Studies in letters and life/Three Men of Piety
THREE MEN OF PIETY
The word genius is often used to conceal a puzzle which the critic, through defects of analytic power or sympathetic insight, is unable to solve; but perhaps this short and easy method was never more feebly resorted to than when a writer, with a strong prejudice in favor of sweetness and light, described Bunyan as a "Philistine of genius." In this designation there is much darkness and some acerbity. The wonderful thing about this man was not so much his gifts as the strange combination of them. There must be, of course, something extraordinary in any common man who becomes a leader in the higher life of the race. The history of the Church, however, is starred with the names of the ignorant and the humble who, since the fishermen were called from their nets by Galilee, have been chosen to be shepherds of the flock and evangelists of the faith. Bunyan was visited with the experience of Protestant Christendom, of which the successive terms are an outraged conscience, an offended God, and a miraculous pardon, and when he came to his peace he spread the glad news, acceptably to the pious, and convincingly to the impenitent; but tens of thousands in Christian lands have passed through that same strait gate, and hundreds of them have discovered that they possessed the gift of tongues. Had Bunyan done no more his sermons would have turned to yellow dust long ago, and his memory would be treasured only by a sect, for, eloquent as he was, he was not one of the missionaries who are world-famous. He wrote a book; and it turned out that this book of an uneducated man was a great literary classic. Had he written an epic it would have seemed less marvelous, because there is a popular superstition that nature makes poets, but in prose does not enter into competition with the common school. Bunyan wrote verses, it is true, and the man who set the delectable mountains on the rim of earth had the magical sight; but just as surely his doggerel shows that he had not the singing voice. He was a master of prose, and wrote a book that neighbors the Bible in our religious homes.
Two things are, of course, indispensable to a boy of genius,—imagination and the gift of expression. Now Bunyan was fond of representing himself as very wicked in youth; and so he was, from his own point of view. The worst he can say for himself is, that he lied and swore, without malice or injury to others, but because he had a talent for tales and oaths. It is not trifling to remark that his powers of invention and forcible Saxon speech appear to have found their first channel in this sort of mental activity. The possible openings for the development of genius in the tinker's cottage at Bedford were few. It is plain that the mind of the young man was one of intense life, and, in the lack of guidance and knowledge, wandered at random or turned to feed upon itself. The only intellectual or moral ideas that came to him were conveyed from the Bible, mostly through the medium of the parish church in the years of the Puritan ascendency. The commonplace that the Bible affords a good education, especially on the imaginative and moral sides, is true, and the theology that attaches to it has developed strong intellects; it was, in the end, the total book-culture of Bunyan,—all that he knew of that vast and various world. But in the primary classes it is not a simple text-book of life, especially for a boy of genius who is all sense, all spirit. Bunyan in after years did not regret his first lessons; he preached that children should be taught the terrors of the law. Certainly his own mind laid hold of the easily apprehended images of threatened vengeance, and was filled with vague alarm and driven to a torturing scrutiny of his own spirit. The experience of conversion repeats in the individual the religious history of the race in the same order in which it is developed in the evolution of Biblical thought itself, and Bunyan's case was not substantially different from that of others, Puritan or Catholic, to whom there is no Calvary without a Sinai. The peculiarity lay in the soil into which this fiery seed was sown. His imagination ceased its childish fabling and became visionary; he saw, as the eye sometimes will, his mind-pictures, and this the more readily because his uneducated mind was accustomed to move through concrete ideas, and hence would be characterized by a high visualizing power. That this was a marked trait of his mental habit is shown by the fact that all his stories about himself are localized in a distinctly remembered place.
At this stage his mind approached the danger-line of religious madness: his descriptions of his moods, of his despairs, and of his struggles with fancies, whose importance to his intellectual life arose from the fewness of his ideas and the limited field of their play, show that he had no power over his thoughts, that he had not learned to use his will in thinking. This objectivity of his religious experience and his powerlessness before it, which have been recorded of other intense lives likewise, gave him a strong sense of the reality of spiritual things; and when he at last had laid his doubts and come into the calm, he kept this conviction to such a degree that earthly matters, even when religion was largely interested in politics, seemed of no consequence: this world was the dream, and the next world the truth. To our days the account of this conversion seems to indicate a lack of sanity, a spirit touched with the fever that ends in fanaticism; but we may be sure that to his hearers there was nothing incredible in it, nothing that could not be paralleled out of what they had known in themselves or heard from their neighbors. So, early in life, the plot of his career was brought to its crisis. In this faith in the reality of eternal things his mind reached its growth, and afterward knew no change.
But with this sure hold on the spirit and its high concerns there went a perfect realism. Bunyan was the opposite of a mystic. His common sense in his sermons of advice is extraordinarily close-packed and hard, and exhibits acute observation of the ways of human nature in practical life. He wrote once what was almost a novel, a history of one Mr. Badman, which is probably truer to contemporary life than the adventures of Jonathan Wild in the next century. If he did not weaken his eyesight over books, he sharpened it on men and women. All his volumes abound with anecdotes and incidents which he had evidently seen in the town streets or by the roadside, and with phrases and proverbial sayings close to the soil. Not the least agreeable of the signs of this realism, this sight for the bare fact in sense alone, are those descriptions of the country, of the birds, and flowers, and fields, and the simple cheerfulness of them to the country-born boy, which strew his pages from cover to cover. So, when he came to write his great book, he united in a perfectly natural way, and without forethought, the reality of a journey on earth with that of the search for heaven. The success with which, in a literary work, truth is fused with fact, is a measure of genius. It is, perhaps, more striking in this case because the work is an allegory, which is usually so drearily pale a kind of composition. The characters and action of the Pilgrim's Progress, on the contrary, are a transcript of life, so vivid that it cannot wear out. It is not more realistic, however, than other portions of Bunyan's voluminous writings, in which one may get an idea of English provincial character of high historical value and human interest. How close, how truthful to his surroundings he was as a literary workman, is brought home with great force, though perhaps unconsciously, by the view which his biography gives of Bedford things and people.
From it one may reconstruct the religious state of the poor people of the Lincoln diocese in Bunyan's time, and bring very near the look of the lowly life which was the original soil of English dissent and the field of the tinker-preacher's labors. In reading terse extracts from the old documents—"short and simple annals of the poor," truly—of prayers in the barn and fines in the court-house, of levies on workmen's tools and old women's chattels, of these families of "the meanest sort," as the Bishop's schedule calls them, whose petty share of poverty was confiscated for the security of a Stuart throne and an Anglican prayer-book,—in reading of these things, a chapter of the history of the English people comes out which has been too closely written over with the wit and frolic of Charles's court; and the query as to what became of the Commonwealth when Cromwell died does not seem so wholly unanswerable as the silence of standard history on the point would indicate.
After all, one is almost inclined to say that no man ever owed more than Bunyan to his limitations. Within his bounds, he used all his spiritual and earthly experience, and, aided by a native gift of imagination and of fluency in the people's speech, blended them, and poured the full fountain of his life through his books. Had his youth included other powerful elements of emotion and knowledge besides his conversion, had theology, or learning, or wider duties removed him somewhat more from the life of his neighbors and friends and the folk of the diocese, of which he was jestingly called the "bishop," he might have found so complete self-expression a more difficult task. As it was, he told all he had to tell,—told the highest truth in the commonest words and made it current. It is curious to observe that he exhibits no consciousness that he is writing a great work; he speaks of a rush of thought and fancy, and an attractiveness in the subject, but he does not seem to think that he is doing more than adding another to the two-score publications he has already sent out. It is noticeable, too, that he did not meditate upon it for years beforehand, nor spend more than a few months in its composition. Some passages were added at a later time, but as a whole it was a spontaneous and rapid composition. The reason is that he was ripe for it. Without knowing it, he had been working up to this crowning book, both in thought, treatment, and style, through many years of sincere and straightforward, face-to-face conversation with men and women whom he was endeavoring to guide in the way which he had traveled. Pilgrim's Progress has been called the last book that was written without the fear of the reviewer; it is of more consequence that it is one of the few works that have been composed without ambition.
Bunyan's memory is singularly agreeable. Personally he was free from the defects of assumption, dogmatism, and spiritual pride, which entered largely into the religious character of his epoch, and his sensitive conscience seems to have kept him humble after he had won a name. The two great elements of his work—the homely quality and the Christian quality—were deep-seated in his nature, and give him charm. In an age of sectaries he was not a narrow bigot, and did not stickle for meaningless things; and in a time of political strife, growing out of religious differences, and though himself a sufferer by twelve years' imprisonment in early manhood, he did not confuse heaven with any fantastic monarchy or commonwealth of Christ in London, nor show any rancor or revengeful spirit as a subject. It is worth remembering that out of Puritanism, which is regarded as a narrow creed and life, came the only book since the Reformation which has been acceptable to the whole of Christendom, and is still regarded as the substantial truth of the Christian life in all the churches that preach it under any creed of orthodoxy. The life of the man who could evolve such a story must have been very simply typical of the Christian life itself. "A Philistine of genius"—is there no light nor sweetness in this?
The career of Cowper, as all the world knows, was one to fill the pessimist with perennial gladness; and, in fact, if it were possible to look at the natural order of things only as Cowper was affected thereby, it might seem that nothing short of malignity in the overruling powers could account for the fiat that gave up so pure, simple, and cordial a nature to be the prey of the seven devils, and rendered so many delightful traits of character futile to achieve the happiness of their unfortunate possessor. In his letters, flowing on in the old, sweet, fresh English, one perceives the rare literary faculty, the shy humor, the discrimination, the sound sense, all the many graces of style and many virtues of intrinsic worth, that have long been familiar to scholars; and, more than that, one gladly recognizes again the companionable, soft-hearted, pathetic man whose pastimes, whether in gardening, or poetry, or caring for his pets, were a refuge from the most poignant anguish; who played only to escape his terror, and at last failed even in that. The piety of Cowper's life, however, although it contributes to his poetic attractiveness, is only a small part of what must be dealt with by the observer of that life as it appears in his familiar letters. These, as a body, it is needless to say, hold a place from which they are not likely to be dislodged. Nevertheless, letters at the best are not a high form of literature; even when, as in the present case, their workmanship entitles them to rank as classics, their interest must finally reside in their being unconscious autobiography rather than in their artistic perfection. Hence, instead of regarding this correspondence as an object of literary virtu, it may be well for once to consider it with a more direct reference to the sober facts it chronicles and the spirit it reveals.
Few persons experienced in the world would be likely to hold up the routine of Cowper's days as worthy of imitation. So far as earthly matters were involved, it was a life of very small things; its mundane interests were few and trivial, and sprang for the most part out of pursuits that belong usually either to the domain of childhood or of invalidism. This is not said disparagingly, but with due regard to the fact that for the larger part of his career Cowper's condition was such that his attention had to be distracted and his mind amused, as is the case with children or invalids. In his later years the composition of verses became one mode of such diversion, and was undertaken practically as a sanitary measure; and thus his larger interests, involving conceptions of the eternal world and sympathy with his fellow-men, were extended to his hours of recreation. These larger interests, as they must be called, were from the first peculiar. When he was not attending to his hares or his vegetables, or versifying, or taking rural walks, he was engaged in devotional exercises of one kind or another. In 1766, for example, every day the time from breakfast until eleven o'clock was spent in reading the Bible or sermons, or in religious conversation; the hour from eleven to twelve was passed in church at service; in the course of the afternoon there was a second period of religious conversation or hymn-singing; at night there was commonly another sermon and more psalms, and after that family prayers. In other words, it appears that Cowper's life, at that time at least (and it is a fair sample of the whole), consisted of an almost monastic religious routine, relieved by the diversion of country pursuits on a small scale, and, later, of literary pursuits in addition. At present, as has been said, few qualified judges would consider this a life of high order, either in the way of wisdom or utility; but in Cowper's case, the peculiarity of his mental condition and the charm of his nature, revealed at its happy moments in pleasant letters, blind the reader to the monotony and vapidity of this existence, for such were its characteristics, except in so far as the healing influences of natural scenes, to which Cowper was very sensitive, and the kindness of his household friends, gave it variety and substance.
Now, it is a very striking fact that while Cowper spent the larger part of his time in religious reading and conversation, and besides meditated in private on the same themes, his letters do not show in any degree that insight into spiritual things which would naturally be looked for from real genius occupied with such subjects. Spirituality should have been his trait if religion was his life, but, in fact, these letters are in this regard barren. The anomalous nature of his poetic—life the fact that he used his powers, not to express his deepest emotions, but to escape from them—may be pleaded in extenuation of what seems at first a surprising defect; but a more likely explanation lies in another direction. It was sermons that he read, theology that he talked about, a theory of grace and salvation that he meditated upon in secret; his religion occupied his thoughts rather than his acts, touched his future rather than his present,—in a word,, it was a system rather than a life, the source of doubt instead of inspiration. To put it in the simplest form, he derived his light, not from his own inner experience, but from the creed. In his case the light was the darkness of insanity; but his own conviction in the matter is shown in his characterization of Beattie,—"a man whose faculties have now and then a glimpse from Heaven upon them, a man not indeed in possession of much evangelical light, but faithful to what he has, and never neglecting an opportunity to use it." A poet who identifies "evangelical light" with "the vision and the faculty divine" may write The Castaway, but one is not likely to find in his works those intimate revelations of truth that flash in convincing beauty from the lines of the true spiritualists, such as Wordsworth, Shelley, or Emerson. Cowper's misfortune, both as a man and a poet, was this substitution of dogma for instinct, which, operating in so sensitive and feeble a nature, made religion, which was his vital interest, not a life but a disease, and gave to the activities of his higher powers the character of mania. It is misleading, therefore, to think of these letters as the fruit of a deeply religious mind; they are the record of the efforts of a creed-believing mind to get rid of itself, and their virtues—their amiability, their delight in small adventures, their interest in literature and humanity—exist not in consequence of but in spite of the religious bent of their author.
Cowper was deficient, too, æsthetically as well as spiritually, and the character of his limitations was much the same in both respects. His sense of beauty was practically confined to landscape and small animals. The cramping influences amid which he lived are well indicated by his remarks upon a clergyman who, it should be said, richly deserved censure:—
"He seems, together with others of our acquaintance, to have suffered considerably in his spiritual character by his attachment to music. The lawfulness of it, when used with moderation, and in its proper place, is unquestionable; but I believe that wine itself, though a man be guilty of habitual intoxication, does not more debauch and befool the natural understanding than music—always music, music in season and out of season—weakens and destroys the spiritual discernment. If it is not used with an unfeigned reference to the worship of God, and with a design to assist the soul in the performance of it, which cannot be the case when it is the only occupation, it degenerates into a sensual delight, and becomes a most powerful advocate for the admission of other pleasures, grosser, perhaps, in degree, but in their kind the same."
Whatever truth there may be in this estimate of the influence of music, the limitation of its use to church choirs and organs is an expression of Puritan iconoclasm which acquaints the reader at once with Cowper's provincialism. The passage is English to the core, and not only does it suggest the æsthetic deficiencies of the poet and his life, but it also brings up once more the characteristic English picture of the family singing psalms and reading sermons, year in, year out, with which the letters begin. This correspondence has made that group of interest to the world; but in answer to the question, What was its life and its spirit, can one help feeling that trivial, not to say belittling, occupations, and a narrowing theology, were principal elements? Cowper's work, in the main, has only the sluggish vitality of this life; in his letters more than in his verses, speaking generally, there is literary grace and personal charm; but in both they seem a sort of salvage. A vision of quiet green fields, inhabited by respectable gentlefolk who led an existence of humble routine in a neighborly way, made up Cowper's world; he lived in it overshadowed by the ever present fear of damnation, and at last, sunk in despair, he died in it. Out of such a world no great poet either of the soul or of nature could come. Cowper's virtue was in his simplicity and genuineness, rare qualities then; his good fortune was in never belonging to the literary set or bowing to the town taste; hence in a time the most barren in English literature, he gave us a half dozen fine poems that stand far beyond all contemporary rivalry, and some private letters of the best style and temper. When, however, the question comes as to the intrinsic value of these letters, it must be confessed that though they please the taste they do not interest the mind except in a curious and diverting way. They are less the letters of a poet than of a village original, a sort of schoolmaster or clergyman manqué, of sound sense, tender heart, and humane perception, but the creature of a narrow sphere.
Channing was the chief ornament of the American pulpit in his day. Like nearly all men illustrious in the religious life, he has won a kindlier and wider regard by his character than by his opinions, because the moods of devotion are simple and are universal in human nature, while opinion in theology is more variable and eccentric, and in some degree more accidental, than in any other branch of speculation. The deepest interest of his life lies not so much in the fruit of his genius as in the light of his spirit. Indeed, this acknowledgment is wrapped up in the indiscriminate eulogy by which his admirers have injured his fame, for they have presented him as a saint rather than as a thinker, as an example of ideal living rather than as a finder of truth. To put a man in the catalogue of saints is merely to write his epitaph; his life is the main thing, and Channing, although his biography records no great deeds in the world and no great crises of inner experience, is not alone in being far more interesting in his humanity than in his canonization. A refined and sensitive childhood, shadowed in some partially explained way, so that he never remembered it as a period of joyfulness, was followed by a spirited and dreaming youth, caught by the fervors of French revolutionary ideas and exalted by its own noble motives. In those early years, as well as in his late maturity, he experienced, on the beach at Newport and under the willows at Cambridge, moments of and impulse which stood out ever after in his memory as new births of the spirit prophetic of the future. His career was especially determined, however, by the twenty-one months which he passed at Richmond as a private tutor, immediately after leaving college. There, in loneliness and poverty, in stoical disregard of health and courting privation, in Christian conscientiousness of motive, led on by glowing reveries in which visionary objects seemed realities within reach, he devoted himself in written words to the service of mankind by the instrumentalities of religion. It is painful to read the narrative of this intense personal life in the years most susceptible to enthusiasm for remote and ideal ends; there can be no wonder that after such experience he returned home with the seal of the religious life set upon his soul, and with a body inexorably condemned to life-long disease. He entered upon his ministry in the field where he could best do good and find peace in doing it; morally the child of the New England religious spirit, and intellectually the disciple of those ideas of the nature of humanity and the right course of its development which the French Revolution had disseminated. Throughout his life he was governed mainly by a deep sense of the dignity of manhood, under whatever form, and by an abiding conviction of the aid which Christianity gives to the imagination and heart in obeying the rule of love and obtaining permanent peace of mind.
The most acute criticism ever passed upon Channing's character was by that unnamed critic who said, "He was kept from the highest goodness by his love of rectitude." The love of rectitude was his predominant trait; he was enslaved by it. He exacted more of himself, however, than of others. Right he must be, at all hazards, in motive, opinion, and action. It is melancholy to read page after page of his self-examination, so minute, intricate, and painful, so frequent and long continued. It almost awakens a doubt of the value of noble character to find it so unsure of itself, to see its possessor so absorbed in hunting his own shadow within the innermost retreats of thought and feeling. Channing seems to have preached more sermons to himself than to the world. His love of rectitude led him to this excessive conscientiousness, but it brought him great good in other directions. It gave him a respect for the opinions of other men as catholic as it was humble. He did not practice toleration toward them, for that expression implied to his mind a misplaced self-confidence; but he practiced charity, as toward men who felt equally with himself the binding force of the obligation to be right, and who had an equal chance of finding truth. His conviction of the universality of this obligation and his perception that it necessitates the independent exercise of individual powers encouraged in him a remarkable admiration for individuality, for the unhampered exercise of thought and unquestioned obedience to motive in which the richness of individual life consists.
His second great quality, as pervasive and controlling as his desire to be right, was sensibility. It was revealed in the sympathies and affections of private life, which are known to the world only by the report of friends; but it may be seen with equal clearness in the intensity of his delight in nature, and in the ardent feeling by which he realized ideal ends and gave them a living presence in his own life as objects of continuous effort. His sensitiveness to natural beauty was so keen that in moments of physical weakness it caused pain. "There are times," he wrote, "when I have been so feeble that a glance at the natural landscape, or even the sight of a beautiful flower, gave me a bodily pain from which I shrank." As life drew on to its end, the indestructible loveliness of nature became to him a source of joy and peace ever more prized. "The world grows younger with age!" he exclaimed more than once. In emotional susceptibility to ideas he resembled Shelley, and probably it was this likeness of feeling which led him to call Shelley, in ministerial language, but with extraordinary charity for that age, "a seraph gone astray." He retained through life the intellectual sympathies of his youth, and in his last days still had an inclination toward community of property as the solution of the social problem; like Wordsworth and Southey he recoiled from the excesses of the French, but he never gave up the tricolor for the white cockade. In his generation nearly all men were hopeful of the accomplishment of beneficent reforms; but Channing was filled with an enthusiasm of hope which was almost the fervor of conviction. He was without that practical enthusiasm which is aroused by the presence of great deeds immediately to be done; the objects for which he worked were far in the distance, scarcely discernible except from the mount of vision; but he was possessed by the enthusiasm which is kindled by the heat of thought and is wrapped in its own solitary flames, and he lived under the bright zenith of that mood of which Carlyle has shown the dark nadir and Teufelsdröch standing in its shadow gazing out over the sleeping city. These three principles—rectitude, sensibility, enthusiasm—were elemental in Channing's nature; and because they are moral, and not intellectual, he lived a spiritual rather than a mental life; he gained in depth rather than in breadth, and worked out his development by contemplation and prayer rather than by thought and act.
It appears strange, at first, that a man with these endowments should have been so conservative in opinion, and so little inclined to force upon the world what advanced opinions he did hold. A lover of truth unwilling to make proselytes, an enthusiast unwilling to act, seems an anomaly; but such was Channing's position. One cause of his aversion to pushing Unitarianism to its conclusion is found in the history of his own conversion and in the character of his attachment to the new faith; he was a revolter of the heart; he was liberalized by his feelings. "My inquiries," he said, "grew out of the shock given to my moral nature by the popular system of faith." He was moved by sentiment in his rejection of Calvinism, and he was kept by sentiment from giving up the theory of the mysterious character and mission of Christ. The strength of his feelings operated to render him conservative, and the low estimate he apparently placed upon logical processes contributed to the same end. "It is a good plan," he wrote, "ever and anon to make a clean sweep of that to which we have arrived by logical thought, and take a new view; for the mind needs the baptism of wonder and hope to keep it vigorous and healthy for intuition." Either this distrust of the understanding working by logical processes, or else a native inaptitude for theological reasoning, prevented him from following out his principles to their conclusion. If he had framed a system, he would have held his views with greater certainty; as it was, he not only allowed the greatest liberty to individual opinion, but he distrusted himself. "You young thinkers," he said, "have the advantage of us in coming without superstitious preoccupation to the words of Scripture, and are more likely to get the obvious meaning. We shall walk in shadows to our graves." The strength of inbred sentiment could not be overpowered by such feeble intellectual conviction. He was a moral, not an intellectual, reformer; his work was not the destruction of a theology, but the spread of charity. He felt more than he reasoned, and hence his rationalism was bounded, not by the unknown, but by the mystical. He was satisfied with this, and does not seem to have wished to make a definite statement of his beliefs. The whole matter is summed up by Miss Peabody when she says, "The Christianity which Dr. Channing believed ... was a spirit, not a form of thought." A spirit of devotion toward the divine, a spirit of love toward the human, Channing preached to the world and illustrated by his life; but a new form of thought which shows the intellectual advance that alone is fatal to conservatism,—this was no part of his gift to men.
In the antislavery cause his conservatism appears in a less pleasing light. Here he exhibited the scholar's reluctance to initiate reform, the scholar's perplexity before the practical barriers in the way of action. He was displeased by the rude voices about him, and frightened by the violence of determination which the reformers displayed. He looked to find the peace of the pulpit in the arena, and was bewildered by the alarms of the active strife. He did not choose his side until the last moment, and even then he delayed until he called down the just rebuke of May and the just defense that reformer made for his comrades: "The children of Abraham held their peace until at last the very stones have cried out, and you must expect them to cry out like the stones." Then, indeed, Channing showed that he was a Falkland on Cromwell's side, not acting without a doubt, but taking his place, nevertheless, openly and manfully beside the friend whom he had left alone too long. Yet he never lost, even in that stirring cause, the timidity of culture. He was of the generation of those cultivated men who earned for Boston the reputation for intellectual preëminence; but the political future of the country did not belong to him nor to his companions; it belonged to Garrison and Lincoln. Here it is that Father Taylor's keen criticism strikes home: "What a beautiful being Dr. Channing is! If he only had had any education!" Channing's education had been of the lamp, and not of the sword; it seemed to Father Taylor pitifully narrow and palsy-stricken beside his own experience of the world's misery. Channing's life affords one more illustration of the difficulty the cultivated man finds in understanding and forwarding reform in its beginning; but he deserves the credit of having rid himself of the prejudices and influences that marked the society in which he moved, to a greater degree, perhaps, than any other of his circle.
The value of Channing's work in religion and in reform will be differently rated by men, for his service was of a kind which is too apt to be forgotten. The intrinsic worth of his writings remains to be tested by time; but their historic worth, as a means of liberalizing the New England of his day, was great and memorable. He gave his right hand to Emerson and his left hand to Parker; and, although he could not accompany them on the way, he bade them Godspeed. It was, perhaps, mainly through his influence that they found the field prepared for them and the harvest ready, although he would not put his sickle in. It was largely due to him, also, that Boston became the philanthropic centre of the country. During his lifetime he won a remarkable respect and admiration. An exaggerated estimate of his eloquence, powers, and influence will continue to be held so long as any remain alive who heard his voice and remember its accents; in later times a truer judgment may be reached. Personally he was amiable, kindly, and courteous, notwithstanding the distance at which he seems to have kept all men. Dr. Walker said that conversation was always constrained in his study. In his nephew's narrative, it is said that the interview with him was "solemn as the visit to the shrine of an oracle." He himself told Miss Peabody after their friendship had lasted several years, that she had "the awe of the preacher" upon her. Finally, we read that no man ever freely laid his hand upon Channing's shoulder; and we wonder whether he ever remembered that St. John had "handled the Word made flesh." This self-seclusion, this isolation of sanctity, as it were, did not proceed from any value he set upon himself above his fellows; it was the natural failing of a man who lived much within himself, and who always meditated the loftiest of unworldly themes. He was a faithful and well-beloved friend; and if in this, as in other directions, he "failed of the highest goodness," there are few in the same walk of life who attain to equal sincerity, charity, and purity, or equal serviceableness to the world.