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The Sea-Lions

Brownson's Quarterly Review, July, 1849

ART. VI. — Literary Notices and Criticisms

1.— The Sea-Lions: or the Lost Sealers. By FENIIUOUK COOPER. New York: Stringer & Townsend. 1849. 2 vols. 12mo.

THERE was a time when the organs, or pretended organs, of public opinion in this country were all united and loud in their praises of Cooper as the greatest novelist of the age, denominating him, with as little taste as judgment, the " American Scott" ; but for some years past they seem to have been almost equally united and loud in decrying him as a man, and in depreciating his merits as an author. lie has ventured to think and write as a freeborn American, to intimate that the American national character is not exactly perfect nor regarded as exactly perfect by European nations, and that there is room for improvement; he has even gone so far as to point out some of our faults, to tell us that good-breeding is not. necessarily incompatible with patriotism, that there is no necessary connection between ill-manners and democracy, and that a man may be a gentleman without ceasing to be a republican. In doing this be has given mortal offence to the two extremes of American society; — on the one hand, to the radicals, who are for levelling all distinctions, and making all equal, not only before God and the state, but before reason and fortune, in natural gifts and acquired possessions; and on the other, to our gutter aristocracy,*(footnote: * By gutter aristocracy, we do not mean those who have risen from a low origin or condition, and by their talents and worth attained to honorable distinction ; but those who have remained in the gutter, and become distinguished by the gold thoy have contrived to collect around them.) who, conscious of no inherent nobility, or intrinsic claims to notice or an honorable social position, wish to substitute artificial for natural diversities of social rank and condition, and have them supported by some legal recognition or sanction. But, in all this, it may be that he deserves praise rather than censure, and that we should do better to understand and follow his counsels than to be angry with him for having given them.

Mr. Cooper's taste in some minor matters may, now and then, be questioned; his tone is sometimes arrogant, and his manner apparently egotistical; and it must be admitted that he tells us our faults, without much consideration for self-love, or regard to personal vanity, in a downright, earnest manner, that is sometimes harsh, and seldom politic. But he is a genuine patriot, keenly alive to the honor of his country, and willing to do all that man can do to raise her to that genuine prosperity every good man wishes for her, and to that high character in the estimation of the civilized world, to which she would be entitled if true to her own noble political institutions. His aims are just and honorable, and we have yet to learn that he has misapprehended the national character of his countrymen, or laid to their charge a single fault of which they are not guilty; and, severe as is his Home as Found, it is a book which every American citizen would do well, for some time to come at least, to read and meditate as often as once in every three months.

When Mr. Cooper went abroad, some years since, he carried with him a warm American heart, and an enthusiastic love of his country. He also, we should judge from his earlier writings, carried with him the false persuasion common to the groat body of his countrymen, that our national character stands high in the estimation of foreigners, and that to be an American citizen is everywhere an honorable distinction. But he was not long in discovering that this persuasion is merely the result of national ignorance and vanity, and that our country is nowhere out of itself regarded as standing even on the ordinary level of civilized nations. Abroad, our national character is held in low esteem, almost in contempt, and wo are looked upon as unprincipled, cunning, rapacious, — a nation of speculators and swindlers. The author of The Spy and The Pioneers could not endure this, and he sought to give lo Europeans a more just and favorable view of his country. To this end lie wrote and published his Notions of the Americans, picked up by a Travelling Bachelor. This work was the production of an enthusiastic American, who saw in his countrymen everything to admire, and nothing to censure. ' It over-praised us, but it was calculated to meet, and in some degree to soften, the prejudice imbibed against us. Its effect was considerable, and to its influence we may trace the more respectful and the more truthful tone in which subsequent European travellers have spoken of our character and institutions. For this work, faulty as it was, he should have received the thanks of ihe American people, for it was written and published not without hazard to hig European reputation. But, unhappily, his services in defence of the character of his country were far from being duly appreciated by his countrymen, and it was not long before his generous defence abroad of republicanism called forth bitter denunciations against him at home. Instead of corroborating the truth of what he ventured to assert by uniting as Americans to support him, the American press assailed him and did all in their power to confirm the despisers of our national character in the opinion they had previously formed of it. If, then, he has felt wounded, if he has shown some bitterness of feeling towards his assailants, if he has used little ceremony in telling them of their characteristic faults, and told them some unpalatable truths in a tone somewhat lofty, and in terms somewhat blunt, he has had sufficient provocation, and they have no right to complain. Indeed, they ought to congratulate themselves that he has not been more severe, and less discriminating in his censures. The editors who assail him, whether as a man or as an author, would show more good sense, if they would receive with meekness the wise admonitions and merited rebukes he has given them, and endeavour to improve their tempers, correct their principles, and cease to use their means of influence to debase their countrymen and ruin their country.

Mr. Cooper is an earnest-minded man, and, though a novelist, he is no trifler. Through all his works there runs a serious aim. In some of his earlier novels there is, perhaps, a little too much leaning towards the religion of nature, and not so deep a feeling of the importance and necessity of revealed religion as we could wish ; in his series of novels the scenes of which he lays in Europe, there may, perhaps, be detected certain radical and socialistic tendencies which are to be regretted ; but he is never really lax in his morals, never prurient in his fancies; we remember no sentence in all he has written that could raise a blush on the cheek of modesty, and we recall no scene attractive to a libertine taste, or that can sully the chastest imagination. He never scoffs ; he is never irreverent; he never forgets that man is a moral being, accountable to his Maker for his thoughts, words, and deeds. This, as the times go, is high praise, and honorably distinguishes him from the herd of popular novelists and romancers. It gives him a claim to the love and gratitude of all pure-minded men and patriotic citizens.

We live so much out of the novel-reading world, that we do not know how the work before us, Mr. Cooper's latest publication, has been received ; hut, for ourselves, we think it the very best of his novels. It is equal in power and interest to his most popular works, and superior to them in its deep religious feeling and high moral tendency. We have found very little in it to which we can object, and very much that, under a moral and religious point of view, we can commend.    The author is not a Catholic, but it would be difficult for us to select a so-called Catholic novel which contains less than is repugnant to Catholic faith and morals. The Sea-Lions is as far superior in this respect to Pauline Seward, for instance, as it is in creative genius and literary execution ; and abating a few expressions, which are merely incidental, we could give it an honorable place in what we call "Catholic secular literature." Its great design is to illustrate the doctrine of Divine Providence, to show the worthlcssncss and danger of talent, energy, and perseverance in the pursuit of wealth for its own sake, and to urge the importance, in all the relations of life, of accepting and conforming to the great truths of the Gospel, even though they are mysteries, and tend to humble the pride of reason. No recondite moral this, wo grant,— nothing more than is encountered at the very threshold of the Christian religion,— but of the highest importance to be insisted upon in these days of philosophy, rationalism, and worldly-minded-ness, and which no popular author can now insist upon without hazarding, in some degree, his literary reputation. The author has done no more than liis duty, but we live in an age and country when we feel bound to be grateful to the man who will do even that, or, in fact, even do it only in part.
The execution of the work is superior to that which we ordinarily meet with in Cooper's novels. There is no straining for effect; the tone is subdued, and the manner is marked by that repose, the characteristic of strength, which we seldom meet with in our American authors. The characters are happily conceived and well sustained throughout, ltoswell Gardiner is, indeed, nothing new, but Deacon Pratt, his niece Mary, and Captain Daggett of the Vineyard, are characters which Cooper has not before given us, and are in their way as original, as truthfully and as delicately drawn, as the character of the Leatherstocking himself.

We extract the following on deacons in general, and Deacon Pratt in particular : —

" There live two great species of de;icons ; for we suppose they must all be referred to the same genera. One species belong to ihe priesthood, and become priests and bishops ; passing away, as priests and bishops are apt to do, with more or less of the savour of godliness. The other species are purely laymen, and are sni generis. They are, ex officio, the most pious men in a neighbourhood, as they sometimes are, as it would seem to us, ex officio, also the most grasping and mercenary. As we are not in the secrets of the sects to which these lay deacons belong, we shall not presume to pronounce whether the individual is elevated to the deaconate because he is prosperous in a worldly sense, or whether the prosperity is a consequence of the deaconate; but that the two usually go together is quite certain ; which being ttic cause, and which the effect, we leave to wiser heads"to determine.

" Deacon Pratt was no exception to the rule. A tighter-fisted sinner did not exist in the county than this pious soul, who certainly not. only wore, but wore out, the 'form of godliness,' while lie was devoted, heart and hand, to the daily increase of worldly gear. No one spoke disparagingly of the deacon, notwithstanding. So completely had lie got to bo interwoven with the church — 'meeting,' we ought to say — in tlutt vicinity, that speaking disparagingly of him would have appeared like assailing Christianity. It is true, that many an unfortunate fellow-ciiizen in Suffolk hud been made to feel how close was the gripe of his hand, when he found himself in its grasp ; but there is a way of practising the most ruthless extortion, that serves not only to deceive the world, but which would really seem to mislead the extortioner himself. Phrases take the place of deeds, sentiments those of facts, and grimaces those of benevolent looks, so ingeniously und so impudently, that the wronged often fancy that they are the victims of a severe dispensation of Providence, when the truth would have shown that they were simply robbed.

" We do not mean, however, that Deacon Pratt was a robber. lie was merely a hard man in the management of his ail'airs ; never cheaiing, in a direct sense, but seldom conceding a cent to generous impulses, or to the duties of kind. He was a widower, and childless, — circumstances that rendered his love of gain still less pardonable ; for many a man, who is indifferent to money on his own account, will toil and save to lay up hoards for those who are to come alter him. The deacon had only a niece to inherit his effects, unless he might choose to step beyond that degree of consanguinity, and bestow a portion of his means on cousins. The church — or, to be more literal, the ' meeting ' — had an eye on his resources, however ; and it was whispered it had actually succeeded, by means known to itself, in squeezing out of his tight grasp no less a sum than one hundred dollars, us a donation to a certain theological college. It was conjectured by some persons that this was only the beginning of a religious liberality, and that the excellent and godly-minded deacon would bestow most of his property in a similar way, when the moment should come that it could he no longer of any use to himself. This opinion was much in favor with divers devout females of the deacon's congregation, who had daughters of their own, and who seldom failed to conclude their observations on this interesting subject with some such remark as, ' Well, in that case, and it seems to me that everything points that way, Mary Pratt will get no more than any other poor man's daughter.'

" Little did Mary, the only child of Israel Pratt, an elder brother of the deacon, think of all this. She had been left an orphan in her tenth year, both parents dying within a few months of each other, and had lived beneath her uncle's roof for nearly ten more years, until use, and natural affection, and the customs of the country had made her feel absolutely at. home there. A less interested or less selfish being than Mary Pratt never existed. In this respect she was the very antipodes of her uncle, who often stealthily rebuked her for her charities and acts of neighbourly kindness, which he was wont to term waste. But Mary kept the even tenor of her way, seemingly not hearing such remarks, and doing her duty quietly, and in all humility.

" Suffolk was settled originally by emigrants from New England, and the character of its people is, to this hour, of modified New England habits and notions. Now, one of the marked peculiarities of Connecticut is an indisposition to part with anything without a (jvid pro quo. Those little services, offerings, and conveniences, that are elsewhere parted with without a thought of remuneration, go regularly upon the day-book, and often reappear on a ' settlement,' years after they have been forgotten by those who received tlie favors. Even tho man who keeps a carriage will let it out for hire; and the manner in which money is accepted and even asked lor by persons in easy circumstances, and for things that would be gratuitous in the Middle States, often causes disappointment, and sometimes disgust. In this particular, Scottish and Swiss thrift, both notorious, and the latter particularly so, are nearly equalled by New England thrift; more especially in the close estimate of the value of services rendered. So marked, indeed, is this practice of looking for requitals, that even the language is infected with it, Thus, should a person pass a few months by invitation with a friend, his visit is termed ' boarding '; it being regarded as a matter of course that he pays his way. It would scarcely he safe, indeed, without the precaution of ' passing receipts' on quitting, for one to stay any time in a New England dwelling, unless prepared to pay for his board, The free and frank habits that prevail among relatives and friends elsewhere are nearly unknown there, every service having its price. These customs are exceedingly repugnant to all who have been educated in dillereut notions; yet are they not without their redeeming qualities, that might be pointed out to advantage, though our limits will not permit us, at this moment, so to do.

" Little did Mary Pratt suspect the truth; but habit, or covetousness, or some vaguo expectation that the girl might yet contract a marriage that would enable him to claim all his advances, had induced the deacon never to bestow a cent on her education, or dress, or pleasures of any sort, that the money was not regularly charged against her, in that nefarious work that he called his 'day-hook.' As for the self-respect, and the feelings of caste, which prevent a gentleman from practising any of these tradesmen's tricks, the deacon knew nothing of them, lie would have set the man down as a fool who deferred to any notions so unprofitable. With him, not only every man, but every thing ' had its price,' and usually it was a good price, too. At the very moment when our tale opens there stood charged in his book, against his unsuspecting and aflec-tionalc niece, items in the way of schooling, dress, board, and pocket-money, that amounted to the considerable sum of one thousand dollars, money fairly expended. The deacon was only intensely mean and avaricious, while he was as honest as the day. Not a cent was overcharged ; and to own tho truth, Mary was so great a favorite with him, that most of his charges against her were rather of a reasonable rate than otherwise."— Vol. i. pp. 10-11).

We must protest against the justice of the character here given to us New-Englanders, — a character far more applicable to those who go out from us than to those who remain at home, and to somo portions of Connecticut bordering on New York than to New England generally. It has very little truth when applied to Massachusetts, Vermont, Now Hampshire, or Maine, — States as remarkable for their hospitality, generosity, and liberal and manly sentiments, as they are for their industry, energy, and enterprise. The notions of the Yankee common jn tho Middle and Southern States are taken chiefly from Connecticut, — in fact, from Connecticut peddlers of tin-ware and wooden clocks, — and are as false when applied to the great body of the people of the New England States as when applied to the middle or western sections of the Union. People in the Slate of New York ought to know that Connecticut is not all of New England ; and any one who knows Connecticut knows very well that the peddlers are not a fair sample even of her population. The New England States have a great resemblance in their political and social institutions, and there is a general resemblance in the character and usages of the people of those States of which Boston is the metropolis. We say metropolis, {ox Boston has had, and still has, though it is fast losing it, a metropolitan character, — a character less provincial than any other city in the Union. But beneath all these general resemblances there are striking differences. The Connecticut man is as different from a Massachusetts man as a Pennsylvania!! is from a Marylander, and either of these is as different from a Vermonter as a New-Yorker is from a Kentuckian. We speak without prejudice, for, though we were born in Vermont, we were brought up in the Middle States, and it has been our lot to love the South, to reside in the West, and to find a home in old Massachusetts.
New England is behind the other sections of the Union in her agricultural resources, and she has been compelled to turn her attention to trade, commerce, and manufactures.    Are people are not, generally speaking, wealthy, and the great majority of her sons are obliged to start in life with little other capital than a good education, business capacity, and   habits  of industry; economy and frugality — thrift, if you will — have been inculcated from childhood as virtues, not for love of money as an end, but for the sake of independence.    That such a people should be to a great extent worldly-minded, that they should be shrewd   and successful business-men, was to be expected ; but we have yet to learn that New-Englanders, though perhaps more methodical and move successful in what is called getting on in the world, are more attached to money, or less scrupulous as to the means employed in obtaining it, than the  people of other sections of the Union.    As far as we have observed, they are less mean and tricky in money matters, move just and honorable in their business transactions, than the people of either the Middle or the Western States.    The traits of New England character, which Mr. Cooper brings out, are certainly to be detected here and there in New England, but they are not characteristic ; and the bigotry and sectarianism he so justly satirizes in nearly all his novels are less marked in New England than in New York or Pennsylvania.    We have very little Presbyterianism, the most odious of all the forms of Protestantism, and our Puritanism has been much softened by time.    The things which the author finds most frequent occasion to censure in his Homeward Hound, or Home as Found, are hardly known in New England.  
 His Aristabulus Brag, or  his model editor, Steadfast Dodge, Esq., might have been born in New England, but neither could have played the part he assigns him in any New England society. In New England there is more real equality than in any other section of the Union, and at the same time loss vulgar tenacity in asserting it. The social distinctions which grow legitimately out of a difference of cultivation, manners, and tastes are cheerfully recognized, and, in general, every one falls, without murmuring or heartburning, into his own rank, class, or set, where he is at home and can enjoy himself. In any part of New England, there is society in Mr. Cooper's sense of the word, because we have an old, permanent population, born where they live, and not a miscellaneous population, made up of strangers and adventurers from all parts of the country, and from every quarter of the globe. At least, such is as yet the fact, but how long it will be so in our principal towns we are unable to say. We think, however, that it will remain so, for what Mr. Cooper calls the " movers" go out from us, as not being of us; and few adventurers arc likely to come from other parts of the Union to settle, or even bivouac, among us.

Littleness, meanness, low cunning, legal honesty and moral dis-. honesty in money matters, may certainly be found in New England ; and we have quite too many Deacon Pratts and Captain Daggetts, we own ; but, relatively to the other sections of the Union, we have our full and more than our full share of high-minded and liberal men,— men of talents, cultivation, and manners, who are an honor to any country ; and nothing is more false than the common notions elsewhere entertained of the Yankee character. We challenge the world to produce a finer specimen of the gentleman than the well-bred and cultivated Bostonian. Bigotry we certainly have, as well us religious indifference, and fanaticism in regard to temperance and abolitionism has certainly seized a fraction of our population ; but at the same time these things find here their ablest and most energetic opponents, and there is not one of the Middle States in which public opinion interferes less despotically with individual freedom. So much, as not being a Bostonian, and hardly a Yankee, we have felt that we might say without impropriety, or subjecting ourselves to Mr. Cooper's charge of provincialism. To our own heart our country is one, and we dislike all these sectional divisions. We love our whole country, and mean to be true to it, " however bounded"; but we protest against the opinions in regard to New-Englanders which wo find in almost every American book written by men born in other parts of the Union,— not for the sake of New England, who needs no defence, but for the sake of her assailants.
We have been led farther than we intended in these remarks, which we have made less for Mr. Cooper than for some others. Wo return to the work before us. We have little room for extracts, but we must express our warm affection for Mary Pratt, a pure-minded and excellent girl, the very best female character in her walk in life Mr. Cooper has ever drawn. She has pure, deep, strong affection, and high, uncompromising religious principle. She loves Koswell Gardiner, but though her heart break she will not give him her hand as long as he remains a Unitarian, for she will not form the most intimate and sacred union which two human beings can form with one whose God is not her God. We cannot resist the temptation to extract the following, which we commend to those of our Catholic friends who see no harm in mixed marriages.
"The young sailor left the wharf at Sag Harbour about ten minutes after the deacon had preceded him, on his way to the schooner. As the wind was so light and so fair, be soon had his sheets in, and the boat gliding along at an easy rate, which permitted him to bestow nearly all his attention on his charming companion, llosvvell Gardiner had sought this occasion, that he might once more open bis heart to Mary, and urge his suit for the last time, previously to so long an absence. This he did in a manly, frank way, that was far from being unpleasant to his gentle listener, whose inclinations, for a few minutes, blinded her to the resolutions already made on principle. So urgent was her suitor, indeed, that she should solemnly plight her faith to him, ere he sailed, that a soft illusion came over the mind of one as affectionate as Mary, and she was half inclined to believe her previous determination was unjustifiable and obdurate. But the bead of one of her high principles, and clear views of duty, could not long be deceived by her heart, and she regained the self-command which had hitherto sustained hov in all her former trials, in connection with this subject.

" ' Perhaps it would have been bettor, Koswell,11 she said, ' bad I taken leave of you at the Harbour, and not incurred the risk of the pain that I foresee I shall both give and bear in our present discourse. I have concealed nothing from you ; possibly T have been more sincere than prudence would sanction. You know the only obstacle there is to our union; but that appears to increase in strength, the more I ask you to reflect on it, — to try to remove it.'
"'What would you have me do, Mary! Surely, not to play the hypocrite, and profess to believe that which I certainly do not, and which, after all my incp.iir.ies, I cannot believe.'

" ' I am sorry it is so, on every account,' returned Mary, in a low and saddened tone. ' Sorry, that one of so frank, ingenuous a mind should find it impossible to accept the creed of his fathers, and sorry that it must leave so impassable a chasm between us, for ever.'

" ' No, Mary ; that can never be ! Nothing but death can separate us for so long a time ! While we meet, we shall at least be friends ; and friends love to meet and to see each other often.'

" ' It may seem unkind, at a moment like this, Roswell, but it is in truth the very reverse, if I say we ought not to meet each other here, if we are bent on following our own separate ways towards a future world. My God is not your God ; and what can there be of peace in a family, when its two heads worship different deities'! I am afraid that you do not think sufficiently of the nature of these things.'
%< ' I did not believe you to be so illiberal, Mary !    Had the deacon said this much, I might not have heen surprised ; hut for one like you to tell me that my God is not your God is narrow indeed !'
" ' Is it not so, Roswell 1 And if so, why should we attempt to gloss over the truth hy deceptive words ? I am a believer in the Redeemer, as the Son of God, as one of the Holy Trinity; while you believe in him only as a man, —a righteous and just, a sinless man, if you will, but as a man only. Now, is not the difference in these creeds immense1? Is it not, in truth, just the difference between God and man? I worship my Redeemer; regard him as the equal of the Father, — as a part of that Divine Being ; while you look on him as merely a man without sin, — as a man such as Adam probably was hefore the fall.'
" 'Do we know enough of these matters, Mary, to justify us in allowing them to interfere with our happiness < '
" ' We are told that they are all-essential to our happiness, — not in the sense you may mean, Roswell, but in one of far higher import, — and we cannot neglect them, without paying the penalty.'
" ' I think you carry those notions too far, dearest Mary, and that it is possible for man and wife most heartily to love each other, and to be happy in each other, without their thinking exactly alike on religion. How many good and pious women do you see, who are contented and prosperous as wives and mothers, and who are members of meeting, but whose husbands make no profession of any sort! '
" ' That may be true, or not. I lay no claim to a right to judge of any others' duties, or manner of viewing what they ought to do. Thousands of girls marry without feeling the very obligations that they profess to reverence ; and when, in after life, deeper convictions come, they cannot ca3t aside the connections they have previously formed, if they would ; and probably would not, if they could. That is a different thing from a young woman, who has a deep sense of what she owes to her Redeemer, becoming deliberately, and with a full sense of what she is doing, the wife of one who regards her God as merely a man. I care not how you qualify this opinion, by saying a pure and sinless man; it will be man, still. The difference between God and man is too immense to be frittered away by any such qualifications as that.'
" 'But, if I find it impossible to believe all you believe, Mary, surely you would not punish me for having the sincerity to tell you the truth, and the whole truth.'
" ' No, indeed, Roswell,' answered the honest girl, gently, not to say tenderly. ' Nothing has given me a better opinion of your principles, Roswell, — a higher notion of what your upright and frank character really is, than the manly way in which you have admitted the justice of my suspicions of your want of faith, —of faith, as I consider faith can alone exist. This fair dealing has made me honor you, and esteem you, in addition to the more girlish attachment that I do not wish to conceal from you, at least, I have so long felt.'
" 'Blessed Mary!' exclaimed Roswell Gardiner, almost ready to fall down on his knees and worship the pretty enthusiast, who sat at his side with a countenance in which intense interest in his welfare was beaming from two of the softest and sweetest blue eyes that maiden ever bent on a youth in modest tenderness, whatever disposition he might be in to accept her God as his God. ' How can one so kind in all other respects prove so cruel in this one particular !'
" ' Because that one particular, as you term it, Roswell, is all in all to her,'answered the girl, with a face thai was now flushed with fueling. ' 1 must answer you as Joshua told the Israelites of old, — " Choose you, this day, whom you will serve; whether the gods which youv fathers sewed, that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Am-ovites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord:' '
" ' Do you class me with the idolaters and pagans of Palestine1?' demanded Gardiner, reproachfully.
" ' You have said it, Roswell. It is not I, hut yourself, who have thus classed you. You worship your reason, instead of the one true and living God. This is idolatry of the worst character, since the idol is never seen hy the devotee, and ho does not know of its existence.'
" ' You consider it, then, idolatry for one to use those gifts which he has received from his Maker, and to treat the most important of all suhjects as a rational heing, instead of receiving acreed blindly, and without thought !'
" ' If what you call thought could better the matter, if it were suflicient to comprehend and master this subject, there might be force in what you say. But what is this boasted reason, after alii It is not sufficient to explain a single mystery of the creation, though there are thousands. I know there are, nay, there must be, a variety of opinions among those who look to their reasons, instead of accepting' the doctrine of revelation, for the character of Christ.; but I believe all, who are not open infidels, admit that the atonement of his death was suflicient for the salvation of men : now, can you explain this part of the theory of our religion any more than you can explain the divine nature of the Redeemer'? Can you reason any more wisely touching the fall, than touching the redemption itself! I know I am unfit to treat of matters of this profound nature,' continued Mary, modestly, though with great earnestness and beauty of manner ; ' but, to me, it seems very plain, that, the instant circumstances lead us beyond the limits of our means of comprehension, we are lo heliivc in, and not to reason on, revelation. The whole history of Christianity teaches this. Its first ministers were uneducated men ; men who were totally ignorant until enlightened by their faith ; and all the lessons it teaches are to raise faith, and faith in the Redeemer, high above all other attainments, as the one great acquisition that includes and colors every other. When such is the fact, the heart does not make a stumbling-block of everything that the head cannot understand.'
"'I do not know how it is,' answered Roswell Gardiner, influenced, though unconvinced ; ' but when I talk with you on this subject, Mary, I cannot do justice to my opinions, or to the manner in which I reason on them with my male friends and acquaintance. I confess it does appear to me illogical, unreasonable, — I scarce know how to designate what I mean, —'but improbable, that God should suffer himself, or bis £011, to be crucified by beings that he himself created, or that he should feel a necessity for any such course, in order to redeem beings he had himself brought into existence.1
" 'If there be any argument in the last, Roswell, it is an argument as much against the crucifixion of a man as against the crucifixion of one of the Trinity itself. I understand you to believe that such a being as Jesus of Nazareth did exist; that he was crucified for our redemption; and that the atonement was accepted and acceptable before God the Father. Now, is it not just as difficult to understand how, or why, this should be, as to understand the common creed of Christians'?'
" ' Surely, there is ;i vast difference between the crucifixion of ;i subordinate being, and the crucifixion of one who made a part of the Godhead itself, Mary ! I can imagine the first, though I may not pretend to understand its reasons, or why it was necessary it should be so ; but I am certain you will not mistake my motive when I say, I cannot imagine the other.'
" ' Make no apologies to me, Roswell; look rather to that dread Being whose teachings, through chosen ministers, you disregard. As for what you say, I can fully feel its truth. I do not pretend to understand why such a sacrifice should ho necessary, but I believe it, feel it; and believing and feeling it, I cannot but adore and worship the Son, who quitted heaven to come on earth, and suffered, that we might possess eternal life. It is all mystery to me, as is the creation itself, our existence, God himself, and all else that my mind is too limited to comprehend. But, Roswell, if I believe a part of the teachings of the Christian Church, I must believe all. The apostles, who were called by Christ in person, who lived in his very presence, who knew nothing except as the Holy Spirit prompted, worshipped him as the Son of God, as one " who thought it not robbery to be equal with God " ; and shall I, ignorant and uninspired, pretend to set up my feeble means of reasoning in opposition to their written instructions? '
" ' Yet must each of us stand or fall by the means he possesses, and the use he makes of thorn.'
" ' That is quite true, Roswell ; and ask yourself the use to which you put your own faculties. I do not deny that we are to exercise our reason, but it is within the bounds set for its exercise. We may examine the evidence of Christianity, and determine for ourselves how far it is supported by reasonable and sufficient proofs; beyond this we cannot be expected to go, else might we be required to comprehend the mystery of our own existence, which just as much exceeds our understanding as any other. Wo are told that man was created in the image of his Creator, which means that there is an immortal and spiritual part of him that is entirely different from the material creature. One perishes, temporarily at least, — a limb can be severed from the body and perish, even while the body survives ; but it is not so with that which has been created in the imago of the Deity. That is imperishable, immortal, spiritual, though doomed to dwell awhile in a tenement of clay. Now, why is it more difficult to believe that pure divinity may have entered into the person of one man, than to believe, nay, to feel, that the image of God has entered into the persons of so many myriads of men'! You not only overlook all this, Roswell, but you commit the, to me inexplicable, mistake of believing a part of a mystery, while you hesitate about believing all. Were you to deny the merits of the atonement altogether, your position would be much stronger than it is in believing what you do. But, Roswell, we will not embitter the moment of separation by talking more on this subject now. I have other things to say to you, and but little time to say them in. The promise you have asked of me to remain single until your return, I most freely make. It costs me nothing to give you this pledge, since there is scarce a possibility of my ever marrying another.' " — Vol. i. pp. 98 - 104,