Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

and every

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 him a profound rhetorician ; his talent and beauty of expression a fine writer; his real native eloquence à 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 lyricsa 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:

a

"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, imparted 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 sumshine, 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.”

а

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 arouna musty epithets. They take up issues which have no more relation to the deep, vital, throbbing interest of the time than they have to the fashions of our grandfathers. And surely it is a case for congratulation, when some great, exciting question breaks out and jars their conventional idols, and so sweeps and shatters their party organization and turns them topsy-turvy, that a man is shaken out of his harness, does not know exactly what party he does belong to, and begins to feel that he has a soul of his own."

[ocr errors]

This quotation hurries him into our view as a public speaker or lecturer, for we agree with a recent writer that Mr. Chapin is one of the most splendid of American orators. To the platform he brings a stout body, rather heavily proportioned for his height. He is very near-sighted, to palliate which defect he wears glasses, and keeps his eyes and face close to his notes. He generally writes out his address, though in the pulpit he occasionally extemporizes. He is possessed of many of those qualifications which draw full houses, and send them home well satisfied. He is always spirited, nervous, enthusiastic, and often rises into a vein of thrilling eloquence. To a rapid but distinct enunciation he unites a fervor and ardor which is sure to win the profound attention of his audience. His style of thought is quite original, his expression terse and powerful, and as he becomes warmed with his subject his excitement spreads as by a magic influence to the listeners. Where at first he only caught the attention by some eccentric description of a human animal, he now rivets it by a more gloomy picture. Where a moment since you were only interested, you are now watching intensely to devour his words with eager avidity as they fall. Gradually you forget that any one is in the room but yourself and the speaker. On he leads you and with you every soul in his audience to feed on new fruits of intellect, and dazzle with new diamonds from his brilliant imagination. Scarcely are your sympathies apoise and your eyes ready to pay the “draft on sight,” when a pungent satire brings down the house with a tumult of applause. Then away his fancy flies in a new direction; all the beauties of heaven rise up in beatific vision to the enraptured gaze. Spread out before you are fields of living green, and streamlets from eternal mind, in every direction, through gardens of surpassing loveliness. From those ever blooming flowers celestial odors are wafted down to earth. Angelic choirs fill the great dome of heaven with music too enchanting for mortal ears, yet you seem to catch the faint echoes. Over all the scene a blaze of glory falls from "Him that liveth and sitteth upon the throne.” All is still, for all are wrapt in the magnificent dream-mantle with which he has enveloped you ; the climax is at length

« AnteriorContinuar »