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grows more declamatory; his tears are dried. You leap along with him, and as he smites the oppressor with God's truth, you have no thought of rebuking him for vehemence; he expresses your own thoughts in better language than you could command. But before he is done he smites you ; he charges those before him with indifference to this giant wrong; he tells them that the blood of the oppressed will be found on their skirts, for conniving at the servitude of three millions of their fellow-men.
It is the same with every subject; he is fearless yet tender, vehement yet gentle. He preaches few of what are called doctrinal sermons, but he dwells often and fully upon the wonderful love of Godupon the every day duties of men.
He never preaches upon “the exceeding sinfulness of sin,” but addresses himself to sinners. But though he is bold, he rarely offends any honest inquirer after truth. Such a mind likes his frankness—is charmed by his boldness—is moved to tears by his pathos.
There are some who charge Mr. Beecher with uttering irreverent, witty things in the pulpit. He is sometimes almost humorous in the pulpit, but it is because he cannot help it. It is as natural for him to speak his thonghts in an original manner, as it is for some clergymen to preach stupidities. Occasionally a sentence drops froin his lips which starts the smile upon the faces of his audience. He intended no wit, but
the odd comparison, or the sparkling sentence bursts forth involuntarily. To set down and snarl over this feature of his pulpit oratory, when there are others so rare and attractive, is the mark of a small intellect and a still smaller heart.
We have spoken of the contrasts presented in Mr. Beecher's sermons—they are in the man. character is full of contrasts-his writings are the
No man has a more refined love of the beautiful. We cannot resist the temptation to copy one of his most exquisite sketches of a country scene, and when we have done that we will contrast it with one of his vehement, magnificent outbursts against despotism and wrong. The article which we quote is entitled
Where shall we go?
upper part running through bushy and wet meadows, but the lower part flowing transparently over the gravel, through the grass and pasture grounds near the edge of the village, where it curves and ties itself into bow knots. It is a charming brook in which to catch trout, when you catch them, but they are mostly caught.
“ Well, there is the Caney brook. We will look at that. A man might walk through the meadows and not suspect its existence. The grass meets over the top of its upper
section and quite hides it; and below, through that iron tinctured marsh land, it expands only a little, growing open-hearted by degrees, across a narrow field; and then it runs for the thickets and he who takes fish among those alders will certainly earn them. Yet, for its length, it is not a bad brook. The trout are not numerous, nor large, nor especially fine; but every one you catch renews your surprise that you should catch any in such a ribbon of a brook. Still farther north is another stream, something larger, and much better or worse, according to your luck. It is easy of access, and quite unpretending. There is a bit of a pond some twenty feet in diameter, from which it flows, and in that there are five or six halfpound trout, who seem to have retired from active life, and given themselves to meditation in its liquid convent. They were very tempting, but quite untemptable. Standing afar off, we selected an irresistible fly, and with a long line we sent it pat into the very place. It fell like a snow-flake. No trout should have hesitated a moment. The morsel was delicious. The nimblest of them should have flashed through the water, broken the surface, and with a graceful but decisive curve plunged downward, carrying the insect with him. Then we should in our turn, very cheerfully have lent him a hand, relieved him of his prey, and admiring his beauty but pitying his untimely fate, buried him in the basket. But he wished no translation. We cast our fly again and again; we drew it hither and thither; we made it skip and wriggle; we let it fall splash, like a surprised miller; and our audience calmly beheld our feats.
“ Next we tried ground bait, and sent our vermicular hook down to their very sides. With judicious gravity they parted,
. and slowly sailed toward the root of an old tree on the side of the pool. Again changing place, we will make an ambassaYou step
dor of a grasshopper. Laying down our rod, we prepare to
fellow climbing a steeple stem. You take a good aim and grab him. . You catch the spire, but he has jumped a safe rod. Yonder is another, creeping among some delicate ferns. With broad palm you clutch him, and all the neighboring herbage too. Stealthily opening your little finger, you see his leg; the next finger reveals more of him; and opening the next you are just beginning to take him out with the other hand, when out he bounds and leaves you to renew your entomological pursuits. Twice
snatch handfuls of grass, and cautiously open your hand to find that you have only grass. It is very vexatious. There are thousands of them here and there, climbing and wriggling on that blade, leaping off from that stalk, twisting and kicking on that vertical spider's web, jumping and boun. cing about under your very nose, hitting you in the face, creeping on your shoes, and yet not one do you get. If any tenderhearted person ever wondered how a humane man could bring himself to such cruelty as to impale an insect, let him hunt for a grasshopper in a hot day among tall grass, and when at length he secures one, the affixing him upon the hook will be
done without a single scruple, as a mere matter of penal jus. tice, and with judicial solemnity.
“ Now then, the trout yonder. We swing our line to the air, and give it a gentle cast toward the desired spot, and a puff of south wind dexterously lodges it in the branch of the tree. You plainly see it strike, and whirl over and over, so that no gentle pull loosens it; you draw it a jerk up and a pull down; you give a series of nimble twitches; you coax it in this way and solicit it in that way in vain. Then you stop and look a moment, first at the trout and then at your line. Was there ever anything so vexatious ? Would it be wrong to get angry? In fact, we feel very much like it. The very things you wanted to catch, the grasshopper and the trout, you could not; but a tree, that you did not want, you have caught fast at the first throw. You fear that the trout will be scared. You cautiously draw nigh and peep down. Yes, they are looking at you, and laughing as sure as trout ever laughed. They understand the whole thing. With a very decisive jerk you snap your line, regain the remnant of it, and sit down to repair it, to put on another hook, catch another grasshopper, and move on down stream to catch a trout.
“Meantime the sun is wheeling behind the mountain, for you are just at the eastern ridge of Mount Washington (not of the White Mountains, but in Massachusetts and Connecticut.) Already its broad shade begins to fall down upon the plain. The side of the mountain is solemn and sad. Its ridge stands sharp against a fire-bright horizon. Here and there a tree has escaped the ax of the charcoalers, and shag. gily marks the sky. Ilere and there through the heavens are