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THE MARCH OF INTELLECT.
MISS CATHERINE SINCLAIR,
DAUGHTER OF THE LATE RIGHT HONOURABLE SIR JOHN SINCLAIR, BART.
An attempt is made in this volume to contrast the happiness offered to us by our Maker with the happiness which we invent for ourselves to exemplify a wide difference between the “ living fountain and the broken cistern." In our own experience, we find that the one resembles the purity and clearness of the early dawn, which grows brighter and brighter till the perfect day, while the other may be compared to an evening twilight, beginning in still gaudier hues, but growing gradually darker, till it settles into the gloom of night.
While thus representing two opposite states of enjoyment, which might justly be called a parallel, since they are lines which can never be made to meet, no hesitation has been felt in representing worldly as well as spiritual enjoyments in the brightest colours, because the superiority of the former are more conspicuous in proportion to the accuracy with which both can be depicted. Those, indeed, who have experienced the blessedness of Christian peace require no demonstration of its unrivalled excellence; but the case is otherwise with those who are ignorant of the Gospel, and have never felt that joy" which no man knoweth, saving he that receiveth it." Many, also, who would close at once the page of formal instruction or grave rebuke, may be induced to bestow attention on a familiar narrative, exhibiting the developement of taste and feeling in the genuine Christian character, and to acknowledge that the highest achievment of fashionable education is to make us appear amiable, and appear happy, while it is the peculiar province of Christian principle to turn these appearances into reality. Works of imagination have this additional advantage, that they may take cognizance of faults in temper or conduct too trivial for the notice of treatises or essays, yet so frequent in their recurrence as to forme the chief moral peculiarities of the individual. Life, as Dr Johnson observes, is not a series of great events and illustrious actions; it is from minute particulars and casual indications of feeling that we form our estimate of those around
Mere moralists too readily coincide in opinion with the mistaken poet, that “ his creed can't be wrong whose life is in the right;" while we have equal reason to deprecate a new reading, which would seem to say, “ His life can't be wrong whose creed is in the right.” It is not the handles of a clock which constitute its actual value; but still, if they do not point aright, during every moment of the day, and every day of the year, we know that some thing is amiss within; and though it may continue gravely and solemnly ticking the hours, no one will take heed to its admonitions. The superstructure of Christian conduct cannot be justly appreciated without exhibiting the inward machinery of the mind by which external actions are directed or controlled, and therefore the authoress has, with reverence, attempted to portray those thoughts and principles which render the pleasures, the hopes, and the emotions of Christians entirely different from others whose apparent circumstances are exactly similar, and with whom they may be unavoidably thrown into habits of continual association.
That fictitious narrative is a proper mode of instruction, is demonstrated to every Christian by the highest of all examples. Some excellent persons, however, who admit the usefulness of little tracts and histories representing in proper colours vice, infidelity, and superstition among the lower orders, inconsistently object to similar delineations as respects the higher; yet the success of such writings in the one department seems to encourage the hope of usefulness by corresponding exertions in the other.
Mrs Hannah More remarks, in her novel of Celebs,“ how little justice has been done to the clerical character in those popular works of imagination which are intended to exhibit a picture of living manners. So many fair opportunities have thus been lost of advancing the interests of religion, by personifying her amiable graces in the character of her ministers." The authoress feels