Page:The American Review Volume 02.djvu/187

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Metaphysics of Bear Hunting.



'A Bear Hunt forsooth! and what interest have the readers of the American Review in the roars and growls of brute slaughtering? We look into some 'Spirit of the Times' for the annals of savage sports — hut here we expect to find something more of the ambrosial, seasoning pabulum catered for our coyer gustation!' Bravo, good voluptuary! But if there be sermons in stones, and the minnow-rippled, silvery, gabbling brooks be all oracular, and the mute trees yet pantomime of homilies—not to speak of the obstreperous tongue—nimble-stroked—of "cross-quick lightning," which, "in the dead vast and middle of the night," doth fright us with its ethics. If, I say, these have, every one, high teachings of their own—why may there not be more in the metaphysics of Bear Hunting than has been dreamt of in your fireside philosophy? We are human enough to be Pantheistic in our tastes. We love this linking of the invisible with forms—this association with the material gives it to the palpable. Every thought of mirth, or vision of delight, is ours forever, when, clothed in fit habiliments, we have given it "a local habitation and a name."

"These are the adept's doctrines; every element
Is peopled with its separate race of spirits:
The airy Sylph on the blue ether floats,
Deep in the earthy caverns skulks the Gnome,
The sea-green Naiad skims the ocean billow.
And the fierce fire is yet a friendly home
To its peculiar sprite, the Salamander!"

Now, though at this present writing, we shall have no special dealing with Sylph, Naiad, Gnome, or Salamander, we would submit whether the century-lived glory of that antique Faith, be not referable to this "bodying forth" of rare ideals with all the circumstance of an "earthly house," a name—of the chisel and the pencil! So in these latter times, when a truth comes to us out from the Infinite—that is to abide with us—it is sent, not with the destroying splendors of its source, but through the gross types of sense, wearing the shapes of most familiar creatures, or acting through the common elements of things.

Are so impounded now by the stern laws
Of sentient things, that poor short-sighted Reason,
Yielding the divination up to Faith,
Submits these revelations under Rule
As only given to her far ken!"

Miracles are above us, around us, and beneath us—it is only when the higher sense bends its deep inner vision upon them, that we recognize them so. The very triteness of the incidents and imagery through which they appeal to our eyes, "ever staring, wide propped at marvels, or lazily glouting on the moon," prevents the recognition of their import. But are they the less miraculous, that our own stultification will not permit us to see them thus? There are times though, when they come to us right solemnly, in sternness, in strangeness, through chastenings; when the veil is torn aside, and we are made to look in awe on holy hidden things—to tremble and believe. At such times, our stolidity is no refuge, "we know that we do see." And when that time is passed, what are the symbols and the images through which that truth dwells forever after with the soul? The accidents through which the Godhead came—the material forms through which he was made visible! Be they pigmy or huge in man's esteem—they ever, henceforth, in one certain collocation, must stand linked, the eternal, moveless, silent witnesses of that revelation, and of God against the soul. When we would reproduce for other wayfarers, the lessons vouchsafed to us— how, in what better way can it be done, than by dragging from under the broken seals of the past that deep-lined imagery, in the array God stamped it on our life, that brother souls may regard it. Perhaps they, too, may see the miracle and be moved, as we were. Though a thousand eyes might look on the same facts, and sneer that you talked of God! Yet there are those with the "gift and fa-


  1. Some portions of these adventures were originally printed in an obscure newspaper, some time since deceased. — The Author.