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therance, of his own habit of confounding things. We have regarded his system of exterior kindness as superficial and selfish. If it be in reality a benevolent one, it is so no surther than as it pampers the sensitiveness and weakness of men, and their morbid craving for the signs of sympathy and honor ; - no further, than as it attempts to systematize whatever practices have been found to be generally agreeable among men and flattering to their infirmities, and then recommends these to all as the only practicable method of keeping up such a demonstration of good-will, as all can appreciate and make.
We know, that it is difficult to draw the line between good social dispositions and actions generally, and a sickly regard to false exactions; and, to avoid useless discriminations, we shall venture to say, that we dislike much of the current language on the subject of pleasing. We dislike the phrase, “ trying to please.” It is deceptive, and the practice itself leads to effeminacy or fraud. It puts men in wrong positions towards each other. To shun giving needless offence is one thing, and most important. This passive good-will or negative benevolence is not sustained without effort; and, as it is little noticed by those whom it spares, it is likely to be disinterested, and can scarcely do harm to either party. Then, again, to give innocent pleasure to others by active efforts and personal sacrifices in their behalf, is safe for all concerned. And to gratisy our friends by our moral excellence and high reputation is a natural reward, though we should not propose it as the object, of virtuous action. And undoubtedly our customary civilities and attentions are in part designed to give pleasure. But Chesterfield's “passionate desire of pleasing everybody," this endeavouring so to adapt ourselves to the dispositions of others, that admiration and gratitude shall beam upon us whenever we appear, and our very persons become idols, is not the prompting or expression of benevolence, and it is foreign to the true spirit and purpose of civility. There is selfishness on both sides, and mutual mischief. Men have no right to such a show of devotion, and we have no right to offer it. We are not placed here solely or chiefly to please or be pleased, even in the best sense that we can give to these terms ; but to be good and to do good. And, so far as manners promote these objects (and we believe that they enter closely into the great work), let them be cultivated with enthusiasm, as virtues ; and, so far as they then give pleasure, they yield a natural fruit.
ART. VI. -- 1. The Planter's Plea; or, the Grounds of Plan
tations examined, and Usual Objections answered. Together with a Manifestation of the Causes moving such as have lately undertaken a Plantation in Nero England ; for the Satisfaction of those that question the Laufulness of the Action. 2 Thess. v. 21. * Prove all things, and hold fast that which is good.” London : 1630. 4to.
2. An Historical Discourse, delivered by Request before the
Citizens of New Haven, April 25, 1838, the Two Hundredth Anniversary of the First Settlement of the Colony; by JAMES L. KINGSLEY. New Haven : 1838. 8vo.
3. Thirteen Historical Discourses, on the Completion of
Two Hundred Years from the Beginning of the First
New Haven : 1839. 8vo. pp. 400. 4. The New York Review. Number XI., for January, 1840.
[Article 2. Politics of the Puritans.]
E cannot pretend to say much for the first of the above works, on the score of novelty. In a very early stage of our labors, when noticing various tracts which relate to the primitive times of this country, we gave to it such a share of our attention as we supposed it to deserve.*
And within a very short time we have done our best to recommend to the public the Discourses by Professor Kingsley and Mr. Bacon, the titles of which follow in our list.f Having thus performed our duty, we should not probably have been tempted again to bring them up, had they not been made the groundwork and justification for an extraordinary commentary in the pages of the
* North American Review, Vol. 11. pp. 145 et se t Ibid., Vol. XLVII. pp. 480 et seq., and pp. 161 - 173 of the present volume.
“New York Review," the heading of which is also given above. It is to this commentary that we now propose to direct our particular attention, and we join the other works only because they are incidentally necessary to our purpose
and cannot be separated from it. They have furnished the opportunity, which, it seems, has been watched for, of making a general attack upon
the whole edifice of New England History ; an attack which we regret on many accounts, but more particularly on two. The first, that it should have originated in so respectable a quarter ; and the second, that it compels us to assume an attitude of controversy in our defence, which it is as little agreeable to our taste to seek, as, when unavoidable, it is in our disposition to fear.
The process by which truth is established in this world is for the inost part a slow and painful one. A mere accident will often appear to strike it into the mind of a single man, from whom it will pass to his neighbours, until it gradually attains to that degree of universal consent and acknowledgment, which will justify the claim for the human race, that it has made another step in its advancing progress. The fall of an apple to the ground was to the mental faculties of Newton as lint to the steel, and produced a permanent light, ever after to illumine the world. So the hesitating dislike of the monk Tetzel formed the stimulus to those vehement energies in Luther, which worked out in their career an entire revolution in the moral and political doctrines of civilization. Yet, though the results thus reached must be admitted to have sprung from such very small beginnings, there is no person at this day likely to undervalue them on that account alone, or to take away from the individuals who originated them the degree of credit for their agency which they most richly deserve. Through them the intellect of mankind may be said to have bridged a chasm, and the genius and learning of future ages might, with perfect safety, be let out to roam after more remote and yet undiscovered truth, without being exposed to the risk of having the earth open beneath their feet, or of being called back from less investigated paths to the duty of resetting landmarks in those already passed.
Among the truths, which may be regarded as thus firmly established, are the principles at the root of the civil and religious rights which every citizen of New England now enjoys.
And in looking after the origin of their establishment, we did not suppose that there could be any more hesitation in ascribing it to the agency of the Puritans, than in ascribing the doctrine of gravitation to Newton, or the overthrow of the infallibility of Rome to Luther. When the scorner and the skeptic had bowed to the majesty of truth in the persons the most abhorrent to his nature, when authors of all shades and degrees of religious, moral, or political opinion had united in conceding this as certain, we could hardly have expected, at this late day, and least of all in these United States, a revocation of it into doubt. Yet the fact is even so. called upon to do no less than to reform all our existing notions ; to go back to a new political primer ; to remodel written history and documents; to bow to new authorities. We must hereafter eschew all respect for the Puritans as champions of our liberty, and transfer it to the Stuart monarchs on the throne of England. We must “ look down” upon our ancestors as the opponents of the privileges we enjoy, and “look up” to the common law of the mother country as the source from which we gained them, in spite of their efforts to cut it off. Such are the new lessons in history which our worthy contemporary in New York is reading to the growing community of these States ; and, if they are true, great indeed must be the change of opinion which they will occasion. Our schools, our colleges, our public men, and the distinguished writers of this and other countries, are all infected with the most pestilent error. And the hallucina. tion, which this “historico-optical illusion,” to use the term of our brother reviewers, has occasioned, has reached to such a height, that we nearly despair of seeing any effort of theirs at all equal to successful remedy or counteraction.
But, before we proceed any further, let it be clearly understood, that, in what we are about to say to the Reviewers, we seek for no causes of offence to the members of the Protestant Episcopal Church, as established in America. Neither do we perceive the least necessity for introducing sectarian feelings of any kind into the discussion. We have no reason for supposing that Episcopalians in the United States, merely because they are such, have any disposition at this time of day to make battle for all of the same persuasion, who have happened to live in past time on the other side of the water.
We hardly imagine they will exalt the memory of Henry the Eighth, merely because he founded the Church, or that they will overlook the violence of Laud, and the bigotry of his master, simply because they rank high in the list of martyrs in her cause. Seeing that these points are generally conceded in England itsell, and that the Church did at last contribute to the final overthrow of the Stuart dynasty, we do not perceive any necessity for maintaining here the political doctrines which made them odious, even there. That such necessity should have been supposed to devolve upon the “New York Review,” even by reason of any cause of offence believed to have been given by Messrs. Kingsley and Bacon in their remarks, is to us surprising. We cannot credit, that either of those gentlemen bad the remotest idea of advancing “ personal, political, or sectarian interests,” by their productions. Nor yet could they have wished "10 exalt the Puritan fathers of New England with a view of giving a hostile bearing, more or less directly, upon those who have not seen good to take them as authority in matters of religious faith and discipline.” The insinuation and the suspicion are worthy of each other ; particularly as they stand in the face of earnest and express disclaimers on the part of both those gentlemen, and of a paragraph of Mr. Kingsley which is so strikingly just, that we cannot do better than to close with it this part of what we have to say.
“ It is an obvious remark," he says, " that many of the relations of different sects to each other in former times, have ceased to exist ; and that the faults of none originating in causes, which no longer operate, should be considered the inheritance of the present generation. All have now full opportunity to show the excellences of their respective systems, unincumbered with the past.” This is good advice, particularly when coming from one who frankly admits that all have something to regret, and we are only sorry that it does not appear to have been taken in the spirit in which it was meant.
There is, however, one great difficulty in the treatment of this matter, which we scarcely know how to avoid. We mean the temptation it holds forth to go over what has already been discussed to satiety. It is as little consistent with our design to open with commonplace panegyric of the Puritans, as it is to join in with their revilers. The main points on each side