LIGHT OF HUMAN LIVES - PHOTOGRAPHS AND BIOGRAPHS - THE LATE JONAS WEBB, HIS LIFE, LABORS, AND MEMORY.
The next morning I resumed my walk and visited a locality bearing a name and association of world-wide celebrity and interest. It is the name of a small rural hamlet, hardly large enough to be called a village, and marked by no trait of nature or art to give it distinction.
There are conditions and characteristics both in the natural and moral world which can hardly be described fully in Saxon, Latin, or Greek terminology, even with the largest license of construction. There are attributes or qualities attaching to certain locations, of the simplest natural features, which cannot even be hinted at or suggested by the terms, geography, topography, or biography. Put the three together and condense or collocate their several meanings in one compound qualification which you can write and another spell, and you do not compass the signification you want to convey. The soul of man has its immortality, and the feeblest-minded peasant believes he shall wear it through the ages of the great hereafter. The literature of human thoughts claims a life that shall endure as long as the future existence of humanity. The memory of many human actions and lives puts in a plea and promise of a duration that shall distance the sun's, and overlap upon the bright centuries of eternity. The human body, even, is promised its resurrection by the divinest authority and illustration, and waits hopefully, under all its pains and weaknesses, for the glory to be revealed in it when the earth on which it dwells shall have become "a forgotten circumstance." Human loves, remembrances, faiths, and fellowships lift up all their meek hands to the Father of Spirits, praying to be lifted up into His great immortality, and to be permitted to take with them unbroken the associations that sweetened this earthly life. Many humble souls that have passed through the furnace of affliction, poverty, and trial seven times heated, and heated daily here, have believed that He who went up through the same suffering to His great White Throne, would let them sing beside the crystal waters the same good old psalm tunes and songs of Sion which they sang under the willows of this lower world of tears and tribulation. How all the sparks of the undying life in man fly upward to the zenith of this immortality! You may call the steep flights of this faith pleasant and poetical diversions of a fervid imagination, but they are winged with the pinions that angels lift when they soar; pinions less ethereal than theirs, but formed and plumed to beat upward on the Milky Way to their Source, instead of swimming in the thinly-starred cerulean, in which spirits, never touched with the down or dust of human attributes, descend and ascend on their missions to the earth. Who can have the heart to handle harshly these beautiful faiths? To say, this hope may go up, but this must go down to the darkness of annihilation! Was it irreverent in the pious singing-master of a New England village, when he said, that often, while returning home late on bright winter nights, he had dropped the reins upon his horse's neck, and sung Old Hundred from the stars, set as notes to that holy tune, when they first sang together in the morning of the creation? What spiritual good or Christian end would be gained, to break up the charm and cheer of this his belief? Or to dispel that other confidence, which so helped him to bear earth's trials, that one day he should join all the spirits of the just made perfect, and all the high angels in heaven, and, on the plane of that golden gamut, they should sing together their hymns of joy and praise, in that same, good, old tune, from those same star-notes, which a thousand centuries should not deflect nor transpose from their first order within those everlasting staves and bars!