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VOICES OF THE TRUE HEARTED.
BY JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL.
TO M. W.
To live, and love, and never look beyond
Whose sunny circle stretches wide enough
For me to find a heaped contentment in;
My golden harvest of sweet memories, Mine own betrothed, the firstlings of my kiise, - And count my boundless revenue of smiles Poor windfalls of unripe experience,
And happy looks, and words so kind and ntle
Reflecting but the spring-time on its brink,
O'er it, --secure that from thy virgin hands
My brows shall never lack their dearest wreath : Which shapes from out our elements awry
But life hath nobler destinies than this, The grace and order that we wonder at,
Which but to strive for is reward enough, The mystic harmony of right and wrong,
Which to attain is all earth gives of peace. Both working out His wisdom and our good : Thou art not of those niggard souls, who deem A trust, Beloved, chiefly learned of thee,
That Poesy is but to jingle words, Who hast that gift of patient tenderness,
To string sweet sorrows for apologies
To hide the barrenness of unfurnished hearts,
And make more threadbare what was quite worn out : Yet leans with full-confiding piety
Our common thoughts are deepest, and to give On the great Spirit that enriches all.
Such beauteous tones to these, as needs must take Less of that feeling, which the world calls love,
Men's hearts their captives to the end of time, Thou findest in my verse, but haply more
So that who hath not the choice gift of words
Takes these into his soul, as welcome friends, Of a more precious virtue, born of that,
To make sweet inusic of his joys and woes,
And be all Beauty's swift interpreters,
Links of bright gold 'twixt nature and his heart,
This is the errand high of Poesy. | And every day grown fuller of that bliss, Which, even at first, seemed more than we could bear, The day has long gone by wherein 't was thought And thou, meantime, unchanged, except it be
That men were greater poets, inasmuch
As they were more unlike their fellow-men:
The poet sees beyond, but dwells among,
The wearing turmoil of our work-day life; Which taught me first how good it was to love ;
His heart not differs from another heart,
But rather in itself enfolds the whole
Felt by the hearts about him, high or low,
Hath deeper sympathies and clearer sight, If I were recreant to higher aims.
And is more like a human heart than all ; Thou didst not grant to me so rich a fief
His larger portion is but harmony As thy full love, on any harder tenure
Of heart, the all-potent alchemy that turns Than that of rendering thee a single heart;
The humblest things to golden inspiration; And I do service for thy queenly gift
A loving eye's unmatched sovereignty; Then best, when I obey my soul, and tread
A self-sustained, enduring humbleness ; In reverence the path she beckons me.
A reverence for woman; a deep faith
In gentleness, as strength's least doubtful proof; 'T were joy enough,-if I could think that life And an electric sympathy with love, Were but a barren struggle after joy,
Heaven's first great message to all noble souls.
But, if the poet's duty be to tell
Our new Atlantis, like a morning-star, His fellow-men their beauty and their strength, Silvers the murk face of slow-yielding Night, And show them the deep meaning of their souls, The herald of a fuller truth than yet He also is ordained to higher things ;
Hath gleamed upon the upraised face of Man He must reflect his race's struggling heart,
Since the earth glittered in her stainless prime,And shape the crude conceptions of his age.
Of a more glorious sunrise than of old They tell us that our land was made for song, Drew wondrous melodies from Memnon huge, With its huge rivers and sky-piercing peaks, Yea, draws them still, though now he sits waist-deep Its sea-like lakes and mighty cataracts,
In the engulfing flood of whirling sand, Its forests vast and hoar, and prairies wide,
And looks across the wastes of endless gray, And mounds that tell of wondrous tribes extinct; Sole wreck, where once his hundred-gated Thebes But Poesy springs not from rocks and woods; Pained with her mighty hum the calm, blue heaven: Her womb and cradle are the human heart,
Shall the dull stone pay grateful orisons, And she can find a nobler theme for song
And we till noonday bar the splendor out, In the most loathsome man that blasts the sight, Lest it reproach and chide our sluggard hearts, Than in the broad expanse of sea and shore
Warm-nestled in the down of Prejudice, Between the frozen deserts of the poles.
And be content, though clad with angel-wings, All nations have their message from on high, Close-clipped, to hop about from perch to perch, Each the messiah of some central thought,
In paltry cages of dead men's dead thoughts? For the fulfilment and delight of Man :
0, rather, like the sky-lark, soar and sing, One has to teach that Labor is divine;
And let our gushing songs befit the dawn Another, Freedom; and another, Mind;
And sunrise, and the yet unshaken dew And all, that God is open-eyed and just,
Brimming the chalice of each full-blown hope, The happy centre and calm heart of all.
Whose blithe front turns to greet the growing day!
Never had poets such high call before, Are, then, our woods, our mountains, and our Never can poets hope for higher one. streams,
And, if they be but faithful to their trust, Needful to teach our poets how to sing ?
Earth will remember them with love and joy, 0, maiden rare, far other thoughts were ours, And, 0, far better, God will not forget. When we have sat by ocean's foaming marge, For he who settles Freedom's principles And watched the waves leap roaring on the rocks, Writes the death-warrant of all tyranny ; Than young Leander and his Hero had,
Who speaks the truth stabs Falsehood to the heart, Gazing from Sestos to the other shore.
And his mere word makes despots tremble more The moon looks down and ocean worships her, Than ever Brutus with his dagger could. Stars rise and set, and seasons come and go
Wait for no hints from waterfalls or woods, Even as they did in Homer's elder time,
Nor dream that tales of red men, brute and fierce, But we behold them not with Grecian eyes : Repay the finding of this Western World, Then they were types of beauty and of strength, Or needed half the globe to give them birth : But now of freedom, unconfined and pure,
Spirit supreme of Freedom! not for this Subject alone to Order's higher law.
Did great Columbus tame his eagle soul What cares the Russian serf or Southern slave, To jostle with the daws that perch in courts; Though we should speak as man spake never yet Not for this, friendless, on an unknown sea, Of gleaming Hudson's broad magnificence,
Coping with mad waves and more mutinous spirits, Or green Niagara's never-ending roar ?
Battled he with the dreadful ache at heart Our country hath a gospel of her own
Which tempts, with devilish subtleties of doubt, To preach and practice before all the world, - The hermit of that loneliest solitude, The freedom and divinity of man,
The silent desert of a great New Thought: The glorious claims of human brotherhood, — Though loud Niagara were to-day struck dumb, Which to pay nobly, as a freeman should,
Yet would this cataract of boiling life Gains the sole wealth that will not fly away, - Rush plunging on and on to endless deeps, And the soul's fealty to none but God.
And utter thunder till the world shall cease, These are realities, which make the shows A thunder worthy of the poet's song, Of outward Nature, be they ne'er so grand,
And which alone can fill it with true life. Seem small, and worthless, and contemptible : The high evangel to our country granted These are the mountain-summits for our bards, Could make apostles, yea, with tongues of fire, Which stretch far upward into heaven itself, Of hearts half-darkened back again to clay! * And give such wide-spread and exulting view 'T is the soul only that is national, Of hope, and faith, and onward destiny,"
And he who pays true loyalty to that That shrunk Parnassus to a molehill dwindles. Alone can claim the wreath of patriotism.
BY LYDIA MARIA CHILD.
Beloved ! if I wander far and oft
the midst of such calm, bright influences. Man may From that which I believe, and feel, and know, curse, but Nature for ever blesses. The guiltiest Thou wilt forgive, not with a sorrowing heart, of her wandering children she would fain enfold But with a strengthened hope of better things; within her arms to the friendly heart-warmth of a Knowing that I, though often blind and false mother's bosom. She speaks to them ever in the To those I love, and, 0, more false than all soft, low tones of earnest love; but they, alas, tossUnto myself, have been most true to thee,
ed on the roaring, stunning surge of society, forget And that whoso in one thing hath been true the quiet language. Can be as true in all. Therefore thy hope
As I looked up at the massive walls of the prison, May yet not prove unfruitful, and thy love it did my heart good to see doves nestling within Meet, day by day, with less unworthy thanks, the shelter of the deep, narrow, grated windows. I Whether, as now, we journey hand in hand, thought what blessed little messengers of heaven Or, parted in the body, yet are one
they would appear to me, if I were in prison; but In spirit and the love of holy things.
instantly a shadow passed over the sunshine of my thought. Alas, doves do not speak to their souls, as they would to mine ; for they have lost their love for child-like, and gentle things. How have they
lost it? Society with its unequal distribution, its perDEFORMING-REFORMING.
verted education, its manifold injustice, its cold neglect, its biting mockery, has taken from them the
gifts of God. They are placed here, in the midst of I went last week to Blackwell's Island, in the green hills, and flowing streams, and cooing doves, East River, between the city and Long Island. The after the heart is petrified against the genial influenvirons of the city are unusually beautiful, consience of all such sights and sounds. dering how far Autumn has advanced upon us. Fre As usual, the organ of justice (which phrenoloquent rains have coaxed vegetation into abundance, gists say is unusually developed in my head) was and preserved it in verdant beanty. The trees are roused into great activity by the sight of prisoners. hung with a profusion of vines, the rocks are dressed "Would you have them prey on Society ?' said one in nature's green velvet of moss, and from every lit. of my companions. I answered, "I am troubled that tle cleft peeps the rich foliage of some wind-scattered society has preyed upon them. I will not enter into seed. The island itself presents a quiet loveliness of an argument about the right of society to punish scenery, unsurpassed by anything I have ever wit- these sinners; but I say she made them sinners. nessed ; though Nature and I are old friends, and she How much I have done toward it, by yielding to has shown me many of her choicest pictures, in a popular prejudices, obeying false customs, and suplight let in only from above. No form of graceful. pressing vital truths, I know not; but doubtless 1 ness can compare with the bend of flowing waters have done, and am doing, my share. God forgive all round and round a verdant island. The circle me. If He dealt with us, as we deal with our brotypifies Love; and they who read the spiritual alpha- ther, who could stand before him ?' bet, will see that a circle of waters must needs be While I was there, they brought in the editors of very beautiful. Beautiful it is, even when the lan- the Flash, the Libertine, and the Weekly Rake. My guage it speaks is an unknown tongue. Then the very soul loathes such polluted publications; yet a green hills beyond look so very pleasant in the sun sense of justice again made me refractory. These shine, with homes nestling among them, like dimplesmen were perhaps trained to such service by all the on a smiling face. The island itself abounds with social influences they had ever known. They dared charming nooks-open wells in shady places, screen to publish what nine-tenths of all around them lived ed by large weeping willows; gardens and arbors unreproved. Why should they be imprisoned, while running down to the river's edge, to look at them
flourished in the full tide of editorial selves in the waters; and pretty boats, like white success, circulating a paper as immoral, and per. winged birds, chased by their shadow's, and breaking haps more dangerous, because its indecency is slightthe waves into gems.
ly veiled? Why should the W’eekly Rake be shut But man has profaned this charming retreat. He up, when daily rakes walk Broadway in fine broadhas brought the screech.owl, the bat, and the vul. cloth and silk velvet ? ture, into the holy temple of Nature. The island Many more than half the inmates of the penitenbelongs to government; and the only buildings on it tiary were women; and of course a large proportion are penitentiary, mad-house, and hospital; with a of them were taken up as "street-walkers.' The few dwellings occupied by people connected with men who made them such, who, perchance, caused those institutions. The discord between man and the love of a human heart to be its ruin, and changed. nature never before struck me so painfully; yet it is tenderness into sensuality and crime-these men wise and kind to place the erring and the diseased in live in the ceiled houses' of Broadway, and sit in
council in the City Hall, and pass regulations' to | afterwards prosecutes and imprisons his debtor for clear the streets they have filled with ein. And do the remaining thousand. Society calls him a shrewd you suppose their poor victims do not feel the injus-business man, and pronounces his dinners excellent; tice of society thus regulated? Think you they the chance is. he will be a magistrate before he dies. respect the laws ?
Vicious they are, and they may The other young man is unsuccessful; his necessibe both ignorant and foolish; but, nevertheless, ties are great; he borrows some money from his they are too wise to respect such laws. Their employer's drawer, perhaps resolving to restore the whole being cries out that it is a mockery; all their same; the loss is discovered before he has a chance experience proves that society is a game of chance, to refund it; and society sends him to Blackwell's where the cunning slip through, and the strong leap island, to bammer stone with highway robbers.
The criminal feels this, even when incapa- Society made both these men thieves; but punished ble of reasoning upon it. The laws do not secure the one, while she rewarded the other. That crimihis reverence, because he sees that their operation is nals so universally feel themselves victims of injusunjust. The secrets of prisons, so far as they are tice, is one strong proof that it is true; for impresrevealed, all tend to show that the prevailing feeling sions entirely without foundation are not apt to beof criminals, of all grades, is that they are urongid. come universal. If society does make its own What we call justice, they regard as an unlucky criminals, 'how shall she cease to do it? It can be chance ; and whosoever looks calmly and wisely done only by a change in the structure of society, into the foundations on which society rolls and tum- that will diminish the temptations to vice, and inbles, (I cannot say on which it rests, for its foun.crease the encouragements to virtue.
If we can dations heave like the sea,) will perceive that they | abolish porerly, we shall have taken the greatest are victims of chance.
step towards the abolition of crime; and this will For instance, everything in school-books, social be the final triumph of the gospel of Christ. Diver. remarks, domestic conversation, literature, public sities of gifts will doubtless always exist; for the festivals, legislative proceedings, and popular honors, law written on spirit, as well as matter, is infinite all teach the young soul that it is noble to retaliate, variety. But when the kingdom of God comes on mean to forgive an insult, and unmanly not to resent earth as it is in heaven,' there will not be found in a wrong. Animal instincts, instead of being brought any corner of it that poverty which hardens the heart into subjection to the higher powers of the soul, are under the severe pressure of physical suffering, and thus cherished into more than natural activity. Of stultifies the intellect with toil for mere animal three men thus educated, one enters the army, kills wants. When public opinion regards wealth as a a hundred Indians, hangs their scalps on a tree, is means, and not as an end, men will no longer deem made major general, and considered a fitting candi- penitentiaries as a necessary evil; for society will date for the presidency. The second goes to the then cease to be a great school for crime. In the Southwest to reside ; some « roarer' calls him a ras- meantime, do penitentiaries and prisons increase or cal-a phrase not misapplied, perhaps, but necessa- diminish the evils they are intended to remedy? ry to be resented; he agrees to settle the question The superintendent at Blackwell told me, unaskof honour at ten paces, shoots his insulter through ed, that ten years' experience had convinced him the heart, and is hailed by society as a brave man. that the whole system tended to increase crime. He The third lives in New York; a man enters his said, of the lads who came there, a large proportion office, and, true, or untrue, calls him a knave. He had already been in the house of refuge; and a large fights, kills his adversary, is tried by the laws of proportion of those who left, afterward went to Sing the land, and hung. These three men indulged the Sing. • It is as regular a succession as the classes same passion, acted from the şame motives, and in a college,' said he, i from the house of refuge to illustrated the same education; yet how different the penitentiary, and from the penitentiary to the their fate!
State prison.' I remarked that coercion tended to With regard to dishonesty, too—the maxims of rouse all the bad passions in man's nature, and if trade, the customs of society, and the general unre. I long continned, hardened the whole character. I flecting tone of public conversation, all tend to pro- know that,' said he, from my own experience; all mote it. The man who has made « good bargains,' the devil there is in me rises up when a man atis wealthy and honoured; yet the details of those tempts to compel me. But what can I do? I am bargains few would dare to pronounce good. Of obliged to be very strict. When my feelings tempt two young men nurtured under such influences, one me to unusual indulgence, a bad use is almost albecomes a successful merchant; five thousand dol. ways made of it. I see that the system fails to prolars are borrowed of bim; he takes a mortgage on duce the effect intended; but I cannot change the a house worth twenty thousand dollars; in the ab- result.' sence of the owner, when sales are very dull, he I felt that his words were true. He could not offers the house for sale, to pay his mortgage; he change the influence of the system while he disbids it in himself, for four thousand dollars; and charged the duties of his office; for the same reason
that a man cannot be at once slave.driver and mis- 1 of things as they are. Violations of right, continued sionary on a plantation. I allude to the necessities generation after generation, and interwoven into the of the office, and do not mean to imply that the cha- whole structure of action and opinion, will continue racter of the individual was severe. On the con troublesome and injurious, even for a long time after trary, the prisoners seemed to be made as comfort. they are outwardly removed. Legislators and phi. able as was compatible with their situation. There lanthropists may well be puzzled to know what to were watch-towers, with loaded guns, to prevent do with those who have become hardened in crime ; escape from the island; but they conversed freely meanwhile, the highest wisdom should busy itself with each other as they worked in the sunshine, with the more important questions, How did these and very few of them looked wretched. Among men become criminals ? Are not social influences those who were sent under guard to row us back to largely at fault? If society is the criminal, were it the city, was one who jested on his own situation, not well to reform society? in a manner which showed plainly enough that he It is common to treat the inmates of penitentiaries looked on the whole thing as a game of chance, in and prisons as if they were altogether unlike ourwhich he happened to be the loser. Indulgence can- selves-- as if they belonged to another race; but this not beneft such characters. What is wanted is, indicates superficial thought and feeling. The pasthat no human being should grow up without deep sions which carried those men to prison, exist in your and friendly interest from the society round him; own bosom, and have been gratified, only in a less and that none should feel himself the victim of in- degree: perchance, if you look inward, with enlightjustice, because society punishes the very sins which ened self-knowledge, you will perceive that there it teaches, nay drives men to commit. This world have been periods in your own life when a hair'swould be in a happier condition if legislators spent breadth further in the wrong would have rendered half as much time and labour to prevent crime, as you amenable to human laws; and that you were they do to punish it. The poor need houses of en- prevented from moving over that hair’s-breadth couragement; and society gives them houses of cor. boundary by outward circumstances, for which you rection. Benevolent institutions and reformatory deserve no credit. societies perform but a limited and temporary use. If reflections like these make you think lightly of They do not reach the ground-work of evil; and it sin, you pervert them to a very bad use. They is reproduced too rapidly for them to keep even the should teach you that every criminal has a human surface healed. The natural spontaneous influences heart, which can be reached and softened by the of society should be such as to supply men with same means that will reach and soften your own. In healthy motives, and give full, free play to the affec. all, even the most hardened, love lies folded up, pertions, and the faculties. It is horrible to see our chance buried; and the voice of love calls it forth, young men goaded on by the fierce, speculating spirit and makes it gleam like living coals through ashes. of the age, from the contagion of which it is almost This influence, if applied in season, would assuredly impossible to escape, and then see them tortured prevent the hardness, which it has so much power to into madness, or driven to crime, by fluctuating soften. changes of the money-market. The young soul is, That most tender-spirited and beautiful book, enas it were, entangled in the great merciless machine titled · My Prisons, by Sylvio Pellico,' abounds with of a falsely-constructed society; the steam he had incidents to prove the omnipotence of kindness. He no hand in raising, whirls him hither and thither, was a gentle and noble soul, imprisoned merely for and it is altogether a lottery.chance whether it reasons of state, being suspected of republican nocrushes or propels him.
tions. Robbers and banditti, confined in the same Many, who are mourning over the too obvious building, saluted him with respect as they passed diseases of the world, will smile contemptuously at him in the court; and he always returned their saluthe idea of reconstruction. But let them reflect a tations with brotherly cordiality. He says, One moment upon the immense changes that have already of them once said to me, Your greeting, signore, come over society. In the middle ages, both noble does me good. Perhaps you see something in my and peasant would have laughed loud and long at the face that is not very bad?. An unhappy passion led prophecy of such a state of society as now exists in me to commit a crime; but oh, signore, I am not, the free States of America ; yet here we are ! indeed I am not a villain.' And he burst into tears.
I by no means underrate modern improvements in I held out my hand to him, but he could not take it. the discipline of prisons, or progressive meliorations My guards, not from bad feelings, but in obedience in the criminal code. I rejoice in these things as to orders, repulsed him.' facts, and still more as prophecy. Strong as my In the sight of God, perchance their repulse was faith is that the time will come when war and prisons a heavier crime than that for which the poor fellow will both cease from the face of the earth, I am by was imprisoned; perhaps it made him a villain: no means blind to the great difficulties in the way when the genial influence of Sylvio Pellico might of those who are honestly striving to make the best I have restored him a blessing to the human family.