoreau, "before every fruit; not simply a calix behind it."
Let it be supposed, that all the wonderful mechanism of the human frame is the result of natural selection, – that even so complicated and marvelously adapted an organ as the eye was developed by the action of outward circumstances, from the mere optic nerve, coated with pigment, as in the Articulata; yet, how shall we account, by the same means, for the shaping of these organs, which natural selection could have made only for use in preserving the life of the race, into a form moulded to such perfection of beauty as that which the artist has copied in the statue of Apollo. I think natural selection would give us nothing but Calibans: such forms would be much better fitted to conquer in the great struggle for life. As it is, however, nothing but long continued degradation and oppression suffice to even partially efface the image of God in the human form.
Here, seems to me, the strongest objection to Mr. Darwin's theory – that we find that the same organs which are beneficial to the race, and are of use in preserving its life, yet conform to another standard – governed by other laws — that of beauty. This would be impossible by the theory of natural selection, which could produce only types of form within its own province.
M. B. B.
THE WESTERN CONFERENCE.
QUINCY, Illinois, May, 1860. CHRISTIAN FRIENDS :- The annual “ Western Unitarian Conference" will be held in this city, commencing Wednesday evening, June 13, and continuing through the following Sabbath. We cordially invite the friends of liberal religious sentiments to join in this free interchange of thought and feeling, and to consult together as to the means of advancing a better conception of Religion and Life. Our homes and hearts will be open to welcome you. L. BILLINGS, F. BOYD,
Com. Unitarian Society. R. S. BENXESOX, E. EVERETT, Guests, on arrival in the city, will go to the Tremont House, where the committee will receive them.
We trust that the friends of truth and freedom will bear in mind this invitation. Rev. Mr. Billings, in connection with whose society this conference meets, is a brave and true preacher of righteousness; and we feel assured that liberal minds everywhere will find it good to be there. We understand that, among others, James Freeman Clarke and Octavius B. Frothingham will be present.-ED.
A more serious charge is brought against Jesus by those who impute to him the doctrine of endless punishments for the wicked ; for this doctrine seems to implicate the spiritual no less than the intellectual nature, to betray an imperfection of heart and of conscience, as well as an infirmity of mind ; and we should hold it to be fatal to a person's religious feeling, fatal to the spiritual faith, if we did not know that most devout and tender people had entertained it in all ages of the Church — or, to speak more justly perhaps, had allowed it to rest unchallenged and uncomprehended on the surface of their minds, without distinctly believing it at all.
But we will let Jesus speak for himself. If he spoke any of the words ascribed to him, he spoke these : It is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than, having two hands or feet, to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than, having two eyes, to be cast into the Gehenna of fire.”—Matt. xviii. 8, 9. The later Jews regarded with holy horror the Valley of Hinnom, on account of the sacrifices that had been offered to Moloch there, and used its name as a symbol of hell. As much as a century before Christ the Hebrew under-world was subdivided by imagination into two parts, Paradise and Gehenna; and in the age of the Apostles this word Gehenna had lost much of its vague, indeterminate sense as a figure of speech, and had taken on a technical meaning as descriptive of a place of future torment. But there are stronger phrases on Jesus' lips than those quoted above. Read this : “ Depart from me, ye
cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink. These shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.” Here the mention of the Devil and his angels gives a terrible emphasis to the language used, and a most ominous distinctness, too, to the doom pronounced. But still more fearfully precise than this, if possible, is the declaration in chapter xii. 31, 32: “ Wherefore I say unto you, all manner of blasphemy and sin shall be forgiven unto men ; but the blaspheiny against the Spirit shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him ; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world nor in the world to come." Efforts to prove these verses spurious have been unavailing. The manuscripts persist in reporting them. Indeed, Ewald, in his critical translation of the first three Gospels, prints them as a portion of the original “ Spruchsammlung,” or collection of proverbial sayings, which was the nucleus of the Evangeliical histories. * Here, at all events,” says De Wette, “ the nevermore' is pronounced absolutely ; for whether the world to come' includes the Messiannic kingdom and the eternity afterward, or only the after eternity, the sense is the same.” The phrase employed, as well as the iteration of the verdict, gives to the passage a deadly weight. No vague, rhetorical everlasting," with a gleam of hope shining through its thick and boundless haze of meaning, is put into the mouth of Jesus here. The sentence is, He shall not be forgiven, either here or hereafter.” The doom is therefore final : the mercy of God is shut off, and despair makes impertinent all question of time.
The doctrine of hopeless perdition is taught in the parable of the ten virgins, against five of whom the door was shut;" and likewise in the description of the end of the world, when “the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire : there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” This is strong language. And there is nothing to break its force. There are no words of opposite or even of qualifying import. Years ago, a theological professor at Cambridge, himself a restorationist, expressed to a class his opinion that the New Testament gave no direct encouragement of restoration to sinners : the sentiment of the Gospel was in favor of it,
but not the letter, It must be remembered, moreover, that the words put into the mouth of Jesus express the belief which was prevalent among the most religious people of his age, who must have understood him to mean what they meant when he used the terms which they used. The Pharisees, much the largest and most influential sect — the “evangelicals" of the day,— held that the souls of all the wicked were doomed to punishment in Gehenna forever, while the wickedest were shut up in a particular cell thereof, called the “ Night of Terrors," never to be released. The Essenes, who were by eminence the spiritualists, the Quakers of the time, ascetics, and come-outers, maintaining the inherent immortality of the soul, held that “the souls of men, coming out of the most subtle and pure air, are bound up in their bodies as in so many prisons; but being freed at death, they rejoice, and are borne aloft, where a state of blissful life is decreed forever to the virtuous, but the vicious are appointed to eternal punishment in a dark, cold place.”
The presumption then is, that Jesus shared the belief of his contemporaries in regard to the future judgment of the wicked. He put forth that belief, and he put forth no other. No criticism of the word aionios, no expositions of the term Gehenna, no descanting on the poetical character of Christ's phraseology, relieves us of this burden. The loveliness of his spirit alone gives him the benefit of a doubt. It is possible that in this, as in so many other respects, he was misrepresented; it is possible that, as we possess but a few fragments of his teaching, some instruction of more hopeful tenor may have been lost. But we must abide by such evidence as we have ; and that, impartially weighed, justifies, we think, the opinion of the larger part of Christendom. Well, and what follows? That we must put on the doctrine, because Jesus was not able to put it off? Surely not — not even if it was his deliberately adopted persuasion, which we need not grant it was. His purest sentiments, his best affections were all against it. Could he have worked out by the understanding what his soul knew, he might have discarded the national belief and eradicated it from his mind completely. But it is easier for the spirit to receive new truth than for the intellect to repudiate old error. What the pious and humane faith of Jesus was is evident from the words that gushed out of his full heart, and from the benignity he exemplified towards the weakest and the worst. These declare his feeling. If he was