The ministry insisted that the king should proclaim war against those who were threatening invasion, and that he should proceed stringently against the unpatriotic clergy. He refused to take either course against his ancient friends. It was at this time that Madame Roland wrote to the king in advocacy of those measures that celebrated letter which her husband signed, and to which all of the ministers assented. It is a most statesmanlike appeal for the nation. It is predictive of all the woes which followed. No Hebrew prophet ever spoke bolder to his king. She writes: "I know that the words of truth are seldom welcome at the foot of thrones; I know that it is the withholding truth from the councils of kings that renders revolution necessary."
The king, instead of adopting the policy recommended, dismissed his ministers. The letter was then made public through the newspapers. Few state papers have ever produced such an effect. It became a popular argument, and the people demanded the restoration of the ministry for the reasons which it contained, and for expressing which the ministry had been dismissed.
While the Girondists were supporting the ministry of their choice, they, with the king, were the object of furious attacks by the Jacobins. When the ministry was dismissed the Gironde renewed its attacks upon the monarchy, emulated the Jacobins in the severity of its assaults, and began to conspire for a federative republic, similar to the United States, which to Madame Roland was the ideal of a free government.
Madame Roland went from the palace to hired lodgings, and in the temporary fusion which followed of the revolutionists of all parties, the most eminent leaders gathered around her again. Robespierre came, but said little, for he was waiting his hour. Danton laid his lion mane in her lap, all his savagery for the moment tamed. Vergniaud, Buzot, and all the chiefs of the Gironde, gathered around this oracle of liberty. Anarchy supervened. Paris and all France were filled with riotings and murder. The king finally declared war, but battles went against France. Riot and murder increased. A mob of twenty thousand invaded the Tuileries then occupied by the royal family. It was divided into three divisions. The first was composed of armed and disciplined men, led by Santerre. The male ruffians of Paris, blood-thirsty and atrocious beyond any thing that civilization has ever produced, formed the second division. The third, most terrible of all, was composed of the lost women of Paris, led by Theroigne de Mericourt, clad in a blood-red riding dress, and armed with sword and pistol. This notorious woman had acted a prominent part in former scenes. She led the attack upon the Bastille. She led the mob which brought the king from Versailles to Paris. In the subsequent riots life and death hung upon her nod, and in one of them she met her betrayer. He begged piteously for her pardon and his life, and this was her answer, if we believe Lamartine: "My pardon!" said she, "at what price can you buy it? My innocence gone, my family lost to me, my brothers and sisters pursued in their own country by the jeers of their kindred; the maledictions of my father; my exile from my native land; my enrollment among courtesans; the blood by which my days have been and will be stained; that imperishable curse of vice linked to my name instead of that immortality of virtue which you once taught me to doubt—it is for this that you would buy my forgiveness—do you know of any price on earth sufficient to purchase it?" And he was massacred. She died forty years afterwards in a mad-house, for in the fate of the revolution, she was stripped and whipped in the streets to madness by the very women she had led.
These loathsome cohorts forced their way into the palace. They invaded the rooms of the king and queen. They struck at him with pikes, and forced upon his head the red bonnet of the Jacobins, while the most wretched of her sex encircled the queen with a living wall of vice, and loaded her with obscene execrations, charges, and epithets.
Although this outbreak has been charged to both the great political parties, it is probably nearer to truth to say that it originated spontaneously with that demoniac mob soon to rule France, and which from this time carried all political organizations with it. The Girondists, however, still retained enough of their constitutional conservatism to be the only hope which royalty could have for its preservation. The king again threw himself into their arms. Roland was reinstated in his ministry, and the palace again received his wife.
Then every revolutionary element began at once to combine against the king and the party which was thus supporting him. It was soon apparent that the king and the Girondists could neither govern the country nor save themselves if they acted together. The Gironde, from about this time, pusillanimously conceded point by point to the anarchic demands made by their enemies and the king's. Madame Roland did not join them in this, but when she saw that her husband was but a minister in name, that he and his associates were powerless to punish murder and prevent anarchy, doubtless the vision which she had seen of a people regenerated and free began to fade away. The Gironde consented to the imprisonment of the royal family in the Temple. This was not concession enough. The Jacobins, with the mob at their back, accused them not only of lack of works, but of lack of faith, and when such an accusation against a party becomes the expression of a popular conviction, that party has nothing to do except to die. To prove this charge untrue, the Gironde united with their enemies in abolishing the monarchy and establishing a republic. Madame Roland drew up a plan for a republic, but it was too late for such a one as she desired. Her scheme was federative, like our own, in which the provinces of France should have the status of states. This plan was a blow at the mob of Paris, which, through the Jacobin clubs, with which France was thickly sown, controlled the nation. The republic which followed was such only in name. The mob of Paris now stepped from behind the transparent screen, whence it had moved all parties like wire-hung puppets, and stood disclosed before the world in all its colossal horror, stained with blood, breathing flames, and grasped directly the springs of power. The national assembly was like a keeper of lunatics captured by his patients. Its members were crowded in their seats by blood-thirsty men, depraved women, and by merciless visionaries, who clamored for extirpation and destruction, absolute and universal.
The power of Roland as a minister became as feeble as a shadow's hand. The blade of the guillotine rose and fell automatically. Thousands fled from the city, upon which heaven itself seemed to rain fire and plagues. The armies of foreign kings were upon the soil of France, and were fast advancing, and the wild rumors of their coming roused the people to panic, and frenzied resolutions of resistance and retribution. Thousands, whose only crime was a suspected want of sympathy, were crowded into the prisons of Paris. Hoary age, the bounding boy, the tender virgin, the loving wife, the holy priest, the sainted nun, the titled lady, filed along with the depraved of both sexes in endless procession through those massive gates, never more to see the sky and the green earth again. For the mob had resolved to extirpate its enemies in the city before marching against foreign invaders. It went from prison to prison, bursting in the doors, and slaughtering without distinction of age, sex, or condition. Madame Roland was nearly frantic over these scenes. Her divinity had turned to Moloch in her very presence. Her husband called for troops to stop the horrible massacre, but none were furnished, and it went on until men were too tired to slay. These acts were doubtless incited by the Jacobin leaders, though they cloaked with secrecy their complicity in these great crimes. The Jacobins became all-powerful. The Girondists became the party of the past, and from this time their history is a record of a party in name, but in such act of dissolution as to make its efforts spasmodic, clique-like, and personal; sometimes grand, sometimes cruel, and often cowardly. They were under the coercion of public opinion, but were dragged instead of driven by it. They frequently held back, but this was merely a halt, which accelerated the rapidity of the march which left them at the scaffold, where they regained their heroism in the presence of death, while the bloody mob went on to a similar ending a little distance beyond.
When the lull came, after the massacre, the two parties stood looking at each other across the river of blood. The Jacobins accused the Girondists of being enemies of the country. It is characteristic of revolutionary times to accuse vaguely and to punish severely. Socrates died as an alleged corrupter of youth. Pilate, after acquitting Jesus of the crime of high treason, suffered him to be executed for "teaching throughout all Jewry." "Roundhead" and "Cavalier" were once expressive terms of condemnation. In our own times the words "slave-holder," "abolitionist," "loyal," "disloyal," and "rebel" have formed the compendious summing up of years of history. An indictment is compressed into an epithet in such times. In the time of Madame Roland, to be "a suspect" was to be punishable with death. So the Jacobins suspected the Girondists, and accused them of being enemies of France. They introduced measures which pandered to the bloodthirst of the mob, and for which the Girondists were compelled either to vote or to draw upon themselves its vengeance. Madame Roland urged and entreated the Girondists to make one last struggle for law, liberty, and order, by moving to bring to justice the ringleaders in the massacre, including the Jacobin chiefs, who instigated it. This issue was made in the assembly, but it was voted down before the tiger-roar of the mob which raged in the hall. The Jacobins resolved to destroy Madame Roland, whose courage had prompted this attack upon them, and for which she had become the object of their intensest hate. They suborned an adventurer named Viard to accuse her of being privy to a correspondence with the English Government for the purpose of saving the life of the king. She was summoned before the assembly to confront her accuser. She appeared in the midst of her enemies, armed with innocence, resplendent with beauty, defended by her own genius. Her very presence extorted applause from reluctant lips. She looked upon her accuser, and he faltered. By a few womanly words she tore his calumny into shreds, and left amid plaudits. Justice thus returned once more to illumine that place by a fleeting gleam, and then with this woman left it forever.
The Jacobins pressed the trial of the king. The mob demanded him as a victim. The Girondists voted with the Jacobins that he was guilty; but they voted to leave the sentence to the determination of the French people, and when they were defeated in this they voted for his death. I am unable to find any thing in the memorials of Madame Roland which shows that she had any sympathy with this. What is written tends rather to show that she was in the very apathy and lassitude of horror. From the time when her courageous effort to work justice upon the abettors and perpetrators of the massacre failed, her history ceases to be political and becomes personal.
The revolutionary tribunal was reorganized, consisting of twenty judges, a jury, and a public accuser. Merlin of Douai, a consummate jurist, proposed a statute, in every line of which suspicion, treachery, and hate found an arsenal of revenge. It provided that: "Immediately after the publication of this present decree, all suspected persons who are found in the territory of the republic, and who are still at liberty, shall be arrested.
"Are deemed suspected all persona who, by their conduct, writings, or language, have proved themselves partisans of tyranny, federalism, and enemies of liberty;
"Those who can not prove they possess the means of existence, and that they have fully performed all of their duties as citizens;
"Those to whom certificates of citizenship have been refused;
"Those of noble families—fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, sisters, husbands, wives, and agents—who have not constantly manifested their attachment to the Revolution."
The traveler, standing upon the stone seats of the Flavian amphitheater, looks down into the arena, and peoples the Coliseum with the criminals and the innocent martyrs, shut out from hope by its merciless walls and by a populace more merciless, and slain by thousands by wild beasts and swordsmen and spearsmen, to make a Roman holiday. How complacently he felicitates himself upon the assumption that modern times present nothing like this. But less than one hundred years ago, the pen of a lawyer erected in France a statute which inclosed a kingdom with its architectural horror, made one arena of an empire, and in one year drank up more blood than sank into the sands of the Coliseum in centuries.
The revolutionary tribunal was in permanent session. Its trials were summary. It heard with predetermination, and decided without evidence. It was the mere routine formality of death. Proof often consisted solely in the identification of the person whose death had been predetermined. Prostitutes sold acquittals, and revenged themselves by convictions. Paris now ruled France, the Jacobins ruled Paris, and the mob ruled the Jacobins. They had pressed the Girondists, those men of lofty genius and superb eloquence, from their high position into complicity with crimes with which they had no sympathy, and this want of sympathy now became their crime. It was resolved to destroy them. The mob of Paris again came forth. Devilish men and women again crowded the assembly, and even took part in its deliberations. The act of accusation was passed, and twenty-six of the leaders of the Gironde went from their places to the scaffold, where they suffered death sublimely.
Madame Roland was also arrested. Her husband had fled from Paris. She was consigned to the prison of St. Pelagie, and afterwards, after suffering the cruel mockery of a release, she was imprisoned in the Conciergerie. This prison was the abiding place of assassins, thieves, and all impurity. It was the anteroom to the scaffold, for incarceration there was an infallible symptom of death. The inmates were crowded into rooms with merciless disregard of their relative characters or antecedents. Madame Roland was first associated with the duchess of Grammont, with a female pick-pocket, with a nun, with an insane woman, and with a street-walker. She finally procured a cell to herself, which she made bloom with flowers. The prison was populous with the most degraded of her sex. Yet she asserted here the same marvelous ascendancy which she had always possessed over her associates. The obscene outcries of lost women died away when she approached. Her cell was an ark of safety for any dove seeking refuge from that deluge of human sin. When she went into the courtyard the lost of her own sex gathered around her with reverence, as around a tutelary and interceding angel, the same women who inflicted upon Madame Du Barry, that princess of their caste, every torment which the malice of their sex could inspire. Inmates and visitors crowded to the door of her cell, and she spoke to them through its iron bars with eloquence, which increased as inspiring death drew near, of liberty, country, equality, and of better days for France, but when they went away she would look through her window to the sky, and, thinking of her hunted husband and sequestered little daughter, cry and moan like the simplest wife and mother. Then she would send by surreptitious conveyance, letters to refugee statesmen, which discussed the political situation as calmly as if written upon the work-table of a secure and peaceful home. Calumny now busied itself to defile her. Hebert, vilest of editors, flung the ordure of Pere Duchesne, vilest of newspapers, upon this spotless woman, soon to be a saint, and sent the newsmen to cry the disgusting charges under her prison windows, so that she heard them rendered in all the villainies of a language whose under-drains have sources of vileness filthier than any other speech of man. She did not fear death, but she did fear calumny. She had never delighted in any public display of her enormous intellectual powers, and she had never made any such display. She had fixed the sentiment of Lyons by an anonymous newspaper article, of which sixty thousand copies had been bought in one day. She had written to the king a letter which drove her husband from power, and which, when read by the people, compelled the king to restore him. She had written a dispatch to the pope, claiming rights for certain French in Rome, in which the sanctity of his office and the dignity of her country was respected, appealed to, and asserted. It is said that the state papers were hers which persuaded William Pitt to abstain so long from intervention in the affairs of France, in that time of English terror and hope, which furnished arguments to Fox, and which drew from Burke those efforts of massive reason and gorgeous imagination which will endure as long as the language itself. The counsel by which she had disentangled the perplexity of wisest men had been repeated by them to applauding senates in tones less eloquent than those by which they had been received, and triumph had followed. In none of these efforts did she avow herself. She shrank from the honors which solicited her, though the world knew that they came from her just as the world knows that moon and planets shine with the reflected light of a hidden sun. But now, when thus assailed, she resolved to speak personally and for herself. And so, sitting in her cell, she wrote in concealment and sent out by trusty hands, in cantos, that autobiography in which she appealed to posterity, and by which posterity has been convinced. She traced her career from earliest childhood down to the very brink of the grave into which she was looking. Her intellectual, affectional and mental history are all there written with a hand as steady and a mind as serene as though she were at home, with her baby sleeping in its cradle by her side. Here are found history, philosophy, political science, poetry, and ethics as they were received and given out again by one of the most receptive and imparting minds ever possessed by woman. She knew that husband, home, child, and friends were not for her any more, and that very soon she was to see the last of earth from beside the headsman and from the block, and yet she turned from all regret and fear, and summoned the great assize of posterity, "of foreign nations and the next ages," to do her justice. There was no sign of fear. She looked as calmly on what she knew she must soon undergo as the spirit released into never-ending bliss looks back upon the corporeal trammels from which it has just earned its escape.
There are those who believe that a woman can not be great as she was and still be pure. These ghouls of history will to the end of time dig into the graves where such queens lie entombed. This woman has slept serenely for nearly a century. Sweet oblivion has dimmed with denial and forgetfulness the obloquy which hunted her in her last days. Tears such as are shed for vestal martyrs have been shed for her, and for all her faults she has the condonation of universal sorrow. Nothing but the evil magic of sympathetic malice can restore these calumnies, and even then they quickly fade away in the sunlight of her life. Nothing can touch her further. Dismiss them with the exorcism of Carlyle, grown strangely tender and elegiac here. "Breathe not thy poison breath! Evil speech! That soul is taintless; clear as the mirror sea." She was brought to trial. The charge against her was, "That there has existed a horrible conspiracy against the unity and indivisibility of the French people; that Marie Jeanne Phlipon, wife of Jean Marie Roland has been one of the abettors or accomplices of that conspiracy." This was the formula by which this woman was killed, and it simply meant that the Gironde had existed and that she had sympathized with it.
She was racked with interrogations, and returned to the prison, weeping at the infernal imputations which they cast upon her womanhood. On the day of her final trial she dressed herself in spotless white, and let fall the voluminous masses of her brown, abundant hair. She was asked to betray her husband by disclosing his hiding place. Her answer is full of wifely loyalty and dignity—"Whether I know it or not I neither ought nor will say."
There was absolutely no evidence against her except of her affiliations with the Girondists. The mockery ended by her condemnation to death within twenty-four hours, and this Iphigenia of France went doomed back to her cell. Her return was awaited with dreadful anxiety by her associates in confinement, who hoped against hope for her safe deliverance. As she passed through the massive doors, she smiled, and drew her hand knife-like across her neck, and then there went up a wail from all assembled there, the wail of titled women, of sacred nuns, of magdalens and thieves, a dirge of inconsolable sorrow, of humanity weeping for its best beloved child.
Late in the afternoon of November 8, 1693, the rude cart which was to bear her to the guillotine received her. She was dressed in white; her hair fell like a mantle to her knees. The chilly air and her own courage brought back to her prison-blanched cheek the rosy hues of youth. She spoke words of divine patience to the crowd which surged around her on her way and reviled her. With a few low words she raised the courage of a terror-stricken old man who took with her the same last journey, and made him smile. As the hours wore into twilight, she passed the home of her youth, and perhaps longed to become a little child again and enter there and be at rest. At the foot of the scaffold she asked for pen and paper to bequeath to posterity the thoughts which crowded upon her; they were refused, and thus was one of the books of the sibyls lost. She bowed to the great statue of Liberty near by, exclaiming, "O Liberte! comme on t' a jouee!" and gave her majestic form to the headsman to be bound upon the plank.
The knife fell, and the world darkened upon the death of the queenliest woman who ever lived and loved.—EX-GOVERNOR C.K. DAVIS, of Minnesota.
What though the triumph of thy fond forecasting Lingers till earth is fading from thy sight? Thy part with Him whose arms are everlasting, Is not forsaken in a hopeless night.
Paul was begotten in the death of Stephen; Fruitful through time shall be that precious blood: No morning yet has ever worn to even And missed the glory of its crimson flood.
There is a need of all the blood of martyrs, Forevermore the eloquence of God; And there is need of him who never barters His patience in that desert way the Master trod.
What mean the strange, hard words, "through tribulation?" O Man of sorrows, only Thou canst tell, And such as in Thy life's humiliation, Have oft been with Thee, ay, have known Thee well.
The failures of the world are God's successes, Although their coming be akin to pain; And frowns of Providence are but caresses, Prophetic of the rest sought long in vain.
* * * * *
CHEERFUL AND BRAVE.
THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON—SIR WALTER RALEIGH—XENOPHON— CAESAR—NELSON—HENRY OF NAVARRE—QUEEN ELIZABETH— SYDNEY SMITH—ROBERT HALL—LATIMER—TOM HOOD.
Baron Muffling relates of the Duke of Wellington, that that great general remained at the Duchess of Richmond's ball till about three o'clock on the morning of the 16th of June, 1815, "showing himself very cheerful." The baron, who is a very good authority on the subject, having previously proved that every plan was laid in the duke's mind, and Quatre Bras and Waterloo fully detailed, we may comprehend the value of the sentence. It was the bold, trusting heart of the hero that made him cheerful. He showed himself cheerful, too, at Waterloo. He was never very jocose; but on that memorable 18th of June he showed a symptom of it. He rode along the line and cheered men by his look and his face, and they too cheered him. But, when the danger was over—when the 21,000 brave men of his own and the Prussian army lay stiffening in death—the duke, who was so cheerful in the midst of his danger, covered his face with his hands and wept. He asked for that friend, and he was slain; for this, and a bullet had pierced his heart. The men who had devoted themselves to death for their leader and their country had been blown to pieces, or pierced with lances, or hacked with sabers, and lay, like Ponsonby covered with thirteen wounds, upon the ground. Well might the duke weep, iron though he was. "There is nothing," he writes, "nothing in the world so dreadful as a battle lost, unless it be such a battle won. Nothing can compensate for the dreadful cruelty, carnage, and misery of the scene, save the reflection on the public good which may arise from it."
Forty years' peace succeeded the great battle. Forty years of prosperity, during which he himself went honored to his tomb, rewarded the constant brave look and tongue which answered his men, when he saw the whole side of a square blown in, with "Hard work, gentlemen! They are pounding away! We must see who can pound the longest." It is not too much to say that the constant cheerfulness of the Duke of Wellington was one great element of success in the greatest battle ever fought, one of the fifteen decisive battles in the world, great in the number engaged, greater in the slaughter, greatest in the results. But all commanders ought to be cheerful. Gloomy looks do not do in the army. A set of filibusters or pirates may wear looks and brows as black as the sticking-plasters boots that their representatives are dressed in at the minor theaters; but a soldier or a sailor should be, and as a rule is, the most cheerful of fellows, doing his duty in the trench or the storm, dying when the bullet comes, but living like a hero the while. Look, for instance, at the whole-hearted cheerfulness of Raleigh, when with his small English ships he cast himself against the navies of Spain; or at Xenophon, conducting back from an inhospitable and hostile country, and through unknown paths, his ten thousand Greeks; or Caesar, riding up and down the banks of the Rubicon, sad enough belike when alone, but at the head of his men cheerful, joyous, well dressed, rather foppish, in fact, his face shining with good humor as with oil. Again, Nelson, in the worst of dangers, was as cheerful as the day. He had even a rough but quiet humor in him just as he carried his coxswain behind him to bundle the swords of the Spanish and French captains under his arm. He could clap his telescope to his blind eye, and say, "Gentlemen, I can not make out the signal," when the signal was adverse to his wishes, and then go in and win, in spite of recall. Fancy the dry laughs which many an old sea-dog has had over that cheerful incident. How the story lights up the dark page of history! Then there was Henry of Navarre, lion in war, winner of hearts, bravest of the brave, who rode down the ranks at Ivry when Papist and Protestant were face to face, when more than his own life and kingdom were at stake, and all the horrors of religious war were loosened and unbound, ready to ravage poor, unhappy France. That beaming, hopeful countenance won the battle, and is a parallel to the brave looks of Queen Elizabeth when she cheered her Englishmen at Tilbury.
But we are not all soldiers or sailors, although, too, our Christian profession hath adopted the title of soldiers in the battle of life. It is all very well to cite great commanders who, in the presence of danger, excited by hope, with the eyes of twenty thousand men upon them, are cheerful and happy; but what is that to the solitary author, the poor artist, the governess, the milliner, the shoemaker, the factory-girl, they of the thousand persons in profession or trade who are given to murmur, and who think life so hard and gloomy and wretched that they can not go through it with a smile on their faces and despair in their hearts? What are examples and citations to them? "Hecuba!" cries out poor, melancholy, morbid Hamlet, striking on a vein of thought, "what's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba?" Much.
We all have trials; but it is certain that good temper and cheerfulness will make us bear them more easily than any thing else. "Temper," said one of our bishops, "is nine-tenths of Christianity." We do not live now in the Middle Ages. We can not think that the sect of Flagellants, who whipped themselves till the blood ran into their shoes, and pulled uncommonly long faces, were the best masters of philosophy. "True godliness is cheerful as the day," wrote Cowper, himself melancholy-mad enough; and we are to remember that the precept of the Founder of our faith, that when we fast we are to anoint our countenances and not to seem to fast, enjoins a certain liveliness of face. Sydney Smith, when a poor curate at Foster-le-Clay, a dreary, desolate place, wrote: "I am resolved to like it, and to reconcile myself to it, which is more manly than to fancy myself above it, and to send up complaints by the post of being thrown away, or being desolated, and such like trash." And he acted up to this; said his prayers, made his jokes, did his duty, and, Upon fine mornings, used to draw up the blinds of his parlor, open the window, and "glorify the room," as he called the operation, with sunshine. But all the sunshine without was nothing to the sunshine within the heart. It was that which made him go through life so bravely and so well; it is that, too, which renders his life a lesson to us all.
We must also remember that the career of a poor curate is not the most brilliant in the world. That of an apprentice boy has more fun in it; that of a milliner's girl has more merriment and fewer depressing circumstances. To hear always the same mistrust of Providence, to see poverty, to observe all kinds of trial, to witness death-bed scenes—this is not the most enlivening course of existence, even if a clergyman be a man of mark and of station. But there was one whose station was not honored, nay, even by some despised, and who had sorer trials than Sydney Smith. His name is well known in literature; and his writings and his example still teach us in religion. This was Robert Hall, professor of a somber creed in a somber flat country, as flat and "deadly-lively," as they say, as need be. To add to difficulties and troubles, the minister was plagued with about as painful an illness as falls to the lot of humanity to bear. He had fought with infidelity and doubt; he had refused promotion, because he would do his duty where it had pleased God to place him; next he had to show how well he could bear pain. In all his trials he had been cheerful, forcible, natural, and straightforward. In this deep one he preserved the same character. Forced to throw himself down and writhe upon the floor in his paroxysms of pain, he rose up, livid with exhaustion, and with the sweat of anguish on his brow, without a murmur.
In the whole library of brave anecdote there is no tale of heroism which, to us, beats this. It very nearly equals that of poor, feeble Latimer, cheering up his fellow-martyr as he walked to the stake, "Be of good cheer, brother Ridley; we shall this day light such a fire in England as by God's grace shall not be readily put out." The very play upon the torture is brave, yet pathetic. Wonderful, too, was the boldness and cheerfulness of another martyr, Rowland Taylor, who, stripped to his shirt, was forced to walk toward the stake, who answered the jeers of his persecutors and the tears of his friends with the same noble constant smile, and, meeting two of his very old parishioners who wept, stopped and cheered them as he went, adding, that he went on his way rejoicing.
Heroes and martyrs are perhaps too high examples, for they may have, or rather poor, common, every-day humanity will think they have, a kind of high-pressure sustainment. Let us look to our own prosaic days; let us mark the constant cheerfulness and manliness of Dr. Maginn, or that much higher heroic bearing of Tom Hood. We suppose that every body knows that Hood's life was not of that brilliant, sparkling, fizzing, banging, astonishing kind which writers such as Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, and some others, depict as the general life of literary men. He did not, like Byron, "jump up one morning, and find himself famous." All the libraries were not asking for his novel, though a better was not written; countesses and dairy-women did not beg his autograph. His was a life of constant hard work, constant trial or disappointment, and constant illness, enlivened only by a home affection and a cheerfulness as constant as his pain. When slowly, slowly dying, he made cheerful fun as often almost as he said his prayers. He was heard, after, perhaps, being almost dead, to laugh gently to himself in the still night, when his wife or children, who were the watchers, thought him asleep. Many of the hard lessons of fate he seasoned, as old Latimer did his sermons, with a pun, and he excused himself from sending more "copy" for his magazine by a sketch, the "Editor's Apologies," a rough pen-and-ink drawing of physic-bottles and leeches. Yet Hood had not only his own woes to bear, but felt for others. No one had a more tender heart—few men a more catholic and Christian sympathy for the poor—than the writer of the "Song of the Shirt."
What such men as these have done, every one else surely can do. Cheerfulness is a Christian duty; moroseness, dulness, gloominess, as false, and wrong, and cruel as they are unchristian. We are too far advanced now in the light of truth to go back into the Gothic and conventual gloom of the Middle Ages, any more than we could go back to the exercises of the Flagellants and the nonsense of the pre-Adamites. All whole-hearted peoples have been lively and bustling, noisy almost, in their progress, pushing, energetic, broad in shoulder, strong in lung, loud in voice, of free brave color, bold look, and bright eyes. They are the cheerful people in the world—
"Active doers, noble livers—strong to labors sure to conquer;"
and soon pass in the way of progress the more quiet and gloomy of their fellows. That some of this cheerfulness may be simply animal is true, and that a man may be a dullard and yet sit and "grin like a Cheshire cat;" but we are not speaking of grinning. Laughter is all very well; is a healthy, joyous, natural impulse; the true mark of superiority between man and beast, for no inferior animal laughs; but we are not writing of laughter, but of that continued even tone of spirits, which lies in the middle zone between frantic merriment and excessive despondency. Cheerfulness arises from various causes: from health; but it is not dependent upon health;—from good fortune; but it does not arise solely from that;—from honor, and position, and a tickled pride and vanity; but, as we have seen, it is quite independent of these. The truth is, it is a brave habit of the mind; a prime proof of wisdom; capable of being acquired, and of the very greatest value.
A cheerful man is pre-eminently a useful man. He does not "cramp his mind, nor take half views of men and things." He knows that there is much misery, but that misery is not the rule of life. He sees that in every state people may be cheerful; the lambs skip, birds sing and fly joyously, puppies play, kittens are full of joyance, the whole air full of careering and rejoicing insects, that everywhere the good outbalances the bad, and that every evil that there is has its compensating balm. Then the brave man, as our German cousins say, possesses the world, whereas the melancholy man does not even possess his own share of it. Exercise, or continued employment of some kind, will make a man cheerful; but sitting at home, brooding and thinking, or doing little, will bring gloom. The reaction of this feeling is wonderful. It arises from a sense of duty done, and it also enables us to do our duty. Cheerful people live long in our memory. We remember joy more readily than sorrow, and always look back with tenderness on the brave and cheerful. Autolycus repeats the burden of an old song with the truth that "a merry heart goes all the day, but your sad ones tires a mile a!" and what he says any one may notice, not only in ourselves, but in the inferior animals also. A sulky dog, and a bad-tempered horse, wear themselves out with half the labor that kindly creatures do. An unkindly cow will not give down her milk, and a sour sheep will not fatten; nay, even certain fowls and geese, to those who observe, will evidence temper—good or bad.
We can all cultivate our tempers, and one of the employments of some poor mortals is to cultivate, cherish, and bring to perfection, a thoroughly bad one; but we may be certain that to do so is a very gross error and sin, which, like all others, brings its own punishment, though, unfortunately, it does not punish itself only. If he "to whom God is pleasant is pleasant to God," the reverse also holds good; and certainly the major proposition is true with regard to man. Addison says of cheerfulness, that it lightens sickness, poverty, affliction; converts ignorance into an amiable simplicity, and renders deformity itself agreeable; and he says no more than the truth. "Give us, therefore, O! give us"—let us cry with Carlyle—"the man who sings at his work! Be his occupation what it may, he is equal to any of those who follow the same pursuit in silent sullenness. He will do more in the same time; he will do it better; he will persevere longer. One is scarcely sensible of fatigue whilst he marches to music. The very stars are said to make harmony as they revolve in their appointed skies." "Wondrous is the strength of cheerfulness! altogether past calculation the powers of its endurance. Efforts, to be permanently useful must be uniformly joyous—a spirit all sunshine—graceful from very gladness—beautiful because bright." Such a spirit is within every body's reach. Let us get out into the light of things. The morbid man cries out that there is always enough wrong in the world to make a man miserable. Conceded; but wrong is ever being righted; there is always enough that is good and right to make us joyful. There is ever sunshine somewhere; and the brave man will go on his way rejoicing, content to look forward if under a cloud, not bating one jot of heart or hope if for a moment cast down; honoring his occupation, whatever it may be; rendering even rags respectable by the way he wears them; and not only being happy himself, but causing the happiness of others.
* * * * *
THE LAST SAXON KING OF ENGLAND.
The father of Harold, the last Saxon king of England, was named Godwin, and was the first great English statesman. It was from him that Harold in a great measure inherited his vigor and power, though, indeed, he came altogether of a noble race, both by lineage and character, for his mother was a daughter of Canute the Great.
All the English loved Harold; he was strong and generous, and a better counselor than Godwin, his father, in many ways. At first he never sought any thing for himself; but as time went on, and he found how he was obeyed, and how he was beloved, how the whole country turned her eyes to him as the fittest king when Edward the Confessor should be gone, he also took the same idea into his mind, and gave himself to rule, to teach, and to act as one who should by and by be king.
Edward's queen, Edith, was Harold's sister; but there was another Edith, who influenced Harold more than any one else in many ways. From his boyhood he and she had played together, and they grew up, never so much as thinking that a time would come when they would separate.
The more Harold saw her the more he felt he should like to ask her to be his wife, and have her always with him; but there were many things which made that impossible. And then England required Harold. If he thought only of his own happiness his country must suffer. The great nobles wished him to establish the kingdom by marrying the daughter of one of the most powerful lords; this would connect the people and the land more closely, and prevent quarrels and divisions; and the government required the whole of Harold's services, and the people required his watchfulness, his thought, his care, his presence.
All his life through he had consulted Edith, and now at this terrible moment he consulted her again. He stood before her, and in great trouble and agony of spirit told her just how things were, scarcely daring to look at the woman he loved; for if he looked at her, England, her greatness and her needs, all melted away, and he saw nothing but a beaming vision of a quiet, beloved home, free from the storms of the great world outside.
But Edith too was unselfish, pure and good; so she put all thought of personal happiness away, and putting her hand on his shoulder, said, "Never, O Harold, did I feel so proud of thee, for Edith could not love thee as she doth, and will till the grave clasp her, if thou didst not love England more than Edith." So these two separated.
His whole energy was given to his king and his country. He had no great love for the monks; but he sought out the good and noble ones, put power into their hands, and gave them his support in ruling wisely and well. The Abbey of Waltham had fallen into almost complete decay; he chose two humbly born men, renowned for the purity and benevolence of their lives, and gave to them the charge of selecting a new brotherhood there, which he largely endowed.
At last Edward passed quietly away, and with one accord Harold, the beloved, was chosen king and crowned.
Over the sea dwelt William, duke of the Normans, With no careless ear did he hear that Edward was dead Edward dead! Edward! Why, Edward, in a moment of friendship, had promised the English throne to him—had even, William asserted, left it him in will; therefore his rage was great when he heard that Harold was not only proclaimed and crowned king, but was ready to defend his claim by battle sooner than yield. William was a man of power and iron will; he forced his reluctant Normans to listen to his complaint, equipped an army, and sailed for Britain. On came the queer little ships of war, nearer and nearer to England's white, free cliffs, and cast anchor in Pevensey Bay.
William, eager and impatient, sprang from his ship; but his foot slipping, he fell, to rise again with both his hands full of earth, which he showed to his scared soldiers in triumph, crying:
"So do I grasp the earth of a new country."
Meanwhile Harold had gathered his forces, and they were assembled on Senlac Hill, an advantageous position. He himself was in the center, his brave brother Gurth at his right hand.
A general charge of the Norman foot opened the battle, which raged the whole day, victory now leaning to the English and now to the Normans. There was a cry that the duke was killed. "I live!" he shouted, "and by God's help will conquer yet!" And tearing off his helmet he rushed into the thickest of the battle, and aimed right at the standard. Round that standard the last sharp, long struggle took place. Harold, Gurth, all the greatest who still survived, met there. With his tremendous battle-ax the king did mighty slaughter, till, looking upward as he swung his ax with both hands, a Norman arrow pierced his eye, and he fell.
"Fight on!" he gasped. "Conceal my death—England to the rescue!" One instant he sprang to his feet, and then fell back—lifeless. One by one the other noble guardians fell around him, till only Gurth was left, brave chief and last man, with no thought of surrender, though all was gone and lost.
"Spare him! spare the brave!" shouted one; but the brave heart was already pierced, and he sank beside his king and brother. So fell the last of the Saxon kings, and so arose the Norman race.
Long did they search the battlefield for Harold's body, disfigured by wounds and loss of blood, but long did they seek it in vain, till a woman whose toil had never ceased burst into a sharp cry over a lifeless form. It was Edith, who with many another woman had watched the battle. The body was too changed to be recognized even by its nearest friends; but beneath his heart was punctured in old Saxon letters "Edith," and just below, in characters more fresh, "England," the new love he had taken when duty bade him turn from Edith; which recalls the lines of Lovelace to Lucasta:
"Tell me not, sweet, I am unkind, That from the nunnery Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind To war and arms I fly.
True, a new mistress now I chase, The first foe of the field; And with a stronger faith embrace A sword, a horse, a shield.
Yet this inconstancy is such As you too shall adore; I could not love thee, dear, so much Loved I not not honor more."
* * * * *
(BORN 1791—DIED 1883.)
THE LESSON OF A LONG AND USEFUL LIFE.
Barzillai, of sacred history, was a very old man, a very kind man, a very affectionate man, a very rich man of the tenth century before Christ, a type of our American philanthropist, Peter Cooper, in the nineteenth century after Christ. When I see Barzillai, from his wealthy country seat at Rogelim, coming out to meet David's retreating army, and providing them with flour and corn and mattresses, it makes me think of the hearty response of our modern philanthropist in time of trouble and disaster, whether individual, municipal, or national. The snow of his white locks has melted from our sight, and the benediction of his genial face has come to its long amen. But his influence halted not a half-second for his obsequies to finish, but goes right on without change, save that of augmentation, for in the great sum of a useful life death is a multiplication instead of subtraction, and the tombstone, instead of being the goal of the race, is only the starting point. What means this rising up of all good men, with hats off, in reverence to one who never wielded a sword or delivered masterly oration or stood in senatorial place? Neither general, nor lord, nor governor, nor President. The LL. D., which a university bestowed, did not stick to him. The word mister, as a prefix, or the word esquire, as a suffix, seemed a superfluity. He was, in all Christendom, plain Peter Cooper. Why, then, all the flags at half-mast, and the resolutions of common council, and the eulogium of legislatures, and the deep sighs from multitudes who have no adequate way to express their bereavement?
First, he was in some respects the father of American philanthropies. There have been far larger sums donated to the public since this man founded Cooper Institute, but I think that hundreds of the charities were born of his example. Sometimes a father will have a large family of children who grow up to be larger than himself. When that six-storied temple of instruction was built on Fourth Avenue and Seventh Street by Mr. Cooper, at an expense of $630,000, and endowed by him with $150,000, you must remember $100,000 was worth as much as $500,000 now, and that millionaires, who are so common now that you hardly stop to look at them, were a rare spectacle. Stephen Girard and John Jacob Astor, of the olden time, would in our day almost excite the sympathy of some of our railroad magnates. The nearly $800,000, which built and endowed Cooper Institute, was as much as $3,000,000 or $5,000,000 now. But there are institutions in our day that have cost many times more dollars in building and endowment which have not accomplished more than a fraction of the good done by this munificence of 1857. This gift brooded charities all over the land. This mothered educational institutions. This gave glorious suggestion to many whose large fortune was hitherto under the iron grasp of selfishness. If the ancestral line of many an asylum or infirmary or college or university were traced back far enough, you would learn that Peter Cooper was the illustrious progenitor. Who can estimate the effect of such an institution, standing for twenty-six years, saying to all the millions of people passing up and down the great thoroughfares: "I am here to bless and educate, without money and without price, all the struggling ones who come under my wings?" That institution has for twenty-six years been crying shame on miserliness and cupidity. That free reading-room has been the inspiration of five hundred free reading-rooms. Great reservoir of American beneficence!
Again, Peter Cooper showed what a wise thing it is for a man to be his own executor. How much better is ante-mortem charity than post-mortem beneficence. Many people keep all their property for themselves till death, and then make good institutions their legatees. They give up the money only because they have to. They would take it all with them if they only had three or four stout pockets in their shroud. Better late than never, but the reward shall not be as great as the reward of those who make charitable contribution while yet they have power to keep their money. Charity, in last will and testament, seems sometimes to be only an attempt to bribe Charon, the ferryman, to land the boat in celestial rather than infernal regions. Mean as sin when they disembark from the banks of this world, they hope to be greeted as benefactors when they come up the beach on the other side. Skinflints when they die, they hope to have the reception of a George Peabody. Besides that, how often donations by will and testament fail of their final destination. The surrogate's courts are filled with legal quarrels. If a philanthropist has any pride of intellect, and desires to help Christian institutions, he had better bestow the gift before death, for the trouble is, if he leaves any large amount to Christian institutions, the courts will be appealed to to prove he was crazy. They will bring witnesses to prove that for a long time he has been becoming imbecile, and as almost every one of positive nature has idiosyncrasies, these idiosyncrasies will be brought out on the trial, and ventilated and enlarged and caricatured, and the man who had mind enough to make $1,000,000, and heart enough to remember needy institutions, will be proved a fool. If he have a second wife, the children of the first wife will charge him with being unduly influenced. Many a man who, when he made his will, had more brain than all his household put together, has been pronounced a fit subject for a lunatic asylum. Be your own executor. Do not let the benevolent institutions of the country get their chief advantage from your last sickness and death. How much better, like Peter Cooper, to walk through the halls you have built for others and see the young men being educated by your beneficence, and to get the sublime satisfaction of your own charities! I do not wonder that Barzillai, the wealthy Gileadite, lived to be eighty, for he stood in the perpetual sunshine of his beneficence. I do not wonder that Peter Cooper, the modern Barzillai, lived to be ninety-two years of age, for he felt the healthful reaction of helping others. Doing good was one of the strongest reasons of his longevity. There is many a man with large estate behind him who calls up his past dollars as a pack of hounds to go out and hunt up one more dollar before he dies. Away away the hunter and his hounds for that last dollar! Hotter and hotter the chase. Closer on the track and closer. Whip up and spur on the steed! The old man just ahead, and all the pack of hounds close after him. Now they are coming in at the death, that last dollar only a short distance ahead. The old hunter, with panting breath and pale cheek and outstretched arm, clutches for it as it turns on its track, but, missing it, keeps on till the exhausted dollar plunges into a hole and burrows and burrows deep; and the old hunter, with both hands, claws at the earth, and claws deeper down, till the burrowed embankment gives way, and he rolls over into his own grave. We often talk of old misers. There are but few old misers. The most of them are comparatively young. Avarice massacres more than a war. In contrast, behold the philanthropist in the nineties, and dying of a cold caught in going to look after the affairs of the institution he himself founded, and which has now about two thousand five hundred persons a day in its reading-rooms and libraries, and two thousand students in its evening schools.
Again, Peter Cooper has shown the world a good way of settling the old quarrel between capital and labor, the altercation between rich and poor. There are two ways in which this conflict can never be settled. One is the violent suppression of the laboring classes, and the other the violent assault of the rich. This is getting to be the age of dynamite—dynamite under the Kremlin, dynamite in proximity to Parliament House and railroad track, dynamite near lordly mansions, dynamite in Ireland, dynamite in England, dynamite in America. The rich are becoming more exclusive, and the poor more irate. I prescribe for the cure of this mighty evil of the world a large allopathic dose of Peter Cooperism. You never heard of dynamite in Cooper Institute. You never heard of any one searching the cellar of that man's house for a keg of dynamite. At times of public excitement, when prominent men had their houses guarded, there were no sentinels needed at his door. The poorest man with a hod on his shoulder carrying brick up a wall begrudged not the philanthropist his carriage as he rode by. No one put the torch to Peter Cooper's glue factory. When on some great popular occasion the masses assembled in the hall of Cooper Institute and its founder came on the platform, there were many hard hands that clapped in vigorous applause. Let the rich stretch forth toward the great masses of England, Ireland, and America as generous and kind a hand as that of Peter Cooper, and the age of dynamite will end. What police can not do, and shot and shell can not do, and strongest laws severely executed can not do, and armies can not do, will yet be accomplished by something that I see fit to baptize as Peter Cooperism. I hail the early twilight of that day when a man of millions shall come forth and say: "There are seventy thousand destitute children in New York, and here I put up and endow out of my fortune a whole line of institutions to take care of them; here are vast multitudes in filthy and unventilated tenement-houses, for whom I will build a whole block of residences at cheap rents; here are nations without Christ, and I turn my fortune inside out to send them flaming evangels; there shall be no more hunger, and no more sickness, and no more ignorance, and no more crime, if I can help it." That spirit among the opulent of this country and other countries would stop contention, and the last incendiary's torch would be extinguished, and the last dagger of assassination would go to slicing bread for poor children, and the last pound of dynamite that threatens death would go to work in quarries to blast foundation-stones for asylums and universities and churches. May the spirit of Peter Cooper and Wm. E. Dodge come down on all the bank stock and government securities and railroad companies and great business houses of America!
Again, this Barzillai of the nineteenth century shows us a more sensible way of monumental and epitaphal commemoration. It is natural to want to be remembered. It would not be a pleasant thought to us or to any one to feel that the moment you are out of the world you would be forgotten. If the executors of Peter Cooper should build on his grave a monument that would cost $20,000,000, it would not so well commemorate him as that monument at the junction of Third and Fourth Avenues, New York. How few people would pass along the silent sepulcher as compared with those great numbers that will ebb and flow around Cooper Institute in the ages to come! Of the tens of thousands to be educated there, will there be one so stupid as not to know who built it, and what a great heart he had, and how he struggled to achieve a fortune, but always mastered that fortune, and never allowed the fortune to master him? What is a monument of Aberdeen granite beside a monument of intellect and souls? What is an epitaph of a few words cut by a sculptor's chisel beside the epitaph of coming generations and hundreds writing his praise? Beautiful and adorned beyond all the crypts and catacombs and shrines of the dead! But the superfluous and inexcusable expense of catafalque and sarcophagus and tumulus and necropolis the world over, put into practical help, would have sent intelligence into every dark mind and provided a home for every wanderer. The pyramids of Egypt, elevated at vast expense, were the tombs of kings—their names now obliterated. But the monuments of good last forever. After "Old Mortality" has worn out his chisel in reviving the epitaphs on old tombstones, the names of those who have helped others will be held in everlasting remembrance. The fires of the Judgment Day will not crumble off one of the letters. The Sabbath-school teacher builds her monument in the heavenly thrones of her converted scholars. Geo. Mueller's monument is the orphan-houses of England. Handel's monument was his "Hallelujah Chorus." Peabody's monument, the library of his native village and the schools for educating the blacks in the South. They who give or pray for a church have their monument in all that sacred edifice ever accomplishes. John Jay had his monument in free America. Wilberforce his monument in the piled up chains of a demolished slave trade. Livingstone shall have his monument in regenerated Africa. Peter Cooper has his monument in all the philanthropies which for the last quarter of a century he encouraged by his one great practical effort for the education of the common people. That is a fame worth having. That is a style of immortality for which any one without degradation may be ambitious. Fill all our cities with such monuments till the last cripple has his limb straightened, and the last inebriate learns the luxury of cold water, and the last outcast comes home to his God, and the last abomination is extirpated, and "Paradise Lost" has become "Paradise Regained."
But notice, also, that the longest life-path has a terminus. What a gauntlet to run—the accidents, the epidemics, the ailments of ninety-two years! It seemed as if this man would live on forever. His life reached from the administration of George Washington to that of President Arthur. But the liberal hand is closed, and the beaming eye is shut, and the world-encompassing heart is still. When he was at my house, I felt I was entertaining a king. But the king is dead, and we learn that the largest volume of life has its last chapter, its last paragraph, and its last word. What are ninety-two years compared with the years that open the first page of the future? For that let us be ready. Christ came to reconstruct us for usefulness, happiness, and heaven.
I know not the minutiae of Peter Cooper's religious opinions. Some men are worse than their creed, and some are better. The grandest profession of Jesus Christ is a life devoted to the world's elevation and betterment. A man may have a membership in all the orthodox Churches in Christendom, and yet, if he be mean and selfish and careless about the world's condition, he is no Christian; while, on the other hand, though he may have many peculiarities of belief, if he live for others more than for himself, he is Christ-like, and, I think, he must be a Christian. But let us remember that the greatest philanthropist of the ages was Jesus Christ, and the greatest charity ever known was that which gave not its dollars, but its blood, for the purchase of the world's deliverance. Standing in the shadow of Peter Cooper's death, I pray God that all the resources of America may be consecrated. We are coming on to times of prosperity that this country never imagined. Perhaps here and there a few years of recoil or set-back, but God only can estimate the wealth that is about to roll into the lap of this nation. Between five years ago, when I visited the South, and my recent visit, there has been a change for the better that amounts to a resurrection. The Chattahoochee is about to rival the Merrimac in manufactures, and the whole South is being filled with the dash of water-wheels and the rattle of spindles. Atlanta has already $6,000,000 invested in manufactures. The South has gone out of politics into business. The West, from its inexhaustible mines, is going to, disgorge silver and gold, and pour the treasure all over the nation. May God sanctify the coming prosperity of the people. The needs are as awful as the opulence is to be tremendous. In 1880 there were 5,000,000 people over ten years of age in the United States that could not read, and over 6,000,000 who could not write, and nearly 2,000,000 of the voters. We want 5,000 Cooper Institutes and churches innumerable, and just one spiritual awakening, but that reaching from the St. Lawrence to Key West, and from Barnegat Light-house to the Golden Gate. We can all somewhere be felt in the undertaking. I like the sentiment and the rhythm of some anonymous poet, who wrote:
"When I am dead and gone, And the mold upon my breast, Say not that he did well or ill, Only 'He did his best.'" —DR. TALMAGE.
* * * * *
Goodness needs no lure: All compensations are in her enshrined, Whatever things are right and fair and pure, Wealth of the heart and mind.
Failure and Success, The Day and Night of every life below, Are but the servants of her blessedness, That come and spend and go.
Life is her reward, A life brim-full, in every day's employ, Of sunshine, inspiration, every word And syllable of joy.
Heaven to thee is known, If Goodness in the robes of common earth Becomes a presence thou canst call thine own, To warm thy heart and hearth.
Clothed in flesh and blood, She flits about me every blessed day, The incarnation of sweet womanhood; And age brings no decay.
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"THEREFORE TRUST TO THY HEART, AND WHAT THE WORLD CALLS ILLUSIONS."—LONGFELLOW.
This curious sentence of Longfellow's deserves reading again. He is an earnest man, and does not mean to cheat us; he has done good work in the world by his poems and writings; he has backed up many, and lifted the hearts of many, by pure thought; he means what he says. Yet, what is altogether lighter than vanity? The human heart, answers the religionist. What is altogether deceitful upon the scales? The human heart. What is a Vanity Fair, a mob, a hubbub and babel of noises, to be avoided, shunned, hated? The world. And, lastly, what are our thoughts and struggles, vain ideas, and wishes? Vain, empty illusions, shadows, and lies. And yet this man, with the inspiration which God gives every true poet, tells us to trust to our hearts, and what the world calls illusions. And he is right.
Now there are, of course, various sorts of illusions. The world is itself illusive. None of us are exactly what we seem; and many of those things that we have the firmest faith in really do not exist. When the first philosopher declared that the world was round, and not a plane as flat and circular as a dinner-plate or a halfpenny, people laughed at him, and would have shut him up in a lunatic asylum. They said he had an "illusion;" but it was they who had it. He was so bold as to start the idea that we had people under us, and that the sun went to light them, and that they walked with their feet to our feet. So they do, we know well now; but the pope and cardinals would not have it, and so they met in solemn conclave, and ordered the philosopher's book to be burnt, and they would have burnt him, too, in their hardly logical way of saving souls, only he recanted, and, sorely against his will, said that it was all an "illusion." But the pope and his advisers had an illusion, too, which was, that dressing up men who did not believe in their faith, in garments on which flames and devils were represented—such a garment they called a san benito—and then burning them, was really something done for the glory of God. They called it with admirable satire an auto da fe (an "act of faith"), and they really did believe—for many of the inquisitors were mistaken but tender men—that they did good by this; but surely now they have outgrown this illusion. How many of these have we yet to outgrow; how far are we off the true and liberal Christianity which is the ideal of the saint and sage; how ready are we still to persecute those who happen, by mere circumstances attending their birth and education, to differ from us!
The inner world of man, no less than the external world, is full of illusions. They arise from distorted vision, from a disorder of the senses, or from an error of judgment upon data correctly derived from their evidence. Under the influence of a predominant train of thought, an absorbing emotion, a person ready charged with an uncontrolled imagination will see, as Shakspeare has it—
"More devils than vast hell can hold."
Half, if not all, of the ghost stories, which are equally dangerous and absorbing to youth, arise from illusion—there they have their foundation; but believers in them obstinately refuse to believe anything but that which their overcharged and predisposed imagination leads them to. Some of us walk about this world of ours—as if it were not of itself full enough of mystery—as ready to swallow any thing wonderful or horrible, as the country clown whom a conjurer will get upon his stage to play tricks with. Fooled by a redundant imagination, delighted to be tricked by her potency, we dream away, flattered by the idea that a supernatural messenger is sent to us, and to us alone. We all have our family ghosts, in whom we more than half believe. Each one of us has a mother or a wise aunt, or some female relation, who, at one period of her life, had a dream, difficult to be interpreted, and foreboding good or evil to a child of the house.
We are so grand, we men, "noble animals, great in our deaths and splendid even in our ashes," that we can not yield to a common fate without some overstrained and bombast conceit that the elements themselves give warning. Casca, in "Julius Caesar," rehearses some few of the prodigies which predicted Caesar's death:
"A common slave (you know him well by sight) Held up his left hand, which did flame, and burn Like twenty torches join'd; and yet his hand, Not sensible of fire, remained unscorched.... And, yesterday, the bird of night did sit, Even at noon-day, upon the market-place, Hooting and shrieking. When these prodigies Do so conjointly meet, let not men say, 'These are their reasons—they are natural; For, I believe, they are portentous things."
A great many others besides our good Casca believe in these portents and signs, and their dignity would be much hurt if they were persuaded that the world would go on just the same if they and their family were utterly extinct, and that no eclipse would happen to portend that calamity. In Ireland, in certain great families, a Banshee, or a Benshee, for they differ who spell it, sits and wails all night when the head of the family is about to stretch his feet towards the dim portals of the dead; and in England are many families who, by some unknown means, retain a ghost which walks up and down a terrace, as it did in that fanciful habitation of Sir Leicester Dedlock. In Scotland, they have amongst them prophetic shepherds, who, on the cold, misty mountain top, at eventide, shade their shaggy eyebrows with their hands, and, peering into the twilight, see funerals pass by, and the decease of some neighbor portended by all the paraphernalia of death.
With us all these portents "live no longer in the faith of Reason;" we assert, in Casca's words, that "they are natural;" but we offend the credulous when we do so. "Illusions of the senses," says an acute writer, "are common in our appreciation of form, distance, color, and motion; and also from a lack of comprehension of the physical powers of Nature, in the production of images of distinct objects. A stick in the water appears bent or broken; the square tower at the distance looks round; distant objects appear to move when we are in motion; the heavenly bodies appear to revolve round the earth." And yet we know that all these appearances are mere illusions. At the top of a mountain in Ireland, with our back to the sun, we, two travelers, were looking at the smiling landscape gilded by the sunshine; suddenly a white cloud descended between us and the valley, and there upon it were our two shadows, distorted, gigantic, threatening or supplicatory, as we chose to move and make them. Here was an exactly similar apparition to the Specter of the Brocken. The untaught German taxed his wits to make the thing a ghost; but the philosopher took off his hat and bowed to it, and the shadow returned the salute; and so with the Fata Morgana, and the mirage. We now know that these things had no supernatural origin, but are simply due to the ordinary laws of atmospheric influence and light; so all our modern illusions are easily rectified by the judgment, and are fleeting and transitory in the minds of the sane.
But, beyond these, there are the illusions of which we first spoke, from which we would not willingly be awakened. The sick man in Horace, who fancied that he was always sitting at a play, and laughed and joked, or was amazed and wept as they do in a theater, rightly complained to his friends that they had killed him, not cured him, when they roused him from his state of hallucination. There are some illusions so beautiful, so healthful, and so pleasant, that we would that no harshness of this world's ways, no bitter experience, no sad reality, could awaken us from them. It is these, we fancy, that the poet tells us to trust to; such are the illusions—so-called by the world—to which we are always to give our faith. It will be well if we do so. Faith in man or woman is a comfortable creed; but you will scarcely find a man of thirty, or a woman either, who retains it. They will tell you bitterly "they have been so deceived!" One old gentleman we know, deceived, and ever again to be deceived, who is a prey to false friends, who lends his money without surety and gets robbed, who fell in love and was jilted, who has done much good and has been repaid with much evil. This man is much to be envied. He can, indeed, "trust in his heart and what the world calls illusions." To him the earth is yet green and fresh, the world smiling and good-humored, friends are fast and loving, woman a very well-spring of innocent and unbought love. The world thinks him an old simpleton; but he is wiser than the world. He is not to be scared by sad proverbs, nor frightened by dark sayings. An enviable man, he sits, in the evening of life, loving and trusting his fellow-men, and, from the mere freshness of his character, having many gathered round him whom he can still love and trust.
With another sort of philosophers all around is mere illusion, and the mind of man shall in no way be separated from it; from the beginning to the end it is all the same. Our organization, they would have us believe, creates most of our pleasure and our pain. Life is in itself an ecstasy. "Life is as sweet as nitrous oxide; and the fisherman, dripping all day over a cold pond, the switchman at the railway intersection, the farmer in the field, the negro in the rice-swamp, the fop in the street, the hunter in the woods, the barrister with the jury, the belle at the ball—all ascribe a certain pleasure to their employment which they themselves give to it. Health and appetite impart the sweetness to sugar, bread, and meat." So fancy plays with us; but, while she tricks us, she blesses us. The mere prosaic man, who strips the tinsel from every thing, who sneers at a bridal and gladdens at a funeral; who tests every coin and every pleasure, and tells you that it has not the true ring; who checks capering Fancy and stops her caracoling by the whip of reality, is not to be envied. "In the life of the dreariest alderman, Fancy enters into all details, and colors them with a rosy hue," says Emerson. "He imitates the air and action of people whom he admires, and is raised in his own eyes.... In London, in Paris, in Boston, in San Francisco, the masquerade is at its height. Nobody drops his domino. The chapter of fascinations is very long. Great is paint; nay, God is the painter; and we rightly accuse the critic who destroys too many illusions."
Happy are they with whom this domino is never completely dropped! Happy, thrice happy, they who believe, and still maintain that belief, like champion knights, against all comers, in honor, chastity, friendship, goodness, virtue, gratitude. It is a long odds that the men who do not believe in these virtues have none themselves; for we speak from our hearts, and we tell of others that which we think of ourselves. The French, a mournful, sad, and unhappy nation—even at the bottom of all their external gaiety—have a sad word, a participle, desillusionne, disillusioned; and by it they mean one who has worn out all his youthful ideas, who has been behind the scenes, and has seen the bare walls of the theater, without the light and paint, and has watched the ugly actors and gaunt actresses by daylight. The taste of life is very bitter in the mouth of such a man; his joys are Dead Sea apples—dust and ashes in the mouths of those who bite them. No flowers spring up about his path; he is very melancholy and suspicious, very hard and incredulous; he has faith neither in the honesty of man nor in the purity of woman. He is desillusionne—by far too wise to be taken in with painted toys. Every one acts with self-interest! His doctor, his friend, or his valet will be sorry for his death merely from the amount of money interest that they have in his life. Bare and grim unto tears, even if he had any, is the life of such a man. With him, sadder than Lethe or the Styx, the river of time runs between stony banks, and, often a calm suicide, it bears him to the Morgue. Happier by far is he who, with whitened hair and wrinkled brow, sits crowned with the flowers of illusion; and who, with the ear of age, still remains a charmed listener to the songs which pleased his youth, trusting "his heart and what the world calls illusions."
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Phillips Brooks at home, of course, means Phillips Brooks in Trinity Church, Boston. Other than his church, home proper he has none, for he abides a bachelor.
And somehow it seems almost fit that a man like Mr. Brooks, a man so ample, so overflowing; a man, as it were, more than sufficient to himself, sufficient also to a multitude of others, should have his home large and public; such a home, in fact, as Trinity Church. Here Phillips Brooks shines like a sun—diffusing warmth and light and life. What a blessing to what a number! To what a number of souls, it would have been natural to say; but, almost as natural, to what a number of bodies! For the physical man is a source of comfort, in its kind, hardly less so than the intellectual and the spiritual. How that massive, majestic manhood makes temperature where it is, and what temperature! Broad, equable, temperate, calm; yet tonic, withal, and inspiring. You rejoice in it. You have an irrational feeling that it would be a wrong to shut up so much opulence of personal vitality in any home less wide and open than a great basilica like Trinity Church. At least, you are not pained with sympathy for homelessness in the case of a man so richly endowed. To be so pained would be like shivering on behalf of the sun, because, forsooth, the sun had nothing to make him warm and bright. Phillips Brooks in Trinity Church is like the sun in its sphere. Still, and were it not impertinent, I could even wish for Phillips Brooks an every-day home, such as would be worthy of him. What a home it should be! And with thus much of loyal, if of doubtfully appropriate tribute, irresistibly prompted, and therefore not to be repressed, let me go on to speak of Phillips Brooks as he is to be seen and heard Sunday after Sunday at home in Trinity Church.
Every body knows how magnificent an edifice, with its arrested tower yet waiting and probably long to wait completion, Trinity Church is. The interior is decorated almost to the point of gorgeousness. The effect, however, is imposing for "the height, the glow, the glory." Good taste reigning over lavish expenditure has prevented chromatic richness from seeming to approach tawdriness. It is much to say for any man preaching here that the building does not make him look disproportionate, inadequate. This may strongly be said for Phillips Brooks. But even for him it can not be said that the form and construction of the interior do not oppose a serious embarrassment to the proper effect of oratory. I could not help feeling it to be a great wrong to the truth, or, to put it personally, a great wrong to the preacher and to his hearers, that an audience-room should be so broken up with pillars, angles, recesses, so sown with contrasts of light and shade, as necessarily, inevitably, to disperse and waste an immense fraction of the power exerted by the preacher, whatever the measure, great or small, of that power might be. The reaction of this audience-room upon the oratorical instinct and habit of the man who should customarily speak in it could not but be mischievous in a very high degree. The sense, which ought to live in every public speaker, of his being fast bound in a grapple of mind to mind, and heart to heart, and soul to soul, with his audience, must be oppressed, if not extinguished, amid such architectural conditions as those which surround Phillips Brooks when he stands to preach. That in him this needful sense is not extinguished is a thing to be thankful for. That it is, in fact, oppressed, I can not doubt. There is evidence of it, I think, in his manner of preaching. For Mr. Brooks is not an orator such as Mr. Beecher is. He does not speak to people with people, as Mr. Beecher does; rather he speaks before them, in their presence. He soliloquizes. There is almost a minimum of mutual relation between speaker and hearer. Undoubtedly the swift, urgent monologue is quickened, reinforced, by the consciousness of an audience present. That consciousness, of course, penetrates to the mind of the speaker. But it does not dominate the speaker's mind; it does not turn monologue into dialogue; the speech is monologue still.
This is not invariably the case; for, occasionally, the preacher turns his noble face toward you, and for that instant you feel the aim of his discourse leveled full at your personality. Now there is a glimpse of true oratorical power. But the glimpse passes quickly. The countenance is again directed forward toward a horizon, or even lifted toward a quarter of the sky above the horizon, and the but momentarily interrupted rapt soliloquy proceeds.
Such I understand to have been the style of Robert Hall's pulpit speech. It is a rare gift to be a speaker of this sort. The speaker must be a thinker as well as a speaker. The speech is, in truth, a process of thinking aloud—thinking accelerated, exhilarated, by the vocal exercise accompanying, and then, too, by the blindfold sense of a listening audience near. This is the preaching of Mr. Brooks.
It is, perhaps, not generally known that Mr. Brooks practices two distinct methods of preaching: one, that with the manuscript; the other, that without. The last time that I had the chance of a Sunday in Trinity Church was Luther's day. The morning discourse was a luminous and generous appreciation of the great reformer's character and work. This was read in that rapid, vehement, incessant manner which description has made sufficiently familiar to the public. The precipitation of utterance is like the flowing forth of the liquid contents of a bottle suddenly inverted; every word seems hurrying to be foremost. The unaccustomed hearer is at first left hopelessly in the rear; but presently the contagion of the speaker's rushing thought reaches him, and he is drawn into the wake of that urgent ongoing; he is towed along in the great multitudinous convoy that follows the mighty motor-vessel, steaming, unconscious of the weight it bears, across the sea of thought. The energy is sufficient for all; it overflows so amply that you scarcely feel it not to be your own energy. The writing is like in character to the speaking—continuous, no break, no shock, no rest, not much change of swifter and slower till the end. The apparent mass of the speaker, physical and mental, might at first seem equal to making up a full, adequate momentum without multiplication by such a component of velocity; but by-and-by you come to feel that the motion is a necessary part of the power. I am told, indeed, that a constitutional tendency to hesitation in utterance is the speaker's real reason for this indulged precipitancy of speech. Not unlikely; but the final result of habit is as if of nature.
Of the discourse itself on Luther, I have left myself room to say no more than that Mr. Brooks's master formula for power in the preacher, truth plus personality, came very fitly in to explain the problem of Luther's prodigious career. It was the man himself, not less than the truth he found, that gave Luther such possession of the present and such a heritage in the future.
In the afternoon, Mr. Brooks took Luther's "The just shall live by faith," and preached extemporarily. The character of the composition and of the delivery was strikingly the same as that belonging to morning's discourse. It was hurried, impetuous soliloquy; in this particular case hurried first, and then impetuous. That is, I judged from various little indications that Mr. Brooks used his will to urge himself on against some obstructiveness felt in the current mood and movement of his mind. But it was a noteworthy discourse, full and fresh with thought. The interpretation put upon Luther's doctrine of justification by faith was free rather than historic. If one should apply the formula, truth plus personality, the personality—Mr. Brooks's personality—would perhaps be found to prevail in the interpretation over the strict historic truth.—W.C. WILKINSON in The Christian Union.
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SAINT JOHN AND THE ROBBER.
A LEGEND OF THE FIRST CENTURY.
There is a beautiful legend Come down from ancient time, Of John, the beloved disciple, With the marks of his life sublime.
Eusebius has the story On his quaint, suggestive page; And God in the hearts of his people Has preserved it from age to age.
It was after the vision in Patmos, After the sanctified love Which flowed to the Seven Churches, Glowing with light from above:
When his years had outrun the measure Allotted to men at the best, And Peter and James and the others Had followed the Master to rest,
In the hope of the resurrection, And the blessed life to come In the house of many mansions, The Father's eternal home;