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Norwich Magazine will be, or rather what we wish to it be. De gustibus non est disputandum is a threadbare observation ; but trite as it is, it ought ever to regulate the contents of a miscellaneous periodical. In obedience to its spirit we shall seek for variety. The Belles Lettres in all their forms, mental and moral philosophy, the most interesting branches of physical science, history civil and natural, biography, and original poetry, are heads sufficiently comprehensive to show the intended nature of our publication, and the desire we feel to purvey “ for each and for all.".
It is, perhaps, expected that some information should be given as to the extent of our resources for gratifying this desire. Our subscription list, we are happy to say, can boast the autographs of many highly talented individuals, several of whom have engaged to furnish us with contributions. For a speedy commencement to the fulfilment of their kind pledges we look with confidence and pleasure. Still, it cannot be supposed that our editorial wants will be entirely or constantly supplied from the same sources; we therefore appeal to the public at large. To articles of merit, come they whence they may, we offer a hearty welcome and an early publicity. Our first number may disappoint expectation ;-if it does, its deficiencies may be thus accounted for :—the publication of a Magazine in Norwich is considered so forlorn a hope, that, until its actual appearance, many of our best friends class it merely among things possible ; and consequently decline taxing their leisure and ability to provide adornments for a castle in the air. Now, however, the foundation of a less visionary edifice is laid, and shall we not be aided in rearing the superstructure ? That we are sanguine it is not worth denying; and we cannot help nursing the hope that this our effort will be as well received as it is well-meant, and that our lowly endeavour to furnish amusement and instruction of kind so novel alas ! in this neighbourhood, will not be permitted to fail for want of needful support.
Norwich, 1st Jan. 1835.
ON MORAL COURAGE.
An intelligent observer of the moral history of man, will often be struck with the discrepancy of character, which meets him at every stage in his journey through the world, And occasionally his mind will be astounded at the discovery ; conceiving, that as members of one common family, subjected alike to sorrow, and tribulation, and death, and destined equally to an immortality of being, a greater similarity, at least, of character and pursuit might have been anticipated. But a little further reflection will convince him, that there is a wise and admirable coincidence between the mental manifestations of mankind, and the peculiar and diversified circumstances in which providence has placed them. Among the ordinary occurrences of human life, there will seldom be any
remarkable exhibitions of the intellectual phenomena; but under other circumstances, and where a movement is to be effected in the progress of society, the Divine Being appears to leave the pavilion of his glory, and to shew himself at once as the author of the work, by introducing on the stage of existence, characters suited to the moral grandeur of the task. Illustrations of this will so immediately occur to the reader, that it can scarcely be necessary to cite them; and we shall only advert to Luther, the reformer, one of the most remarkable exemplifications of the fact, which history affords. With a degree of intellect which enabled him to unravel the sophistries of his wily opponents, he had also the heroism of mind to account as “trifles light as air," the threatenings and persecutions which perpetually assailed him; and it is this latter, and more prominent feature of character, to which our observations are intended to be restricted. What, then, is the nature of this moral courage which has been applauded alike by poets and philosophers, by statesmen and warriors ? Or rather, what is that true heroism of mind which is befitting the character of man, and which is never exhibited but in alliance with the good of the individual, and the well-being of society? It is the more necessary to settle this, because the warmest enthusiasm has often been enkindled by the contemplation of characters and exploits, not merely of a dissimilar, but even opposite complexion.
Courage,” says an elegant writer, 6 may be mere insensibility to danger, as when Charles the 12th received the French Ambassador in the trenches, while the balls were tearing up the earth
around them. It may be nothing better than a proud obstinacy; as in the Satan of Milton, courage never to submit or yield.' It
may be only a disguised sort of cowardice, as in many duels, and perhaps also suicides. Condorcet poisoned himself, because he was afraid to die upon a scaffold. It may be an effort of manly reasoning, in choosing the least of two dangers, as when Cæsar saved his army from destruction in Gaul, by seizing the shield and spear
of a legionary, and fighting in the ranks as a private soldier. Or lastly, it may be the triumph of conscience and religion over the fear of death, as in the confessions of the saints and victorious agonies of the martyrs.” These are obvious illustrations of the fact, that a high wrought enthusiasm may consecrate many a character injurious in his influences, by the inapposite appropriation of a term; and that while courage is but too frequently associated with all that is daring in physiological conformation, as well as all that is lofty in intellectual heroism, it is necessary to proceed to definition, and show in what it properly consists. It is, then, in a word, an unflinching determination amidst the mightiest opponent suggestions, to carry into effect, the conscientious decisions of the mind. What a noble exemplification is Milton's Abdiel !
“ Among the faithless, faithful only he.”— To classical readers a host of instances will presently occur, not merely of physical, but of moral courage, in the highest sense of the term, in which it were reasonable to expect it could then be exhibited. Who does not remember the histories of a Pompey, a Cæsar, a Regulus ? A Pompey, who anxious to be at Rome on a certain occasion, determined to brave a tempestuous sea, against the remonstrances of his friends, replying to them in a style of invincible magnanimity, “it is necessary for me to go, it is not necessary for me to live;"-a Cæsar who passed the Rubicon ;—and a Regulus, who though a prisoner at Carthage, and sent as such on an embassy to Rome, protested against any alliance with her enemies, sensible as he was, that a horrible death would be consequent on his advice.
Socrates can never be forgotten, although of an earlier date. Unjustly condemned to death, Crito, his friend, adopted means for his escape, and an opportunity was afforded of a safe retreat in Thessaly. Socrates commended his zeal, but refused to avail himself of the proposal. He reverenced the laws of his country, and resolved to obey them, however unjustly pronounced, and though death itself would be the consequence of his decision. Luther has been already adverted to, but it were unpardonable to omit his memorable reply to his friends, who, when he was cited to appear at the diet at Worms, disuaded him from going,—“I am called on,” said he, “in the name of God to go, and I would
go, though I were certain to meet as many devils in Worms as there are tiles on the houses.” A Howard, a Whitfield, and a Wesley might be cited as specimens of the true sublime of moral
magnanimity; and a host of others, who have towered as lofty cedars amidst the intellectual shrubbery of this stunted world. It is unnecessary to enlarge, however, and we would rather direct the attention of our readers to the characteristics of mind usually associated with this master faculty of thought and of action. And these are obviously a high order of intellect, in combination with an unflinching rectitude of purpose. The man who has not an enlarged faculty of perception ; a storehouse of ideas from which he can perpetually draw, and which ever and anon presents rich masses of the true intellectual ore; can never exemplify in any remarkable movement, the magnificence of moral courage.
Nor will the man deficient in principle, deficient in steady consecutive thinking, and right purpose of mind, ever figure as a hero on the theatre of our world. Look at Milton when he contemplated his great work, the Paradise Lost.
He had circumnavigated the ocean of his vast imagination, he had sounded the depths of his profound intellect, and with a loftiness of purpose commensurate with the towerings of his genius, he propounded to himself a subject, the execution of which, he was sensible would ensure him the first niche in the temple of fame, and encircle the page of his history with an ineffable and undying glory. In cases of this kind there is always a conviction that a great purpose is to be accomplished, and that nothing short of providential interference by sickness or death, shall present a barrier to its accomplishment. What conceivable opposition would have stopped the magnanimous Howard in his career of benevolence and mercy? His fixedness of purpose was so interwoven in the moral constitution of the man, that nothing short of a disruption of the system could take him from his course. “ The energy of his determination was so great,” says a profound writer, “ that if,
instead of being habitual, it couid have appeared in an intermitted form, operating only for a short time, on particular occasions, it would have seemed a vehement impetuosity; but by being continuous, it had an equability of manner, which scarcely appeared to exceed the tone of a calm constancy. It was the calmness of an intensity, kept uniform by the nature of the human mind forbidding it to be more, and the character of the individual forbidding it to be less. The habitual passion of his mind, was a measure of feeling almost equal to the temporary paroxysms of a common mind; as a great river, in its customary state, is equal to a small or moderate one, when swollen to a torrent.” This state of feeling could only, have been originated by the profoundest possible conviction of the importance of the work, and of the necessity of concentrating all the energies of his mind into one given focus, for the sake of carrying it into effect, And when his course was terminated, he departed to a brighter sphere, like the sun setting in the bosom of an encircling glory, which had been created by the imperishable splendour of his beams. Like that orb he had penetrated the darkest regions, and radiated the most awful gloom; and many an incarcerated victim had felt the cheering influences of a sympathy,
“ Intent to steal the tears of them that weep."
It is scarcely conceivable that a faculty so mainly ascendant in the purposes of life, giving a reality by its invincible energies, to the shadowy prospects, the half formed visions of a glowing imagination, should be wholly indebted to extrinsic and adventitious circumstances. It is doubtless originated by the physiological and mental conformation of the man; and yet, much is to be effected in the order of means, by a patient and resolute application of contingent instrumentality. The primary duty of the man who would signalize himself by his moral courage, is rightly to appreciate the capabilities of his mind, then to contemplate the one grand object he is called upon to achieve, and finally to brace up his energies to the point of an unflinching determination, that happen what may, that one object shall be secured. Inconsiderate rashness is the very opposite of that true magnanimity, of which we have given such splendid exemplifications.
The hero in his mental soliloquies, must adopt the language of the poet :