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ARTICLE I. Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Thomas Chalmers, D.D., LL.D., by his son-in-law, the Rev. Wm. Hanna, LL.D. In three vols. New York: Harper and Brothers.
It is convenient to place the title of Dr. Hanna's works at the head of this article, as an index in a general way, of what is purposed, although we have no intention, in any proper sense, to perform the work of a reviewer. If an opinion be required of us respecting the manner in which our author has executed the grave task that was assigned him, we shall content ourselves with saying that, on the whole, he has given us good satisfaction. He has certainly shown himself to be no Boswell, which, though it may be a cause of some regret to the Christian world, we are free to own can not be laid to his charge as a thing of which he ought to be ashamed. Yet is he not wholly destitute of Boswell's peculiar merit. When we had finished our perusal of the third volume, we said to ourselves, with not a little of the spirit of self-gratification, “ Well,”—they say in England, that we Americans always say “well,”—“we think now that we have a tolerable acquaintance with Dr. Chalmers." Dr. Hanna has certainly given us a very fair and full and lifelike picture of the man. Chalmers lives, and acts, and talks, and preaches, and prays, and works, on his pages; and, although
we do not get into that thorough intimacy with him which we desire, although we do not come to know him as we do our next-door neighbor, or the members of our own families, yet we do know him quite as well, we think, as many of his own towns-people ever did, who probably thought that they knew him very well. We incline to believe, that if he were living now, and we could have personal communion with him for years to come, if we could live and labor with him, we should get no substantially new views of his character, or ever find ourselves widely misjudging as to his course in any new case that might arise. This acquaintance with Chalmers grew upon us as we read along from chapter to chapter of Dr. Hanna's work. It grew upon us most naturally. We had “first, the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” Still we do not know Chalmers as we know Johnson. He has not been thoroughly decomposed and minutely analyzed for us. We find it still necessary to take off our hat, and to be somewhat reserved and formal in his presence. He is very gracious, and, certainly, for a great and grave man, burdened almost always with great and grave cares, very complaisant and affable in his manners; but yet we are kept at a greater distance than we like, and at a greater distance, we have reason to believe, than he himself would have required us to observe. Chalmers, we are perfectly well assured, was no man of starch and buckram. There never lived a freer spirit, one of fewer reserves, or more universal transparency. We do not believe that he had an intimate acquaintance who ever suspected that there was any thing back in him which he desired to see, but was not permitted. He may have had many such who were not capable of understanding him perfectly, but none, we are assured, who might not, if they had had the necessary powers of discernment. And although he was eminently dignified and grave, when dignity and gravity became him, no man could more easily unbend, or better loved to do so; and no man could be more playful and childlike, romping even, and rolliсksome than he often was in his seasons of relaxation. We mean to say, that he was a man whom a Boswell could have made us to know just as he has made us know the ultimus Romanorum. Dr. Hanna, as we have intimated above, may acknowledge the justice of this criticism, and be proud of it. We find fault with him, and probably respect him the more. At any rate, we are much obliged to him for what he has done, and most
hent dignity and better loved comping evenxation.
han helayful and better Lovedime him, nosnified and
frame, was to the intertrious in places, a hore Lomon
devoutly express the wish that every other great man, when he dies, may find as worthy a biographer.
The writer of this article was so happy once as to see Dr. Chalmers, and spend a few hours in his company. It was in the summer of 1844, at Morning-side, the charming retreat, about two miles out of Edinburgh, where he then lived, and where he died. Before leaving home, on that summer's tour, when the whole prospect was before us, of wonders to be seen in Britain and on the Continent; above London, above Edinburgh, above Paris, above all places, Morning-side, and above all persons, its illustrious inhabitant, occupied our thoughts, and kindled the interest of our eager expectation. Dr. Chalmers was to us, Scotland, Britain, Europe. These were the frame, he was the picture; these the casket, he the diamond; and now, after the lapse of eight years, little as it was our ill fortune to see of him, Dr. Chalmers, in the retrospect, is the great central object on which our eyes love to dwell, and about which our thoughts love to linger. We have a passion for remarkable places, and for wonderful creations of art, but above all, we have a passion for wonderful men; and to us, Dr. Chalmers was the wonderful man of his age, taken for all in all, the wisest, the mightiest, the best. From our earliest childhood his name had been associated in our mind with every thing that is venerable and excellent and great.
Enthusiastic as we were on this subject, let our disappointment be conceived, when, on reaching the Scottish metropolis, we were informed that the Doctor was absent on an excursion upon which he had gone some days before, and that it was only possible he might return during the fortnight that we had to spend in that vicinity. Our jubilant delight also may be imagined at receiving, when our time was nearly gone, intelligence of his return. Our letters of introduction, with our address in the city, had been previously left at his house, and almost simultaneously with the news of his arrival, a message was received from him inviting us to breakfast on the following morning. It may be supposed that we did not send a declinature, pleading a prior engagement, as we might have done. To the credit of Scottish hospitality, we will here record, that of fourteen breakfasts eaten in Edinburgh, but two were eaten in our hotel; and that, if we had been blessed with a capacity commensurate with the prodigality of the hospitable proffers that were made us, we might, almost every morning, have been the happy eater of as many as fourteen breakfasts. The prior en
gagement was broken with an explanation that was perfectly satisfactory to the parties concerned, for our Edinburgh friends would have been scarcely less grieved than ourselves, had we missed seeing the Doctor, and his invitation was accepted with joy. We met at breakfast, Dr. Candlish, and two other gentlemen, whose names are not now remembered.
Our first feeling, on meeting Dr. Chalmers, was one of agreeable surprise. We had expected to see a man, tall, brawny, loose-jointed and somewhat uncouth, both in figure and manners. This image of him had been impressed on our imagination, from reading years before, some one's description of his appearance in the pulpit, in which it was intended, we suppose, rather to describe his eloquence than his person, and the magnificence of the former was sought to be set off, somewhat, at the expense of the latter. The picture that was in our mind was in no way justified by the reality, as it presented itself to our own eyes. He was not tall, but rather, as concerns height, of middling stature, with a well-filled, and, in all points, wellformed person ; fleshy, not fat; large, not corpulent; just right in these respects, for a man of sixty-four; every way good looking, and with a face which, if the finest expression of benignity, and all imaginable marks of unbounded genius have any thing to do with beauty, might surely be called beautiful in the highest degree. If you had looked upon his features in repose, you would have pronounced them remarkable ; in the glow of animated conversation you would have pronounced them beautiful. We shall always insist that Dr. Chalmers was a handsome man, and be ready to contend stoutly for our opinion against whatever recusants.
In an instant we were at home with him, and at home in his house. There was something in his manner that put an end, on the first moment, to all uncomfortable feelings, and just established us on the easy footing of old acquaintanceship from the outset. Having been presented, in a quiet, easy way, to his other guests, and to the different members present of his own family, he drew us at once all around, into a lively and agreeable talk, which ran on to the end of the table-scene, as freely as if we had been the ordinary family circle.
Breakfast over, the gentlemen who were present, except Dr. Candlish, took their leave. The ladies retired, and Dr. Chalmers, Dr. Candlish and the writer, sought the study. A moment after, the Doctor was called out for some purpose, and, on leaving, said to us, pointing to a small writing-table, on which a
She back, Hordance; as if he hais own, partly
few books were loosely piled together, “ There are the books that I use ; all that is biblical is there. I have to do with nothing besides in my biblical study.” Of course, when he was gone, we had the curiosity to examine this biblical library of Dr. Chalmers, and found that it was composed of the following: a Pictorial Bible, London edition, published by Charles Knight & Co.; an old Cambridge edition of the Bible; a Hebrew Bible and Lexicon; a Scripture Concordance; a volume of Pool's Synopsis; a volume of Henry's Commentary, and one of Robinson's Biblical Researches in Palestine. There was, besides, a manuscript volume of his own, partly filled, and lying open at the place, as if he had been just writing, entitled on the back, Horæ Biblicæ Quotidianæ.
Speaking of Robinson's Researches when he returned, we said, “We are proud to see our countryman's book in this collection.” He replied, “ You may well be proud of your countryman. In my time a better book has not been issued from the press in any land. Biblical students owe a great debt to Dr. Robinson. What is thought of it on your side ?" We told him that we thought it was appreciated. “It is well if it is," said he; “You Americans, I believe, appreciate all your own things better than you do your own writers." He manifested no little interest in regard to an edition of his own works, which he understood had just been, or was about to be published in this country by the Harpers, and showed a strong affection for his intellectual offspring. We mentioned his Lectures on Romans, which we had read shortly before leaving home. “Ah," said he, “that was a very hasty performance. The lectures were written currente calamo, thirty years ago, when I was minister in Glasgow, for the ordinary Sunday afternoon service. Some of the aged people there remembered them, and clamored for them, and I just sent them to the publisher as they were.” We valued them, we said, as a sample of an admirable, and in America, much neglected style of preaching, and expressed the opinion that that method of easy exposition is the best possible way of imparting instruction to the people. “You are right,” replied the doctor, “What the people want is exposition and application. God's truth is gladium in vagina. The preacher's business is to draw the sword by exposition, and then with cuts and thrusts to apply it to the hearts and consciences of his hearers. Make the people understand the Scriptures. This the laborious and well-furnished minister can
ed in the undersnterest in ou do yourelieve, apo 'It is well.