IT would be a task worthy of a volume, and requiring that space in order to be creditably performed, to show how war affects literature, at what points they meet, where they are at variance, if any wars stimulate, and what kinds depress the intellectual life of nations. The subject is very wide. It would embrace a discussion of the effects of war when it occurs during a period of great literary and artistic splendor, as in Athens and in the Italian Republics ; whether intellectual decline is postponed or accelerated by the interests and passions of the strife; whether the preliminary concentration of the popular heart may claim the merit of adding either power or beauty to the intellectual forms which bloom together with the war.
These things are not entirely clear, and the experience of different countries is conflicting. The Thirty Years’ War, though it commenced with the inspiration of great political and religious ideas, did not lift the German mind to any new demonstrations of truth or impassioned utterances of the imagination. The nation sank away from it into a barren and trivial life, although the war itself occasioned a multitude of poems, songs, hymns, and political disquisitions. The hymns of this period, which are filled with a sense of dependence, of the greatness and awfulness of an invisible eternity, and breathe a desire for the peaceful traits of a remote religious life, are at once a confession of the weariness of the best minds at the turmoil and uncertainty of the contest and a permanent contribution of the finest kind to that form of sacred literature. But princes and electors were fighting as much for the designation and establishment of their petty nationalities, which first checkered the map of Europe after the imperial Catholic power was rolled southwardly, as they were for the pure interest of Protestantism. The German intellect did eventually gain something from this political result, because it interrupted the literary absolutism which reigned at Vienna ; no doubt literature grew more popular and German, but it did not very strikingly improve tbe great advantage, for there was at last exhaustion instead of a generously nourishing enthusiasm, and the great ideas of the period became the pieces with which diplomatists carried on their game. The Volkslied (popular song) came into vogue again, but it was not so fresh and natural as before; Opitz, one of the best poets of this period, is worth reading chiefly when he depicts his sources of consolation in the troubles of the time. Long poetical bulletins were written, in the epical form, to describe the battles and transactions of the war. They had an immense circulation, and served the place of newspapers. They were bright and characteristic enough for that; and indeed newspapers in Germany date from this time, and from the doggerel broadsides of satire and description which then supplanted minstrels of whatsoever name or guild, as they were carried by post, and read in every hamlet.1 But the best of these poems were pompous, dull, and tediously elaborated. They have met the fate of newspapers, and are now on file. The more considerable poets themselves appeared to be jealous of the war; they complained bitterly that Mars had displaced Apollo; but later readers regret the ferocious sack of Magdeburg, or the death of Gustavus Adolphus, more than the silencing of all those pens.
On the other hand, Spain, while fighting for religion and a secure nationality, had her Cervantes, Lope de Vega, and Calderon, all of whom saw service in the field, and other distinguished names, originators of literary forms and successful cultivators of established ones. They created brilliant epochs for a bigoted and cruel country. All that was noble or graceful in the Spanish spirit survives in works which that country once stimulated through all the various fortunes of popular wars. But they were not wars for the sake of the people; the country has therefore sunk away from the literature which foretold so well how great she might have become, if she had been fortunate enough to represent, or to sympathize with, a period of moral and spiritual ideas. Her literary forms do not describe growth, but arrested development.
A different period culminated in the genius of Milton, whose roots were in that golden age when England was flowering into popular freedom. He finally spoke for the true England, and expressed the vigorous thoughts which a bloody epoch cannot quench. Some of his noblest tilings were inspired by the exigencies of the Commonwealth, which he saw “ as an eagle nursing her mighty youth, and kindling her undazzled eyes at the full mid-day beam.”
The Dutch people, in their great struggle against Philip II., seemed to find a stimulus in the very exhaustions of war. The protesting ideas for which they fought drew fresh tenacity from the soil, wet with blood and tears, into which generous passion and resolution sank with every death. Here it is plain that a milder conflict, carried on by intrigue and diplomatic forms alone, for peaceable separation from the Catholic interest, would not have so quickened the intelligence which afterwards nourished so many English exiles and helped to freight the Mayflower. And we see the German mind first beginning to blossom with a language and a manifold literature during and after the Seven Years’ War, which developed a powerful Protestant State and a native German feeling. Frederic’s Gallic predilections did not infect the country which his arms had rendered forever anti-Gallic and anti-Austrian. The popular enthusiasm for himself, which his splendid victories mainly created, was the first instinctive form of the coming German sense of independence. The nation’s fairest period coincided with the French Revolution and the aggressions of the Empire. “ Hermann and Dorothea” felt the people’s pulse, which soon beat so high at Jena and Leipsic with rage and hope. The hope departed with the Peace of 1815, and pamphleteering, pragmatic writing, theological investigation, historical research, followed the period of creative genius, whose flowers did not wither while the fields ran red.
A war must be the last resort of truly noble and popular ideas, if it would do more than stimulate the intelligence of a few men, who write best with draughts of glory and success. It must be the long-repressed understanding of a nation suffused with strong primitive emotions, that flies to arms to secure the precious privilege of owning and entertaining its knowledge and its national advantages. And in proportion as any war has ever been leavened with the fine excitement of religion or humanity, however imperfectly, and though tyrannized over by political selfishness, we can see that the honest feeling has done something to obliterate the traces of violence, to offer the comfort of worth in the cause to wounded lips. When the people themselves take to fighting, not for dynastic objects, to secure the succession of an Infant to the throne, to fix a Pope in his chair, or to horse a runaway monarch around their necks, not to extort some commercial advantage, or to resist a tampering with the traditional balance of power, but to drive back the billows of Huns or Turks from fields where cities and a middle class must rise, to oppose citizen-right to feudal-right, and inoculate with the lance-head Society with the popular element, to assert the industrial against the baronial interest, or to expel the invader who forages among their rights to sweep them clean and to plant a system which the ground cannot receive, then we find that the intense conviction, which has been long gathering and brooding in the soul, thunders and lightens through the whole brain, and quickens the germs of Art, Beauty and Knowledge. Then war is only a process of development, which threatens terribly and shakes the locks upon its ægis in the face of the brutes which infest its path. Minerva is aware that wisdom and common sense will have to fight for recognition and a world: she fends blows from her tranquil forehead with the lowering crest; the shield is not always by her side, nor the sword-point resting on the ground. What is so vital as this armed and conscious intelligence ? The pen, thus tempered to a sword, becomes a pen again, but flows with more iron than before.
But the original intellectual life begins while the pen is becoming tempered in the fires of a great national controversy, before it is hard enough to draw blood. Magnetic streams attract each slender point to a centre of prophesying thought long before the blood-red aurora stains suddenly the midnight sky and betrays the influence which has been none the less mighty because it has been colorless. Sometimes a people says all that it has in its mind to say, during that comfortless period while the storm is in the air and has not yet precipitated its cutting crystals. The most sensitive minds are goaded to express emphatically their moral feeling and expectation in such a rude climate, which stimulates rather than depresses, but which is apt to fall away into languor and content. This only shows that the people have no commanding place in history, but are only bent upon relieving themselves from sundry annoyances, or are talking about great principles which they are not in a position, from ethnical or political disability, to develop. Such is all the Panslavic literature which is not Russian.2 But sometimes a people whose intellect passes through a noble pre-revolutionary period, illustrating it by impetuous eloquence, indignant lyrics, and the stern lines which a protesting conscience makes upon the faces of the men who are lifted above the crowd, finds that its ideas reach beyond the crisis in its life into a century of power and beauty, during which its emancipated tendency springs forward, with graceful gestures, to seize every spiritual advantage. Its movements were grand and impressive while it struggled for the opportunity to make known the divine intent that inspired it; but when the fetters burst, and every limb enjoys the victory and the release, the movements become unbounded, yet rhythmical, like Nature’s, and smite, or flow, or penetrate, like hers. To such a people war comes as the disturbance of the earth's crust which helps it to a habitable surface and lifts fair slopes to ripen wine and grain.
After all, then, we must carefully discover what a war was about, before we can trace; it, either for good or for evil, into the subsequent life of a nation. There can be no such thing as exhaustion or deterioration, if the eternal laws have won the laurel of a fight; for they are fountains of youth, from which new blood comes rushing through the depleted veins. And it soon mantles on the surface, to mend the financial and industrial distress. Its blush of pride and victory announces no heady passion. It is the signal which Truth waves from the hearts of her children.
If we wish directly to consider the effect of war upon our own intellectual development, we must begin by asking what ideas of consequence are suggested by our copious use of the word Country. What a phrase is that— Our Country — which we have been accustomed for eighty years to use upon all festivals that commemorate civic rights, with flattering and pompous hopes ! We never understood what it meant, till this moment which threatens to deprive us of the ideas and privileges which it really represents. We never appreciated till now its depth and preciousness. Orators have built up, sentence by sentence, a magnificent estimate of the elements which make our material success, and they thought it was a patriotic chord which they touched with the climax of their fine periods. It was such patriotism as thrives in the midst of content and satisfactory circumstances, which loves to have an inventory made of all the fixtures and conveniences and the crude splendor of a country’s housekeeping, — things which are not indeed to be despised, for they show what a people can do when cast upon their own resources, at a distance from Governmental interference, free to select their own way of living, to be fervent in business, in charities, in the cause of education, in the explorations which lay open new regions to the emigration of a world, in the inventiveness which gives labor new pursuits and increases the chances of poor men, in the enterprise which has made foundries, mines, workshops, manufactories, and granaries of independent States. We have loved to linger over the praises of our common schools and our voluntary system of congregational worship, to count the spires which mark every place that man clears to earn his living in. It has been pleasant to trace upon the map the great arteries of intercommunication, flowing east and west, churned by countless paddle-wheels, as they force a vast freight of wealth, material, social, intellectual, to and fro, a freshet of fertilizing life to swell every stream. We love to repeat the names which self-taught men have hewn out in rude places, with the only advantage of being members of Mankind, holding their own share in the great heart and soul of it, and making that itself more illustrious than lineage and fortune. Every element of an unexhausted soil, and all the achievements of a people Let loose upon it to settle, build, sow, and reap, with no master but ambition and no dread but of poverty, and a long list of rights thrust suddenly into their hands, with liberty to exercise them,—the right to vote, to speak, to print, to be tried by jury,—all this margin for unfettered action, even the corresponding vastness of the country itself, whose ruggedest features and greatest distances were playthings of the popular energy, — to love and extol these things were held by us equivalent to having a native land and feeding a patriotic flame. But now all at once this catalogue of advantages, which we were accustomed to call “ our country,” is stripped of all its value, because we begin to feel that it depends upon something else, more interior and less easy to appraise, which we had not noticed much before. Just as when suddenly, in a favorite child, endowed with strength, beauty, and effective gifts of every member, of whom we were proud and expected great things, and whom we took unlimited comfort in calling our own, there appears the solemn intention of a soul to use this fine body to express its invisible truth and honor, a wonderful revelation of a high mind filled with aspirations which we had not suspected,— a sudden lifting of the whole body like an eyelid before an inner eye, and we are astonished at the look it gives us : so this body of comfort and success, which we worshipped as our country, is suddenly possessed by great passions and ideas, by a consciousness that providential laws demand the use of it, and will not be restrained from inspiring the whole frame, and directing every member of it with a new plan of Unity, and a finer feeling for Liberty, and a more generous sense of Fraternity than ever before. Lately we did as we pleased, but now we are going to be real children of Liberty. Formerly we had a Union which transacted business for us, secured the payment of our debts, and made us appear formidable abroad while it corrupted and betrayed us at home,—a Union of colporteurs, and caucuses, and drummers of Southern houses; not a Union, but a long coffle of patriotic laymen, southerly clergymen, and slaves. Now the soul of a Democracy, gazing terribly through eyes that are weeping for the dead and for indignation at the cause of their dying, holds the thing which we call Union, and determines to keep its mighty hold till it can be informed with Unity, of which justice is the prime condition. See a Country at last, that is, a Republican Soul, making the limbs of free states shiver with the excitement of its great ideas, turning all our comfortable and excellent institutions into ministers to execute its will, resolved to wring the great sinews of the body with the stress of its awakening, and to tax, for a spiritual purpose, all the material resources and those forms of liberty which we had pompously called our native land. A people in earnest, smarting with the wounds of war and the deeper inflictions of treachery, is abroad seeking after a country. It has been repeating with annual congratulations for eighty years the self-evident truths of the document which declared its independence ; now it discovers that more evidence of it is needed than successful trading and building can bring, and it sends it forth afresh, with half a million of glittering specialities to enforce its doctrines, while trade, and speculation, and all the ambitions of prosperous men, and delicately nurtured lives, and other lives as dearly cherished and nursed to maturity, are sent out with an imperative commission to buy, at all hazards, a real country, to exchange what is precious for the sake of having finally what we dreamed we had before, — the most precious of all earthly things, — a Commonwealth of God. Yes, our best things go, like wads for guns, to bid our purpose speak more emphatically, as it expresses the overruling inspiration of the hour.
Is this really the character of our war, or is it only an ideal picture of what the war might be ? That depends solely upon ourselves.
Our soldiers kindle nightly their bivouac fires from East to West, and set their watch. They are the advance posts of the great idea, which is destined to make a country as it advances southwardly, and to settle it with republicans. If we put it in a single sentence, “ Freedom of industry for hand and brain to all men," we must think awhile upon it before we can see what truths and temporal advantages it involves. We see them best, in this night of our distress and trial, by the soldiers’ watch-fires. They encroach upon the gloom, and open it for us with hopes. They shine like the stars of a deeper sky than day affords, and we can see a land stretching to the Gulf, and lying expectant between either sea, whose surface is given to a Republic to people and civilize for the sake of Man. Whoever is born here, or whoever comes here, brought by poverty or violence, an exile from misery or from power, and whatever be his ethnological distinction, is a republican of this country because he is a man. Here he is to find safety, cooperation, and welcome. His very ignorance and debasement are to be welcomed by a country eager to exhibit the plastic power of its divine idea,—how animal restrictions can be gradually obliterated, how superstition and prejudice must die out of stolid countenances before the steady gaze of republican good-will, how ethnic peculiarities shall subserve the great plan and be absorbed by it. The country no longer will have a conventional creed, that men are more important than circumstances and governments: we always said so, but our opinion was at the mercy of a KnowNothing club, a slaveholding cabal, a selfish democracy: it will have a living faith, born with the pangs of battle, that nothing on earth is so precious as the different kinds of men. It will want them, to illustrate its preëminent idea, and it will go looking for them through all the neglected places of the world, to invite them in from the by-lanes and foul quarters of every race, expressly to show that man is superior to his accidents, by bringing their bodies into a place where their souls can get the better of them. Where can that, be except where a democracy has been waging a religious war against its own great evil, and has repented in blood for having used all kinds of men as the white and black pawns in its games of selfish politics, with its own country for the board, and her peace and happiness lying in the pool for stakes ? Where can man be respected best except here, where he has been undervalued most, and bitterness and blood have sprung from that contempt ?
This is the first truly religious war ever waged. Can there be such a thing as a religious war ? There can be wars in the interest of different theologies, and mixed wars of diplomacy and confessions of belief, wars to transfer the tradition of infallibility from a pope to a book, wars of Puritans against the divine right of kings in the Old World and the natural rights of Indians in the New, in all of which the name of God has been invoked for sanction, and Scripture has been quoted, and Psalms uplifted on the battle-field for encouragement. And it is true that every conflict, in which there are ideas that claim their necessary development against usage and authority, has a religious character so far as the ideas vindicate God by being good for man. But a purely religious war must be one to restore the attributes and prerogatives of manhood, to confirm primitive rights that are given to finite souls as fast as they are created, to proclaim the creed of humanity, which is so far from containing a single article of theology, that it is solely and distinctively religious without it, because it proclaims one Father in heaven and one blood upon the earth. Manhood is always worth fighting for, to resist and put down whatever evil tendency impairs the full ability to be a man, with a healthy soul conscious of rights and duties, owning its gifts, and valuing above everything else the liberty to place its happiness in being noble and good. Every man wages a religious war, when he attacks his own passions in the interest of his own humanity. The most truly religious thing that a man can do is to fight his way through habits and deficiencies back to the pure manlike elements of his nature, which are the ineffaceable traces of the Divine workmanship, and alone really worth fighting for. And when a nation imitates this private warfare, and attacks its own gigantic evils, lighted through past deficiencies and immediate temptations by its best ideas, as its human part rallies against its inhuman, and all the kingly attributes of a freeborn individual rise up in final indignation against its slavish attributes, then commences the true and only war of a people, and the only war of which we dare say, though it have the repulsive features that belong to all wars, that it is religious. But that we do say; for it is to win and keep the unity of a country for the great purposes of mankind, a place where souls can have their chances to work, with the largest freedom and under the fewest disabilities, at the divine image stamped upon them,—to get here the tools, both temporal and spiritual, with which to strike poverty and misery out of those glorious traces, and to chisel deep and fresh the handwriting where God says, This is a Man !
Here is a sufficient ground for expecting that intellectual as well as political enlargement will succeed this trial of our country. It is well to think of all the approaching advantages, even those remote ones which will wear the forms of knowledge and art. For it is undeniable, that a war cannot be so just as to bring no evils in its train,— not only the disturbance of all kinds of industry, the suppression of some, the difficulty of diverting, at a moment’s notice, labor towards new objects, — not only financial embarrassment and exhaustion, and the shadow of a coming debt, — not the maiming of strong men and their violent removal from the future labors of peace, nor the emotional suffering of thousands of families whose hearts are in the field with their dear ones, tossed to and fro in every skirmish, where the balls slay more than the bodies which are pierced : not these evils alone, — nor the feverish excitement of eighteen millions of people, whose gifts and intelligence are all distraught, and at the mercy of every bulletin, — nor yet the possible violations of private rights, and the overriding of legal defences, which, when once attempted in a state of war, is not always relinquished on the return of peace. These do not strike us so much as the moral injury which many weak and passionate minds sustain from the necessity of destroying life, of ravaging and burning, of inflicting upon the enemy politic distresses. There will be a taint in the army and the community which will endure in the relations of pacific life. And more than half a million of men, who have tasted the fierce joy of battle, have suffered the moral privations and dangers of the camp, are to be returned suddenly to us, and east adrift, with no hope of finding immediate employment, and hankering for some excitements to replace those of the distant field. If little truth and little conscience have been at stake, these are the reasons which make wars so demoralizing : they leave society restored to peace, but still at war within itself, infested by those strange cravings, and tempted by a new ambition, that of waging successful wars. This will be the most dangerous country on the face of the earth, after the termination of this war; for it will see its own ideas more clearly than ever before, and long to propagate them with its battle-ardors and its scorn of hypocritical foreign neutralities. We have the elements to make the most martial nation in the world, with a peculiar combination of patience and impulse, coldness and daring, the capacity to lie in watchful calm and to move with the vibrations of the earthquake. And if ever the voice of our brother, crying out to us from the ground of any country, shall sigh among the drums which are then gathering dust in our arsenals, the long roll would wake again, and the arms would rattle in that sound, which is part of the speech of Liberty. But it is useless to affirm or to deny such possibilities. It is plain, however, that we are organizing most formidable elements, and learning how to forge them into bolts. The spirit of the people, therefore, must be high and pure. The more emphatically we declare, in accordance with the truth, that this war is for a religious purpose, to prepare a country for the growing of souls, a place where every element of material success and all the ambitions of an enthusiastic people shall only provide fortunate circumstances, so that men can be educated in the freedom which faith, knowledge, and awe before the Invisible secure, the better will it be for us when peace returns. A great believing people will more readily absorb the hurts of war. Spiritual vitality will throw off vigorously the malaria which must arise from deserted fields of battle. It must be our daily supplication to feel the religious purport of the truths for which we fight. We must disavow vindictiveness, and purge our hearts of it. There must be no vulgar passion illustrated by our glorious arms. And when we say that we are fighting for mankind, to release souls and bodies from bondage, we must understand, without affectation, that we are fighting for the slaveholder himself, who knows it not, as he hurls his iron disbelief and hatred against us. For we are to have one country, all of whose children shall repeat in unison its noble creed, which the features of the land itself proclaim, and whose railroads and telegraphs are its running-hand.
How often we have enumerated and deprecated the evils of war! The Mexican War, in which Slavery herself involved us, (using the power of the Republic against which she conspired to further her conspiracy,) gave us occasion to extol the benefits of peace, and to draw up a formidable indictment against the spirit which lusted for the appeal to arms. We have not lusted for it, and the benefits of peace seem greater than ever; but the benefits of equity and truth seem greater than all. Show me justice, or try to make me unjust, — force upon me at the point of the sword the unspeakable degradation of abetting villany, and I will seize the hilt, if I can, and write my protest clear with the blade, and while I have it in my hand I will reap what advantages are possible in the desolation which it makes.
Among these advantages of a war waged to secure the rights of citizenship to all souls will be the excitement of a national intellectual life, which will take on the various forms of a national literature. This is to be expected for two reasons. First, because our arms will achieve unity. By this is meant not only that there will be a real union of all the States, consequent upon an eventual agreement in great political and moral ideas, but also that this very consent will bring the different characteristic groups of the country so near together, in feeling and mutual appreciation, and with a free interchange of traits, that we shall begin to have a nationality. And there can be no literature until there is a nation; when the varieties of the popular life begin to coalesce, as all sections are drawn together towards the centre of great political ideas which the people themselves establish, there will be such a rich development of intellectual action as the Old World has not seen. Without this unity, literature may be cultivated by cliques of men of talent, who are chiefly stimulated to express themselves by observing the thought and beauty which foreign intellects and past times produced; but their productions will not spring from the country’s manifold life, nor express its mighty individuality. The sections of the country which are nearest to the intelligence of the Old World will furnish the readiest writers and the most polished thinkers, until the New World dwarfs the Old World by its unity, and inspires the best brains with the collected richness of the popular heart. Up to the period of this war the country’s most original men have been those who, by protesting against its evils and displaying a genius emancipated from the prescriptions of Church and State, have prophesied the revolution, and given to America the first rich foretaste of her growing mind. The thunder rolled up the sky in the orator’s great periods, the lightning began to gleam in the preacher’s moral indignation, the glittering steel slumbered uneasily and showed its half-drawn menace from the subtle lines of poets and essayists who have been carrying weapons these twenty years; their souls thirsted for an opportunity to rescue fair Liberty from the obscene rout who had her in durance for their purposes, and to hail her accession to a lawful throne with the rich gifts of knowledge, use, and beauty, a homage that only free minds can pay, and only when freedom claims it. We do not forget the literary activity with which a thousand ready intellects have furnished convenient food for the people : there has been no lack of books, nor of the ambition to attempt all the intellectual forms. Some of this pabulum was not good for a growing frame ; the excuse for offering it may be found in the exigencies of squatter-life. We are a notable people for our attachment to the frying-pan. and there is no doubt that it is a shifty utensil : it can be slung at the saddle-bow or carried in a valise, it will bear the jolting of a corduroy road, and furnish a campmess in the minimum of time out of material that was perhaps but a moment before sniffing or pecking at its rim. A very little blaze sets the piece of cold fat swimming, and the black cavity soon glows and splutters with extemporaneous content. But what dreams howl about the camp-fires, what hideous scalping-humor creeps from the leathery supper into the limbs and blood of the adventurous pioneer !
No better, and quite as scrofulous, has been the nourishment furnished by the rhetorical time-servers and polished conventionalists, whose gifts have been all directed against the highest good of the country’s mind, to offer sweets to its crying conscience, and draughts of fierce or languid cordials to lull the uneasy moods of this fast-growing child of Liberty. Such men are fabricators of smooth speech; they have brought their gilding to put upon the rising pillars of the country, instead of strength to plant them firmly in their places and to spread the protecting roof. This period of storm will wash off their dainty work. When the clean granite stands where it should to shelter the four-and-thirty States as they walk the vast colonnades together, intent upon the great interchanges of the country’s thought and work, this tinsel will not be missed; as men look upon the grave lines that assure them of security, they will rejoice that the time for the truly beautiful has arrived, and hasten to relieve the solid space with shapes as durable as the imagination which conceives.
There must be a great people before there can be a great character in its books, its instructions, or its works of art. This character is prophesied only in part by what is said and thought while the people is becoming great, and the molten constituents are sparkling as they run into their future form. We have been so dependent upon traditional ideas that we suppose an epic, for instance, to be the essential proof that a people is alive and has something to express. Let us cease to wonder whether there will ever be an American poem, an American symphony, or an American Novum Organon. It is a sign of weakness and subservience: and this is a period crowded with acts of emancipation. We cannot escape from the past, if we would; we have a right to inherit all the previous life of men that does not surfeit us and impede our proper work, but let us stop our unavailing sighs for Iliads. The newspaper gathers and circulates all true achievements faster than blind poets can plod round with the story. The special form of the epic answered to a state of society when the harper connected cities with his golden wire, slowly unrolling its burden as he went. Vibrations travel faster now; men would be foolish to expect that the new life will go journeying in classic vehicles. When the imagination becomes free, it can invent forms equally surprising and better adapted to the face of the country.
There is no part of this country which has not its broad characters and tendencies, different from anything ever seen before, imperfect while they are doomed to isolation, during which they show only a maimed and grotesque vitality. The religious tendency is different, the humor is different, the imagination differs from anything beyond the Atlantic. And the East differs from the West, the North from the South ; and the Pacific States will have also to contribute gifts peculiar to themselves, as the silt of the Sacramento glitters unlike that of the Merrimac or the Potomac. We are not yet a People; but we have great, vivid masses of popular life, which a century of literary expression will not exhaust. All these passionate characters are running together in this general danger, having seized a weapon : they have found an idea in common, they are pervaded by their first really solemn feeling, they issue the same word for the night from East to West. The nationality thus commenced will introduce the tendency to blend in place of the tendency to keep apart, and each other’s gifts will pass sympathetically from hand to hand.
The heightened life of this epoch is another cause which shall prepare a great development of intellectual forms. Excitement and enthusiasm pervade all classes of the people. All the primitive emotions of the human heart — friendship, scorn, sympathy, human and religious love — break into the liveliest expression, penetrate every quarter of society; a great river is let loose from the rugged mountain-recesses of the people; its waters, saturated with Nature’s simple fertility, cover the whole country, and will not retire without depositing their renewing elements. A sincere and humble people is feeling the exigency. A million families have fitted out their volunteers with the most sumptuous of all equipments, which no Government could furnish, love, tears of anxiety and pride, last kisses and farewells, and prayers more heaven-cleaving than a time of peace can breathe. What an invisible cloud of domestic pathos overhung for a year the course of the Potomac, and settled upon those huts and tents where the best part of home resided! what an ebb and flow of letters, bearing solemnity and love upon their surface ! what anxiety among us, with all its brave housekeeping shifts, to keep want from the door while labor is paralyzed, and the strong arms have beaten their ploughshares into swords! What self-sacrifice of millions of humble wives and daughters whose works and sorrows are now refining the history of their country, and lifting the popular nobleness : they are giving all that they are to keep their volunteers in the field. The flag waves over no such faithfulness ; its stars sparkle not like this sincerity. The feeling and heroism of the women are enough to refresh and to remould the generation. Like subtle lightning, the womanly nature is penetrating the life of the age. From every railroadstation the ponderous train bore off its freight of living valor, amid the cheers of sympathizing thousands who clustered upon every shed and pillar, and yearned forward as if to make their tumultuous feelings the motive power to carry those dear friends away. What an ardent and unquenchable emotion ! Drums do not throb like these hearts, bullets do not patter like these tears. There is not a power of the soul which is not vitalized and expanded by these scenes. But long after the crowd vanishes, there stands a woman at the corner, with a tired child asleep upon her shoulder ; the bosom does not heave so strongly as to break its sleep. There are no regrets in the calm, proud face; no, indeed! — for it is the face of our country, waiting to suffer and be strong for liberty, and to put resolutely the dearest thing where it can serve mankind. In her face read the history of the future as it shall be sung and written by pens which shall not know whence their sharpened impulse springs ; the page shall reflect the working of that woman’s face, daughter of the people; and when exulting posterity shall draw new patriotism from it, and declare that it is proud, pathetic, resolved, sublime, they shall not yet call it by its Christian name, for that will be concealed with moss upon her forgotten head-stone
- Newspapers proper appeared as early as 1615 in Germany, but these rhymed gazettes were very numerous. They were more or less bulky pamphlets, with pithy sarcastic programmes for titles, and sometimes a wood or copper cut prefixed. A few of them were of Catholic origin, and one, entitled Post-Bote, (The Express,) is quite as good as anything issued by the opposite party.↩
- Some cultivated Bohemians who can recall the glories of Ziska and his chiefs, and who comprehend the value of the tendency which they strove to represent, think that there would have grown a Bohemian people, a great centre of Protestant and Slavonic influence, if it had not been for the Battle of Weissenberg in 1620, when the Catholic Imperialists defeated their King Frederic. A verse of a popular song, The Patriot's Lament, runs thus, in Wratislaw's translation: —↩
- “ Cursed mountain, mountain white!
Upon thee was crushed our might;
What in thee lies covered o'er
Ages cannot back restore.”↩
- If there had been a Bohemian people, preserving a real vital tendency, the Battle of the White Mountain would have resulted differently, even had it been a defeat.↩
- Other patriots, cultivated enough to be Panslavists, indulge a more cheerful vein. They see a good time coming, and raise the cry of Hej Slované !↩
- “ Hey, Slavonians ! our Slavonic language still is living,
Long as our true loyal heart is for our nation striving;
Lives, lives, the Slavonic spirit, and ’t will live forever:
Hell and thunder! vain against us all your rage shall shiver.”↩
- This is nothing but a frontier feeling. The true Slavonic centre is at St. Petersburg; thence will roll a people and a language over all kindred ground.↩