There is, at all events, an imaginary pleasure in turning from the wearing out turmoil of a statesman's life, to what the world believes the tranquil dreams of a poet's existence. But there are few things the worldling so little understands as literary industry, or so little sympathizes with as literary care. We have no inclination to over-rate either its toils or its pleasures, and perhaps no life is more abundantly supplied with both.
Its toils must be evident to any who have noted the increasing literary labor which is necessary to produce the ordinary sources of comforts; but its high and holy enjoyments are not so apparent; they are so different from those of almost all others as not to be easily explained or understood; but above all other gifts, the marvellous gift of poesy is a distinction conferred by the Almighty, and should be acknowledged and treasured as such. We know little of a poet's studies except by their imperishable produce, and it is a common but ill-founded prejudice to imagine regularity or diligence incompatible with high genius.
Genius is neither above law, nor opposed to it; but as many have a poetic taste and temperament without the inspiration, the world is apt to mistake the eccentricity of the pretender for the outward and visible sign of genius. Whether or not the poet of the Porch-house of Chertsey had the actual poetic fire we do not venture to determine. Abraham Cowley takes a prominent position, amongst the poets of our land, and the eventful [pg ] times in which he lived, and his participation in their tumults give him additional interest in all the relations of his anxious and not over-happy life.
It is recorded of him that he became a poet in consequence of reading the Faery Queene, which chance threw in his way while yet a child. In allusion to this, Dr. Johnson gave his well-known definition of genius: "A mind of large general powers, accidentally determined to some particular direction. Abraham Cowley—the posthumous son of a London grocer—owed much to his mother.
She, by her exertions, procured him a classical education at Westminster School. She lived to see him loved, honored, and great, and what was better still, and more uncommon, grateful. At the age of fifteen he published a volume called "Poetic Blossoms," which he afterwards described as "commendable extravagancies in a boy.
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Albans, and was employed in the court of the exiles in the most confidential capacity. In he returned to England, and was immediately arrested as a suspected spy. He submitted quietly—the royalists thought too quietly—to the dominion of the Protector, but his whole life proved that he was no traitor.
At the Restoration, that great national disappointment, his claims upon the ungrateful monarch were met by a taunt and a false insinuation—he was told that his pardon was his reward! Wood said, "he lost the place by certain enemies of the Muses;" certain "friends of the Muses," however, procured for him the lease of the Porch-house and farm at Chertsey, held under the Queen, and the great desire of his life—solitude—was obtained.
The place still seems a meet dwelling for a poet, and is, perhaps, even more attractive to strangers than St. Anne's hill. The porch, which caused his residence to be called "The Porch-house," was taken down during the last century by the father of its present proprietor, the Rev.
John Crosby Clarke, and the house is now known as "Cowley House. Clarke has recorded his reason for removing the porch. The appearance of the house from Guildford [pg ] Street, is no index to its size or conveniences. Anne's Hill. A portion of the old stairway is preserved, the wood is not as has been stated oak, but sweet chestnut.
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One of the rooms is panelled with oak, and Cowley's study is a small closet-like chamber, the window looking towards St. It is never difficult to imagine a poet in a small chamber , particularly when his mind may imbibe inspiration from so rich and lovely a landscape. Beside the group of trees, beneath whose shadow the poet frequently sat, there is a horse chestnut of such exceeding size and beauty, that it is worthy a pilgrimage, and no lover of nature could look upon it without mingled feelings of reverence and affection. Here then amid such tranquil scenes, and such placid beauty, the "melancholy Cowley," passed the later days of big anxious existence; here we may fancy him receiving Evelyn and Denham, the poets and men of letters of his troubled day, who found the disappointments of courtly life more than their philosophy could endure.
Here his friendly biographer, Doctor Spratt, cheered his lonely hours. Cowley was one of those fortunate bards who obtain fame and honor during life.
His learning was deep, his reading extensive, his acquaintance with mankind large. His biographer adds, "There was nothing affected or singular in his habit, or person, or gesture; he understood the forms of good breeding enough to practise them without burdening himself or others. Having obtained, as we have said, the Porch-house at Chertsey, his mind dwelt with pleasure—a philosophic pleasure—upon [pg ] the hereafter, which he hoped for in this life of tranquillity, and the silent labor he so dearly loved; but he was destined to prove the reality of his own poesy:.
The career of Abraham Cowley was never sullied by vice, 3 he was loyal without being servile, and at once modest, independent and sincere. His character is eloquently drawn by Doctor Spratt. He died at Chertsey on the 28th of July, , and was interred in Westminster Abbey. A throng of nobles followed him to his grave, and the worthless king who had deserted him is reported to have said, that Mr. Cowley had not left a better man behind him in England. It is said the body of Cowley was removed from Chertsey by water, thus making the Thames he loved so well, the highway to his grave; there is something highly poetic in this idea of a funeral, so still and solemn, with the oars dropping noiselessly in the blue water.
Pope in allusion to it, says:. But we must postpone our farther rambles for the present. Chertsey loses half its romantic interest by the intrusion of the progressive agents of our time—our noisy time, of which the spirit willingly brooks no souvenirs of monastic repose. The old quaint quiet town has now its railroad, and the shades of its heroes have departed. We have at different times, by reviews or translations, endeavored to give our readers some idea of what people think of us, in continental Europe.
But there are two sides to every thing—or there is an universal dualism, as Emerson declares—which is perfectly true as to the method which might be adopted in the execution of this self-imposed task. One class of readers understand by the word people the beau monde , and would have us invariably follow the school of the Countesses Hahn-Hahn or Ladies Blessington or Milords Fitz-Flummery, contented if we have but a fair name in society.
Another and more reasonable class would be satisfied to know the opinion of the literati, or perhaps the poets, particularly when they do fit homage to our "grand old woods," and to Niagara. Others regard with most respect a plain literal account of our branches of industry—our railroads, factories, and canals.
They would have the country judged purely from a mechanical or practical point of view—contenting themselves as to other matters with the reflection. If they know what we produce, and what our resources are, they'll understand and respect us sufficiently. Now the opinion of each of these classes has its weight, and though not of the greatest ultimate importance, is always to be respected. If we were questioned as to the views of which of them we yielded full regard, we should candidly say, "to none.
It is that popular opinion so readily yet often so falsely formed at times from trifles of almost incredible levity , and which when once fairly developed, is well-nigh ineradicable. In a word, it is to the views of the people.
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We propose, as opportunity shall offer, to make our readers familiar with the writings of all these different classes of travellers—and in the present article, we shall make a few extracts from a work interesting, as having probably contributed more than any other to a general knowledge of the United States in Germany. It is the book which has had the greatest currency among all classes, but particularly with the lower order of readers and emigrants.
Before proceeding, however, to the work itself, it may be as well to answer a question which has perhaps been suggested to the minds of a certain class of readers. Of what great use, after all, is this nervous regard as to the opinion of the world? Is not our character established—are not our characteristics known, to the uttermost corners of the earth? To which question we may answer, Not quite.
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In avoiding that ridiculous sensitiveness which prompts so many Americans to feel personally insulted by the weak remarks of every wandering ignoramus, we would by no means fall into the opposite error of attaching no importance whatever to the good opinion or the degree of consciousness as to our existence entertained by the world at large. Should any feel disposed to smile at such an expression, as "the consciousness of our existence," we will take the liberty of citing a few curious instances, for the authenticity of which we assume the entire responsibility—instances which may perhaps astonish a few even of the better informed.
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There are in many districts not altogether provincial of Italy and France great numbers, who would not even in America be classed as ignorant in regard to other matters, who have not the remotest idea as to the nature or geography of our country. An instance has come to our knowledge of an intelligent Hungarian who, by intercourse with the world, had acquired a fluency in five languages, and who inquired of an American gentleman if his country were not situated somewhere in England. The late Mr. Cooper, when placing his daughters at a celebrated seminary on the continent, found a great curiosity had been created by the rumor that they were coming, some supposing they were black, some that they were copper-colored, and all unprepared to see American girls looking for all the world like the young German ladies.
We have heard of a similar instance in which an English gentleman —a Cambridge graduate—inquired of an American what was the current language of the United States. Lastly, we may cite the case of an English author, well known to our own public, and favorably mentioned not long since in these pages, who was under the impression that owing to the great emigration from Germany, the English language must with us, in a very few years, yield to that of the Vaterland.
The reader is not to infer that this is the general state of knowledge regarding our country. But it is worth nothing as a curious illustration of the vast number of individuals who derive their ideas, not from what is going on at the present day, or from available sources of information, but from the [pg ] antiquated views of a by-gone generation. And we trust it will not be deemed inappropriate that we here speak a word of the want of opportunities of acquiring very general information under which the ordinary readers of continental Europe suffer.
With all their libraries, all their immense arrays of magazines and journals, we find among them an apathy in regard to the world without to the Fan-Qui , which appears incredible until we reflect on the deadening influences of the censorship, which views with distrust all information in regard to the Land of Liberty. We are not aware, throughout the whole of continental Europe, of a single publication so thoroughly cosmopolite in its character, so general in the scope of its information, or which is so universally disseminated among all classes of readers, as The International ; and we trust we do not go too far when we assert, that it is to an extended sale of periodical publications somewhat approaching it in the concentration and dissemination of news from the world at large, that our countrymen owe that superior intelligence and citizen-of-the-world character which distinguish them from the insular Briton, self-important Frenchman, or abstracted German.
As we have already stated, no work on America is at the present day more familiarly known to that class of readers to whom it is addressed. Certain remarks on the present condition of German emigration with which it is prefaced, may not be devoid of interest to our readers, though not constituting a part of such observations as we have more particularly referred to:.
Such is very generally the case at present in our own country, where—despite the political concessions of March in the year , of the published original privileges of the German people, and of the promising prospect of a free and united Germany, with a concluding general empire—emigration appears to be by no means on the decrease.
https://notdiwapudend.ml No one at the present day hopes to obtain hills of gold without labor, but every one knows that the far more estimable treasure of perfect independence, or to speak more correctly, of perfect self-dependence , with the prospect of a future free from care, may in America be obtained at the cost of a few years of earnest, honest industry.
And what, to the man oppressed in his fatherland by all the cares incident upon the obtaining a bare subsistence, is two or three or even four years of hard work, when compared to a whole life of poverty and misery? After accurately sketching the extreme misery and poverty oppressing the inhabitants of many districts of Germany, of late years sadly increased by the falling off in manufactures since the political disturbances, our author proceeds to set forth the advantages offered by America:. Where on earth is there such a vast array of unoccupied lands, offered at such a moderate price—land so cheap that in many districts twenty or thirty and even more acres, covered with wood, are given at a price for which a single acre of similar land is sold in Germany?
The richness of the soil, the excellence of the climate, and the demand for labor, are then described; to which, as the greatest inducement, he adds the fact that in America the fullest "liberty of labor and mechanical calling or trade," is allowed. Also, that the taxes are so light that an industrious man is able not only to live, but even to lay up something for his old age, or his children, or to employ in the extension of his business.
Furthermore, in that country every one is permitted to enjoy the fullest civil and religious liberty. These are the advantages to be expected from an emigration to America, and he who anticipates more will find himself bitterly deceived. But a man who can be content with this, and can live actively, moderately, and frugally, will here, better than in any other land in the world, ultimately attain to happiness and fortune.
In times like ours, when every branch of industry is crowded, when tender parents think with grief and trouble on the future prospects of their children, there are for the emigrant no other resources save those held out by a full and bountiful nature, and no means of livelihood which may be so certainly depended upon as those afforded by agriculture. Here it is that industry throws open the widest field, and affords the fullest opportunity of doing good. In the following extract, our author proceeds to set forth the national character of the American:.
Springing originally from England, they have the pride and manly confidence of the Briton, for through their ancestry they claim an equal share of all which gives dignity to those inheriting glory and a great name. Their forefathers were those brave religious pilgrims who were transferred by British laws or rather by old German and British genius to the shores of the new world—to there give to those laws and genius an immortality. Building still further on this new land, they opened the temple of the Lord to all his followers, and received with open arms all the unfortunate or oppressed exiles of Europe.
For the first time in reality in this world they flung wide the flag of truth and freedom—fought under its folds an unequal fight against the mightiest power in the world—and overcame it. And when a second time they armed themselves to combat with England, they again came forth unconquered from the contest.
Reason enough this for the national pride of the American, for nothing could more naturally cause a certain degree of self-content than to belong to a nation whose brilliant deeds in war as in politics, in commerce as in manufactures, have astonished the world. A second and not less characteristic trait of the American is seen in a certain earnestness, which appears to strangers to indicate a want of sociable feeling—and yet perhaps in no country is true noble sociability as developed in domestic life, so much at home, as in America.