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their proceedings, and affords an obvious reason why they should be in so many respects like our own. If I dismiss from my creed the existence of inert matter, I lose nothing. The phenomena, the train of antecedents and consequents, remain as before ; and this is all that I am truly concerned with. But take away the existence of my fellow-men; and you reduce all that is, and all that I experience, to a senseless mummery.
You take my life, taking the thing whereon I live.”. 447 – 449.
The notices of the author's own life and studies are not so numerous nor so interesting, as we were led to expect from the title-page. The following passage is among the most valuable, as it helps to explain the early bias which his mind appears to have taken towards skepticism and paradox.
• One of the earliest passions of my mind was the love of truth and sound opinion. Why should I,” such was the language of my solitary meditations, “because I was born in a certain degree of latitude, in a certain century, in a country where certain institutions prevail, and of parents professing a certain faith, take it for granted that all this is right ? - This is matter of accident. “ Time and chance happeneth to all :" and I, the thinking principle within me, might, if such had been the order of events, have been born under circumstances the very reverse of those under which I was born. I will not, if I can help it, be the creature of accident; I will not, like a shuttle-cock, be at the disposal of every impulse that is given me." I felt a certain disdain for the being thus directed; I could not endure the idea of being made a fool of, and of taking every ignis fatuus for a guide, and every stray notion, the meteor of the day, for everlasting truth. I am the person, spoken of in a preceding Essay, who early said to Truth, “Go on : whithersoever thou leadest, I am prepared to follow.”
During my college-life therefore, I read all sorts of books, on every side of any important question, or that were thrown in my way, that I could hear of. But the very passion that determined me to this mode of proceeding, made me wary and circumspect in coming to a conclusion. I knew that it would, if any thing, be a more censurable and contemptible act, to yield to every seducing novelty, than to adhere obstinately to a prejudice because it had been instilled into me in youth. I was therefore slow of conviction, and by no means given to change." I never willingly parted with a suggestion that was unexpectedly furnished to me; but I examined it again and again, before I consented that it should enter into the set of my principles.
In proportion however as I became acquainted with truth, or what appeared to me to be truth, I was like what I have read of Melancthon, who, when he was first converted to the tenets of Luther, became eager to go into all companies, that he might make them partakers of the same inestimable treasures, and set before them evidence that was to him irresisti
- pp. 333 - 335. There are but too many indelible traces in the work before us of the degrading views of the human soul, and man's prospects, which had their origin in French philosophy, and the French Revolution. We rejoice, however, in occasional indications, like the following, of irrepressible aspirations after something better and holier.
“Man is a godlike being. We launch ourselves in conceit into illimitable space, and take up our rest beyond the fixed stars. We proceed without impediment from country to country, and from century to century, through all the ages of the past, and through the vast creation of the imaginable future. We spurn at the bounds of time and space ; nor would the thought be less futile that imagines to imprison the mind within the limits of the body, than the attempt of the booby clown who is said within a thick hedge to have plotted to shut in the flight of an eagle.
We never find our attention called to any particular part or member of the body, except when there is somewhat amiss in that part or member. And, in like manner as we do not think of any one part or member in particular, so neither do we consider our entire microcosm and frame. The body is apprehended as no more important and of intimate connexion to a man engaged in a train of reflections, than the house or apartment in which he dwells. The mind may aptly be described under the denomination of the “stranger at home.” – pp. 9, 10. • Hence it is that unenlightened man, in almost all ages
and countries, has been induced, independently of divine revelation, to regard death, the most awful event to which we are subject, as not being the termination of his existence. We see the body of our friend become insensible, and remain without motion, or any external indication of what we call life. We can shut it up in an apartment, and visit it from day to day. If we had perseverance enough, and could so far conquer the repugnance and humiliating feeling with which the experiment would be attended, we might follow step by step the process of decomposition and putrefaction, and observe by what degrees the “ dust returned unto earth as it was." But, in spite of this demonstration of the senses, man still believes that there is something in him that lives after death. The mind is so infinitely superior in character to this case of flesh that incloses it, that he cannot persuade himself that it and the body perish together.” — pp. 14, 15.
We note with increasing interest the appearance of passages like these in the writings of professed skeptics and infidels. The coarse and bald atheism, which was once affected by minds from whom better things might have been expected, has lost the attraction which it derived for a time from novelty, and from being associated with courage and daring, and a spirit of resistance to tyrannical impositions. The consequence will be, the consequence has been, that enlightened men, the friends of humanity and freedom, every where are coming to look on the wretched delusion with unmixed disgust and horror. Atheism, from being almost exclusively a disease of enthusiastic and cultivated minds, has become almost exclusively the disease of ignorant and base minds. It may show itself in the lower classes, but it has been abandoned by the higher; it is ignorance and conceit tricking themselves in the miserable sophistries which the philosophy that invented them has long since discarded.
ART. X. — Remains of the Rev. EDMUND D. GRIFFIN, com
piled by FRANCIS GRIFFIN : with a Biographical Memoir of the Deceased, by the Rev. John M VICKAR, D.D., Professor of Moral Philosophy, &c., in Columbia College. In 2 volumes. New York. 1831. pp. 456 and 466.
We know nothing of Mr. Griffin but from the work before us. Every thing that is here presented to us is presented for the first time. The fine head, that fronts the title-page, is one that revives no recollections in our minds. We had never even heard the name of the original. Nor is this singular, He lived at a distance from us, and died young. He had but just entered into the public duties, which his talents and zeal had made various, when he was suddenly taken away from them all. But sympathy has something electric about it that disregards distance, and perhaps there is more pleasure in introducing the merits of an accomplished stranger into our own circle, than in recommending to others a familiar friend. It is from this impulse that we are led to speak of these vol
Mr. Griffin appears to be one of that beautiful company, which we are always at a loss whether to call a small or a numerous one. It is composed of the richly gifted and early lost. It is small, if we consider only the names of those, who have made themselves an after-life in the remembrance of mankind. That must of course be small. The eminent must always be few. Such is the necessity of things, at least in this world of relations. But the class is numerous, if we count it according to the strength of our own attachments, imaginations, and expectancies, — the many fond regrets that are sure to accompany the departure of what we gloried and trusted in, and the many brilliant and reasonably cherished hopes, that it pleases God often to destroy. It is a sentiment deeply fixed in our nature, that what is prematurely excellent is not destined to last. The sentiment is almost as old as human records, yet as tender as the wounded heart under its latest bereavement. It is written among the precepts of religious consolation, and heard among the daily complaints of human disappointment. Whom the Gods love die young,' said a Greek poet of unknown antiquity. Another writer, equally unknown, but of far worthier and holier celebrity, has repeated the same thing: 'He pleased God and was beloved of him, so that he was translated ;— yea, speedily was he taken away. We are reminded of these two sayings, one of Gentile and the other of Jewish origin, showing that the root of both is in our common humanity, - by the appearance of these volumes. We believe that the spirit which speaks in them is one, with which those sayings have a close connexion and prophecy. We are ready to acknowledge it as possessed of rare endowments, and to utter our lament over what appears to our imperfect sight its untimely departure. We respect the feelings, that have prompted those who were most familiar with it while it was here, to raise this monument to it now that it is gone; - not of lifeless marbles or senseless shrubbery, but of those more durable materials, its own affections and thoughts. We honor the
pious wish to spread the knowledge of an accomplished son and brother beyond the limits of his immediate sphere of activity and love, and thus give a wider celebrity to a cherished
The · Biographical Memoir,' with which the volumes begin, is an uncommonly interesting sketch of its subject. It was prepared by a gentleman, who witnessed and enjoyed the extraordinary promise which he gave in his school days, by the quickness of his abilities, the purity of his character, and his persevering zeal; and it cannot well be read by any young man, without inspiring the love at least, if not the emulation, of kindred excellencies. It is indeed a lovely picture of an ambitious but ingenuous youth, who never disappointed his friends but when he died, and whose filial duty and fraternal affection render doubly appropriate the tribute, that this work is meant to pay to his memory.
The principal and much the most agreeable part of these Remains,' is a tour through Italy and Switzerland, in the year 1829. It is written in a free and animated manner, not entering into tedious details, but presenting what chiefly engaged the mind of the traveller, distinctly to the reader. They who have been ramblers, like him, over those lands of enchantment, where nature has lavished all her majesty and beauty, and art exhibits its most splendid marvels, and the soul is made to overflow with sentiments and reflections, such as can be felt in their fulness nowhere besides, will take pleasure in retracing their steps with so intelligent and enthusiastic a companion. While they, who can visit the objects and scenes that are most eagerly sought abroad, only through the relations of another as they sit at home, and whose fancy must supply the place of the returned voyager's recollections, will scarcely find any where so much information so briefly and feelingly conveyed, as in this unpretending but spirited journal. The next considerable portion of the work is made up
of fragments from a course of Lectures on Roman, Italian, and English literature. These lectures were composed at a call wholly unexpected, immediately after his arrival from Europe, and delivered from the chair of the Rev. Professor M Vickar, in Columbia College. They continued,' says his biographer, 'through the months of May and June, being prepared, written out, and delivered, almost it may be said at