Imagens da página

he has witnessed or verified among them. Every sociologist who goes to Russia discovers fundamental traits of immense benefit to his favorite science. Each painter catches fleeting gleams of a novel order of picturesqueness, and each writer desribes unfamiliar and contradictory scenes enacted in the midst of this national anomaly. Suggestiveness by means of mystery and lucidity, in the centre of perplexing contrasts, may justly be ascribed to the Russians, and to their art.

This literature is also rich in profound divination of spiritual things, and fruitful in solutions of deep-rooted questions, handled with a skill at once large and firm.

The poets and fictionists of Russia are the giant children of the “Colossus of the North," and their teaching is of regenerative import. The prophetic element is strong in them, the prophetic elevation is often reached; and the prophetic soul-searching is usually theirs. The daring and resignation, the love of freedom, and the submission to the powers that be, are the moral antitheses of this race. The diverse results of these mingled motives, are village communism and nihilism; and such conditions find a reflection and explanation in the work of Pushkin, Tolstoi and Turgeneff, and the almost equally great group of writers whose culmination they are.

The Russian incarnation of beauty is sad-eyed, stern-browed, loving, but stoical, and “cruel to be kind." It foretells the future, and unveils the present. It kindles the flame upon the lowly altar, and lights the beacon far up the rocky heights. It is strong, generous, luminous; and grandly fair, amidst the fairest of Beauty's high self-givings.

And, in the still more distant North, beauty Rings wide the snowy or fiery banners to the sky. It wraps itself in cloud-formations of exquisite illusiveness, it dwells in sæter, or in gorge, on shining fjord and heaving sea. It bids the sun shine at midnight, as the august witness of its Norse incarnation.

This northern literature is instinct with all the life such beauty keeps within its heart. Scandinavian letters in general, are in a most flourishing condition, but Norway leads its neighbor in really significant work. Dramatic and idyllic power are both exemplified among these people, “Synöve Solbaken " perhaps being the most widely known Norse composition of the latter class. Even in this bit of nature, however, the dramatic element is not wanting: The vigor with which the emotions are portrayed, the clearness with which the spiritual problems are stated, and the logical marshaling of interior and exterior events, meagre though the latter are, evince genuine dramatic genius, all the more remarkable because it is exerted under another form of art. It is probably due to this fact that so many critics of Bjornson's prose master-pieces have done scant justice to their deeper and more virile side. A full measure of appreciation has greeted its pastoral aspect, and it is most difficult at this late day to say anything new in this regard. Nevertheless, no study of beauty in Norway is even approximately just without a loving scrutiny of this work. It is spirit-like, yet human. It leads the reader into fairy pastures, and elve-inhabited nooks; and it gives access to the inner recesses of a maiden's heart. The gentle daughter of the Norse-land grants a fair and tender confidence, veined with a love of freedom and of country, and glowing with the white heat of poetic truth. It has been said by no less sensitive an observer than Helen Jackson, that the Scandinavian peasantry are the most poetio in Europe, and certainly, if “ Synöve Solbaken” be an average specimen of

the class, it is easy to approve her verdict. The book carries one away to the sunny, mountain valleys of Norway, where the pines blend their murmur, ing music, their fragrance, and their stately grace, in a chord of threefold beauty.

Nothing more lovely than this story has been produced in North-land literature. The idyl is at once a fragment and a type, of Norway's ethical influence, which is like the wind in its bracing and purifying effect.

A most striking dual manifestation of the beautiful, is afforded by the Spanish genius. Spain's painting and its literature are alike marvelous. In both departments its art is rich and subtle, dowered with exterior perfection, irradiated by interior force; and it is also courageously faithful to the facts of life.

Murillo's " Marriage of St. Catherine,-now in the Vatican-palpitates with meaning. The expressions on the faces of St. Catherine, the Virgin, and the infant Jesus, form a triune study of wondrous depth ; while the rendering of the flesh and blood, is realistic in the true sense of that much abused term. The Holy Child in his mother's embrace placing the ring on St.Catherine's finger, looks a benediction upon the kneeling woman. His eyes baptize her with a rain of love and gracious strengthening. His glance shows that he knows all he is to suffer, and that he accepts the bitterest misery of the prefigurement. He admits St. Catherine to share his portion, and crowns her with his comprehension in return for the apotheosis of pain she is to meet for him. The eyes of all three are dark, as is the hair of the two women, but the fluffy, shimmering down upon the baby's head is tenderly truthful, and far lovelier than any conventional halo, not an approach to which is seen in this picture. Each figure is perfect, each face possesses beauty ; but the child is veritably divine.

Motherhood - sainthood - Messiahship! The ethics of these three redeem the world.

In America and Switzerland the most complete revelations of beauty must be looked for in the scenic grandeur with which these countries are endowed ; notwithstanding the value of the progress they have made in the arts, they are not pre-eminent for possessions of the beautiful, except those which are a part of nature. But surely man need ask no more of beauty than the privilege of kneeling to receive the impact of its soul, and this the worshiping disciple may do in either the mountain-walled or sea-surrounded republic.

Mountain scenery is a characteristic of both countries, but that part of the United States usually called the American Switzerland - the Rocky Mountain region — has little in common with the land of the Alps.

With all its majesty, Switzerland is happy. Sublimity is not more its attribute than joy. It is human in its beauty, graceful in its grandeur, cheerful in its wide diversity. Its rivers sing, whilst cloud's and grassy slopes hide, but to give again, the sun's smile. Its sunrises prophesy sweetness yet to be, and its sunsets reflect the memory of past delight. Its skies are banded with pure, pearly, tender color, like peace — itself etherealized. Its very storms are not terrific, tremendous though they are. They are rather magical; for in their darkest and most lurid moments they contain a promise of calm, and through the lightning blaze, and underneath the rush of rain and roar of torrents, the sun-sprinkled slopes are seen again, the softly-echoing voices of the mountains are heard once more. Not even laughing France is gayer than this little land of snow-hoods, and fairy


flowers, and warm-hued grass ; and far sadder is the beauty of Italy, close-clasped though it is in the arms of the South.

Such are the elements of Alpine beauty.

But in the Rocky Mountains gladness does not dwell. In their fastnesses it is easy to believe the geologists when they say that the new world is really the old world. The desolation of a vast experience speaks from canon and peak. The exhaustion of struggle is written upon every feature, some scenes seeming but the ghosts of a dead for ce. Mourful with reminiscent passions, and petrified phases of torture, yet marvelously fascinating and fathomless in depths of revelation, are the Rocky Mountains in their most striking formations. Their distinctive moods are utterly unlike the moods of other mountain-systems, but they more nearly resemble their kindred when snow-covered. Then they cease to be anguished, and become solemn; and when the ruddy torches of the sunset cast down their flaming shadows, and the white giants answer to their splendor with soft radiance, the mountains of the west are not only grand, mysterious, terrific, — they are then throned on power, sceptred with loveliness, and crowned with light. They are beautiful.

The ethics of mountain beauty are varied, and have never been more accurately defined, nor more exquisitely interpreted than by Starr King in his book upon the White Mountains, entitled “The White Hills.” It would be impossible to announce a truer classification. Therefore, it is wisdom to draw a little upon the riches of this ardent lover of mountain moods. Starr King says that “renunciation is the ever present lesson of the hills ;” and no student of science will deny their continuous self-giving. And so, what is seemingly the most immovable of structural forms the mount, is the render of its own bosom for the good of the earth. Stead. fast, vet selfless; firm, yet self-renouncing are they. The moral qualities which make of man a god are the lessons that the mountains teach eternally. When the world shall listen, and “ lift up its eyes to the hills, whence cometh its helps,” the message of the mountains shall be a benediction, and man “shall be clothed with righteousness, as with a garment."

The sea-swathed beauty of the east and west of America compasses all natural teaching. Each passion, ideal emotion, every throb of feeling pulsating through human nature, the arts, or outward nature, finds its response in the soul of man, for the many-sidedness of beauty is nowhere so truly symbolized as in the completeness of humanity: - and humanity finds its echo in the sea ; for the sea is the type of the soul.

The ethics of beauty! Are they not everywhere? Do they not call incessantly for recognition, and is not their right to the loving allegiance of mankind a fact of transcendent meaning ? Does not a nation or an individual lose its privilege of worshiping beauty when it denies its divine origin, and ignores its spiritual uses ? Such homage is an affront, such worship a travesty. He only knows what beauty is, who knows that he has never seen it face to face. Even as essential beauty is an attribute of God, an emanation of His spirit, so are beauty's various manifestations to the thing itself.

Let men adore the beauty they can realize. It gladdens, enchants, and glorifies the world. Let them bow before the perfection of appearances ; for if they worship" from the ground of the heart” they will speedily learn that such lovely seeming is but the shadow of a higher thought, but the echo of the voice divine.



THE western sky reflects the light,
A crimson hue; the coming night
From eastward rolls, like storm apace,
And from the north vague forms arise ;
Black sullen clouds each other chase,
Hurrying on to clasp the skies
Within their dark embrace.
All, all is still ; the expanding air
Seems for the combat to prepare ;
All earth is gasping for the rain,
Waiting the coming storm;
And far across the thirsty plain
I hear the first alarm,-
A thunder clap, a lightning train.
Then from the north unto the south,
As hell had opened wide its mouth,
There came a lurid flash,
And all the clouds in heaven above,
Seemed mingled in a crash,
As though they with each other strove,
And did each other lash.
Then down upon the parchéd earth
Came that which gives the seedlings birth,
In one continued stream.
Down poured the bright, life-giving flood,
Catching the lightning's gleam,
On plain, on hill, on mead, on wood,
That shall with blossoms teem.
O Nature, strange are all thy ways!
A servant, thou, of Him we praise.
Great must that Master be,
Who with the power of mighty will,
Can part the land and sea!
Thoughts of such power each heart must fill,
And make each bend the knee.


The law of compensation is everywhere operative in nature. Indeed, it is by virtue of this fact that things exist in such an exquisite state of equilibrium. Upon the physical plane this truth is doubtless universally perceived, but its mental and moral analogues appear to be subjects of widely prevalent oversight. The person who to-day is joyous even to ecstacy, cannot see why, in a few days, or perhaps even sooner, he should be plunged in sorrow. Tell him that if there were no pain, there could be no pleasure, that if there were no valleys, there could be no mountains,—only one eternal, dreary, and monotonous level, and he at best but dimly apprehends you. He expects, figuratively speaking, that Nature will thunder all the year round, and that the white lilies upon the tree of life will never go to seed upon a barren stalk. Such is not Nature's way; they who enjoy most, suffer most, and thus the eternal law of compensation, Nature's great aorta, is fully satisfied.




Number Six.


“In the year 599, on the last day of Moharrem, stars shot hither and thither, and flew against each other like a swarm of locusts; this phenomenon lasted until daybreak; people were thrown into consternation, and made supplication to the Most High; there was never the like seen except on the coming of the messenger of God, on whom be benediction and peace.”

The above is from an old Arabian work made use of by Prof. Newcomb in his book on “Popular Astronomy.” It gives the reader a good idea of the awe and terror which a meteoric display brought to the minds of men of the period above mentioned. In August and November of each year we have frequent illustrations of the phenomenon in question, and only from its frequency do we become so accustomed to the gorgeous spectacle, that we cease to wonder, and pass it almost unnoticed.

Sometimes an inquiring mind will silently question as to the cause of these brilliant flashes, and even think of the possibility of the damaging consequences, should one of the “stars” strike the Earth.

Revolving in an orbit extremely elliptical, these little objects perforın their journey around the Sun with the same precision which follows in all the works and plans of the Creator. As mentioned above, these displays take place twice each year, although there are few clear nights at any season when more or less of them may not be seen; and at periods of 33 years the shower is most remarkable for its brilliancy and length.

There is little to be feared regarding a meteor striking the Earth. Rare indeed are these instances, although a few are recorded where stones weighing hundreds of pounds have borne the resistance of the Earth's atmosphere, and struck the ground with great force, usually attended by a tremendous explosion.

The atmosphere surrounding the Earth presents to external objects an armor of mail, so perfest in its structure, and so thoroughly adapted to defense of its jewel (the Earth) which occupies its centre, that the enemy must be potent indeed, and possessed with phenomenal powers of persistence and endurance, to effec: an entrance to any considerable extent.

The meteors and shooting-stars are presumed to be detachments of a once important planetary organization ; a body which perhaps rivaled the Earth in size, and splendor of form and use. This planet possibly furnished the scene of the rise and fall of races of beings farther advanced in art, science and religion, than the human family as known to our age.

From the fact that this body had fulfilled its mission as a centre for the existence of beings resembling the human family, is due, perhaps, its dissolution as a planet, and its change to forms of higher utility.

To the writer, here is a beautiful illustration of the change which comes to the material man when “death” takes place. The visible or earthly, returns to dust, and goes through the diverse stages of dissolution, and finally even the dust is diffused and scattered, until no trace can be found of the once beautiful and symmetrical proportions.

« AnteriorContinuar »