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[217] between the speaker and his hearers; they reproduce the time in its very form and pressure; and in their way, too, they are classics of argumentation, for Beecher realizes the essential Aristotelian form of rhetoric—the orator's persuasion of an audience confronting him. The history of slavery and of secession could hardly be read in a more interesting form.

In Norwood, or village life in New England (1868), advertised as ‘Mr. Beecher's only novel,’ Beecher attempted an excursion into imaginative literature, but failed for want of breath. He had no power of construction and very little power of characterization. The personages are lay figures moving through an action prescribed for them by the author, and speaking his language, not their own. The general woodenness of the book, and several delightful absurdities, lay it open to easy parody. So much allowed, Norwood, if taken not as a novel but as a series of sketches of New England types, descriptions of New England scenery, and discussions not too profound of topics in religion, politics, and esthetics, has distinct merit. This is much the same merit that is exhibited, under much the same limitations, by Beecher's short essays: though he had imagination, he had no architectonic.

Beneath the routine activities of the next twenty years— his regular sermons, the public addresses for which he was more and more in request, and his sentimental Life of Jesus the Christ (1871), Beecher was quietly conducting an earnest study of the evolutionary philosophy. From the very beginning of his acquaintance with the new way of thinking, he seems to have felt that it would be his latest and his last instrument for enfranchising the soul; and when he had accomplished his task of educating public opinion at home and abroad toward the abolition of slavery, he turned to this other task of spiritual emancipation. ‘If I had preached thirty years ago,’ he says in one of the sermons of his Evolution and religion (1885), ‘what I preach now, it would have been a great mischief to you; but for thirty years I have been cautious, and have fed you as you could bear it.’

Beecher did not, it would seem, understand the full power of the instrument he was employing, and as he was a man of images and not of ideas he never brought his own selfcontradictions to a clear issue. In his prevailing mood he makes the

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