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undervalue this order of mind. It often rises to great dignity and usefulness in its own sphere. It is that which civilized life calls oftenest into action, and exists in far the largest proportion. Works of talent are, not rarely, the prime favorites of their age. Now when our inferior faculties are brought under the influence of works of this order, they are in their proper school of cultivation. It is not merely that their own perceptions and judgments are so much increased by thus drawing in the stores of others. There is an increase of power—an awakening of mind, in accordance with superior mind, as a musical string set in motion, excites like vibrations in another.
But we see, again, another class of works of a character exactly opposite, produced by men of a higher order of mind. -emphatically men of genius. Not alone out of notions and judgments made on the experience of sense, collected originally or by others, but out of ideas, welling up from the depths of his own mind, does the man of genius fill the cup which he offers to the like-minded reader. Ideas, which present in dim features a view of entire wholes, and which excite the desire, with a sense of the power, to bring out those features into light, "flash upon his inward eye." In the process of realizing his master-idea, all related facts or judgments which experience of the senses may have furnished are brought into use; but after a peculiar manner. They are not merely arranged, as by the man of talent, in an arbitrary, convenient order, but are dissolved, reunited, moulded, and disposed by the law in the power, whereof the original idea is developing itself. They are the straws and floating fragments on the mighty stream. Thus does the man of genius possess the whole, potentially, and feel that he does, before he begins his work of detail, while the man of mere talent builds up his work, piece by piece, and knows nothing of the whole until it stands completed before the eye, destitute of a governing principle of unity.
Now we claim, that some kindred exists between the creative powers of genius, and that part of our mind to which religion peculiarly appeals and which it calls into action. We can indicate it however, only in general terms. As genius draws from its resources within, and refers for the truth of its creations to a standard far above the authority of sense, so we have seen our higher faculties turned in the same direction-acting under the same law. Genius has its ideas of beauty seated originally in the mind along with those of truth and right, which are the law of religion. Evidently, then, genius is simply the exertion of a part of the same higher powers to produce the creations of But as evidently as there is a sympathy between our
higher moral faculties and genius, so there is none in reference to mere talent. If, therefore, either of these two orders of mind is to be made an instrument in religious cultivation, it must be the former.
But now the question arises, how far the cultivation which the study of works of genius may effect, is moral-how far it has a tendency to make wide the paths and enlarge the circuit of operation for the central principle of religion-how far it adds grace and beauty to "her heavenly steps as she walks." Before proceeding to our answer, we must again remind our readers, that the process of all genial cultivation through the influence of mind upon mind, is not simply to furnish facts, or judgments, or images, but to call powers into new life and action
-like powers with those which are exerted upon us; so that the mind of talent and of genius respectively bring our own minds to a degree of likeness with themselves. It would therefore seem to be proper to set forth separately some of those characteristics and habits of the mind of genius, which appear to us to minister to religion, and which, when awakened to some degree in the like-minded reader, tend to produce the cultivation in question. To execute this plan, however, without needless perplexity, we must remember that the circuit of genius is unlim'ited. It has wrought, and continues to work, enduring monuments in every department-in the fine arts, in the sciences, in eloquence, in poetry. The characteristics of genius, and the modes in which it may produce a moral effect, exist therefore in great variety. Means are thus provided for affecting all the various classes of mind, of which there are so many- from those whose sympathies with works of genius are slight and limited, to those who are at home in the whole region of creative art, and can almost walk over it themselves as masters. But should we take each department by itself, with the order of mind to which it is especially fitted, and show the mode in which each may produce its moral effect, we should fall into very needless detail. Could we show the moral qualities and influences of genius in any one department, in reference to its proper class of mind, it would be sufficient for our purpose. It is, indeed desirable, that the reader should traverse the whole field for himself, that he may adequately conceive the extent and degree, as well as the kind, of the cultivation in question. We select simply, genius, as exhibited in the creations of poetry; and proceed now to show, in some of what various ways, it may affect the mind favorably to the influences of religion.
1. The attributes of poetical genius which occur most obviously are fancy and imagination. The cultivation of these
powers in our own minds, seems to us to have its value at least amongst the prudentials of religion. It may have some share in removing difficulties which lie in the way of minds of certain order, and detract much from the liveliness of their faith and hope. It will be remembered that we have described that part of our mind which is kindred with talent, as deriving its knowledge through the senses. Those in whom these faculties predominate by nature, or through exclusive cultivation, being enabled and accustomed to deal mostly with the external and the proximate, are often perplexed by an inability to make many of the higher truths of religion seem real. They are too remote from the world of every-day experience. Oftentimesin spite of their sincerity-when the invisible world, a future state of being, divinity made manifest in the flesh, and similar subjects are presented to them-when they strive to bring them home to their bosoms-they are bewildered; they feel as if in the region of dreams; their fancy is bound down to earth in the chains of sense. How much this difficulty must take from the liveliness and clearness of their views-how much encouragement is lost, when the light of knowledge is thus (in any degree) withdrawn from their path, is obvious to
But this difficulty consists in a want of that which the poet so eminently possesses, and which, by communion with him, may be in some degree awakened in our own minds. The remoteness of such facts from the experience of daily life presents no difficulties to him. He can feel them to be real. For he can easily soar on the wings of fancy into the most ethereal regions, and there dwell, whilst we might (without his assistance) wave our feeble pinions in vain to take the same flight. We may, therefore, justly consider it a part of religious prudence to place our fancy under such influence. When we have learned to follow with ease the steps of the poet through the high regions of his creative phantasy, we may find ourselves able to contemplate with a stronger sense of reality the invisible world which revelation makes known to us. Our own experience encourages us to appeal to that of some, at least, of our readers, whether they have not felt with uncommon liveliness, the reality of all truths concerning the invisible world, when their minds have been awakened by communion with works of elevated poetry.
2. A second attribute of the poet, which we should claim as bearing a part in the cultivation connected with religion, is his taste. There is no power which (it is universally admitted)
owes more to cultivation. It will not, therefore, be doubted but that it may be awakened, guided, and matured in our minds, by fervent communion with the mind of the poet. We consider it (properly understood) to be a noble element in the mind of the Christian,-an important means of extending the action of the all-pervading principle of religion. For it consists essentially in a perception of the beautiful. In the poet, especially, it is far from being a cold, superficial skill; it is founded in exquisite sensibility, and it is directed towards the discovery of the beauty, and sweetness, and kindliness, that are in the world, and the conveying a sense of them to others. It cannot, therefore, be awakened into a genial existence in our own minds, without imparting a not unwelcome grace to the manifestations of the holy principle within. Contrasted with the repulsive coarseness which dishonors religion in some-which would represent Christianity as the scorner of all that is refined, how touching-how winning, is piety felt to be, when exhibited in the deportment and arrangements of the man of genuine, sanctified taste! How sweet and catholic does the spirit of such a man show! How are his devotional feelings quickened by his delicate perception of those ever-varying beauties with which God has decked our temporary sojourn!
It is not a part of cultivation unimportant to the Christian, which he may attain by imbibing (in so far) the spirit of those rare men, in whom the power of perceiving and creating the beautiful exists in such perfection, both for the multiplied means of feeding the spirit within, and the more fitting and attractive modes in which it may be manifested.
3. We claim for the poet, again, another attribute, to be made ours, in part, by communion with him; which concerns a feature in the cultivation in question much more closely connected with the spiritual life. We believe that a peculiarly profound insight into our moral nature is an essential element of poetic genius. Of this living, aspiring, enjoying, and suffering humanity, we believe the poet to possess a peculiarly fresh and intimate knowledge. He utters the secrets of the human heart, and we acknowledge them to be true. Indeed, we turn to the authority of the profounder poets-to Shakspeare for instance for the truth concerning our common nature, with far greater confidence than to our own knowledge. It is, doubtless, because the poet has the strong characters of humanity more deeply engraven in his constitution; and is likewise endowed with peculiar delicacy of perception in reference to them. He is thus withdrawn from the world without, by the
stronger calls of the world within; "his quiet eye broods and sleeps on his own heart;" and, learning to know himself, he knows our common humanity.
The fashion of the poet's knowledge of man may not satisfy the metaphysical analyst, but it is such as may well come in aid of the Christian. And should the observations which the poet may gather not be particularly suitable to his purpose, he will gladly acquire at least his introspective eye. He will use it to survey more heedfully the ruin and disorder of nature within, on which the plan of redemption is based, and in portion to his abiding sense whereof, will be the constancy of his walking by faith. As by self-examination he notes simply his own particular daily lapses, so by this habit he likewise observes the phenomena of his secret nature, and gains thereby a more enlarged self-knowledge, and a wider basis for studying the character of others. We doubt not that there are many whose own experience will testify to the religious worth of the cultivation derived from communion with the mind of the poet in this respect.
4. Another characteristic of the poet, which appears to us to be founded chiefly on those which we have been contemplating, is-if not a disposition to belief-at least a freedom from the disposition to one kind of skepticism. For much of the lower degrees of skepticism seems to us to grow out of an incapacity to grapple with subjects which, in any degree call in the help of the imagination or fancy-which appeal to that sensibility to the beautiful and the sublime, which is a prominent element in the mind of true taste, and which can be adequately felt only by a heart conscious of its own deranged nature. With such tendency to doubt, and its causes, we should now have nothing to do were it not that it is found, in some degree, in the minds of many religious persons. It shows itself in the habit of adopting the most superficial theories of religion; those which draw the least upon a belief in aught above sense. Thus we see men of sound belief (as they think) perpetually (yet perhaps unconsciously) striving to explain away whatever in the Scriptures is extraordinary or mysterious. But as is the knowledge so (to a great extent) is the life. The consequence is a piety imbued with legalism, wanting in deep spirituality. The fertilizing streams which would gladly spread themselves to refresh every part, are choked too near, alas! to the fountain. The reader will, we know, refer in his own mind to many facts which will confirm these views. He will reflect on the intellectual character of the occupations and professions, in which a tendency to infidelity has usually been noted; he will
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