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The criterion of Intellectual Greatness is the grasp of ideas of which it is capable; the length of time for which it is able to concentrate all its powers in one burning focus on any given subject ; the energy with which it rebounds to renewed labor, after repeated failures. We have no such criterion of Moral Greatness. We judge of that by the amount of self sacrifice which it enables one to undergo for the sake of truth, jus. tice, or the common good. Here we are struck with a great difference between the spheres of the two kinds of greatness which we are discussing. Intellectual Greatness may investigate and establish the profoundest truths, ascertain clearly in every case what would be exact justice, and, if the motive were given it, devise means and plans for great public benefit; nay, it may go even farther, and communicate these truths and plans to others, and, so far as just and fair reasoning would go, endeavor to impress them upon them. Beyond this point it never moves. It never influences one in the least to suffer for the sake of truth, or justice, or the weal of another. Here the intellect always stops, for its nature prompts no further; its work is completed. Here the moral quality steps in, and that person is possessed of the most Moral Greatness who is willing to make the greatest self-sacrifice.
This, then, is the great distinction between Intellectual and Moral Greatness. The one acts; the other suffers, if necessary, for the sake of sustaining and carrying out that action. A man possesses one of these qualities, as an intelligent being, the other as a social being.
It has been seen that Intellectual Greatness is of a two-fold character, with respect to its origin-natural and acquired. The same is true of Moral Greatness. There seems to be no doubt that some persons bave by nature moral qualities of a higher order than others,--are possessed of a nicer moral sense. But that Moral Greatness may be acquired, as well as Intellectual Greatness, needs no remark. Here again there is a striking difference between these two qualities. While the latter is ac quired by intense study, investigation, and thought, the former is acquired hy practice; and hence the proverb, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” .
Again, Moral is more universal than is Intellectual Greatness. There are comparatively few persons that can attain to this. It by no means lies within the reach of all. It is to a great extent a natural characteristic, with which but few are endowed ; and fewer still acquire it by men. tal discipline. But Moral Greatness is within the reach of all. All can attain it. There was this quality as well in the widow who cast in her two mites, which was all her living, into the Treasury of the Lord, as in'
Him who hung upon the cross. There is Moral Greatness in the child who would die rather than commit a theft, as well as in the Patriot who, by seven years' toil, delivered his country from the hands of the oppressor, and then established within it free institutions.
Moral Greatness has for its fundamental principles truth and justice. Hence many, when the moral quality is mentioned, think of nothing but the stern, the severe, the sour man, one who is unyielding in his views, and unsympathizing in his nature. Much more will they give this forbidding countenance to Moral Greatness. But this results from a morbid, an imperfect growth. It must be remembered that true Moral Greatness is comprised of all the moral attributes. It has goodness, as well as truth; it has mercy, as well as justice; it is long kind and longsuffering, as well as firm and unyielding.
And here is its power. It makes its appeals not only to the conscience—to our sense of what is right and wrong—but to the warm feelings of the human heart; to feelings of affection, of sympathy, and of gratitude. It begets not only feelings of reverence, and severe respect, and, perhaps, of awe, but those of love and affection. We find we are in the presence of the sun, not only as a great power, but as the source of rich and invaluable blessings, rather than the sublime, the gorgeous, but cold, star-lit heavens.
While Intellectual Greatness, at best, is subject to much error, Moral Greatness does not involve error, but leads us to avoid it. The greatest productions of the greatest intellects have, from time immemorial, been successively condemned and branded as nonsense. Men of the greatest minds have wandered blindly about, groping from one error to another, because the moral quality was sunk in barbarism and superstition, and needed quickening to action; and we find that those men have made the most advance toward the light of truth in whom the moral quality is most developed, in whom we see the most of moral greatness—for Intellectual Greatness is, as I have said before, a blind power. .
We have investigated the two qualities mentioned in our subject, separately. We have endeavored to ascertain what is the peculiar sphere of each. If now we join together these two kinds of greatness, what a power shall we have! More sublime, more soul-stirring, and more soulchastening--at the same time more engaging, beautiful, and lovely—than all that earth or nature affords ; because it is that of which these, in all their grandeur and extent, are but the exponents.
That man who has a giant intellect, thoroughly trained, not only capable of diving deep into the profundities of thought and nature, and
bringing forth from their treasure things new and old, but which possesses likewise Moral Greatness, which shall guide it in the path of truth and justice, which shall turn the products of its skill and labor to the greatest good of all, possesses, indeed, greatness in its noblest character.
Such was Sir Isaac Newton, such was Washington, and such was Paul the apostle. Although these instances of the noblest and highest type of Greatness are rare, still we are surrounded on all sides with the most profuse evidences of it. The leaf, the tiny insect's wing, as well as the leaping cataract, or the heaving ocean, battling it with the tempest, or the wheeling of the boundless firmament, or the fertile field, rich with the bending harvest; each and all bespeak an intellect of infinite greatness, a soul of infinite goodness; for it is Intellectual Greatness and Moral Greatness, in their infinity, which constitute the Almighty.
Bryant and Longfellow.
EDGAR A. Poe defines Poetry as the “ Rythmical creation of Beauty." We agree with him fully, and would expand this definition by claiming that the province of the Poet is the expression of Beauty—the drawing forth of the beautiful both in man and nature—the bringing before the eye of less-appreciative men much of the sublime which, but for his Genius, would pass unnoticed. The author above-mentioned, in his Essay on “The Poetic Principle," contends, too, that a Poem is such, in name alone, unless it produce “elevation of soul.” This “elevation of soul,” as he calls it, produced by excitement of the finer faculties, is to be derived only from the contemplation of the beautiful. In no other way can it be attained. Depreciating the anger of the hundreds of essayists on the “Poet's Object”—the “Poet's Mission”—“The Sure Poet," &c.we, with fear and trembling, state our disbelief in the popular maxim“The Poet's object is Truth.” Truth is desirable and does not at all injure a poem—but we contend that the value of the production is by no means due to its presence alone. Truth presented to our minds by the philosopher, in plain prose—is but an astonishing fact—there is nothing exciting about it—we believe—but calmly and without emotion. “ The mind-healthy, in full action--possessing all its faculties—is in itself symmetrical”--this is Truth-we acknowledge it, but without any peculiar pleasure. Would you have Poetry—take the same idea in this poem
“In the greenest of our valleys,
By good angels tenanted,
It stood there!
Over fabric half so fair.” Here we have Poetry—the same Truth is here conveyed as in the former-yet, in this latter case, we feel and admire. Truth, then, cannot be the essence of Poetry, for its presence fails in the former instance to produce it; we look then to the other characteristics of the latter mode of expression—those distinguishing it from the other, and we find Beauty : beauty of imagery-beauty of expression—and metrical (or musical) beauty. These, the only qualities distinguishing the Poem, we claim as the characteristics of poetry, and uniting them we would call its requisites simply Beauty. Not that we would advocate the existence of Poetry without Truth—it is necessary to its existence—but it is necessary just as food (though by no means its object or chief distinguishing property) is indispensable to Life.
Having then, as we hope, established a criterion by which to judge the merits of the two Poets, let us seek the points of difference between Bryant and Longfellow.
The difference can be one of degree and matter only, since the effects being of the same nature, the Poets can differ only in the extent of their power and their manner of attaining it.
Both express the Beautiful :—both produce “ elevation of soul.” Which of them then-the question becomes—causes the greater exaltation of spirit—which of them the more easily and naturally excites the higher emotions of the soul ?
Between Bryant and Longfellow, we find none of those marked and broad differences which distinguish most of our great Poets from one another. In our opinion, however, Longfellow seems to possess more of true, poetic merit.
We would notice, as giving him a superiority in most minds—the warmth of feeling evinced in Longfellow's poems-he speaks to us from his own heart—he touches the chords in the bosom of his hearers, not that he may analyze their vibrations, but that they may sound in unison with his own. In the most exquisite verse he incites to exertion not as a looker on, but as a fellow-laborer--and thus his influence is deeper rooted—more easily exerted—more effectual. The human heart will not soften and yield to its better influences at the command of one who himself evinces no aspirations, although it may lay bare its most sacred feelings and acknowledge its inmost longings to one who, with truthfulness and grace, tells the tale of his own desires. And here it is that Bryant fails—he is cold and apparently unsympathizing, his verses are before you, beautiful and true—but wanting in warmth of feeling-he demanded your emotions, but offers not his own in exchange. The conclusion of his Thanatopsis, fine as it is, in both idea and expression, contains no such warm provision for human weakness—no such sympathy for the erring as the last two lines of this verse from Longfellow's “Psalm of Life,” where he says,
“ We can make our lives sublime
Seeing, shall take heart again.” And this is not a solitary instance—all his poems overflow with this same kind feeling which instantly prepares the soul to give vent to its better feelings. With regard to the minutiæ of versification, we do not
feel sufficiently acquainted with the works of either poet to speak. But · to the “expression of the beautiful”—the elevation of the same, Longfellow most certainly brings a warmth which renders him superior to Bryant.
NO. IV.—“THE MEDLEY." We have come now to a date only three years previous to the commencement of the present “ Yale Literary Magazine.” The first No. of “The Medley” was issued in March, 1833. It was anonymous, both in respect to editors and contributors, and continued through three numbers of fifty-six pages each. As this periodical is so recent, we shall make no minute notice of its contents. It contained thirty-five articles in prose and poetry. The latter is excellent, being written mostly by a single individual, who subscribes himself, “* T. *?' The prose differs somewhat from that of the previous publications, in the char