Margaret Fuller, Critic: Writings from the New-York Tribune, 1844-1846

By Judith Mattson Bean; Joel Myerson | Go to book overview
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Consecration of Grace Church

Whoever passes up Broadway finds his attention arrested by three fine structures, Trinity Church, that of the Messiah, and Grace Church.1

His impressions are, probably, at first of a pleasant character. He looks upon these edifices as expressions, which, however inferior in grandeur to the poems in stone which adorn the older world, surely indicate that man cannot rest content with his short earthly span, but prizes relations to eternity. The house, in which he pays deference to claims which death will not cancel, seems to be no less important in his eyes than those in which the affairs which press nearest are attended to.

So far, so good! That is expressed which gives man his superiority over the other orders of the natural world, that consciousness of spiritual affinities of which we see no unequivocal signs elsewhere.

But, if this be something great when compared with the rest of the animal creation, yet how little seems it when compared with the ideal that has been offered to him, as to the means of signifying such feelings. These temples! how far do they correspond with the idea of that religious sentiment from which they originally sprung?

In the old world the history of such edifices, though not without its shadow, had many bright lines.—Kings and Emperors paid oftentimes for the materials and labor a price of blood and plunder, and many a wretched sinner sought by contributions of stone for their wallsn to roll off that he had laid on his conscience. Still the community amid which they rose, knew little of these drawbacks. Pious legends attest the purity of feeling associated with each circumstance of their building. Mysterious orders, of which we know only that they were consecrated to brotherly love and the development of mind, produced the genius which animated the architecture, but the casting of the bells and

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1
Grace Church in New York had been consecrated on 7 March 1846.
n
walls![walls

-372-

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