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form, of his own nature and affections, and but an ungenial nurse. His father, a lawawaken in every reader, an autobiographical yer in full practice, and barely able to do interest. The Memoir is but the prolonged justice to the claims of his large family, note yet lingering in our ear from the re- followed rather the usages of the time ceding tones of bis own voice. It is all the than the kindliness of his nature, in keepmore sweet and welcome for that; only, ing his children at a respectful distance, with its special aids from memory and love, His mother, of whom a good deal is said it need not have been struck on so many without leaving a very distinct impression, instruments, and thrown into such elabo- seems to have seen a shrewd and lively rated chords.

woman, using the license of a good conChanning's life beginning in 1780, was science with something of the sharpness of almost coincident with the independence of a censor, and with more of the strength to his country. No sooner was the sovereignty conquer troubles, than of the sweet art to of Great Britain shaken off, than a series of smooth and charm them. Though Wilconsiderable men were ordered upon the liam,—the third child, --is said to have stage, as if to inaugurate the new republic, been an idol from the first,” this seems and enrich it with the elements of a civili- to imply rather admiration of his lovelization specially its own. Adams was ready ness, than sympathy with the peculiar ento secure it the honor of statesmanship ; dowments of his nature: for his mind eviStory, to create its jurisprudence ; Allston, dently followed a solitary course, and was its art; and Channing, its moral literature. never domesticated with the influences Colonial life indeed is not favorable to pro- around it, except with the wild sea-beach fessional eminence and intellectual pur- and shaded glens of the island. Of his suits : and a society sufficiently advanced nature, it was a law that nothing should to supply its highest offices from its own have power over him, except on condition citizens approaches the termination of its of its being beautiful and being good : and colonial existence. Such men ensure the he was thrown by birth upon a society, of era of self-government: and self-govern- which one half appears to have been gross ment again favors the appearance of such and profane,—the other stiff-necked and men. The immediate period of transition Puritanical, with the free heart all on one however, at which Channing was born, side, and the dutiful will upon the other. though propitious to the ambition of grown Both of them necessarily acted as repulsions men ready to occupy the field, was not fa- to him,--the genial spirit without purity, vorable to the training of his first years. and the dull habits of religion without its To the Revolution he owed it, that, in his ideality. He was like a poet-child doomed manhood, he could speak to two nations ;- to live with a Franklin, and eat the dry that, in his childhood, he was poorly cared powder of bis precepts as antidote against for by one. Times of political anxiety and the poisons of the world. It is no wonder convulsion are unfriendly to home life. that his mind was early driven inwards The current interests are pitched too high upon itself; was led to seek in books its for its tranquillity. The topics of table- first taste of genuine sympathy; and found talk are not light enough for young and a kindling joy in the stern but noble commirthful lips. Children are in the way; panionship of the Stoical moralists. From and being once fed, dressed, protected, and the many traces of a gentle and generous sent off to church or school, are otherwise ig- boyhood, we select the following anecdote, nored. A generation whose cradle has been related by himself :rocked by revolution may work its way up

“ I can remember an incident in my to strength and self-subsistence ; but with

childhood great suffering to the gentler and more de

which has given a turn to my whole life and cha

racter. I found a nest of birds in my father's field, pendent spirits. They open best in a time which held four young ones. They had no down of peace and evenness, when children are when I first discovered them. They opened their the ornaments of home, the measure of du- little mouths as if they were hungry, and I gave ty, the refreshment of care, the symbols of them some crumbs which were in my pocket. hope. Such was the nature of William Every day I returned to feed them. As soon as Ellery Channing : and, notwithstanding bread, and sit hy the nest to see them eat, for an hour

school was done, I would run home for some the sterling worth of his parents and connections, it is impossible not to feel that in ready to fly. When I came one morning, I found

at a time. They were now feathered, and almost the notions and ways prevalent in the so- them all cut up into quarters. The grass round ciety of Newport, Rhode Island, he found the nest was red with blood. Their little limbs

were raw and bloody: The mother was on a tree, The peculiarity in Channing, indicated and the father on the wall, mourning for their by these incidents, is not that he thus felt young. I cried myself, for I was a child... and thought ; but that he never parted author of their miseries, and this made me stili with his faith in such impulses, or allowed more unhappy. wanted to undeceive them. I them to be laughed or worn away. Unwanted to sympathize with and comfort them. spoiled childhood is always humane, always When I left the field, they followed me with their truthful : but there are few who do not eyes and with mournful reproaches. I was 100 learn to slight the divine guidance of nature young and too sincere in my grief to make any when the thronged and beaten track of apostrophes. But I can never forget my feelings. custom leads away. The impression will never be worn away, nor can I ever cease to abhor every species of inhumanity

The career of Channing's parents was towards inferior auimals."-1. 37.

most unequal. He was only thirteen when

the father died; the mother survived for In the following narrative, the mirror is 37 years of widowhood,—the object of held up to the early experience of many a

faithful care and affection to William and thoughtful mind; and an insight gained his elder brother Francis. After a year's into the many gradations of unreality by preparatory study, William entered Harwhich the passage is treacherously smoothed vard University in 1794; residing during from perfect veracity of heart to utter pre- Justice Dana. His life had no more genial

his academical course, with his uncle, Chief tence :-

period than the four years spent at college. “ His father, with the view of giving him a ride, Not that there was any thing ennobling in took William in his chaise one day, as he was the methods of study and discipline pecugoing to hear a famous preacher in the neighbor. liar to the place; for the Professors seem hool. Impressed with the notion that he night to have been a set of formal officials, little learn greai tidings from the unseen world, he able to conciliate the pedantic decorum of listened attentively to the sermon. With very the receding age with the fervid spirit of a glowing rhetoric, ihe lost state of man was described, his abandonment 10 evil, helplessness, de- uew time. Nor was it that the tone of pendence upon sovereign grace, and the need of feeling among the general body of underearnest prayer as the condition of receiving this graduates was by any means high ; for the divine aid. In the view of the speaker, a curse disorganizing principles of French philososeemed to rest upon the earth, and darkness and phism were telling with full effect on the horror to veil the face of nature. William, for his faith and conduct of the students. But to part, supposed that henceforth those who believed would abandon all other things to seek this salva- a pure and thoughtful mind, nothing can tion, and that amusement and earthly business prevent the CoHege years from being a would no longer occupy a moment. The service glorious time. The large drafts of knowover, they went out of the church, and his father, ledge at the moment of most eager thirst; in answer to the remark of some person, said, with the first trial of the wings of thought out of a decisive tone, --- Sound doctrine, Sir. It is all sight of the home-nest and high amid the true, then,' was his inward reflection. A heavy mountain air ; the fervid friendships weight fell on his heart. He wanted to speak 10 his father; he expected his father would speak 10

springing from a common trust in what is him in relation to this tremendous crisis of things true and good; the fair perspective, changThey got into the chaise and rode along, but, ab- ing with the ideal colors, of promised and sorbed in awful thoughts, he could not raise his still promissory years; these give an unvoice. Presently his father began to whistle! At conscious splendor to that tiine, seldom length they reached home; bui instead of calling revealed but by the advent of a paler light the family together, and telling them of the appall. in our maturity. The affection of classing intelligence which the preacher had given, his mates such as Story, Tuckerman, and Allfather took off his boots, put bis feet upon the mantelpiece, and quielly read a newspaper. All

ston ;

the re-unions of the Shakspearethings went on as usual. At first he was sur society and the Speaking-club; the disprised; but, not being given 10 talking, he asked cussion of great questions in history and no explanations. Soon, however, the question philosophy, to which European movements rose, –- Could what he had heard be true? No! seemed to give an immediate practical inhis father did not believe it; people did not believe terest,--were sufficient, independently of it! It was not true! He felt that he had been the direct studies of the place, to afford an trifled with; that the preacher had deceived him; invaluable discipline to a mind like Chanand from that time he became inclined to distrust everything, oratorical, and to measure exactly the ping?s. The direction of his nature, now meaning of words; he had received a profound left free, carly declared itself; as the follesson on the worth of sincerity.”-I. 32. lowing confession which he had afterwards

the courage to make, will sufficiently ex- fected him. Hutcheson, Butler and Price plain :

echoed this personal feeling ; Ferguson ap

plied it to Society: and these authors pow“ The two authors who most served to guide erfully influenced him. But nothing is his thoughts at this time, were Hutcheson and Ferguson. It was while reading, one day, in the trace apparent in him of all bis other

more striking than the exceedingly slight asserts man's capacity for disinterested affection, reading, not only at College, but during and considers virtue as the sacrifice of private in his whole subsequent period of study. He terests and the bearing of private evils for the is said to have made himself familiar with public good, or as self-devotion to absolute uni. Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Reid, Hartley, versal good, that there suddenly burst upon his Priestley, and Stewart. Of these writers it mind that view of the dignity of human nature, is just conceivable that Locke, Reid, and which was ever after to uphold and cherish” him; Stewart, might pass before a mind of sound and thenceforth to be the fountain light of all his day, the master light of all his seeing. He was, capacity with no other result than that of at the time, walking as he read, beneath a clump tranquil and inconspicuous instruction. of willows yet standing in the meadow a little But that the startling paradox of Berkeley, north of Judge Dana's. This was his favorite re. the cruel ease of Hume's sport with hightreat for study, being then quite undisturbed and est truth, the relentless mechanism of private, and offering a most serene and cheerful Hartley's philosophy, should create no agiriver to the Brookline hills. The place and the tation, and constitute no era, for a clear hour were always sacred in his memory, and be and earnest mind, is just matter of astonishfrequently referred to them with grateful awe. It ment. These authors usually shake the seemed to him that he then passed ihrough a new whole fabric of the young philosopher's spiritual birth, and entered upon the day of eternal world. The questions which they stir, and peace and joy.”

the element of thought in which they move, “The glory of the Divine disinterestedness, the lie so deep, that the ultimate bases of beprivilege of existing in a universe of progressive lief heave and tremble at their power ; nor order and beauty, the possibilities of spiritual des. tiny, the sublimity of devotedness to the will of

is it easy to conceive how stability should Infinite Love, penetrated his soul; and he was so be restored, without many a vestige of inborne away in rapturous visions, that, to quote ternal strife subdued. In Channing, howhis own words, as epoken to a friend in Jater ever, no reader would suspect more than years, I longed to die, and felt that if heaven the most ordinary and hearsay acquaintance alone could give room for the exercise of such with the works of these great thinkers : and emotions; but when I found I must live, I cast about to do something worthy of these great confines of the two spheres of thought

you would say that if ever he crossed the thoughts ; and my enthusiasm at that age, being which they divide, he must have been carthen but fifteen, turning strongly to the female sex, I considered that they were the powers which ried blindfold or aslcep. Ti

same apparuled the world, and that if they would bestow rent inoperativeness may be observed in his their favor on the right cause only, and never be historical and classical pursuits. They rediverted by caprice, all would be fitly arranged, sulted in no scholarship or critical skill, and triumph was sure. which unfolded itself with great rapidity and in though sufficiently extensive to have left many bearings, I sat down and wrote to this most perceptible effects of this kind on an lady, laying his hand on his wile’s arm, who was

understanding differently constituted. The listening by his side, -'But I never got courage truth is, we imagine, that the intensity of to send the letter, and have it yet.'”– 1. 62.

the moral sentiment within him absorbed

every thing into itself; and made his reThis outburst of enthusiasm, awakened flective activity wholly predominant over by the writings of Hatcheson, lets us at the apprehensive ; and determined it in once into the secret of his moral doctrine, one invariable direction. He meditated and leaves no room for surprise that he al- where others would have learned; and the ways felt an unconquerable aversion for the materials of his knowledge disappeared, as Utilitarian Ethics. The point of depar- fast as they were given, in the large geneture for his whole philosophy was his own ralizations of his faith. His mind thus grew, unresolved and, as he believed, irresolvable while his attainments made no show; and moral consciousness; the intensity of which while he missed the praise of learning, he was the determining cause of his character won an affluence of wisdom. Now and istic beliefs and experience. Only in so far then we meet with a mind presenting the as they addressed themselves to this, do direct antithesis to this; in which acquisibooks or events appear to have sensibly af- tion takes place by external accretion,

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rather than internal fusion ; and immense | South, the political sympathy, prevailed; stores of producible erudition are accumu- carrying with it, in each case, a distinctive lated, without the least progress or change system of opinions as to internal affairs as in the nature of the possessor. It is a well as foreign relations. Considerable inmarvellous phenomenon,-a man assiduous- roads were made upon Channing's Federalist ly sweating in the richest mines of knowledge prejudices at this time. Without losing yet with utmost success, remaining poor as his abhorrence of “ French principles,” he before ; and, with whole histories, philoso did not suffer them to weaken his confiphies, archæologies in his head, being still dence in the great experiment of self-goas puerile in conception, as narrow in reason, vernment; and he condemned the Alien as sterile in affection, as if he had never and Sedition Laws as acts of arbitrary and had contact with foreign speech and an- unworthy fear. The impressions, however, of cient wisdom. These two appearances,--delight in the society of Richmond, under of a mind growing greater without visible which this change was wrought, do not apacquisition; and of one remaining small pear to have been lasting. Kindly and under infinite accessions,—are alike curious grateful words indeed drop from him still. to the thoughtful observer of mankind. But he saw beneath the gloss of fashiona

To the happy and generous College pe- ble manners, and was often shocked by riod succeeded two years, the record of what he found. He felt the constant which fills us with unspeakable sadness. presence of slavery, and was sickened by He went, under the name of tutor, to reside its corruptions. He discovered the univeron the estate of Mr. Randolph, of Rich- sal prevalence of irreligion, and the conmond, Virginia. He had the charge of sequent ascendency of low aims and sordid twelve boys, to whom he devoted the great- ambition. He met with no response to his er part of the day. The remaining hours own pure tastes and aspirations. He withleft to his own disposal, were differently drew almost wholly into his remote study, used by him at different periods of his stay. and limited himself to the companionship At first, under the attraction of a new po- of his books. These silent associates affordsition and with his fresh confiding spirit ed an inadequate check to the inordinate still unchecked, he seems to have enjoyed activity of his own emotions; and he lapsed the society frequenting the planter's hospi- into an ascetic enthusiasm : the pinch of table table; to have acknowledged the poverty and the resolve of Stoicism conspircharm of the free and genial manners ed to lay bin low, and fasten to him the characteristic of the South ; and to have chain of incurable infirmity. He denied been pleasantly roused by the democratic himself his needful food: he slept upon the politics of the place, to reconsider the floor: he made the clothes already threadFederalist opinions he had brought from bare in the summer, serve amid the winter New England. The collision between his winds. In his recoil from the careless own prepossessious and the sentiments world around him, and his passionate aspiwhich he heard advocated in the debates of ration after perfection, he retired further the Virginian legislature, gave the final into himself. As his body became enform to his political convictions. The feebled, and his mind dizzy with its own French Revolution, in its operation on intensity, study passed into meditation ; American society, awakened two opposite meditation, into revery; and revery, into tendencies. To the citizens of the young the sorrows of self-reproach. He rose into confederation it was flattering that their ex- a delusion which is peculiar to lofty minds, ample should be so speedily followed, and and presents the paradox of excessive selfa Republic be constituted by the inost knowledge overbalancing itself into self-igpolished nation of the European conti- norance. Consumed by wasting fires of nent; and the resemblance in the fates of emotion, he charged himself with utter apathe two countries seemed to prescribe alli- thy, and burst into tears of humiliation. ance between the Governments. To the He had gazed at the burning focus of his descendants of the Pilgrim-fathers however, nature, till he was blind; and then shudderthe impudent atheism of France was pecu-ed to think how dark it looked within. In liarly offensive ; and so degraded by its al truth, it is given to no man to estimate the liance the sacred doctrine of the Rights of quantities of his nature: only into its man, that they were anxious to keep dis- qualities does God permit him to have intinct the basis of their own liberties. In sight. Good and evil affections belong to the North, this religious apathy; in the the whole family of minds, and are just


objects of accurate discrimination. But to I ever struggled with my whole soul for purity, gauge the temperature of spirits is a task truth and goodness, it was there. There, amidst beyond us; for there is no common mea

sore trials, the great question, I trust, was settled sure to furnish a true scale; and the freez- lower principles of my nature,—whether I would

within me, whether I would obey the higher or ing-point of angels may be a white heat to be the victim of passion, the world, or the free

In a leiter to a College friend, writ- child and servant of God. It is an interesting reten at this time, Channing says:

collection, that this great conflict was going on

within me, and that my mind was then receiving “ I sit down to write to you, to disburden a full its impulse towards the perfect, without a thought heart, and cheer a heavy hour. It is spring time, or suspicion of one person around me as to what I and a universal languor has seized on me. Not was experiencing. And is not this the case conlong ago I was an eagle. I had built my nest tinually? The greatest work on earth is going on among the stars, and I soared in regions of un near us, perhaps under our roof, and we know it clouded ether. But I fell from heaven, and the not. In a licentious, intemperate city, one spirit at spirit which once animated me has fled. I have least was preparing, in silence and loneliness, to lost every energy of soul, and the only relic of toil not wholly in vain, for truth and holiness.” – your friend is a sickly imagination, a severed sen. I. 130. sibility. I cannot study. I walk and muse till I can walk no longer.”-1. 107.

A slight personal anecdote presents the

young school-master to us in an aspect very And again, to the same correspondent : distinct and characteristic: “ You told me, some time ago, that you had “ In after years,” says his biographer,

- he broken off the habit of musing. I wish I could thought himself at this time too strici a disciplina. say the same. You cannot conceive how mirch rian. But he may have found a display of of my time, especially at this season, is thrown decision more necessary from his youth and away in pursuing the phantoms of a disordered smallness of size, of which an amusing illustraimagination. Musing wears away my body and tion is given in the following anecdote related by my mind. I walk without attending to the dis himself. An old colored woman came into the tance. Sometimes joy gives me wings, or else, school to complain of some of the boys who hau. absorbed in melancholy, I drag one foot heavily damaged her garden, broken her fence, and torn after the other for whole hours together. I try to up her flowers, making loud complaint, and wantread, but I only repeat words, without receivinging to see the master. When he presented himan idea from them. Do give me a recipe for self, she surveyed him for a moment, and said, -curing this disorder.”—I. 104.

You de massa ! you little ting, you can't lick

'em; dey put you out de window?' He assured It is the character of these periods of her, however, that the boys should be corrected, sadness, that to those who pass through and that she should be satisfied for her loss, them with fidelity, their true nature does remarking, . Poor mamma! she knows of no way not permanently remain hidden. When of discipline but the lash.'”_ I. 96. from a point of riper wisdom Dr. Channing looked back upon this time, he was aware

The humane dignity of this remark, inof its real significance, and saw its shadow stantly restoring the threatened balance of of death turned into morning. In 1842 he authority, and diverting ridicule into comwrote to a friend :

passion, impresses us with a sense of


ine greatness. “ Your account of Richmond was very interest

His study of Christianity, in its evidences ing. You little suspected how many remem- and structure, completely revealed to him brances your letter was to awaken in me. I spent at this time what he was made for ; and his a year and a half there, and perhaps the most consecration to the ministry was no longer eventful of my life. I lived alone, too poor to buy doubtful. The first impressions produced books, spending my days and nights in an outbuilding, with no one beneath my roof except before the Scriptures, are very indicative

upon his mind, when it was fairly laid open during the hours of school-keeping. There I toiled as I have never done since, for gradually my of his predominant tendencies. The disa constitution sank under the unremiting exertion cipline of his Calvinistic education might With not a human being to whom I could commu- have been expected to fix his attention nicate my deepest thoughts and feelings, and upon the dogmatic element in the sacred shrinking from common society, I passed through writings. But in the record which he sends intellectual and moral conflicts ihrough excitements to his friend Shaw, it is the severe purity, of heart and mind, so absorbing as often to banish the sublime humility, the divine affectionsleep, and to destroy almost wholly the digestion. I was worn well nigh 10 a skeleton. ateness, of the Christian model and preYet I look back on those days and nights of lone. cepts, on which alone he dwells, as if he liness and frequent gloom with thankfulness. I stood in awe before a new discovery: and

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