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E. H. CHAPIN.
AMONG the foremost of popular lecturers in America is Rev. E. H. Chapin. He is eminently a social philosopher; a man who does not look upon society merely in the aggregate, as a molten current of flowing humanity, but who views a collection of individuals, each possessing a character, an ambition, an aim exclusively his own. He has so accustomed himself to study out the character, the thoughts and feelings, the hopes and trials of each, that when the subject presents itself to the mind of the lecturer he has the whole picture vividly before his imagination; he paints it from life; he has seen it, has contemplated it in every varying shade in which it could be presented. In his convulsive grasp the miser, the mean man, the political demagogue, and the hypocrite, exhibit to the world all their hideous deformities; while the virtues of the good, the kind, the benevolent, and the noble are beautified by his touch with a perfection hardly native. If he turns his attention to the city, the broad field of humanity is all bare be fore his gaze. He walks abroad in the street; every man he meets affords him a theme for meditation,
child a text for a sermon. Not a circumstance of his life seems to have passed but has furnished him the pith of some crammed apothegm, or the parallel for a striking simile. Not a cry of wo has reached his ear but has found the way to his heart, and will come forth again in pathetic beauty to deepen some sketch of human suffering; not a shout of laughter but will reëcho in some vivid sentence to brighten the shade of our humanity. It is this characteristic which has made Mr. Chapin eminently popular among the masses.
His learning might have made hiin a profound rhetorician; his talent and beauty of expression a fine writer; his real native eloquence a splendid orator; but all these could not have made him the man that he is. Superadd to these his susceptible heart, his benevolent spirit, his gentle disposition, and christian refinement, and you have Chapin.
He is presented to our notice as a writer, a speaker, a poet—for he has written some beautiful lyric3—a preacher, and a reformer. The last distinction might once have been thought needless, but in the era of Lords-many, of Spragues, of Springs, et cetera, we think it essential.
There are few men living from whose writings more beautiful sentences can be taken than from Mr. Chapin's. Here is one upon the blessings of home:
“Oh! mother, mother; name for the earliest relationship, symbol of the divine tenderness; kindling a love that we never blush to confess, and a veneration that we cannot help rendering; how does your mystic influence, in parted from the soft pressure and the undying smile, weave itself through all the brightness, through all the darkness of our after life! And when on this familiar hearth our own vital lamp burns low, and the golden bowl begins to shudder, and the silver cord to untwine, let our last look be upon the faces that we best love ; let the gates that open into the celestial city be those well known doors—and thus may we also die at home !"
Here also is a fine glimpse of childhood snatched from nature; it is one of a perpetual supply of gems that are strung upon the thread of his discourse :
" And all of us, I trust, are thankful that God has created not merely men and women, crimped into artificial patterns, with selfish speculation in their eyes, with sadness, and weariness, and trouble about many things, carving the wrinkles and stealing away the bloom ; but pours in upon us a fresh stream of being that overflows our rigid conventionalisms with the buoyancy of nature, plays into this dusty and angular life like the jets of a fountain, like floods of sunshine, upsets our miserable dignity, meets us with a love that contains no deceit, a frankness that rebukes our quibbling compliments, nourishes the poetry of the soul, and perpetually descending from the threshold of the Infinite, keeps open an archway of mystery and heaven.”
In fact, the charm of Mr. Chapin's declamation consists mainly in the beauty and force of his expression. With some men it is the manner; with him the matter. When he would demolish a vice or praise a virtue he first paints the one in hideous truth, or the other with strange beauty, until you loathe the one or love the other. He does not employ his pen in systematizing sin, and shielding the individual behind the organization, or the party, or the association in which he acts, but brings the charge right home to the door of every guilty man's conscience, and if that door be not double barred from the force of truth, will batter down the barricade and lay the load of crime upon the hearthstone of the heart. And here permit a brief illustrating paragraph upon individual responsibility :
“God does not take account of parties; party names are not known in that court of divine judgment; but your name and mine are on the books there. If the party lies, then you are guilty of falsehood. If the party—as is very often the case -does a mean thing, then you do it. It is surely so, as far as you are one of the party, and go with it in its action. There is no such thing—and this is true, perhaps, in more senses than one-there is no such thing as a party conscience. It is individual conscience that is implicated. Party! party! Ah, my friends, here is the influence which, it is to be feared, balks and falsifies many of these glorious symbols. Men rally